Thursday, November 15, 2007

HW 35: Letter to My Blog Readers

Its hard to believe that I have created my very own blog. At the beginning of my "A Blog of One's Own" class, I was very unfamiliar with the objective of blogging and even unclear of how to use and write a blog. A blog is an online social networking device that enables you to write your feelings, thoughts, and experiences. As well, you can access blogging through communicating with companies and classrooms, such as I have. The ability to instantly access another blog and comment upon another blog puzzles me as to think of the constant upgrade in technology. I love how you can comment and read any ones blog's to gain knowledge and ideas about their own thoughts. From reading "Blog" by David Kline and Dan Burnstein, I learned more than I ever thought was possible about blogs. Blogs is a great device for companies to get others to hear there opinions and receive feedback in return to better help their company. Blogging has become a widely used device on the Internet, and I can now see why. I thoroughly enjoyed reading all "Blog", "A Room of One's Own", and "Baghdad Burning", but think that the average person would benefit and find most interesting the accounts of the Iraq war that I have written about in "Baghdad Burning". I know that if I stumbled across a blog on the Iraq war, I would most likely pause to read through it. Many Americans, like myself, are unaware of the occurrences in our present war. I have learned, and am still learning about the terror that Iraqi's have to live through, which has been presented to me through Riverbend's own blogs. I have enjoyed creating my ITW blog which I intend to keep, and once this class is over I may take on creating my very own personal blog.

HW 34: Tea Time and Gold

After reading Riverbend's blog from October 9 through October 29 in "Baghdad Burning", I learned a lot about Iraqi's custom of having evening tea and the role of gold in family savings. Having evening tea in an Iraq family is an important everyday occurrence that brings the family together to sit at the table and discuss their day. People also drink tea with their breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Unlike in the US and other parts of the country, when your mother asks you how school and hanging out with your friends was, Iraqi's tend to have a bit different of a conversation over tea. Whether they have a busy schedule or not, Iraqi families sip tea as they speak of the most recent happenings of the war, including abductions, hijackings, and Riverbend's most recent tea conversation of the Turkish Troops. The tea that they drink, which comes in numerous types, is not the typical tea, with teacups and teabags, drank by thousands around the world. "If you serve "teabag tea" to an Iraqi, you risk scorn and disdain- a teabag is an insult to tea connoisseurs". (Riverbend 108) The process of making tea for an Iraqi is a pretty simple three-stage process. Riverbend stated that out of the numerous types of tea available, the best come from Ceylon. The tea is served in "istakans", which are small glasses made of thin glass and resemble the number 8. The tea is perfected to look clear and strong, coming out to appear as a reddish-brown color. Once the tea is made, the family can now sit and speak of the current events. On the way home with her family, Riverbend spotted an armored car with a large beige-green tank and they suddenly feared they'd soon be going through a checkpoint on the streets or in their house. Riverbend's aunt was carrying all of her gold jewelry. The role of gold in an Iraqi family is very important and a large part of their culture and has increased in the role of family savings since 1990 when the Iraqi Dinar was constantly changing. "Iraqi people don't own gold because they are either spectacularly wealthy, or they have recently been on a looting spree". (Riverbend 100) Iraqi's began to take out money from the bank and convert their money to gold through jewelry, because gold will always hold the same value. Iraqi women call gold "zeeneh ou 7*azeeneh (khazeeneh)" which is translated to "ornaments and savings". Gold is both worn and kept away, and when a family is struggling with money, gold is often sold between people. When an Iraqi couple is married, gold is given to each other, and children are also commonly given gold as a gift. Riverbend's family feared being searched for the sake that they would take their gold because the troops argued that people like "that" (an Iraqi) could not own such a valuable object. Although, for many and most Iraqi's gold is an important role in family savings and is very important to them.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

HW 32: Responding to Riverbend

After reading Riverbend's posts from September 19 to October 5, 2003 of "Baghdad Burning", I had a much better understanding of burqas, habibs, and veils. On Wednesday October 1, Riverbend further explained the commentary on "Iraq Family Ties Complicate American Efforts for Change", written by John Tierney that was posted in The New York Times. Stanley Kurtz stated that the vieling is used to prevent others who are not of the same religion from competing with another woman's cousins for marriage. Riverbend argued that cousins have whatsoever nothing to do with the purpose of wearing a viel, and his explanation of it can only be interpreted as an insult. "I have a question: why is Dr. Kurtz using the word "viel" in relation to Iraq? Very, very few females wore veils or burqas prior to the occupation" (Riverbend 92). From this Riverbend argues Kurtz's explanation and sums up that his words wore an assumption more than fact. A viel, the English version of the word, is a piece of cloth that covers the entire face and head. Known in Iraq as the burqa or khimar covers predominately the hole face, sometimes with the exception of the eyes. The hijab is a headscarf that comes in various colors that can be worn many different ways. Muslim females wear veil's for religious values, not because of the Stanley Kurtz's assumption that their cousins make them wear it. The headscarf's that they wear provide comfort and security to themselves and their religion. Riverbend summed up the explanation of the veil, burqas, and habibs, as the same as a Christian revealing and presenting the cross, or a Jew wearing a yarmulke.

HW 33: Alive in Baghdad

I recently viewed the podcast that was titled, "Challenges at a Girl's School in Baghdad". It was from "Alive in Baghdad", and was published on 5/21/07, and can be viewed at This podcast gave a short account of the troubles in education in Iraqi schools. One specific school that the podcast focused on was Al-Safini Middle School, which is located in Adhamiya, but serves to educate young girls from all over Baghdad. The podcast speaks of the increasing amount of violence in Iraq which has impacted the struggle to move forward throughout the school year. Yet when the students and teachers were interviewed they spoke of their refusal to give up. There are 225 students who attend the school, who are presented with violence just on the way to school, when the streets are packed and white Americans are searching the area. The teachers come from a wide range of experience, all who are striving to give the children something they deserve. The problems of violence do not just pertain to Adhamiya, but arise all over the place in Iraq schools. One young girl spoke of how she has gotten used to the shootings and violence that surround her country, and is not fearful of this violence. Another girl spoke how she could not one day attend school while Americans were searching her district. The numbers of students have dropped in schools, and many students are being forced to quit schools by choice, through their parents, or through the violence. The students are in a classroom, all in school uniforms, and most wearing veils as well. At the beginning and end of the podcast there was a brief view of the streets right outside of the school, while the children were gathered around outside before school. A viewer may learn a lot about this podcast, I had, and was not aware of the streets being crowded and the amount of decreasing students attending school daily. One memorable thing that I found was how one student said that she was not scared of the violence that is surrounded throughout her community and society.

HW 31: Responding to Riverbend.

After reading through Riverbend's entries from August 31 to September 16, 2003 of "Baghdad Burning", I came across a post on September 7, that spoke more of Rumsfeld's accounts in Iraq. Rumsfeld spoke poorly of Iraqi's and the country of Iraq comparing Iraq to the city of Chicago, which bothered Riverbend. Riverbend spoke of the several attacks on the American forces and continued into her emails that she received from people who sympathize with her and her thoughts and views of Rumsfeld's actions. One email agreed with Rumsfeld's ways and spoke of him as a heroic character. It explained that the Iraqi's should be ashamed of themselves, like Riverbend, for their own actions. "It also claims that I must be a Ba'athist because, of course, who else *except* a Ba'athist would be against this noble war?!" (Riverbend 52). I had never heard of Ba'athist's, so I further looked into this to find out who they were, and why the email-er would make such a comment towards Riverbend. Also known as the Arab Socialist Ba'th Party, were founded in 1945 as a left-wing, secular Arab nationalist political party. They had various branches in Arab countries, yet the most prominent branches remained in Syria and Iraq. In 1966, the Syria and Iraqi branches split into two and became rivals. The Ba'athists gained control of Iraq and ran the country on two separate occasions. The Arabic word Ba'th which is connected to the term Ba'athist, means "resurrection". This largely connects to the accounts of the book as a hole, and comes to terms with a large part of Iraq's past history.

HW 30b: Citizenship Symposium

On Thursday, November 8, I attended "Animation as Political and Social Constructions", which was held in the Redfern Arts Center, as part of the Keene State College Citizenship Symposium. There were three speakers at the event, all who were Keene State College professors, including Jiwon Ahn, Sander Lee, and Mark Timney. Jiwon Ahn was the first speaker, but unfortunately i had just been arriving from another class, while he was wrapping his speech up. Sander Lee spoke next, as she spoke of the actual art of the Anime designs and drawings, and the ways that you can perceive it and understand the nature of the art. She described the flat style that is used in Anime art, which describes the woman's body's that are used as a symbol, rather than the negative perspectives that can be derived from the art. The woman's bodies used in art, as she went through a slide show of various pieces or art that I found quite interesting, were displayed through provocative clothing, "school-girl uniforms" as Lee described it, or no clothing at all. The woman were displayed in nature and many were displayed with violence. One piece of art that stuck out to me was a woman who was naked, with a large knife to her neck, with blood coming out from everywhere. These images that she showed us were presented to challenge the views that are characterized through the Western culture. The last speak was Mark Timney, who spoke of WWII cartoons, and Walt Disney's objective to portray and incorporate the Holocaust Studies into the television shows. He showed us a clip of a Disney cartoon that featured Donald Duck in a factory in Germany, as a Natzi citizen. The purpose of this cartoon was to show the audience the effects that the hard labor of making bombs all day long adapting to Hitler's demands have a psychological effect on Donald Duck, and many of the once Natzi's under Hitler's control. Donald Duck becomes increasingly stressed throughout the span of the clip as he continually screams "How Hitler" and awakes from what I believe was a dream, if I interpreted the clip correctly, to being surrounded by US symbols of government. Timney explained that this clip expocates Germany and their only thing more powerful than German acts is another stronger state, in this case the US. Mark Timney also showed us a clip from South Park, which h as been aired on television since 1977 which expresses vulgarity, attacks on religion, exploitation on sensitive issues, and blatant sexual content. I found interesting when Mark Timney explained that "shit was once used in South Park 163 times in the span of 30 minutes". Mark Timney showed us a bit longer of a clip from South Park that was based on the issues of 9/11. This show that is most viewed by 18-24 year olds, is willing to get involved, showing good citizenship even though it shows citizens willing to hurt each other through violence and bad words. South Park presents moral issues regarding crime, science, public health, etc.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

HW 30: Citizen Symposium

On Tuesday, November 6 I attended a session at the Keene State College Citizenship Symposium, called "Voting Theory and the Questions of Fairness", which was presented by a mathematics professor at KSC, Vincent Ferlini. He spoke of the different kinds of voting methods, presenting them through a power point, with vivid description and visuals. These voting methods that best describe the will of the people, were for the most part free of flaws regarding fairness and unfairness, and have tend to work well. These different methods included the Plurality Method, the Jean-Charles de Borda, Plurality with Elimanation Method (also known as Instant Runoff Voting) and Method of Pairwise Comparisons. The different methods produced different results and each method exhibits characteristics associated with the fairness and unfairness of a voting method. Each slide presented a model diagram of the voting method described by the number of voters as well as the 1rst, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th choices that were elected. One thing I found interesting was when Vincent Ferlini spoke of the Keene Mayoral Election. He described how there are two rounds of voting, which can create problems since it is expensive and time consuming, yet the outcome may be more prominent. In the first round each voter votes for his or her first choice of mayor, yet no candidate wins in this round. In the second and last round, the top two finishers in the first round compete in the second round to finalize the winner. In one of Vincent Ferlini's first slides he explained a term, "ostraka", which was also gone over again in the end of the session. “A voter would use a broken pot called an ostraka to record a vote, which is the root of the modern world ostracize" (Vincent Ferlini). The setting of the session seemed like a rather small audience for such a large auditorium, and he made a few connections to Britney Spears and Paris Hilton. He wrapped up the session on voting theories and the questions of fairness by encouraging everyone to vote and to not assume that these new methods are stupid, but instead to be open to new things.