Reflecting on Sex and Sexuality in Professor Ginkgo Chronicles

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I am writing this in response to a friend’s post-graduate project that involves bringing together experiences from the fan fiction and LGBT communities. You can find out more about her project here. This is a reflective essay on my experience writing my Pokemon fan fictions, Professor Ginkgo Chronicles (PGC) and Oda Twin Chronicles (OTC).

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Trick or Treat? A Logical Approach

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Based on the kind of stuff I post on this blog, you probably think of me as that anime guy. But when I’m not pretending that real life isn’t there to kick my ass, I’m a philosopher that occasionally teaches Math (I say “occasionally” because I’m not exactly working yet).

Now I’m not one to get into the holiday gimmicks very often, but since Halloween is coming up, there has been one thing that puzzles me about this holiday. I am, of course, talking about this thing that kids like to say to neighbors they rarely ever interact with, dressed in their costumes, only to get some candy from them.

What exactly do we mean when we say Trick or Treat?

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Jack Merridew Helped Me Through High School

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I have a confession to make. While I love writing and I enjoy expressing myself in that medium (and love it even more when other folks actually read it), I myself was not much of a reader. This is a huge problem for me since most writers also enjoy reading (or at the very least, are good at it). I end up writing a lot, enough to a point that many of my readers probably stop halfway through due to the length.

The truth is, I do actually like to read; except that when it comes to reading, I don’t do very much of it. When I was growing up, I was always reading something that was what seemed to be “beyond” what my peers were reading. I mean, I read the first five books of the Bible (613 laws and I still can’t remember all of them) in the 6th grade, Stephen King’s Carrie (still surprised that his publishers never edit his work) in the 8th grade, Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot (that’s pronounced GAHD-oh, by the way) in 9th grade, Niccolo Machiavelli’s The Prince (the bourgeoisie is evil) in 10th grade, and Karl Marx’s The Communist Manifesto (may the proletariat rise) in 11th grade. Did I mention that I read all of these things on my own time without instruction from any of my teachers?

When I was in high school, the Accelerated Reader program was in its foundation stages, and I took the assessment test for it in 9th grade. Despite my peers being at or below their grade level in reading, I was one of the rare cases that hit 12.9 overall in comprehension and vocabulary. I honestly believe that the program must’ve been broken, because that meant there was no level for me to “accelerate” to because 12.9 was the highest level they went to at the time.

There was no way in hell I was going to read college-level material in high school. My friends are reading all the fun stuff like Harry Potter and I got stuck with some of the highest-level books that I’m sure even college students had trouble reading if they didn’t have instruction. Needless to say, I tried picking up Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace, which I believe was assessed as a 10th grade level of reading. After 50 pages and 100 distractions later, I gave up. Reading was not my forte.

And that became a problem for me once I got into college. I was amazing enough to get by in high school with my abilities and things, but I never truly enjoyed the work that was involved in getting through all of it. By the time I got to college, my assumptions of success without trying very hard became a farce. Over time, I had to leave one college to transfer to another, hoping that somehow I’d be able to find my niche and squeeze by. Three colleges later, I graduated, and yet I wonder how I actually made it. I still don’t have a regular stable job, I still want to improve myself, and I still don’t really read a whole lot, like I would like to.

When I was in a real slump in my life, I decided to take another reading assessment test. This time it was the Nelson-Denny, an assessment that specifically tests for reading ability. It turns out that I am perfectly normal in both vocabulary and comprehension in reading, but I was below average in “speed” (yes, there is a time assessment in reading); far below, if I can recall. What this means is that the time it takes me to read and analyze what I am reading takes a significantly longer time for me to do than that of an average person. So despite being the amazing person I was in high school, it became clear to me in college that I was in fact just as human as everyone else!

I occasionally contemplate on what I did right back then and why I am not doing it now in the present. That’s when I remembered William Golding’s The Lord of the Flies, and how a certain character helped me in high school.

Jack Merridew is the leader of the choir boys in Golding’s classic, and eventually becomes the antagonist to the main character Ralph. Despite being a villainous bastard, he is a natural-born leader. He’s charismatic, he already has a group of followers, and when the circumstances asked for one to rise and lead the boys to survival, he took the chance with both feet forward. Sure, he had a mean-streak and only cared about sustenance on a deserted island by any means necessary (even if it meant killing his own), but he was, in my opinion, a great leader. When I took the California High School Exit Exam, the essay question asked who I thought was a great leader and why; the choice was clear: Jack Merridew.

As a result, I earned a perfect score on that essay, and therefore passing the exam. And throughout high school, I, like Jack, was the driving force to take initiative in leadership; whether it was being an editor for the school newspaper or piloting my high school’s pending International Baccalaureate program.

And yet, even in the novel, Jack was not in full control. As many readers may imply, the Lord of the Flies had enticed Jack, and made him a naive boy leader who only sought bloodlust, regardless of his background as a former choir boy. It turns out that in the novel, it is Ralph who finds a way to return home from the island and, despite his differences, would allow Jack and his gang to also return (or at least that’s what’s implied). Ralph was elected the leader of the boys early on under circumstances that allowed him to do so (since he was in the most neutral position amongst all the survivors). He was never very confident with his leadership role or ability, and yet he wholeheartedly focused on the main objective (finding a way out) and protecting the weakest boys while he was at it. Truly Ralph was the ideal leader in this novel, but lacked the confidence and charisma that Jack had.

I’ve come to realize that I must learn from the leadership styles of both Jack and Ralph to help me out in life. I must learn from Ralph, the idealist, because his heart was always in the right place, while also taking from Jack, the realist, who had no fear in taking on responsibilities that others may have otherwise neglected.

Such is the way life itself is in many ways. We must learn to take examples from one source, its opposition, and find a balance between them that works for us as individuals. Jack may have helped me in high school, but now it’s time that I learn from Ralph as well.

Three-C Editing

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When I edit any of my writings, I use the 3 Cs. I edit for content, for clarity, and for correction. For projects with short deadlines, I will probably combine all methods into one in order to meet the deadline. This is especially true for journalistic pieces, which demand publishing almost immediately. Otherwise for basic essays that require at least three weeks of effort, at least three revisions are enough to go through the entire editing process. Of course, most of my students wait until the last minute anyway, so I end up having to treat their essay like a journalistic article; forcing me to be slightly more cruel to them. I apologize for that.

Before editing your work

Several ideas come to mind prior to editing, but it all ends with the same milestone: have a completed rough draft! Editing an incomplete article is not only a waste of time, but it often causes “writer’s block,” when a person has no idea what to write. Writer’s block is every author’s nemesis, because it pushes back any deadline or milestone they were supposed to meet. When you’re worrying about editing your work before it’s completed, you lose sight of why you’re writing in the first place. Get the ideas out first. Filter later!

Here is a list of ideas you can do before starting your rough draft. You do not have to do all the suggested elements on this list, but I highly suggest doing things in bold. I will not go into detail explaining all of them, but you can always ask me if you need me to clarify.

  • Brainstorm ideas and topics for your writing.
  • Free-write all the thoughts you have on paper for 5-10 minutes.
  • Research on your topic.
  • Make an outline of your article.
  • Create charts and graphs of your content’s elements (especially for stories).
  • Have annotated notes on your key points and ideas.
  • Write your thesis statement or purpose on a sticky note and place it in front of you wherever you write your article.
  • Write your rough draft without worrying about citing references.

Once you have gone through these pre-writing processes, complete your rough draft and consider three edits. These are the editing processes in order.

Editing for Content

This is the easiest, yet longest method of editing for any writer. Editing for content essentially boils down to a single question: does my article make sense? In this process, editors (particularly ones who are not the author of this piece) ask a series of questions regarding what the article is talking about. More often than not, these questions aim specifically at elements that need to either be explained or reworded, because content of such detail is either missing or confusing to a reader. You, the author, should read your own article as well; and if you can, read it as if you know nothing of the subject at all. If you or your editors don’t understand your article, your audience sure as hell won’t understand either!

Keep in mind though, editors will not look for the same elements, and many of them will contradict each other. You, the author must judge for yourself what needs to be clarified or explained for the purposes of your own writing.

This process can be completed in as few as 1 complete revision, but can take as many as it possibly can, especially for longer works such as novels or dissertations (I think the longest I’ve heard about had something like 20 revisions, just for content). Editing for content is completed once the author (you) can read the article without asking any of these key questions on missing or confusing content.

Editing for Clarity

This method often complements editing for content, but I do it separately for the sake of keeping myself from writer’s block. Editing for clarity asks whether the content fits logically or necessarily. There are details in many of my own articles that explain perhaps too much to the reader, and is probably the biggest reason my readers don’t bother to read my stuff in complete detail. I have to identify what these elements are (usually filler phrases like “the fact that” or “even though”) and remove them where necessary. Sometimes you want to slow a reader down by throwing in passive verse or filler words, but you should only do this when you have mastered normal writing techniques (and never do them for an academic assignment).

The other element in editing for clarity is to make sure your elements flow logically. You don’t often state your conclusion in the middle of your premises. And if you do, like I just did, you better make it very clear to your readers that this is a point you’re emphasizing (of course, you would be using prepositional phrases rather than bold your content unless you’re blogging).

Another good example you could do in clarity (particularly for stories) is if the nature of your content flows logically. Let’s say I write about an event that happened in the summer. If I then describe another event later down the road in spring, your conclusion is that either I skipped an entire year’s worth of content or I don’t know how the seasons change at all. This content needs to be clarified.

If you do, perchance, change significant details in your editing by clarity phase, you might have to revisit editing by content. Be careful of doing that, because you don’t want to waste time on your article unnecessarily, especially when you have a deadline.

Editing for Correction

Only the daring need apply for this one; but if you’re a decent writer, you should do this step automatically. Simply put, editing for correction is your grammar checker. Many word document software have built-in spelling and grammar checkers nowadays, but they may skip over typos or even ask you to revise something you intentionally left misspelled or incorrect. Do not rely on your word document software’s grammar checker!

Editing for correction is used just to patch up your writing so that it doesn’t violate your language’s standard rules, and should only be done once you are satisfied with the content of your article. Good writers who edit by correction can have this step done in 1 revision; because if everything has already been caught content- and clarity-wise, touching up is all that’s left!

My personal method by which I correct writing is by literally (yes, literally) reading my paper out loud. This, of course, is annoying if you are in an intentionally silent environment, such as a library (where many writers do their writing). By reading my own work out loud, I can catch mistakes if I have trouble reading it.

If you cannot judge your own writing by correction, have someone else read it. By reading your own writing, you already know what you’re looking for and skim over obvious typos or phrases that don’t make sense. If your editor or friend also skims over, have them read your paper out loud to you. Once you have revised your article for correction, read it again to make sure you haven’t missed anything.

Turning in or Publishing

Now believe me, I violate this all the time because I like hitting the “Publish” button on my blogs immediately once I’m done with a rough draft (this article included). Do not do this if you are absolutely serious about being a journalist; and most definitely do not turn in your rough drafts (or halfway revised drafts) as the final document in your writing classes!

You should only publish once all 3 editing methods have been done and you have revised your article to the nth degree because of them. This may take awhile, but please remember that all your assignments must be published! Unless you are writing in a private journal that no one else bothers to read unless they happen to stumble upon it, writing is intended for other people to read.

So don’t forget to edit, and please don’t forget your deadlines, be it personal or external. The last thing a writer needs to have is a boss that’s fed up with them for not writing anything! And you know you have been, but you’ve been editing all this time. You better turn something in!

And with that, keep on writing; and if you ever need a personal editor, I’m always available for friends, but I may consult with you regarding a fee if your writing is an asset rather than just for fun!

A Testimony at Mersault’s Trial

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My essay from 8 Feb 2010.

Advanced English Midterm Assignment.

Ma nom est Celine Blanche.

I was at the beach that night. My husband and I got in a fight about our current situation here in Algeria. We are French citizens, but we are treated like the Muslims because we live in one of her colonies. My husband wishes to take no action of sorts to push for our rights as French citizens because he feels that the current war in Germany and the Eastern States will soon require the assistance of all of France’s people. In his opinion, we are therefore not to fight our nation because the government will imprison us for treason. I, however, believe there is no better time for us to break away from the status quo and fight to earn equal citizenry in France.

When my husband fell asleep that night, I snuck out of our house to debrief on the beach. I sat along the Mediterranean coast, soaking my feet in the cool waters washing up along the shore. I cried that night, tucking my head under my shoulders, hanging it dejectedly toward the sand. I thought about what my husband had to say. I thought about how I could be abandoning my own country just so that I could be a citizen of it. That is when I heard the shots.

I did not see Mr. Mersault that night, nor did I see the Arab he had killed. They were probably behind a dune a half a kilometer from me. I could not see what happened, but I could hear what happened. I heard the shot of a revolver. Within a few seconds, I heard the revolver fire a second time. There was a long pause after that. I was scared that the person who fired the gun would soon come after me. I got up from the beach and ran home, hoping that the shooter did not see me, for I was innocent. While I ran, I heard four more shots, this time continuously without pause (Camus 39). I did not turn to see who was shooting or who or what had been shot. I feared the worst at that point, though I was somewhat relieved that the one revolver should now have been emptied of its bullets. Still, there was no time for me to waste, so I ran home to get some rest that night.

I know not of Mr. Mersault. My knowledge of him only goes as far as his introduction in this court. I know not of his victim, the Arab man, either. All I know of that night was that I heard those gunshots at the beach. If what the other witnesses say is true, then it was Mersault who fired that revolver that I heard. What I do not know is if he knew who he had killed or why he killed him in the first place.

Yes, I know of many Arabs, many of them are very friendly and hospitable. I have met with the men and women alike, and they have all had the same beliefs as I have about France. We love our country. What we do not love is how we are treated by the government who controls us from thousands of kilometers away. The Arabs demand that they have full political equality with those of the French (Naylor). Yes, I may be French, as I was born there, but I agree much more with my Arab cohorts than with our captors: the government from Paris.

Do I believe that Mersault had murdered the Arab? That depends on whether he planned on it or did it willfully (Murder). If Mersault did not know his victim, he did not murder him intentionally. He could not have murdered him because he would have known him. But Mersault, like me, is French. Perhaps he does not have to know an Arab to have the desire to kill one. Therefore, he may have had the intentions of killing that Arab simply because he was one of them. No one can deny that there is a lot of xenophobia amongst the French in this colony. For all I know, Mr. Mersault is a French sympathizer and acted out of hatred for his Muslim neighbor. If that is the case for this man, then yes, he did murder the Arab. Mr. Mersault is a murderer!

If he is not guilty of such a crime, then he should be ashamed of himself. He should be ashamed that he is a citizen of France but he is not from the state of France. He should be ashamed of his ignorance; that he thinks like a Frenchman, but the French do not think he is a Frenchman. He should be ashamed that he would not only kill his Muslim neighbor, but would make sure that his neighbor was dead. Our Lord Jesus told us to love our neighbor, and that Arab is more of a neighbor to me than any Frenchman or Mersault!

So yes, I believe that Mersault is guilty. No man would be spineless as to kill his neighbor, especially one who is worse off than him. The Arabs of this colony demand justice; justice not just for the sake of this victim, but for the citizenry and freedom they deserve from France, the nation that was supposed to take care of us. Mersault is a citizen of France, but not of Algeria. He is no neighbor of mine. I hope he is guilty. I hope he is sorry for his crime. I hope that God and Jesus have mercy on his soul, because I sure do not at all.

Merci, Monsieur. Vive L’Algerie.

 

Works Cited

Camus, Albert. The Stranger. Trans. Stuart Gilbert. New York: Vintage Books. 1946.

“Murder: First Degree.” Find Law. Retrieved 8 February 2010. Thomson Reuters Business, 2009. .

Naylor, Phillip C. “Algeria—Part 3.” Discover France! Retrieved 8 February 2010. Ian C Mills and Wharton Group, 2001.