Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Soundtrack to My Life

1.     “I Was Here” by Beyoncé
      This is one of my all-time favorite songs. Not only does it sound amazing, the lyrics are really moving. It makes me think about how I want to be remembered after I die, and to let the world know “I was here.” I also love it because of the memories I have while this was playing. This past summer I went on a cruise of the Baltic Sea, and it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I love to travel, and getting to see so many countries was so incredible. The day before I left, Beyoncé’s new CD “4” came out, so I immediately downloaded it so I would have new music to listen to while on vacation. This song was what I listened to every night while in bed, feeling the boat slowly sway, and the spray of the waves hitting my window. Whenever I hear this song it brings me back to those moments on the trip that I could never forget.
2.     “Sunshine On My Shoulders” by John Denver
      This song was recently introduced to me while I was nannying for a family with 2-year old triplets. The mom, who I grew extremely close with, was obsessed with John Denver. And so every time we got in the car to go run errands, she’d put his CD on. And I’ll never forget the first time Lidya, one of the babies, asked the mom for “suh-shi.” So Julie played “Sunshine On My Shoulders” and we just laughed as Lidya tried to sing along, as best as a two-year old can. It was just one of the funniest things I’ve seen a kid do.
3.     “Braveheart Theme” by James Horner
      This song plays into my huge, embarrassing obsession with movie soundtracks. With me, I can tell how much I love a movie by how much I love the score. I don’t know why, but sometimes listening to the music from my favorite movies is better than listening to my favorite songs. Braveheart happens to be one of my favorite movies, for many reasons, and the soundtrack is beautiful. The reason I love it so much is that my first time ever leaving the country and being away from my parents for more than a few nights was when I went to Scotland in high school. Because it was the first place I had ever traveled to outside of the country, it holds a significant place in my heart. The soundtrack to Braveheart represents Scotland in a beautiful way.
4.     “Cat Daddy” by Rej3ctz
       I wish I could dance like that.
5.     “Eleanor Rigby” by The Beatles
       I felt that it’s important to include this song, because I’m named after it…in a sort of indirect way. My real name isn’t Eleanor, and my parents weren’t trying to be totally artsy and unique by naming me after a Beatles song. But they couldn’t decide on a name for me, and Ellen was brought up. My dad, who’s a huge Beatles fan, immediately made the connection between the two and pushed for the name Ellen. He never told my Mom that was the reason he loved it, but he told me a few years ago when I had to do an assignment for a Child Psychology class about my mother’s pregnancy with me. He made me promise not to tell my Mom that I’m named after a Beatles song, and it still makes me laugh to think of that. 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Research Paper Quotes

“The fall of the autocracy in February 1917, leaving Russia not only without a government but without any acceptable and traditional procedure for choosing a new one, could be no more than the first phase of the great process we have in mind when we speak of the Russian Revolution.” (Kennan, 1967, pg. 5)

Kennan, G.F. (1967). ITS NATURE AND CONSEQUENCES. Foreign Affairs. 46(1), 1-21.

                  Because my paper is looking at the causes of the Russian Revolution, I think it’s important to acknowledge the significance of the revolution itself. Otherwise my paper would have no real purpose. I really like this quote because it puts the whole scenario into an almost poetic sense. The source is also very reliable. It was published in Foreign Affairs, so it’s already been edited for imperfections and inaccurate information. Also, the author gives credit for many different causes to the Revolution, unlike most who take a specific stance on one particular cause.

“The illness of the Tsarevich cast its shadow over the whole of the concluding period of Tsar Nicholas II’s reign and alone can explain it. Without appearing to be, it was one of the main causes of his fall, for it made possible the phenomenon of Rasputin and resulted in the fatal isolation of the sovereigns who lived in a world apart, wholly absorbed in a tragic anxiety which had to be concealed from all eyes” (Gilliard, 1921, pg. 196)

Gilliard, P. (1970). Thirteen years at the Russian court. (F. A. Holt, Trans.). New York: Arno Press. (Original work published 1921).

                  This quote will be useful in my paper because it shows how one factor caused a snowball effect of influential events. It comes from a memoir written by Alexei’s, the Tsar’s sons, tutor, Pierre Gilliard. Gilliard was always seen as one of Alexei’s best friends, because he spent so much time around the boy. Unfortunately, most of the book is Gilliard’s own opinion, but this quote is still useful. It brings up a new cause of the Russian Revolution, the Tsarevich’s hemophilia. The argument for this is that’s what caused Alexandra to be so distant, and the Tsar to be so gentle, and for them to both be so distant in their politics. The fact that this was written by one of the families' closest friends makes me think that it’s important to include in my research. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Avoidable Death of Rebecca Riley

In “The Avoidable Death of Rebecca Riley,” Ronson discusses the problems associated with the DSM and how people find comfort in assigning a label to their quirky characteristics. He focuses on Robert Spitzer, a psychiatrist who becomes an editor for the DSM-III. Spitzer changed the way the DSM worked; he made it so that it only included diseases that had a specific checklist for diagnosis. At first, this was a good plan; it would eliminate any human judgment or bias from diagnosing patients.  But eventually it became dangerous, because diseases were classified by specific characteristics, people with those traits assumed they were mentally ill, regardless of any medical opinion. Soon rowdy children were being diagnosed with bipolar disorder and being treated with drugs that could kill them. This is where the name from the chapter comes from. A girl from Boston, Rebecca Riley, couldn’t sleep one night, and so her parents gave her a dose of her bipolar medication that killed her in her sleep, because it had not been approved for use in children.
I can honestly say, I do not know what my opinion is of this book. Some parts I loved, some I didn’t understand, and some I just didn’t understand the point of. I’m very torn as to what my opinion is. I feel as though it had great potential, a real look into the world of psychopathy and the twisted treatments that people go through. But Ronson’s level of anxiety and awkwardness made me question his sanity at times. Overall, I will say it was a very intriguing and good read, but I almost feel as though I can’t trust what he says. Maybe I’m just impressed that he actually interviewed all these people and experienced these shocking things, and just because I find it hard to believe I automatically assume he’s making it all up. The ending was also a bit disappointing. I wish he had continued to work on the book, so that we knew what the next message said and what the point of “Being of Nothingness” was. But maybe that was his point, for there to “be a little mystery left.”

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Madness of David Shayler

           In “The Madness of David Shayler,” Ronson meets with David Shayler, a retired spy for an Islamic Fighting Group. After attempting to assassinate Muammar Gadhafi, he decided he didn’t want to be part of an agency involved in assassinations, and so he leaked information to a newspaper. He spent time in jail, was released, became a conspiracy theorist, and eventually convinced himself he was the Messiah. The biggest conspiracy theory that he believed in was that the 7/7 bombings on a London train didn’t really happen, that it was simply a power surge. This prompted Ronson to get involved with Rachel North, a survivor of the attacks. After the attacks she began to blog about her experience with terrorism; Shayler and his followers created a campaign that said everything her blog said was false and that she didn’t really exist, that it was multiple people writing under one name. Towards the end of the chapter, Ronson evaluates the different incidences of Shayler’s madness and how much attention from the media they gave him.
            I found these chapters to be really engaging and intriguing. When Ronson is meeting with Rachel North and he had to almost give her reassurance that she did in fact exist just showed how much Shayler’s accusations had affected her. I also found the end of the chapter really interesting when Ronson shows how each of Shayler’s stunts gained him varying amounts of media attention. And finally, when he finally discovers the right sort of madness, “Those that are just a bit madder than the madness we all fear.” In the chapter “Aiming a Bit High” I got a little confused as to what was going on with the story of Colin Stagg and the murder of a young woman.