Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Experiences in English 111

I decided to take the English 111, just so I can say in Europe, that I have been in an American college. The English itself came as a bonus. From the first day, when I realized the diversity and the atmosphere in the class were high, I was hooked in. It was nice to see I wasn't the only foreigner around. After few days had gone, and the introductions, course overview, and the interviews were behind us, the reading came along. Informing articles on politics, writing, and history were some of the topics. It was really pleasing to notice the timeliness of these readings. I hate read old text, and I was almost saved from it, untill Mr. Kafka's writing came along.
The first larger scale project, a presentation with an excellent partner, Jason, was really worthwhile. During the making of it I learned to schedule time, both, for the needed work together and for the individual work. Having a partner made me realize, what an ease it is to ask from the peers that surrounded me in class. They helped me drastically in my process of becoming a better writer. Whether it was revision, editing, or just asking about due dates, someone was always reachable. And if someone else needed help, I tried my best to be helpful. Filling the peer review forms and the movie sheets, were both educationally rewarding, but the open discussion with others and the open sharing of everyones views made the experience even deeper.
As the course progressed, it came clear to many of us, that the 8 weeks of work will mostly be based on the last 3 weeks, with thanksgiving and some out-of-topic conversation pushing the calendar schedule forward. One of the main lessons in I learned in the first few weeks, was the identification of rhetorical appeals, pathos, ethos, and logos. Even though I thought they were more a part of a psychology class, than an English class, the use of rhetorical appeals made me think of their use in my own papers, or the lack of it at the moment.
Things I certainly will remember about this class are most definitely the never-ending afterhours, writing papers the night before the due date. Luckily I had for the first time learned to do "shitty" first drafts, and always got my ideas somewhat organized beforehand, for the peer review. I'm guessing this was normal and it would have been a totally different case in the 16-week course. I always had plans to go to the writing centre, but I was rather working on the next paper and reviewing my papers on my classmates through e-mail instead. When it comes to E-mail, I was astonished by the fact, how well the assignment and notification processes always worked nicely electrically via E-mail.
This class has given me some valuable knowledge on how to write academically, think critically, and speak sagely. I have never had problems speaking in front of a group of people, so it was fun to hear others present, as it was fun to present my own research presentation if front of my new friends. It felt like the couple weeks of research was just pouring out of my mouth. Now, as the course is over and it is time to move to the next thing in life, I can only hope it would be somewhat as educating and fun as this course has been.

Diagnostics Essays

My Superpower
If you would be asked to list a few superpowers, what would they be? Would they include flying or maybe superhuman strength? The average answer is most likely one of the many seen by superheroes in cartoons, movies and television, where most of the superheroes have only physical advantages. I myself am way more fascinated by the mental powers instead.
Let’s say that Superman gets 5 children and all of them would only get one of their father’s superpowers. One would be extremely strong, one would be really fast, one could fly, one would have the laser vision and one could not get hurt. Not even one of them could change the world in a large scale. Sure, they would all be famous and admired, but instead of “super” they would only be “special”. That is why the most powerful single ability has to be mental. For example hypnosis is a very powerful method and is already used in good and bad. It can help people to remember and so solve crimes; and medical hypnosis is also very highly developed. On the contrary hypnosis can also be used by dishonest people to convince others to make terrible investments on the hypnotist’s benefit, or a skillful hypnotist can even non-violently rob a man and then leave him with no other than happy memories of that day. If all that is possible in today’s world already, even when superpowers shouldn’t exist, just think what could we achieve if our mental powers were inhuman?

My dream has always been to make a difference in the world and I can’t imagine how my ability to fly, or lift enormous weights would get me anything else than some fame and my own Wikipedia page. The ability that would take me closer to that dream guarantee is to get everyone trust me no matter what. I’m sure any politician, most of all, the president, wouldn’t mind to have that power. If I would just wake up one day whit it, it could take me a small while to figure out that it’s even a power. But after all the new friendships and the success in life I thought was just luck, I would realize the full potential of my abilities and would probably try it at first by going to an airport and saying: “You really don’t want me to pay for these tickets. Trust me.” That would get me into Afghanistan, where I could ask the suicide bombers to trust me and tell them it’s not worth it. If that would work, I’d know there were no limits with my power. Those people are willing to take their lives just to gain some chaos and few dead civilians, so they are already so brainwashed that I think their minds would be the hardest to persuade. How else on earth could I stop them from killing people without actually killing them, which is what they were going to do anyways.

With that power a person could end wars, end poverty, end crime and somewhat rule the world. Quickly this world would become like a paradise and there wouldn’t be any big scale troubles anymore. The whole world could be changed in no time and left with nothing more to achieve in it. But that is not what I want. Yes, I do want to make a difference in this world, but I want to earn even that small part in change on my own and with my own natural abilities. I’d much rather make a backpacking journey around the world than a free one week vacation in a spa. It is like taking a shortcut over the mistakes and experiences which normally stay in our memories for a lifetime and can be told to future generations so they could learn from them. The amount of power that would come with this “mind control” -ability would be too much for one person to handle. It would be so hard that even I in the end would rather just have the ability speak Chinese.

Revised and synthesised with I am Because:
If I did it
To be a president of the super-nation, like America, would be something, would it not? That is not true. Yes, he does hold several codes to a lot of nuclear bombs, but so do a number of other people in the world too. Yes, he is the person in charge of a country with the largest economies in the world, but he still has enemies even in his own country. Where is the fun in that? Why there always has to be someone in oppose to? That is why I pursued the life of a mental superhuman. Not for the good of mankind, but for me. If someone else would benefit on the side too, I would not have a problem with that. I am what people would call “evil”, if they would know to dislike me, but they can’t. As I said I am a superhero, or a super-villain, whatever you like to call it, I control everyone’s minds. Not just by telling them what to do, but making them want to do what I want them to do. It is so much easier to control the world this way. This power is mental, but far more powerful than anything else in the world. True, I cannot stop a flying bullet, but I sure can make the shooter not shoot. The power of fast mental persuasion is truly awesome, and is not for everyone to handle. I am not even sure if I should’ve had it. Automatically, when I talk, everyone agrees with me, instantly. It has made me powerful in every aspect, but also greedy and selfish.

To become the leader is not always easy. A student needs to challenge and beat the master to become one. My process was hard and at first, extremely rewarding. The process and many other aspects in my life could have not come true, without the major influence of cartoons in my life. Cartoons were a large source of pathos in my life. They made me feel like nothing before. As I was a kid, I always watched cartoons, and saw how villains tried to destroy the earth somehow, because they were treated poorly, when they were kids themselves. Heroes however were always loved through their whole lives and that is why they were able to do the right decisions. Heroes were always the ones getting all the credit and the fame. Was that fair? I didn’t think so. I saw myself as the villain and the heroes were the bullies in my life. The villain has been trampled on for his whole life, and now the superhero does it too. I tend to think that superheroes don’t even acknowledge what they are doing, because the mental power of knowledge has never been a must for them. They have always had their superpowers as a backup plan. Villains on the other hand have the knowledge, but by the time they get it, they have already been kicked off the boat of success by the “good” guys.

To out the existing superheroes and villains in power, I had to know both sides inside and out. Luckily I had experience on both mindsets, as I had been both loved and stepped on throughout my life. For me, those experiences were a great source of pathos, as they made me think and have feelings like hate, love, and patience. They made me realize that it is the nature of humankind to feel both good and bad. An old master of mine, a powerful man of hypnosis, once told me, “Love and selfishness. Those are the qualities that set us apart from the animals”. My master and his lessons are now the main influence in my life. They have molded me into the person who I am today, so he is the ultimate source of ethos in my life, right now. It did not used to be always like that. There was a time, when I was finally the best. I started to persuade everyone I encountered. As I succeeded, I wanted more. I became very greedy. I did have the time of my life for quite some years, until my whole life started to seem too easy to be true. And it was. Where is the fun in playing if I’ll always win, and everyone always wants me to win, also the opponent? Same goes to ruling the world with these powers. At first it’s confusing, then fun and easy and then at last depressingly easy. There was no one to compete with.

As I have led to world for quite some years now, I have had time to examine different aspects of life. I have ended wars by saying what in my mind would be fair. I have started wars, just to see what is going to happen. And I have even made people create a new religion, scientology, because I thought it was a good idea at the time, but it was no fun, so I left them to deal with it. I did get Tom Cruise to help though. I did not need money, as I always got what I wanted. I was like a fat kid, with a credit card, in a candy store. As credit does, the conscious clams its bills later on too.

Sometimes I felt bad for what I did. Then I started to notice, that others agreed on the negative sides as well. They felt bad for me now. Times when I did not like me, others wouldn’t either. A normal person would at least have had true friends to support him/her, but not me. As I was just manipulating everything, I realized I had no true friends. I was, selfish and alone. Those realizations have acted as a part of logos on me, as I have seen, the meanings and the consequences with my own eyes. I had truly become the evil villain in the cartoon, and I did not like it. I wanted to make everything up to the people, but I am old now, and during my depression phase new masters started taking over. Now I only feel like a president, and as many presidents promise to rule for the better of mankind and the whole nation, I promised that for myself too. But as many presidents have failed to do that, so have I. I am now a retired superhuman, with no respect left from anyone anymore. If a student would ask, “What is your legacy; the lesson you would leave for me to discover“. I would answer, “No one will believe in you, if the one, who doubts you, is you yourself”.

Being in the age of 80, when most of the experiences, one wants to experience, are already fulfilled, one has time to think; to think whether it was all worth it. That is when all the doubts in the head come alive. “Why did I take psychology, instead of Chinese language”, was the question I asked myself. I tried to reason, and convince myself, but I could not change my mind. I was nothing but a sorrow old man. I tried to control everyone else, before I could control myself.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Netherlands, the land of the extremely free

Amsterdam. For some it's just a beautiful city, full of canals, rich culture and bicycles. To the rest of the world it is the capital of techno, marijuana, and prostitution.
When visiting Amsterdam, the traveler should know the big difference between a Café and a Coffee Shop. Coffee Shops do sell coffee, but that is not the reason you would go there. Marijuana is the reason. Cakes, brownies, muffins, milkshakes; all packed with the green devil. But the difference is easy to spot, because the location does matter. Unlike Coffee Shops, Cafés are not located near the brothels, which makes sense, since I personally would never consume food or drink next to brothel, unless I was high.
Prostitution in the Netherlands is legal and has been taxed ever since 1996. The Red Light District is one of the most well known in the world, along the ones in Paris and Hamburg. It is also one of the safest parts in Amsterdam, as clusters of policemen, and private bodyguards employed by the girls themselves are always on duty. I consider it smart to have a system that can be taxed and regulated. A system, where rules exist and prostitutes are better treated and kept out of the streets (Unlike in Barcelona, where during nighttime the prostitutes seem like workers at the mall, who just try to sell their product to everyone who walks by).
In fact the city of Amsterdam is about to regulating them with a severe hand. As stated in an Associated Press news article on Yahoo News, Amsterdam is planning to shut down 20% of the Coffee Shops and many dodgy brothels too. Amsterdam wants to be a city of tolerance, not the haven of illegal underground business. When the new restrictions come into action, prostitution will only be allowed in two marked areas. Therefore if a parent wants to avoid the awkward questions from his/her child, he/she can easily just avoid those two areas.
On other areas, at least when I was there, nothing seemed to be anyway unordinary. It is not like everyone uses marijuana and everyone uses the services of prostitutes. Many couples come for the Red Light excitement and the cultural experience. For couples I would personally suggest the sex museum. They are culture, exciting and truly funny and open-minded.
Red Light District is a big part of Amsterdam culturally, but if you plan on going there, make it the last checkpoint of your tour in Amsterdam, because I don't want you to get the wrong image of Netherlands and their wonderful people.

image: marcelgermain. "Night life." Flickr. 11 Dec, 2007

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Tax free deals... pirate style

"Would you like to have some rum Mr. Pirate?"
"No. I think I'll have Louis Roederer Cristal Brut Champagne today please."

When people think of pirates nowadays, they think of Johnny Depp hunting for the hidden treasure. Those days are over. The pirates and the treasures are still there, but nothing is hidden anymore. Instead of the Caribbean raiders, they are the Somali heroes. Somalia has been under many serious conflicts before and after its independence in 1960. It has had no form of government since 1991. Private people take care of themselves or stay under the protection of drug-cartels. With no government there can't be any taxes, but neither any international businesses, nor incoming money. With no police, the robbers can live large and are admired. But why steal from your own people, who have no money to begin with?
Pirates have been around for a long time, but in the past few years the amount of highjackings on the coast of Somalia has skyrocketed. The Somali coast is a major pass way for ships carrying cargo and oil. Yes. Oil. That might be, why it's finally getting more publicity (like this Associated Press article on CNN) in the counties depending on their oil deliveries.
I've followed this dilemma for few years now. I had a Somali kid in my school. He was an aggressive boy, but he did come from a civil war and wasn't used to our "normal life". Then few years went past and I started seeing even more and more Somalis in Finland. You would never guess right...
Now there are many Red Cross and food supply ships, who have food for the non-coastal Somalis (In Somalia this year they missed the rain season for the 3rd time in a row), but they too are afraid of the pirates. The pirates make millions and spread it around for the people close to coast. But because the farmers don't end up getting the donations there were meant to have, they can't survive. They have a choice of either becoming a pirate or an immigrant.
Though I am happy to inform, that EU, NATO, and some partner-countries have started to patrol on the area. They escort and therefore secure the cargo. The mission is hard, since there aren't as many military ships as there are civilian ships, on the Gulf of Aden.

The Pirate Bay, Piratbyrån Sweden, 2003. 08. Dec. 2008
Johnson, Mike. "Somali Pirate Crisis" Image. Super Collide. 09. Oct. 2008

Monday, November 17, 2008

In God some of us trust

America. The land where you have the "government of religion" and "separation of freedom and church"...
Or was it the other way around?
I read an article from Jon Kelly on religion and the 2008 presidential election called "In God we trust". Posts like this combined with the news and YouTube, were the main sources of American lifestyle information for me on the other side of the Atlantic. Believe me; it gives a pretty horrifying image on what goes on in the brains of Americans.
It wasn't till I personally met travelling Americans, while travelling myself; I realized how my views were based on individual acts of individual people. This was just so you know I'm not anti-American or anything. The majority of people I have met, while I've lived in this wonderful country, are very smart and have big dreams to fill. But, A big BUT, There are the others. The others we as
Europeans (and even some Americans) do not understand. Just like many Americans don't understand the Muslim communities.

Europeans are not nearly as religious as you here in the US (By we, I mean the majority of us). We do not have God TV, so many religious radio channels, celebrity preachers and s
o on. It’s more personal and more under the radar type of thing. It does not mean we don’t believe in anything. Just that no one, who would even say "God bless [insert country's name here]", would make it far in any elections. Actually in my opinion when mentioning God in politics reflects that the candidate will put their own religion as a priority, when dealing with others.
So our separation of state and church is strong, but we do still teach religion in all schools. The difference is, we only teach “what others believe”, not “what you should believe”. Religions are intact in all of our cultures so deeply, that we cannot ignore them, but we still shouldn't decide based on religion, whether we like a person or not.

Bors, Matt. Muslim In America. July, 2008.