Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Rand summary

In Ayn Rand’s piece called Racism, the claim she makes is that it is the individual, as opposed to the group, that matters.  In the first portion, she explains how racists are insecure:  “The overwhelming majority of racists are men who have earned no sense of personal identity, who can claim no individual achievement or distinction […]” (128).  She does not agree with collectivism and how racism has become more developed because of it.  She is not saying that white people are always the racists.  In the last portion, she disapproves of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.  Because the bill is protecting the blacks, the whites are losing their private property rights.  She does not think that this is fair because now, the blacks “are now in the vanguard of the destruction of these rights” (134).  The roles have basically changed between the black and white races.  In the last quote from The N.Y. Times, it seems that Rand believes that if all the rights of the individuals are addressed and protected by the law, then there is nothing else to worry about.
For me, this piece was difficult to read and hard to understand.  I do not agree with her opposition to the civil rights bill because blacks deserve to have their rights after so much mistreatment.  I do not think it is right to say that the whites are now the ones being targeted after being stripped of their private property rights.  I was surprised when I read about the Soviet ideology.  It doesn’t seem credible that “men can be conditioned to communism genetically […]” (128).  The idea is just insane. 

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Sedaris summary

In David Sedaris’ Solution to Saturday’s Puzzle, humor is used through Sedaris’ thoughts while he’s figuring out the crossword puzzle.  The joke is that even though Sedaris thinks that sitting with a crossword puzzle in front your face makes you look smart and composed, he himself is not.  He tries to solve it but instead, reasons with himself:  “‘I am not an asshole,’ [he] wrote, and it fit” (129).  Also, he is not as calm as he seems to be because he cannot stop thinking about the fight with Becky.  I think this piece is funny in the way in which his thoughts are presented.  Reading the clue and then his answer made it funny.  Also, I find it funny that Sedaris thinks he’s in a competition with Becky.  On page 131, he creates a scenario in which Becky would be chosen as the sacrifice.  Even though at first she doesn’t want to be the one to fall off, after Sedaris offers to fall off himself, she realizes that he’s not so mean after all and finally lets go.  It doesn’t seem believable that Becky would just let go because Sedaris isn’t what she thought him to be, but it was funny anyway.  The humor in this piece works because the dislike between the two of them is mutual and only the reader knows Sedaris’ thoughts.    
My joke is:  What do you call a cheese that’s not yours?


Thursday, February 10, 2011

Ronson summary

In Ronson’s piece, The Klansman Who Won’t Use the N-Word, there is a correlation between names and their meanings.  The names define the characteristics of certain groups through which their identities are created.  In this case, “many Klanspeople [feel] that without hatred there [is] no point in even having a Ku Klux Klan” (184).  This shows that hatred defines the Klan because their goal is to exert a sense of “white power”.  Without this essential characteristic, the Klan can’t be same.  Because Thom Robb, the new leader of the Klan, wants to put forth a more positive image, members have left because of disagreement.  Furthermore when Ronson asks Thom about changing the name of the Klan, Thom doesn’t think it would make a difference because “they’re going to call you Klansmen, they’re going to call you Nazis, they’re going to call you pigs” (183).  Changing names doesn’t work because the identity of the group is still the same.  So, once a purpose has been established through a certain label, it can’t be changed because then the whole image is tainted.  

I liked reading this because I found it interesting how Thom is trying to completely change his Klansmen.  But it was a bit weird because for me, the Klan takes on a bad image.  It seems contradictory that they want to impose their power by being nice.  I don’t think the incarnation of the new Klan makes sense and it isn’t successful because people have left.  Also, Thom’s perspective seems to demean the goals of the Klan.  I don’t think using inoffensive language would work in this case because just the name of the Klan gives off fear.  I found it interesting when Thom mentions the difference between “cross burning” and “cross lighting” (95).  The word “burning” gives a harmful image while the word “lighting” makes it seem like the act is okay.  So it takes one word to change the meaning of the phrase.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Gross summary

In Beverly Gross’ “Bitch”, the word is presented in different scenarios in which the meaning differs.  The word has changed from being used in sexual contexts to situations that display the power of women.  Also, there are two responses in which women can react when they are called one.  The common definition according to various dictionaries is “a malicious or treacherous woman” (77).  In today’s society, the word is used when a woman is complaining or annoying.  If it is used on the streets, the meaning of the word is the same as when used in the past:  “a female breeder” (83).  Black females are not offended, but feel honored by the attention.  If a regular schoolboy called a girl one, she would get offended.  The feeling is more of hurt than of appreciation.  Madonna does not care when she is called one, but instead, she embraces the power.  In another instance, men call women bitches when they feel threatened.  This comes from the “male-female nexus” which indicates that a woman should be submissive (80).  This word can either signify a woman’s power or describe her annoyance.  In any case, different women consider the word in different ways.
I do not like how profanity has become to be used in regular conversation.  Because I do not curse, I feel like cursing someone off is the biggest insult.  Even though I did not like reading this, I thought it was interesting how Gross mentioned that men use the word in a fearful way because I always see profanity as insults.  Although this piece is dated 1938, I think that the meanings are still true today.