Friday, April 6, 2012

'Freakenomics' - Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner

I love the fact that this book interloops humor with serious situations. Had the authors not taken this route of writting, I probably wouldn't have been able to make it through this book.
I also love that they make the strangest connections to things that may seem completely irrelevant to the other. Sumo Wrestlers and teachers, real estate agents and KKK, ha!

I understand the point of them and appreciate them, but i think the authors make too many side trips to explain their ideas. Each of these chapters had to be 80+ pages long when they could have easily been 35+ pages. Though i guess that counters the point of making a novel (it's supposed to be long).

'Freakenomics' - Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner

the only theme i can think of is 'American Issues' and where these issues are based from.

'Freakenomics' - Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner

My last book was titles 'Hiroshima'. This book was based on the events that followed several individuals after the bombing of Hiroshima.
What the book about is, alone, already far different from 'Freakonomics'. Frankly the only tie I see between the two is the Sumo Wresling and Japan. That and the fact that they're both non-fiction are the only similarities.
'Freakonomics' is based on american issues and, again, other then the sumo wreling and an iraqy nursery are the only foreign affairs mentioned.
In 'Hiroshima' the only thing that tied it to america was the Red Cross.
There's really not much to compare these two to.

'Freakenomics' - Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner

This book is packed to the binding with relavent and important incidents. So much, in fact, that my brain is turning to mush, just thinking about all the turn-arounds and side trips that were taken to explain them. I will try my best to do the same (minus the side trips and turn-arounds).

Once incident that this book mentions is cheating; that is school wise and sport wise. Levitt and Dubner are constantly bring up the term 'incentives' or reasons behind people actions. I guess in a better definition it would be the encouragment to do something. Anywho... the authors use this to explain why people cheat.
The teachers incentive can either be selfish or un-selfish. Selfishly speaking, the teacher could want better test scores to boost their rep, or better scores to give the school more money, which in turn means more money for them. Then, there are the un-selfich reasons. those would be that the teacher doesn't want their student(s) to fail so they cheat for them. There is also the possibility that the teacher gave hints and tips to the students that allowed them to do better.
Either way, according to the school and the test scorers, this is wrong.
The same goes for sportsmen. Maybe they also have a reputation to protect. maybe winning this match will make the 'hit the big time' and will thus earn them some more money. Again, either way to the fans and the referees, this is wrong (although sometimes the referee can also be bribed to cheat).

Then there is information and the use of said information.
In the KKK and Real Estate Agents chapter, Dubner and Levitt take many explanations to emphasize that information makes a huge difference.
Throughout this chapter the authors compare the KKK's information to Kennedy's information. Obviously, in the end, Kennedy had more information. This was evident becuase he was able to broadcast, live on the radio, information on the KKK. Inside info, meeting and other assortments of information involving the KKK. Thanks to that information, the police (or the ones who werent already involved in the KKK) were able to prevent any violence or violation of rights. Also, thanks to that information, the KKK became much less of a threat because you herd about them every night.
It's like when you get the flu shot every year. It's meant to build up immune systems. Because Kennedy exposed the public to the KKK every night over the radio, they became less of a threat. This lack of a threat greatly weakened the KKK and they, eventually, began to dwindle.
If that isn't enough to prove that information is key, I don't know what is.

Finally, there is "proper parenting".
Any parent would love to recieve a full-length guide on how to parent. However, if such a guide existed, it still faces the possibility of failing with a variaty of children. This is becasue every child is different and need different techniques of parenting to be brought up on.
The there are forms of parenting that are frowned upon now, compared to the past. Lets take the all known  punishment, spanking. In the past, spanking was an accepted form of punishment among the parents. Now-a-days, it can be seen as a form of child abuse.
A great example, nit mentioned in the book is a more recent event about a case of child abuse. Maybe 2-3 years ago, a news broadcast mentioned a mom giving her child an ice bath as a form of punishment for, I believe, bad grades or something surrounding school.
To officials, this was seen as child abuse, point-blank. To the mother, howevere, it was seen as a form of punishment.
Even in my case, if my youngest sister brakes something, the length of punishment i could do was a) yell at her, b) smack or hand or c) take away one of her toys. That is it. Had she broken something, say 10 years previously, she would have been spancked.
This brings the whole 'proper punishment' issue into light. What is a proper way to punish one's child? This issue was also mentioned, but neve answered (probably because there really is no good answer).
Parenting will always be an issue, whether it be good or bad parenting.

'Freakenomics' - Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner

In this book, I would have to say that the most important element would be the events. the authors are canstantly using historical or recent events to support their information and statistics. Lets take the KKK and real estate agent chapter. the authors use historical events such as KKK gathering and Kennedy radio broadcasts to support their theory of information being key. Even in the following chapters, the authors use stories about other researchers and other events to support their information. One would have to be oblivious to not know that events are the key element in this novel.

'Freakenomics' - Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner

over all, i would say the mood I felt in this book would have to be, humor.
Even though there were many dark issues brought up, i always found myself chuckling in humor.
In Chapter three i enjoyed the quote "stand a grter chance dying while dealing crack in Chicago housing project than you do while sitting on death row in Texas." as i explained previouslt, this quote astonishes me and emphasizes the danger of drug dealing.
Another quote i enjoyed would be in the second chapter, when the authors list the phrases that the KKK would use to converse. this involved words such as Kludd, Kligrapp and Klabee. I even commented in the margins "what gibberish is this?"
Then there was the other quote in chapter 3: "the typical prostitute earns more than the typical architect."
Though I have mentioned this quote before, it is the only other quote that I enjoyed that wasn't a form of dark homur.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

'Freakenomics' - Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner

What Kind of Person are the Authors?
Based on facts from my previous posts and from further examples in 'Freakonomcs' I can surmise that both authors are normally good humored men, but are also professional enough to see the issues in society and face them head on.
The entire 'Freakonomics' book itself is a good example. This book brings up many issues ranging from cheating to "proper parenting". The issues they discuss can be very dark; however the authors find a way to use humor to 'lighten up' the darkness.
Let's take the second chapter where he authors compare the KKK to Real-Estate Agents. In this chapter, the authors do explain what the KKK is and what their actions and beliefs were. While explaining their actions, lynching and radio broadcasts were mentioned. Even bluntly obvious conversation codes were mentioned. However to make the situation seem less dark, they also discuss the actions done my President Kennedy to solve this issue.

'Freakenomics' - Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner

Author's Purpose
In 'Freakonomics', the authors' purpose was to both inform and entertain.
In this book, Levitt and Dubner use real life, and sometimes humorous, examples to explain why things in society are the way they are.
Let’s take the 'Why Do Drug Dealers Still Live with Their Moms?’ The authors use the real life story of Sudhir Venkatesh to both give facts to the reader and possibly make the seriousness of the issue 'lighten up'. While narrating the story about Mr. Venkatesh, they mention how this college graduate mathematician sat and drank beer with a group of dealers and even pee'd where they pee'd. In mere seconds, this researcher went form high class to drinking' with one of the lower classes. This is both humorous and ironic.
Not only this, but the author's used statistics to create a very interesting quote. According to statistics (according to the authors) one "stands a greater chance of dying while dealing crack in Chicago housing project than you do while sitting on death row in Texas". The authors had previously mentioned that Texas executed more prisoners than in any other state. Once you're on death row, the only thing that can stop you from getting stabbed with the needle is a call from the court telling an official to halt the execution. The fact that you stand a greater chance of dying dealing crack then being on death row is both astonishing and humorous.
In this chapter they even compare prostitutes to an architect. Though the architect has a license and a diploma, a prostitute makes more money.

'Freakenomics' - Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner

MLA Formating
Freakonomics. Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner. William Marrow Paperbacks, August 26, 2009.

I chose this book because my AP Class had talked about it on the previous Book Evaluation project we were assigned. From the class and from the onlin reviews, I got the feel that this might be a really interesting read.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

'Life As We Knew It' Book Evaluation

1.  Identify a position (   /5)
2.  Explain your criteria, application, reasoning for your position with quoted evidence as support. Please indicate the page number of your quote in parenthesis following the quote. (  /10)
3.  Explain the position of the opposition and provide counterargument.  (    /10)

‘Life As We Knew It’, by Susan Beth Pfeffer. This book was extremely griping. Not in the way most people would describe as “griping”. Each page after the moon was hit by the meteor, was a new struggle for Miranda and her family. As the book progressed, the struggles became more and more difficult. However, in each set of pages, there is a ray of light. This book will captivate the reader with its confrontation in the daily struggles in Miranda’s life. Readers will begin to ask themselves: ‘What’s gonna’ happen next?’ ‘How could things get worse?’, and ‘Will Miranda’s family pull through?’. The reader will need to answer these questions and will continue reading until they’re answered. I highly recommend this book to someone who enjoys the silver lining in a dark cloud.

One page turner was the drama factor in this book. So many things were going wrong for Miranda and her family. The number of members in her “family” alone was a problem. There was herself, he two brothers, Matt and Johnny, her mother, her father, her father’s wife Lisa, Lisa’s baby (if we’re counting people mentioned) and Mrs. Nesbit. Luckily Mrs. Nesbit had her own food and Lisa and Miranda’s dad only stayed at Miranda’s home for a short period. However, that still leaves four family members to feed. Feeding two growing boys is difficult in itself without the worry of a scarce amount of food. Not only was eating a worrisome topic, but everyday living was difficult. Ms. Pfeffer never gave specifics as to how Miranda’s family bathed, but from the gist of the book, one can assume they sponge bathed themselves. Then there was the laundry. In the beginning, Miranda mentions how every small amount of electricity they had, they would do a load of laundry. Even at the end Miranda stated

“The electricity came on while we were feasting on chick-peas, lentils and carrots. “Come on,” mom said. “let’s try  laundry.” And we did.” (PG 335).

 One question I had was what did they wear when they ran out of dirty cloths? The idea of wearing dirty clothes for a lengthened period of time makes me want to take a shower. They do mention hand washing them towards the end but I can’t imagine them having to always hand wash their cloths.

Without electricity, Miranda and her family were deprived of television. Thus, they had to rely on radio’s for updates on how the world was working. Shortly after that the radio’s aren’t mentioned because Miranda didn’t want to know what was going on outside. Not only did the lack of a television decrease the amount of information Miranda’s family could receive, but it also deprived them of entertainment. At first Miranda passes her time swimming, Miranda’s mom passed her time listening to the radio and Johnny probably did something related to baseball. Once it got colder and darker, these activities were taken away. One could pass the time reading, but because of the lack of electricity, Miranda’s family was forced top use oil lamps.

As the “winter” progressed, eating and the threat of boredom were no longer the only problems that Miranda’s family had to face. Now there was the fear of keeping warm, the sunroom caving in on them due to the snow and even being able to go into town. When Matt arrived home, he spent most of his time cutting wood. Because Miranda had a wood stove they wouldn’t have to worry about freezing, but the wood stove would only heat one room. Another issue was the fact that oil, gas and natural gas were running out. With a lack of gas, there would be no source of heat for the rest of the house. Eventually Miranda, her mom and her brothers all move into the sunroom where the wood stove was placed. Later, this sanctuary become dangerous when the threat of caving in occurs. Even Matt said “we need to clear the snow off the roof of the sunroom… snow can be heavy and we don’t know if this is the last of it for the winter. We don’t want the roof caving in on us.” (PG 265) So another “chore of survival” would have to be sweeping the snow off of the sunroom.

Even the threat of a flu caused problems for Miranda. One day, her mother and brothers came down with a bad case of the flu. At first Matt was able to help Miranda with Johnny but then he too came down with the flue. With no medical knowledge on what to do, Miranda took her father’s skis and raced the hospital to find Peter, her mother’s boyfriend who had come to help them previously when her mother sprained her ankle. When she arrived, she discovered that Peter had died due to the flu and that the two nurses who were still able to help, couldn’t help her. They simply told Miranda to give up hope and spend whatever time they had left with them. Despite what the nurses said Miranda did what she could for her family and they got better. After an incident with the wood stove, however, Matt had some long term after effects on his body, weakening it.

It’s all of these issues that keep people reading. Some readers may throw the book at a wall and yell “this isn’t going to get any better!” Others will continue to read in the hopes that thing will get better. And at times they do. There’s the times when a birthday or holiday came around, and Miranda’s family would laugh like they used to. Then there were just time when they were having fun together, forgetting about their situation. It’s these happy moments that can give hope to the reader, that there will be a happy ending.

Another page turner is the family hope. Each member knew things would get worse before they got better, but they each still had hope. The strength of family ties in Miranda’s family is a good reason for people to continue reading. To some readers it may issue the challenge of what will break this family. There are moments in that book surrounding mother and daughter disputes, gluttony over some chocolate chips and even the stress of survival that do cause issues for the family. The family pulls through anyway.

The reason that I have stated as to why readers would continue to read is the reasons why I didn’t stop. Normally a book like this would churn my stomach and infuriate me. This one, however, gave me some kind of rush. The rush of what’s around the corner and what will happen next will always get readers reading. This rush is why many people continue to watch a TV series that others have already given up on. However, it’s also for these reasons that people wouldn’t read the book. Readers do enjoy conflict, but not ones as semi-realistic as the one’s Miranda goes through. It makes readers fearful for the future and begin to ask the most dangerous question: what if? What if the moon actually gets hit by a meteor? What if this actually happens? These questions strike fear into the vary bases of peoples souls. The fear of these answers being questions is a huge factor as to why people wouldn’t read ‘Life As We Knew It”. It’s also a reason others will read it. Some will take the chance for these questions to be answered. Those chance takers will be greatly awarded by Mr. Pfeffer’s writing style and storytelling skills. They will experience the rush of going grocery shopping with Miranda and the sorrow when she loses a loved one, unlike the ‘play it safe’ readers who will miss out on these experiences.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

'Uniquely Me'

Some people have called me unique
Others have called me strange
My family calls me weird
That won't make me change
I like my quirks,
My cracks,
And my flaws.
They show in my writings,
My paints and my draws
They make my works beutiful,
And neat.
Some have even said I'm some kind of freak.
So I'm a little different,
There’s nothing wrong with that
I especially like rhyming
Like ‘The Cat in the Hat’.
Though the doctor can rhyme better than me
He can’t beat my exclusiveness,
My rare-ness,
What I be
 Despite their calls,
Their jokes,
And their names
What I’m not
And what I be

Is Me! 

'The Best Thing I Learned Last Semester was...'


Q: Did satire ruin 'South Park', 'Family Guy' and every other show on Comedy Central or Adult Swim?
A: Yes

What satire did teach me, was that i love satire. The onl reason that I even watch 'South Park' is because they make fun of current or past events and make valid points with them. So in an amusing form for young adults, teens are taught a lesson and humored by it.

Yay Satire!