Friday, May 1, 2009

"The Autumn of the Multitaskers"

We have been discussing the use of syntax, diction, and tone in class. As we have discussed, your research paper should maintain a formal, academic tone that is appropriate for an educated readership. What this means for you is that your paper should avoid contractions, personal pronouns, informal analogies and descriptions, and humor.

That being said, this week's essay is a perfect example of the difference between an academic essay and a popular essay. Popular essays can be found in magazines and often use those very techniques that academic essays avoid: contractions, personal pronouns, informal analogies and descriptions, and humor. As such, popular essays seek to entertain as much as inform. For example, "The Autumn of the Multitaskers" has a clear thesis: multitasking is inefficient and often dangerous. However, rather than just providing clear evidence in the form of logos, ethos, and pathos (which the essay does quite well), the author also provides numerous informal examples to provide levity and humor.

For this week's post, choose a sentence that illustrates this informality and explain how it strengthens or weakens the author's argument.

For example, on page 159 Kirn provides an example from The Starr Report of the investigation into whether or not Bill Clinton committed perjury . This is certainly a humorous example of multitasking, but it doesn't convey the same connotations of danger that his other examples (like the car crash) provide. For me as a reader, this example of Bill Clinton was more of a humorous distraction than it was a useful example.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

"Deadly Contact"

For this week's post, I want you to think about your research paper topic.

How are Hendra and Ebola similar to the disease you've chosen as your topic?

Give two similarities and two differences between the disease you've chosen to write about and Hendra / Ebola.

Friday, April 17, 2009

"Malaria: Stopping a Global Killer"

Michael Finkel's essay is well-written on a number of levels, but one of the essay's stronger points is his use of description.

For example, his line "Then she plunges her stiletto mouthparts into the skin" is an effective metaphor that compares the mosquito's mouth to a stiletto, which is a long, thin knife. In this way, Finkel describes a mosquito (which we usually consider an annoying nuisance at most) in a way that makes it sound like a stealthy assassin we should all fear.

Find one desciption you find effective, and explain why it works so well.

Friday, April 3, 2009

"Restoring America's Big, Wild Animals"

1. What does Donlan mean when he discusses restoring megafauna? What animals would be classified as megafauna? What animals wouldn't count as megafauna?

2. What is the difference between a proactive and a reactive approach to saving wildlife?

3. Which animal would you put at the top of the list to save?

Monday, March 23, 2009

"Zonkeys Are Pretty Much My Favorite Animal"

Hello All,

For this week's post, answer two questions:

1. What does evolutionary biologist Michael Arnold mean when he describes species as being "rocks" or "more liquid than solid"?

2. If you were to create a hybrid, what would you create and why?