Scholarsteve’s Blog

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Sarah Palin rhetoric

There was a recent controversy over a cover for Newsweek magazine where Sarah Palin was featured in tight running clothes and has a flag draped limply from her arm. The headline reads, ” How do you solve a problem like Sarah? She’s bad news for the GOP and for everyone else.” Palin argues that this cover is sexist. The photo was originally featured in Runners World magazine as a part of their runner of the month expose. So is the photo sexist?It has not been photoshopped that we know of, so Newsweek argues argues that they just chose the photo because it was interesting. I think it  is arguably sexist, but it could also arguably be the same spirit of blasting a political figure with a photo out of context.

The photo is framed under a different context from Runner’s World. Rather than a fitting headline likely showing Palin’s example of good fitness practices, Newsweek has a headline critiquing Palin’s competence as a politician. With this framing, the photo does make Palin appear to only be a pretty face. She is posed with her hands on her hips in a provocative manner, her shirt is red (arguably a passion color) and if form fitting. Though runners frequently wear form fitting clothing, with the headline provided and the American flag on her arm, Palin appears as an irresponsible politician. She is not shown in an office, but a room with a view. This makes her appear to be at a vacation place rather than in a place of business.

I am especiall interested in the flag. Rather than hanging, the fact that she is holding it makes her seem irresponsible. Holding a flag or draping it over her person seems to carry a rhetoric of entitlement. The only ones I can think of that wear the flag are Olympic medalists or deceased soldiers in their coffins.

I would say that the picture does preposition Palin rhetorically before the audience has the chance to read the article that discusses her negative effects on the GOP and politics. The photo would likely strengthen the article because even if readers knew nothing about Palin, they would still likely begin the article with a lower opinion of her.

Funny, because this picture did not make any big buzz when it was in Runners World, but here the context is purposely upset. If it isn’t sexist, then at the very least it is definitely misleading.


November 25, 2009 Posted by | 1, Eng 350 | Leave a comment

Modules in video games

I tried to sit down and think about video games and how modules affect them. Immediately I came up with the pixel, which makes up everything we see in video games, from the text to the characters. Each pixel is a module. This was more apparent in the earlier days of video games. While we could go as far back as Pong, I like to think of the original Mario Bros. game for the Nintendo Entertainment System. The image of Mario as composed by these pixels has actually become relatively well-known. In fact, most video gamers would recognize the pixellated Mario on the same level as they would the Mario in the newest Mario games. Really, these pixels end up representing not only Mario, but nostalgia, a classic, and history in video games.
Another well-known game that revolves around modules is Sim City for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. The game revolves around city planning, specifying zones as residential, commercial, and industrial, and helping them flourish. Each zone makes up a module, but is composed of nine modules (not counting the pixels making up the picture). The modules, when grown can fuse together to make a greater module with larger population and economic capacities. It is essential to understand how each module affects one another to make a successful city. For example, a residential module right next to an industrial zone will not be able to fuse together and maximize the limited space for building, and will also cause citizens to complain about pollution.

Eight modules placed together in a ring are referred to as a donut. Donuts are seen as individual modules as well since the even number allows for maximum growth potential if similar zones are placed. And the empty module in the middle can be occupied with a fire or police department, to protect the modules circling it from crime and fire.

It is a game made up of modules and about modules!

November 9, 2009 Posted by | 1, Eng 350 | Leave a comment

Domain Errors and Technology and Gender

The authors of Domain Errors begin by explaining where cyberfeminism sits relative to concepts of feminism in the world. The problem they see is that some critics see no use for traditional models of feminism at all, while others try to situate cyberfeminism too deeply in the model of traditional model of feminism. As far as situating cyberfeminism goes, I liked the definition of feminism from Bell Hooks that the authors provided, “feminism is not simply a struggle to end male cheavinism or a movement to ensure that women will have equal rights with men; it is a commitment to eradicating the ideology of domination that permeates Western culture on various levels–sex, race, and class to name a few and a commitment to recognizing U.S. society so that the self-development of people cna take precedence over imperialism, economic expansion, and material desires” (26). Cyberfeminism then could be said to engage women in the technologies that they impact and that impact their lives, fashioning and critiquing their own identity on the cyberscape not in a way to overturn male cheavinism of equality as Bell Hooks says, but to establish a common identity for women on the cyberscape in an effort to overturn ideologies of domination altogether.

In theory, this equality on the cyberscape can be demonstrated in ways in modern film, breaking down the barriers of class and race. Lisa Nakamura exposes the idea of the film “The Matrix” as an allegory for the oppression of multiracialism by white, middle class society. By depicting the Zion freedom fighters as multi racial, and the agents of the Matrix as white middle class, Nakamura shows a traditional power struggle. However, Nakamura might have also mentioned that the architect, who is introduced in the second movie, and holds a great deal of power even when compared to the agents, is an older white man, fulfilling the traditional role of the white man in power. Nakamura also talks about the residual selves in the matrix or avatars that change class, but do not transcend race. I wonder though if characters had changed race if they would have been suggesting that one race was superior to another as they show through their avatar clothes that a higher class is more desirable.

The section that featured biotech lectures on reproduction options when technology is introduced into traditional ideas of conception really interested me. Flyers introduce ideas such as gene splicing, producing the ideal off spring, and how to breed genetically superior children. What I think was so dynamic about the idea of eugenics was my own reaction. Several of the flyers describe children born abnormally or as “unfit” could be done away with, not through abortion, but through a proactive choice on the part of the parents. Rather than utilizing a technology to discard an unwanted child, a person can use technology to create an ideal child, but in a way that is portrayed as edgy as abortion. I think this example subverts the idea of pro-life regulations also on the last flyer when it gives the call to action that people should demand the formation of a federal eugenics agency to regulate the concept and make it a reality. So we would in effect be giving ourselves up to a government agency and basing our pairing on a technology.

Technology and Gender: Fabrics of Power in Late Imperial China, Bray looks at technologies in imperial China which she terms as gynotechnics, which produces ideas about women, and thus ideologies of how gender should be viewed as well as social standing. One of the thoughts which Bray asks readers to keep in mind is that values and social goals were different from our own today, which focus in progress, and therefore the society should not necessarily be criticized so readily. For criticizing the society with our own sense of values as a filter might cause us to fail to understand the culture of the time not only for the women, but also for the men, as well as how technologies dictated their roles. In this sense, Bray depicts that technology is inherently tied to culture, to the extent that technology becomes culture.


Moreover, Bray, portrays the Song era in China in a way very different from what I might expect when I think of a “traditional” Chinese household. While through our own cultural ideals we could describe the subserviance to men, women were acknowledged as an important and necessary part of the household affairs of the society. Granted the technologies may have caused roles to be defined in that men were required to spend their days farming rice, while women focused on textiles, they were both viewed as essential. Indeed, Bray shows that productivity was one of the major values of the Song Dynasty, rather than a life of affluence that we experience today. The relationship between a husband and wife is even more of a partnership than one might describe the relationship between a man and a woman today, in that productivity in the home in the form of “womanly work” is viewed as a contribution to the state in the same way the farming or “manly” were seen. Although it strikes me ironic that by many of our values today, we try to move towards a society where value is not based in reproduction, but productivity, whereas by the end of the Song Dynasty, a move was being made towards reproduction as value rather than production. This is not to say that reproduction was not valued at all. Bray states that even after marriage a woman was not considered to be a part of her husbands lineage until she gave birth to a son, and was often not allowed to see her family after leaving them. Wealth in the family she joined was divided between the males, though the wife might receive a dowry and controlled all of the finances of the household.


It really is a complex society that Bray paints for us. The concept I found challenging throughout the reading was to not critique the society in terms of today’s values. I constantly found myself doing that, especially in the case of a maid who conceived a male son by the husband. However, it was not a book about critiquing, but understanding.

October 29, 2009 Posted by | 1 | Leave a comment

Rhetoric of a vacation guide cover

I came upon a vacation guide recently that was trying to promote European vacations. The cover had the name of the vacation guide, a large 09 across the front, and was dominated by a large photo of several gondolas in the canals of Venice. The picture overall has been shaded so that it looks like the sun is setting. Yet the overall shading and tint is red, pink, and orange. I think that the choice of colors in this scene are important to the message the publication is trying to send about a vacation in Venice. Consider first that Venice generally has a romantic connotation to it in the first place. These color choices reinforce this idea. Red can be seen as a sexual or passionate color. Pink is a calming and passifying color, also associated with romance. While orange is associate with energy and enthusiasm. Do people go to Venice expecting a romantic vacation? Paris may be considered to be the most romantic city on Earth, but I am willing to wager that people might argue Venice deserves second place. The gondolas become slightly blurred at the bottom of the page, implying swift movement. They are headed towards the orange (energy, enthusiasm). The gondolas ahead of the blurred gondolas are headed towards the buildings and the canals and buildings in the distance, bathed in red and pink light (romance, passion). Even the text which is visible on the page is partially transparent, minimally disrupting the mood set by the picture. In this way, colors help to set the mood for a potential vacationers.

Here’s an interesting thought. What if we were to change the color scheme in this picture. If we had a blue sky and pink water (acknowledging that this is unlikely to occur in real life), what would the mood be. Blue can be associated with authority and even sadness. But more importantly, it is acknowledged as the normal color of the sky. Does a normal sky demystify Venice? How would the associations of a blue sky conflict with the associations of pink water? Will the blue of authority and the pink of calm result in a forced calm feel?Pretty interesting what a change in color scheme to something seemingly ordinary can do to a created image.

September 27, 2009 Posted by | 1, Eng 350 | Leave a comment

Usability rationale

Carrol  makes a good pitch for the usability rationale tool. Used correctly with the proper scenarios, this pro and con type report will relay the progress made within the scenario, displaying what has been overcome, and what has become a problem as a result of the solution. It think it is in this exact use that the usability rationale tool is useful. I wonder though what the clients would think of when they took a look at it. Perhaps seeing two plus points and only one minus under an item would give them the impression that this is a strangely organized pro and con list. More negatives than positives do not make something a poor solution and vice versa.

Really, the strength of the tool is planning for future development. Looking at this report, readers can identify the next problems they need to tackle and evaluate if the solution offered is really worth the trade-offs.

March 17, 2009 Posted by | 1 | Leave a comment