Wednesday, November 14, 2007

HW 35: Last Blog Post

Dear Readers,

When I first realized that I would be maintaining my own blog for the whole semester I was worried. Reading and responding without a new technology is hard enough so I wasn’t really looking forward to it. I have learned blogging is real easy though and isn’t as bad as it sounded. I hope someone that reads my blog can understand what we have been learning in this ITW class. More specifically how blogs effected the time period when I was in college and issues that some of our readings has brought up such as the War in Iraq. The work I like the most that I have done on my site is the last few blogs that we have done pertaining Baghdad Burning. I feel like I’m real opinionated in my posta and have strong feelings on several of my points. After this class, I’m not sure what I’ll do with my blog but I know I won’t delete it. If anything it will serve as some work from my freshman year of college. Maybe if I go through a mid life crisis I can try to make money through my blog as many others have in the last couple of years. At this point I think I’m done. Peace.


-Joe

HW 34: Date Palms and Tea in Iraq

Date Palms are very important to the Iraqi people. All parts of the tree are nice to look at to locals and foreigners, and are very useful. In the summer months the palms “provide hundreds of dates for immediate consumption, storage, or processing” (Riverbend, 104). There are over 300 type of dates and very few people don’t’ enjoy they. They are used to make syrups, sweets, seasoning, and drinks. All parts of the palm tree are helpful including the fronds, leaves, and even the palms. Riverbend likes to use date pits to make necklaces, belts and rosaries. More importantly Iraqis view these trees as part of their family. Through out Iraq “palm trees have represented the rugged, stoic, beauty of Iraq and its people are a reminder that no matter how difficult the circumstances, there is hope for life and productivity”(Riverbend 105). It is clear that these plants represent more than trees along the street. When several of them were knocked down farmers and kids alike are devastated by US troops actions as Riverbend saw. Evening tea in Iraq is a time for family and friends to come together and relax and talk about issues going on. Iraqis take their tea serious and would most likely be insulted if you brought out a tea bag. It is a time to talk about all of the terror and politics suffocating their country. In the post Riverbend and others speak out Turkish troops and issues involving that.

HW: Response to a Podcast

The title pf the podcast that I viewed was called “Iraqi Teens Work to Help Their Families”. The series that this podcast is a part of is called “Alive in Baghdad” and was published October 15th of this year, here is the link:
http://aliveinbaghdad.org/2007/10/15/iraqi-teens-work-to-help-their-families. The general topic of this podcast is how many Iraqi teenagers are forced to work and find a craft in order to support their families. Three kids are presented aging from 6th grade to college. Hussein Kamal, a 15-year-old boy picked up Furniture Painting from his brother and also learned carpentry as a child. The trip to work with his father should take a half hour he says, but due to traffic jams and killings it takes over an hour. Due to the war the route is not secure and they often have to work from home. The scenery in the podcast is the back of a house and is setup like a workshop. The kid’s work pretty much on dirt and the houses they live in do not look very luxurious at all. Some one might learn how scarce jobs are in Iraq right now and how the unemployment rate has risen to 50%. The video doesn’t compare to other videos I have seen of Iraq because the kids seem disgusted and exhausted of their every day lives. The most memorable thing from this podcast would have to be the underlying message that all of the kids want all surrounding countries to stop supporting terrorism and how mature these three young adults are.

HW 32: Shopping for School Supplies

After Reading Riverbend’s posts from September through October the topic I decided to summarize is Shopping for school supplies. Riverbend goes with her cousin and his wife, S., to shop for school supplies for their two daughters. Prior to the invasion of US troops the two young girls would go to the store and pick out the school supplies they liked. Now that the danger of abduction is present the girls have to stay back and it is left to Riverbend and S. to pick out the supplies they think the girls would like. Ironically all the notebooks have American themes such as Barbie and Winnie the Pooh. Riverbend picks out which themes she thinks the respective girls would like and strawberry erasers. Prior to the war this was a time for excitement for young kids in Iraq, but now parents including Riverbend’s cousin and S. worry constantly about the security of their children. Riverbend remembers how she loved to see the kids walk to school in their uniforms. This year and many more to come will not be anywhere close to that. Her cousin will walk his two daughters to school protected by a “pistol at his waist” (Riverbend pg 96). This eerie image shows how drastically the country has been altered by the invasion of the US.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

HW 31: Donald Rumsfeld

After reading the assigned reading in Baghdad Burning the person I decided to look up was Donald Rumsfeld. Many times I have been watching the news or flipping through channels and have heard Rumsfeld’s name mentioned along with the Iraqi war. Although I was confident he is our present Secretary of Defense I knew little to nothing else about him. I learned that he served in the same position during Gerald Ford’s presidency. He is both the youngest and oldest man to ever hold that position and first to be the secretary of defense for two non-consecutive terms. Rumsfeld even held positions under the infamous Nixon cabinet. He is respected but he is considered to be very controversial. His most recent and most notable actions took place following 9/11. He heightened security levels to absurd heights and brought fright throughout the country. He eventually linked the war against terrorism into Iraq backing the amount of money and troops we have spent as a country. The criticism of Rumsfeld led to his resignation in November of 2006. He is another link in Bush’s administration that is considered a failure. In the book Rumsfeld is mentioned in Riverbend’s on September 6, 2003 when he visited Iraq. Riverbend puts her thoughts very simply, “To Hell with Him”(Riverbend pg 51). She explains how he is pampered during his time in Iraq and that he’ll go back to America and tell the citizens that there is no chaos and no lack of water and electricity, which all is very false. He visits at a time when Iraqis are suffering the most.

HW 30: Citizenship Symposium

The citizenship symposium that we attended was a set number of lectures here at Keene State College that took on issues in our everyday lives. Voting Fairness: The first session that I attended was called “Voting Theory and the Questions of Fairness”. The name of the speaker was Vincent Ferlini, who is a mathematics professor here at Keene State. The main topic of this session was about voting and which methods are most effective in our society. Although at times the talk seemed somewhat bland, Ferlini touched on which methods of voting are the most fair if they are at all. The most interesting thing I learned would have to be many of our local and national elections hold the majority vote higher than the most first place votes. On the other hand, one thing that Ferlini said was,”We tend to vote majority rules, but sometimes it doesn’t always work that way”. This statement proves that the fairness and/or unfairness of voting is quite debatable. Animation in Politics and Society: The second session that I attended consisted of three Keene State professors, Jiwon Ahn, Sander Lee, and Mark Timney. The title of this one was called “Animation as Political and Social Constructions”. Ahn was the first to speak and she taught us about Japanese anime art and how it is affecting society throughout the world. She mainly spoke about how this new popular art are portraying females. Sander Lee took the podium next and questioned how American citizens saw Nazi Germany through cartoons during World War II. He showed us clips of Donald Duck and Bugs Bunny how they compared and contrast the creator’s views on the Nazi’s and Hitler. The underlining point he made is that the cartoons and propaganda showed that the United States was really the only chance to stop Hitler. The final speaker, Mark Timney, showed us an episode of South Park and explained how the satire cartoon showed us how to be model citizens. The cartoon, although controversial, takes on moral issues and questions human nature and ethics. A quote from Timney that really stood out to me was “We didn’t do our Homework” which put the episode that we watched into context. The most interesting thing I learned from this session was that cartoons and animation could really reflect people’s thoughts and ideas.

HW 28: An Open Letter to Riverbend

Dear Riverbend,
After reading your posts throughout August in Baghdad Burning I have seen an entire new side of the War in Iraq. I am firmly against the war but prior to reading your book I really was only concerned about our troops and losses that they were facing. Your insights made me realize that what the troops are going through is by no means fair or just but it does not compare to what Iraqi civilians are going through on a daily basis. At the beginning of the war I was an arrogant and na├»ve American thinking justice had to be served and Saddam Hussein and Iraq had to be taken down. It is clear that you, and many other Iraqi’s knew what kind of disaster lay ahead. I gained the up most respect for you when you mentioned you do not hate American troops at all times because the majority of those young men are just like me and don’t think what their doing is right. I cannot imagine being in your shoes and having someone invade my hometown and waking up to gunshots and explosions. Being scared or worried to step outside of your own house and losing a job you loved for postwar reasons is something I most likely will never will experience. Your blogs have opened my eyes and I will never think of the war in Iraq the same. Your intelligence is far beyond the average American, and you have my sympathy, as the civilians of Iraq just want their everyday lives back.
-Joe

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

HW 25: Leading Up to Riverbend's Blog

Reading the foreword and introduction in Riverbend’s Baghdad Burning gives you a great idea of what to expect from the author and what was happening years before the invasion of US troops. In the foreword Ahdaf Soueif paints a picture of reason behind Riverbend’s Blog and expresses what people outside of Iraq can understand from reading the posts that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to grasp. Soueif interprets the book, “ What they do lack is the voice of an “ordinary Iraqi, resident in Iraq, to tell us what the invasion feels like. This is the function that Baghdad Burning fulfills uniquely and with power and elegance”(Soueif pg ix). The introduction is much more history based and supply facts of what leads up to the invasion of Iraq in March 2003. James Ridgeway explains what issues were affecting Iraq politically and culturally and how they correlated with Riverbend’s life. He helps explain some of the more difficult terminology that the reader may come across once delving into the blog itself. Ridgeway gives information that informative Americans already know and lets Riverbend take over and give her side of the story. When the US invaded Iraq I was a freshman in high school with little to no political background or opinion. I had sided with our president and thought war was the right option. As the war progressed and my knowledge grows I find myself condemning the war and now greatly disagree with every aspect of it. My senior year was when I began learning the names that Ridgeway mentions and now I have the understanding of the issues and events that he conveys in the introduction.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

HW 27: Baghdad Burning Intro

Riverbend. Baghdad Burning. New York, NY: Feminist Press at the City University of New York, 2005. This book is perfect for the Blog of One’s Own course because it shows how technology and blogs in particular can empower women all over the world. The author is a 24-year-old female Iraqi that survived the invasion of Iraq. She refers to her self as Riverbend and does not reveal her real name. She begins her own blog as a way to vent and with out realizing it, her blog becomes much more. Riverbend gives an ethical and political view of inside of Iraq that is impossible to see here in the United States. Women in Iraq are oppressed by fundamentalist making this book that much more powerful. The benefits are endless; the biggest is helping educate Americans about the Middle East. As she mentions in her second post most Americans are ignorant and believe that no Iraqi’s can speak English or have any kind of Internet access. This book can help break down cultural borders. Challenges that are presented are the detail to names, places, and religion In order to follow with the blogging you must know what is going on over in Iraq.