Thursday, December 10, 2009

Book Review

This nine weeks of school I have read a range of books-from the cookie cutter romances to saddening tales of horror. Some of my favorites include: Twilight, A Thousand Splendid Suns, and The Kite Runner.

The best parts about Stephanie Meyer's Twilight are the sweetness and innocence of Bella and Edward's relationship and the normality of the pairing despite species differences. As you read of the sincere love between the teens, it is hard not to get the warm, satisfied feeling in your heart. You day dream of finding that love yourself and revel in it. I however did not enjoy the bipolar mood swings of Edward, the brooding vampire, which hurt Bella repeatedly.

The first Khalid Hosseini novel I read, A Thousand Splendid Suns truly touched my heart. It is a moving work that would rile any woman with anger. Laila, a woman who would not submit to her husband, remains to me an emblem of strength. Though Mariam quietly suffers the abuse of her shared husband, her strength comes through her love for both Laila and Laila's daughter. Both are role models for every woman on Earth. Be strong in will and generous in love.

Enamored with A Thousand Splendid Suns, I quickly followed it by reading The Kite Runner. I was not disappointed. Kite Runner may have even been more moving. The bond between the two boys is drawn even more complicated as love and guilty and shame are intertwined. I have not a single bad thing to say. It was a beautiful story of the simplicity of childhood growing into the complexity of maturedom. The parting words of the novel will bring tears to every eye.

Monday, November 16, 2009

A Criminal Trial for K.S.M.

On November 13, 2009, it was announced that K.S.M.-the moniker given to terrorist strategist Khalid Shaikh Mohammed- and four of his co-conspirators will be tried in a New York courtroom.

Mohammed is the self-proclaimed mastermind of the series of terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001.

Despite the arguments of others, I believe this form of attempted-and hopefully successful-prosecution of these men full of hatred towards the United States.

I believe that the conviction of Khalid and Company is inevitable. Any jury consisting of Americans with conscience will be biased towards this band of ill doers. These men caused the death of over 3,000 Americans in the Twin Tower attacks. Also, during March 0f 2003, Mohammed was subjected to 183 instances of waterboarding torture. He confessed to all of his ties to terrorism and the Al-Qaeda. Not only his acts of terror, Khalid also confessed to himself decapitating journalist Daniel Pearl-a justification to the choice of a criminal trial.

While it is likely that the evidence collected at Guantanamo Bay may be stricken from the trial, its effect will cast shadows of doubt in the reasoning minds of the jury. Though stricken, it is quite hard to forget such crucial 'evidence'.

Despite my predictions of easy conviction, this trial will cast a light of justice and fairness on the United States. Says criminal lawyer Joshua Dratel, "It will be a victory for the system of justice and rule of law." This less dictorial trial would make the U.S. seem less cruel and more fair. Therefore, the hated U.S. may seem less evil in the eyes of the Middle East as we have shown tolerance on their beloved jihadist hero.

However, this tolerant trial is quite a risk taken by the Obama administration. There is a chance that much the trial will become a unending source of military information to the Al-Qaeda. Former Bush lawyer John Yoo writes, "trying K.S.M. in civilian court will be an intelligence bonanza for Al-Qaeda and the hostile nations that will view the U. S. intelligence methods and sources that such a trial will reveal."

Though I know heavy risks are entailed, I believe the benefits of the reshaping of the American image through this trial outweigh them. It is crucial that the American government gain more allies in the Middle East.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Taliban: A Religious Group?

After the Russian invasion of Afghanistan, the Taliban took control and entered the country as a saving grace-saving their people from the Russian brutes and restoring Muslim values to the country.

In Khaled Hosseini's novel depicting real world Afghan life, A Thousand Splendid Suns, Hosseini depicts the Taliban parading down the streets of Kabul welcomed by the cheers of a crowd.

These religious extremists were heroes to the Afghanis at the beginning of their seizure of power. A few years later this happy picture would change.

The Taliban-which translates into 'religious students'-were considered mujihideen, or holy warriors. Their rule was based on a "strict interpretation of Sharia- Islamic law."

But in the Taliban's enforcement of Islamic law, they responded with often an unmatched cruelty, a contradiction to most philosophies of religion. It was a regular occurrence for violators of the law to be flogged or stoned in huge soccer arenas. Women were beaten if they were seen without a male escort. Women could have their fingertips sliced off if they were caught wearing fingernail polish.

Another contradiction to the 'unwavering' beliefs of the Taliban was their source of income. They generated capital through smuggling and the dealing of opium.

The Taliban do not hesitate at the murder of innocents. One of the greatest American tragedies is the destruction of the two towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. On September 11, 2001, Osama Bin Laden arranged the hijacking of four planes. This series of attacks killed thousands of innocent Americans.

I find it hard to believe that the Taliban can call themselves devout Muslims despite their Sharia jurisdiction. They are known murders. They ran a large opium cartel. They were overly cruel to minor offenses. They beat their own country men in the primitive form of the gladiators of Rome.

In my eyes, the Taliban are a fellowship of cruel hearted men who have lost sight of their god-Allah.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Sentence 12

"Her mouth moved dangerously close to a pout. 'How come I can't come in?' "-from Hidden Riches by Nora Roberts

Pouting-generally suited for two-year olds-is a childish gesture. The often inquisitive children frequently ask questions. But they often wrongly ask Why? as How come?. Roberts uses both to create an image of an unruly, whiny, partly childish moment for her character.

My example: She blew a raspberry in his face. "That's so not fair!"

Sentence 11

" You're about as subtle as nuclear waste."- from Hidden Riches by Nora Roberts

The simile of the you to subtle nuclear waste is Nora Roberts touch of sarcasm. By comparing these two opposites, Roberts constructs a paradoxial simile.

My example: You're about as quiet as a jackhammer.

Sentence 10

"Children are actors, you see, and actors, children."- from Hidden Riches by Nora Roberts

The balanced, juxtaposed sentence shows that actors and children are on in the same. They are inseparable entities. Both share characteristics of the other. Children their imagination, and actors their longing for play and freedom.

My example: Dreamers are thinkers, you see, and thinkers, dreamers.

Sentence 9

"And he was exactly where he wanted to be. Alone."-from Hidden Riches by Nora Roberts

The single word-alone-used as a sentence emphasizes the singularity the character wishes to have. Visually the word is by itself-alone. The character's desire for loneliness is emphasized by making it stand out so.

My example: He was deviously getting closer to what he wanted most. Power.

Sentence 8

"You might even cop a couple tips."- from Hidden Riches by Nora Roberts

Roberts takes a playful jab at her character's former profession-a police officer-with this pun.

My example: He preached at her lack of organization in her business affairs. (about a former reverend)

Sentence 7

"He wanted to hit something, someone, pound his fists into flesh."- from Hidden Riches by Nora Roberts

The words and phrase offset by commas show the character's chaotic thoughts in his rage.

My example: She wanted to cry, yell, eat too much chocolate.

Sentence 6

"She looked like a successful matron on her way out for lunch at her favorite club. But her eyes, as vivid a blue as his own, were filled with concern." -from Hidden Riches by Nora Roberts

Roberts uses a conjunction to begin her next sentence to show a contradiction to cool, aloof exterior of the grandmother.

My example: The teenager had an impeccable resume- flawless GPA, full extracurricular schedule. But he just asked if Thailand was in China.

Sentence 5

"How well the man reasoned; lunatics always do within their own scope." from Dracula by Bram Stoker

Stoker uses a clause to separate the opposing-lunacy and reason- showing they both exist in the same being.

My example: How well she organized; the air head was surprising in the way.

Sentence 4

"Well, he looked so good-humored and jolly that it didn't seem half so hard to refuse him as it did Dr. Seward, so I said, as lightly as I could, that I did not know anything of hitching, and that I wasn't broken to harness at all yet." from Dracula by Bram Stoker

Stoker inserts a dependent clause into the speech of Lucy Wisternia. She is denying an American proposing to her. He often speaks in exaggerated cowboy slang to entertain her. This is a pun denying him marriage and poking fun of a horse handler.

My example: I told him I wasn't blessed with the ability to write to myself into any sort of commitment just yet. (a woman denying an author)

Sentence 3

"Magic is." -from Jewels of the Sun by Nora Roberts

Roberts uses a simple sentence-a noun and a linking verb without a predicate adjective-because magic is such a huge entity to the Irish people in the novel. There isn't a word that does justice to magic.

My example: Love is.

Sentence 2

"Straight that way it is." -from Jewels of the Sun by Nora Roberts

This sentence is inverted to use Irish dialect in a selection of dialogue from the novel.

My example: Me mum was a warm soul.

Sentence 1

"It was as stunning as the first time she'd seen it, she realized." -From Carolina Moon by Nora Roberts

Roberts uses an absolute phrase to describe what the character realized, which in effect takes us to two time periods. The present where she realizes, and the past her first encounter.

My example:  The steak was as tender as the first time she cooked it, she tasted.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Does This Mean I'm Empathetic?

In chapter seven of Daniel H. Pink's radical work A Whole New Mind, I read about the sought after trait of empathy in workers of tomorrow. Pink seemed to stress a single idea-an ounce of empathy brings much to oneself and the people with whom one surrounds himself.

In fact, one of Pink's quotes was, " Empathy is mighty important." (Chapter 7, pg 160, para. 2)

The act of empathy can even help us decipher a person's facial expression into the emotion they are then feeling. Knowing how a person feels is the first step to getting inside their head. To determine how best to help them.

For instance-as Pink describes-a doctor can feel a patient's worry and fear at the symptoms they are suffering. By realizing that a patient is truly afraid about the strangeness going on about their body, they can take a few further steps to help them. Take a level beyond the norm. A doctor could help save a life.

I was curious about this chapter. I began to really evaluate just how well I empathized with others. Pink's research informed me that, yes, females do tend to empathize better than males. (Shh. I knew that already.)

Daniel Pink published a url address that was the link to a quiz to read a person's emotions through only their eyes.

For example:

I received a score of 29. This fell into the usual range (22-30) for test takers. Anything above a 30 was considered a very accurate reading. So, I did fairly well.

Daniel Pink's chapter left me with the hope that I can apply these extra senses to my future. To develop them in the following years to help further and increase my success.

P.S. The link to this quiz is 

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Sophomore Year is Through

Summer is here, summer is here! Sorry. I couldn't contain my excitement.

My year has been like my greatest fear- a roller coaster. Full of ups and downs, twists and turns.

I've made a friend this year who is invaluable to me. Other friendships have become stronger than even Gorilla Tape and SuperGlue.

I've found confidence this year I hadn't had before. I've realized I am more than I thought I was. Better. Stronger.

This year has been a learning experience. More than the knowled I've gained inside this learning facility, I've learned the contents of my own heart.

I am more than ecstatic the year is over, but it has been invaluable to how invincible I feel now.

Of Mice and Men

John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men is both a heartwarming and heart breaking tale in one turn.

George's barely hidden love and compassion for the dopey Lennie tugs even the coldest person's heartstrings. Though gruff at first glance, George always appeases Lennie's wishes. Whether for a repeat of the story he knows by heart, or to get a puppy, or a rabbit, George always satisfies.

Lennie's apitude for trouble is heart wrenching. Though good hearted, Lennie's size and IQ often lead him to misdeeds. A big man, Lennie finds it hard to be gentle.

Though Lennie is a nuisance, George takes him under his wing every time.

I highly recommend this novel. By far, this is in my top 3 favorite books I have ever read.

House on Mango Street

Sandra Cisnero's The House on Mango Street is about a house made out of mangos.

Once again, I have have tricked you.

The House on Mango Street creates a jig saw puzzle view into the life of the Hispanic girl Experanza.

Each mini-chapter, or vignette, gives a glimpse into the multi-faceted life of this young girl whose race creates a struggle for acceptance and respect.

Some looks are happy and precious others are grim and haunting.

I did not enjoy The House on Mango Street as it did not have a specific or directional plot. There wasn't a true story to follow. However, it gives a realistic view into present-day racism. Good for light research.

The Giver

Lois Lowry's The Giver was inspired by Michael Crichton's Jurassic Park.

Okay. Now that I've got you hooked. I was maybe-okay completely-lying about the above statement.

While The Giver does not include adrenaline pumping duels with dinosaurs, it is still a great novel. I highly recommend it.

The premise of Lowry's work is the following of a boy who stands out in his utopia of 'Sameness.' This is a boy who receive the memories of what was a happy, loving, often tragic and depressing world before the utopia was created.

Now a regulated machine, the world Jonas knew did not know love. His work with the Giver gave him a gift more special than anything he had ever received before.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

So Much Depends....

So much depends on a little blue box.
Not the kind with a shiny gem inside.
But one on the computer screen
With words meant for me.
Turning a frown
To a smile and a
Real light to shine.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Animal Farm

Four legs, good. Two legs, bad.

I have read a book so expertly alluded to a taboo subject. George Orwell's Animal Farm is a blatant outcry of communism in Russia.

The character Boxer the Horse touches one's heart as much as any human character.

The story gives you a great insight to a historical event without the boredom glued to history class. The animals bring a livlihood to the book.

If you delve into the story of Animal Farm, you can find a Leo trotsky, a Vladmir Lenin, a Joseph Stalin.

I recommend the book with highest regards with a, "Job well done" to George Orwell.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Help

Imagine yourself in a stuffy closed room. No fan, no air conditioning. Middle of summer. 90 degree heat and 100 percent humidity. This is how the women of Kathryn Stockett's The Help lived their day to day lives. 

It was the year 1962. Skeeter was a Southern society woman with a secret project- a book detailing the lives of the African-American maids hired by many women. From her mother to her 'best friends'.

Aibileen mothers lonely white children to help nurse the loss of her own son, killed at work by racist men.

Minny, a sassy maid, deals with unemployment as her former employee sullies her reputation with lies. 

These three women form a bond forded with the glue of secrecy and fear and pride.

Kathryn Stockett makes the Civil Rights Act a personal experience. One that hits right in the heart. Each of her characters is written with a detail that makes them almost more alive than your very own next door neighbor.

*444 pages

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Favorite Techie Tool

In our school, the most beneficial web based technology tool is the class blog. I like the opportunity to read my classmates' work . It is a great way to compare my skill to theirs. I can also gather a new perspective of prompts and assignments. 

The blog is also a very convenient way for teachers to post what absentees missed during the class period. It gives a mass detailed instruction without need of much repetition. Students have no excuse anymore to get behind on homework.

Thursday, April 2, 2009


Our latest assignment for Mrs. Gillmore's English class was to enter an essay contest. Our subject? Ayn Rand's Anthem.

Despite the book's gloomy air, I had to prove that it was indeed a testament to hope of man.

An example from my essay:

..... Anthem is a story of personal triumph. Prometheus, formerly known as Equality 7-2521 and also a man of Greek legend who brought fire to his people, discovers his true self. As an outcast in his former society, Prometheus realizes he must be attuned to his real needs, thoughts, and beliefs rather than those expected of him by his “brothers.” Prometheus longs for the freedom unavailable to him in this supposed utopian society of brotherhood. This is illustrated by the shedding of his burden of sadness in his escape to the Uncharted Forest. Prometheus wakes up realizing he is free of his binding and spins in a circle, arms flying free just like a child. ......

Spring Break

What a treasure it was to be in Florida for Spring Break. The Orlando weather was quite an escape from the gray, cold I left behind in Batesville.

In Orlando's Universal Studios, I rode my first huge roller coaster. I had not been missing anything. Turns out, I hate roller coasters. I got off the ride which shaky arms and legs from holding so tightly to the bottomless seat. I was motion sick as well. Dueling Dragons, never again.

While all the amusement parks were generally great fun, I was quite home sick. I missed my family, especially my sister Hannah, and all the friends I left behind. I kept thinking of what they would say about everything we did. Especially the sarcastic comments.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Gone with the Wind

Change is inevitable. How many times have you heard that adage? Cliche but true. This theme is embedded throughout Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind. The spoiled princess Katie Scarlett O' Hara evolves steadily through the plot.

She begins the story as a conceited, wide eyed, innocent girl. She is completely unaware of the politics of the soon to begin Civil War.

"There won't be any war, and I'm tired of hearing about it." Scarlett
Pg. 5 Paragraph 5

At the end of the war, Scarlett emerges cold, hard, bitter, with a keen sense of business. She single handedly saves her family estate while dealing with the death of her parents.

She goes into each of her marriages for a different need. To make someone jealous, for financial security, for thrill.

Margaret Mitchell was a master at capturing the humanity and humility of a desperate lady in hard times. She captures how the essence of a person changes. As the war took different turns, so did the people of the South.

The people begin jubilant and fancy free as the Confederacy leads the beginning of the war. Slowly they turn into remnants of the 'Good Ole' Days' as goods and specialities become scarce and as Sherman ravages their home.

1037 pages-3 books

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

To Perfect My World....

No one can say this world is perfect. Just think how much our home could improve with a few tweaks-or rather drastic changes.

To change our world, I would:

-Begin a mandatory etiquette school.

-Make it necessary for everyone to listen to U2. And frankly, act like Bono and Co. themselves.

-Make it necessary for citizens to watch documentaries of groups of people many are prejudiced against.

-Let people release their inner child.

-Find ways to distribute food to starving countries.

-End intolerance of all forms.

No world is perfect, but the joint forces of all our people can help it. For the better.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Answering "The Call of the Wild"

Dogs snarling. Teeth baring. Growls echoing. Jack London illustrates the dogs' fights with a clarity I've scare encountered. His novel, The Call of the Wild, has been my favorite assigned novel in class this year.

Jack London's Buck, though a dog, was an easily relatable character. Buck learned quickly how to survive in the brutal wild of the Yukon. I remembered my own changes as I entered the savage high school I now attend. Buck kept you rooting for him through the whole novel.

Jack London's style was very compelling. His descriptions of every aspect were full of clarity and vividness. They were exact and appealing without being flowery and fussy.

The Call of the Wild was a book that could aimed be toward both genders. It was full of violence and danger and thrill for the restless, antsy boys. Girls could just as easily fall in love with the loyal, loving Buck.

I would recommend The Call of the Wild to anyone-girl or boy, child or adult.

The Tragic Tale of Antigone


It always begins with feuding families and forbidden love. Reading Sophocles' Antigone, I couldn't help but notice the blatant similarities between this play and of William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet

Having previously read Bill Shakespeare's play, the plot of Antigone seemed very familiar. Haemon and Antigone's opposed relationship was near identical to that of Romeo and Juliet's. Also, both twosome committed suicide to deal with the toils proposed by their families. 

Unlike Romeo and Juliet, Sophocles was written in a language much easier to decipher and comprehend. The language gave way to the time period through 'pop culture' references of the age through myths and legends of the people. 

While often moving, I would not recommend Antigone for leisure reading. The work is too short to connect to the characters and is lacking the compelling romance of Shakespeare's ever living classic.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Art of Persuasion

"Please? Please! May I?" the young girl pleads. It was just like what I did to get my sister Hannah out of trouble when she yelled.
I went in with a strategy formed in my brain. I had to make sure I was respectful to my parents at all times. First, I told my parents that I understood where they were coming from with their punishment. Then, I nicely asked if I could make a revision. Hunt was granted the privilege of an "alone" date at the movie theatre many years before Hannah and I. I asked if he could go with a group to chaperone the couple. I also asked if they would take away Hannah's grounding for berating Hunt. she yelled at Hunt not our parents. Hannah did have a right to be angry after all. She was upset that she was being babied while Hunt- two years below her- had more freedom. I told our parents to apologize to Hannah for hurting her feelings and that all of them should explain themselves and move on. My strategy to change my parents' mind was a lot like the one Haemon used to change Creon's, his father, mind in Antigone, written by Sophocles. Haemon also built up his father's confidence-as evidenced by lines 644-647.

"Father, I am yours, and as you have me,
You guide the best course for me to follow
No marriage will ever be more important to
me than justly carrying out your precepts."

When I went in complimenting my parents' punishment for Hannah, I mimicked Haemon's plot. Haemon, too, respected his father's authority-as evidence by lines 697-699.

" I don't how I could say you don't
Speak correctly,  but sometimes another
Man's opinion is also right."

When I discussed my discretions with my parents' sentence, I too used my manners and a respectful tone to make my tries for releasing Hannah more prone to success. 
My efforts to save Hannah from her unjust punishment were a success. My parents followed through with my advice, and they did not think I spoke out of turn. Hannah was happy with the results, and Hunt was not angry with his freedom being suddenly limited. My plan worked because I kept a respectful tone to my voice. I asked permission to edit my parents' verdict and used manners through the whole discussion. It also worked because I compromised. I didn't say everything my parents said was rubbish, and I based my opinions on Hannah's feelings and thoughts.
My parents were more willing than Creon, but it still took effort and thought to sway them. In the end, however, I won them over.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Sophomore Year-Thus Far

My sophomore year at Batesville High School has been a year of firsts.

It began with a first day at high school which was both thrilling and terrifying at the same time. I was elated with the feeling of being older, more mature. All the while, I was scared of what my teachers would make of me and what the upper classmen would think as the 'newbies' entered the door. I walked doe-eyed through the hall searching for the room number of the upcoming class and a familiar face who might know their own way around and could help me.

It was a year of first struggle with friends. My year was full of tears as we all adjusted to how we were changing just as those all around us were. Where did we stand anymore?

It was year of first trust as my parents finally saw me as old as I saw myself. I wasn't a baby anymore. They believed that right along with me.

It was a year of new technology with a new blog started. 

It was a year of finally being proud of my work. 

It was a year of first independence.

The semester ended with my first license-a first real freedom. I thought I felt big entering the front doors in August. That day was nothing compared to how I felt driving with my sister to Sonic for a sorely needed Dr. Pepper. 

The year is only half through. I know many more firsts are promised to me. 

After all, this has been a year of change.