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John Stewart: The Daily Show

John Stewart is an American comedian journalist, and his show, The Daily Show with John Stewart, is the perfect example of exactly what he does for a living. The episode in particular that I will analyze is the January 13th episode of The Daily Show, this episode focuses mainly on the chemical spill that contaminated the water in West Virginia, the new mayor of New York City and his pizza eating tendencies, the gay rights movement in Uganda, along with movie producer Roger Ross Williams, and it ended with news about Colorado and it’s recent legalization of marijuana. He presents actual news stories to the public; however, he puts a comic spin on all of the stories, so while we get the news and stay up to date on current events, we can laugh and enjoy ourselves while doing it.

The show starts really professional, looking like an actual newscast, with the American colors, a beautiful big desk that John Stewart sits at, a giant display of the world in the background ( which spins the wrong way), and also with his appearance in a nice suit and tie. However, as the stories that he discusses unfold, we see that his “newscast” may be more humorous than it is newsworthy. For example, as he was discussing the issue of the chemical spill in West Virginia that left residents without safe water for up to ten days in some places, he goes on little rants that keep the story upbeat and funny. Specifically, while talking about the chemical tanks, he went to tell us about how the tanks have been maintained and inspected, and then he looked and his paper and said, “IN 1991!” He changed the tone and inflection of his voice to make it humorous to the audience.  Then, he showed the actual map of the location of the chemical plant and water treatment thoroughly pointing out the fact that the chemical plant is upstream from the water plant, and how that doesn’t make sense in any possible scenario.

After he talked about West Virginia’s issues, he showed a recent news clip of a scandal involving New York’s new mayor Bill de Blasio, making the audience think that it was a pretty big deal, and it turned out to be an entire segment about how de Blasio eats his pizza with a fork and knife, rather than using his hands “like a real new Yorker”. This is more evidence of how he could be considered more of a comedian than he is a journalist.

John Stewart then brought in the esteemed movie producer and director of God Loves Uganda, Roger Ross Williams, onto the show to get his opinion about the recent gay rights movement in Uganda. Although Stewart and Williams did keep the interview light-hearted and entertaining, this segment was definitely more of the serious journalist side of The Daily Show, The questions and responses actually had to do with the current situation in Uganda.

Then, in his typical fashion, John Stewart ends the show with word about the legalization of marijuana in Colorado, and how the biggest problem that the state is having is that the local government cannot keep the mile 420 signs on the interstates from being stolen.

All information for this article can be found in the links below.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MssdOUr52DY

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2014/04/07/140407fa_fact_osnos?currentPage=all

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/02/140228-uganda-anti-gay-law-smug-homophobia-africa-world/

http://articles.latimes.com/2014/jan/13/news/la-sh-colorado-mile-marker-420-20140113

Multitasking…

The article that I have chosen to write my research position paper on is one from The New Atlantis, called The Myth of Multitasking, written by Christine Rosen. The audience that she is speaking to is generally an older more mature audience, so she uses a proper educated tone to display her position. In her article, she discusses the pros and cons of the new phenomenon of “multitasking”. She goes into how it really isn’t even a new concept, it has been happening for ages, like the “ability to walk and chew gum”, but the concept has recently become more widespread and acceptable in our day in age (Gleick, Faster). The boom of technology and our constant access to the internet and other gadgets has contributed to our need for continuous stimulation. Rosen tells us about the advantages and disadvantages that the constant flow of our brain has on our bodies and our futures. For example, our body releases adrenaline and stress when we focus on many things at one time, which can be beneficial to us, if for only a short amount of time, but after a long while it can cause serious medical damage to the human body.      

To develop and support her ideas, Christine Rosen quotes a large variety of people that support her findings. She has quotes from psychologists, psychiatrists, neuroscientists from different universities around the world, as well as quotes from different books on the subject of multitasking, or task-switching, as it was called in the article. Another way that Rosen gathered information for this article was by finding actual studies that observed the brains functioning patterns, using and fMRI, when the subject being studied was focusing on multiple things at the same time.

I would say that I agree and disagree with Christine Rosen. I do believe that sometimes multitasking can certainly decrease the quality of work that an individual can produce, but at the same time, sometimes keeping your brain subconsciously tuned in to something different can be helpful. From personal experience I know that when I’m writing or reading, I cannot have anything else going on, or I will lose my focus and have no idea what I’m supposed to be doing, but then for other things, like doing my math homework or washing dishes, I pretty much have to have music playing and my cell phone no more than 5 inches from my hand. Multitasking can be a good thing and a bad thing. Sometimes our brain needs to take a break and cool down just like the rest of our body after a long day, and when we always have our focus on multiple things, it is impossible to let that happen.

I have no idea how I am going to go about structuring this essay, nor can I fathom writing 10 pages without babbling on and on, but I know how I am going to do research and develop my own ideas. I am going to make a survey for my roommates and my sorority sisters about their opinions and ideas about multitasking, and also how it has affected their college career. I will use the data gathered from that along with find other articles and useful sources about the phenomenon of multitasking. It should be a fun one :) 

Fear in Ads…

For this week’s blog entry, I have chosen to use the chapter “Peddling Panic and Paranoia: Why Fear

Sells”, from Martin Lindstrom’s novel “Brandwashed”, to explain how an old Colgate toothpaste ad uses

our fear and paranoia to urge us to buy their product.

In this ad, the company plays on the American fear of going to the dentist by showing how using their

toothpaste, “fights more cavities than all other toothpastes combined.” They use the image of teeth

as dice to show how each hole in the dice could be a cavity, or a hole in our actual teeth. This fear,

although on the surface just makes us think of our fear of the dentist, also gives us, “a glimpse of some

future “feared self”.”

Although this ad plays on our human fears, we can make sense of it by the fact that our culture really

does spend a lot of time on our cosmetic physical appearance and especially on the appearance of our

teeth. Many of us, myself included are borderline obsessed with the appearance of our teeth because

when you smile, they are the first thing that people notice about us. It might be a ridiculous thing that

gets focused on, but it’s a little thing that is important to us.

To others, the fear of their future self, is a subconscious fear. Lindstrom mentions that the ads we see,

like the toothpaste ad, “prey on our fears of our worst selves by activating insecurities that we didn’t

even know we had.” Lindstrom is convinced that sometimes the ads that have the greatest impact on

our society are the ads that scare us. Most humans would say that they do not enjoy being scared, but

Lindstrom would claim otherwise. He brings up the fact that Americans go out in swarms to see the new

horror movies, and how the majority of our bestselling novels are considered “thrillers”. We think we

hate being scared, but the truth is, it is actually the opposite. Advertisers know this fact, and they milk it.

They get us worked up just enough to make us buy their product. That is their job.

Lindstrom, Martin. “Peddling Panic and Paranoia: Why Fear Sells,”                Brandwashed: Tricks Companies Use to Manipulate Our Minds and          Persuade us to Buy. New York: Crown Business, 2011. 28-53.

Lamott vs. Zinsser

In class, we were given 2 essays about the writing process and how to produce the best paper possible. The first essay, written by Ann Lamott, author of Bird by Bird, is a semi-informal, lighthearted read, whereas the second was a formal educational essay written by William Zinsser, a prestigious writing professor at Yale University. Both authors provide strong arguments about how using their method will make our writing the best that it can be.  Zinsser focuses more on cutting wordiness out of our writing to make crisp clean ideas, and Lamott stresses the significance of drafting and redrafting to produce the most polished version of our essay. Both authors seem to make it very clear that reading and rewriting your essay multiple times is the best way to produce a good piece of work; however, they share very different ideas about how to go about drafting and how to finally decide that you’re finished.

In Ann Lamott’s essay “Shitty First Drafts” she discusses the process that she uses to produce quality work. Her tone is carefree and even almost humorous, she writes in a way that keeps the reader interested. She starts by telling us that writing isn’t just an easy thing, even the best authors ever known have truly struggled to create their masterpieces. She describes the grueling procrastination that she goes through every time that she has to write. She goes on to say that it is very beneficial, even if you have no idea what to write about, to sit down and write everything that you can possibly think of. The outcome might be hideous, but she urges us to try it out and then draft as many times as we need to, to get to the outcome that we want. Drafting is her most important writing tool.

 On the other hand, in William Zinsser’s work, “Simplicity”, the idea of cutting out all of the fluff is the way to produce the best work. His writing is very simple and to the point, which definitely helps to drive in his argument that cutting to the chase in your writing helps the reader get a clearer understanding of your meaning. Zinsser also talks about the importance of going back into your writing and redrafting, but his focus of the redraft is to see what can be cut out or made simpler. This essay seems as though it is probably more directed towards a more mature serious audience, like other professors or people writing serious works, whereas the essay by Lamott seems to be more directed to a less formal, younger audience.

To me, Ann Lamott’s essay is probably more relevant to the type of writing that I will be producing. I always hate drafting, so reading this article made me really focus on how important it actually is. I never realize how important going through and tweaking little details is until I get back grade papers and find all of the  mistakes that could’ve been changed so easily to make the paper better as a whole and even improve the grade that I got on it.  Another reason that her article has a larger influence on me is because I actually enjoyed reading it, I didn’t struggle to keep myself focused and that is very important to me. 

Both of these writers are very accomplished and do a very good job getting their idea of how to make the best piece possible across to the reader. If we, as writers, put both of their ideas to use, we could produce phenomenal things.

Abbie Payne

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