Thursday, December 31, 2009

Whatever Makes the News

by Jourdan Cameron

A short while ago I started hearing about a certain man in a car accident; his wife had rescued him from the wreck with a golf club and he was mostly unharmed. Later I heard that this man had cheated on his wife with various women. This story, while indeed a sad one, is indeed common throughout the world. Yet, I heard this story over, and over, and over through media outlets major and minor for weeks on end. So what was the big deal?
The man's name was, as you likely guessed, was Tiger Woods; known to many as the world's best golfer, known to some as a friend, and to one as simply Daddy.

One night, as I watched the news, there was a short blurb about a woman murdered before her children. They mentioned her name and I heard my mother gasp. I felt the food in my stomach turn to cold, wet sand as she clenched her hand across her mouth to keep from screaming and began to cry. She explained that the victim was an old friend of hers. I felt nauseous, and looked back up at the television. As quickly as the story started, it stopped. The anchors quickly turned to the news of rumors about Tiger Woods marital infidelity, and I simply wanted to vomit, as they spent several minutes on what a few people said they did with the man.
I sat back and began to think; how can something so hideous and horrific as a woman gruesomely slain before her children's eyes be of less importance than a man cheating on his wife? Why does everybody across the nation seem to know about and actually care about what he did, while the information about the poor murdered woman only receives limited, local coverage?
It's a travesty known as Mass Media.
Things of real gravity are drowned out by what's known as sensationalism. The Mass Media could truly be used as a source for good, like making a point of highlighting environmental issues and what you can do to help, or encouraging non-violence in life, etc.
Instead, we're stuck hearing things that won't be of any use too us (or things that don't even concern us, for that matter).

So what do I recommend? Quit taking it. Inform media outlets that you dislike how they give very little importance to the things that are important, and that you'd like them to change.
Encourage people to make their own news (see Wikinomics and for more on the matter) and do so yourself! If there's a local issue you'd like to see covered, don't be afraid to write an article and take it down to your local newspapers, and maybe even publish it on your blog.
Lastly, don't give up.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

by Jourdan Cameron

I’ve heard much about the critically acclaimed Dune series- people’s reactions ranging from ‘total nerd fodder’ to ‘the best thing since War of the Worlds’. So I thought I’d take a peek inside the Dune universe to see what all the excitement was about. Initially, I had difficulty finding a single book anywhere in the library- I wanted to scream. How could a series of bestselling novels be nowhere within my library? I refused to panic, however, and headed to the nearest computer. As fate would have it, the books did, in fact, exist within my library- I was in the wrong place, however, as it turned out, I totally overlooked the fiction section (which, in my defense, was on the other side of the library). My own issues aside, I’d like to get inside the book. I picked up a copy of Dune: The Butlerian Jihad by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson, which was written quite some while after the original Dune by Frank Herbert. In case you’re wondering, the author of the original books had a son (Brian) who co-wrote several new books with Anderson.

The said, The Butlerian Jihad was written to serve as a prequel of sorts to the rest of the Dune series. What’s interesting is that, out of all the possible books, I chose that one at random and it turned out to be the first in a series of several books by Herbert and Anderson.

So what did I think of The Butlerian Jihad? For starters, it was brilliant. Through a properly winding plot, memorable characters, a pinch of irony and a heaping cupful of action, this book is most definitely one I’d recommend to just about anybody, regardless of their general opinion regarding science fiction, because it goes far deeper than that, touching on sociopolitical issues, prejudice of various sorts, the environment, and, as if to make Shakespeare proud, goes rather deeply into the dilemmas that the characters face, in their loyalties, misgivings, and naturally, relationships.

Going back into the sci-fi portion, this is, naturally, an epic book (Dune! This made sci-fi HISTORY! What kind of sci-fi fan doesn’t know that?!) and I particularly appreciate how they incorporated a bit of science fact (although I can’t quite say how lest I spoil the ending) along the lines of ecology.

In all, I can certainly recommend this one, regardless of if you like science fiction or not.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Join the Club!

It’s a very exclusive group- not many make it there, but the rewards are great, of epic proportions, in fact. So what’s it called?

Ben Sherwood likes to call it The Survivors Club, which just so happens to be the title of his excellent book. TSC is about real stories of real people in difficult- and potentially deadly situations, and how they survived them. Along the way, Mr. Sherwood not teach you how to stay alive. He will, however, enlighten you on the right attitude to maintain in order to get through a dangerous situation and live to tell the tale.

The first story is that of a girl who had impaled her heart with a knitting needle- and hadn’t even noticed! This book has many other interesting stories- all of them true. What’s really striking, though, is that the focus of the book isn’t quite on techniques good for survival (although in the book some are demonstrated) but it pays more attention to your outlook, and makes you examine yourself in ways you don’t really think about. For example, do you fit within the group of people that, in an emergency, will become statuesque, simply paralyzed, not necessarily with fear so much as with shock over the situation? A great number of people do. Or, even worse, you become panicked and hysterical, screaming and blubbering and not really making any attempt to alleviate the situation. But then, there’s that elite few who will stop, look around, and figure out just what they can do to help, aiding others and making themselves of use. This book will not show you exactly how to join that few. That’s for you to do. But, it will set you off on the right trail- the one that leads to a surviving attitude. But, it’s up to you, the reader, to follow it.

In all, I can recommend this book, it makes some very interesting connections that hook the seemingly mundane and everyday to out-of-this-world survival ‘secrets’ that Sherwood has simply thrown out into the open. What have your initials to do with your lifespan? How about things you look forward to, or your handedness? This books lays it all out.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Catching Fire

Spoiler Warning: Please do not proceed if you haven't read the book and don't want to know how it ends! See here for the review of The Hunger Games.

Catching Fire, by Suzanne Collins Image and video hosting by TinyPic
Many say that sequels disappoint and in most cases, they're right.
This, however, is not one of those cases.
Catching Fire, the riveting sequel to The Hunger Games, has retained all the character, emotion, and heart-stopping thrill of the original- and then some. In this brilliant book, Katniss has returned home to District 12. But things haven't returned to normal. In fact, a storm seems to be brewing over Panem, and another inside her heart.
Gale has gone to work in the mines, and seems to be upset over something. Katniss' family and friends are now being threatened by President Snow (her berry stunt may cause an uprising- something that have far reaching consequences) and to top it all off, she has to marry Peeta and convince Snow- and all of Panem that the handful of berries was the act of a pair of desperate lovers, not an act of rebellion.
All in all ,this book was simply incredible. From start to finish Suzanne Collins has managed to somehow glue your hands to the book because you will find yourself incapable of putting it down.
Again, she has maintained perfect balance in the storyline, and makes progress in all the right places. She has also put surprises right where they belong- where you don't expect them- and has been able to keep you from being bombarded.
In all, the book deserves 5 stars!

See also:
Participate in discussions about the series, an up-to-date blog, and have fun in general related to The Hunger Games.
The Official Website of the author, Suzanne Collins

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Hunger Games

Let's start with The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins.
The premise of Hunger Games is that there were 13 districts that somehow rebelled against their primary government a long time ago, and after quite a struggle, the 13th district was obliterated and the remaining twelve survived to be mistreated. Every year, a pair of 'tributes', or children aged 12 to 18 were selected from each district for a fight to the death in a massive outdoor arena. These events were televised as some sort of game show, and viewing was mandatory.
Something I found very interesting was that I was reminded of gladiators, but this time in a much more disturbing form. Just like the arenas of old, certain assets in this arena could be modified, to make things much more... interesting.
Along the lines of gladiatorial combat was also the way it described battles; they weren't the seemingly epic things of legends, but more of 'cut me and I bleed', the characters that feel pain and get hurt, not just heroic, larger-than-life statues but real people who can be hurt, who worry for their loved ones, and this is truly the making of a great story.
A few parts I really must say were quite obvious as to how they would turn out, but the overwhelming majority of the book is extremely original with plot twists in all the right places that it makes up for the occasional 'I saw it coming' moments.
I give the book four stars, it's brilliantly written, and it was evidently the result of alot of work on the part of the author, bravo.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

All Grown Up

Don Tapscott has done it again; he managed to release another book and make me feel like it was written just for me.
The name of this new book is Grown Up Digital, and it's a wonder. In this marvelous new book, D. Tapscott follows up on Growing Up Digital, and follows the current Net Generation, or Net Gen, in their various endeavors, from the way the learn and work, to how they play, and relax. It's an excellent introduction for anybody baffled by the Net Gen, a person running a company looking to reach out and incorporate Web 2.0 technology and successfully employ the Net Gen. It's also excellent for educators, and demonstrates how to properly work with the Net Gen to help them learn better by using new methods, rather than holding fast to the old. Tapscott also touched on the issues with copyright that have arisen with the internet, such as illegal downloads and plagiarism in the twenty-first century, how the Net Gen feels about it, and why they do it. It reaches in and shows you their hypertext minds, and the way they manage constant streams of information. It also provides ample warning to companies that the Net Gen seems to have built in and mature "BS detectors", and that the key to success with the Net Gen is not the flashy ads of yesterday, but openness, a willingness to take suggestions, and integrity.
All in all, this book is a wonder. This book deserves six stars, and should be sitting right betwixt the The Long Tail and Freakonomics.

The official website of the author, Don Tapscott

nGenera, the company responsible for much research in the book

Don Tapscott on Twitter

Friday, September 25, 2009

Musical Freedom

It wasn’t too long ago that I remember it; the scandals appearing on the television, the advertisements that started playing, showing kids but years older than me set to the song “I Fought the Law”, busted, it seems, for sharing mp3 files over the internet. I hadn’t really much idea what all this meant at the time, or understood the severity of their offenses. What the commercials told me was “file sharing was bad”.
Well, some years later I started to use the internet much more often, and one day, I stumbled across Wikipedia, and I was astounded; a free encyclopedia, without ads, that seems to know everything about anything. I was very impressed, to say the least. However, as it turns out, things get better. I discovered the ‘edit’ button atop every page, and even came to the realization that if a page doesn’t exist, I ought create it. To this day, I help write Wikipedia, and although I’m a little less active than I was formerly (slightly retired) I clean up vandalism, fix typos, and add my knowledge where needed.
If you know me well, you’ll understand that when I get into something, I get into something. I learned as much as I could about the principle behind a wiki, and learned that it actually came from the Hawaiian wikiwiki, meaning quickly, because of how fast its articles could be edited. I also learned about how major a communal effort is needed to create a wiki, and learned about ‘community’ technology, so to speak. To this day, I’m still stunned beyond words at how Wikipedia virtually organized itself, and how it taught me something I shan’t soon forget: the principle of open source.
Open source is a tricky thing to pin down in a few words, but it primarily applies to technology, though it can extend past that. Open source is mostly a principle that deals with creation, sharing, and so much more. Wikipedia terms it as “an approach to the design, development, and distribution of software, offering practical accessibility to a software's source code.”
The reason it’s called ‘open source’ is because the ‘source code’ of a program, or all those lines of code that make a program tick- sort of like blueprints to make a building, or DNA to make an organism- are there for the taking with open source software. Thus, you can take the source and modify it to meet your needs. Not only that, but you’re encouraged to share what you’ve created with others, and collaborate on improvements. This is only the tip of the iceberg in describing open source.
But what has this to do with music, you ask? Well, as I learned about open source, and the licenses that accompany it, I realized that open source extended beyond technology, but the same principles applied just about all works, such as art, music, literature, film, and even products. Around the same time on websites such as Youtube I noticed that large companies (I won’t drop names) were starting to complain about people violating their copyrighted works. Videos were getting pulled down left, right, and center. Unauthorized audio was disabled, and people got quite angry. Now, these huge companies that provided the music were becoming the villains who took it all away.
So I decided to examine the matter a bit more closely. What was it that people could be posting that’s causing all this trouble? I took a look for myself. Turns out, people were getting creative, making top-notch music videos from television shows, movies, and anime. The problem is, however, this was in violation of existing copyright law.
These laws were put here to protect rights; suppose you created this song, it took you five whole years, but the song is incredible. You start selling copies of it, and it becomes a hit, millions of people love it. Then, some company takes the song and uses it in a commercial. You, however, receive no credit for making the song, no money from their using it, and they make billions with some product that you unwittingly sold. Yet, you receive no part of it. Copyright law is there to prevent that kind of thing from happening. It’s also there to prevent somebody from claiming your work as their own. Unfortunately, most of it wasn’t written for the participation age. Because the tools to not only create, but also to modify, share, and distribute things that were previously considered ‘professional only’ are now in the hands of ordinary people. Thus, common people have the tools to create things, the platforms to distribute them, and the ability to collaboratively improve upon existing works. All of this is done, yet with a different principle behind it, not in an attempt to steal but innocently trying to share something they created, profiting from feedback, not sales. Unfortunately, these massive companies are incapable of understanding what’s behind this sense of community, partly because of fear they’ll be ripped off, partly because they’re afraid they’ll be taken advantage of by their competitors, and in some cases, partly out of sheer greed. As I’ve brought out before, the intentions of the ‘violators’ is quite innocent, if not noble. Thus, something needs to happen. Some of the major arguments media conglomerates have against people doing these things are:

  1. It’s illegal. Well, that’s true, however, it’s not an intentional violation of the law, perhaps some wiggle room could be provided? Remember these aren’t people with ill intent.
  2. The people who directed, edited, and toiled over this content are receiving nothing. Yes, but how often, exactly, are they receiving something? Suppose a music video is made, and fancy special effects are used, a load of people edit it, contribute towards it, etc. Suppose now that somebody wants to use portions of that video somewhere. The licensing fees are usually rather largish, yet, a pretty good chunk of the people don’t get anything from those licensing fees.
  3. You’re crushing the musicians you supposedly love! Don’t you     know that this music is their livelihood? Nope. Just like those people who make the music videos, artists don’t make much off the sales of their music, but from concerts and merchandise. What does the record company do, exactly? According to Wikipedia, the record label is “the company that manages such brands and trademarks, coordinates the production, manufacture, distribution, marketing and promotion, and enforcement of copyright protection of sound recordings and music videos; conducts talent scouting and development of new artists ("artists and repertoire" or A&R); and maintains contracts with recording artists and their managers.

Yet, music can be produced at home. Manufacture isn’t necessarily necessary, since an mp3 can be download free, distribution can be free, and if you’re good, fans will come to you. Marketing, again, can be free, by sharing your music with others online. All it takes is a simple link to a file in a few places, and maybe even a few ads at a minimal price. Regarding protecting copyright, one can simply ‘copyleft’, using licenses that would protect their rights without the self-villanization of refusing to share. Thus, an artist can allow others to create music videos, make funky dance-remixes and forward your songs to friends without breaking the law, at the same time promoting your music. How would you make money, you ask? Like everybody else, from your concerts. It’s already proved quite effective, and the cost of renting out a venue can be offset by the sales of tickets. The internet is now a superior platform to the record label. The only way for record companies to survive is for them to adapt, and to continue with distribution. If they change their models, freeing up music, and doing their jobs to protect the rights of artists- without smothering them. Record companies ought embrace copyleft licenses and by all means encourage the use of them. They should be producing CDs for people who will buy them, and making sales off the price of physical goods, not the music itself.
Thus, by allowing people to use songs freely (within the bounds of noncommercial usage), music videos, remixes, etc., can be created by communities, the end result being good for all parties involved. Regarding commercial use, it should be dealt with as it always has been- licensing fees, using the record company to ensure that the artist receives a good deal.
Yes, this is a system that can work, but how? The first step is to share this article with friends, family, co-workers, etc. Then, try to educate yourself on copyleft, open source, and the like to understand the motivation behind it. Make sure that you send a copy of this article to your local record company, possibly by e-mail, but preferably a hard, printed copy, to show that you mean business. Another recommendation is to listen to ‘open source’ music, I’ve provided a couple sources in the bibliography.
Lastly, don’t be afraid to participate. Make music and share it around, you never know who will like it!
However, in order to get them to change, I do not recommend violating copyright law. This, of course is illegal, and something you really shouldn’t do. What is the solution, them? Share around copyleft content. You’re allowed to. Peer-to-peer, or p2p file sharing has been given a bad reputation by the mass media, mostly because it is abused to violate copyright, but also partly because it can draw attention away from the mass media itself, towards peer created content. For the first time, we don’t need to be dependant on a few people for creating quality content- meaning that the voice of the people can truly ring out.
This model can work for music, but can it work for movies? This will be discussed in another article.


Here, you can find a proper definition of open source technology

More information about the use of p2p file sharing

An online radio website that plays music according to your taste, based on music you know you like- connecting people with new musicians.

An open source video game console

Open Source Music in every genre

More open source music, primarily samples to make remixes from

Copyleft licenses in plain old English that you can feel free to use

This is my blog, where I publish stories, poems, articles, and book reviews

Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything, by Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams
An excellent book that describes just how mass collaboration and peer production can be successfully employed in business environments.

This article is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License. In short, you’re free to take this article and edit it to your hearts content, so long as you credit the author Jourdan Cameron. For commercial usage, however, you must contact the author:

Monday, September 14, 2009


Well, I just read Zap! The Rise and Fall of Atari by Scott Cohen, and I'm quite impressed. The book was (obviously) about the history of the Atari corporation. It chronicled their astounding rise from humble beginnings, and yet managed to spiral back down to the bottom of the barrel. I was quite surprised about what helped pull them down, such as the way that ColecoVision and IntelliVision, the way they released 'modules', allowing their consoles to be compatible with the cartridges of the Atari 2600.
         ^IntelliVision, not too shabby either^                                ^IntelliVision Controller- pretty impressive!^
    ^Whoops, what is this old thing?^
But, I noticed some things that sort of indicated what future was lying in front of video games. It was believed that games were going to be a 'passing fad', and that the record industry- not the recording industry, I mean those big round chunks of vinyl- were going to outlast video games. Little did they realize what was coming next! Yet, despite the failed predictions, I can still recommend this book. It explains just how certain companies behaved, and would explain alot about the industry today. I give it 3.75 stars, out of 5.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Thesis on the Life of Charles Dickens and his reactions to oppression

Charles Dickens is one of the most important authors of the 19th century. Through his life, he wrote volumes- within much of his writing was often held aloft a deeper message- how to treat the impoverished, life from the perspective of the mistreated, the proverbial ‘view from below’. Charles had a difficult, albeit short, childhood, in a world where pain and heartache was the norm, it was entirely average to be defiled as refuse, a place where a human life meant cheap labor, a person was forced to become a simple automaton, living upon meager subsistence wages, a place, where, the tears of a child were simply used as lubrication for the massive, smoke-belching, industrial machine. It is this world that Dickens spoke of. It is by no means a nice world to reside within, yet, for so many people this world was reality, and there was absolutely positively nothing anybody could do about it.
Dickens shed light upon this dark, filthy world.

"Dreams are the bright creatures of poem and legend, who sport on the earth in the night season, and melt away with the first beam of the sun which lights grim care and stern reality on their daily pilgrimage through the world."
- Charles Dickens

Early Life
Charles John Huffam Dickens was born Friday February 7, 1812 in Portsmouth, England. His parents were Elizabeth and John Dickens.
“Charles’s mother, who was twenty-three when he was born, was named Elizabeth, and she came from a family of musical instrument makers. He said that she often sent his sisters and him “into uncontrollable fits of laughter by her funny sayings and inimitable mimicry”-or, as we would say now, doing impressions of other people. But there was a scandal in her family; not long before Charles was born, Elizabeth’s father stole some money from the Navy Pay Office, and when he was found out, he ran away to the Isle of Man.” (Rosen 13)
His father, John, was a clerk at the Navy Pay Office, and unfortunately, quite indebted.
“He dressed like a gentleman and spoke in an upper-class voice. Perhaps he was imitating his parents, who had been servants in upper-class people’s houses. He was always, always, always, short of money, and always either spending it or borrowing it.” (Rosen 13) His father made a mere £80 annually, which made caring for his family difficult, to say the least, and a problem compounded by his spending habits, and seven children besides Charles.
Young Charles took note of his fathers financial situation, which evidently affected his works, most notably so in David Copperfield.
Soon after the birth of his other siblings, they had to move to an apartment in London’s West End, soon moving yet again to Sheerness, on the east coast, and finally Chatham, which, to young Charles, was a source of much inspiration. He referred to it as a “dream of chalk, and drawbridges, and mastless ships, in a muddy river”- just the kind of place that influenced his writings in later years.
“I faintly remember her teaching me the alphabet” said Charles Dickens about his mother, who was his very first teacher. He also remembered how she would sometimes hit him with a stick, later referring to her as one who “ruled the world with the birch”.
On occasion, his relatives would bring him to the theater in London, a rare privilege! It is by these that Dickens learned about the very vibrancy of the performing arts, in all the joy and the pain, trials and tribulation, and influenced not only his style of writing, and how he put together chains of event in his books, and quite likely the realism, the very “true-to-life-ism” and sheer emotion that makes his books timeless.
At one point in his childhood, when his family was rather short on money, John, his father, had young Charles leave school, despite his having sent Fanny, Charles older sister, to the Royal Academy of Music in 1823, leaving poor Charles feeling rather hurt, tossed by the side of the road, and stolen from, cheated out of a learning experience he enjoyed.
As the slippery slope of his family’s financial situation steadily grew steeper, Charles sat back and watched as various possessions were taken to the pawnbroker, pieces of furniture, cutlery, clothing, books, and many things that would once adorn his home slowly disappeared from view.
Though things seemed as if they couldn’t get any worse, they could, and they did. Shortly after turning twelve, young Charles was sent to Warren’s Blacking, a factory where black boot polish was made. It was “a crazy, tumble-down old house”, complete with “rotten floors, and staircase, and the old grey rats swarming down the stairs at all times.”
His job here was working with labels, where he would take a pot full of “blacking”, or polish, and label it appropriately, for ten and a half hours. Daily, he trod six miles, three to get to Warren’s, and another three to return home. The only pause he received from his work was a twelve PM lunch break, and a short stop for tea in the late afternoon.
Shortly after beginning this terrible labor, his father was pitched into debtors prison, and for young Charles to visit him on Sunday, his only day off, and poor little Charles had to descend into the dank, bleak, dark prison, where lost souls, weary, and their empty wallets took up residence for a while.
After his father was released from debtors prison, he went back to his job, and would walk each day to work with little Charles,
Though the world all around him was crashing, not everything was taken from him; his mother would sometimes come to visit him at the factory, and he would be able to keep some of his own money that he earned, and be able to spend it in restaurants for his lunch break.
In 1825, young Charles was allowed an opportunity to learn once again. His father sent him to the Wellington House Academy, a single roomed school that would hold two-hundred pupils, all in rows, with elder students sometimes teaching the younger. In later years, Dickens wrote of most schoolteachers as tormentors, rather than teachers, as underscored in the books David Copperfield, and also Hard Times. Yet, it is also at schools that he and his friends formed a sort of arts club, where they “put on plays, recited poems and songs, wrote stories, put them into scrapbooks, and produced a magazine called Our Newspaper.”(Rosen 28)

Late teen years to early adulthood
At the age of fifteen, Charles once again had to leave school, this time, however, to work for a lawyer, and not at the blacking factory. His primary job was to copy important documents, and carry files from office to office. Though the work was a tad boring, he often got to meet with people of all sorts, but sometimes, he had to go to places that could be potentially hazardous, and it was experiences like these that led gave him the strength to write as he did, and something to draw from, and base his writings upon.
At the age of 18, Charles had the ability to write in shorthand, and took up a job initially in a court, and later in Parliament.
In 1883, at the age of twenty-one, Dickens published his first story, “A Dinner at Poplar Walk”, and it was published in Monthly Magazine, and was quite successful. He wrote eight more stories, none of which he profited from. Soon, he moved up to the Morning Chronicle, in which he was paid for several things, including theater review, reporter on elections and their campaigns, etc. He progressed quickly into other genres, comic included, under the pen name “Boz”. In 1836, he became the editor of Bentley's Miscellany, and married his first wife, Catherine Hogarth, and the two had nine children.
In the same year, his articles and sketches were published in his first book, Sketches by Boz. George Cruikshank, a famous illustrator of the day, made pictures for the book.
Dickens progressed to publishing stories serially, month-by-month, in a book known as The Pickwick Papers, and in 1837 started serializing Oliver Twist, along with Nicholas Nickleby, and after completing the two, started publishing The Old Curiosity Shop and Barnaby Rudge weekly.

Dickens and Social Issues
"A day wasted on others is not wasted on one's self."
- Charles Dickens
All throughout his life, Dickens was painfully aware of the poverty that plagued mankind. He made these evident in his works, and in his 1846 (entirely published in 1848) novel Dombey and Son, about Paul Dombey, a man who dreamed of having a son as a successor to his extremely successful shipping business. Yet, after his son is born, his wife died. Worse yet, his son doesn’t socialize normally, and, while well behaved, has many ‘quirks’. Despite this, he was described as very precocious as evidenced in the book:
“At no time did he fall into it so surely, as when, his little chair being carried down into his father's room, he sat there with him after dinner, by the fire. They were the strangest pair at such a time that ever firelight shone upon. Mr. Dombey so erect and solemn, gazing at the blare; his little image, with an old, old face, peering into the red perspective with the fixed and rapt attention of a sage. Mr. Dombey entertaining complicated worldly schemes and plans; the little image entertaining Heaven knows what wild fancies, half-formed thoughts, and wandering speculations. Mr. Dombey stiff with starch and arrogance; the little image by inheritance, and in unconscious imitation. The two so very much alike, and yet so monstrously contrasted.
On one of these occasions, when they had both been perfectly quiet for a long time, and Mr. Dombey only knew that the child was awake by occasionally glancing at his eye, where the bright fire was sparkling like a jewel, little Paul broke silence thus:
'Papa! what's money?'
The abrupt question had such immediate reference to the subject of Mr. Dombey's thoughts, that Mr. Dombey was quite disconcerted.
'What is money, Paul?' he answered. 'Money?'
'Yes,' said the child, laying his hands upon the elbows of his little chair, and turning the old face up towards Mr. Dombey's; 'what is money?'
Mr. Dombey was in a difficulty. He would have liked to give him some explanation involving the terms circulating-medium, currency, depreciation of currency', paper, bullion, rates of exchange, value of precious metals in the market, and so forth; but looking down at the little chair, and seeing what a long way down it was, he answered: 'Gold, and silver, and copper. Guineas, shillings, half-pence. You know what they are?'
'Oh yes, I know what they are,' said Paul. 'I don't mean that, Papa. I mean what's money after all?'
Heaven and Earth, how old his face was as he turned it up again towards his father's!
'What is money after all!' said Mr. Dombey, backing his chair a little, that he might the better gaze in sheer amazement at the presumptuous atom that propounded such an inquiry.
'I mean, Papa, what can it do?' returned Paul, folding his arms (they were hardly long enough to fold), and looking at the fire, and up at him, and at the fire, and up at him again.
Mr. Dombey drew his chair back to its former place, and patted him on the head. 'You'll know better by-and-by, my man,' he said. 'Money, Paul, can do anything.' He took hold of the little hand, and beat it softly against one of his own, as he said so.
But Paul got his hand free as soon as he could; and rubbing it gently to and fro on the elbow of his chair, as if his wit were in the palm, and he were sharpening it - and looking at the fire again, as though the fire had been his adviser and prompter - repeated, after a short pause:
'Anything, Papa?'
'Yes. Anything - almost,' said Mr. Dombey.
'Anything means everything, don't it, Papa?' asked his son: not observing, or possibly not understanding, the qualification.
'It includes it: yes,' said Mr. Dombey.
'Why didn't money save me my Mama?' returned the child. 'It isn't cruel, is it?'
'Cruel!' said Mr. Dombey, settling his neckcloth, and seeming to resent the idea. 'No. A good thing can't be cruel.'
'If it's a good thing, and can do anything,' said the little fellow, thoughtfully, as he looked back at the fire, 'I wonder why it didn't save me my Mama.'”- Dombey and Son, Chapter Eight
This excerpt as makes it evident that Dickens understood the value of money- he realized it was useful as a tool for obtaining things, but evidently not much else, and by the end of the book, Dombey realizes money will never bring him happiness.

Dickens and Industrialism in Hard Times
“In Hard Times there is no mistaking Dickens violent hostility to industrial capitalism and its entire scheme of life. Here he is proclaiming a doctrine not of individual but of social sin, unveiling what he now sees as the real state of modern society… The change that reaches its climax in Hard Times, however is not only in revolutionary thought, it is in method as well. And this disturbs still another group of Dickens’s readers, grown used to a profusion of commix episode and a tremendous crowded canvas thronged with characters almost as numerous as life itself, all painted in vivid contrasting scenes of light and dark with a brilliant external realism… the method of Dombey and Bleak House, those complicated and elaborate literary structures like some enormous medieval building whose bays and wings and niches are filled with subordinate figures and with bright genre groups of all kinds clustering in a hundred patterns ranging from grotesque fancy to portraits from nature.
Had Dickens been following this method in hard Times, he would have had scenes among the clerks in Bounderby’s bank like those in Mr. Dombey’s countinghouse and scenes among the hands in Bounderby’s factories like those of pasting on the labels in Murdstone and Grinby’s warehouse… Every packed detail of this entire setting is surcharged with significant emotional and intellectual comment, and every character among the small unified group, symbolic and stylized, who act out their drama in the gritty industrial world, serves to deepen and intensify the meaning. Josiah Bounderby, banker and manufacturer, is its blatant greed and callous inhumanity in action. Thomas Gradgrind, retired wholesale hardware dealer, man of facts and figures, is the embodiment of utilitarian economic figures and its endeavor to dry up life into statistical averages. Young Thomas Gradgrind, devoted first and only to his own advantage, is the mean product of the paternal theories – “that not unprecedented triumph of calculation which is usually at work on number one.””(Johnson 131-133)
Evidently, the industrial world and its injustices played a major role in Dickens literature, in the way it affected his characters, the factories belching smoke being cold and heartless, thus, the people in charge of such are just as terrible. However, in this pit of despair, this industrial abyss of doom, this which is known as the creative mind of Charles Dickens, a glimmer of hope shines through. In Hard Times, that glimmer was known as Cecilia “Sissy” Jupe, Girl No. Twenty, incapable of defining a horse in utilitarian terms. This girl came from a background that, according to Gradgrindian philosophy, shouldn’t even exist, let alone be the place where a child spends most of his or her waking hours. Despite it, Cecilia’s father, according to Gradgrind, ‘recognized the value of a good education’, and he took her in, much the same way as a man swallowing half-cooked pork: he knows that something is wrong, yet doesn’t understand how much of his life could be changed as a result of a seemingly insignificant action. Girl number twenty entered the life of Thomas Gradgrind and changed him for the better- yet her effects weren’t seen for quite some while. The worms in a mans stomach hatch after being released by the powerful acids- Cecilia was released into the Gradgrind household. The worms work their magic by making their way to the intestine- young Miss Jupe went to the heart of her kind host, and softened the stone.
Sissy doesn’t just serve as a character in a well written book, one you pop off the shelf, read, and haphazardly shut- rather, she is the very incarnate of hope and all humanity. Sissy, after a Gradgrind style education, was perhaps the only successful product in that she was balanced- she wasn’t a cold, hard, pale Bitzer, sort of like a diamond lacking color, it may be ‘absolutely perfect’, and ‘rock solid’ in conviction, yet, it’s a diamond, just a whole bunch of carbon in a unique formation and not much more. Sissy could have become a lost, wandering Louisa, with a head full of facts without use- neither was she a like Tom, a kind, loving (and occasionally misanthropical) person, lost like Louisa, but unlike Louisa, he is looking for a path in every opportunity that comes by him. These opportunities include the (potentially offensive!) comic blackmoor, bank robber, and perhaps the saddest of all, what we in modern terms would call a ‘mooch’, reliant on his poor sister for his livelihood.
“Fir Sissy’s loving humanity, though, this bleak factuality is quite impossible…Of a town of a million inhabitants of whom there are only twenty-five starved to death in the course of a year. What does she think of that proportion? “I thought it must be just as hard on those who were starved whether the others were a million or a million million.” So “low down” is Sissy in “the elements of Political Economy” after eight weeks of study, that she has to be “set right by a prattler three feet high, for returning to the question, ‘What is the first principle of this science?’ the absurd answer, ‘To do unto others as I would that they should do unto me’””(Johnson 158)

Yet, despite all this, Sissy turned out regular. She took in all the facts, but her emotion, her fancy, and her sheer wonderment could not be removed. She was a hybrid, a beautiful, well developed thing, and like electricity to Tesla, she used fact and fancy together, thus forming a proper and balanced view of the world and excellent methods of solving problems.
Dickens used her as an engine to express the fact that with England in his day and age, it was all or nothing, yet, a little bit of something at the same time, always a little loophole that allowed for a major oppression. Cecilia Jupe, despite her calm demeanor in the book, was a revolutionary character, achieving a something through her actions. It was a thought that she implanted in the minds and hearts of readers. It was the knowledge that there is a middle ground, one that has been hidden from the world for so long. This middle ground of reason- neither living in extreme asceticism, wearing yourself thin, or a life of laze, without the vitality to accomplish anything. These two extremes were unfortunately the most common in Dickens’s day, and this is what evidently moved him to act.
Dickens used his writing as a medium by which to reach people. Motivated by the pain he suffered as a child at the brutal hands of industrial England, he put the knowledge right into the laps of everyone- made available to the wealthy and the impoverished in one way or another. And Dickens work was not in vain. It lead to some eye-opening, and heartwrenching realizations that lead to fairer treatment for the oppressed in England, and to this day, his novels give hope to people worldwide.

Works Cited
Karson, Jill. Johnson, Edgar. Readings on Hard Times. San Diego, CA, Greenhaven Press, Inc.

Rosen, Michael, Dickens His Work and His World. Cambridge, MA, Candlewick Press.
Charles Dickens Life
David Perdue’s Charles Dickens Page
Charles Dickens – Biography and his Works
SPECTRUM Biographies – Charles Dickens
Dombey and Son – Wikisource

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

The Civilized Children

The Civilized Children

By Jourdan E. Cameron

Their fight is drained, and their happiness is dissipated, and in its place, animosity is generated, hatred and fear grow as their sad expressions longingly show, lack of vigor, lack of vim, lack of natural childish whim. Their eyes are blank, they have cold hands, they are no longer willing to hold a courageous stand, what should be there is missing, what shouldn’t be there is, as it’s a nightmare that shouldn’t exist, not just a dream gone amiss but a scary collision of trains of thought into a deep, dank abyss. There lie scattered cries of Who Am I? Am I this, or that? Is something missing, is everything on pat? Did I commit some awful sin to deserve this fate, or was I simply born with this problem, this nuisance, this hate? Is this something innate, something I said, or was it something I ate?

The Civilized ones look down upon me, down upon us, down upon we. To them our life, our hopes and dreams nothing means. To them we are dirt, we are nothing, we are dust, the coating of dew, the sprinkling of rust, the shell on the egg, the grit in the shoe of the foot of the man. We don’t have a chance to truly romance our hopes and our dreams, what we truly desire, which, by the civilized ones, are simply stupid old dreams that ought be thrown into mire, silly old things that they shouldn’t desire, foolish little things, like the peas touching the potatoes, silly little things that ought be in their death throes. These stupid desires of the uncivilized beast are simply manifestations of an untamed mind, the unbridled thoughts, the unabridged brain and ought be deleted. They will die, they will perish, they will go down the drain, they must disappear, forever to be trapped and contained.

Lost are the Civilized ones, with little chance of escape! To drown in unnatural confinement, to expire in a heap, no longer able to stand on their own two feet. The feet with the shoes. The shoes with the grit with the dream with the unbridled, unabridged, uncensored, unadulterated, unharmed, indestructible, unavoidable, inevitable, unrestrained, irrepressible, raw, unexpurgated, truth, that comes irresistibly beaming forth! Yes, the truly cultured, truly civilized, truly intricate ones come forth, with knowledge, and wisdom, once held down, held back, damaged, now beaming forth brilliantly, solid as a diamond, powerful as a bolt of lightning, and rescuing the Civilized ones! The Civilized release their old ways of hatred and domination, shining forth the new creation into ratification! Realizing the errors of their past, now seeing what is the future, and embracing it with open arms, no long causing the ones they treated poorly any harms, putting them back in their proper place, kissing the once slapped face.

The Civilized ones are now civil, and are no longer divided, but a whole, there are now the Civilized and the Civilized, no difference between the two, money means nothing, class means nothing, skin color means nothing, your residence means nothing. What does anything mean? It is who you are, not where you originate or what you have, for if you are truly kind and without any evil, you are kind and not bitten by rabies of hatred, you are now civilized, one of a kind, no longer a pain. Not a pain, but a joy, a happiness, a success, you have made it, oh, boy! Don’t get me started, I could go on for days, my breath could start to form a thick haze, I would be blue in the face, the king, the jack and of spades, the ace, on the tip of the top of the pinnacle of the mountain of the happy, simply overly joyous, ever so snappy! Now please, take my words with you, stay civil, stay happy, don’t hate, you can only berate, simply remain kind and without prejudice, and than you will no longer be amiss!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Little Brother

Little Brother, by Cory Doctorow, is his first novel for young adults. First and foremost, I must congratulate him on his stupendously seamless advocation of open source software, such as Firefox, homebrew stuff, etc., and the book seemed sort of like he beamed it as a warning from a not too distant, possible future.

While it was well written, however, some things just seemed in poor taste, just 'thrown in there', so to speak. For example, certain scenes that could be deemed risque (not a good way to earn the respect for all the book stands for)just seemed tossed in at the last minute, and even if they were better executed, was it really necessary? I don't think so.
I do appreciate the way Doctorow did a "PG-13-Fade-Out-To-Black", since nothing graphic belonged in a book like that, but I honestly think that it wasn't on the whole necessary, again.
Also, he used more expletives than I have the misfortune to hear daily (ouch!) and again, I didn't like that, 'twas unnecessary.
But back to what I liked. I absolutely loved the very idea of Xnet, being an Xbox 360 owner (mine just gave me the RRoD) and although changing the OS on my 360 isn't quite what I'm looking for (*COUGH* voided warranty*COUGH*Sony PS3 comes with Linux*COUGH*) I think that something along those lines is quite smart!
I also appreciate how he licensed the book itself, it's available to download for free. You also retain the right to 'remix' it, so I intend on changing a couple chapter, and I'll let you be the judge on what you prefer.
Also, here's a good Bibliography if you would like to do some of the things from the book.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

It still matters

It still matters
By Jourdan Cameron
Dedicated to the 22nd wedding anniversary of Krystol and Deirdre Cameron

“The year was a dismal one. I’d tell you what it was, but I can’t quite remember properly what year it is now. Ever since, well, the reversal incident, we haven’t had time to focus on much years, or dates. Time has become relative, as our dying world lies enshrouded in frost. The few surviving plants and animals sustain us, but other than that, all is bleak.
The incident, you would like to know? It was a perfect, perfect day it occurred, that much I’ll let you know. The day it occurred, we humans, were at our zenith. All our technology, our pride, our joy and our love, everything was perfect. Until the incident. Suddenly, with the power- or perhaps without, our main source of energy just gone, in such a random, cataclysmic celestial event. I will never forget the sky that day, the beautiful colors I saw, but it was all gone.”
The traveler turned his wind burned face to his children, as he went on.
“But, we weren’t at a true zenith. We were destroying, sending so many things extinct. And yet, on the day of that reversal, I committed to a certain someone. Your mother. Now, every year, that fateful day is marked by a flare, in the sky. Who launches it, nobody knows. Yet, it marks something special; our anniversary.”
The traveler walked out of his tent into the coldness to see his wife stooped over, collecting the dull little plants that sustained their life. “My love” he said, instantly perking up her ears, as if by magic. “M-m-my love? I haven’t heard you say that since-” “Since our wedding day” he finished. She turned around to kiss him. Her face was as afflicted as his. The energy reversal had reversed all polarity, destroying technology left, right and center. It also triggered a massive global cooling, affecting people in ways they weren’t expecting to be affected!
The traveler spoke again.
“I want you to remember that no matter what happens, you’ll always be my wife”
“And you my husband” she said, giggling at their inside joke.
“These last years have been difficult” he went on “and I just wanted you to know that I’ll never stop loving you, though it may seem that way. No matter how few our crops yield, I shall be your husband forever. I promise, I shall protect and cherish you until I die.”
“Well, I should hope so! And I promise that I’ll try and understand when the hunt runs low, alright?” replied his wife.
For a moment, they started babbling incoherently about food. Then, they looked into each others eyes. The world stopped. The food didn’t matter. The power didn’t matter. They had each other. That was all that mattered.
“No, that’s mine!” came a small voice from the tent.
And of course, the children mattered as well!

Thursday, August 06, 2009

War is Kind

I found the poem "War is Kind", by Stephen Crane, to be very interesting because of how used a title opposite the meaning of his poem. Crane explained the essence of war- the pain that is experienced, the "field where a thousand corpses lie." He showed just how ghastly a thing war is, to see people lying dead on the ground.
"Do not weep, babe, for war is kind.
Because your father tumbled in the yellow trenches,
Raged at his breast, gulped and died,
Do not weep.
War is kind."
Stephen Crane - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

He pretty much summed up how terribly you may die, the horrors you see thus proving that war is not kind!
His poem can be found here:
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Wednesday, August 05, 2009

The Colors of the Red Badge of Courage

In chapter two of the Red Badge of Courage, I think that Crane perfectly embodied the feeling of the sun, "The rushing yellow of the developing day went on behind their backs."Just as the sun bring in warm light that rushes, it seems to envelop you like warm chapter six, "He became like the man who lost his legs at the approach of the red and green monster", I'm not entirely sure of the emotion Crane was trying to invoke with the colors red and green, though red could be representative of rage. The green, however, I'm unsure of. Perhaps this "monster" was one that didn't fit together. Green is a calm, collected color, it can be excited, yet not infuriated, unlike red. When mixed together, however, it's a representation of a powerful, unstoppable force! The sheer power of rage, anger, hatred, passion, yet the collected control of green, preventing this monstrosity from ripping itself apart! The green and red monster, unstoppable, thus, running will do you no good, you will be the man without legs.In chapter 24, "Those performances which had been witnessed by his fellows marched now in wide purple and gold", would suggest a sort of regal majesty, since purple and gold are colors associated with royalty.All in all, Cranes brilliant use of colors throughout the book create a vivid mental picture, a powerful, surreal, almost, feelings are welled up. This book wells up deep emotion, and makes you look at the natural world in a whole new way, because regardless of human transgression, life goes on, even if it isn't human.
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Monday, August 03, 2009

What make someone a hero?

In my eyes, it is this.
The hero isn't the one who runs past a thousand arrows for valor, but the one who leaps before a single spear in loyalty. I think that someone is a hero, by deed and by thought. What is in the heart of a hero matters more than what is in the body of one. A hero could be a paraplegic. In my eyes, a hero is one who does what is right. I remember quite well the day I lost my wallet. It was a rather gray, cloudy day, the sun refused to shine as I walked across a field, and yet took quite a tumble. I hadn't realized it, but as I stood up, I was about four ounces lighter. I left the field, and when I arrived home, I felt the inside of my pants. Something wasn't there. My wallet was gone! A thousand ways it could have left crossed my mind. I searched my home, my car, and my clothing high and low but I could not find my wallet. I was rather disappointed, though not crushed, however, since I didn't have any money inside it. A few days later, I received a rather bloated yellow packet addressed to me. At this point, I hadn't much clue what it was (I had already forgotten about my wallet) and I decided to open it up. At this point in the story, I think you know what happened. I opened the package, and my wallet was inside. I was excited, and grateful to whoever chose to return, happy there had been somebody noble enough. I realized that there was money in my wallet (two dollars) which I was happy to regain. I looked around on the package for a sender, and examined the enclosed note. However, none was to be found.
The anonymous person who returned my wallet was a hero in my eyes. To this day, I have not heard from that person. No reward was ever requested in any way, shape, or form. I didn't have to worry about shipping fees, nor was anything missing. That anonymous person was a hero.
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Friday, July 24, 2009

The Phoenix Sentinel

The Phoenix Sentinel
By Jourdan Cameron
Based on the duty of the dragon in Beowulf

“These words here are my last to you, my only child, the sole survivor of our people. Thus, I shall make them count.” So spoke the mighty dragon, eternal guardian of the riches of the Atlanteans. “Three hundred and ninety-four years I have been the protector of all you see surrounding you. I was assigned this work by one in a similar position to mine- his family, friends, and every trace of his people was wiped out entirely. So it is with us.” The little winged lizard looked up at its parent. Though it was born shortly after Wiglaf had left with the body of its parents killer- the man who was also responsible for its birth, since such a debilitating incision is necessary for it to leave its parents diaphragm- it sensed the danger it would have been in, and after the deathstroke to its parent, remained inside until it was safe to leave.
“Now, little one” uttered its parent “you must remain here no longer. The Danes will return for the gold, this-” the dragon cut itself off in mid-sentence. “This so-called treasure sickens me” he said “It has cost innocent people their lives. I was the one who slaughtered them, mercilessly.” It begged its tiny offspring never to follow its footsteps. “I had taken a vow which I was bound by- to always protect these rotten piles of gold. Don’t ever promise to protect something that will take lives.” The old dragon gasped, as its time was running out, lifeblood seeping away. “Now please, become a guardian to the Danes” The little lizard was shocked by its parents statement. It wanted to know why it should protect the very people responsible for its parents demise. “Because the Danes are noble, you must help them. The Swedes must be stopped- if they go on unhindered, they will destroy the Danes.” The great beast started to wheeze on his words. “Now please, the Swedes will kill innocent people, regardless of their stance in the war, and-” the words were interrupted by yet another gasp “and the Swedes will terrorize the people.”
The great reptile felt its head begin to swim, as its vision began failing.
“I feel something great within you, my child, a phoenix. One day you shall ignite, but mentally not literally. I name you Beowulf. I name you after my killer, and our savior. Now you must leave, I hear the Danes arriving. Remember, you will only accomplish as much as you think you can.”
The tiny lizards wings were massive compared to the rest of his body. He unfurled them for the very first time, and was possessed by the overwhelming urge to move them. He could feel his wings become rigid, and as he moved his wings, up and down, he could feel himself slowly rising. Once he gained sufficient altitude, he leaned backwards. He fell back to the ground. Still eager to use his wings, he repeated the process, but this time, he leaned forward. He was dropping, but he was dropping forward. He could feel the air rush through the various chambers of his scales, as he advanced towards the exit. His parent was correct- the Danes were advancing towards him, although they were still miles away. He rose on a thermal, the warm breeze pulling him ever upward. He looked down at the countryside from the sky, and new it was the dawn of a new era. The Era of the Phoenix Sentinel.

©2009 Jourdan Cameron

The Wonders of Being an Aquarist

The Wonders of Being an Aquarist
By Jourdan Cameron
What is it about aquariums that seem to make people calm and happy? Is it the sounds of bubbles, rising from the depths and disappearing at the surface? Is it perhaps the constant tinkling noises that the filters make, just like a babbling brook? Perhaps it’s the denizens of this moist world, undulating back and forth, moving restlessly to and fro, waving their beautiful fins as pennants. Or perhaps it is the way they conduct themselves, some seemingly lowly, as the corydoras catfish, yet others behaving so regally, as the Siamese fighting fish. Whatever the case, however, when properly executed, aquariums change the atmosphere of a room. They can change the bland, sterile office of a doctor or a dentist into a sanctuary. The journey to the shadowy figure that breaks your jaw, and the wicked murderer who impales your arm, becomes a visit to a friendly dentist who fixes your teeth, and the kind doctor who enjoys healing you.
Aquariums have been proven to reduce stress, and as a result, blood pressure. Not only that, but an aquarium as a focal point can provide endless entertainment, conversation, and be a great source of relaxation. Who takes care of these aquariums, however? One who takes care of an aquarium is known as an aquarist.

Aquarists have much responsibility upon them. For one, it is vital that they start an aquarium properly. They need to carefully add ammonia to a new aquarium before adding any fish. This is to allow the nitrogen cycle to occur. Certain bacteria turn the ammonia into nitrites, and yet another turns the bacteria into nitrates, which are extremely less toxic than ammonia and nitrites.

This is known among aquarists as ‘cycling’ an aquarium, and it is a vital step towards the well being of any of the aquariums denizens. It is done in order for bacterial colonies to become established and help clear the waste products of fish. It is known as biological filtration because of how it employs the help of living bacteria.

In addition to biological, there is chemical and mechanical filtration, the former using various mediums, such as carbon, Zeolite, and assorted resins, to remove chemicals from the water. Mechanical filtration removes particles from the water. Chemical filtration, however, should be used sparingly, and is not a replacement for water changes, another important role the aquarist takes on.

Water changes are vital to the health of aquaria. In addition to removing various chemicals, and debris in the aquarium, they are important for keeping the pH of the aquarium from changing rapidly. They are also necessary to add trace minerals, which though only available in small amounts, are necessary to the health of an aquarium.

Yet another job of the aquarist is that of a landscaper. Making an aquarium beautiful is no small task, simple as it may seem. For one, placement of rocks, plants, statuettes, etc., is very important as to how an aquarium turns out, whether you have a box filled with wet junk, or chest of aquatic wonders. Rocks must be placed in order of size, the largest towards the back of the aquarium, smallest in front. The same applies to plants. It is also important to use important spacing, in order that the rocks aren’t all sitting together in one group, and yet there aren’t gaping holes in the scenery. Not to say a gaping hole is a bad thing, however, considering that it could be used to bring attention to something like a special decoration, such as a castle or bubble-driven ornament.

Sometimes, fish fall ill for one reason or another. It is the duty of an aquarist to now serve as a doctor. There are various diseases that afflict fish, the most common being finrot, a bacterial infection of a fishes fins. This can be brought on by poor water quality, stress, and crowded conditions. The best treatment is to first eliminate the problem by caring for the water quality, and the finrot will usually clear itself. But, if that doesn’t happen, or if the disease is at an advanced stage, the aquarist will use medications made specifically for the purpose of healing finrot.

Yet, in what seems to be much work comes a very large reward: a beautiful aquarium, full of vibrant, healthy fish, and sometimes invertebrates, such as shrimp, clams, and others. An aquarist watches his fish as they go about their lives, socializing, and feeding, mating and fighting, they watch as they rear their young to maturity, the way the small fish interact with one another. Yes, it seems to be extremely laborious, yet what is offered is quite an unparalleled delight.

Aquarists are also responsible for scientific progress as well. Because they spend much time with their fish, they understand many of their complex behaviors in ways that are beneficial to science, and the understanding of just how important certain species are to us, as humankind!
Next time you see an aquarium, remember what went into it. Remember that an aquarist was responsible.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Julius Cæsar Thesis

July 11, 2009:
Initially, Brutus had viewed himself as a servant to Cæsar, he had a powerful, seemingly unbreakable loyalty.

“I would not, Cassius; yet I love him well.
But wherefore do you hold me here so long?
What is it that you would impart to me?
If it be aught toward the general good,
Set honour in one eye and death i' the other,
And I will look on both indifferently,
For let the gods so speed me as I love
The name of honour more than I fear death.”

He was willing to take the proverbial bullet for Cæsar initially, yet, this may not have been truly out of love for him. Rather, it was out of a sense of duty, that if this was not done, he was a traitor to his country, his fellowman, and all that Rome stood for. He believed that anyone who was to do anything of the sort, to even consider it, was to be shunned in the current life, and the figurative ‘next’.
Yet, despite all this, something drove him to betray Cæsar. It wasn’t out of love for Cæsar, rather, it was something that has had a powerful effect on history. It has triggered wars, conspiracies, crime, and much hard labor. It was fear. Fear drove Brutus to betray Cæsar, his beloved Cæsar! This doesn’t mean that his conscience didn’t affect him, however. Portia had taken notice.

“You've ungently, Brutus,
Stole from my bed: and yesternight, at supper,
You suddenly arose, and walk'd about,
Musing and sighing, with your arms across,
And when I ask'd you what the matter was,
You stared upon me with ungentle looks;
I urged you further; then you scratch'd your head,
And too impatiently stamp'd with your foot;
Yet I insisted, yet you answer'd not,
But, with an angry wafture of your hand,
Gave sign for me to leave you: so I did;”

Despite his powerful feelings against harming Cæsar, he feels it must be done.
In his
eyes, Cæsar has grown far too powerful. He is worshipped by too many people, and giving him such influence could have devastating effects should Cæsar turn aside from the people of Rome, towards his own selfish desires.

Cassius and Brutus have a unique relationship in the play. Initially, Cassius viewed Brutus as stubborn, and foolish for his allegiance to Cæsar. Brutus dismissed Cassius as simply another naysayer, jealous of “divine” Cæsar. But after some persuasion (some of which involving deception), and the impalement of Cæsar, Brutus accepts Cassius as his comrade. Thus, the two become ‘friends’, although the friendship was rather one sided in loyalties.

The concept central to the play was one of power. Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Yet, it wasn’t the regular type of power, but the power of fear, which can be a driving force. Fear can stop crimes, or cause them to occur. Fear can save lives, and extinguish them in the blink of an eye. Fear of corruption led to the death of Cæsar, yet, it most likely led Rome to a new age, the Pax Romana (Roman Peace) in fact. However, during his life, Cæsar brought about great reform to Rome. Perhaps he would have made Rome even better had he lived longer.

What means this shouting? I do fear, the people
Choose Caesar for their king.

Ay, do you fear it?
Then must I think you would not have it so.”
Another core idea to the play was that of loyalty, and how it’s rooted. Poor Brutus had felt that his allegiance to Cæsar was solid, and unbreakable. Cassius, on the other hand, was quite independent of Cæsar, and remained loyal to himself. Because of this self-centered loyalty, and the fact that nobody really knew or cared about it, his loyalty was unbroken. Yet, when it came to Brutus, his loyalty was slowly chipped away at, to the point where it simply snapped under the pressure, needing no more encouragement. Still, this change in loyalty comes at a price. He is emotionally numbed, the death of his wife (by suicide, no less) leaves him unaffected. He simply does not care anymore about what seems to happen, simply because he feels that his life is of no use. He killed his beloved Cæsar, and is now in cahoots with the men who helped kill him! He placed all his loyalty in one place, and then another, and because these places were both moot points, he has nowhere to put his loyalty. Because he feels that he has nobody, he ends his own life. If he doesn’t serve anybody, he has nothing. The trouble is, he never took the time to serve himself.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Hitch your wagon to a star/ Vogon Ship

Well, I finally read The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy! I must say, I seriously recommended to sci-fi fans,  as many jokes common in devoted sci-fi, real-fi, hi-fi, lo-fi, and just plain nerdesque circles rely on some of the jokes from this book. Not only that, but it is hilarious in it's satire of novels in futuristic settings, making jokes that range from artificial intelligence, to the to making fun of humans on earth!
Spoiler : Read the book first!
{The Vogons were really intended to be a reflection of people when they become sluggish, boring, crass, uncaring, etc. They know what is right and what is wrong, yet, they do what is wrong, not because they want to in all cases, but because they simply don't care for a minor inconvenience. I truly enjoy the way Mr. Adams brought this out, he was a remarkable author.}

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Well, I'm reading Langston Hughes...

I'm reading poems by Langston Hughes, and my favorite is "I Dream a World". 
I think that's one beautiful piece of poetry, very, very moving. I'd actually like to hear it made into a song!

I know this is a book blog...

...But,  I need to show you something I did!

I made the million-dollar edit! When it was announced that Kris Allen won American Idol (shocking me) I made the edit!
Adam was a good sport about it (I've seen some losers become vicious) and I will gladly buy both of their albums.

Anyhow, I read Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman. I found it... interesting, to say the least, although it made me question his very sanity, I particularly thought that the structure with which he wrote his poems was actually quite interesting, I hadn't seen any other like it.
I give him about 3.5 stars (personally).

Friday, May 15, 2009

I'm taking up another instrument....

Well, I'm busy narrowing it down, and I'll find which one I want soon.
What does this have to do with a book blog, you ask?
Well, I'm going to have to find books relating to my instrument, naturally!
So, I have:

The Mijwiz
The Erhu
The Gopichand
The Esraj
The Ektara
The Irish Flute
Or, I'll find a set of chimes/gongs of sorts. I'm still searching (although a set of chimes/gongs would be cool!)

I can play most instruments in a few minutes by ear, so once I find the instrument for me, I'll give you a video ASAP!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


I just finished A Man Named Dave.

Satisfying end to a trilogy.


It was truly amazing. 6 Stars. Period.
In this book you can feel Mr. Pelzers pain, and have something of an idea of what he went through, not only the physical pain inflicted upon him, but the mental, and emotional pain.
He felt like he was literally nobody, nobody at all. He believed at one point that he deserved all that he went through. Finally he realizes he was lied to by his own mother. Yet, despite having his very identity ripped from his very being, he was still able to forgive. He understood what it was to be dehumanized, and because of this, he wouldn't call his former wife his ex, simply because he viewed that as a way to take the person away from her.
This is a truly amazing conclusion to A Child Called It and The Lost Boy, I beg you to drop down to your local library or bookstore and buy all three. They're truly inspiring, and you cannot, despite your best efforts, put them down.

When you finish, give them to somebody else, pass them around, they are truly magnificent (although I warn the sensitive that these books will have you crying. Hard.)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Not too long ago I was reading a bit on martial arts, including the book Learning Martial Arts, by Steve Potts (excellent for younger kids interested in martial arts) and also Ninjutsu, by Aidan Trimblen.
One book I read that I can really recommend is Superdove, by Courtney Humphries. Ms. Humphries takes a look at the seemingly lowly pigeon and explains just why they can strut with pride. I give this book all five stars!
One of my hobbies is reading about random countries/states.
So far, I've read:
Rebecca Stefoff, Nevada
Rebecca Stefoff, Utah
Rebecca Stefoff, Oregon
Rebecca Stefoff, Washington
Leslie Jermyn, Guyana

As I was waltzing down the (library) aisle, I came across the biographical section and happened upon a fascinating book about Stalin that I picked up, which I also give a high rating. After reading this I gained quite an understanding of what occurred in Russia and why Stalin was feared by many. The TAA (Title and Author) is Joseph Stalin, by Steven Otfinoski.
I really recommend it!

Monday, April 13, 2009

I'm nobody! Who are you?

I'm nobody! Who are you? is one of Emily Dickinsons most famous poems. Here is my analysis:

I believe that the speaker in this poem is Emily Dickinson, and she is talking about herself, and her quiet, secluded lifestyle. She enjoys privacy, and yet she looks for friends who enjoy the same thing. “Don't tell! they'd advertise – you know!” seems to indicate that she and her friend would like to be hidden away from the rest of society, in order to have their own little world. She doesn’t seem to want to even be known by anyone other than this friend, who she so enjoys talking to. A nobody would be someone who isn’t particularly known- maybe not as a celebrity, or in Dickinson’s case, not particularly well known by anyone outside her small world. A somebody to her would likely be either the celebrities of her day, or, people in her community. She, despite her being a “somebody” sentient and thoughtful, would like to be somebody to herself, and is, but would not like to be particularly known by anyone else. On the other hand, she may be talking about herself, and talking to herself. After all, if she is nobody, than she can have an intelligent conversation with herself, right? Another possibility is that she had problems with self esteem, and though she knew herself to be somebody, was afraid of being ridiculed for some reason or another, and chose to stay an anonymous ‘nobody’.
It also seems that she was making a statement about vanity, and by comparing being a ‘somebody’ to being a frog, that you would simply be talking to a bog, that being somebody simply wouldn’t matter some time later, that everybody was already a frog, and it is a waste of energy to make yourself popular among the frogs, because in all honesty, what does that earn you in the bog? It certainly doesn’t make you a great person, it simply means you’re a loud croaker! She did, also, mention how public it was to be a frog, perhaps indicating that she’d rather have her privacy, instead of fame, and perhaps, in a way, this was freedom to her.

Some while ago I also read most of Brian Jacques Redwall series, starting with Salamandastron.

So far I read:
I need to read more now!

Saturday, April 04, 2009

A few opinions...

OK, here would be a review of a few books...
The first is about a series, one of several unfortunate events. In fact, the series is called A Series of Unfortunate Events.
I absolutely loved it, I give it about 4.5 stars. My only complaint is that the series could have been long, but in all honesty, could Mr. Snicket have created 13 more books of misfortune? He's had enough for one lifetime.

By Ernest Hemingway, I read The Old Man and the Sea
It was a very interesting book, I recommend it if you enjoy Swordfish fishing, or books about people trapped in boats. I cannot, however, recommend it if you don't enjoy seeing sharks demonized, as was done in this book. Though the sharks struck me as symbolic (taking away what you worked so hard to achieve) I think Hemingway gives the sharks a bad name.
Despite the small size of the book (around 100 pages) it was very well written, and a recommendable read at four stars.

I know I read it, just don't know when...

OK, a list of books I read...

By Lemony Snicket (A.K.A Daniel Handler)
Note (the years next to the books are the dates they were released, not the dates I read them, until The Slippery Slope, which I read the year it came out, and every other book since then).
Romeo and Juliet, by William Shakespeare

David Copperfield, by Charles Dickens (one of my favorite authors)

Growing up Digital, by Don Tapscott

By Seymour Simon:

Pets in a Jar (my favorite!)
Einstein Anderson Sees Through the Invisible Man
Einstein Anderson: The Gigantic Ants and Other Cases
Einstein Anderson: The Online Spaceman and Other Cases

By Dave Pelzer:

A Child Called It
The Lost Boy

Jabberwocky, by Lewis Carrol