The Finale

Well, here it is. My last (required) blog post for AP Lang. It’s a bittersweet feeling, knowing that this means summer is right around the corner, but also knowing my time as a writer for AP Lang is coming to an end. However, this does not mean my time as a writer is coming to an end.

I learned an incredible amount of information about myself and writing this year. When I was in this class at the beginning of the year, I had no expectations. I thought it would be another class I took just to put on my college applications—I didn’t imagine I would learn as much as I did. From learning about logical fallacies, punctuation rules, and how to properly handle an argument (especially the pro-life—pro-choice, since that example seems to come up an unusual amount of times),  I can honestly say everything I’ve learned in this class has helped me to write, read, and think better. In this blog post, hopefully I can clearly explain to you how I have grown in these three areas.

Writing

It’s safe to say I’ve had to write more in this class than any other class in my high school career. I am grateful for this, because the more you practice something the better you get. I am not at all saying I have become a flawless writer, but this class has allowed me to recognize my “good” writing from my “bad” (I put these words in quotations, because what is good and bad writing?), and understand why some of my writing pieces are better than others. I like to think I was able to do this before, but I didn’t understand what writing was and even though I still don’t really know, this class has given me a better understanding.

Reading

Active reading is something I was taught to do in middle school. Teachers would force me to take notes on every page so I would “engage” with the text. Due to this, that was what my definition of active reading was. This class has given me a new definition, completely changing what I thought active reading was. Turns out, you can engage with a book without taking notes about it! Just by recognizing what the author is trying to say, what the theme they want to portray is vs. the theme you are taking away, that’s active reading! I can’t wait to argue with the next teacher who wants me to take 10 notes per page because they think that’s the only way to engage with a book.

Thinking

“What? You think differently because of this class? Why would you let one class change the way you think?”

No, I do not think differently because of this class, but I do. Makes sense, right? I still hold the same beliefs that I did in the beginning of the year, but I now understand why I believe those things. Because of this class, I can distinguish what real sources and facts are, and how to use them in my writing. News articles that are strictly based on opinion are no longer a first choice when looking for something to defend my argument. My thinking is based more on logistics, with a mix of opinions (I’m only human). I’ve realized there are two sides to every opinion, and understanding both sides will only make me a better person.

Of course I have learned more this year, but I find my strengths in these three areas are the biggest take aways for me. I hope that you have gained as much as I did from this class, if not more.

 

 

 

 

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A letter to music

Dear music,

In 2017, I listened to you for approximately 45,000 minutes,  discovering 1,647 different songs, and 669 different artists. Along the way, I explored 24 different genres, exploring the different options you offered.*

You’ve comforted me during difficult times, calmed my nerves in times of stress, and even heightened my feelings of happiness. You remind me of the tranquility and the joy of life. Through every phase in my life, you’ve been there to explain what I feel when words can’t. Thank you for giving me feelings of nostalgia, fulfillment, and happiness.

I’ve had friendships that have begun because of our love for you and the different artists and songs you offer. You have the ability to unite those that may not have anything in common, and give humans a deeper connection. I have wonderful memories of dancing and singing with friends and family, and you are the reason for these great moments.

You never grow old. Even your songs that seem to old for my generation make a come back, creating laughter for children as they watch their parents sing songs that they grew up listening to, out of tune of course.

This year, you were there when I thought I couldn’t do my math homework, or when I was studying materials for a test I knew nothing about, and even in the moments that felt like I was on top of the world. I don’t know how you do it. There aren’t words to describe what you mean to me, but I’m sure there is a song.

Love,

A music addict

*Spotify gives you this information at the end of a year, I promise I’m not making this up 🙂

 

Is your make-up worth it?

An issue that remains a controversial one today is the concept of animal testing. Several beauty and clothes companies are consistently testing their products on animals to test results before marketing to the public. These animals undergo burns to the skin, crushed bones, and the deprivation of everything that is natural to them. They are shoved in small cages in laboratories, breathing in toxic fumes that we as humans could not be around. While my opinion on this topic is pretty obvious, there are logical arguments for why animal testing isn’t as cruel and inhumane as it is perceived to be.

  1. Animal testing has contributed to many life saving cures

According to the California Biomedical Research Association, nearly every breakthrough in medicine has been because of animal testing. For example, if it wasn’t for the experiments in which dogs had their pancreases removed, we would not have insulin. Your blood sugar levels would be skyrocketing right now if it wasn’t for the sacrifice of a few dogs.

2.  Even animals benefit from animal testing  

Because vaccines are tested on animals, our pets are saved from rabies, feline leukemia, tetanus, anthrax, and several other diseases. Sure, some of their buddies lost their lives so they could have these vaccines, but they’ll be thanking them next time they get bit by a rabid animal.

3.  Animal testing is highly regulated 

Despite what critics think, animal testing has been regulated by the Animal Welfare Act since 1996. The AWA requires regular inspections by veterinarians, minimum housing regulations for the animals (space, temperature, food, water), and enforces humane treatment.

 

While these are compelling facts for the support of animal testing, it still remains a controversial issue, and neither side seems to have a compromise. Perhaps animal testing should not be allowed if the products being tested are not absolutely crucial to humans, such as beauty products. Testing medicine (other medical advancements that could help the human population) on animals is something that is understandable, but it should be done in a humane way, and continued to be heavy regulated.

 

Do you own the new Nike Lebron 14’s?

For decades, entertainment has done exactly what it sounds like—entertained us. From stand-up comedians, television shows about the family life, singers and song writers from every genre of music, and those celebrities who are famous for reasons that are beyond me (the Kardashians, Paris Hilton), entertainment has brought us joy. Although entertainment has the power to bring pleasure to people of all ages all over the world, it has the terrifying capability to dictate how society functions.

Entertainment industries manipulate the power they hold over the public. Celebrities are told to wear a certain brand so the public finds it more appealing, TV productions incorporate brands into their shows to endorse an organization, and models are forced to starve in order to promote the “perfect” body. All these things are strictly for one reason: to dictate what the public views as popular and attractive. People now think, “If Lebron James decks himself out in Nike everyday, I can too and become a great basketball player” or “Kim Kardashian has the best natural  body, if she can do it I can do it!”.

There’s nothing wrong with looking up to celebrities for the remarkable things they do, but looking up to someone because of how they look or what they wear is just ridiculous, but it’s what the entertainment industry has tricked us into doing. People are so blinded by what they see, they forget that Lebron James actually has a multi-million dollar contract with Nike, meaning he has to wear that brand all the time. People also forget that Kim Kardashian has had more plastic surgeries than I can count, so her body is anything but natural.

The entertainment industry has ruined “the ties of our social orders”, because if you don’t own the latest pair of shoes, or the new lipstick, then you obviously don’t fit into the social order.

Red America

Recently, I stumbled across an article by the New York Times, and the main argument was that before change in policy can happen, there must be mutual respect in opinions. This article was written in wake of the Florida shootings, so the change in policy the author is talking about is change in gun control.

While I agree with the general idea of what the author was arguing, I could see how those who don’t agree with him could point out the logical fallacies.  At one point, the author said, “It’s necessary to let people from Red America lead the way, and to show respect to gun owners at all points.” The “Red America” refers to Republicans, and this did not make sense. If we let Republicans pave the way for gun reform in America, it is almost guaranteed that nothing will happen. In a 2017 study, about 41% of registered gun owners are republican, while only 16% are democrats (36% identify with an independent party). If America really wants gun control, why should we rely on a party that is not looking to change the second amendment?

The other logical fallacy I found in that statement was the part about respecting gun owners at all points. Yes, the majority of gun owners are law abiding citizens who own guns for protection. However, that is not the case with every gun owner. Gun violence is very prominent, and has killed and injured millions of people. In Chicago alone in 2015, almost 3,000 people were shot. It’s not known why these people were shot, but I can guarantee that they all weren’t an act of self-defense. Do those shooters deserve respect? Does the person who’s finger is on the trigger and decides to pull it ending an innocent person’s life deserve respect? Should they be allowed to play a part in the policy-making for gun control?

As I mentioned before, I agreed with what the author was saying for the most part. These logical fallacies I found were minor, but it could be enough for someone to undermine the author’s claim and shut down the author’s whole argument. Telling someone they need to respect the opinions of someone who completely disagrees with them may seem logical, but if I had lost a loved one to a senseless shooting, then that would be the last thing I want to hear. Even passionate advocators for gun control do not want to be told to respect those who own guns.

If the author had taken out the part about “Red America” and respect and jumped into what the article was really about (I’ll attach the link below so you can read it yourself), then his argument would have been much stronger, and a lot harder to argue with.

Read the article here

 

Heart Attacks are more likely to happen on a Monday

When I was in elementary school and even part of middle school, going to school used to be something that was enjoyable. Not only was it fun to run around on the playground, pass secret notes to friends hoping the teacher wouldn’t see, and to take home the class pet, but learning was fun. Education was not as competitive, stressful, and overwhelming as it is today.

In Charles Dickens’ book Hard Times, he writes “You can only form the minds of reasoning animals upon Facts: nothing else will ever be of any service to them.” I strongly disagree with this. Yes, facts are important and can be incredibly useful when you know how to use them correctly. For example, if I am in an argument about who was the best president of the United States, and I throw in the fact that heart attacks are more likely to happen on a Monday, what relevance does that have? The only thing it does for me is show that I know a pretty interesting fact, but that doesn’t help my argument in who I think the best president was. As a matter of fact, it could weaken my opinion.

I bring this up because I believe education today consists of a whole bunch of facts thrown at us, the majority of which will never be applicable in real life (if I am ever in a conversation where I appropriately tell someone that the eccentricity of a circle is 0, then this whole blog post would be for nothing). The reason we learn these facts are for the tests we take, and I know I am not the only one who forgets everything as soon as I turn that test in. It’s to prove that we can remember facts for a short while, but what about the long term? Yes there are finals, but even after finals are done, the majority of the facts we learn are forgotten. Because education is like this, it brings along stress and competitiveness. “What did you get on that test?” is probably the most asked question in my life. Students compete with each other to see who can get the best grade, and this brings unnecessary stress. This is not what education should be.

Education should be useful. It should be fun. It should be for yourself, not your classmates, teachers, or parents. We should be learning facts that can be applicable in real life. Rather than learning how to convert grams to moles, teach us how to pay taxes, what mortgage is (because I honestly have no idea what it is), or how to apply for a job. Teach us things that we can use our whole life, and not something we will forget in a week.

Man’s best friend

Since the beginning of time, there has been one argument that has yet to be resolved. The conversation topic about whether dogs are better than cats, or if cats are better than dogs, has divided humanity and torn apart families. I am here to solve this argument once and for all with this statement: Dogs are superior to cats.

I am not here to completely ridicule cats, I actually own one (granted I only like her because she acts like a dog). However, as an owner of both a dog and a cat, I can safely say that my dog brings me much more happiness than my cat. When I am feeling stressed, angry, sad, or overwhelmed, I often find myself playing with my dog and I instantly feel better. She is able to calm my nerves without saying anything, and I don’t even think she means to make me feel better. I’ve had my dog for 13 years, so the bond I have with her is much stronger than the one I have with my cat. Even if the relationship I had with my cat was stronger, I know that my dog will always give me a happiness that my cat would not be able to.

Setting aside my personal experience with the two animals, I want to bring some facts into this argument. The sense of smell a cat has can’t compete with one of a dog. Dogs have an incredibly accurate sense of smell, and have been used in the medical field to detect lung, ovarian, and prostate cancer, with accuracy rates as high as 99%. “Seizure dogs” have been used to detect the occurrence of a seizure 12-15 hours before it happens. Dog’s sense of smell has also been used to detect bombs and drugs, which is very useful in several fields of work.

Dogs have also been used as therapy dogs to humans in hospitals, schools, nursing homes, and other areas. Their job is to provide love and affection to those suffering through a difficult time.  Therapy dogs are different than service dogs, because service dogs provide help and guidance to those who are physically disabled. They help guide those who are blind, in a wheel chair, or with prosthetic limbs.

This is just a mere dent in my argument for why dogs are better than cats. As mentioned before, I am not completely disgusted by cats, but in my experience I have met much nicer dogs than cats. The saying is that dog’s are a man’s best friend, and diamond’s are a girl’s. I thoroughly disagree with this, because I’d rather have one dog than a million diamonds.

 

The featured picture is my dog, Gypsy.