Do you have an Opinion? //Chris Gerbino

I graduated eighth grade from Soundview, a private school, with six males and one female alongside me. If you asked my classmates or teachers from Soundview what traits stood out about me they would probably say: outgoing, loud, and competitive. It was a small class but I enjoyed every second of middle school because I had close relationships with my entire class and felt comfortable to be myself around them. While I am very grateful for my education at Soundview, I do not think they allowed students to grow their comfortability levels in uncomfortable situations.

Continue reading Do you have an Opinion? //Chris Gerbino

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College English Class: Marriage of Memes, Meat, Misleading, Morality, and, Most of All, Meaning//Jennifer Chun

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Marriage:

About one year ago, I was filling out the college admission form for the second time.  As with questions about our desired dorms, it included a form asking to rate our interest in a variety of topics from “not interested” to “very interested”.  There seemed nothing unusual about it.  Science and technology, Italian culture, California ideals…  I seemed pretty neutral to most of these, choosing “may be interested”.  But then “food” came up as a topic.  “Well, I enjoy eating food, so of course I’ll be interested”, I thought to myself.  So I selected “very interested”.  What I did not know at that time was that decision would finalize my marriage contract of my college English class required of me during my first two quarters in college. Continue reading College English Class: Marriage of Memes, Meat, Misleading, Morality, and, Most of All, Meaning//Jennifer Chun

The Adventures of Challenging Ideas

The lesson “Don’t be blind to new ideas” was a thematic lesson repeated across the 3 readings(“Eating Animals”, “The Ones who walk away from Omelas”, and “The Honest Truth about Dishonesty”) I’ve digested this year. These pieces of work have brought to light just how much I take for granted and little time I take subjects to deep thought. These writings ranging from the topic of the excessive meat consumption to a book a, “Eating Animals” by Jonathan Safran Foer and  “The Honest Truth About Dishonesty” by Dan Ariely exposed me to subjects I never knew could be explored with such intensive analysis and research.

 

Animals are Beings too!

“It’s always possible to wake someone from sleep, but no amount of noise will wake someone who is pretending to be asleep.” of American consumption, Eating Animals took a look into the practice of factory farming, and taught me to question ways of doing things. More importantly, Foer is not afraid to shoot straight and attack everything wrong about animal agriculture. He sets up his own investigation of the subject and was not afraid to ask farmers about livestock brutality.  He does such a good job that he places the reader in such a spot where it forces one to take a step back and morally reflect the act of eating animals. I thought the argument was extremely compelling, so I decided to take a look into the alternative: vegetarianism. Vegetarianism was a common lifestyle habit back in Greco-Roman history. Philosophers such as Pythagoras, Plato, and Aristotle were all strong advocates of the choice to convert. Surprisingly, the only lacking vitamin in a vegetarian diet was B12 which can be easily made up by supplements. I also took the liberty of investigating global warming caused by animal agriculture. According to The Humane Society of United States, the farm sector is responsible for 9% of carbon dioxide and 37% of methane emission. However, most importantly, I wanted to take a look for myself whether Foer’s argument for animal consciousness was actually valid. The insane demand and ruthless efficiency of the system has forced farmers to force livestocks into impossible enclosures. Pigs and cows would be often entrapped to the point that these poor creatures would resort to harming their own body and sometimes even cannibalism. The competition in this market has devalued the life of a farm animal so much that animals are looked to as resources instead of fellow creatures. This literature-prompted research has taught me to take a more thorough look into animal-agriculture and the world as a whole.

 

The Culture of Dishonesty in Politics

I never expected to read a topic as general as “lying”, and I definitely did not expect the book to be attention grabbing every second.  Dan Ariely does a good job at presenting the reader with a experiment, ones that he conducts himself, and provides thought-provoking analysis and commentary on the results. My favorite finding was that “wearing fake designer clothes will make it more likely for you to cheat.” Ariely reveals that when an individual carries out any level of dishonest act, it becomes a enabler for others and makes it likely for them to follow. This prompted me to research and write about the culture of dishonesty in politics, as it’s a common stereotype that many politicians are liars. The environment of politics as a whole just promotes cheating for the winners. The way that the game is set up makes it so that politicians who expand their political ideology the widest they can without repelling their core support group will win.

To win the game, politicians will find various ways to lie and make false “promises” to their constituents. Such methods include blatant lying, inaccurate slandering, empty promises, and most dangerously paltering. Paltering is the act of lying by telling a partly skewed version of the truth. What makes this so much more dangerous than other ways of lying is that it’s extremely difficult to hold politicians accountable for their words, but doesn’t hurt one’s reputation as much as making a “false” promise. Consequently, the way this set up makes it so that people gradually lose faith in the government over time. Since 1960, public trust in government has dropped a total of 55%, and this is a result of none other than president being called out for lying.(And perhaps partly the fault of recession periods.) Instead of headless blaming our politicians for lying, it’s critical to look at the politics as a system and take action to change it within.

 

I thoroughly enjoyed all the reading that I’ve had in CTW:Reading Food, Self & Culture. In every piece of writing I was assigned in this class I felt that my world view was challenged in a positive manner. Immediately after reading each piece, I wasn’t like “Oh cool, but why does this manner”, but it was more of “how have I never noticed this before.” Props to Nick for making this class an enjoyable and learning experience

Think a Little Deeper (Grace Healey)

Over the course of my college career so far, I have had a love-hate relationship with my Critical Thinking and Writing course. It has probably been my favorite course so far as subject matter, but I’ve yet to not rush through dinner on mondays and wednesdays so I’m not late for the 7:20 pm class. I have never been a morning person so while I was grateful to not have an 8 am, it was still a night class.

Yet I was very excited for this course even before the first day. I was looking forward to it because of the book we were reading. The book was Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer. It’s about factory farming in America and how corrupt it is, and how Americans don’t even know that they’re being manipulated and lied to by major food corporations and the USDA. I was so excited for this book because I had already read it.

When I was in the eighth grade my cousin, who was a sophomore in college at the time, was reading the book for one of her classes. We were at the beach one day and she had brought it with her. I was the eternal bookworm when I was younger and eagerly began to read any book that was placed in front of me, so I picked it up and started reading. The narrative Foer begins with got me interested, so I kept going. Once he got into the actual subject matter of factory farming in the US, I was a bit weary. My favorite meal at the time was beef stroganoff and I didn’t want some random book to gross me out so much that I would never be able to eat it again. But I was also stubborn and did not want admit that I hadn’t finished a book. I kept reading and became totally absorbed. I finished the book a couple of days later, and have been vegetarian since.

Five years later and the first college book that I was reading is one that had already had a major impact on my life. I also have to admit that my next feeling was one of giddy joy that I wouldn’t actually have to do the reading. But I decided to read through the beginning again and was sad to find I did not remember it as clearly as I had hoped. I’m glad I decided to re-read it, because I think that I got much more from it than I did the first time. Actually discussing the material, actually being forced to think critically and deeply about the subject matter instead of just zooming through without further contemplation made Eating Animals that much more impactful.

But what do I mean by critical thinking? Well that’s exactly what my question was at the beginning of my fall quarter. I felt that after years of english classes with analytical essays and tests that I already knew how to think critically, thank you very much. Just write a bit about the symbolism, metaphors, and the author’s tragic past and there you have it, a critically thought out essay. It’s safe to say that I was wrong. In this course, we talked about the deeper meaning of all of the subject matter. Every little detail within Foer’s writing had significance. His personal research, style, and tone all contributed to his slant, or his stance. We discussed the statistics, but not just the gravity of them, but also how he chose to display them. I hadn’t quite thought about the differences in presentation of facts the first time I’d read Eating Animals, nor really any other book I’d read. Continue reading Think a Little Deeper (Grace Healey)

Eating Without Question

I never was really interested in the food that I ate, especially since I wasn’t too picky and ate whatever my mom fed me. All that changed once I entered college and enrolled in a Critical Reading and Writing class.

I first thought, “Great, another English class where I learn pointless rules of how to structure my essays and reading boring essays.” However, this Critical Reading and Writing class completely surpassed my expectations. For the first quarter, we focused entirely upon the topic of “Food” reading books such as Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer. This completely changed my perspective upon food that I was putting in my body.

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An essay I wrote, “Fever for Health” delved into the eating habits of college students. Having always heard about the so-called “obesity epidemic”, it all seemed far-fetched to me, especially seeing the lack of “obese” students. However, it was eye-opening upon learning that 95% of college students eat below the daily recommended amount of fruits and vegetables (Spain). Furthermore, although a “mere” 4.9% of college students were obese, 21.6% of them were deemed overweight (Huang). I was shocked. Although it wasn’t visible seeing this, I realized the food we consume has much more of an impact then we believe.

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Not only do the food we consume affect our bodies internally and externally, there are consequences affecting beyond us. From Foer, I discovered the tragedy of the meat industry, with terrible conditions and treatment of animals that are bred solely for our consumption (Foer).

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Now, this caused me to look internally within myself. I had always eaten food that was served for me without much thought besides, “It’s soccer season, so I should lay off of eating junk food.” Never I had given much thought like, “Where is this meat I’m eating come from and how was it produced?” Now, although I haven’t been converted to veganism or vegetarianism, I know think much critically on the food and its quality. This Critical Reading and Writing class actually turned out to truly educate me as I should’ve been previously.

 

 

Works Cited

Foer, Jonathan Safran. Eating Animals. Little, Brown & Company, 2013.

Huang, Terry T.K., et al. “Assessing Overweight, Obesity, Diet, and Physical Activity in College Students.” Taylor & Francis Online, Journal of American College Health, 24 Mar. 2010, www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/07448480309595728.

Spain, Erin. “Northwestern Now.” College Kids Need to Change Unhealthy Ways, news.northwestern.edu/stories/2014/05/college-kids-need-to-change-unhealthy-ways.

 

 

Rationally Irrational // Federico Madden

The first thing I learned in my Critical Thinking and Writing class is how irrational I am. Johnathon Safran Foer laid it out crystal clear right from the beginning of Eating Animals, the first book we read as a class. He pointed out the moral inconsistencies inherent in eating meat., like how dogs are the perfect untapped food source we refuse to take advantage of. He really made me think about the food I eat, not by telling me things I didn’t already know, but by taking things that were already apparent and shoving them right in front of my face. I eat beef. That beef comes from a cow. That cow was slaughtered at some point, probably painfully. Before it was slaughtered, that cow let off methane emissions and crapped all over the place. Those emissions went into the atmosphere. That crap went into the surrounding environment. Both myself and the cow are worse off because of me eating that beef. These are all things I could have inferred based on my prior knowledge, but Foer used his wit and incredible writing skills to make them clear as day. And yet, I still eat beef. Continue reading Rationally Irrational // Federico Madden

I Understand Nothing // Emily Wilken

It’s weirdly paradoxical to be in a place where you are aware that you are unaware, yet that is where this class left me. If there’s one common theme that seemed to run through everything we studied as a class and everything I researched on my own, it’s the idea that we are less aware and understand less than we often realize.

During first quarter, we read the book Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer. As someone who had fairly recently become a vegetarian, I was interested to read the book, but also expected that most of it would cover what I already knew. I was wrong. I found much of this book surprising. To me, the most shocking part of Foer’s book was his description of how the animal agriculture industry handles animal waste and how this affects people.

In total, all farmed animals in the U.S. produce 87,000 pounds of waste per second. This 130 times what the human population produces. There is no real regulation on all this animal waste. Most often, it is put into football field-sized pools. It often runs off into water supplies and toxins such as ammonia and hydrogen sulfide inevitably evaporate into the air. Children raised near factory farms are twice as likely to develop asthma, while children raised on a typical hog factory farm have an over fifty percent chance of developing asthma. People living near factory farms also have problems with persistent nosebleeds, earaches, chronic diarrhea, and burning in their lungs (Foer 174-176).

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Before reading this book, I was aware (to some extent) that factory farming harmed animals and harmed our environment. What I hadn’t considered was how factory farming harms people.

For one of my essays, I explored how our culture tends to respond to the problem of hunger in the U.S. Often, people see food drives as an easy and effective way of responding to the issue. In reality, we are unaware of how inefficient food drives really are at addressing the problem of hunger. While the average person may be able to take a dollar to the store and buy a can of green beans, food banks are able to use $1 to purchase about four meals (often including fresh produce) because of discounted rates they have access to on food (Schilling). We are unaware of how the problem of hunger can best be solved through monetary donations because we want to feel good about ourselves when we donate a few cans.Â

In another essay, I argued that the clothing industry’s sizing system (or lack thereof) harms our self-esteem. Women’s clothing brands often label clothes so that women will fit into smaller than expected sizes. This sets women up to become frustrated, confused and disappointed. While waists of size 8 jeans often vary by three or more inches (Dockterman), women tend to be unaware of this and may tend to blame their own bodies when they can’t find clothes that fit. In addition, studies have shown that women inevitably have to try on a size larger than expected, the negative effect is greater than the positive effect in self-esteem experienced when trying on a size smaller than expected (Aydinoglu; Hoegg).

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Two pairs of American Eagle jeans. The pair in the back is a size 0, while the pair in the front is a size 4 (Bodley).

Perhaps the thing that best drives this point home from this class is something that we looked at within the first week or so: This is Water.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8CrOL-ydFMI

David Foster Wallace’s speech makes an important and challenging point that we are often unaware of our own attitudes and biases. Without realizing it, we go through life with a self-centric view, unaware of the perspectives of those around us. To be aware of other’s perspectives, we must do the difficult work of continually paying attention.

Overall, this class made me aware of a few situations and truths that I was not before. I hope that I continue to grow in awareness, especially in awareness of the perspectives of those around me.

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I also think that sometimes we know the truth, but we refuse to acknowledge it for whatever reason. Like Foer says, “It’s possible to wake someone from sleep, but no amount of noise will wake someone who is pretending to be asleep” (Foer 102). Is there any point to awareness if it doesn’t lead to some kind of change?

Works Cited

Aydinoglu, Nilfer Z. and Aradhna Krishna. “Imagining Thin: Why Vanity Sizing Works.” Journal of Consumer Psychology (Elsevier Science), vol. 22, no. 4, Oct. 2012, pp. 565-572. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1016/j.jcps.2011.12.001.

Bodley, Riley. “In this photo are two of my favorite pairs of jeans…” Facebook, 9 May 2017, http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=1141910845955788&set=a.122027494610800.36926.100004106511339&type=3&theater.

Foer, Jonathan Safran. Eating Animals. Little, Brown & Company, 2013.

Dockterman, Eliana. “One Size Fits None.” Time, vol. 188, no. 10/11, 12 Sept. 2016, pp. 78-84. EBSCOhost, login.libproxy.scu.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=117821613&site=eds-live.

Hoegg, JoAndrea, et al. “The Flip Side of Vanity Sizing: How Consumers Respond to and Compensate for Larger Than Expected Clothing Sizes.” Journal of Consumer Psychology (Elsevier Science), vol. 24, no. 1, Jan. 2014, pp. 70-78. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1016/j.jcps.2013.07.003.

Schilling, Erin. “Georgia United Hosts Annual February Food Drive.” The Red & Black [Athens], 7 Feb. 2018, http://www.redandblack.com/athensnews/georgia-united-hosts-annual-february-food-drive/article_34f61954-0bbd-11e8-9991-a790ef8f4fcd.html. Accessed 21 Feb. 2018.

“This Is Water” Full Version-David Foster Wallace Commencement Speech. YouTube, 19 May 2013, youtu.be/8CrOL-ydFMI?t=20m30s.