Friday, October 17, 2008

My "Issue" Essay, No.13

TOPIC: ISSUE17 - "There are two types of laws: just and unjust. Every individual in a society has a responsibility to obey just laws and, even more importantly, to disobey and resist unjust laws."
WORDS: 579 TIME: 00:45:00 DATE: 2008-10-17 15:31:17

In this statement, the speaker recommends that whether a citizen obeys a law depends on whether the law is justice. I admit that the initial potential of the speaker is to make our society better; however, this statement is too simple to analyze such a complex issue- one that discussing the definition of justice. I argue that we cannot simply resist laws but should find a practical method to ensure that our law is just.

To begin with, I agree with the speaker can we need just laws and the unjust ones should be abandoned. Law is the standard for people's behavior whose function is to support people's rights, to ban someone's harmful actions to others, to settle conflicts within the people. When we meet social problems, the first reaction is referring to the law, as a symbol of justice. If law itself is unjust, there could be no justice in the society. In medieval, law was made by the feudalists, who use laws, to rule their kingdom, to control their people, to extract tax. Similarly, in ancient China, emperors made, revised, and abandoned laws arbitrary to meet their needs and profits. Those laws are not just law to the common people and thus brought about chaos and revolutions. When we consider these situations, we may simply admit that we should also disobey and resist unjust laws in our society.

Nevertheless, the speaker failed to consider how to define a just law if he/she wants to use this standard to divide different laws. Unlike those kings' laws in the past, our laws are more formal and well designed, so we cannot easily distinguish an unfair law like our ancestors did. Different people tend to pursuit different profits, and their profits maybe conflict with each other. For instance, when we discussing labor law, there are two sides of people- the employees and the employers, whose interests are totally opposite. While the bosses emphasize on longer serving time of employees, lower cost of hiring, and higher business revenues, the workers may appeal for shorter working hours and higher salaries. As a result, in their views, the definition of just law is different. Similarly, individual cannot form a uniform standard to define whether a law is just or not.

Finally, I argue that a practical method should be taken to revise or abandon our laws. As no individual has right to resist laws and no government can revise laws arbitrary, a reliable law-revising mechanism of a nation is the protector of justice. Taking United States Constitution for example, the fifth of its seven original articles is "Process of Amendments", which guaranteed a reliable method to revise the Constitution and other laws. Now the Constitution has 27 amendments in all, with the last one ratified in 1992. Other countries have followed United States' example, in their constitution, the process of making, revising, abandoning a law is clearly defined. In short, we should protect the justice by obeying laws, not by resisting them.

Most people know that the justice of law has great impact on the society, and whether the law system is just can determine the future of a nation. But the speaker failed to consider that it is too difficult for ordinary people to judge a law's justice. In my view, social system and the entire society, not individual, can revise laws. For every individua, what they can do is to advocate for a change, not to resist some so-called "unjust" laws.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

My "Issue" Essay, NO.9

TOPIC: ISSUE51 - "Education will be truly effective only when it is specifically designed to meet the individual needs and interests of each student."
WORDS: 588 TIME: 00:50:00 DATE: 2008-10-16 14:28:20

In this statement, the speaker points out that the educator should design every student's education plan for their own needs and interests. In my view, I also admit the importance of taking different method of education according to every single student; however, I argue that this method is not practice in the present condition and we need to find a compromising way.

To begin with, I concede that if we want to cultivate a child successfully, the best way is that take his/her individual situation- including needs and interests- into consideration. Twenty-five centuries ago, the great thinker and educator, Confucius, pointed out a similar educational theory- "educating according to one's characteristic", which means what knowledge a student should learn and what kind of method his/her teacher takes should be determined by the very student's private conditions. In Confucius' age, human's knowledge was quite limited, in comparison to our time. Now we have too many academic fields: from art to logic, from linguistics to science, from history to engineering. Even in the field of engineering, there are also hundreds of specified subject: electric engineering, civil engineering, mechanical engineering, biological engineering, etc. It is hard for one person to study more than two of them, let alone all these subjects. One the other hand, common sense informs me that, every student is unique, and has his/her her own talent to perform excellent in one of these fields. As a result, one can be trained to success, if he/her is educated with suitable discipline and suitable method.

Nevertheless, I am obliged to point out that it is not possible to train every single child in this way, for the cost is too high for our society to afford. If educators have to design training plans for every student, the amount of work is so large that our current number of teachers and indicator is far from enough. In most counties in the world, like United States, or United Kingdom, the expense of education takes less than ten percent of the GDP and people worded in educational career is also insignificant. Although the method is definitely a good one, our current educational resource is not adequate to afford it.

To trade off the revenue and the expense, I propose a compromising solution. This solution includes two parts: (1) classifying the students into different groups, (2) providing different method to students in different studying period. Maybe we cannot offer different education for every student, but we can divide students into groups. In every group, students have similar background and characteristics. Thus, we do not to prepare millions of educational plan; instead, perhaps one hundred plans are enough, if we classify students into one hundred groups. In each group, students are trained to work in different fields in future. The other part of the solution is that, we do not need to design specified plan for students in every grades. When children are below 15 years old, what they need is almost the same: extensive but basic knowledge in every field, so we can provide the same educational plan to every student. When they step into high school or college, we are obliged to provide different plans to meet their further needs. Finally, to those graduate students, educator must provide unique plan for every single student, as they have reached the top level of our education level.

In conclusion, I argue that, considering the present social resource for education is limited, the best way of education cannot be practice, but we can take some alternative methods that might help us to form a better education system.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

My "Issue" Essay, NO.8

TOPIC: ISSUE208 - "The way people look, dress, and act reveals their attitudes and interests. You can tell much about a society's ideas and values by observing the appearance and behavior of its people."
WORDS: 582 TIME: 01:00:00 DATE: 2008-10-15 13:36:31

In this statement, the speaker points out that people's appearance and behavior can reflect the individuals' attitudes and interests as well as the whole society's ideas and values. As to every single person, I admit that how he/her dress and act can reveal his/her personality to some extent; however, I do not consider people's appearance and behavior as the major factors to represent a society's thought or ideology.

To begin with, I concede that everyone chooses their clothing and behavior according to their individual characters so that their appearance can reveal the inner mind. It is a useful experience that we can briefly judge a person's interests by his/her clothing and behavior. For example, some people with specific hobbits often share similar clothing. People who favor sports often wear sports shirts and shoes so as to be convenience to join in physical activities. People who love Hip-hop tend to wear clothes in bigger size, and they always wear caps whenever in day or night, wherever inside or outside of a building. Now, many clothing company corporate with stars in every field and print their signatures or symbols on the cloth in order to attract more customers. As a result, we can distinguish Lakers' fans from Rockets' fans because their shirts or coats can tell us which team they support.

Nevertheless, how a person dresses also depends on other factors, such as one's social position, personal property, profession, etc. These attributes have nothing to do with a person's attitude or interests. President Bush is definitely a fan of US National Basketball Team in Olympic Games, but when our president went to watch the match in Beijing, he still wear a formal suit- such seems not good appearance in a stadium. Because he represents the government of United States, he has no choice. I can assert that almost every woman wants to own Chanel coats and Louis Vuitton purses; however, not every woman can afford these luxuries. Now Chanel and Louis Vuitton are not symbol of personal tastes or favorites, but symbol of success and wealth. Similarly, many large companies required their clerks to wear formal suits at work, so their appearances are not their own choices but uniforms. From these suits we can never clarify a person's thought and interests.

When we compare people in one specific nation with another, we can observe the two groups of people did have significant difference in their clothing and behaviour. Yet, in my view, these differences are attributable more to fashion instead of a society's ideas and values. Common sense informs me that fashion and popular styles change fast. Taking the city I live in for example, ten years ago, the most popular clothing for young women was long skirt. One the contrary, nowadays, most young girl wears mini-skirts, no matter in summer or in winter. In the society changes as fast as ours, fashion and people's appearances can change dramatically in a decade; however, the ideas and values changes relatively slowly. How we define virtue, justice or goodness is just like our ancestors. These standards are no decided or reflected by the mere fact how people dress and act.

In conclusion, although the appearance and behavior of a single person can reflect individuals' hobbies or attitudes, this method cannot be applied to analyze nations or societies. When we compare two nations, we need to consider more on their different language, moral standard, media, and politics, which have more deep meaning than the citizens' appearance.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A Check for Oct, 14


1. Argument Outlines & Reading 40
4:00 P.M.~5:30P.M.

2. Two Issue Writing within 2.5 hours.(Including a 5-minute break)
Finish before 9:00 P.M.

3. Issue 5.5 outlines Up to No.100
Brief outlines.

Today's tasks were too easy to fulfill.


1. Argument Outlines & Reading 50 to #150

2. Issue Brief Outlines 50 to #150
(60 minutes and 55 minutes)

3. Two Issue Writing within 2 hours.(Including a 5-minute break)
Finish before 2:45 P.M.

4. A Argument in 30 minutes (2~3 minutes for check)

9 Days to go!!!

My "Issue" Essay, NO.7

TOPIC: ISSUE130 - "How children are socialized today determines the destiny of society. Unfortunately, we have not yet learned how to raise children who can help bring about a better society."
WORDS: 572 TIME: 01:00:00 DATE: 2008-10-14 20:27:14

In this statement, the speaker points out that the next generation is important to the future, and therefore put an unsolved problem: "how to raise children who can help bring about a better society." There is no need to question the importance of our children to the development of society; however, I argue that it is not necessary to worry about whether our offspring can form a better society.

To begin with, I concede that the next generation is essential for our society's destiny, as they are the builder-to-be of the world. Whether a nation is powerful or not, her leaders should always pay attention to educate and socialize their children better. In history, many super powers declined because people declined generation by generation. The Ancient Roman Empire, which used to own the Mediterranean as her inner-land "lake", could not escape from being conquered by ancient Gaul, because the empire was not able to train the children raise legions as she used to be. On the contrary, Japan- the loser of World War II- successfully revived in twenty year, and developed to be the second powerful economic entity in the 1980s. The Japanese government attributed their success to the attention to children. One fact impressed me the most is that, in 1950s, when Japan suffered from economic depression and severe lack of food, children's daily serves of milk were always guaranteed. Difference in treating children between 1950s' Japan and Ancient Roman proved that if a nation want to develop or keep strong, paying sufficient attention to children is necessary.

Nevertheless, the statement implies that there is a standard to judge whether a society is good or bad. Yet, in societies that change as fast as ours, this standard should never exist. Twenty year ago, when we are born into the world, few people can predict the present society. Our parents could not imagine the wide use of new technologies, and they were also not able to predict that Internet can change our life style and the way of communication. Politician did not foresee today's high price of oil and the problem caused by the energy crisis. Similarly, as our society is changing faster and faster, we do not know what our world will look like after another two decades. So, how can we make such a mechanical standard to evaluate the future society, which we even cannot predict? Whether the future is desirable or not can only answered by our children.

Moreover, I advocate that our children have the right, as well as the obligation, to decide what kind of society they want to establish. Fortunately, although we cannot decide our children's future, we can help our children to become better individuals. There are two main ways. First, we can provide adequate education to our children and equipped them with sufficient knowledge- including science, technologies, culture, history, aesthetics, ethics, etc. With the basic knowledge, our next generation will have tools- at least as good as ours- to build their society and solve social problems. Secondly, we can train our children with logical reasoning and analytical skills. With these abilities, they can establish their own standards to judge their society and improve it accordingly.

In conclusion, I agree that we are able to and obliged to help our offspring to get ready for their future task to build a better society. However, we should let our children to decide their tomorrow and the future world.

My "Issue" Essay, NO.6

TOPIC: ISSUE50 - "In order to improve the quality of instruction at the college and university level, all faculty should be required to spend time working outside the academic world in professions relevant to the courses they teach."
WORDS: 566 TIME: 01:05:00 DATE: 2008-10-14 18:55:48

In this statement, the speaker points out that college faculty should work outside universities and thus can help improve their performance as college instructors. I partly agree with the speaker, but he/she overlooks some potential passive factors and the fact that not every faculty needs these experiences.

To begin with, I concede that working experiences in companies or even governments can help college teachers to get more accurate understanding on what they study. In the tower of ivory, students and teachers study their subjects by means of reading books, logical reasoning, or experiments in laboratories. I admit that, knowledge acquired from these methods can reflect the real world to some extent. However, in most cases, when they are applied into reality, many problems might rise. For instance, when many technologies were first introduced into our society, they received cold response from the customers. Similarly, economists have worked out lots of mathematical models to explain how the finance system works, or to predict whether the Dow-Jones Index will rise. However, these works seldom success to fulfill their original purpose, although the statistic data they based on was reliable and the analyses of these economists were reasonable. Those failures were mostly attributable to the lack of practice experience.

Nevertheless, getting jobs, even part-time jobs, calls for large amount of time and energy. If one pay too much attention on business outside the academic world, his/her teaching and researching would be hindered. One thing we need to notice is that, if we want to learn something that can help us to draw a clear view on the society and the relative fields, we should spend magnificent time and energy into those work. For example, if a young teacher in the department of Computer Science wants to gain practice experience in software engineering, he is required to join a developing team in large software companies such as Microsoft, SUN Micro-systems, Oracle, etc. A typical software project will last for six months or more. In this period, one can hardly take teaching tasks in university. Even in some other field, such as legal profession. Some professors in law schools may work as attorneys for part-time job. Although solving a law case requires less time than working out a large software system, the professors' work will inevitably conflict with his regular lecture for his students.

Furthermore, the speaker failed to take the complexity of different disciplines into consideration. Different majors require different level of practical experience, so we cannot assert that all faculties should work outside or spend the same time for those works. Some majors have more links with our daily life, but others have not. Faculty in theoretical physics, arts, history, archaeology, and philosophy should pay most of their attention to the teaching and research in college, for there are no directly relative professions in these subjects. One the other hand, for faculty in business management, financing, accounting, and engineering, they can find relative companies easily. A professor is qualified as he can prove that he can manage a company skillfully, and a teacher of engineering should also have experiences in technologies companies. In some extreme condition, some teachers may be hired from large companies and works part-time in colleges.

In conclusion, I also recommend teachers to take some part-time jobs, if they can balance the "expense" and "revenue", and their disciplines need these kinds of work experience.

Monday, October 13, 2008

A Check for Oct, 13


1. Two Issue Writing within 3 hours.

2. One Argument Writing within 30 minutes.
Finished at 7:30 P.M.
I waste some time (about 2 hours) to surf the internet...

3. 20 Issue outlines.

Today's tasks were too easy to fulfill.


1. Argument Outlines & Reading 40
4:00 P.M.~5:30P.M.

2. Two Issue Writing within 2.5 hours.(Including a 5-minute break)
Finish before 9:00 P.M.

3. Issue 5.5 outlines Up to No.100
Brief outlines.

10 Days to go!!!

My "Argument" Essay, NO.7

TOPIC: ARGUMENT238 - The following appeared in a memorandum from the president of Mira Vista College to the college's board of trustees.

"At nearby Green Mountain College, which has more business courses and more job counselors than does Mira Vista College, 90 percent of last year's graduating seniors had job offers from prospective employers. But at Mira Vista College last year, only 70 percent of the seniors who informed the placement office that they would be seeking employment had found full-time jobs within three months after graduation, and only half of these graduates were employed in their major field of study. To help Mira Vista's graduates find employment, we must offer more courses in business and computer technology and hire additional job counselors to help students with their resumés and interviewing skills."
WORDS: 470 TIME: 00:30:00 DATE: 2008-10-13 19:29:15

The author of this argument claims that Mira Vista College should also take the similar methods in Green Mountain College, which can help Mira Vista's graduates to find a job. To justify this claim the arguer cites a survey in graduates of Mira Vista that only 70 percents find jobs in their major. A careless analyzer may consider this excerpt convincing and plausible; nevertheless, I find it contains several logical flaws in critical respects.

To begin with, the author's conclusion is based on the research of the seniors who informed the college. Without informing how many students informed, the arguer is hasty to draw the conclusion that Mira Vista's graduates cannot find jobs as good as those in Green Mountain College. Moreover, half of the graduates did not find jobs relative to their majors in college did not necessarily indicate that their job is disappointing. In a society which developed as fast as ours, it is very common that graduates take jobs other than their major. Thus, in face of such limited evidence, it is fallacious for the speaker to generalize any claim at all, let alone a persuasive statement.

Additionally, even I concede that Mira Vista's graduates cannot find decent jobs like their counterparts do; the logic of this argument- which seems to be sound- is still open is doubt. The argument relies on the unwarranted assumption that good jobs of Green Mountain College's graduates were attributable to business courses and job counselors. It is equally possible that other factors were instead reasons for finding a good job. Perhaps students in Green Mountain College got higher average grades so that their employees consider that they are more equipped with basic knowledge. Without ruling out such possibilities, the author cannot justify the claim that

Finally, even if Green Mountain College graduates really benefited from the business courses and job counselors, it is necessary to point out another flaw that undermines the argument. The analogy between Mira Vista College and Green Mountain College is highly suspicious because the author failed to account for possible differences between these two colleges. Perhaps Green Mountain College's main majors are economics, business management, finance, etc. Students can take advantage of relative courses and job counselors. Meanwhile, students in Mira Vista learn theoretical disciplines such as mathematics, physics, and statistics. As a result, the mere method to offer business courses and job counselors can help little.

To sum up, the author's conclusion about how to improve students' finding jobs is not well reasoned. To bolster his or her argument, the speaker is expected to provide more information which can show that Mira Vista College really suffered from an employing problem. Furthermore, to make it logically acceptable, the arguer should also demonstrate that the method in Green Mountain College can be applied to Mira Vista as well.

My "Issue" Essay, NO.5

TOPIC: ISSUE144 - "It is the artist, not the critic,* who gives society something of lasting value."

*a person who evaluates works of art, such as novels, films, music, paintings, etc.
WORDS: 560 TIME: 01:08:52 DATE: 2008-10-13 15:30:50

When discussing who bring something of lasting value to our society, we should clarify what is lasting value. Obviously, the masterpieces by great artists as well as our understanding of those arts are both with great values. When considering those values, I cannot agree with the statement. Instead, I argue that both artists and critics have contributed to our society.

To begin with, I concede that artists are the creators of those great works. Without their efforts, these masterpieces would never exist. Unlike the field of science and technologies, artists can work independently, with no needs to studying former achievements. Art is an innovation which is full with creativities and inspirations, so that any single piece of work can be created by the only artist. Without Michelangelo, our standard of a perfect male body might be very different. Without Shakespeare, we could never be impressed by the great tragedies like Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, and Macbeth. Without Beethoven, so many symphonies and sonatas will be lost. Without Vincent van Gogh, perhaps the post-impression style will never be established. Those and other great art pieces can be created by only artists themselves, so artists must be the chief contributors for the aesthetics in our society.

Nevertheless, the factors of critics cannot be overlooked as they also put value into arts. First of all, critics’ comments- whether positive or negative- can both help the artists to improve their works and performances. Like ordinary people, when artists finish their works, they are expected to be praised and recognized. However, some artists were not fortunate enough to enjoy this pleasure. Van Gogh was this kind of artists whose works were not evaluated during his life. Although every piece of his paintings owes a price of more than one million dollars, he failed to exchange a decent meal with his painting. His "failure" finally led to his depression and suicide at an age of only 37. I can confidently presume that had some critics been able to understand Van Gogh's painting earlier and give his works a positive judgment, Van Gogh would not kill himself but continue to create more paintings and even start a new style which we can never imagine. Definitely, Van Gogh's death was a great loss in human history. In this situation, critics can also bring value to our societies.

Secondly, another important function of criticism is that it bridges the gap between the common people and art, which is initially not easy for ordinary people to understand. Artists' works always went in front of the times, thus common people are not easy to comprehend the meaning conveyed by those paintings, music, literature, sculpture, etc. Critics, as professional numbers or even artists themselves, have a clearer understand of those works. Their comments are easier and can help people to enjoy those pioneers' works. When we discuss whether something is valuable or not, we must consider how many people can take advantage from it. The artists created the value, but they do not know how to present them to the society. So critics' work is worthy, for they make the great works acceptable and thus valuable to common people.

In conclusion, my position was different with the speaker's simple one. Besides the creating works finished by the artists, I considered criticism as another important part of the field of art.

My "Issue" Essay, NO.4

TOPIC: ISSUE48 - "The study of history places too much emphasis on individuals. The most significant events and trends in history were made possible not by the famous few, but by groups of people whose identities have long been forgotten."
WORDS: 555 TIME: 01:17:25 DATE: 2008-10-13 13:48:32

In this statement, the speaker asserts that history study should pay more attention to the large groups of people for they were the maker of historic events. I agree that those events were largely made by the majority than some famous individuals. However, I disagree with the speaker that we are expected to study these people to clarify the history.

To begin with, I concede that most people rather than a few of elites contributed to the process of history. Almost all historical construction projects were attributable to the labor of ordinary people. The Great Wall was built by countless soldiers from every dynasty in ancient China; similarly, Egyptian pyramids- although initially built as tombs for the kings- were build by craftsmen and slaves with no names. In every famous battle, brave warriors and strong fighters are the determining factor finally leading to the victory. Many of them were killed on the battle field and left nothing about their names, their stories, and their contributions, but they were the maker of the history. After World War II every counties, from United Kingdom to China, from United States to USSR, built monuments in the center square of the capital city. On these monuments wrote: "In memory of the defenders of our country", without any specific names. Those monuments reveal that both government and later generations agree that those nameless people contributed to the process of history.

Secondly, although the total efforts made by the elites was less than ordinary people, when considering average contribution by a single person, those famous people really did more. Sometimes, their behavior, decision, or even speech had great impact on the history and let to dramatic changes of the society. In the field of political, kings, presidents and other governors are more powerful than ordinary people. Their ideas had vast influences on the history. For instance, if Spanish Queen Isabella was unwilling to support Columbus' voyage, the discovery of America might be delayed for many years. Although Columbus and his crew made more efforts than Queen Isabella, her decision changed the history equally or more significant than Columbus' adventure.

Finally, the speaker's method about how to study history is not feasible. I admit that the sum of ordinary people's efforts is great, but studies based on them would be either too costing or unconvincing. On one hand, if we try to study every single person in the history, from generals to soldiers, from kinds to citizens. This project is not time-consuming or money-consuming, but actually impossible. Take the battle of Normandy in World War II for example, only allied forces contained more than 2,880,000 soldiers. It was not proper to study all of them. On the other hand, when we study those people as a whole, it is still hard to draw a clear picture of history. Without any study on individuals valuable information was neglected and therefore we were not able to know how the events developed specifically. As a mid-way, to study some famous individuals can reveal the history with a low cost.

In conclusion, history was made by the people as a whole and the contribution by the groups of people was valuable. Nevertheless, when we seek a vivid and clear view of history, studying those famous people who made great efforts is a relatively proper way.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

A Check for Oct, 12


1. ISSUE Outlines #1~#30
Not very efficiently.
2. A new 'Issue' practice, 90 minutes.
My speed is disappointed


1. Two Issue Writing within 3 hours.
Finish before 3:45 P.M.

2. One Argument Writing within 35 minutes.
Finish before 7:00 P.M.

3. 20 Issue outlines.
Brief outlines.

11 Days to go!!!