It’s a bird! It’s a plane! Oh wait, it’s just an SRTE…..

Seeing the Onward State’s version of the SRTEs made me actually want to try and attempt to complete, I mean come on, who wouldn’t want to take out their frustrations about their classes and get some sort of relief at the end of the semester, or close to the semester. But then I saw the real SRTE questions and I was slightly discouraged, and well, the amount of SRTEs I saw on my Angel account made me slightly less wary to fill them out.

Even though they may sound silly, SRTEs are a great example of civic responsibility. It it our duty as students of Penn State to take the time to rate our teachers and our classes in complete and utter honesty, to make sure that the university’s academics remain top notch, and that we as students, receive the best education as possible. Our teachers use this information to improve their classes and their teaching styles. One of my teachers explained the importance of SRTEs for her work: they use it to improve upon their current teaching styles, the class materials, i.e. the literature selected for that semester, and the university uses these SRTEs to determine whether or not to offer these teachers a  tenure and to continue with their employment at the university. SRTEs give us, the students, the opportunity to give feedback to our teachers, and with some teachers, that may be easy to do in an open setting. There was a time when the opinions of students in college were not appreciated. They thought that a student’s job was to go to school and appreciate the fact that they were getting an education. Now SRTEs are mandatory across all universities because people value the opinions of students and we have to take advantage of our rights and actually try to go through with them.


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Dinner Talk

Thanksgiving dinners in my family involve my family and a few of my uncles, aunts, cousins coming together to for one day of the year to eat a large bounty of food and watch football and talk about our lives in the past year or so, depending on when we each saw each other last. In my case, everyone was curious about my college experience considering I am one of the youngest cousins out of all my family members. While the youth don’t go into hard core discussions about politics and religion, the adults upstairs talk about every little matter on this planet we call Earth. From sports, to medicine, to politics (especially this year with the election and all), the adults in my family try to get a wide variety of conversations into that one night of the year.

Unlike with many other families, my family is pretty good with discussing controversial topics and keeping a calm and level-headed behavior. Why? Because we take into account that Thanksgiving is the only time of the year where all of us are gathered at one time and can actually spend time together. The last thing anyone wanted to do, was to walk out of my house with steam coming out of their ears because Uncle Benny expressed his opinion and everyone else got mad. Now does that mean that everyone agreed with everyone else’s opinion? No, sure there were disagreements, but nothing dramatic or that would cause a scene or affect familial relationships. But no one is afraid to speak their mind, because the holiday season brings up feelings of family and a loving and warm atmosphere. It doesn’t matter what you say, but rather it’s how we say it. Don’t make your points by being derogatory and being outright condescending toward others, but rather, just introduce your opinion to the audience and allow others to make their way.

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Women Runs Over Husband For Not Voting

Since we were talking about civic engagement and our obligation to take part in our society, I thought it would be the right time to talk about this article that some of you may or may not have heard about. Holy Solomon, a 28 year old woman was strongly opposed to the Obama administration because she felt that his policies would negatively affect her lifestyle and cause her and her husband hardship. She blamed her husband, who decided not to vote, for Obama’s re-election, and promptly ran into her car, and drove around a Gilbert parking lot trying to run him over. He was able to hide behind a light pole, but was hit with the car, and pinned underneath the vehicle. She said that her main intention was just to scare him with the car, but she pressed on the accelerator by mistake. Someone takes their civic duties A LITTLE bit too seriously.

When I first read this article, I was sitting at my computer screen with the “with the…?” facial expression on my face. Okay, if the man was cheating on his wife, or she found out that he had another child, okay, I can understand the rage behind her actions. I would not have approve of the course of her actions, but I would have understood. But the idea that an entire marriage was compromised because of who became the president of our country. I mean, OBVIOUSLY her husband’s one vote would’ve put Romney on top and made him president, but because he didn’t go to the polls, America is doomed. This woman’s overreaction to her husband’s actions, or lack there of, is a clear representation of how we should not underestimate our civic duties. Now, I don’t mean that when you hear that someone hasn’t voted, you should rev up your engine and barrel down towards them, but don’t take them for granted. Some people don’t have the right to vote, so if you do, make the most out of it.

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TED Talks

After watching a few TED talks, it’s easy to see that they have a genre of their own. A TED talk is focused upon one central theme or idea and it can be a discussion over a variety of topics, from science and nanotechnology, to anthropology and human behavior. A TED talk is more or less, a speech with occasional graphics and use of a large presenter screen with images, videos, statistics, etc.

When I was watching all these TED talks, I noticed how the speaker tried to truly engage with the audience whom they were speaking to, and considering how large the TED audience is, that is quite impressive. The speakers do not speak from a podium or from their paper, but rather they walk around the stage and try to remain on the little red dot on the stage to be in the center and allow the audience to see them. They do not hide behind any sort of barriers and are completely exposed to the audience, which honestly scares me, but then again that’s just me. These speakers speak in a way that is not only engaging the audience, but they try to show their passion for the subject. With some speakers, you can tell that they are actually interested in what they are trying to say because they try to make it appealing to the audience by inserting anecdotes, showing images of well known sources of media, and by revealing their humorous side. The speakers are not your usual lecturers whose main goal is to convey their message to the audience and reveal something that people like us, may not notice in our everyday life.

TED talks give us a dynamic medium in which to learn new things in a friendly environment. There’s no test, there’s no grade, there’s just the love for loving and click of a mouse.

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Fourth Graders, Carly Rae Jepsen, and Civic Engagement

Watching this video of fourth graders singing a Call Me Maybe tuned song about the civic duty to vote for a president. This video really called out to me on the fact that there are so many countries out there that are trying to strive for democracy, and as a country that has had the luxury of being based upon democracy, we have had the advantage to take a part of the decision making process, one of the most important decisions being as to who will run the future of our country. Sometimes, I feel that I underestimate what it truly means to be an American citizen, part of a democracy, part of the independent world. Because we are so used to our lifestyle, the way we seem to have control over our lives, the fact that the government does not control every aspect of our lives, we tend to forget how there are people out there who are constantly dreaming of a democracy in their future. We have the privilege of living in such a great country, the land of the free but we have to look into the past of our country’s history, we see that we were once subjected to acts of imperialism exerted by the British. It is not as though we were formed as a nation one day and some guy screamed out, “Hey! Let’s become a democracy!” We got to be where we are today because of the fact that long ago, we were once in a position where we were not in charge of our futures, but rather we had someone else calling the shots on our future, our lives, our destinies. Although we managed to get ourselves out of that situation, there are many countries who did not get the opportunity to do so and as such, we need to take advantage of our already established democracy and find a way to enstill it in others.

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Interruption vs. Interjection in Debates

I’m not much of a political debate watcher, but what I do watch is the affect that those debates will have on social networking sites. every time people talk about presidential debates, all I can think about is the amount of tweets I’m going to see on my Twitter about the funny things that Romney says and how Obama countered his oh so politically incorrect statements. While presidential debates are meant to give viewers a taste of each candidate so they can make the right choice for the President of the United State, they are also meant to be a stage performance filled with meaningful dialogue. The candidates are the actors and the viewers, its audience.

Whenever I see a debate, I always see the candidates interrupt each other, and while others generally see interruption as poor manners, in the political world, its not seen as bad manners, if it does not steal the floor. Once a candidate has said all that they have wanted to say, then it is okay for the other candidate to go on with their point. It is all part of the act, the way to make sure the viewers continue to watch the debate so the station can continue on with good ratings. The presidents have to essentially make themselves more relatable to audience, not the way that they often present themselves at important events and ceremonies. Seeing the candidates duke it out in the ring like boxers not only gives the audience an entertaining time, but allows them to see the presidents in a personal manner.

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What Bill Clinton Wrote vs What Bill Clinton Said

Bill Clinton. No matter what personal feelings you have toward (or against) him, there is one thing that I feel that almost any American can agree with is that Bill Clinton had a way with words. Granted to have quite a “memorable presidency,” Bill Clinton had a way of making the American people feel safe. When you see Bill Clinton make a speech, you can see the way that he presents himself to the American people: smooth, strong, confident, and passionate about public speaking. So when the Atlantic Wire published an article about how Bill Clinton was able to completely deviate from his prepared speech, and go off a whim, it brought his public speaking to a whole other level.

I know that when I made my RCL speech, I was nervous like there was no tomorrow. I tried to keep up with my pre-written outline and make sure I tried hit all my points in a chronological manner because otherwise, I feared that I would lose my pace and go off on a tangent that I would not be able to get myself out of. So when I heard about how Bill Clinton had a PRE-WRITTEN speech and didn’t even need to use it, I couldn’t even think of how I would be able to pull of a show like that. When analyzing the difference between Clinton’s pre-written speech versus the speech that he actually gave, I was amazed not only by the amount of content that Bill Clinton deleted, but by the amount that he added. It was amazing how this man, could pull of such a smooth speech without needing a moment to collect his thoughts, or show any sign of worrying about his timing or what he was saying. He was able to give off a wonderful speech that spoke to the American people. It was truly a Clinton speech, given by one of the country’s greatest public speakers.

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The Westboro Baptist Church: Crazy or Outright Zealous?

In our English class, we were learning about the use of rhetoric and how the communication of our ideas can affect how people take to our ideas. In order to see how rhetoric can fuel an organization’s message, our teacher showed us a video about a radical baptist church that had a clear hatred for homosexuality. Calling it a sin, they deemed anyone who was homosexual, or who associated themselves with homosexuals, to be going to hell after their death. Along with homosexuality, the Westboro Baptist Church actively protested against the funeral of dead soldiers. During the funeral, while the family is mourning the loss, the protestors will stand their allowed distance from the funeral and shout their messages that soldiers deserved to die and that they would be going to hell. The reason they felt this way was because they thought that it was immoral to engage in war-like activity. They felt that by being soldiers, they were encouraging the war to happen and were encouraging nations to partake in violence instead of peaceful means of coming to an agreement. These people in this church community are very zealous in their beliefs, trying to spread their message to the world, not with the intention of trying to convert others, but just trying to tell people that they are going down the “wrong” path and are doomed for hell.

Even though I do not agree with the Westboro Baptist Church’s message because well, they are outright crazy, the one thing that I admire, and I mean “admire” in a very light manner, is their commitment to their cause. These people are among the most hated people in American because of the beliefs that they hold. They are very comfortable keeping to themselves, telling people that they are going to hell, and truly believing that they themselves are the only ones going to heaven because only they have followed God’s word, or at least what they think is God’s word. These people are taunted for their beliefs, people throw their drinks and food at them as they are driving by, and the younger generation is not well accepted by their peers, but yet they continue to trust the beliefs with which they have been taught to live accordingly. Of course there are some who do not understand why they are doing what they are doing and saying what they are saying, but they have been taught to live in a certain way and believe in certain practices. The way that we have been raised continue to have an everlasting impression on our lives, but there are times when we decide that we can make these important life changing decisions on our own, and we venture off into unknown territory.

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The Effect? The Intent? Which One Is It?

Every Wednesday during my senior year, I would hop on the bus to New York City for my senior experience assignment. As I would casually walk through the city, sipping my hot chocolate from Dunkin’ Donuts and trying not to bump into tourists taking pictures of the Empire State Building, I would often look up to see one of the hundreds of advertisements all over the city. Now when seeing all these advertisements, the only ones that I could remember were the ones that were provocative, the ones that made a big impact on me, the ones that made me look at them for more than three seconds.

In class, we went in depth about how sometimes the intent of a writer or artist, can often be at odds with the effect it has on the audience. One advertisement that we looked at was submitted to the WWF, the World Wildlife Fund, and is depicted here on the side. As we can see, the advertisement is calling attention toward one of America’s most sensitive topics: 9/11. We see NYC being attacked by several planes and in the corner, we see text saying that the tsunami killed more people than 9/11 did. When I first read that piece of text, I was first astonished by the fact that the casualties of 9/11 are being compared to the casualties of the tsunami. Having actually living through 9/11 and not just having read it in some textbook, it had an emotional effect and grabbed my attention. Even though the intention of the advertisement is geared toward global warming, the way most people, especially Americans, will see it as propaganda about 9/11.

The person who created this advertisement had the job of creating a piece that would catch people’s attention from their busy lives and to stop and think. In that case, they were very successful. Even though some people would be emotionally affected by the advertisement because they lost family to 9/11, others may not be affected to a great extent and will be willing to look beyond the planes and the city and look for its intended message.

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One Library’s Quest to Keep on Living

Posted on the RCL website is a video of a perfect                                                           example of how social media can have
such a great impact on any sort of movement. In the city of Troy, Michigan stood a library, which at the time was not fully appreciated for its worth to the community. For a while, it was able to hold its own ground, it was affordable to the town, until the economy hit rock bottom, and even though it has greatly approved, the library was not at its once former glory. In order to be able to afford the library once again, the city issued for a town meeting to occur where they asked the citizens whether they would be willing to pay an increase of 0.7% on their taxes. Since the economy took a turn for the worst, people were not keen to the idea of having to pay more money for their taxes. Thinking that it was over, an organization that came together to help save the library decided to take matter into their own hands and go a different way. They posted signs all over the town announcing a new event where people can come to the library and burn the books since the library would be closed. This event sparked so much controversy as the same people who were against the tax increase to save the library, were now complaining that the organization was evil and was going to burn literacy as we knew it. We can see how the use of rhetoric brought a city to its knees and caused it to condemn the very same people who were trying to save a cause that no one supported at
first. The organization used rhetoric by creating such an intense uproar among the community. They used overly expressive language that was very intense and emphasized the word burning. They encouraged society’s notion of getting rid of the library by actually saying that if we are getting rid of the library, we should just get rid of the books along with it. This shows us that in order to get people’s attention, sometime we have to step out of the box, sometimes we have to look beyond what is presented to us or what has been done before, and make a name for ourselves.

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