Two Hundred And Seventy Two Words

Recently in class we’ve been writing speeches on our view on what to do with Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the younger brother of the pair that were behind the Boston Bombing. The sides provided are putting him to death and giving him the death penalty, which he received, and not killing him. At first, I was very torn between the two. I started off leaning very slightly towards the death side, but as I read more and more about the case, I began to lean very heavily towards the Life side, and in the end I firmly stand that he should not be executed.

The whole speech started with a visit from Mr. Jahnsen, a lawyer in my town, where he presented a mimic of the Boston Bombing, involving Jabar and Ismal Smith instead of the Tsarnaevs. He spoke on the act of speaking, and told us our speeches must be no longer than the Gettysburg Address, which is only 272 words. He also said these speeches must lie firmly on one side of the argument, which was a problem for me as I was very torn between both sides. He also taught about the three ingredients to a speech: Ethos, Pathos, and Logos.

To keep it short, Ethos is the credibility that the speaker holds when speaking. For example, a person speaking on an issue has some strength behind their words if they have had a background working in or with this issue, or even against. Pathos is an emotional connection, the quality of drawing out the emotional side of humans. For example, a speaker speaking on a topic of loss holds great pathos because loss is something we all feel and feel in great amounts. Logos, on the other hand, is the logical side. That’s the side that ignores emotion and speaks about what is correct, and not right. For example, the greatest speaker to employ the power of Logos is clearly the man, the myth, the legend: Spock. Spock both thinks and speaks using Logos instead of Pathos.

When looking back on my speech, using the great power of Hindsight, I’m looking at what has made my speech powerful, on it’s own and compared to the other speeches given and done. And the first thing that pops into my head is the primary reason for my decisions. The packet we were given, and many of the opinions on the actual issue, cited the reason that Jabar, or Tsarnaev, should go to prison because prison is a worse punishment. My reason for sending him to prison is this, “What does it say about us when we would rather kill a person rather than take on the responsibility of rehabilitating them?” In the end, what makes my speech powerful is the same reason that makes it different, I’m not thinking about making him suffer pain, but rather thinking about helping him understand what was wrong about his actions.

And this difference in my thoughts compared to my contemporaries is what I love about my speech, possibly because it makes me unique. Or rather, unique enough. (There is one other person who speaks on the idea of not throwing him in prison to put him in pain.) But anyway, what makes me proud of my speech is how I’m not actually speaking on why Jabar deserves to go to prison, but rather how he doesn’t deserve to make us submit to our anger.

Ultimately, this experience was challenging to me as I had a great challenge finding a side and sticking to it. Although I don’t go into detail on how far I would swing between both sides, and constantly redraft on that side, I can summarize it by comparing to a pendulum, in that it was a continuously switching at a regular pace. One moment I was sure that death was what should happen. Just let it be over. The next I was sure that life was what was right. Why respond to anger with anger? Even when it’s done, and all 272 words have been said, there are still anther 272 words that are waiting to come out. Those words may talk about how he deserves to die, or maybe they’ll give more reasons why he deserves to live. Who knows? Who knows what the next 272 words will say?

An Analysis of “Crystals”

Recently, the band Of Monsters and Men released the lyric video for the their new song from their upcoming album, Beneath the Skin. The song, entitled “Crystals”, captured me from the very first line, for a multitude of reasons. Possibly the most important being the beautiful imagery the song has, combined with it’s very sad music and vocal tone. I had loved Of Monsters and Men before, but this is the song which has made them one of my favorite bands ever. In fact, I loved the lyrics of the song so much and the whole tone it sets that I couldn’t resist taking a bit of a closer look at the song. And this is my analysis of it.

The song’s music is very percussion focused, with a heavy focus on the vocal aspects of it. This alone creates a very solemn and serious feel. When the lyrics kick in (there isn’t much of an intro) they just enhance that sadness. The first two lines create a very beautiful scene, incredibly poetic lyrics.

“Lost in skies of powdered gold
Caught in clouds of silver ropes.”

To start off with looking at these two lines, they set up feelings of hopelessness and loneliness as well. Although there is beauty in being alone in the air, high up there with no ground around, it would also be very lonely. It’s just you for miles and miles, and your only companion is the sun, which colors the whole world yellow. As well, this comparing clouds to ropes is interesting as well, as it adds this idea that there’s no getting out of it. Another interesting thing the band does is use both gold and silver. Both are precious metals, often considered valuable and beautiful. This sort of use beautiful things contrasts with the sadness of the lost and caught parts.

“Showered by the empty hopes
As I tumble down, falling fast to the ground.”

These two lines reveal a bit more about the emotions that are being portrayed in the song. First of all, the person was led to believe that everything wouldn’t been okay. They had a false hope that either themselves or others kept feeding to them, making feel no need to address the situation and the problems arising. As, well it goes from seeming suspended in air to falling fast, which brings up the emotions of hopelessness again but also throws in confusion. After all, free falling with no control is clearly something that would mess you up, as all sense of direction is thrown to the wind, literally.

“I know I’ll wither so peel away the bark
Because nothing grows when it is dark.”

Pre-analysis I would have said the chorus is my favorite part, but now I have to say that these lines are my favorite for how much emotion and meaning is packed into them. These two lines are the opening to the pre-chorus. And they bring in some interesting elements. All of the sudden there’s this acceptance of the fact that things aren’t going so well, and that we all die in the end. It suggests the idea of keeping nothing suppressed because then it can’t grow and spread. Although these lines continue this story the song is setting, they advance this story because before it was all about how messed up this person’s life is. In these two lines, they sort of face the fact that there life is messed up but that there ins’t a point in dwelling on it because it’s just keeping your life dark, and you can’t grow if it’s dark.

“In spite of all my fears, I can see it all so clear
I see it all so clear.”

The previous two lines advanced the story, and these really advance it. The person is saying that they’re afraid to open themselves up and stop dwelling on all the bad things, but even though they’re scared of doing it they also realize that it is what’s best for them. They finally understand how to face their problems and live better.

“Cover your crystal eyes
And feel the tones that tremble down your spine.”

The person is saying that if you just try to stop seeing all the bad things in life, and let emotion flow and take it’s course. The idea that the eyes are crystal means that they’re transparent, and you just see right through them. Don’t let all the bad things of the world come in through them, and instead just feel all the good emotions and moments life can bring. It’s a very big message for a song to send, and the second half of the chorus just enhances it.

“Cover your crystal eyes
And let your colours bleed and blend with mine.”

Once again, stop letting all the bad things into you, and open up to the good things in life. Besides just feeling the good emotions that you might have, also try to let your emotions be with, and for others. Life isn’t meant to be lived alone, and let the happiness of others and the bright colours become part of you and make you happier.

“Making waves in pitch black sand
Feel the salt dance on my hands.”

I’m not really sure exactly what these two lines mean, my best guess is that they represent some of idea of finding joy in the smaller things of life, but that doesn’t really fit with the rest of the verse. My other idea is that the two lines represent a sort of impossibility, with the fact that you can’t make waves in sand, and that salt doesn’t dance. And when there’s something impossibly that also means that it’s hopeless to attempt it. So it’s possible that the two lines represent another sort of homeliness. If you have a better idea of what they mean feel free to post in a comment.

“Raw and charcoal coloured thighs feel so cold
And my skin feels so paper-thin.”

Let’s move onto some lyrics of a language that I can speak. Like these two lines, which are the lines which make me think that the previous two lines are more about hopelessness than happiness. So, it’s clear that the speaker has had a rough time time in life. They’re seem tired and they feel weak and the skin is raw because it’s still regrowing. Paper-thin obviously means that they feel weak and easily hurt as paper is not known for being the strongest material out there. Really, these two lines show us how the speaker is feeling about their strength and that they aren’t very confident.

“I know I’ll wither so peel away the bark
Because nothing grows when it is dark
In spite of all my fears, I can see it all so clear
I see it all so clear.”

Once again, the pre-chorus means the same thing that it did before.

“Cover your crystal eyes
And feel the tones that tremble down your spine
Cover your crystal eyes
And let your colours bleed and blend with mine.”

Same with the actual chorus, as it still means what it meant the first time. But next we have the bridge, which does have more analyzing to do with it.

“But I’m okay in see-through skin
I forgive what is within.”

These two lines are the speaker coming to terms with their faults as a person. Yeah, they feel lost in the world and hopeless but they understand that people have bad times. This idea of see-through skin means that people see who they truly are. The speaker has realized that if they aren’t honest that they’re keeping the inside dark and nothing can grow. Once they realized that they opened up to the outside world and also opened up to themselves. They aren’t putting on a mask and presenting a person they aren’t, but rather just being who they are. Before, they were embarrassed about their faults but now they accept the fact they people have faults and make mistakes.

“Because I’m in this house
I’m in this home
All my time.”

This second half of the bridge just reinforces the first part. You can’t leave your body and get a new one. For your entire life, you’ll be living inside of the house that is your body. So why hate yourself for your faults and mistakes, whether physical or mental, when you can’t change them? Everyone has faults, for all of their time they’ll have to deal with them as well. We are all in this house of our body and mind. There is no leaving, for all of our time.

“Cover your crystal eyes
And feel the tones that tremble down your spine.
Cover your crystal eyes
And let your colours bleed and blend with mine.”

So, why not just accept it? If we can’t leave our mind and body, and therefore our faults and mistakes, then we should just live with them. There’s no point in dwelling on the dark parts of our life, instead we should just let the happy emotions flow through ourself from ourself and from others. Life is meant to be lived, and nothing grows when it is dark.

If you have any other interpretations of the song’s lyrics, feel free to post them in the comments. There is no one correct way to determine what a lyric means, it’s all subjective. I would love to see what other people find in these incredible, descriptive, and beautiful lyrics. Here’s a link to the lyrics on A-Z Lyrics.




Understanding The World Through Games

A game dealing with the era of European dominance, starting at the Ottoman victory over the christian alliance at Varna, and ending with the death of Napoleon. It deals with colonization, the rise of empires, and the creation of the first great powers in the world. Copyright Paradox Interactive, Used With Permission

A Game Dealing With the era of history spanning from the death of Napoleon to the first world war, involving the race for the control of Africa, Industrialization, and Modernization. Copyright Paradox Interactive, Used With Permission

If you were to ask me to tell you my top five favorite games, the top four would lie in a genre called Grand Strategy 4X games. Grand Strategy refers to games which place you in control of a country and all it’s assets, ranging from it’s economy to it’s military aspects of it’s government. 4X would refer to games which involve the 4X’s: eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, and eXterminate. However, as the physics based game Portal can be used to help students understand properties of physics, history based games can be used to help students understand history.

Before I continue any further, I must first state a very important fact-Neither of those games are racist, religist, or sexist. I am dispelling this possible assumption because both games take place in era’s where racism, religism, and sexism were commonplace, and therefore such things will be found even though they try very hard to mitigate the inclusion of these things. In fact, Paradox recently released a free add-on to Europa Universalis 4 dedicated to important women in history, to celebrate International Women’s Day which occurs on March 8th. I myself celebrated that day by reading my favorite parts of Pride and Prejudice again.

Anyway, disclaimer done with we can now continue forward. So let me explain how these games work: You stare at a map and command every asset of a nation or kingdom. These can range from the nations influence on trade over the world, to it’s military troops invading a foreign country. It sound pretty boring, but I have to admit there’s an intense satisfaction the feeling you have early game when your still weak and trying to assert yourself and then late game when your a powerful nation that has the strongest military in the world, the best economy, and control over land ranging from China to Canada.

Let me start with describing Europa Universalis 4. The game begins at a multitude of historical bookmarks, with the land countries possess control over being based on history. As the game goes on, history won’t always be followed perfectly. Although, the game tries to make the world follow the real path it took as much as it can without forcing it. It does this by assigning nations unique missions reflecting actual things that nation did to complete. Other ways it does this is by unique events. Events are decisions that are presented to the nation that tell historical events. Nations are also presented with decisions to decide. These are things which require specific requirements to take, but are historical decisions that nation did do. For example, you could play as the Ottoman Empire in the year 1444 and take a mission to conquer the center of the world, Constantinople. Historically, the Ottoman Empire did conquer Constantinople, and then move the capital of the empire to the city renaming it Istanbul. That same decision can be taken in Europa Universalis 4. Afterwards, events might happen which make you decide to renovate the Hagia Sophia, which was a eastern orthodox church, into a mosque. Another event might happen which presents with the option to destroy the orthodox patriarchy. Both of these are things that the Ottoman Empire did do. As well, by playing as the Ottoman Empire you can learn a lot about their history. So after playing as a couple of nations you could know a lot about history and also geography from staring at maps for countless hours.

I mean, I knew nothing about the inner workings of Islam before I started playing Europa Univeraslis 4. Now I know quite a bit about it, and that there are multiple sects of it. There’s a lot you can learn about both history and geography by playing these games, and I would recommend to people who like games like Civilization or other stuff like that. History can be fun, you just have to live it.

Finish The Story!

@Tomska, used with permission.

Oh my god…I was just walking one day when suddenly a cliff just formed in front of me. I went over it, falling for a second before I started moving up, saying, “Oh, okay.”Sometimes, life is just so confusing.

As I was flying through the air, going nowhere in particular I wondered, “Why is this happening?”The sun was rising over the horizon, it’s light brilliant in my eyes! Flying through the air, I realized what I wanted to do with my life. I wanted to…

Recycle and Repeat

So, I have discovered that Carly Rae Jepsen is making a comeback. Her new album, featuring the incredible sugary song “I Really Like You”, is produced by the producer Max Martin. Max Martin, if you don’t know, has produced and co-wrote almost every hit by Katy Perry, and 1989 by Taylor Swift. That’s the reason I know she’s coming back, she’s got this behemoth behind her.

But besides, “I Really Like You” really plays on her sugary voice and the most powerful tool in a pop stars arsenal- Repetition. When something repeats, it’s gets stuck in our mind far more often. That’s the fundamental difference between Poetry and Songwriting, there is a chorus in songs, there is not often a chorus in poetry. Although don’t get me wrong, the best poems repeat in ways you don’t notice the first time.

But anyway, I want to talk about songs right now, not poetry. “I Really Like You”, which is true if you’re reading this by the way, repeats the phrase “…really like you.”Eleven times. But besides that, the word really is used 67 times in the whole song, which lasts three and a half minutes. This is the same reason “Call Me Maybe”was such a huge success, it really played on the power of repetition.

And this is what I want to talk about, repetition. Why does repetition have such a profound effect on us remembering things? If you didn’t remember something the first time, what are the chances repeating it over and over again will cement it into your mind? Think about it this way-You’re walking into a wall over and over again. All that’s happening is you’re hitting that wall and bouncing off. Then, all of the sudden you just pass right through that wall. What!? How does that make any sense?

People can’t walk through walls! Trying over and over again doesn’t change the result. Or does it? Each time you hit that wall, you chip off a very small part of it. Given time, a person could walk through a wall, but in the process they would have destroyed it. So, each time you repeat something, you chip away at what’s blocking from remembering it. Given time, you break through.

Repetition breaks into our minds, simple. This is why speeches often employ the recurring phrase. “I have a dream…I have a dream…I have a dream.”It keeps on coming, and it pushes in there. “Call Me Maybe”Was so catchy because it was very effective at slaughtering the wall. And this has been a minor analyzing of why Carly Rae Jepsen is going to be so successful in the upcoming years.


Strength and Perseverance

“Turtles carry their homes on their back. They’re exposed and hidden at the same time. They’re a symbol of strength and perseverance.”-Molly Ayer, Orphan Train. (88)

Christina Baker Kline’s most recent novel, Orphan Train, is a brilliant work of fiction founded on a part of American history which isn’t very talked about. The infamous Orphan Trains, as they were affectionally called, carried orphans from the east coast to settlements in the midwest. The Orphan Trains ended in 1929, partly due to a more centralized form of orphan raising and partly due to the stock market crash which would later lead to the Great Depression.

Orphan Train tells three stories. The first is the story of Molly Ayer, an orphan who has been passed from house to house. Molly is shy, resentful, and bitter. She is afraid to grow close to people because she knows she will lose them. Most importantly, however, is that she is a thief. Molly attempts to steal the novel Jane Eyre from the library. She is caught, and is given an ultimatum, either she is to serve 50 hours of community service or she goes to Juvy.

Her only friend, a boy named Jack, convinces his mother to convince her employer to let Molly serve her hours at an old woman’s house, cleaning her attic out. This leads into the second story. Vivian Daly, the old woman, is one of the girls who rode the last Orphan Trains. She was a young Irish immigrant to New York who was sent west to a future that no one could predict, and later in life she settled in Maine.

And then there is the third story being told, the story of the relationship formed between the two. The book is the tale of two stories intermingling to form one story. Throughout the book, Molly and Vivian become true friends, finding places to bond even though there is a massive age difference. For Molly, she’s lived a life having no one that understands what a life of constant moving is like. She finds this understanding in Vivian, and Vivian gains something from this relationship.

Vivian starts to recall her past while they are clearing out the attic, and this is the best part of the novel. This is where the novel morphs from the tale of a troubled teen to a tale of finding family.

If I had to describe the novel in a sentence, it would be this: A heart plucking tale of two orphans finding a family with each other and accepting their past. I believe the novel is about family more than anything else. “…people who matter in our lives stay with us, haunting our most ordinary moments. They’re with us in the grocery store, as we turn a corner, chat with a friend. They rise up through the pavement; we absorb them through our soles.” (177) There is nothing more important than having people who matter to you in life.

Both Molly and Vivian lost their family, and the two have formed their own little family. And there is one other thing they both know, how knowing too much at a young age causes people to adopt a false persona. Although they feel broken inside, they learn to look like everyone else. They learn to display empathy they do not feel. “And so your personality is shaped. You know too much, and this knowledge makes you wary. You grow fearful and mistrustful. The expression of emotion does not come naturally, so you learn to fake it. To pretend.” (170)

Molly is broken inside. In fact, she adopts a new persona every house she goes to. When she  accepts that she is most likely moving again, she even thinks about what new persona she will take. “…start over with a new, easier-to-maintain look. Grunge? Sex kitten?” (5) I believe when a person wonders what face they will display to the public, especially faces which others aren’t likely to want to get close to, it reveals a lonely aspect about them. There’s a bit of irony there. The people who act like someone they aren’t in order to scare people away are the loneliest?

But it’s true! The novel makes this very clear. Molly, at the start, is pretending to be a goth. Now, most people don’t choose to hang around with goths when they aren’t goths. But at the same time, Molly admits that she is lonely, “My entire life has felt like chance. Random moments of loss and connection. This is the first one that feels, instead, like fate.” (235)

In the words of Emily Dickinson, “A wounded deer leaps the highest.”Both Molly and Vivian have been wounded by the turmoil of their upbringings. They both carry emotional scars, and Vivian helps Molly to deal with the problems she has already faced. Vivian tells Molly, “I learned long ago that loss is not only probable but inevitable. I know what it means to lose everything, to let go of one life and find another.” (246)

“Time constricts and flattens, you know. It’s not evenly weighted. Certain moments linger in the mind and others disappear.” (176) Perhaps I will not remember the name of Vivian’s teacher, perhaps I will not remember the town Vivian went to, perhaps I will not remember the number of hours Molly spent cleaning the attic. But I will remember the story of Vivian, I will remember the turtle Molly wears and it’s meaning, but most of all, I will remember Orphan Train.



Starfleet Capri

A couple of days ago, I was just playing some games with my friends. I had taken a break from shooting all the bad guys to play the game of Minecraft, a game about placing and breaking blocks. I was looking through many of my saves from earlier times, and I came across one which brought back fond memories of a time long ago. It was named, “Starfleet Capri.”

At first, I didn’t recognize the name. However, I chose to check it out as I was pretty bored at the time, and then I discovered an entire world created out of blocks, and signs on a wall. Let me explain, it turns out that at sometime in my life, I had spent countless hours building five, gigantic spaceships which didn’t actually do anything but sit there. I knew they were spaceships because the signs said, “Welcome to Cerily Station, home of Starfleet Capri.” Cerily is my persona which I use on the internet, even more confirmation of the fact that everything here is completely mine.

I started to wonder, what in the world could cause a person to spend so much time creating things that no one else will ever see? And then I realized-maybe someone will see them. Or even better, maybe you’ll see them again, and then you’ll look back on the person you were then and you’ll realize something about yourself.

I was still looking around as I realized these things, and then I discovered something. Tucked away in a corner, hidden underwater as well, was this little room which was just filled with signs all over the walls. When I found it, I actually felt like I was an explorer who had just found ancient ruins that no one had seen in decades. Looking at the walls, I discovered the whole history of Starfleet Capri, which is actually a reference to Battlestar Galactica and has links to another Minecraft world that I have. I also found out the names of each of the five ships, as well as the name of a sixth ship which didn’t seem to exist.

The moment was incredible, I was actually looking at my past and what I was then. When you think about, you aren’t the person you’re were two years. Literally. Your body cell’s are completely replaced every seven to ten years. Consider that, in ten years you will literally be a different person.

Anyway, I got to thinking why people want to leave legacies, why they feel the need to leave a mark on the world. I decided people leave legacies so they can be remembered. So then I asked myself, “Do these ships count as part of the legacy I have left so far? Do they matter in any way to me? Is there anything I can learn from them?”

There’s a line in the novel Orphan Train, by Christina Baker Klinewhen the main character Molly is helping an old woman “clear” out her attic. Vivian, the old women says when they begin, “I suppose this is why people have children, isn’t it?”She muses. “So somebody will care about the stuff they leave behind.”(52)And maybe that’s also the answer to why people want to leave legacies. So someone, anyone, will care about the stuff they left behind.

It’s odd how you find things you had as a child, things which you no longer remember. When you look at stars, you’re actually looking at the stars light from maybe billions of years ago. The past is all around us actually. But, you don’t realize it until it’s something personal.


The Little Red Wheelbarrow

Recently, as snow still covered the grounds of New Jersey, I had been driving in the car with my mother. We were racing along the highway, the images around us passing by as if they meant nothing but a brief, fleeting image. The thousands of stories that these tree’s could tell, or the animals that live life in these woods are raced by as if we have some greater purpose. However, no story stuck with me more than the sight of a small, toy wheelbarrow lodged in the snow at the side of the road. How did it get there? What is the story that that wheelbarrow could tell me, what has it seen?

It was a brief, fleeting moment. I only saw it for little more than a second, but it was a second well worth it. Such a wheelbarrow and such a moment might be discounted as nothing, just an odd thought some student had. But, it’s more than that.

“So much depends

“A red wheel

“Glazed with rain

“Besides the white

Except, replace rain with snow, and chickens with road. And although it may seem that the red wheelbarrow abandoned at the side of the road means nothing, perhaps it does mean something to someone. Maybe the story is that there was a lone wheelbarrow sitting bravely against the cold, waiting for some child to find it. It’s lonely, but still strong. The story of the wheelbarrow could be a happy story of strength and perseverance.

I don’t think it is a happy story though, no matter how warming that story would feel. Personally, seeing the wheelbarrow was this beautiful thing when it happened, and it still is. But it was also sad. There’s this red wheelbarrow stuck in the snow at the side of the road, and cars race by and ignore. All it is a passing glimpse a child catches as their parent is too busy rushing to their destination, and enjoy the fact that are these little red wheelbarrows on the side of the road. Little red wheelbarrows, which you only notice when you slow down and take a breather. Little red wheelbarrow, that could mean so much. Little red wheelbarrows, which mean so much more than the brief, fleeting glimpse you caught of them.

The Power of Analyzing Lyrics

I used to think that all it took to understand something was to read it a couple of times. Oh, how wrong I was.

Nowadays, I don’t believe you can understand anything without taking a close look at it. Nothing rings truer than with song lyrics, especially pop songs. There’s a pretty simple reason why. Pop songs often feature a single chorus that occupies the whole song, with space in between often being filled with the most important part of the song. For example, let’s take a look at “Cool Kids” the recent hit from Echosmith. The main line which you hear is, “I wish that I could be like the cool kids, cause all the cool kids they seem to fit in.”Anyway hearing the song without playing close attention to the lyrics past the chorus would miss the, “They’re driving fast cars, but they don’t know where they’re going.” Now I chose this song for a special reason. The chorus alone would leave you to believe you have to be a cool kid, but the rest of the song suggests otherwise. The idea that not being a cool kid isn’t good is not the message of the song, which is trying to send the opposite message. However, without looking at the lyrics you would likely miss that message.

The problem with “Cool Kids” is the fault of Echosmith, their chorus was poorly chosen considering that people nowadays are incacable of seeing sarcasm. Great lyricists understand the importance of not only having good lyrics, but presenting them in a good manner. Presenting information in a good maner is not a new thing, but for centuries speakers have spoken clearly and slowly to make sure they get their point across.

Moving away from “Cool Kids”, I want to adress my main point. A song can not be understood until you have anaylized it’s lyrics. One of my personal favorite lyricists is Danny O’Donoghue, frontman and lead singer of the band The Script. Danny may be the band’s singer, but his actual métier is his power to tell a story. In the end, it’s the lyrics that set the mood and the instruments that complement the lyrics. My favorite song by The Script is a recent one on their new album No Sound Without Silence. The song is entitled No Good in Goodbye, which not only exemplifies Danny’s lyrical prowess, but also tells a story. I think saying “I can’t take the ache from heartbreak” is pretty beautiful, right alongside, “the silent “hell” in a wish you well.”Without looking at the lyrics, you’re likely to miss those incredible lines which the mind does’t pick up. And also, examining the lyrics would be likely to help identify the meaning of a song. However, since different people might find different meanings, we couldn’t be sure how effective analyzing lyrics is.

Unless, of course, the writer of the song revealed it’s meaning, or the meaning is blatantly obvious. A song with a meaning that is blatantly obvious would probably be something like, “Imagine” by John Lennon. We all know the song. We all know it’s meaning, but how much better can we understand the world John Lennon is seeing if we look closely at the song? Try it for yourself, see what happens.

But here’s a real question, how much of a song do people remember of it if they only hear it? Consider this, how much meaning is lost if you only listen to a song compared to reading a song? Now, the question can be simplified to how valuable is reading over hearing? So, in order to find the answer, we look to science. And science says… “…that reading and listening are strikingly similar cognitive processes. For example, a 1985 study found listening comprehension correlated strongly with reading comprehension…” Wow, slow down! Science says that analyzing lyrics has no purpose? Apparently, but this is assuming you can correctly hear the words of the song!

Taylor Swift’s new album 1989 had a song called “Blank Space” which features the line, “Gotta love those Starbucks lovers,” At least, most people would swear that’s what they’re hearing. The actual line is,  “Got a long list of ex lovers.” Now, I understand “gotta” and “got a”, but how do you mishear “list of ex” as “Starbucks?” Well, one theory is that the brain hears what it wants to hear, because no one would expect Taylor Swift to admit to her list of ex lovers. But, that’s not what I want to focus on. One important factor science doesn’t account for is how it’s spoken. Oh, and by the way the quote I used about listening and reading comprehension is about audio books compared to normal books. The person writing found that each had their benefits, but I’m gonna let you come to your opinion. Read the article for yourself.

Just click here: Is Listening to Audio Books Really the Same as Reading?

Anyway, back to the topic at hand. If we want an accurate answer, we need to account for how the singer chooses to sing the song, because it’s not only about speaking but how it’s spoken. So, if it’s possible to mishear “list of ex” as “Starbucks,” then I think there is only one conclusion to be made. Analyzing lyrics is valuable, because you gain a deeper understanding of the song’s meaning and see lines you might have missed when hearing it. So, before you judge a song with your eyes, make sure you’ve judged it with your eyes.



Why Women Aren’t Going Into STEM Fields

I’ve taken a lot of outside school writing classes, a lot of creative classes. I never really noticed that all of them were more or less dominated by the female part of the group. Or rather, it isn’t that I didn’t notice this fact, but rather that it didn’t seem an important matter. What did it matter if the current generation of females happened to be more interested in visual and performing arts? Little did I know, it was an issue in what all children see as “The Adult World”So far away, yet approaching so fast.

It all started in one of the most chill places to be, Spanish Class. On a day when the spanish teacher, Mrs.Goodman, happened to absent and there was a guest teacher. And as fate sometime decrees, a certain Bridget happened to pop into the classroom. Bridget declared as she entered the room, “Oh hey Ms. Rossy, so I am the only girl in my photoshop class today!” I chuckled a bit at that, for as I’ve mentioned, I’ve taken a lot of classes where I am the only boy, or one of the three. I remembered something then, a fleeting glimpse of a topic on the list of 200 argumentative topics in the New York Times. There had been something about that statistic, something involving the difference in career choices between boys and girls. So I went and looked for it. Sure enough, I found it. It was a pretty simple topic, at first. Why are fewer girls choosing career’s in the STEM fields each year? I stopped laughing. This was not a laughing matter.

Well, the issue isn’t quite that the fields that classify as performing and visual arts are more filled with women, on the contrary to my experience so far, but rather that more and more women report that they believe they could have been so much better working in a science field, but they feel that as a child they were never encouraged to become scientists or architects. Rather, they were expected to do more “feminine” things. For example, 37% of computer science degrees earned in 1985 were by women. In 2010, the the same statistic had dropped down to 18%. As well, only a fifth of all physics Ph.D’s are awarded to women.

There’s a very recent article (October 2nd, 2014) from Fortune that was written by a woman who works in the tech industry. In it, she describes her experience with a friend who is having trouble balancing work and nursing infant, “Her manager had pressured her to return from leave early, and was pushing her again to take a business trip and leave her nursing infant at home. She wasn’t sleeping. She felt like she was failing her job and her child at the same time.” Kieran Snyder, the author, proceeds to explain how her friend isn’t doing anything wrong, but rather the system is unable to accommodate her.

At first, it would seem that motherhood is the primary factor in why women don’t stay in the tech industry. That’s what Kieran’s friend would have assumed, if it hadn’t been Kieran she talked to. Kieran explained to her that such feelings were normal, and she offered to talk to the manager for her. At the time, her had been making more than her husband. Two weeks later, she was making infinitely less than her husband. Of course, that was five years ago.

Kieran states the story of her friend has haunted her. She feels like her friend came to her seeking help in a situation which she didn’t know how to handle, and Kieran, despite her best and admirable efforts, was unable to find a way to help her friend. She felt a genuine feeling of failure, Kieran did. Kieran, the one who told her friend that it wasn’t her fault, but rather the administrations fault for their inability to accommodate for her needs as a mother. Kieran was not at fault, to any extent. However, her feelings of guilt inspired to do a survey in September of 2014. This survey was designed to isolate the reason as to why women left the tech industry,  and that is that women are leaving tech because they’re unhappy with the work environment, not because they have lost interest in the work

Alice H. Eagly, professor of psychology at Northwestern University in illinois, has spent her career researching the social aspect of psychology. She found particular interest in the labor division between working-class male and females. She understood that the majority of females choose not to go into STEM(Science, Technology,Engineering,Mathamatics) fields, and she wondered why that was. Alice eventually came to the conclusion, after a multitude of tests involving gender stereotypes, “That it’s genetically hardwired into our minds for the two genders to take on different roles in the workforce.”

In the end, the reason women are choosing not to go into STEM fields and are leaving is due to an inability in the administration to be flexible with needs, that the work environment was unsupported and hostile, and a salary that was incapable of providing a women and child care. In the end, the fault is in our society. If we don’t want to lose skilled, educated workers, then we need to become more open to them.

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