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Unwarranted Althusser ?’s


The more I read the Althusser reading assignment the more that I saw as an ideology. Then I read that science and other subjects could be described as subject-less. How is this possible? There is only a subject of science in an ideology of science according to the reading. So to be a subject does something have to be an ideology? If so then to be a subject something must also have its believers which is interesting because although it seems obvious it is good to know that any subject being dealt with will have it’s followers, except some historical subjects whose followers may have existed in the past. In this case if the subject is still studied yet not practiced, say in the case of a dead religion, is it still a subject? A subject of study, practiced or not, is till a subject in my opinion.

 

(This comic shows how ideologies allude to a reality but also branch out into different interpretations and perspectives of it.)

The idea that to be subjects people freely subject themselves to an ideology brings up another question over the definition of the word subject. If people are brainwashed into believe something are they the subjects of an ideology? In a way the answer could be no because by being brainwashed the person is not really “themselves” anymore therefore they cannot be subjects of an ideology.

In the beginning of the text Althusser  describes “world outlooks” as largely imaginary leaving the unanswered question of what world outlook is not imaginary if ideology truly equals illusion.

Another interesting interpretation of ideology that is given is that ideology is an imaginary relation to real relations. The fact that ideology can be an escape from real relations is one of its appeals and purposes. Reality can be either too hard or too painful to understand sometimes and if having a certain belief or faith helps keep hope and a positive spirit alive then that is a good thing. The problem with some beliefs is that some deviances of reality that can be harmful to others such as religious texts calling for the death penalty for homosexuality or even thievery. It is our moral obligation as human beings to do whats positive for ourselves and each other as a whole to advance forward.

With religion it is common to find people who bend the rules of their ideology which religions usually describe as a sinful act. However, following a religion word for word can be hard because many of the old practices are … well old. Outdated beliefs are symbolic but can sometimes seem ridiculous. Someone who says they follow in the bible word for word for example may be stumped when pressed on whether they eat shellfish or believe in the keeping of slaves as long as they’re from neighboring nations. Try it when the chance arises.

Just as a belief can be good or bad the state apparatus pushing the belief can have good or bad intentions. One of the negatives about ideologies and their subjects is when the outdated or harmful beliefs are forced upon others by organized groups. The practices of subjects should allow for freedom of positive improvement.

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Blue politics

 

(REDSTATE red white and blue logo appeals to the conservative right wing patriot fanbase not only because of its use of flag colors but the because of the symbolic red color used for rebublicans.)

For the assignment of writing about two similar websites that express different opinions I picked Dailykos.com and Redstate.com, both biased news and political blog sites, Dailykos.com is left leaning and Redstate.com is right leaning. The first image you see on Dailykos.com is their logo, an artistic background with stencil lettering, the Redstate.com logo is of the U.S. flag, a map of our country all red implying republican strength and bold red and white lettering standing out against the blue and white stars of the flag. Blog titles in the Dailykos.com are a soft yellow/orange against a white background, Redstate.com blogs have black headlines but everything else is red, white or blue. Both however are soft and inviting to the viewer although the blogs themselves aren’t so soft. As far as content goes both blogs attack the opposition side ferociously, one blog about Rush Limbaugh on the left leaning Dailykos.com attacks his personal problem with drugs and ties it to his attacks on health care, “I wonder if Limbaugh has considered that his prescription-drug addiction would qualify as a pre-existing condition in many insurance plans.” Redstate.com refers to Obama’s followers as Obamazoids for some reason. The only difference other than their positions on the political spectrum is the number of comments on Dailykos.com blogs almost always overpowers Redstate.com blogs by over one-hundred percent.

Another interesting couple of websites that also differ politically as far as their bloggers go is Huffingtonpost.com(left leaning) and Politico.com(right leaning). Huffintonpost.com offers many different tabs for different topics, whereas Politico.com is solely a political news site. The politics section at Huffingtonpost.com however very closely resembles that of Politico’s in formatting and most of the content. Both are mostly blue and white with some red now and then which seems to give a feeling of neutrality and patriot pride. The same can be said for the msnbc.msn.com and the foxnews.com sites which are also far apart on the political spectrum.  Both want to seem neutral for credibility reasons but bloggers prove that they go to the news sites because of the way they present the news, which on the website seem neutral but on their anchor’s TV shows are obviously tinged with opinions and lean left or right. The links to their anchors pages on the site show their anchors being less masking of their opinions being literally black and white. Countdown with Keith Olbermann of MSNBC and The O’Reilly Factor With Bill O’Reilly of Fox News both have the blue theme going on but there articles are less dressed up more to the point with black text, white backgrounds and their video of their related news cast. What I found to be true in almost all of the websites was that even if they are pushing different agendas, all want to seem neutral, fair and balanced with the exception of the blog sites which proudly express their ideological affiliations.

The use of the color blue in politics is interesting because research shows that the color blue brings feeling of calmness and serenity. Blue is also preferred by men and is considered to cause productivity.(About Psychology) Perhaps the purpose of blue in politics which can evoke strong emotional burts in some people is to calm them down so that a productive and reasonable discussion or thought can be achieved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(The Daily Kos Logo is not as political as it is aesthetically soft and pleasing as art which may be part of its appeal.)

(Most websites political websites wear the calm and productive blue as their main eye catching color.)

http://psychology.about.com/od/sensationandperception/a/color_blue.htm

Blastocysts were me

There were many interesting ideas in the latest readings for the class. The ones that stuck out to me most dealt with what we define as people and whether blastocysts fit the description. Well the author (Phillip J. Nickel pg. 95) of an article in the class course reader suggested that because he does not remember his life as a blastocyst, and not because of medical problems, he was not “himself” yet. I agree that the cells that lead to his existence cannot be described as an early version of him, just a necessary foundation. I dont remember being a blastocyst either, but if I, or any other human, developed the neural capability to learn and become a person, the apporach to stem cell research would be much more complicated. Even when a baby has a heartbeat, it has no memory. The arguement here revolves more around the brain and it’s development. Even in animal rights, the reason for protecting many animals is that they are intelligent and can feel emotions. Still, pigs are slaughtered, despite the fact that they are as smart as some dogs. We can’t be so negligent of fact with human life however. So why don’t we look the other way with something that just has the potential to develop into a person but doesn’t have the capability to think or feel yet? A new Nebraska law forbids abortions after twenty weeks of pregnancy citing research that supports that fetuses feel pain eighteen to twenty six weeks into pregnancy. Brain activity does not start until twenty five weeks into pregnancy development. The logic of the author introduced in the beginning of this post may make it seem like he wouldn’t consider his cells to be “him” until twenty five weeks of development but he wasn’t very specific on what he did define as himself, only on what he didn’t.

I would argue that cells that lead to my development wouldn’t really be safe from experimentation until a fetus develops. Not only is a fetus a much stronger symbol of human life, it actually starts to develop functions necessary to human life such as brain activity and the ability to feel.  I would however call the cells “me”. They were a less fortunate and extremely primitive “me”. Just as the fetus was “me” during development, last week was “me” during a different stage in life as well. Last week’s “me” lead to the “me” I am now, and I will continue developing into different “me’s” hopefully after death. The sperm and egg that created the zygote in my mother are also me. Everything that my mother ate that contributed to my existence is a part of me as well as the teachings that I received growing up because it is all step that lead to the me that exists now.

Appeal is important when trying to share anything, especially ideas. The art of using language to effectively communicate an idea is called rhetoric. Aristotle’s divided rhetorical appeal into three sections; ethos, pathos, and logos. These three subjects of appeal are basically defined as follows; ethos being the credibility of the author, pathos being the emotional appeal of a piece, and logos being the reasoning of it.

In elementary, the books we read probably had a watered down version of these three elements of appeal in them, if they even had appeal at all. Credibility however, probably wasn’t even a part of my vocabulary at that age, although I could see how ethics would be an important thing to introduce to kids. The ethical appeal actually seems to come from whoever is reading the text to us, until we reach the age where we start to read for ourselves. If we respect and like someone it’s more likely that we’ll listen to them, then and now. I know that this can sometimes involve the pitch of our voice instead of our position in the eyes of the listener, my sisters who work with kids were taught to reach high and low peaks in their voice while reading and speaking to kids in order to get their attention. During middle school and more so in high school the credibility of a writer did come up when we read books about important historical moments. The author’s past would usually be directly affected by the subject of his/her writings. When we were beginning to learn about plagiarism, we must have also been taught about credibility because that’s what plagiarism diminishes, our credibility.

Emotional appeal has definitely been my favorite line to bite. In elementary everything seemed to be about happy times. During middle school only one reading comes up in my memory as emotionally appealing. It was an article about a woman who was raped in front of many neighbors and witnesses, and no one did anything to stop it. During a time of self absorbed sorrow and ego-gratifying immaturity we probably needed a sad story like this to remind us that we are all human and are all in this world together. During high school I found some very nice books with stories that involved drugs, sex, death and life. I loved it. Some of these books brought me to tears in pity of the young confused girl, others to a red faced anger towards the antagonist mother who beat her child. High school and teen years are rough, but reminders of how lucky we are keep us sympathetic towards our fellow human beings. These books still had credible and logical appeal but the strength of the story seemed to be in the pathos.

Logic, can it even be possible in fiction? During elementary and middle school fiction seemed more popular, the reasoning  for why horses were flying over earth however, was because they carried a God to heaven. This was interesting but not very logical because we were also being taught that the sun was very hot and could melt anything, even a horse. We must have learned the difference between literal work and fictional work before we learned about science otherwise we would’ve had a lot confused parents wondering what their kids were soon to be diagnosed with. In high school logic was the main part of the class, especially senior year and coming to college I am glad that my teacher introduced the Toulman essay format to us.

A group of people at school today were tabling by Sierra Tower with an image of Obama sporting a propaganda trendy Hitler-mustache. I’m not exactly sure what they were about but it was obvious what they weren’t about, Obama’s fascist agenda. Were these people socialist then? Probably. What the hell was the purpose of this guy telling me ” hey man…lets fire Obama,” I thought to myself. Well lets talk about it I decided, “Why?” The man then went on to describe Obama’s current actions on employment in general as fascist. When asked what specifically what was fascist about Obama’s actions he brought up a plan that his group seemed to be supporting that would drain water from Alaska and bring it to Southern California. The plan is called NAWAPA, the North American Water and Power Alliance.  The purpose: to create jobs and make use of tons of apparently unused water. The reason it didnt get done in the sixties: growing concern over the environment, a movement that supporters of NAWAPA call eco-fascism. Fascism because… I don’t really know why, so I read some blogs and texts that supporters have irrigated the internet with.

The estimated cost of making the NAWAPA plan happen is less than the cost of the financial bailout. Fascism is defined as government acting on behalf of corporate interest. In fact, thats exactly who this plan would benefit, land developers. Jobs will no doubt be created, and water will come to Southern California, despite the damage to nature that was not even acknowledged in any of the pro-NAWAPA arguments that I saw.

So why fascism? “Socialism!” must not be a popular fear among college students. Well I believe it’s all  propaganda. When healthcare was being debated on, the word was socialism. Despite the fact that the socialist view runs opposite to the fascist view, Obama was portrayed in posters as a Hitler wearing socialist oxymoron, literally. Well to be fair, the people on campus also mentioned Bush with Obama. I remember being intrigued by “Bush is a Nazi” posters when I was in middle school. I knew for some reason, that I didn’t agree with this man(Bush). After seeing “War Criminal” and “Bush is a Nazi” on posters in the room of someone I respected as an artist somehow i wanted to agree with those views. Thank God I didn’t have the chance to mindlessly go out and rant about nonsense to a news person during a protest I would have known nothing about, because I would have been a Nazi. I would have helped spread propaganda to people without thinking or backing what I was saying. I would have even been a fascist if my words were to have incited hate and violence. I would have been an idiot and a fool if I didn’t back up my analogies with clear reasons as to why Bush was a Nazi. The people who stood at the Sierra Tower yesterday spreading propaganda comparing Hitler to Obama and calling his actions, or rather in-action on NAWAPA, fascist came off as fascist Nazi’s. All they needed was a square mustache.

Yeah it was a tragedy!

1) Dr. P’s case was one of the most interesting of the three stories discussed in the text. Not only because it is the most fresh in my mind, but because there was a sense of a personal relationship between reader and subject. I could not understand how Dr. P does not recognize that an extreme change has taken place in his neural activity. The transition must have been slow or the shift in personality must have come as natural to him as the activity in his shift in neural activity. The text was appealing because the writer seemed very passionate about the subject, Dr. P and his condition. The tone was serious but the writers analysis of the patient would be interrupted by personal accounts from the writer’s perspective of how astonished and amazed he was at how the patient behaved. This style, mixed with some accounts of the patient’s behavior when it came to his family made me more sympathetic towards the subject.

Dr. Cicoria’s case is very interesting as well. His account makes me want to get hit by lightning! One thing that was mentioned later on in the text was that perception is affected with no sense of reality. The tone seemed positive I like that it focused on how Cicaria’s life has been affected.

2) All the text had who’s, what’s, and why’s even though they all went in different directions with their explanations. All had some visible tone. The first was shocking, no pun intended, the middle was a bit of a downer, and the third was almost personal in that it mentioned the relationship between the subject and the observer from the observer’s point of view. All had interesting data but I personally found the personal accounts of people with irregular brain activity to be more interesting than research on n infection, although the connections between them, like proteins’ role in enhancing perception, made all the articles more interesting.

I think it’s important for scientists and philosophers to write in an appealing matter because for many people, what scientists or philosophers specialize in may not be immediately appealing. However great some ideas or discoveries may be mainstream society is only interested in things that have an obvious influence on their lives. I base this on what I see on the media. Whatever the topic being covered is, it usually has affected a large part of the population and when scientists or philosophers are welcomed into the discussion they have insightful information and perspectives but they’re tone must be delivered in an appealing way for people to be interested and listen. In any field this is the case. Philosophers and scientists however take on some of humanities more intellectual problems and need to tune their messages in ways that people can understand and take interest in.

transcending lines

There was an old man from Peru
Who dreamt he was eating his shoe.
He awoke in a fright
In the middle of the night
And found it was perfectly true.

” In dreams one is not tethered by earthly limitations.”-Gary

“What does that mean?”-Spongebob

“Come.”-Gary

This poem is used by Gary(Spongebob’s pet snail) to explain to Spongebob the fantastical power of dreams. Good points are made about dreams through comedy in this episode.  The poem is a funny example of a dream’s powers over our realties. Spongebob finds out in the end of the episode that he shouldn’t be messing with other people’s dreams. Theres something in this, a point can be drawn anywhere from anything, even from a fantastic dream or a random quote, a point can be made.

Political satire is another great example of points being made from two inherently different perspectives. A very serious one, and a playful one in this case. But when comedy and politics mix the kinds of discussions possible change. Take John Stewart’s critiques of Fox News. Fox News’ coverage of events is a regular source of comedy for the show. Lies about poll numbers, and distortions about events to favor one side over the other are exposed frequently on Stewart’s show. One recent episode includes a parody of  a dangerous method of making political connections  based on business alone, in a few steps John discovers that one of the largest News Corp.(Fox’s parent company) stockholders is a possible “terrorism supporter” as labeled by Fox News. Through comedy, new audiences are reached. John’s show reaches to an audience in between people who watch the news for information, and people who watch comedy central for laughs, and in return a new audience is found. As evident by the Colbert Show and the  D.L. Hughley show on CNN, this audience has also grown into an important group of people who find humor in some bad situations. Sometimes refereed to by Fox’s O’Reilly as ” stoned slackers.”

Ideas transcend barriers and labels when one method is used to explain what seems like a completely unrelated subject. In fact, new genres and methods can be created this way. Gothic music came from a surprising mix of soft melancholy synthetic sounds and punk’s angry and abandoned energy. Bauhaus, a band regularly referred to as the pioneers of goth, rejected the label for a long time before finally owning up to it as somewhat of a creation of theirs. Their blend of Jamaican dub music, punk and psychedelic rock came together in a dark cloud of eclectic noise which soon became goth.

In page twenty-four of my English 155 course reader book the author includes an interesting radio broadcast which seems to be from ” the Intergalactic Trust”  in which our planet Earth is studied and our awareness on intellectual disciplines is analyzed. One of the most interesting bits in the interception is when the aliens mention our ignorance of the relationship between love and physics, or science and the arts. We “curiously treat them as separate realms,” there’s more room for discussion about something specific when doing this, but by singling things out what are we missing out on? There are things related to what we study, some more important, some less and some at the same level. When we cross over from one subject to another and find commons between them, a whole new realm of possible discussions can begin.

http://spongebob.nick.com/videos/play/sleepytime-full-episode/ (Spongebob Sleepy Time episde)
http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/mon-august-23-2010/the-parent-company-trap (John Stewart's discovery of terrorism funding Fox News) 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OKRJfIPiJGY (Bauhaus video, Bela Legusi's Dead)
Pg 24 of Course reader, Alien Minds:a midsummer night's dream

This is for my English class. The subject is consciousness and my post is more specifically about self-consciousness, its role in our lives, and similarities  between our self-consciousness and that of other mammals’.

One of the things that sparked interest in the reading that we were assigned is the relationship between self-consciousness and social relationships. What has stuck with us throughout evolution is undoubtedly part of the reason we are still here. One of self-consciousness’ roles in our survival is that it helps us keep tabs with how others view us. This is especially true during teen years, and in high school may seem like the equivalent of finding out where you stand in the pack. Although we aren’t nomads anymore this is something I can remember happening around me and examples of animal-herd like behavior are still around us.

In almost any social setting with both male and female, someone can be found who seems to fit the role of alpha male or the role of a nurturing mother. At a Greek social a few days ago the “leader” of the fraternity was pretty easy to spot, he himself announced his standing in the fraternity and his ownership of the house we were in. This reminded me of a pack of lions. The alpha male lion will defend his role if threatened by another lion who may try to take his place. Also, I am sure many of us are ready to defend our position in our family and group of friends. If we as humans are aware of our role in a group and are ready to defend it, then is an animal that is ready to defend his role somehow aware of what that role is? Is the animal self-conscious because of its willingness to stay in its position?

Another interesting part of our reading was the explanation of self-consciousness as self-recognition and how we are similar and different to monkeys and apes in this field of consciousness. The experiments involved chimps, monkeys, mirrors, and in a follow up experiment, paint. Chimps seemed to eventually understand that they were looking at themselves rather than an intruder. Monkeys however do not, as the writer puts it, “include themselves in their inventory of the world’s contents.” This is where we lose the monkey in similarities of self-consciousness, although the monkey is self-conscious as self-detecting in that it can “recall and register recent sensations”, it does not have an idea of its self. Chimps on the other hand do, but they too are cut off in similarities in self-consciousness when the next definition is explained.

Self-consciousness as aware of being aware is an understanding that we all experience things differently, and also similarly to others. This is where humans, after around four years of age, differ from all other animals. What is the importance of this step forward and what purpose does it serve in our survival? The writer of the piece would answer that understanding that we all experience the world in different ways helps us in our social relationships. For example, in a place with less medical care for its people, someone with an extreme case of autism may have a lesser chance of survival than someone who understands more complicated mental states. Thankfully, there are people who have and understanding that life is difficult for people with autism and by understanding and helping each other our chances of survival as human beings increase.

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