Issue Brief Idea

For the Issue Brief, Ryan and I will be analyzing the rights (or lack thereof) of athletes playing under the jurisdiction of the NCAA. One thing we aim to not focus on is the question of whether or not college athletes should paid. There are two main reasons for this: first off, the issue is generally overdone and we think the focus should be shifted away from it. Secondly, the debate over this is so polarized that it would be hard to formulate a policy that could be readily agreed upon. Instead, we have chosen to focus our efforts in the area of the rights of the “student-athlete.”

The NCAA, as an organization, has put in place certain rules and regulations that seemingly violate some of the basic rights we, as Americans, cherish so dearly. This would include certain obvious and big violations but potentially also some lesser known ones. One such violation would be forbidding athletes to have a representative voice in the rules they are subject to. Currently, athletes have no voice in NCAA rules and regulations, and efforts by groups of students to form groups to petition this have been quelled. The word that is often associated with these groups is “unions” but we hesitate to use this word due to the connotation it carries. Another obvious example would be the fact that the NCAA does not allow athletes to profit off of their own name or status. This is a point of major contention, as the NCAA and its member schools profit immensely off of the names of their athletes. These rights that the athletes do not have are some of the many basic rights many of us take for granted. Surely the fact that these people are athletes does not make it okay to strip them of these rights.

We plan to delve deep into this topic and make it known exactly what basic rights college athletes do not have. We will develop and present our idea of a solution in the form of amendments to the NCAA bylaws. Our plan to disseminate our proposals will likely change as we move through the project and as we develop a better understanding of how best to make our solutions known; however, as of right now, our main medium will likely be a website detailing our proposals and their impacts.

This I Believe First Draft

I consider myself a very lucky teenager, because I can proudly say that I own a car. My car is a 2006, silver Honda Accord. My car has, what I consider to be, an old soul, or as most people think of it, nearly 200,000 miles under its belt. However, it is still completely reliable, and for this reason I lovingly call it “The Midnight Rider.” Finally, my car is probably one of the cleanest cars you have ever come across, and that all because of me. I detail my own car.

Now, I don’t consider myself a “car guy,” and, in fact, I really can’t be considered the manual labor type either. However, one of my best friends from high school, Nick, possessed both of these traits, so he ended up roping me in. Nick told me to come over to his house at 8:30 on a Saturday morning so we could detail each other’s cars. I very nearly laid down a flat out no. Who in their right mind would wake up at 8:30 on a Saturday to do manual labor for fun? But, I dragged myself out of bed and over to his house and promptly spent the next six hours detailing my car.

First off, no proper car detailing can be done without a portable speaker and some good music. For this occasion, I decided classic rock would work best. I started with the inside. With Nick supervising, I vacuumed the floors with an attention to detail I had never had when I was ordered to vacuum the house. I was even made to hold a toothbrush in my free hand in order to loosen up any dirt that was choosing to be difficult with me. I cleaned and dressed the center console, dashboard, and the interior of all four doors, making the plastic shine like I never knew it could. On the hot summer asphalt, I laid out a tarp and with a brush and some shampoo scrubbed away at my floor mats, before doing the same to the floors, seats, and the trunk. After applying generously applying the leather conditioner, I had suddenly realized four hours had gone by in a blur of hard work and rock music. The only thing left to do was wash the body, clean the rims, scrub the windows, buff out a few scratches, apply the wax, and then, of course, remove the wax. Easy.

But just like that, two hours later, I had completed my first full car detail. Now, I suppose I’ve left this rather open ended and up to interpretation. You may determine my story to mean that you should take pride in what is yours. Or, you may just as well determine it means that you should do what you love, but do it well. And yet another person may decide that what I have said can be taken to mean that you can find a sense of fulfillment in manual labor. Truth be told, any of these lessons could be derived from my story, or perhaps a person could take it to mean something else entirely. I don’t know. What I do know this: this I believe: detail your own car.

This I Believe Ideas, Passion Blog Part II, and Civic Issues Blog Ideas

When I was listening to the “This I Believe” examples, I was intensely drawn to one about there being no such thing as too much barbecue. I think the reasoning for this is that it was not particularly profound, but it was a unique way for the author to reveal himself and who he is. I resonate with this because I don’t believe I have the wisdom nor the authority to deliver some grandiose life lesson that I think could change other people’s lives. Instead I will choose the “barbecue” route and share something that matters to me, and let draw their own conclusions from it. My first idea is related to detailing your own car. I was lucky enough to own a car and, although I don’t consider myself a “car guy,” I did take a fair amount of pride in it. In nearly two years before college in which I had my license, and my car, I probably did a full detail only three times. This would include a washing it, applying wax to it, buffing it, vacuuming the inside, scrubbing the floor, cleaning the seats, and anything else I could think of. I did it all by hand and, although it took about six hours each time, the few times I did it were some of the most rewarding experiences of my life. My second idea would be something like “there is no such thing as a bad concert.” I listen to a lot of music, and the music I listen to spans a wide variety of genres. I don’t think there is really such thing as “bad” music, so as long as its loud and as long as I’m there you can bet I’ll have a good time. As long as I can clear my mind of everything but the music that is being played, nothing can go wrong.

Last semester my passion blog basically attempted to introduce a new genre of music each week in the hopes of helping readers discover something new that they liked. I condensed and simplified a lot of the genres to prevent myself from becoming technical in the differences and repetitive in the music, so it’s not really feasible for my to continue the blog in this way for another ten weeks. However, I do believe that I can curb the blog slightly to keep the spirit of it alive and  present fresh information. I think I am going to shift my blog to analyzing times where music and history (mainly social events) intersect. Whereas a lot of my previous blogs introduced a genre and gave some background information, this new direction could allow me to go in depth and talk about its meaning. I would try and vary the genres of music but each post would most likely focus on one or a few songs as they relate to some event in history.

One of my ideas for the civic issues blog would be related to civic issues in the sports realm. I came about this idea because I realized that I watch a lot of documentaries, and a great deal of them happen to be sports documentaries. The issues that I would speak about would span the areas of college sports, professional sports, international sports, or any other area I see relevant. The issues would include some of the classic arguments such as “should student athletes be paid” or “is the NFL doing enough to prevent permanent brain damage in its players,” but hopefully I would also be able to shed some light on some less covered topics or perhaps even bring up an entirely new issue on my own. Another idea I thought of would be something that I briefly touched on last semester through the paradigm shift process and it is the growing mistrust of science. Today, the public’s trust in the findings of science has hit a record low and I would like to look at how this came to be, how it is impacting us today, and what it could mean for the future.

Thank you for taking the time to read this and please let me know your honest opinions. I look forward to reading them.

TED Talk Outline

Introduction (one I just kind of wrote out):

A few weeks ago I was watching an episode of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show with Trevor Noah when he briefly turned to the subject of our military involvement in the middle east. Only, he wasn’t referencing Iraq, Afghanistan, or even Syria. He was talking about Yemen, the small country on the outer edge of the Arabian Peninsula. There’s a very complex backstory here that couldn’t possibly be explained quickly, so to bring everyone up to speed, on October 13th the U.S. bombed three separate targets held by one of the factions involved in Yemen’s civil war. Now, I want you to think about the following questions: How many of you, like me, did not know that this was going on? How was your life impacted by us going to war?

Today I’m going to talk to you about the presence of a new disconnect between us, the American public, and those who serve in the military as it relates to our effort on the home-front. This is not a presentation on war itself, and the way it is fought, nor is it a presentation on how we should think about our wars from a moral or ethical standpoint. Rather, it is an evaluation on how those citizens who are not active military members have become increasingly removed from involvement in the war effort, or the home-front, and our collective national support for ongoing wars, and how this can be detrimental to us as a country.

Main points:

  • What is it? – The conditions of modern times don’t allow us to be connected to military efforts.
    • We no longer feel the personal effects of a nation at war.
      • Rationing
      • Taxes
    • Wars are no longer wars but “military engagements” and have more ambiguity in their purpose.
      • Imperial presidency and Vietnam
      • Move to war on terror
      • New coverage limited (usually not headlining news)
      • Technology
    • The social conformity no longer exists such that we blindly support any military action.
      • Vietnam and anti-war counter culture
      • More information available but more complex
      • Politicizing war so that we can’t separate support of troops from support of war itself.
      • Propaganda changed to more satirical
      • Not necessarily a bad thing but


  • What does this all mean? – Our new disconnect on the home-front and loss of shared enterprise is a major blow to the strength behind our military action.
    • When we aren’t involved in an active war effort, we stop thinking about what our actions mean- don’t keep our involvement in wars “accountable.”
      • How many people really know every country that we have a military presence in?
      • How many people know exactly what we are doing in each country?
    • In terms of a non-moral/ethical approach, from a practical standpoint if we do not all share the financial burden and personal sacrifice of military action, we will not be able to pay for it.
      • Historically, every act of military engagement has been accompanied by a tax increase, until Operation Iraqi Freedom.
      • Absence of shared enterprise promotes disunity and further disengages us from action.


  • Where is this all going?
    • The current “special operations” state of warfare has already created a barrier between the military and the public, and future technological advances can make this worse.
      • Less people in military would mean even less connection
    • If the trend continues- it will become a military run by the government, not the people.
      • Not a call for total transparency, but for an active participation in something that has a great impact on all of us.


  • Restate thesis and remind audience of main points only

Paradigm Shift Outline

Topic: Public perception of and engagement in American military actions

Timeframe: 1940s (WWII) to present day

Those affected:

  • American public
  • elected officials
  • Military servicemen and servicewomen
  • Countries we have come into conflict with

Characterize the ideology or worldview before:

  • Engaging in warfare was a country-wide effort where everyone was to make sacrifices to support the military
  • Not many anti-war movements
    • meant less usage for political gain
  • Economic, social, and political views to backseat to ideals

Characterize the ideology after:

  • Military engagements are rarely thought of now if you don’t have a personal connection
    • almost second-hand thought
  • Military engagement not necessarily a unifying object
    • Ideological differences are acceptable

What markers can you point to as evidence of the shift?:

  • New terms
    • Military operations
    • advisory troops
    • drone strike
    • special operations unit
  • Rise of subcultures
  • Less coverage and attention paid to military actions
  • Military and veterans as political pawns

What resistance is evident? Who is resisting the new ideology?:

  • Certain journalists, military and political leaders
  • Those who take an active interest both history and current events

What is the shift a response to? A discovery? New knowledge? Injustice? A sudden event?:

  • It was a gradual change due to changing social and technological factors. In World War II, there was a collective burden shared by the entire population, whereas now this is not felt. There is no longer the social norm of inherently supporting military involvement, as well as the fact that we don’t call them wars anymore.

Who or what was key in moving the shift forward?:

  • Hippie subculture
  • Vietnam and restriction of presidential powers after Nixon
  • Everything that made conducting war less personable to the average American
    • modern technology (i.e. drones)

What conditions didn’t exist that came to exist that made the shift possible?:

  • Non-conformity
  • Modern military technology
  • Less attention to military engagements
  • War on terror- not country
  • Access to information
  • TV shows/movies/documentaries showing realities of war

Which of these played a more direct role in advancing the paradigm?:

  • Modern form of warfare that detaches involvement of public

Circle Post 5

Throughout the entirety of The Circle, we are led to believe that Mae is our misguided hero and a victim of The Circle’s brainwashing influence. We so desperately want her to reach that moment of epiphany where she “wakes up” and is finally able to understand The Circle for what it really is: an evil power-seeking corporation with the potential to track and control every person on Earth. However, in the end Eggers breaks with the apparent “happy ending” norm that we’ve grown so accustomed to in literature, television, and film. Instead, Mae does not “wake up” but rather she diligently demonstrated her “strength, resolve, and loyalty” to The Circle and its goals by turning in the main dissident who could have been responsible for its downfall. In a review from The New York Times, it is suggested that, in the end, “Mae, then, is not a victim but a dull villain.” Now I’ll be honest in saying I really was not a fan of The Circle. However, I would have not liked it a whole lot more had Eggers not ended it like this.

The New York Times was astute in its observation on Mae’s character development. As the main character and the only person who’s perspective we are granted access to, we, as an audience, inevitably develop some sort of connection to Mae and we see her as the hero, by default. And this is not unfounded as, in the beginning, we are shown that she is truly a good person with good intentions, and through the events of the book she becomes corrupted by the imposing influence of the mentality of The Circle. But we see this corruption as reversible, especially with the hope that Ty/Kalden will be able to get through to her and convince Mae of why completion will be a disastrous event. Only now we know that as Mae travelled further and further down her path in the book, it became less and less likely for her to come back. This is why I think it was a suitable ending for the book, for had Mae actually listened to Ty/Kalden in the end, I would have found this too unbelievable. For Eggers to say that after all the events of the book, that one speech at the end was enough to sway Mae back would have been to big a leap for me to consider acceptable.

But after completing my reading of The Circle, I can definitely see where along the line Mae was moving from “a victim” to “a dull villain.” As she progressed into and embraced her life as someone who went transparent, and apparent ambassador for The Circle, she began truly shifting into the mentality of a Circle proponent. The first evidence of this was when she introduced her Demoxie idea, as this marked the first time where she actively sought to go above in beyond in attempting to further the purpose of The Circle. From here we see a further progression through her introduction admission of secretly meeting with Annie to her followers and use of SoulSearch. The evidence is clear that, although we may not have realized it at the time, Mae had truly developed into the role of a villain, even if it was a rather “dull” one.

Circle Post 4

In this section the audience and the world of The Circle are introduced to the the innovation that will supposedly “close the circle”: Demoxie. And while seemingly advantageous at first, a closer look reveals its innate values that are un-democratic in nature.

When first introduced by Eamon, he frames it as the next logical step in The Circle’s progression as a company. He reasons that since they already have more information than is usually required for voter registration/identification and their services are used by more people than vote in any given election, a TruYou profile should automatically register someone to vote. I believe that this is a fairly rational idea and what that I might even support, given that a company like The Circle already existed. For me, what degrades this idea is Mae’s addition to it, her “one step further.”

Mae’s “one step further” is actually more like 10 steps further. She appears to arrive logically at her proposal that the government require every legal adult to create a Circle account and use their services. However when you break down her argument it boils down to something like this:

The government passes laws for certain mandatory things. We have to pay taxes and serve on juries. Ergo, we should require people to create a Circle account.

She frames this as simply passing a law requiring people to vote, and insists that The Circle is the only entity with the infrastructure to enforce this. But this is a completely invalid and unprecedented measure. Requiring people to vote is one thing, but to do by subscribing to the services of an outside company is quite another. It is true that there are certain mandatory laws that require us to pay for the services of companies and not government agencies, but these companies are generally heavily regulated to insure consumer safety, whereas The Circle is not monitored in this way.

From here, Mae proceeds to take her “one step further” to the limit by insisting that  every citizen not only be required to have an account through The Circle and vote, but that they also must use The Circle for many government services that Mae and others have deemed to be an inconvenience when not channeled through one unifying service.

Now it is true that this would be an effective way to increase voter turnout and streamline government operation, but at what cost? Stenton suggests that it “might even eliminate Congress” and “much of Washington”. If red flags aren’t popping up in the minds of the readers at this point, I’m not sure what it would take. The idea that a private company could eliminate and take over most of the core functions of the government should be extremely alarming to anyone with democratic principles. The idea of placing power in the hands of the government is that citizens are able to influence the government, something that they cannot do with The Circle.

Beyond this The Circle is becoming, if it is not already, a monopoly. It has amassed so great an amount of influence on the internet that no other company is able to viably compete for a share in the market. So the fact that the government in the book is being submissive to it rather than attacking it should be indicative of how un-democratic The Circle and Demoxie truly are.

Circle Post 3: Prompt 2

After Mae’s incident with the kayak and her talk with Eamon Bailey, she is asked to participate in a special Dream Friday. During it she presents three slogans, one leading logically to the next, which outline her and The Circle’s view on transparency. Let’s take a look  at those statements.


This is the first mantra Mae presents and, individually, it is not that outrageous a concept to grasp. When Mae explains the statement she speaks of how “secrets inspire speculation. When [people] don’t know what’s being hidden, [they] guess, [they] make up answers” (Eggers 299). If you follow this logic, ‘secrets are lies’ seems pretty reasonable. It is human nature to seek answers, and when the truth is hidden from people, they are left to their own imaginations to speculate as to what the truth is. In this ways, you can see how rumors are lies and, therefore, secrets cause (or are) lies. Also, Mae points out that the assumed veil of secrecy surrounding her kayaking trip would allow her to lie and not be held accountable, which further supports this notion.


‘Sharing is caring’ is a common saying from childhood, with which we are all familiar with. The simplicity and connection to children and innocence actually make it more effective, especially seeing as it comes right after Eamon’s story of his son Gunner who, with cerebral palsy, relies on the shared stories of others to experience things. Eamon is also able to provoke Mae into a moving quasi-rant which ends in profound statements comparing not sharing to a violation of human rights: “If you deprive your friends, or someone like [Eamon’s] son Gunner, of experiences like [Mae] had, you’re basically stealing form them… Equal access to all possible human experiences is a basic human right” (Eggers 303). This is where Mae uses logic to take ‘sharing is caring’ a step further, from the innocent childhood mantra to something that serves her purpose. Sharing is now more than simply caring, its required as part of the basic rights of humans, or else you are stealing. This may not be your first though, but the notion doesn’t seem to far fetched.


This is where Mae takes the  first two statements and logically turns them into a third, which is accepted by her audience. If Mae has successfully delivered her first two statements, which she has, then she is then allowed to logically step towards statements such as “if I deprive anyone or everyone of something I know… Aren’t I stealing from my fellow humans?” (Eggers 305). Looking at this statements out of context may seem like a large jump (because it is) but after what Mae has been saying previously, it is the next logical step. If secrets cause lies and withholding information is stealing from everyone, then it makes sense that privacy is theft.


Now, I personally do not believe in what Mae is saying. I got off this train at the junction where Mae reasoned that not sharing everything is as big a violation as denying someone the right to be free. I diverged here because I believe the right to remain silent is just as important as the right to speak out. People should by no means be forced into sharing what they do not wish to become public. With all of this said, however, it is worth noting the way in which Mae makes her argument. This marks an important point in the book where Mae is now a completely different person, and how did this happen? I believe that Eamon was able to sway her in ways similar to how Mae persuades her audience. I think Eamon guided Mae down this logical path, and now Mae is doing the same for everyone else at The Circle. If the people are able to accept a few relatively small concessions, then suddenly Mae/Eamon’s path seems like the only one. So while I do not personally follow the reasoning set up in Mae’s mantras, I do see how it could be effective in the context of the book.

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Outline

My original artifact for my speech was the idea of Kickstarter campaigns. Right now I plan on my second artifact as being Bernie Sander’s bid for the presidency. I don’t want this to be about whether someone agrees with his ideas or not so I will not talk about his policies in any way, shape, or form. I will focus on the simple fact that he was successful in receiving the largest amount of small donations in recent history and was able to draw up widespread support. I’m not completely sold on this idea, however. I think these two artifacts could be too similar as many of the devices and goals are the same, and I think it’s possible that there’s something better out there to use.


Original artifact: Kickstarter campaigns

New artifact: Social Media Bar


Intro: Give brief background on both and show how both artifacts have similar purpose. They both aim to get people involved in global conversation and promote the sharing of ideas to the masses.



Reevaluate Kickstarter campaigns and expand on my original analysis of them.


Describe new artifact (social media bar) and how it achieves many of the same goals as Kickstarter campaigns. Explain how its methods differ but end result is similar.


Explain general commonplace of mass social media and perceived importance of individual opinions and needing to share them.



Revisit main points and reestablish why both artifacts are effective in their intentions. The two feed into the same commonplaces and ideas and they both provide an interesting insight into our modern society.

Civic Artifact Outline


Overview: I will show how Kickstarter campaigns promote the civic through their use of rhetoric and the rhetoric that surrounds their existence. Kickstarter encourages people to share their ideas and becomes involved in the active betterment of global society. By looking past mere profitability, Kickstarter campaigns seek recognition for the civic engagement of their project, while the people who fund them act civically by paying attention and taking part in a global conversation.


Either display a specific Kickstarter project page or the organization’s mission statement to give background and illustrate the civic.

Topics of discussion:

  • Rhetorical appeals- Kickstarter users are encouraged to give multitudes of information on their projects because, after all, they are essentially a sales pitch. They must establish their credibility in order to receive backing and often do this by taking the potential donor through a series of logical conclusions that establish why there is a need for their project and why they are best suited to develop it. Users can also appeal to the emotions of people in an effort to persuade them to get involved with their project. They can do this by moving from proving that they created a logical necessity to proving they created something revolutionary that will improve the quality of everyone’s lives. Donors can usually contribute any amount of money, large or small. I can draw connections between this and grassroots campaigning in that a group will publicize its many small donations to prove widespread support rather than a few dedicated backers.


  • Repetition of certain words/phrases- Kickstarter’s website and the projects on it seem to have some recurring themes and key phrases (i.e. “bring projects to life” or “creative projects- big or small”). Things like these help to reinforce Kickstarter’s point that that they touch all areas of the creative sphere and, more importantly, that the goal of their existence is to allow projects to be funded based on their ability to prove their worth. They focus on funding for the sake of “art, talent, passion, or an incredible story of inspiration” rather than profitability. This puts the power of invention and creation in the hands of the masses, who will fund what they believe in.


Summarize the main points of how Kickstarter employs rhetoric to inspire the civic. More specifically, explain the rhetorical strategies used by Kickstarter to persuade people to become civic.