Month: March 2013

Just Write

20130320-032352.jpgIf you think clear, you can write!” William Zinsser

The saddest thought for us, writers, is to think that no one would ever read our writing. However, why entertain thoughts that pull us down, when we can think of beautiful things to lift our spirits? Because it is very critical for us, to have the confidence and clear minds each time we write, and just as the William Zinsser emphasizes on his New York Bestseller’s, On Writing Well.

20130320-032428.jpg Personally, being an avid fan of writing, I read a lot of autobiographies of famous writers. Ironically, a lot of big names in writing and literature, either died of sickness triggered by depression or anxieties (or both), or by suicide–thinking no one was reading their works anymore and fame have abandoned them. To name one, was Ernest Hemingway (July 21, 1899 to 1961), but there were a lot more, like Kurt Vonnegut, Hunter Thompson, even the great Edgar Allan Poe died committing suicide. Some of those suicidal deaths were not even published. However, in respect to our profession (as well as to the departed souls), I won’t delve on how they died. Rather, on the WHY or the reason for taking their own lives–fame (or the death of it) was the common denominator for most of those suicide cases.

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A friend (a poet and a fellow blogger too) led me to write this essay. He wasn’t too happy yesterday of his readership. So, I told him, “You know what? You are better than any “wanna bes” out there. Just keep writing! Because you are doing good.” And I mean it; I sincerely do. Actually, my readership is not even a quarter of his. In addition, there are some who can’t even construct a sentence, and he’s not like that (not even an inch closer). In fact, his poems are poignant that too often I find myself sniffing, sometimes, even sobbing (seriously, I did, and for so many times). Nonetheless, if you are on the same boat, I suggest that you finish reading this post, and keep this in mind.

Regardless, if you’re writing or not, or you are writing professionally or not, you can’t rest your happiness on anyone. You shouldn’t even let anyone define your happiness. For more than writing, your well-being matters. However, if writing is your passion, just write with all your heart. If writing is what you do for a living: then you can’t let emotions get in the way of you performing your work. If you are writing for fun: but you aren’t happy with how things are going, then stop! That’s how simple it should be! Because you shouldn’t clog your minds of unhealthy thoughts. Again, more than writing, your well-being matters the most.

Therefore, when you write: Just be confident! Always clear your minds (and vacuum all those unhealthy thoughts away), just as Zinsser remind every writer to do so. Value your readers, but don’t let readership haunt you. Because part of being a writer, is to be creative, but it’s impossible to be creative, if you would “box” yourself, and limit your thoughts with just pleasing your readers. For doing so, you are depriving your writing of your own voice and style. Moreover, we, writers, have to be open minded, optimistic, and imaginative as possible. Most importantly, we shouldn’t think of fame; never think of fame! For many writers like Jane Austen and Emily Dickinson, they didn’t even knew they’d be famous. They just kept writing and remained loyal to their passion until their passing.

Lastly, think clear, and have the confidence each time you hit the keyboard. Write as if you are writing your first love letter; and talk as if it’s your last hour on earth. Bottom line: Think clear, and just write!

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Is Google Really Making Us Stupid?

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Sabiniana B. Baliba

George Garneau, Ph.D.

11 March 2013

Is Google Really Making Us Stupid?

We are in the twenty-first century, and this is the Digital Age (also known as Computer Age, or Information Age). In this era, our standards of living are high, and our needs now define how we think, talk, and act. Our necessities are forcing us to multi-task, and we are only coping through the invaluable help of the International Network, commonly known as the Internet.

I had the chance to read this 2005 Atlantic article in my previous English class (last spring of 2012). Since my stand on the subject matter has not changed, and given its significance, I decided to write anew about it, for my e-letter today.

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In this anti-technology piece, Pulitzer finalist Nicholas Carr accuses the Internet of harming our brains. (1) Carr blames the Net for the changes he sees in his reading comprehension, likewise for his inability to concentrate when reading extensive articles. (2) He argues so passionately that it has led to a book, entitled The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains. However, is Carr’s accusation supported by science? Because contrary to his opinion, new scientific evidences are showing Internet is making us smarter and not stupid. (3)

According to Michael Rosenwald, author of the BrainGain “ . . . new evidence suggests that using the Internet could actually make you smarter, and not rot your brain” (4).

Backed by the scientific findings of Dr. Gary Small, of the Semel Institute of Neuroscience for Human Behavior, University of California, Rosenwald stresses that neurologically speaking, we are benefiting from browsing the Web, googling or Google searching, and just as “ . . . bench presses do for our chest muscles” (5).

Courtesy of Google Images

Like Rosenwald, Jonah Lehrer of the New York Times, cited Small’s scientific findings, and pointed out that science even suggested Google searches actually lead to increased activity of our dorsolateral prefrontal cortex—the exact brain area where precise talents and/or abilities like selective attention and deliberate analysis are working, to which according to Carr have allegedly vanished in this Digital Age.

Personally, I am amazed Pulitzer considered Carr for such accolade, and the award giving body solely based his nomination on this article alone–what a poor nomination! For in these modern days, indeed, our needs demand us to multi-task and that’s for practical reasons. For gone are the days of consecration, and we are no longer at liberty to spend hours “digesting” every word and every line of anything we are reading, simply because we have so much responsibilities.

Carr cited a quite relevant article dated 1960 from Marshall McLuhan. However, with more than five decades passed, is McLuhan’s theory still applicable? For Carr’s citations from the nineteenth-century are now obsolete.

In this regard, I hope we careful examine, if those citations are still applicable these days. Moreover, are there any medical or scientific findings that validate Carr’s arguments? For isn’t it, if one is talking about health, it is just fair for us, readers, to demand experts’ words before we even buy one’s hasty accusations?

In conclusion, Google is not making us stupid. Rather, it encourages us to be resourceful. Most especially, it empowers our fingertips that we now can dig on information and knowledge without carrying heavy books and burning our eyes in extensive reading. Moreover, these days, we only do things that are necessary, because we know that’s the practical way of living. For In this era of Computer Age, we think fast; we talk fast; we read fast, and we act fast, because we simply have to. For in this Digital Age, we think practically; we talk practically; we read practically, and we act practically, because we value our time. Lastly, we are coping with most of our responsibilities through the invaluable help of the Internet—we should really thank science for it!

Lastly, if one is reading slow, perhaps a new pair of reading or prescription glasses is needed. But please, let’s not be ungrateful to technology, because historically, it’s what brought humanity to success. We are the smartest animals on earth, because of our abilities to invent and innovate ways through the use of technology That has not changed to this day. And great things await to thinkers, more so, to positive thinkers.

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The Lights at the Corners of Our Minds

Sabiniana Balagtas Baliba

George Garneau, Ph.D.

27 February 2013

English 200

The Lights at the Corners of Our Minds

Memory is life.” Pierre Nora

For the role of memory in our lives is so humongous, truly immeasurable, as most things we do are all memory based. From the time we get up in the morning, until we lay ourselves in bed at night, we do things depending on how we program ourselves. Thus, our survival largely depends on memory.

In fact, a neuroanatomical study states that without memory “we cannot learn from the past,” as it really gives us our identity and individuality, and is an elementary part of our consciousness” (Garcia-Lazaro et al).

My personal attestation to this: Sometime this semester, I faced academic challenges. I nearly lost my sense of individuality, and not to mention, self-esteem. However, when we start memorizing dialogues written by William Shakespeare, and I knew I memorized them well (as I think I delivered them decently too), things changed. My ability to memorize those lines helped me regain my sense of individuality and self-esteem.

Another benefit of having a good memory, it can also bring us to greater heights. How can I miss that benefit? When up to now, I still remember the amazing story of a sixty-six-year-old man, named Herminigildo Bardolasa. His memorization of six sets of alien card numbers, six sets of alpha-numeric passport numbers, six birthdays and six dates of migration to the United States of his entire household, along with all other important dates in his life, led him to the fulfillment of his life-long dream of American citizenship. (Roig)

I met and interviewed Bardolasa on May 31, 2008, during the Citizenship Fair at Honolulu Community College. I was one of the volunteer paralegals for Na Loio (now Honolulu Immigrant Justice Center, of the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii) and the office of the then Rep. Neil Abercrombie. Paired with a well-known Honolulu immigration attorney, Gary Singh, I assisted Bardolasa filling up his application form for naturalization. Singh and I were so impressed by Bardolasa’s keen memory, as he answered all our questions so spontaneously. We were entertained too with how Bardolasa recounted those dates, as if he were saying a litany that we ended up chuckling, which caught the reporters’ attention that led us being featured in the Honolulu Advertiser the following morning—thanks to Bardolasa’s exceptional memory! (Roig)

126428440_HowtoDevelopaGoodMemory In the professional world, many jobs these days require a great deal of memorization. For example, in medical science, doctors and nurses have to undergo “battery” memorization to diagnose and treat medical conditions. According to one of my cousin, who is a registered nurse, at school, when they have an exam, it is critical that they memorize medical terms. If there are computations involve, they must memorize the rules how to compute solutions, and they would surely get the answers. Likewise, in law, students could only answer essay questions if they memorize legal terms, citations, rules, and procedures. If they do not memorize, they would surely flunk and not graduate. Because the way they should reason out in most essay questions must always be supported by citations, rules, and procedures. Truly, most legal skills require “heavy” memorization too.

In the very in-demand field of information and technology, professionals and students must memorize coding and encryption to program and operate computers, softwares, and hardwares. For even these modern days, the computers still need us, humans, but only those who have good memory to operate them appropriately. Moreover, the built-in memory we have in our system can’t be compared to computer memory, for even without a memory chip neither, any programming (be technical or mechanical), we can memorize and remember things through our basic senses alone.

In arts, one actress even directly links her talent with her good memory: Marilu Henner, known for her role in the 1980 TV series Taxi, claimed the invaluable role of memory in her professional life. Henner gave credit to her memorization ability that could easily invoke emotions in her that she could effortlessly cry or laugh as required in the roles she portrayed. (Sukel)

Even in politics, there is a “screaming” notion that politicians are more convincing and believable, when they talk and give speeches without reading. Moreover, they must remember names of their volunteers, campaign leaders, and benefactors, or it could cause them serious consequences that could jeopardize their political future.

In rhetoric, it is quite tough for one to persuade either orally or written without a solid knowledge and memorization of (basic concept) any subject matter. The best example to this, is the “oops” moment of Republican presidential candidate, Texas Governor Rick Perry. During the GOP’s presidential debate, on November 9, 2011, where he lost the race and a chance to represent the GOP over former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, due to an embarrassing memory lapse.6a00d8341bf7f753ef014e8701e793970d-800wi

For regardless, if it was a memory lapse or a lucid interval (as some critics labeled it), it was very embarrassing for a political candidate to be on a debate, arguing for people’s votes and he missed his lines completely and struggled so hard to regain his memory in front of the crowd and his opponents. My mother even said, “Perry didn’t do his assignment! He didn’t memorize!”

In most offices, regardless of what types of business, from filing of documents and all other administrative work, even in matters of ethics, a good memory is required. For without memory, organization is simply impossible.

In accounting, which is my major, we ought to remember the T rule or the debit-credit rule to handle and ensure the sanctity of a company’s general ledger. In addition, we have to memorize the nature of every account (if it is an asset or a liability, or a revenue or an expense), or else, we might end up paying an account receivable and collect from accounts payable. Even in payroll, we have to remember every employee’s pay rate and terms (payday); otherwise, the company could get in trouble with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Even in our day-to-day task, for example in driving, as commute and transportation are important routines of our lives. Driving requires a great deal of memorization as well. For no one could secure a license without memorizing some traffic laws, traffic signs, and all rules of the road.

Finally, “memory is indeed life,” for we are surviving in this world through the invaluable help of our built-in memory. From the time we rise in the morning, until we retire at night, we do almost everything based from our memory. We even identify things and people based from our recollection. In fact, we cannot even identify ourselves without it. Moreover, in most fields or professions, good memory is even required. Therefore, it is not even a question of intelligence anymore. Rather, it is survival. Because losing memory, is worst than losing an arm, or a foot. For when we lose memory, we lose our minds, and losing mind signals losing life. For when we start losing memory, our system is signaling our health is deteriorating. For memory loss could be an indication of a life-threatening conditions like Alzheimer’s or dementia. Indeed, memories—the lights at the corners of our minds—are invaluable! Indeed, “memory is life” (Nora)!

Work Cited

Allen, Frederick E. “Perry’s Epic Fail: Much Worse Than Just ‘Oops!’.” Forbes.Com (2011):17. Business Source Premier. Web. 27 Feb. 2013.

Frank Rösler, et al. “Memory-Based Decision-Making with Heuristics: Evidence For AControlled Activation of Memory Representations.” Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience23.11 (2011): 3540-3554. Academic Search Premier. Web. 25 Feb. 2013.

Garcia-Lazaro, Haydee G., et al. “Neuroanatomy Of Episodic And Semantic Memory InHumans: A Brief Review of Neuroimaging Studies.” Neurology India 60.6 (2012): 613-617. Academic Search Premier. Web. 26 Feb. 2013.

Lilian Milnitsky Stein, et al. “Passwords Usage and Human Memory Limitations: A SurveyAcross Age And Educational Background.” Plos ONE 7.12 (2012): 1-7. Academic Search Premier. Web. 27 Feb. 2013

Nora, Pierre. “Between Memory and History: Les Lieux de Memoire.” Department of History, University of California, Santa Barbara. University of California, Santa Barbara. 1989. PDF file. Web. 27 Feb. 2013

Roig, Suzanne. “Immigrants Find Guidance Path to Citizenship.” Honolulu Advertiser.Honolulu Advertiser, 1 June 2008. Web. 26 Feb. 2013

Sukel, Kayt. “The Amazing Memory Marvels. (Cover Story).” New Scientist 215.2878(2012): 34-37. Academic Search Premier. Web. 26 Feb. 2013

Tai, Hue-Tam Ho. “Remember Realms: Pierre Nora And French National Memory.” American Historical Review 106.3 (2001): 906-922. Academic Search Premier.Web. 27 Feb. 2013.

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