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.

I know “marriage” might be a strong term for referring to a relationship not between another human being, but if you think about it, being in college is being in a well-planned and awaited relationship with our studies.  We’ve all been preparing for college since we were at least high schoolers, building up our college resumes with Advanced Placement courses, extracurricular activities, and grades for that one moment of applying to several four year colleges.  We’ve sacrificed hours of leisure for a better future.  We heavily anticipate the months of March and April of our senior high school years to decided where we would be for four years.

And most importantly, your total college cost, tuition, textbook cost, and housing cost for a single quarter /semester or two may cost as much as an average marriage. My college’s tuition for a quarter is in the $20,500’s.  Couples on average are believed to spend between “$19,323 and $32,205” on a wedding(“Cost…”).  My mom keeps reminding me that a single class costs about $100, considering all the costs, so I MUST attend all my classes.  I understand Mom~

I think what bothers me the most about college though is that although we pay the heavy costs of college, American culture doesn’t do good enough of a job to encourage students to really enjoy their education.  A fair number of college students look forward to it mostly in a social aspect.  General education courses are often skirted off as “annoying requirements” for a diploma that may land us a job.  College is seem more as a chore than a blessed opportunity.

I really wanted to get as much as I could from a true college experience as I could, textbook knowledge and all.  I know of others who aren’t as blessed to have the four year experience, one that who never will…  And I didn’t want to let my parents’ savings go to waste.

And… I really wanted to go to the college I had been admitted to the previous year.  I had graduated the year before, and accepted the application when I did in my April, but I became really sick during my last months of high school.  I lost most of my remaining high school days and a month of college due to it.  During that time, I was unable to mentally get myself to check my emails or do anything.  My parents felt that maybe my applied college had given up my application since I failed to respond to their orientation emails.  They thought that I would probably need to take the junior college route to get into a four-year college.  But, I decided to take the slim, improbable chance of requesting for a gap year.  It worked!  I knew then that I had wanted to take on this education marriage.

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Memes:

During my gap year, I had taken community college classes and was forced to stay near home, in fear that my illness would come back (it did).  There was no social life on my college campus.  I couldn’t drive, so meeting with other people to hang out was hard.  I often spent lots of time on my own, wondering what life would be like in a four year college.  During that November, the Facebook group UC Berkeley Memes for Edgy Teens (or UCBMEFT) came out and took my Facebook story by storm.  Everyone was adding each other to this college page and the numerous other inspired college meme pages, even for colleges that they hadn’t applied to.  I was able to see how my fellow classmates related to each other in their college mishaps and grades.  I became really excited about attending a four year college, when I would truly relate to their experiences.

Memes became a big part of my college freshman fall quarter than I expected.  I was able to meet the people of my current Christian club and finally connect with my roommate (after three weeks of pure unease).  And, interestingly enough, my English class was meme-worthy itself.  The class title, not kidding, was “Food Porn”.  For the first few weeks, we had talked about, looked at, and even created our own food porn!  We had recognized the visual importance of food advertising and how it affects us as a nation, even if most of the food appeal is a lie.  Who knew that food could even be a topic for a writing class?!

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Meat:

After we had spent a fair time with food porn, our professor had us read Eating Animals and Consider the Lobster, both which examined the ethical issues behind eating many of our “ethical” meats.  He had us participate in class discussions about the texts and our analysis of the well-written and creative writing styles of Jonathan Safran Foer and David Foster Wallace respectively.  It made me want to become less of a meat eater when we had to watch videos displaying the harsh reality of animal treatment in factory farms.  I can’t look at a turkey ever again with the same ease anymore.

The other meat that we had learned about was the realization that everything that we’ve been taught in high school English classes was wrong!  We realized that our previous essays were reversing the outline of a basic argument.  Reading the professor’s book Slant, we rethought our writing processes with a slant, the mix of a thesis and a so-what.  We needed to open up our essays to more questions and underlying issues rather than narrow ourselves in!

The biggest meat of writing information was the professor’s motto.  “Write essays that you want to read!”.  It made me realize that the greatest meat of an essay was the enjoyment of the writer.  We have been so used to writing forced, structured essays that we had resented even thinking about writing an essay.  That really stuck with me the most throughout the months.

I incorporated all of these meat in an essay I wrote about offals, those animal intestines that you see in Chinese restaurants and the like.  It was my personal instinctive counterargument to the vegan- vegetarian- push that the texts have encouraged.  As much as I’d like to stop eating meat, I can’t due to my family owning many Chinese restaurants with meat.  I argued that offals do have more value than Western society likes to think in terms of “morality”. It’ll be difficult to stop all people from eating meat, but the least we can do is not waste the meat we make from factory farming!  Is it not more immoral to waste animal resources than to kill animals themselves?

In another essay, I was able to incorporate creativity with my love for math in an essay that doesn’t offer any excuse for food waste.  I took all my experiences with the various school dining services and used each restaurant to stress key issues in American food waste, particularly those involved with composting, surplus food, and leftovers.  We purposely avoid placing blame for wasted food on ourselves!  In one of my sources, I read of a woman who developed her own strategy to “forget” the existence of surplus food so when this surplus is past its expiration date she can throw this food away “‘with an easier conscience’”(Evans 53).  Scary thought, isn’t it?  It hit me more closer to home than I’d thought it would.

Here’s a “writing experiment” that I started my essay off with, the universal symbol of a person throwing away food that was created by various words that I thought a food waster would say as an excuse.  It was the most random idea I had thought of at the moment, but it worked out once I became determined to do it.  I am quite proud of this one!

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Misleading:

At the beginning of the Winter quarter, we moved on from factory farming and food corruption to deceit in all industries.  Food companies are messed up in their own ways, true, but so are many other things!  Our professor challenged us to work in groups to create a podcast based on any topic involving corruption.  Initially I wasn’t gung-ho for the idea since I’ve never been the best in group settings.  I also wasn’t too familiar with my group members.  It took some time for us to work everything out, but we succeeded in creating a podcast highlighting the notable female bias in the Silicon Valley.  Our group set-up forced us to get creative in presenting our podcast as one of “many” podcasts by a male student at our school asking informed females about gender-specific issues.  We took phone and Skype interviews with female tech workers to add to our podcast.  I had mislead myself into believing that everything wasn’t going to go well when quite the opposite was true.

We also do a fair share of misleading and lying ourselves, even without knowing it.   Dan Ariely in his book The Honest Truth About Dishonesty discussed various ways in which we as people lie to ourselves.  We use our creativity, personal belongings, and our conscious to lie to ourselves of who we are, for better and for worse.  It was rather amusing listening to classmates who openly admitted the ways that people cheated in their high schools in a college class!

It just so happened that around that time I went into an identity crisis about being in a four year college.  I was insecure as to whether I was capable of being in my intended major, or even being at the college at all.  I felt my interest in my major was fading quickly, but I didn’t know what to change to.  Was it right to put my family’s finances at a big risk when I was so unsure of whether my education mattered?  College only really matters if you finish with a degree, isn’t it?

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Morality:

We were assigned to write our final essay of any given topic relating to our official class theme of “Food, Self, and Culture”.  I felt that I had run out of ideas at that point.  I had wanted to stick with food as much as I could since it was a food class.  Most of my classmates had switched to other subjects of their interests that involved corruption or illegal means such as overuse of drugs in the Silicon tech industry and the competitive e-Sports.  I felt uncertain of thesis statements that I had brought to class for peer review.  I thought these statements over for days, and on a whim I decided to pick reality shows as a topic.

I had deeply thinking about the ending of a video game I had finished, Danganronpa V3.  I won’t spoil the ending in here, trust me!  I love the Danganronpa franchise, don’t get me wrong (the featured image includes the main protagonists of Danganronpa V3, Kaede and Shuichi) and I’d highly recommend it, but the end of the most recent game really made me consider the moral ramifications of teenage violence in similar franchises such as The Hunger Games movies and novels.  Is it right for our society to popularize medias such as these into the mainstream?  I discussed the video game as part of my analysis for the short story Those Who Walk Away from Omelas by the recently deceased Ursula Le Guin that questions whether the mistreatment of a select few people is worth the sacrifice for the happiness for most people.  I emailed my professor to ask whether this idea could work, and he thought that it was an excellent essay idea!  I was excited to hear that a series that has great meaning to me could be used as the basis for a college assignment, especially since the essay would be very specific to Danganronpa V3 and The Hunger Games movies.

The essay proved to be my most ambitious venture ever!  It took me about three hours to find a proper narrative that related to my stance ( that these medias that display child-killing encourage young adults to consider their moralities in decision making towards authority/establishment), but once I found it I hit jackpot and was able to use the story to lead my essay.  I had borrowed about four physical books detailing reports that defined ethics and morality (it’s far more greater than you can imagine!), reviewed a fair share of websites and databases, and relooked over summaries for the medias so I could describe all the occasions of defiance (murder or not) with enough background information for anyone to read the essay!  The outline for my essay, consisting of nothing but bullet points, totaled to five pages.  I thought that my essay would be ten pages at most, but in bringing the essay to completion on my rough draft, I realized that I needed a lot more time than expected…  I once had to work on the essay for four hours straight to get it done within the generous extension.

The essay… turned out to be 17 pages long, double spaces, MLA format, even without the works cited pages…

How…

The closest I’d been able to get a research paper to that length was nine pages.  Heck, the page requirement for the essay itself was at least five pages!

It was an exhausting essay.  Midway I was beginning to regret my idea since there was a lot that needed to be talked about.

I brought up all the crucial plot points that related to the three subcategories of ethics.  I established that each character had their “just” motivations; there is no one “common sense” after all (Wallace 26)!  The Hunger Games movies most notably encouraged young adults to create communities that dedicated themselves to relating words of the movies and the scarring violence to relieve daily stresses and discuss socioeconomic inequality.  We seek to find definitive solutions to movies that deal with realistic issues such as inequality.  Violence has always existed in “popular medias” such as Grimm fairy tales since they effectively keep children away from dangers through the use of fear.  The world will always be filled with violence, so the best solution is to discuss use of it with young adults so they may make their own best judgements!

 

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Meaning (The Most Important):

Looking back at it, the fulfillment of my improbable essay goal was an exhaustion worth taking!  I was able to reflect on the basis of my own decision making best by writing that essay.  The research proved that the world isn’t as straightforward as we’d like it to be.  The “just” in any decision should be seen in the same light as anything “in-just”.  They can switch at a matters notice depending on which ethic subcategories are weighted higher than others in society.  One of the most important things you can do is encourage discussion of ideals and topics that you know that exist, whether you morally believe in them or not.  All of our personal values are based on one another’s.  We should be open for outside opinion enough as we are to our random ideas.

We tend to feel the most at ease with ourselves when we stick with a specific set of values over our lives.  It’s only natural.  We want to feel that what we are doing is right.  Doesn’t your life only have meaning once you fulfill a life-long dream of yours?  No, it doesn’t.  I believe that life has meaning only when you take those improbable challenges and you daily face your “opposition”.  I wouldn’t be able to write an essay, let alone this blog post, so long if I hadn’t taken those few minutes writing an email to my professor about an idea that popped up in my head.  I wouldn’t have been able to challenge my creative limits nor even be attending a four year college had I acted on my “logic” over my intuition.  Writing an essay that you would want to read becomes no different than living your life as if you were to want your life to be like someone else’s.

A required English class such as the one I had for two quarters of my freshman year of college doesn’t serve primarily for me to learn about English.  It serves to push me and other adults into finding our own meaning by pushing us out of our comfort zones and helping us distinguish our intuitions from “logics” that may “mislead” us.  It was about finding the “meat” in my lives and the “morality” of my decisions.  Being in a group setting instilled a shared discomfort that became an unspoken mean of relating with peers, just as “memes” serve to bring college students together.  The “marriage” of college is costly in many regards, but it “means” so much to me.  I can not be any more grateful than I am now!

 

Works Cited:

“Shuichi Saihara and Kaede Akamatsu from Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony.” https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/858991328899557263/

“How much does the average wedding cost?” MSASea. http://www.msa-sea.org/43506-average-cost-of-weddin-venue/

“Average Wedding Cost in the United States Is $25,764.” Cost of Wedding, The Wedding Report.Inc, http://www.costofwedding.com/.

Harlot777. “Food Porn.” Imgur. 3 March 2015. https://imgur.com/gallery/pVczv6F

“Meat Chickens 2.” Safe https://safe.org.nz/issue/factory-farming-meat-chickens

Evans, David. Food Waste: Home Consumption, Material Culture and Everyday Life.

Bloomsbury, 2014.

“District 8 Battle 2.” Wired. https://www.wired.com/2014/11/mockingjay-violence-teens/

“Big Meaning.” Christopher Curtis Sensei. http://curtissensei.com/?p=820

 

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.

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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.

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