Thursday, February 6, 2014

Retrain the Brain blog links to follow and respond to

Dear English 1110.01 students:
Here's a link to the EFF, as mentioned in the James Fallows essay, "Tinfoil Underwear".  They are an advocacy group for privacy and technology rights.

The Assignment for our lab today
Please read or view/read at least three of these links, and write a comment on this post where you respond to one of the links.  Use a quote from the material in the link somewhere in your response, but give me your ideas and interpretations on this subject, please.  Make it your own.

Reading and surfing is not just about finding and regurgitating information.  It's about interpreting it and giving it meaning and application in our own existence and in our own communities.  Yes, information is everywhere and knowledge is at our fingertips.  Yet there are no shortcuts to wisdom.  You have to put in the work, the time, and the thought.  I truly hope you understand this notion deeply, and strive to take your work and yourself seriously.

Your thoughts and ideas matter.  Your creative actions matter, and every chance to write is a chance to write well.

I look forward to your responses.  Remember, just respond in the Comments section of this post so all our responses are in one place and we can see what everyone is thinking.


Mike Lohre

Various Links to explore internet compositions and ideas in and around our recent technology themes

Lavabits is an e-mail service that offered privacy, but is now in a fight with our government.

This is a classic irony.  In this clip, James Clapper, the Director of National Intellegence at the NSA, will lead the inquiry into his own agency's abuses and lies.

And here's an editorial calling for Clapper to be fired.

Internet crime and identity theft rises as crooks get more creative
Comedian Louis C.K. on cell phones.  Warning: there is some crass language in this.

This one got over 25 million hits on You Tube and was made by a young woman just trying to illustrate the distractions in tech life.  It's called "I Forget My Phone"

This video is from Rap News, out of Australia.  The same guy plays all the characters and two guys compose the lyrics, which take on a lot of alternative ideas on the internet and politics.  Some of the language and gestures are crass, so be warned.

Finally, from OSU's student newspaper The Lantern.

One of the above links is from a source (Rap News with Robert Foster) that tries to use You Tube, music, and clever, pop-culture-based writing to promote both critical thinking and their point of view, of course.

P.S.  Here's the link for the graphic essay on the NY Times.

Notice the style of this content and look at the possibilities for online composition.  This the New York Times, and is a pretty remarkable positive example of the way composition is being changed by technology.


  1. One of the articles I viewed was the one about James Clapper and the NSA investigation. It had to do with how James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, straight up lied to Congress, "Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) asked him if the NSA collects 'any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans.' He responded 'No,' but added, 'There are cases where they could inadvertently perhaps collect, but not wittingly'". Clapper later apologized for his false statement, and now Obama is having a group to assess what is going on with the NSA. The part I found interesting is that James Clapper will now be helping the group get to what ever information they need to make an unbiased decision. I originally thought he would be leading the group, or be a part of the group but he will only be assisting them in their investigation.

  2. I really liked the "I forgot my phone" video on YouTube. It basically was about a woman who was doing all these activities with others and everyone she was with was so absorbed in their phone that they weren't taking the time to really take in and appreciate the moment. This video rang true to me because I witness it all the time and am guilty of it myself. It's hard not to be totally distracted by a phone when everything we ever need is right at our fingertips. It would be nice if people could leave behind their phones when spending time with others or doing certain activities because I think people would start to appreciate others company more like we did before phones were such a big part of peoples lives.

  3. The article that really stood out to me was the "
    Internet crime and identity theft rises as crooks get more creative." I didn't realize so many people were victims of fraud and identity theft each year. The article gives tells us about the rise in amount of people becoming victims of these type of crimes. These criminals are to my surprise after any type of account, whether it be amazon, ebay, bank, credit card, anything. They will even just go in and change your personal bank account online banking ID information. What I found interesting was that they said "While the number of victims is up, less money was stolen: $18 billion last year, down $3 billion from 2012." They explain how much of a real hassle it is when you have to get new cards, accounts, and sometimes dispute the fraudulent charges. I realize now I need to continue keeping a close eye on all my accounts and automatic bill pay accounts. We all need to continuously watch for alerts from any lender, retailer, bank, anything our money is or has been involved with.

  4. I watched a video on Youtube about cell phones and I completely agree what Louis C.K. was arguing about. People depend on cell phones and I feel like that's a bad thing. Every time, everywhere I see people having their smartphones around them always. Social media, such as Facebook and Twitter has recently taken over our lives. I get that the creators of these social networks want to make it accessible for the user to communicate to one another, but people are abusing that power way too much. This causes people to pay attention to what's on their devices instead of interacting with the outside world. Louis C.K. commented about cell phones saying, "I think these things are toxic." Cell phones are "toxic" and it's destroying social interactions.

  5. I had read, viewed and watched the article, pictures, and videos all comprised in the New York Times special, 'The Russia Left Behind'. I don't know where exactly to begin, but the picture isn't exactly black-and-white. It takes a lot to understand the situation in a country far away from the West. I have noticed that most of the former Eastern bloc nations and republics have changed dramatically since the fall of communism -whether it be today's Russian Federation and her satellite soviet states or the Former Yugoslav Republics. In Russia, there exists a 430-mile stretch of road, a highway known as M10, that takes you from St. Petersburg to Moscow, and vice-versa. On the M10, one may find both beauty and decay. The thing is, is that the two jewel cities of the thriving Russia we see today sucks the capital and people from the many crippling villages and towns in between, forcing them to make a decision to either seek a somewhat prosperous life elsewhere in the city, or continue their tough humble lives in ghost-town villages that will later on become a forest once again. As each village and town has it's own story, the life outside the city is very tough. Aleksandr Chertkov, a truck driver and native of a place near Chernaya Gryaz, said that the dominance of Moscow in this region is 'like a tumor, and all around it is poverty'. If you drove a decently nice/new car and lived in an apartment or house that functioned well, you were a Moscovite. They were the bourgeoisie of today's Russia. Russians that lived under the poverty line often refer the top officials that ran the cities and country as a whole as leaders where there is no real master in the house. It's as if 'they live somewhere abroad and only come here for work -they simply don't give a damn'. The conditions of the roads in between the two cities may be disastrous. After a snowstorm in November, nearly 10,000 cars, trucks, and buses were trapped in a traffic jam in sub-zero temperature conditions. The drivers came to a point where they were not angry, but simply in a state of dumb-despair, a woe-to-me state of nature. Even though Russians believe and statistically that Putin has done much for Russia, like paying off it's foreign debt and raising pensions, the people that reside in this 430 mile stretch of road and countryside still feel abandoned since the Soviet days. Russia financially cannot fund a new modern railway system that would cut the driving time in half under it's current hardships and circumstances. It is Russia's most heavily traveled cargo route, that usually takes less than or a full 24 hours to get from point A to point B, depending on the weather and road conditions. The death of a village is a slow process. But it's complete downfall is imminent in the years to come. Most of the centuries old 'towns are becoming villages, and then those villages later become forests once again. The politics that evolve around this stretch of land deeply affects the lives of many. The people, towns, and villages are rotting away. They will remain only in memory, if even that, unless Russia aids these forgotten lands and the people that live in them.

  6. Geezus that's a lot of writing, whoops . . .

    1. That was a lot of awesome writing, that's what that was!

  7. I watched the Louis CK video as well. I actually have previously seen this video because I just love Louis CK and Conan. It's crazy how Louis mentioned that he had to get his kid a phone because of the fads that go on in the social world. In reality if he didn't his children would essentially seem weird and be treated differently. I honestly agree with him on the fact that people start becoming awkward and cannot hold social conversations with people. Cell phones are honestly useless and people only got them to follow certain social standards. Not only that but, he even talked about the amount of people that text and drive. It's crazy but I know a lot of people as well who do this. Technology has it ups but it most definitely has its draw backs.

  8. The article I chose was I Forgot My Phone. The part I found most significant was the second scene with the couple on top of the cliff. You can hear the birds (even if they are fake), see the beautiful sunrise/sunset, all of which the girl is taking in and enjoying nature at it's finest. Though the guy is so wrapped up in his point less dribble about some box ("Who knows how long he was driving with that box under his car") that he couldn't possibly notice the world around him.
    I see this sort of situation a lot, whether or not a phone is the culprit, we don't stop to smell the roses, to really take in the details of the world. I notice this most severely at the zoo, just because of my own experiences. I can tell you the difference in feather patterns between individual lorikeets in a flock of 42, because I needed to know them and I enjoyed it. Of course no one will remember specific birds, but when is the last time you've seen anyone stay more than 5 minuets at a enclosure if an animal isn't looking at you eye-to-eye? I think this video highlights today's society and their need instant gratification. While we use technology well at times, we no longer see, or wait to see, the details in life. We often don't even live in the moment, live alone see details. We now live digital lives, engrossed in our screens, even in school... I believe we need to wake up and see the world we live in, details and all.

  9. I chose to watch the youtube video about people using their phones as much as they do today. Watching the video, I caught myself feeling "guilty" or laughing because of being in similar situations in the video. Where it shows scenes of everyone being at dinner but not talking because they're focusing on their phones or when a group is out bowling and nobody saw her bowl. I thought this video related directly back to class thursday where we talked about as a result of technology advancing and becoming more "handy", it makes us lack simple communication or public social skills.

  10. I really enjoyed the video "I Forgot My Phone." It made me realize how much I am on my phone and others around me instead of enjoying the company that I am with. I remember going to a concert and watching everybody record it on their phone, including me, and then realizing afterwards that I had missed most of the actual concert. I was too caught up in documenting that I was there that I missed the most important part. It's just funny how people work; in this day and age, almost everybody is attached to their phone by their hip.

  11. I read a few of the articles on the EFF, and it seems they're focusing a lot on the positive movement and progress, which I think is great, while giving some of the facts and saying what people from around the world are thinking about the NSA. I personally think that this is good, and I definitely think our government is horrible and doing many many things wrong, not just with the NSA, but in all parts at least in the upper levels at this point in time. I worry a little that we might be overreacting to the NSA, calling for basically the NSA to be scrapped and abandoned all together. Although I agree with this, and as it stands now the NSA not existing would be much better for the world that as it stands today, I also believe our national security is still important. As bad a job as the NSA and TSA and things like this do, They are there for a reason that is for a good cause, and ideally provide necessary overall benefits to the country. Although privacy is extremely important, we shouldn't overreact and let our lust for our right to privacy put us in unnecessary danger. Is it possible as our government stands to achieve this? I would say probably not, and that this is a problem that goes far beyond just the government agencies to the government structure itself and our society. But you can't deny the fact that security exists for a reason, and we should still have people acting to make sure something like a 9/11 type event doesn't happen again. The way that this should be accomplished, however, should be done in a much more systematic way that involves focusing only on what needs to be focused on, and with probable reason. The current method is, as I've heard it well explained, like a needle in a haystack. They take in SO MUCH information that it seems extremely unrealistic to be able to sift through all of it looking for a tiny needle that just becomes harder and harder to find with all other pieces of information because you need time to search for it, and the more there is to sift through, the longer you're going to be sifting through it, and the less likely you'll ever find the needle before something bad happens. So not only is it uncomfortable to nearly all the citizens and a number of them now around the world who have reason to believe they're being spied on, but it also is becoming less and less effective and detrimental to what they're trying to do in the first place.

  12. The video that really stood out to me was the "I forgot my phone" I found it to be very relatable to by life as I often miss major events or times in my life from simply being on my phone to much. From dinner with my family, to meaningful conversations. My phone has aided me out of awkward encounters I wanted to avoid as well as times when I didn't want to be there. As it did in the video it has consumed me in the past, but becoming more aware of the growing issue, I hope to avoid it in the future.

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  14. I enjoyed the article from The Lantern. I agree that we have gotten less personal in the way we live our lives. I found the reference to the bank funny. Years ago I was a member at a credit union who went the the computerized teller. I hated it! I even switched banks thinking there is no way it would catch on. Years later my "new" bank is the same way. You go in and pick up the germ infested phone to talk to the TV screen. I have even recently started to pay my bills on line. I wound much rather pay by a check in the mail.
    At the store the self checkout has replaced the cashier. I can see how it saves businesses money. I haven't seen any price reductions to make up for it yet though.