Kakehashi Project

Students rarely get a chance to discover other cultures before college, so it was really cool when I found out that a large group of Japanese high school students would be coming to my high school for an exchange program. It started last year when about 30 Milton students got to go to Japan and spend a few days in a Japanese high school. Now the Japanese students are going to spend a few days in an American school. It seems like a great way to connect cultures, and I think it would be wise in the future for more schools to do this, and for a longer period. What better way to learn about how a culture really is than to spend a good amount of time enveloped in it? When the students showed up at our school we threw them a feast, and made it absolutely American style. We had sloppy joes, salads, sugary cakes, and a lot of mac and cheese. Then we went to the gym and played “American” sports. Then everyone went to the Cagle’s Family Farm and did the corn maze. It was a really tiring night, not to mention that I had some difficulties communicating with the Japanese students. We knew more Japanese than they knew English, so the responsibility was on us to try and communicate with them. I’m glad I got the chance to meet them, and I will see them again on Monday.

Model U.N. Position Paper

This year in middle school I decided to join Model U.N. In case you do not know what Model U.N. is, it is a club where you take the role of a country in the U.N. as you have to discuss a problem with other countries in that committee. You then have to propose solutions to the said problem and decide on one as a group. I started off my first year of Model U.N. by joining an advanced committee that have the issue assigned of whether or not drones should be used. I got the role of the U.S. which was pretty lucky on my part because there is a lot of facts and debates on drones in the U.S. so the information was pretty easy to find. Before you can goto the conference, you need to write a position paper explaining your country’s viewpoint on these issues. This is what I wrote regarding the use of drones in the U.S. perspective.

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Use of Unmanned Aircraft : U.S. Delegate   usflag

The issue of the use of unmanned aerial vehicles or drones is currently being debated in the UN Human Rights Council. The main problem debated about drones is whether or not it is ethical to use drones for military operations as many people are concerned about the transparency and the liability of the use of these unmanned aircrafts. The United States of America instituted drones and UAVs for the use of counter-terrorism primarily after the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks. The U.S. particularly sees itself as a target for terrorist attacks from the Middle East and groups like Al-Qaeda and ISIS and chooses to use unmanned aircraft to deal with the threat.

According to many experts, the issue of whether the use of drones is humane came into effect on Feburary 2002, after the United States attempted to eliminate the leader of Al-Qaeda, Osama Bin-Laden with an aerial attack using UAVs. Many human rights advocates have said that instead of terrorists being killed in the attack many innocent Afghan civilians were murdered. Now more and more drone strikes are taking place in the Middle East and surrounding countries. Although some say that these UAV strikes are an effective way to cripple terrorists networks, many suggest that there is not any real accountability for collateral damage in these drone strikes. Studies have shown that in Pakistan alone 400 bystanders have been killed in the said strikes. Human Rights Experts at the UN have also pointed out that the governments using drones have not given any guidelines of how they choose targets for these strikes. The problem facing the international community is that it is challenging to get any hard evidence to support these strikes as they usually take place in remote countries where gathering reliable information is very difficult. Another note is that it is extremely difficult to pinpoint who is a “civilian” while carrying out these attacks. There are many cases where survivors of drone attacks have come to America telling their story about how terrifying it is to live every day of their life paranoid that any second the sky could open up and shoot bullets down at them.

The UN has taken action to try and deal with the controversy of UAVs. Ben Emmerson, UN Special Rapporteur, completed a study of the use of UAVs and found that he needed to call for more transparency of the processes undertaken during UAV strikes. The U.S. took action to provide more clarity for their drone attacks after Pakistan declared that they believe UAV attacks in their country without consent of the government is a breach of their sovereignty. Later that year in May, President Barack Obama of the U.S. gave a speech defending UAVs and argued that it is necessary and legal for the United States to carry out these attacks to stop plots that are a threat to national security.

The main problem with drone strikes is the accountability of who gets attacked and how they determine targets. One way to solve this problem is to ensure that countries have a clear and pinpointed target before any attack takes place. Requiring hard-evidence that the target is part of a terrorist group should be need before a strike. After the country completes these strikes they should be required to collect candid data about the attack and have it open to the public. If these problems would be resolved this would not only lessen conflict between these countries, but it would give the U.S. a better image overseas where the attacks are actually taking place.

 

The Tower Newspaper (Fahrenheit 451 Project)

Last week my Lit class just finished reading Fahrenheit 451, we were assigned a project to show our understanding of the book. I did a newspaper with different articles (main story, editorial, side story, and advertisement). You can click on the image to expand.

The Tower Newspaper

 

For my intense Latin research assignment I was tasked with creating an outline for the paper I am inevitably going to write. The outline is an important step because it orders the information you already have into a shape that you can use for your paper. This is the outline for my paper on the possibility of Caesar having schizophrenia.

  1. Introduction

    1. Thesis statement: It is a well accepted fact that Caesar had some kind of mental ailment, and because of the seizures, hereditary nature, and strange behavior, it could have been schizophrenia.

  2. Caesar had some head troubles accompanied by seizures and strange behavior.

    1. Caesar could not have been right in the head mentally as he walked into a very obvious trap. The fact that the most renown general in history would do this is unsettling.

      1. “Why would this man, who was not only a military but also a political genius—and who had the best intelligence in the world—walk directly into what was ‘a death foretold’ (19)?”

    2. Plutarch writes that Caesar had head troubles. He was prone to convulsions.

      1. “Plutarch provided more specific descriptions of Caesar’s attacks, claiming he had “distemper in the head and was subject to epileptic fits (1413).”

    3. When Caesar had seizures, he was worried he may have spoken or acted out of turn. This suggests that he lost control of himself from time to time.

      1. “”When he came to himself again, he said, if he had done or said anything wrong, he desired their worships to think that it was his infirmity (1413).””

  3. Both schizophrenia and epilepsy are hereditary, and Caesar’s relatives had epilepsy.

    1. Schizophrenia is hereditary, which means that some of Caesar’s relatives might have had it.

      1. “…five children of schizophrenic mothers became schizophrenic, but no children of non-schizophrenic mothers became schizophrenic (38).”

    2. Caesar’s relatives did indeed have seizures.

      1. [insert quote about Caesar’s relatives having seizures]

    3. Seizures are hereditary as well, so we can assume that if the seizures were caused by schizophrenia, Caesar might have very well had Schizophrenia.

      1. “Even when the cause of an individual’s epilepsy is non identifiable, genetic factors undoubtedly influence predisposition to develop seizures (146).”

  4. Schizophrenia and epilepsy are related.

    1. Those with schizophrenia are more prone to seizures.

      1. “…patients with schizophrenia are more prone to seizures than the general population (1).”

    2. Seizures are usually caused by an underlying hereditary defect, such as schizophrenia.

      1. “…the epilepsy is second to an identifiable cause, often an underlying hereditary defect. (146).”

    3. Those who have seizures are more likely to be schizophrenic.

      1. “Patients with epilepsy develop psychosis or schizophrenia at a rate exceeding that expected if the two disorders were independent (1).”

  5. Conclusion

    1. Concluding statement: It cannot be known for sure that Caesar did suffer from schizophrenia. It is not only a very vague diagnosis, but many other ailments also fit the symptoms. However, its as good a guess as any of those and seems like a good interpretation due to its statistical likeliness.

Compare / Contrast Essay (Flowers for Algernon)

Recently in Language Arts, we have read the short story of “Flowers for Algernon.” I enjoyed reading the story in class and found it to be very moving. After we finished the story, we watched about 20 minutes of clips from the movie of Flowers for Algernon and then we received an assignment where we had to write an essay comparing and contrasting the film and short story of “Flowers for Algernon.”  It was very interesting finding all the parts of the story that they changed in film and what they changed them into. So without further ado, here is what I wrote.

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Compare/Contrast Essay FFA

Has a friend ever seen a movie about his/her favorite book and expressed their feelings that the movie was nothing like the book? Whenever movies are made from books, the producers usually have to change the story a bit to be able for it to work on the big screen. The short story of “Flowers for Algernon” included many clarifying details in the book on Charlie’s relationships with others, his place of work, and the tests he performs at the laboratory. The movie of this story kept the main storyline, but some changes in the areas stated above were needed for the movie to fit into the restraints set by publishers.

First, here are the similarities and differences of Charlie’s relationships with others in the two stories. The major change between his relationships in the text and film was Charlie’s relationship with Ms. Kinnian. In the book, Charlie went to numerous dinners with Ms. Kinnian and in the film, Charlie had been rejected by Ms. Kinnian when he kissed her. A similarity between the two stories was Charlie’s relationship with his colleagues at work; his “friends” who mocked him made him feel stupid. Later when Charlie became intelligent, he got vexed a lot and argued with almost everyone.

Secondly, both the text and film gave a considerable amount of detail on Charlie’s place of work and the film stayed mostly truthful to the text but there were some major changes. First off, the name of the place Charlie worked was changed. In the original text, Charlie worked at Donnegan’s Plastic Box Company, but in the film he worked at Donnean’s Bakery. Another change made was that in the film Charlie worked as sort of an errand boy while in the book, he worked as a janitor. Although those are both major changes, both factories have mostly the same setup. They are both large plants with machinery that Charlie could rearrange like he did in the book. Another similarity is that in both the book and the film, the people who work with Charlie sign a petition to get him fired after he becomes intelligent because they are scared of him.

Last but not least, the producers kept and changed some things about the tests that he performs at the laboratory. The main difference in the tests in the film and story is that in the text, Charlie takes an extra test where he has to look at pictures of people and create a story from the pictures. Also, in the film Charlie does not race with Algernon directly as they are both using the same maze. There are also similarities between both stories as when he is taking the test he is dedicated to succeed. When he took the inkblot test in both the film and book, he wanted to get his glasses because he was so determined to see the pictures in the inkblots. Another similarity is that he is superstitious in both stories. When taking the tests at the lab, in both the film and book, he quotes that he has his rabbit’s foot and lucky penny.

When most book are made into movies, certain changes are required for the said movie to fit into the parameters given to them by the publishers. The story of “Flowers for Algernon” had to be edited when it was made into a movie, but many key details were also kept. I believe that the producers of the movie stayed truthful to the storyline of the book and only made changes where they were needed.

Letter from Bergeron

So, in Honors Literature we are reading Fahrenheit 451 which is a great book about a society which outlaws books and burns the homes (and books) of perpetrators, thus 451, the temperature that paper burns. We have been reading for the past two weeks and have been having discussions and analysis but we just took a break to read some short-stories. The first one we read was another American dystopia. It’s called “Harrison Bergeron” and it was written by the author of yet another famous novel, the author being Kurt Vonnegut. In this story, the United States attempts to make all her citizens equal by putting handicaps on the intelligent and strong. The main character’s son, Harrison Bergeron, is very strong and intelligent so he is taken away and jailed by the Department of the Handicapper General. You can read the story, it’s not long, here.

Dear Mother and Father,

I really miss you. I know you try not to remember me and even when you do, you can’t. But I don’t hate you. In fact I worry for you, you live your whole lives without thinking deeply or being able to run around and experience the world because our your handicapped existence. You may read this with your doubts but that’s only because you haven’t had a day in your life where you didn’t have handicaps. Here in prison I am looked at with suspicion and jealousy everyday as I try to fit in, which is difficult because I look like mass of metal waddling around and am years younger that all the other inmates, whose crimes are rarely anything but being too “unfair”. It’s sort of weird. Everyone seems to want to BE me with my strength and intellect but don’t like me for the same reasons. It’s so frustrating, I wish I could show them, you, and the whole country what it’s like to be free from our sacks of weights and blasting earphones. Soon I may have my chance. I know what you’re thinking, that I’m going to put myself in danger but don’t worry. I’m strong and I can do ANYTHING if I put my mind to it.

Ever since that day in April when I was abducted by the Handicapper General’s evil henchmen I have been thinking about why the government would have done this when it’s not MY fault I was born superior to everyone else. Making everyone equal is impossible in the first place, and if they wanted to have “equality” they should give equal opportunity. No one is equal and that is good. If everyone is equal there would be no leaders and followers, or experts in ANY field or occupation. If everyone had equal opportunity we could all achieve great things in our own way without being subjected to the governments extreme measures. People shouldn’t feel bad if they are less intelligent or less strong than others in the first place. We all have SOMETHING we are good at and can excel in.

Back before the H.G. men took me, I read something from a person long ago and now I think about it a lot… that person said something along the lines of a society which tries to be equal before it is free will have neither; where a society that tries to have freedom and THEN equality will have a little bit of both. I thought that this relates to our people’s situation. The government attempts to force equality which only leads to oppression. If our society wants to break out of these bonds we must not go along with this not individually but as a group. I think I would be a great leader to help our country get back on track. When we are at our highest potential we can make great music and think of great ideas. These rules from the government, don’t achieve anything but hold us back.

The only thing I now desire is for us, as citizens, to be freed, freed from the handicaps, freed in our thoughts, free to move around as we wish, and free from our government which tries to take advantage of us. I have high hopes for the future. People will soon see through these outrageous ideas and come to terms with their inequalities, because it’s our differences and not our similarities that make us great.

Your Son,

Harrison Bergeron