Saturday, October 21, 2017

For Tuesday: Ronson, The Men Who Stare at Goats, Chs. 1-3

Answer TWO of the following:

Q1: What was Channon’s idea for a First Earth Battalion such a radical concept? Where did he get his inspiration? And related to this, why might the armed forces have been receptive to such an “out there” suggestion?

Q2: Do you get the impression that Ronson believes half the stories that people tell him about the Goat Lab and the Staring exercises? What is his tone throughout the piece, and why do you think he decided to write a book about these interviews and experiences?

Q3: Channon says something interesting in Chapter 3 about the average soldier: “The kind of person attracted to military service has a great difficulty...being cunning. We suffered in Vietnam from not being cunning...You might get some cunning out of other agencies in the American government, but you’d have a hard time finding it in the army” (31). According to him and others in this book, why might the conversation about war be more about cunning than fighting? Why does Channon believe that “cunning” is the future of the American army?

Q4: Ronson poses four possible scenarios in Chapter 2 for the stories about the Goat Lab, the last one being, “The U.S. Intelligence community was, back then, essentially nuts through and through” (10). While he’s obviously being facetious here, what might he be actually driving at? Why might the various bodies of U.S. Intelligence be more “nuts” than we assume? And why might it be in their best interests to be at least a little more “nuts” than the average person?

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Argument Paper #2: The Truth We Never Tell

“We don’t tell each other the truth about dying, as a people. Not real dying. Real dying, regular and mundane dying, is so hard and so ugly that it becomes the worst thing of all...No one ever told me the truth about it, not once” (Teague 278).

PROMPT: For your Second Argument Paper, I want you to enter into a discussion about something no one ever “told you the truth about” in your own life. It should be something important to you and your identity: school, your job, your future career, your personal identity, your relationships, your faith, your family, etc. In other words, something you had to experience and learn by trial and error, even though someone could have told you the “truth” and saved you a lot of heartache. Assume that your readers don’t understand your identity or experience...explain it to them in detail and use other sources to help compare your experience to theirs. Make sure we understand that this is a conversation that many people have, even though our society might not be having it correctly or honestly.

NAYSAYER: For this paper, I also want you to add a “naysayer” into the work. This is someone who disagrees or shows another side to your discussion, and in this case, is the person who might not tell the truth about your experience. What do other people say about this identity or experience? What did people tell you which turned out to be slightly untrue or an outright lie? Why did they do this? Make sure we see the other side of the conversation so we understand where you’re coming from—and why you want us to see a different “truth.”

FOR EXAMPLE: The Truth/Lies of Teaching... “When I was first becoming a teacher, no one told me that the work never ends. As a student, you have a lot of work, but you eventually finish it (eventually!). As a teacher, however, you always have something to do, you are always grading, planning, reading, learning, writing, attending meetings, and then doing it all over again. You always have homework, and you’re never doing enough of it. So when people say “teachers are lazy, they get three months off,” etc., they don’t see the ‘truth’ that goes on behind the scenes, when teachers are up at one in the morning trying to plan an eight o’clock class.”

  • At least 3-4 sources, which can be any of the essays in the book (esp. the ones by Armstrong/Miller and Teague) and/or outside sources that inform your conversation.
  • Remember that you can use an essay about rape and not write about rape—the ideas in the essay could help you discuss/express your own.
  • At least 4-5 pages double spaced, though you can do more
  • You must have a conversation: quote and respond to the articles, and introduce a Naysayer into your paper

Monday, October 2, 2017

For Tuesday: Teague, “The Friend” (277-295)

NOTE: Trigger Warnings—this is a rough essay about death and cancer. I think it’s an important essay to read, and very powerful, but it’s also very sad and even disturbing in parts, particularly if you’ve gone through this yourself. So just a warning of what to expect. Read it in small doses if you find it too personal or disturbing.

Answer TWO of the following:

Q1: At one point in the essay, Teague writes that “She drifted away on Haldol, an ocean measured in milliliters” (292). This essay uses metaphors often, as a way of trying to help us relate to the unfathomable and unimaginable. Discuss another metaphor in the essay that is particularly helpful in imagining the events or ideas the author is trying to explain. What does it help you ‘see,’ and why do you feel it’s appropriate?

Q2: Talking to a counselor, Matthew is told “Before this is over…you will long for it to end.” His response is, “Never” (282). But what did the counselor know that he didn’t? What couldn’t he know then that he learns in the course of the essay (though he never actually wants her to die, of course).

Q3: This essay isn’t called “The Wife” or “The Husband,” but “The Friend.” Why does he focus more on Dane than himself or his wife? Why is his role perhaps the most important part of the story, and the one he wants to help us appreciate and understand?

Q4: Unlike many stories of death and loss, this essay documents the aspect that doesn’t make it into TV movies or movies in general: the anger and vindictiveness of the wife against the husband. Why do you think he includes this in his essay? Is he getting revenge on his wife for all the suffering she put him through? Is it insensitive? Or is there another reason we need to see this?

Conferences for This Week

Below are the conference times in case you forget--all take place in my office, HM 348. Please e-mail me if you need to change.

12:30 Chassidy
:40 Jessica
:50 Kassandra

1:00 Penny / Sam 
:10 Reece
:20 Coleman
:30 Riley

2:00 Elisha
:20 Eddie

9:30 Noah
:40 Jakob
:50 Lauren

10:00 Sarah
:10 Jesilee
:20 Kendra
:30 Tyler D
:40 Leonson

11:00 Jordan
:10 Mitchell
:30 Halie

1:00 Jasmine
:10 Madison
:20 Rhiannon
:30 Kelsey
:40 Ashley
:50 Emily

2:00 Hannah
:10 Madison
:40 Sebastian

3:30 Daniel
:40 Ashton


12:30 Riley (re-schedule)  12:30 Nathan
:40 Gabe
:50 Kayla

2:10 Cliff

1-2:30 OPEN

1:00 Ashlynd

1-2:40 OPEN 

Friday, September 29, 2017

Short Paper #2: A Closer Look

“For truth, properly considered, is about the relationship between language and the world, not about photographs and the world.” (Errol Morris)

For your second short paper, I want you to choose a photograph, painting, or significant work of art that has no words. It should be an image that is complex enough to be read or interpreted in a number of ways, and might even be confusing on first glance. In your paper, I want you to describe the image as if the reader has never seen it. This means you have to describe the image in as much detail as possible, and make sure we can see all the important aspects of the work as if it was sitting right before us. Be descriptive, and help us see what you see when you look at it. Again, don’t assume we can see it, so if you find yourself saying “the guy here looks weird,” tell us why he looks weird.

However, here’s the trick: as you describe the photograph, painting, etc., I want you to analyze and explain it. For example, if you were describing the photograph “Sharbat Gula,” try to make us see the girl you see—either a refugee, or a victim, or an assassin. Use details in the painting to illustrate why you see her this way and make us see it, too. Imagine that you’re a tour guide taking us on a tour of this work, and say “if you look here, you can see why she’s full of despair and turmoil,” etc. Use your descriptions to interpret her character, background, or personality for the reader. Help us see the “inside” of the photograph/painting, that isn’t actually observable—but that you see based on the clues and inferences of the work.

EXAMPLE: Remember how Armstrong and Miller help us see Marie through their descriptions: “To Marie, it seemed the questioning had lasted for hours. She did what she always did when under stress. She flipped the switch, as she called it, suppressing all the feelings she didn’t know what to do with. Before she confessed to making up the story, she couldn’t look the two detectives, the two men, in the eye. Afterward, she could. Afterward, she smiled” (226).  If we were looking at Marie as a photograph, we would only see her smiling and looking calm, and would think, “gee, she doesn’t seem too upset by all of this.” But the writers show us why she doesn’t, and how she copes so that changes the way we see her, too. So help us see who she is on the inside, even though we can’t prove this—it’s just a gut feeling based on how you read and interpret the work.

  • 2-3 pages, double spaced
  • Description and attention to detail: help us see the work without having to see it
  • Analysis: make sure you help us see the ‘inside’ of the work, which isn’t based on observable fact (we can’t prove it), but is based on how you interpret the clues and inferences in the painting
  • DUE THURSDAY, OCTOBER 5th by 5pm

Friday, September 22, 2017

For Tuesday: Armstrong & Miller, “An Unbelievable Case of Rape” (p.203-240)

Detective Galbraith and Sgt. Hendershot from the article (see more pictures in the link below)

Answer TWO of the following:

Q1: According to the article, what made it so difficult (and take so long) to catch O’Leary? What “break” did they eventually catch, and how common do you think it is to catch such breaks in similar crimes?

Q2: The authors write that “Investigators…should not assume that a true victim will be hysterical rather than calm, able to show clear signs of physical injury, and certain of every detail. Some victims confuse fine points of ever recant. Nor should police get lost in stereotypes” (216). Based on the article, why did Marie act so unconventionally and often recant or alter her original statement? In other words, why did she “look guilty” even though she was completely innocent?

Q3: According to FBI estimates, only “5 percent of rape cases [are] unfounded or baseless”(220). However, from 2008 to 2012, the Lynnwood police department “determined that ten of forty-seven rapes reported to Lynnwood police were unfounded—21.3 percent. That’s five times the national average of 4.3 percent for agencies covering similar-sized populations during that same period” (239). What do you think accounts for this? Was it lack of resources? Misinformation or ignorance about race? Or stereotypes about teenagers or women victims?

Q4: Why do the authors take the unusual approach of switching the point of view on page 233 to O’Leary’s perspective? Since this is fiction, based on what they assume he thought (and what he told police) why include it in a piece of journalism? How does this affect the story and your own emotional response to it? What do you think they wanted it to do to the reader? 

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Conversation Paper Resources

Responding to the Conversation: Using Quotes

“But the gap between what we know and what we should do about it is getting bigger and bigger, and the action really needs to turn to responding. Otherwise, we’re going to be hammered. I’ve been through one of these massive earthquakes in the most seismically prepared nation on earth. If that was Portland”—Goldfinger finished the sentence with a shake of his head before he finished it with the words. “Let’s just say I would rather not be here” (Schulz 193).

The Quotation Sandwich: Introduction + Quotation + Response
In her essay about the next “big one” in the Pacific Northwest, Schulz writes, “But the gap between what we know and what we should do about it is getting bigger and bigger, and the action really needs to turn to responding. Otherwise, we’re going to be hammered” (193).


In the essay, “The Really Big One,” the author explains that,
            the gap between what we know and what we should do about it is getting bigger and                 bigger, and the action really needs to turn to responding. Otherwise, we’re going to be             hammered. I’ve been through one of these massive earthquakes in the most                               seismically prepared nation on earth. If that was Portland”—Goldfinger finished the                 sentence with a     shake of his head before he finished it with the words. “Let’s just                   say I would rather not be here. (Schulz 193)

 Then, Respond…
In other words, we can no longer pretend it will happen “one day” and slowly decide what to do when it comes. We have to assume that it will happen, far sooner than later, and look at how other countries, such as Japan, prepare for such events. The more we learn, the more we realize how unprepared we truly are, and that’s the most important conversation we can have in this country.

CITING A FILM: If you decide to use Command and Control in your paper, obviously you can't quote it (unless you took really good notes). Instead, be sure to introduce it as usual and discuss specific aspects or ideas from the film. You don't need to cite it with a page number, etc., but do cite the film after summarizing/discussing it and include it in your Works Cited page. For example...

In the film Command and Control, we learn that during the first hydrogen bomb test, there was a legitimate fear that the resulting explosion would set fire to the Earth's atmosphere and kill everything on the planet. Yet they decided it was worth the risk and performed the test (Kenner).

The Works Cited Page
Schulz, Kathryn. “The Really Big One.” The 2016 Best American Magazine Writing. ed. Sid
            Holt. New York: Columbia University Press, 2016.

OR from the website:
Schulz, Kathyrn. “The Really Big One.” The New Yorker On-Line. 20 July 2015.

To cite a film:
Command and Control. Dir. Robert Kenner. American Experience Films, 2016. 

NOTE: For General Citation Information, visit the Purdue OWL (On-line Writing Lab) at this address: