All posts by Marcus is a Sleepy Snowflake

Just your average student stressing his way through APs and losing sleep when he needs it most.

Blog 15: The music that Marcus typically listens to in times of work, stress, or just for the heck of it (2017 ed.)

(technically blog 26, yay I guess?)

No real explanation here, this blog is really just for reference for future me and to get a better look inside my own head through the music I currently love. Order doesn’t necessarily reflect personal favorites, this is just a compiled list. Enjoy!

  1. A New Dawn – Timothy Seals (45:37)
  2. This Pain Feels Real (2015) – Voicians (4:27)
  3. So Clear (2015) – Voicians (4:57)
  4. The Construct – Voicians (3:38)
  5. Everything – Bridge To Grace (4:15)
  6. My Demons – Starset (3:59)
  7. Finale – Madeon (3:24)
  8. I Fooled You – Awaken The Giant (3:30)
  9. Developments – Hands Like Houses (3:40)
  10. Fountainhead – Hands Like Houses (3:47)
  11. Colourblind – Hands Like Houses (3:42)
  12. Glasshouse – Hands Like Houses (4:25)
  13. New Romantics – Hands Like Houses (3:38)
  14. Rattlesnake – Rogue (4:31)
  15. Give It Up – Knife Party (4:12)
  16. Going Down On It (Need For Speed version, normal version isn’t nearly as good) – Hot Action Cop (4:50)
  17. Ordinary – Buzzhorn (3:09)
  18. Eye Of The Storm – Watt White (3:22)
  19. Cosmos Battle – FTL Soundtrack (4:21)
  20. Last Stand – FTL Soundtrack (5:20)

The Mega-Meta Blog…

In the immortal words of Ben Knower, “hoo boi.”

So, before we enter the leviathan of a blog that will follow below, I just want to take a brief moment to acknowledge that this is the end of Uber Unit and the accompanying blog series. I think I might just miss these blogs, and even the unit itself, as strange as that might have sounded to past me. Ok, now that that is over with, let’s begin.

What did I learn about myself as a thinker? A bit of a weird question and a bit of a weird answer in my opinion. I always thought of myself as a “forest over the trees” kind of person before this unit. I’ve always looked for the connections between stories and data in general over just the individual components in hopes of finding patterns or other important relations. While I don’t dismiss individual bits and pieces of whatever I learn, I would generally look for the big picture before focusing on more specific things. Over the course of this unit, I did not find this thought process to change nor feel inadequate in any of the units we experienced. If anything, I felt like having this process helped me during each unit’s discussion, where I could zone out and let other people speak, take parts and ideas from their contributions and combine them with the opinions I had of the unit going into the discussion in order to formulate more powerful and legitimate conclusions. I would usually play with these conclusions in my head until I got confident enough to feel like I should introduce my point to the group, at which point I would merely wait for an opening to hop in (and put my armspan to good use.) However, while this was mostly all good and dandy for helping me lay out my thoughts, I couldn’t help but feel like my passive presence waiting for my turn would end up twisting my words into ideas that didn’t always convey my opinion in the fullest. I mean, I would get my point out, but most of the time, I always felt like it wasn’t as perfect as I imagined it at first. I felt like my most raw and reactive statements where I didn’t spend the time to reflect were my most direct and powerful contributions to the discussions as a whole. By reactive, I mean that a topic would come up that was so interesting or meaningful to me that I would dismiss my previous train of thought and would immediately hop into the discussion with a bit more emotion (and sometimes a bit less logic or refinement.) The most notable example of this would be my most recent participation in the Pop Culture group, where I entered the discussion when the issue of violent media and video games popped into the discussion. Overall, I feel like Uber Unit didn’t reveal anything different about my thought process and who I am as a thinker, but it certainly did help me to better understand and visualize how I approach certain issues.

What did I learn about myself as a team member?

What more did I learn that I didn’t already know? You knew who I was, my group knew on the second day, and I knew the moment you said this was a group activity. I’m the ever inconsistent procrastinator who shows up 8-9 o’ clock the night of something, and proceeds to put on some music (which I’ll make a separate blog post for at some time just for the heck of it) before settling down for a four hour grind session. I get my work done, and I take pride in my work representing the best of my ability regardless of the time of day when I complete it. But it doesn’t change the fact that all this comes at a sacrifice that I’m coming to learn the effects of a little too well. Which is my sleep. Anyway, as I’ve said before, while I contribute my work relatively late to the group, I always will hit deadlines if other people depend on my work. I can’t explain why this is so, and why I can’t hit my own deadlines in the same way, but I’ve noticed that when I have to do work that others need in some way/shape/form, that I seem to be better motivated and concentrated. I think this ties a bit more into my personality and my ideals, which in a nutshell revolve around performing and doing my best for other people, but not always necessarily for myself. I’m not some uber generous person who will do everything for another person, but I feel wrong not helping if we work together on something.

What did I learn about myself as a leader?

That I’m not in most situations but that I will step up if no one else will? I don’t think my perception of myself as a leader really changed after completing Uber Unit. The way I think about it, I’m a bit of an inverse chameleon in nature, where I only show up when nobody else appears. If nobody wants to define any roles or take any actions, I’ll get frustrated to the point where I’ll just decide to step up and take the leadership role. But otherwise, if someone takes that role (Grace), then I’ll stand back and try to make the leader’s life a bit easier by being as little of a roadblock as possible (not talking back or being a general pain.)

What did I learn about my work ethic and approach to work?

Well, what can I say that hasn’t already been said at this point? I’m the guy with a distinctive lack of concentration or motivation until the clock strikes 8:00 pm. I don’t know why I’m like this, I don’t enjoy it, but it’s been consistently the only time period past which I can efficiently function and get my work done.  I really don’t understand why this shift has occurred. When I was in elementary school, I was the complete opposite of this. I would still procrastinate work until the day or two before it was due, but I would always get home and immediately sit down and knock out all of my assignments. Then middle school came, and I would delay work a bit longer but I would still have almost everything done by 11 at the worst (AGP projects on the other hand, were my once a year grind fest that would end at 1 in the morning.) The only explanation I have at this point is the presence of sports and the greater commitment that I’ve had with them since entering 9th grade. Consistently getting home by 5-5:30 every day has tired me out, and I need an hour or two to recover and then I can settle down and do my work. But, if I don’t attend my practice in a day and get home at 3:00, I still can’t get to work until around 7:00 at the earliest. I’ve tried all sorts of methods to force myself to work earlier but I haven’t found anything. The same work pattern also coincidentally manifests itself during weekends, much to the dismay of my parents, and I can’t figure it out to save my life. If you have any tips or experience in this regard, I would honestly really appreciate it at this point because walking into school with an average of 4-5 hours of sleep for my entire junior year is really taking a toll on me (and leading to my continual usage of boring run on sentences.)

How well did you handle adversity? How did you operate outside of your natural comfort zone during Uber Unit?

Finally, now we get to the good stuff. You know, I really love the Uber Unit discussions (and generally all Socratic seminars we’ve had this year) not just for the crazy topics and tangents we expand into, but also for the possibility of being straight up completely wrong about a preconceived notion I’ve had entering a discussion. Yes, you read that right. I like being wrong. I mean, I directly don’t, cause it’s embarrassing and it shatters any momentum you’ve had while participating in a discussion, but it’s the ten seconds that follow being wrong that I really feel count. In your class, I’m OK with being wrong, because even if I don’t fully trust all my classmates, I know that they won’t kill me or disown me if I back down or show weakness in my statements. And because of this environment, I can comfortably look at my mistakes, my misconceptions and my myths, and I can wipe my slate clean. It’s in these moments that I see a chance to fix my understanding and set myself up for a better future, and I can step back and laugh (mentally) before picking myself up again and accepting that I was wrong. I think that having this ability has helped me immensely in my life, and not just in the classroom. It’s helped me to expand my horizons and perception of the world around me, and simultaneously, it protects me from looking like a complete idiot or appearing apathetic, which are somewhat important benefits in their own right. As for operating outside of my comfort zone, well, I’ll put it like this. All those AI debates, all those moments throughout the Gender unit, and even for brief periods in the Pop Culture and Environmental units, I got to feel like a mad scientist when playing with all the different and unusual viewpoints that came throughout the presentations. Sometimes I felt like I was playing with fire, crossing back and forth over moral and logical boundaries in order to understand both sides, or maybe even three sides of an issue, and in those moments you might have noticed me quietly giggling or nodding my head in various directions. It’s a feeling that I find hard to describe, one that feels like going over the edge of a roller coaster without the stomach problems, combined with that of the malicious or terrified glee of a student that has just lashed out at their teacher in a half second bout of frustration (*cough cough FRESHMAN YEAR MOMENTS cough cough*). To put it in simple terms, excuse my language here, but I feel like these moments qualify as the perfect intellectual “oh shit” moments. And I live for those moments.

What did you learn about yourself during the different phases of this assignment?

I’m not quite sure where I worked best within the Uber Unit. On one hand, I felt like I was slightly more efficient (got more work done within a time limit) working alone on individual parts of the unit where I could function without influence, but on the other hand, working with the rest of my group forced me to better adhere to deadlines and make my work more concise and refined. As for each group’s presentation, I consistently enjoyed the discussion much more than the activity. Now, I don’t think that the discussions would work as effectively without the day one presentations or the second day activities, but I just found that it was a two day sacrifice for a single day major payoff in my understanding and perception. And I was cool with that, it’s just that those two days were usually less enjoyable and crazy then the third day as a result. The language group was a noticeable exception to this with the, uh, shall I say intriguing, subject of their first day, but I consider that cheating just because of how that appealed to the crazy no-moral-standards-inner-five-year old side of me. The activities I found most interesting were (surprise!) the ones where we as the audience got to actively participate and more importantly, had to give our opinion instead of just contributing talking points. A specific example of this would be the Gender group’s second day, which I found extremely enlightening and useful for the rest of the presentation. A lesser example would also include the second day of the Environmental group where we were purposely put into groups with opposing opinions and had to defend an opinion we were observed to dislike (the one day of my life where I defended fracking, ugh), which I found to be painful but yet effective in improving my understanding of the topic overall.

GROUP BASHING SECTION: What did I learn about my team members?

Who am I kidding. I was ecstatic when I found out my group members because it bypassed the age old issue of all group projects: being forced into a group of people that you barely know or dislike where you have to do the majority group’s work in order to save your grade. But in a moment of delight, when I found out that I was put into a group with a dry humored but consistent procrastinating grinder, a light humored and beautiful (yet heavily stressed) heavy-work grinder, and a leading and consistently punctual grinder, I was extremely relieved. Those were the personalities that I assigned Alex, Liam, and Grace respectively when I joined the group, and when all is said and done, all I can say is that I wasn’t really wrong. The only thing I would change would be that I quickly realized Grace was much more entertaining than what I initially thought was strict, so she got a boost in my opinion. Now for individual ratings:
(Alex: AKA The 11:00 work deadline heart attack): Coming into Uber Unit, I didn’t really have an idea for who Alex really was in terms of a thinker, but I thought he would be more focused on individual issues and topics instead of the broad concept as a whole, but he broke right through that expectation within two weeks of work. From watching his contributions in discussions to some of the thoughts he revealed while working, I got the feeling that Alex cared much more about some topics then what I would have initially expected, and his statements showed a complex understanding of both specific and broad concepts in discussion. (specifically referring to his contributions in the language discussion, which I found fascinating and also really just warming.) In terms of a group member, Alex consistently scared me when I went to check on his work, but when deadlines had to be met, he always stood firm and got his part done. It’s scary, but also nice to know that he at least will complete everything, and to a high quality at the same time (at least from what I previewed.) Alex also was very easy to access and communicated quite consistently with the rest of group, which was nice in its own way. In terms of being a leader, well I don’t really think that anyone took much of a leading role (myself included) with Grace present, so I can’t really say much about Alex here. Again, as a worker, Alex scared me constantly but he never let the group down when getting work done, and the most he would do in terms of depending on other group members were quick questions to clarify his understanding of his work.

(Liam: AKA Mr. Beautiful, the Psuedo-Suicidal Work Machine) Liam alone honestly would have been enough to make the politics group functional and enjoyable for me based on his easy going but focused personality, so that is something that should be noted. In terms of him being a thinker, I think he really is a see the forest over the trees kind of person, but one who can easily pick out a tree and dissect it endlessly. In other words, he is flexible in interpreting different issues and he usually drives to the central point of the topic at hand before discussing the specifics he deems important. In terms of him as a team member, I found Liam trustworthy and reliable, and while he did push some deadlines a bit close, he, like Alex, consistently got his work done to a high standard. He communicated very openly and helped with Grace to coordinate our work effectively, and I felt like he also helped our group to better communicate with you directly. In terms of Liam as a leader, again, it was kind of hard to lead with Grace present, but Liam easily would have been the leader if Grace wasn’t in charge. He was comfortable in talking with the rest of my group and getting us to complete our work in an orderly manner. As a worker, my words about Liam as a group member apply here again, but I also felt like he handled adversity relatively well and kept himself together even when we were in a load of deep work.

(Grace: AKA Ms. Mini Lobitz) Yeah, I’m not kidding with that title. Grace was always questioning us and keeping the group on track to the point where I couldn’t quite tell if she was your pet at times. Grace, if you are reading this, please don’t take this negatively, I think that’s actually pretty awesome that you managed the group the way you did and it helped me greatly in the organization of my work, so thanks. Now onto the evaluation. As a thinker, I got the feeling that Grace had a complex understanding of every topic that each group’s discussion covered, but her contributions all seemed to focus on specific ideas rather than broad ideas, which was interesting for the discussions considering the number of times she participated. As a group member, Grace was arguably the most consistent of us all in terms of completing work before deadlines and would push us to get our work done earlier as well. She communicated just as much as if not more than Liam and didn’t really have any negatives (outside of a little miscommunication at the end of our presentation’s presentation, but that was dealt with by me.) In terms of being a leader, knowing Grace as a theatre kid, I thought she would come in and immediately establish herself in charge of the rest of the group without any fear due to her being the most comfortable in communicating and organizing, and after all was said and done, I can’t really say that was really that far off as a prediction. Out of our group, Grace appeared to have the most advanced work ethic, getting her work done and maintaining her work logs to the best standards (until everyone decided to stop recording logs because they were ugly and repetitive) overall. She would work late with the rest of us but would also spread her work out throughout the rest of the day as well. I observed Grace the least out of our group (wow that sounds weird) and couldn’t really see how she handled adversity or some of the greater mental gymnastics that came with the crazier discussions, but she never complained nor was a burden in this regard, so I would presume that she handled the whole of Uber Unit very well.

Grade myself and my group members upon Uber Unit:

At the very least, I thought that the entire group hit a baseline of “meets” the expectation fairly easily, considering everyone carried their own weight and kept the group running along relatively smoothly. However, I could easily say that Grace and Liam exceeded expectations based on the level of work they contributed (which was a lot of top quality work, even if most of it never made it into the powerpoint) as well as their attitudes and help in organizing and communicating with the group. If they don’t meet this grade, I would be shocked. I also think that to an extent, I could also see Alex reaching the exceeds grade, for the level of work he submitted as well as his discussion contributions. Alongside this, the questions he asked within our group to better focus our work and expand the potential materials and sources were also very helpful in improving the overall product we submitted, and I’m not sure that our group would have done the same without him. As for myself, I’m not sure where to grade my contributions. I feel very confident in reaching the “meets” guidelines, as I contributed just as much research and busy work to meet the guidelines met by the rest of the group, and I helped to organize some of our larger documents and our final presentation, while also participating in almost every discussion (outside of Language, which I discussed in that blog.) However, reaching the level of “exceeding” expectations is one where I’m conflicted on giving myself that final bump. My contributions to the group were solid and useful, but I don’t really think that there would be much of a dropoff if another person in our class were swapped with me. I had a few documents where I thought I manifested my ideas to a unique and beneficial point, but sometimes I wouldn’t have a really perceptive viewpoint on the material I would read, and that doesn’t really add to the group and bring it above the base requirements in my opinion. The more important question on this grade however, is whether my discussion contributions and random organizational or reflective contributions to Uber Side Hustle really ended up making a difference or not towards our groups final presentation and reception by the class. That is a reflection that I think would be most fair for my group members to make and not myself, but if I had to give an opinion, I would put myself in between meeting and exceeding and lean towards meeting in this case. I didn’t contribute multiple times to any discussion (outside of science and tech) off the top of my head, and I can’t truly determine the impact of my personal thoughts to the rest of the group, so I’ll end this evaluation at that.

Comment on the group’s communication:

I don’t think this needs to be very long. Our group did a great job at communicating among each other, and the name “Uber Side Hustle” became a standard for other groups to aspire to… In all seriousness, our inter-group communication was constant and extremely useful in coordination, and was a major reason why our presentation turned out as effective as it was. I also felt that as a group, we communicated effectively with you in the brief meetings we had. I can recall at least two instances where a short 30 second meeting with you cleared up a standstill in our group’s work and allowed us to move forward, so I’m grateful that you went around and maintained communication on your end.

Comment on the quality of our Dummies’ Packet:

I’ll admit this is where my contributions weren’t as strong. I created my three precis and added to the Putting It Together and essential questions, but otherwise I had little part in this part of Uber Unit. However, based on my group’s contributions, I feel as if this section “exceeds” expectations due to the consistently thorough and meaningful precis analysis(‘s?) and the strength of our synthesis prompt and essential questions. I feel like our external sources were all very relevant and even powerful, which I found to be a bonus. So with this in mind, I feel like our packet should qualify as exceeding expectations.

Comment on our Days of Presentation:

Or what I considered the three days of hell before we actually went through and did them. In the end, they really weren’t that bad. Again, I feel comfortable in grading out our group and presentation as exceeding expectations, but I could see why it could lean towards meeting them. I felt like our powerpoint and videos were all very effective in granting the audience a broad but still informative overview of our material, and set them up well for the rest of the presentation. However, the second day was a day of wasted potential in my opinion, one that I was partially responsible for. Our idea going into the second day was to get the class bouncing ideas back and forth and arguing the various merits of political policy, but due to the structure of the scenarios presented, (one of which I wrote, I believe it was the second one), everyone ended up just picking a scenario that was relatively easy to arrive at without much debate, and the only two people who appeared to get something out of the activity were Abby and Evan. That day is a reason I could see our group’s performance being dragged down. I felt like the third day was a relative success from that point forward, and even though the discussion seemed to ignore the essential questions somewhat, it was centered around primary issues and opinions that I felt were relevant enough to reason that the rest of the class could find the days meaningful and helpful in their overall understanding of the topic. So, while it was an unusual way of getting there, I felt like the discussion was still a success.

Draw Connections between our group and the other groups:

Wait, didn’t we already do this? Might as well copy paste at this point amiright? I feel like what I’m about to state here will be a slightly more or less polished version of what was already stated in each group’s corresponding blog.

Starting with the Gender Group, I’m a little confused on how exactly there could be a connection between this group and the idea of politics that was interpreted by our group. While the idea of gender and all its associated rights could easily relate to their presence as a form of major debate in our country’s political system, it would be a bit more of a stretch to apply these same debates to the rest of the world in such a fashion. Maybe the presence of humanitarian groups who provide abortions and other related activities internationally could qualify for a broad scale connection here.

As for the Nature Group, I feel like there is a massive connection between nature and political actions around the world. Due to the massive scale of potential problems that could occur in our future if our environment isn’t accounted for and preserved, worldwide committees gather at the UN Climate Change Conference to politically discuss various ways of reaching goals to fix this issue.

As for the Language Group, I’ll refer back to a point I made in my first blog where the presentation spent a moment discussing Donald Trump and his unique usage of language to appeal to a larger demographic to improve his chances of becoming elected and therefore influences politics. People will make judgements about others based upon their language, and due to Trump’s usage of simplistic and similar language, these people thought that his political stances were similar and beneficial to them.

As for the Science and Technology Group, I’m not quite sure where AIs would fit into a political setting. They technically don’t exist yet (or at least the level of general intelligence), but they could easily gain so much power that it would instantly draw the attention of politicians to shut it down or modify the technology so that AIs could be controlled for beneficial purposes.

And finally, for the Pop Culture Group, I felt like a connection could be made to the usage of social media and popularity as forms of pop culture to influence people to support candidates politically. For example, I’ll look at this election one last time, where Trump was more popular on social media and better known, and voters would hear more bad things about the other candidate than Trump based on his massive influence in these communication mediums. Therefore, this understanding of pop culture had a significant impact of the basis of politics in our country.

 

With that final rant about Trump, I guess I could say that this metacognitive reflection is complete. Or as complete as it ever will be at 2:00 in the morning. I probably should get some sleep or something and prepare for the argument prompt that will destroy me tomorrow in class. Ah, well that’s junior year for me in a nutshell I guess. That being said, I started this blog with a quote, and I shall end it with one.

In the immortal words of Dobby some pesky student of yours,

“Marcus is free!”

Crazy Blogs that show how stressed out Marcus is! Number 13 will SHOCK you!

And with that clickbait title, we conclude our final chapter of Uber Unit. I should make note of the fact that I missed the middle day of presentations (running at Franklin Field, good times!) and therefore, my analysis of the sixth group’s activities will be somewhat flawed or lacking. I did find the presentation and the first days activities very relevant and logical for the subject. However, I feel like this day wasn’t very deep in terms of content, and it is part of the reason why I wished I was there for the second day. The quizlet live was nice at determining the span of my pop culture knowledge, but it soon became very repetitive and easy to game.

Now, as for the discussion,  I found the third day much more interesting. I felt like there were two parts of the discussion that really stood out, and I unfortunately was only able to comment on one of them. The first idea that came up revolved around the idea of different social complexes and groups, and how they were present all around Penncrest. A majority of people in the room seemed to be in a bit of a bubble, usually only interacting with those in the same high level classes as them with a couple of extra branches, including clubs like some of the science teams or those with artistic pursuits (your favorites!) like theatre. I was a little disappointed that I didn’t speak up in time, because I felt like I had a conflicting point that could have balanced this specific area in the discussion. This is because of the fact that while I spend most of my time with these exact same elite students, I’ve also consistently had at least one class a year with students of much lesser caliber, usually consisting of athletes and other goofballs. Combined with this is the fact that I’ve participated in athletic activities ever since my summer freshman year, where I first joined the cross country (and went on to continue running for the rest of the year), and you can see where my social bubbles might start to vary quite heavily from a majority of the other people in this class. I know what it’s like to be a top tier student, to have that focus and drive on academic pursuits, but at the exact same time, I know what it’s like to be a varsity athlete, and how that leads to a conflict of interests (and a loss of sleep, lots of it) with varying ideals and feelings. I know the people that are in both fields, and it’s enhanced my perspective of the world as well as broadened my understanding of different types of people overall. So, a bit of a missed opportunity there, but that happens when under time constraints.

As for the issue I did get to speak about, which happened to be the ever revolving issue of video games and the broad exposure to violence throughout all forms of media for multiple age groups, I was more than happy enough to provide my personal experience. So, I guess with that I can be considered the “gamer” of the AP Lang class, and all associated feelings and conceptions can be applied here (although a certain someone *cough Mark cough* has arguably spent more time overall playing video games and delaying classwork, but I digress.) That being said, I don’t feel like I got my full point across in my contribution, but I hopefully got enough out for others to understand my perspective. Don’t get me wrong, I may have an addiction to all sorts of games and virtual realities, but I don’t let that blind me nor weigh over my moral barriers. In the case of violent games, this is especially so. My first video games from the age of 5-6 were in order, a racing game, a first person shooter, and a strategy game. With this in mind, my father was the one to introduce me to the shooter genre, and he was extremely careful in that regard. I was always warned of the reality of the violence I enacted in these harmless simulations, and I respected that line from almost the moment it was instilled on me. My moral compass has been shaped the greatest from two influences in my life, my father, and my karate studio. Seeing as my dad is also a doctor, I quickly came to understand the human body and especially all of its most vulnerable locations, which was only reinforced by my karate instructors warnings about everything we could do to seriously injure and incapacitate another person. I’ll admit it, I’m quite squeemish, and generally, I don’t like to imagine the damage that I could inflict on another person. With that in mind, violence has always been a major subject where I firmly have drawn my moral lines upon. While I may have a bit of a temper, I should clarify that there is a major, major difference between me being angry, and me actively wanting to hurt another human being. There is nobody in our room that no matter how much they have pissed me off, has made me consciously want to injure them. So, considering this, my stance on video games and violent media comes down to this; it can be an influence towards those who might be the next school shooter, but, I do not think that it can ever be the singular influence that pushes someone over the edge, into a realm where they don’t see the issue in taking other people’s lives. That edge is one that can only be breached over time under multiple influences, including family interactions, social interactions, and the potential presence of a mental disorder.

That was a little horrifying that I just wrote that. Again, I only see this as my perspective, and I don’t consider this the end all be all for what composes a violent person’s actions. These are just my educated guesses on the idea.

Now, onward to the readings! (how about that turnaround huh?)

I’m not sure what to say here other than I guess I agree with the central ideas posed by Wiltz and Twain, and that the idea of defining yourself against or with social influences is one that I’ve thought about numerous times, considering how much I consider myself socially incompetent. I won’t rant about my thoughts on that, but let’s just say that it’s an idea that you tend to think about when you don’t text or spend all your time on Instagram. As for the Denby reading, I kinda agree with the criticism of all these teen movies having stereotypical characters and roles in hopes of attracting the sympathy of the audience, but even though it isn’t as black and white as the movies make it out to be, I do still think that something of similar nature goes on in many high schools, including Penncrest. I won’t name names, but especially in the athletics department, I do see some frightening similarities in social interactions and structures, and it worries me that people (more specifically, a good portion of the administration) just seem to accept it and let it happen, especially when some of these teams just cause more problems then they bring positive attention (again, *cough cough* the football team and the baseball team, and to an extent the basketball and lacrosse teams.) As a whole, the reading isn’t perfectly accurate, but I get the point that Denby makes, which is a fair one.

As for the synthesis prompt, I didn’t really understand how to interpret it. The Pop Culture group’s essential questions were all relatively spot on and were relevant points that correlated well with the readings and the discussion. They did seem a bit repetitive, but I thought that they covered the subject extensively enough to warrant their overlap. As for the synthesis introduction (what was I supposed to analyze here, this group was structured differently), I felt that the prompt was somewhat limited by just focusing on the presence of film and TV influence, but it was still broad enough to see why the group settled on it.

As for a connection to politics, well, I guess I should look at this past election and say no more. From a pop culture standpoint, Trump would have beaten Hillary in this regard almost every day of the week. Pop culture doesn’t exactly have it’s roots based in common logic, so that part is explained fairly easily. But simply looking at some of the common social preferences and norms present around the time of the election, it was clear that there was definitely a visual portion of voters who clearly had a set of anti-establishment values alongside values of economic grandeur or just a focus in general. While Hillary made more of an attempt to try and appeal on this front, her efforts were obvious and the effort was ruined, which only made her appear worse in public opinion, at least in my opinion. While I believe that pop culture should stay entirely out of politics, I feel that they are unfortunately entwined for the time being, as well as the upcoming future. Which is a shame, because generally those who have the greatest ideas and the most realistic and fair policies will probably never have the same shock and awe factor of those with superior social influence even if they are logically speaking a worse candidate in every way possible. Scientists and philosophers are relatively boring and inconsequential to the public, and until they are idolized or supported to the point of attaining publicity and power equivalent to celebrities, they will never stand a chance at winning public office.

So yeah, that’s my two (and a half) cents for you. Enjoy my greatest wall of text yet Lobitz!

public class APLANG { public Blog 12

Wow my Java is bad, for anyone who better understands the syntax please feel free to rip me on my now semi-forgotten coding ability.

Anyway, onto the blog.

I really, really hated this presentation. And by hate, I mean I really loved the depth of the presentation and the topic itself, but really hated rediscovering the potentially horrifying topic of AI’s and the moral implications that would come from such an action. The first day was somewhat positive in nature, learning about our progression in the development of intelligence, before leaving us with a foreboding idea of the next two days to come. The progression of a general intelligence to that of a super intelligence is one progression that many would hope to avoid entirely, and if it were to be approached, one that I believe should be managed and guarded with more safety precautions and overall implications than those of nuclear weapons. In other words, kinda serious stuff when compared to the last couple uber units.

But wait, there’s more!

Not to mention the possibility that developing a sentient AI could lead to the creation of an entity so powerful that it could be considered a theoretical god, but there are also the moral implications of what rights an AI with a conscience deserves, and how we are to interact with and control (for as long as we can) such a being. And as our final day revealed, the theoretical creation of a sentient being is one with great ethical weight, forcing us to draw a line at where an AI can be considered a human or a being of equal intellectual and mental capacity, and eventually, we have to question what makes us human in the first place. This is utterly fascinating, and also completely infuriating in terms of being able to think of a plausible boundary or definition to place.

As for the readings, well, first I somewhat have to send out my feelings to the tech group at the realization that half the class didn’t even look at the readings. When I sheepishly raised my hand to say that I had read, what I meant was that I did the readings last Thursday, without knowing what we were supposed to read, so I just read the conversations and about two thirds of the chapter instead, and as a result, I had no idea which author talked about what points and I was terrified that this disconnect in knowledge would embarrass me in the discussions. But that’s not the point of this paragraph, so I digress. I think this was one of my favorite chapters, if not my favorite chapter overall in all the readings. I found the Eiseley and Aldiss (I know we didn’t have to read other authors but I couldn’t resist) readings the greatest out of all of them for their focus on the emotional and internal mental aspects of humanity, and generally just living organisms (birds in Eiseley’s case) overall. The rest of the readings were also solid to enjoyable in my experience, so all round a good chapter.

The synthesis prompt however… What happened? I thought I opened another group’s folder on this one. I’m glad that they shifted the focus the way they did, but self driving cars? It’s certainly an important topic, but arguably it just seems more limited in every way than AI (and it’s still not a bad topic.) I’m not sure what to say here otherwise.

The only connection that I could possibly make would be that of one of the benefits of a globally interactive society, which are massive developments in technology and the sciences (see China, US, parts of Europe, etc). However, in terms of the focus itself on AI, I couldn’t draw any realistic connections whatsoever. Maybe there could be something to be said for analyzing an AI programmed like a human and how it might interact politically with other AIs under the same programming? I feel like I’m really stretching here.

Eleven Elegant Entries Upon the Complexities of Human Language:

So, how about the first day of that presentation huh? I’ve never had my ears graced by such beautiful and kind words, and never in the frequency or depth that we delved into said words with. I’m confident in saying that I could bring my grandparents into the room and they would love such a classy discussion. Nothing of vulgar meaning was discussed… In all seriousness, I found that first day uncomfortable but also very enlightening, or as enlightened as one can feel while also feeling like scum for writing and thinking the way I did for thirty minutes. The second day felt like it had potential, but it was inconsistent in relying on specific topics to trigger a response from the audience. As for the final discussion, I’m still a bit irked about it to now. The whole time we were discussing speakers of other languages and how we still communicate through family, I was sitting there and I felt like my experience was so close yet so far from qualifying as a contribution to the discussion. To briefly clarify, the grandparents on my mom’s side of the family have lived with us for the past 4 years, and have visited us frequently for years before that. Their primary language is Spanish, and they would spent hours on the phone talking to friends in Colombia. But, just as fluent as they are in Spanish, they are also in English, and thus, with only a few words being exchanged in Spanish between us over time, I’ve never really had the language barrier divide that some other people have had (most notably, Alex and Tara), which is a bit saddening to me. In reality, I really did find this discussion fascinating and I was disappointed to not contribute anything, but I felt like the experience I did have wouldn’t have really counted for much considering the much more meaningful experiences that everyone else was listing.

*breathes out* That was an ugly wall o’ text right there, I’ll try to make things a little more concise.

I found the readings from this chapter much more interesting than those from the Enviro chapter, specifically Mother Tongue and Bilingualism in America. They provide a great contrast in both style and argument,  and immensely help the reader to understand the span of issues and benefits to the presence and understanding of the many different languages in America. Hayakawa’s piece, Bilingualism in America, was particularly interesting to me due to how my initial opinion and that of the argument of the writing’s (which basically states that encouraging native tongues and cultures in school systems is leading to a larger educational deficiency that is a disservice to foreign or immigrant students) contrasted heavily. I come from a family that is almost completely bilingual on one side and monolingual on the other, and I have always (maybe not personally) put a priority on learning at least one alternative language due to the mental developments that it can lead to as well as the benefits that will arise from being better able to communicate internationally. But after reading this piece, I can better understand the perspective of some who might oppose such heavy encouragement of other languages. I didn’t really find the conversations that interesting, and while they all made relatively valid arguments on the nuisances of language (outside of the Starbucks piece, which was worthless in my opinion.)

As for the synthesis prompt, I feel like it corresponds well to the overall subject of language as well as most of the presentation. Except for one thing. If the whole purpose of the language project was to analyze the importance of language in our international society (and focus it on America), then why even bother performing the first day’s activities? Trust me, they were entertaining and definitely did a great job at getting people’s attention, and they fit for a language based project overall, but the activity just seemed like it was out of place after the fact, and more time could have been spent focusing on the synthesis prompt instead.

I had a bit of a harder time connecting the Language group to our own, but I do believe that the second day mentioned something to bridge the gap. When the second day moved towards discussing social media and how this platform for massive communication was influencing our language, I believe there was a brief point made about politics and how Trump was able to amass such support from Twitter and social media through a simplified form of language designed to empower and engage a very specific base of voters. I’d already observed this several months ago, but it was good to see that this point, this topic of social media and the associated language that comes with it being mentioned within the presentation.

10 Blogs towards feeling helpless at the inevitable future of our planet…

So on a more serious note, this presentation brought me to a level of helplessness and dread unlike anything the other groups have brought me to yet (although politics and gender aren’t very dreadful subjects in the present, at least in my opinion.) It’s a ticking time bomb, and when I try to look for the truth on how bad everything really is, I can’t find a definitive answer. Everywhere I look, I see optimists who say we can change things and save our future, and others who say we already passed the point of no return, and our planet is on a track towards more and more hostile conditions. One of the things that really struck me came from Abby, in how she repeatedly talked about ways how not only the government can do things to try and improve our future, but also ourselves. And I look at some of these suggestions, like dropping meat from my diet, and cutting back on energy and water consumption, and it puts me at a major moral dilemma, where I consider the weight of my own actions to the world, vs the comfort and benefits that I derive from these actions on a daily basis. It’s definitely a conflicting debate to say the least.

Regardless of my ramblings, I felt that the Enviro group’s presentation was very effective in nature (I swear that wasn’t on purpose). I loved (hated) the second day especially, as for once in my life, I had to legitimately defend fracking. I thought that this exercise, of defending the viewpoint you opposed most helped greatly in my understanding of the issue as a whole, even if it didn’t change my opinion completely. The discussion was nice, although I wished we heard more people participate (felt like all that the discussion revolved around was Abby’s points, which were good points, but still.) I felt like the power point part of the presentation could have been a little better in terms of expansion outwards from the slides, but I’m probably just nitpicking.

As for the readings, I didn’t really feel much outside of reading Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring. While I found the other passages effective in conveying their point (which usually just revolved around analyzing the numerical and observable effects of our failure to preserve the environment, or just new ways to achieve such preservation), they still seemed to lact impact and emotion, regardless of how important the information and perspectives they contained. Silent Spring on the other hand held more of my attention, for its narrative structure and hypothetical structure, alongside the strong factual arguments made to directly counter opposing viewpoints.

There isn’t a direct overlap with our group considering the way how we interpreted politics, but, in political terms, the Environmental group has many talking points, the biggest of those points being the presence of the EPA and how much the government should dictate how we influence the environmental aspects of the world over the economic interests of our country. Which is literally their synthesis prompt. I thought that their synthesis prompt made sense from the viewpoint of being able to focus their project, but I would have rather seen an expansion towards, or at least a mention of other countries and what they could do over just the US, even if we are one of the biggest influences on the planet considering our material and energy consumption. So while their prompt works, and is a solid prompt in its own right, I would have preferred a little bit more expansion. But yet again, this is just my nit-picking.

Nine More Blogs to add to Donald’s Wall…

Even though our presentation didn’t actually have to do with this form of politics much at all.

Hey that rhymed!

So, to say the least, I’m conflicted on our presentation. On one hand, it was (at least in my opinion) a solid to great presentation on information and appearance alone, as well as the discussion that followed. Our group was relatively coordinated, our PowerPoint looked pretty, our audio and visual sources were unique and not completely boring, and we had more than enough content to fill our time (in fact we could have ran over the time for all three days with the video, the additional scenarios, and the discussion, which could have (and should have) gone on for at least an hour longer. Plus, you seemed to like it, so that’s gotta mean something right?

On the other hand, I felt terrible about my participation in the presentation. The presentation is probably better off for it (which I’ll talk about in a sec), but it isn’t the way it was supposed to be planned. Compared to Liam and Grace, my speaking time was about 10-15% overall, which is basically like I’m being carried. Originally I was supposed to do about 6 slides in the presentation, but that changed last minute to shift more slides to Grace. Considering how good of a presenter that Grace is, it was most likely for the best of the presentation as a whole, but it left me with the feeling that I really didn’t contribute much to our project. It didn’t help that I only contributed once to the group discussion and that the scenario that I proposed on the second day of presentation was a scenario lacking full explanation, which led to a lot of repetitive and simple answers. The feedback we are getting as a group suggests that we did our jobs really well and that most people enjoyed our work, so I should probably just get over this, but it still doesn’t feel right feeling like the weak link of the group for the final three days.