October 26

RCL #9: TED Talk Rough Draft

  1. Briefly go over Reagan paradigm shift
    1. Emphasis on low taxes, deregulation
    2. Nation generally shifted to right economically
    3. Deregulation also meant free trade/globalization
  2. Recent backlash to economic consensus
    1. Economic meltdown of 2008
    2. Increasing income inequality
    3. Jobs being outsourced to other countries
  3. Rise of populist candidates
    1. Is happening on both left and right
    2. Bernie Sanders, democratic socialism, popularity with millenials
    3. Donald Trump, differs from many GOP members on free trade policies
    4. Similar situation in Europe right now
  4. Possible NEW paradigm shift
    1. Discuss “horseshoe” political spectrum theory; how it differs from traditional political compass
    2. Both parties may end up moving far left and far right
    3. However, “extreme” ends may have more in common than more “centrist” versions of left/right
    4. Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump both want to regulate trade, for examole
    5. “Horseshoe Theory” may become the future political compass
October 19

RCL #8: Paradigm Shift Essay Draft

  1. Introduction
    1. Discuss the current economic “culture” in the U.S.
    2. Low taxes, deregulation, free trade/globalization, etc.
    3. Much of this can be attributed to the actions of President Ronald Reagan
    4. General political shift to the right in the nation
    5. Predictably, people are divided on whether this has been good or bad, especially as of late
  2. Events Leading Up to Reagan
    1. More Keynesian economic policies in decades preceding
    2. FDR’s New Deal, LBJ’s Great Society, higher taxes, stronger union rights, etc.
    3. So-called “Golden Age of Capitalism” where all socioeconomic classes benefited from growth
    4. Humiliations of 1970s cause Americans to lose faith in this system
    5. Vietnam War loss, recessions, energy crisis, Iran hostage crisis, Soviets invade Afghanistan, etc.
    6. Culminated in incumbent President Carter’s loss of 1980 election to Reagan
  3. How Reagan Won Election
    1. Made appeals to Americans’ then current frustrations with government’s handling of issues
    2. “Government is the problem”; cite specific source for this!
    3. Charm, positive attitude, and wit resonated with voters
    4. Also allied with Christian leaders, formed “Christian Right” coalition
    5. Discuss disillusioned Democrats who supported him (AKA: “Reagan Democrats”)
  4. Reagan’s Accomplishments
    1. President Reagan managed to restore confidence in much of the American populace
    2. “Reaganomics” often attributed to economic boom of the 1980s
    3. Slashed taxes and regulations, especially on big business
    4. Ended or reduced several government assistance programs
    5. Stood up to “Evil Empire” Soviet Union; ended detente of ’70s; involved in some proxy wars
    6. Relations with USSR improved greatly during Reagan’s second term, partially thanks to the more liberal Premier Gorbachev
  5. Reagan’s Impact on Future Politics
    1. Popularity rubbed off on his VP, George H.W. Bush, who won the presidency in 1988
    2. Destabilization of USSR under Reagan led to its subsequent collapse under Bush 41
    3. Bill Clinton was a “New Democrat”; more conservative than previous party presidents to appeal to Reaganites
    4. Republicans took Congress in 1994, showed conservative stronghold created by Reagan remained
    5. Bush 43 continued Reagan-esque policies such as tax breaks
    6. Obama’s victory hinted at reversing right-wing trend, but GOP control of Congress stated otherwise.
    7. When running for 2016, Trump may have attempted to brand himself as “The New Reagan”; “Make America Great Again” was actually used way back in 1980.
  6. Proponents of Reagan’s Impact Argue:
    1. Obviously, Reagan remains popular with modern conservatives and Republicans
    2. Tax cuts and deregulation have helped businesses and economy grow
    3. Collapse of communism led to U.S. as world’s sole superpower (for now, at least)
    4. Spread of democracy worldwide continued thanks to Reagan’s policies
    5. End of the Cold War set the stage for free trade and globalization
    6. Christian Right remains an influential part in many U.S. social issues
  7. Opponents of Reagan’s Impact Argue:
    1. Politics too heavily-dominated by the right nowadays
    2. “Trickle-down economics” has led to increased income inequality for past 30+ years
    3. Free trade led to loss of domestic jobs
    4. Christian Right’s influence a nuisance to some social liberals
    5. Discuss lack of attention to HIV/AIDS epidemic during Reagan era
    6. Policies sometimes blamed for the 2008 economic collapse
  8. Recent Backlash from Both Sides
    1. Recent events may indeed lead to another political paradigm shift in the near future
    2. Bernie Sanders on the left; wants to return to more controlled economics of New Deal era
    3. Despite making parallels to Reagan, President Trump is protectionist on trade; wants America to become less globally-involved
    4. Similar right-wing or populist movements to Trump in Europe; Brexit, France’s Le Pen, etc.
    5. Perhaps mention Obama’s possible attempt at “Change”
  9. Conclusion
    1. Reagan marked a shift in politics that is still seen today
    2. Has remained a stronghold despite some opposition
    3. His legacy is clear, but still up for debate whether good or bad
October 11

RCL #7: The Power of Visuals

Many individuals, including myself, can be described as being “visual learners”; we tend to take in information more easily when presented via images or diagrams, as opposed to long blocks of text. This is not to say that we are unable to digest details through reading, especially when the descriptive language used is well-written, as is the case with Lynsey Addario’s memoir. However, while Addario has a clear talent for composition, as a professional photojournalist, it would be an absolute shame if she did not share some of her photography to compliment the stories she tells regardless of one’s learning style. Luckily, our author goes above and beyond on delivering this.

The two images that stood out to me the most included one in which a Libyan rebel is seen comforting an injured comrade (after page 82), as well as one in which a mother in Sierra Leone had just died during pregnancy (after page 210). What is noticeable in these pictures Addario took is that the emotions of the subjects in each are a central focus; the wounded soldier in the first shot is clearly shown to be in pain based on the look of his face, and the second photo makes sure to include the deceased mother’s loved ones in deep mourning. Through the conveyance of emotions in her photography, the author also manages to express a deeper message: she is aware that many of her readers have never been to the types of places she often travels to, and as such, the residents of such foreign lands can seem almost alien to us stuck in our bubbles, so she makes sure to capture their most sentimental moments, helping the audience view the foreigners as people just like them.

The uses of imagery, video, and multimedia are oftentimes crucial in telling a resonant story, and I myself have used these tactics when writing about my passions as Addario does musing on her photojournalism career. For example, in my most recent passion blog post, I aid readers in helping them understand the emotions I felt as my excitement for an upcoming video game continued to rise. Check it out here!

October 6

RCL #6: Conflicts of Interest

Throughout her memoir, Lynsey Addario speaks of several brief relationships, all of which ultimately fail due to her intense work and travel schedule. Despite her repeated lack of success, Addario remained stuck in this cycle. She describes it best in the eighth chapter; when reminiscing on her fling with an Iranian actor, the author makes it clear that she “wasn’t in love with him, and I was consumed by my work as always. But some part of me still enjoyed these passionate love affairs I knew would never last.”

Not only does Addario succeed in summarizing the conflict between her professional and personal life as concisely as possible, but she also words it in a way that her audience (including myself) can relate to. As contributing members of a civil society, we are oftentimes split between fulfilling our duties (such as school or work) and satisfying our passions, and despite enjoying the pursuit of the latter, we will always feel the weight of the former holding us back. In the author’s case, while she found legitimate enjoyment in her dating life, she was still aware that her demanding career as a photojournalist would make this difficult. As for me, I love to play video games, but time for such an activity is now extremely scarce given my rigorous college workload.

A silver lining to the “duty vs. passion” conflict us human beings experience is that the two can work in harmony if the conditions are right. Addario, for instance, found this in her future husband, Paul, who was just as dedicated to his career in journalism as her. I myself experienced an overlap between my responsibilities and preferred activities when I decided to theme my passion blog around gaming; this way, I would have to do what I like in order to succeed in my English class! While we all have obligations to fulfill, finding a way to intertwine it with our passions can enrich our experiences in both.

October 5

RCL #5: Rhetorical Analysis Essay Draft

  1. Introduction
    1. Television used as a rhetorical device in all kinds of ways
    2. Briefly go over “conventional” calls to civic action
    3. Discuss the importance of satire as a means to deliver a message in more “vapid” entertainment
      1. Mention more commonly-known satirical shows such as South Park, etc.
      2. Begin talk on Sonic Boom’s recent streak of self-referential humor regarding the franchise’s infamously divided fanbase.
    4. Specific episode, “The Biggest Fan”, arguably the biggest lampoon of this; features a character representative of the stereotypical Sonic fan interacting with the main characters.
  1. Thesis Statement:  
    1. Through its use of witty, satirical humor, the Sonic Boom writers are not only able to create a charming, 11-minute episode, but convey an underlying message towards its own fanbase, and fans in general.
  1. Contextual Information
    1. Episode opens with titular protagonist Sonic speaking at a community event
    2. Obsessed fan, “Mark the Tepir” asks Sonic for autograph afterwards, follows him to lunch
    3. Sonic initially does not catch on to Mark’s unusual attachment, accepts the latter’s offer to become his personal assistant.
    4. Mark purposely gets Sonic and co. into accidents so he can “nurse them back to health”; they are all stuck bedridden in body casts at Mark’s house.
    5. When the heroes attempt to escape, the casts come off, and it turns out that they were not actually injured.
    6. Sonic “defeats” Mark, fires him from personal assistant job.
  1. “Surface-Level” Satirical Elements
    1. Writers pull no punches when it comes to referencing the fanbase; most aspects fair game.
    2. Acknowledges that Sonic fans are infamous for constant fickleness and complaining.
      1. One point in the episode has Sonic himself mention that fans “criticize everything I do”.
      2. Scene in which Mark creates a painting of the protagonist, stating he still needs to color in the arms; reference to fan outcry when Sonic was redesigned for this show, had arms changed from tan to blue.
    3. Mark’s obsession with Sonic also allows for the illustration of the “darker side” of fandom.
      1. Shrine in his bedroom dedicated to Sonic.
      2. Even a reference to the “non-family-friendly” fanfiction written about the normally innocent franchise.
  1. Underlying, “Deeper” Message
    1. True, writers “roast” the series’ fanbase pretty hard in this episode, but they are NOT saying being a fan makes one bad.
    2. A subtle way of conveying this comes in the fact that Mark did not actually injure Sonic and his friends; he was simply misguided in his attempts to spend time with them.
    3. Misguided or not, Mark still went too far, and does receive consequences in the form of getting “fired” from being Sonic’s personal assistant.
  1. Conclusion
    1. Summarize points in introduction, restate thesis
    2. Message writers are trying to convey: okay to have a passion and be a fan, but there is a point where one can go too far.
    3. Discuss how “mind-blowing” it is that a relatively simplistic cartoon can be used to provoke thought in how we as humans act.
    4. Go back to how this makes television a strong rhetorical device even in the most “vapid” of ways.
September 21

RCL #4: Civic Artifact Speech Draft

I. Introduction

Picture this: it is the early ’90s, and a new episode of the hot smash hit, The Simpsons, is about to grace your television screen. The opening sequence plays, and once the iconic scene of the five main characters sitting on their couch to watch T.V. is shown, that’s when it hits you: seeing as the titular family is intended to be a portrayal of the stereotypical American household, and given this particular segment appears before every episode proper, you realize just how great an impact the television has had on your culture! In addition to its prominence in a popular cartoon, you then reflect on other ways in which T.V. has shaped the modern world. After giving it some thought, you fully acknowledge the how a box full of “moving pictures” has not only revolutionized the way we see the outside world, but has also inspired generations of individuals to take action and stand up for their social and political beliefs.


II. General Impact of TV

  1. BRIEFLY mention usage of radio for news/entertainment; “pre-TV” life
  2. 1950s: Television sets commonplace in American homes (find/cite source on ownership statistics)
  3. Televised news:
    1. Talk about visual component being resonant with viewers, broadening understanding of outside world
    2. Compare radio unfolding of Pearl Harbor to T.V. unfolding of 9/11; differences in emotional impact
  4. Televised entertainment:
    1. Motion pictures and cartoons no longer limited to movie theaters
    2. Sports games no longer limited by radio and stadium tickets (may need to cite sources on this; not a big sports guy!)
    3. Video games no longer limited to arcades
    4. Discuss some of the memories shaped by televised entertainment
  5. Miscellaneous Innovations:
    1. Our “addiction” to staring at screen likely laid the foundation for designing personal computers, smartphones, etc.
    2. Commercials


III. Call to Civic Action

  1. Mention resonant visual component again
    1. Images of a situation oftentimes have stronger emotional impact than auditory/textual descriptions alone
    2. The more emotional impact, the more people feel the need to take action
    3. Cite 1968 Vietnam War pictures as example of this
  2. Informing viewers on politics
    1. Impact of televised debates (research Kennedy v. Nixon debate)
    2. Media “frenzy” nowadays possibly stirring up too much political controversy
  3. Informing on misc. issues
    1. Crime, poverty, hunger, natural disasters, etc.
    2. Discuss influence on how people help as a result of broadcasts
  4. More subtle ways of calling to action
    1. TV shows, for example, that are thought-provoking enough to inspire others to make a difference
    2. Mention The Simpsons again, discuss how they satirize relevant issues to convey a message.


IV. Conclusion

The television was not only a revolutionary piece of technology, but a quintessential tool for influencing modern-day civic duty, with the power of visuals being able to convince an individual to get off the couch and make a difference in their world, whether it be by getting informed to vote in their next election, or by volunteering to help starving children in poorer countries.

September 14

RCL #3: Feeling “Unwelcome”

The name of the fourth chapter of It’s What I Do, “You, American, Are Not Welcome Here Anymore”, simultaneously sets the tone of the story Addario intends to tell as well as the underlying message she may also wish to convey. She does the latter by immersing her readers in a particular situation in which she felt especially uncomfortable at her assignment, hoping to put her audience in her shoes and instill as sense of empathy in them.

Almost immediately following the attacks of 9/11, Addario flies off to Peshawar, Pakistan, hoping to cover the imminent American invasion of the nearby Afghanistan. There, she interacts with many civilians sympathetic towards the terrorists behind the recent tragedy. While doing a photo-shoot at an anti-American rally, the clearly Western Addario is aggressively groped by several agitated men. The author proceeds to go into vivid detail about her unpleasant experience, specifying where she was grabbed, how many men touched her at once, and so forth.

Addario’s approach to revisiting this incident is likely done to have the reader truly understand the feeling of being “unwelcome” in a foreign, hostile environment. After later attempting to enter a mosque once the American bombing had begun, she is told by a woman the exact phrase that the chapter is named after, thus bringing it all full-circle. In a way, Chapter 4 can also be seen as Addario specifically putting American readers into Muslims’ shoes, allowing them to empathize with victims of Islamophobia; just as an Islamic terror attack caused many Muslims to feel unwelcome in the United States, the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan invasion causes Americans to feel unwelcome in the Muslim world.

Image result for islamophobia art

As a writer, I am greatly inspired by Addario’s use of immersion; it is a powerful tool in helping a writer resonate with his or her audience, and I commend her for effectively using this tactic to deliver a both a strong message and compelling reading experience. Coincidentally, I utilized similar strategies in writing my passion blogpost on Sonic Mania just last week, going into detail on my positive personal experiences with it as a means to recommend it to others, and I plan to continue and refine this persuasive technique in future writing endeavors.

P.S. Check out my first passion blog post here! : https://sites.psu.edu/seiffpassion/2017/09/06/sonic-maniac/

September 6

RCL #2: Short vs. Long-Term Passion

Although her grandmother, Nina, enjoyed a brief, passionate relationship with Sal, recounts Lynsey Addario, she ended up marrying Ernie, as the latter was a better provider financially. However, Nina does admit to a feeling of having missed out on the romance that Sal would have brought into her life. At first glance, it appears Addario is using this as an anecdote as a means to justify what she had also been going through at the time: a sudden relationship with Uxval, a man she had just met in Mexico.

In my opinion, Addario’s true intention of telling her grandmother’s story is unveiled once she revisits the life-changing decision she made on September 11th, 2oo1, in which she chose to leave Uxval to go to Afghanistan and further her career as a photojournalist. Nina made the choice of marrying Ernie based on what would do her good in the long run over what felt good in the short term. Likewise, deep down, Addario knew that continuing her passion for photography would likely bring her more happiness in the grand scheme, and had even expressed skepticism over “getting involved with someone who would break an engagement over a gut attraction to a stranger”; she simultaneously shows why she included Nina’s story as well as how she prioritizes her career as her ultimate happiness.

Related image

A time in which I was similarly conflicted between a short-term and long-term interest was, ironically, was when choosing a theme for my passion blog. I was split between the everyday activities of an introvert vs. the discussion of video games overlooked by my age group, and ended up choosing the latter. While the former subject initially came off to me as the more “unique” one, I came to realize that it was not an area I was particularly passionate about, and would only last me a few blog posts; there are very few, very mundane things an introvert like myself does in his alone time, but gaming is something that truly excites me, and I would rather give off that message of excitement to others than explain boring, solitary behaviors. That being said, I hope you all look forward to “Games for Kids”, coming very soon!

Image result for video game characters

August 24

RCL #1: My “Version of Happiness”

Despite the many trials and tribulations that Lynsey Addario has gone through during her career, she continues to live as a proud and passionate war journalist. Standing one’s ground and not abandoning one’s interest in the face of adversity is a trait I wholeheartedly respect, and while my passions have never led me into the life-threatening situations akin to those experienced by Addario, I feel I can still relate to her message about there existing different “versions” of happiness subjective to each individual.

While many of my peers seem to enjoy perpetual, nonstop socialization with others, I will own up to being rather introverted myself. Although I enjoy the occasional get-together, I admittedly find more comfort in being on my own studying or playing video games. Even the most mundane of solitary activities, such as awkwardly fidgeting or humming a song, can grant me a satisfaction that, for some strange reason, social interaction cannot quite replicate. As such, I have considered creating a passion blog describing the thoughts and emotions that go through my mind when around others versus when I am alone, in hopes that readers can better understand the mind of an introvert like myself.

Image result for Introvert

As I stated earlier, I enjoy playing video games in my “alone time”. While this can be seen as a solid conversation-starter when I talk with friends, the problem lies in that the games I tend to lean towards are usually seen as more “childish” compared to the gritty shooters people my age typically play. Nowadays, many great games are underappreciated by many for not being “cool enough”, and I would like to potentially mend this through a passion blog promoting such classics featuring the characters below.

Image result for video game mascots

True, my interests may seem odd to some, but they are my “version of happiness”, and I will stick with them regardless of what others might think. If Lynsey Addario can remain passionate about her journalism after being kidnapped, then it would be absolutely cowardly of me to fear expressing my interests loudly and proudly!