Saturday, August 23, 2014

Writing Response

I've been reading some older stuff lately. One such piece was “A Case of Assisted Suicide” by Jack Kevorkian. I thought I'd write a response about that article.

In the United States alone, more than 39,000 people commit suicide in 2010, according to statistics from the CDC, and the sad part is that ten times that attempt to exterminate themselves from existence—but fail.

This percent of the people will usually end up getting help (which is a good), because most of the time it is over things that can be mended back together or helped—relationships, drug addictions, and other little things. 

Kevorkian’s main purpose is to help the people that are terminally ill, and have doctored to find that nothing will cure their illness.  These type of people do not want and deserve to suffer in agonizing pain for the rest of their days.

I can see the point of these people, because I would not want to suffer and only have reassurance that there is no hope of a cure available.  However, there is a fine line dividing between the people that need his kind of help, and the people that just need to live there lives. 

An example of this is schizophrenic people they have hope, because there is now antipsychotic drugs that control these people.  When you compare that to Alzheimer’s disease there is no cure and if you know that you can not be cured all hope is lost.

Unlike the 300,000 that try killing themselves for minute reasons, Kevorkian determines if the person should require his services. So he speaks with the doctors that the patient is doctoring with, and observes them for quite a while before he will commit to his services. 

Also, throughout this essay he comes across as a kind gentle person showing that he operates on a different wavelength than the rest of the world. 

Much like Martin Luther King did by sacrificing his own well being for his beliefs.  Kevorkian also stands behind what he believes, because otherwise he would not be being tried for murder just to help someone out of there agonizing misery.   

His extremely large vocabulary makes this piece more convincing, because it makes it seem that there is no doubt at all that he does not know what he is doing.

The chronological order of this essay adds to his idea as being portrayed as a kind, gentle person, because he could have described in detail what exactly took place in his van.

However, he probably would have disgusted the reader, and tricked them into thinking that he is truly a disturbed person.  Even as far into detail in the end of this essay that he went, I do not think that he is completely truthful about how smooth it goes.

I saw a T.V. program years ago that showed his entire process, and the individual was told that it would take no longer than ten minutes. 

Something went wrong with the machine and the victim laid suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning before they actually passed away. 

His idea is to help people out of there misery, but if he is going to keep rendering his services he should keep with his promise—not a slow painful death much like there are enduring now.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

2 Gun Cleaning Kit Reviews

I bought a new gun cleaning kit and bb gun based on what I read at Bullseye Nation, and I thought I'd share a review of the two kits I bought.

Here's the article I referenced before making my purchases for gun cleaning kits: http://bullseyenation.com/best-gun-cleaning-kit/

I'll also link to the articles on that site I think are worth reading because they review stuff in a way that most gun sites don't. That said, let's get started on my own review!

Otis Zombie Gun Cleaning System Review

I'm not worried about the Zombie Apocolypse. And I did not buy the Otis Zombie Gun Cleaning System especially for it. I could care less what the name says. I did buy this when I bought the Otis kit.

From the day this neat package arrived, it has been in only two places - with me when I'm cleaning my guns, and inside my best range bag when I'm not. The zombie is perfect for all my .357 Magnum handgun, a Ruger10/12, and 12-gauge shotgun.

Honestly, I bought the kit because it allowed me to clean specific guns -- 223/5.56, 9mm, 40, and shotgun -- by using the chamber brush.

There are two rifle rods with different diameters included - the smaller one is applicable for smaller calibre bores, while I use the one with larger diameter for my 10/22. There is a shorter rod for the handgun, too.

There are 5 brushes, and I particularly like the chamber brush which I didn't see in the other Otis kits. Otis should fill more kits with this brush; I wonder why it's a rarity because it's a useful little thing for ARs especially.

Ironically, while the inclusion of a chamber brush gets my nod, it is also the reason why I have to take a star off. It worked so well with the extension pole it was attached to. However, it took some twisting with pliers to disassemble the joined tool after several rotations. There's also a difficulty in threading the cleaning pads; time-consuming is more like it because it took me 3 minutes each time. 

Those are just 2 of the 25-or-so items, and I have no complaints with the rest.

I haven't used the lube bottle yet because I think M-PRO 7 gun oil is the best I've used and have no intention of stopping using it.


Intermission

Before we continue with our review, we'd like to take a little intermission break to relax the mind. :)






Otis All-Caliber Rifle Cleaning System

I was torn between wanting and getting disappointed with the all-caliber rifle kit, hence, the middle-scale rating. On one hand, I bought it for the Memory-Flex cables and the bronze brushes for my .22 caliber rifle.

The design of the kit was a remarkable one and, being US-made, the quality of the materials and components were obviously superior.

I was expecting everything to work; however, when the package arrived, I did not find an attachment to fit my 10/22. The 3 cables were there, and surely, the attachments fitted on one of the cables but not on the cable for my rifle.

I wondered where truth in advertising was when the ads said “all-caliber.” If only the attachment was there, it would have been a great purchase. I also wondered about cleaning my good bb gun with this kit -- so much for all caliber!

For the price I got the kit, I think it was half the price of each item added together. I also tried my already-owned attachments from other manufacturers; they were actually compatible!

Everything looked compact and in good condition, and I really wanted to use it right away. But with a basic part missing, there was no way it was going to be of any use. I thought of mixing and matching other parts from several kits but decided against it.

I had to return the kit and was glad there was no problem in transacting it.   

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Thoughts about Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead

I just saw Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. That is a strange metaplay.  I assume Stoppard was influenced by Beckett because Ros and Guild seem to echo Vladimir and Estragon in Waiting for Godot.

Two questions arose from this play that I want to explore: are there differences between Ros and Guild and Vlad and Estragon; are there  similarities between the aforementioned characters?

Godot and Dead contain the problem of remembrance and time.  In both plays none of the principle characters can remember mundane or principle events of the past. 

The characters are isolated in the reality they create and are forced to cope with this reality.  Vlad and Estragon cope with reality by trying to pass the time with conversation, which usually ends in silence and then they are forced to confront reality again. 

Ros and Guild confront their reality in a different way. They never end with silence.  The two characters delve into each others thoughts and try to explore them, but most of all Ros and Guild have an stronger emotional connection than Beckett characters.  For instance, when Ros and Guild are conversing about being “dead, lying in a box with a lid on it,” a suggestion that the two understand each other a little better than Beckett’s characters arises because Ros and Guild are confronting an emotionally charged subject, the loss of life (Stoppard 735).

I think Stoppard’s characters are more existential that Beckett’s because Guild makes specific reference to action.  He seems to suggest that fate and chance are non-existent and life is made up of a series of free-willed actions that create a chain of events that arise from the initial action. 

Guild says, “your smallest action sets off another somewhere else, and is set off by it...Tread warily, follow instructions” (Stoppard 706).  Action is apparent but to “follow instructions” suggests that someone has contrived the actions. 

Whoever contrived the instructions would be an influential individual, but I suspect a free willed individual has the ability to decide and act to follow the contrived instructions.

I think this needs more thought and perhaps  I am missing the point completely because further in the play Ros and Guild suggest that they have no control over their world. 

Character dependency, especially the use of two male central characters, in Modern Drama is interesting: Beckett’s Vlad and Estragon are dependent upon each other, Shepard’s A Lie of the Mind and True West use the dependency of two brothers, Pinter’s Goldberg and Mccann work together in the Birthday Party. How does Stoppard use the concept of dependency with Ros and Guild?
One character is usually rational, and one is usually irrational. Perhaps these authors are trying to use psychological ideas, but the duality reminds me of the Apollonian and Dionysian struggle. 

Stoppard seems to achieve this duality effect in the first scene when Guild is trying to rationally explain why the coin he is flipping keeps landing heads-up.  Guild can’t do it, and Ros changes the subject of abstract, rational, scientific explanations to a much more irrational discussion about how fingernails and beards have the capability to grow after death.  Because the abstract discussion has no substance, it does not excite Ros, and his language is minimal.  When a subject that has substance is discussed both characters contribute to the discussion in equal parts. 

Works Cited
Stoppard, Tom.  Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead.  Nine Plays of the Modern Theatre.     Ed. Harold Clurman.  New York: Grove Press.  1981.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Book review of Solar Storms by Linda Hogan

I've been doing a lot of reading. I have a lot of reviews planned for this site and will start off with one on Linda Hogan’s book, Solar Storms (SS).

SS is a traditionally structured novel. That is, the novel follows the pattern of very old stories. This pattern is what mythographers call the monomyth.

The monomyth can be simplified into a pattern: an individual’s separation from society, initiation into a new way of life, and return to society.

When an individual separates from society, he/she embarks on a journey to support and affirm the status quo.  Before this can take place, he/she must confront physical and mental tests. From these tests, the individual moves from ignorance of the self to consciousness of the self and its place in the universe.  After the individual develops from the tests, he/she returns to society and affirms the status quo. If we take this brief description and look at Hogan’s novel, we will find that Hogan uses this pattern and introduces variations that fit within a contemporary context.

Before discussing any ideas/patterns in Hogan’s novel, I want to divide the novel in four general categories. After this division, I will discuss each section and its sub-sections.

The Divisions:

1. Angel’s departure from the city, which is exposition, and arrival at Adam’s Rib and surrounding areas until the canoe/ hiking journey begins.

2. From the canoe/ hiking journey to Two-Town and the surrounding areas.

3. From Two-Town and the surrounding areas to Angel/Bush/Aurora’s plane and automobile journey back to Adam’s Rib.

4. Angel’s trip from Adam’s Rib back to the Fat-Eaters.   
Although this list is crude, the list contains basic elements of the monomyth, particularly the quest adventure which is based on separation, initiation, return. This pattern is one that recurs in Solar Storms.

In the first section, Angel left the society of mass-consumer-capitalism because she wanted to find her mother. To find her mother, she went to a society with different values. In this new society, she became initiated into a new lifestyle. This new lifestyle taught her ethics and about herself. She also became attached to the security of not roaming. An example of this is her reluctance to move out to Bush’s place at Fur Island. Once Angel moved to Fur Island, she adapted. The adaptation process is illustrated by her  reluctance to leave the window open and let the vines come in the house when she first arrived; however, as she adapts, she leaves the window open and allows the vines to grow in the house. This suggests that she is becoming integrated with nature. Angel’s integration with nature is apparent when she learns how to swim; this is an affirmation, perhaps a baptism. Also while she is at Fur Island, she begins to doubt rationality and assume causal relationships that are fallacious. Nevertheless, Angel begins to change, and she becomes initiated into another society.

Society in Hogan’s novel is not absolute, and when Angel, Agnes, Bush, and Dora Rouge embark on  a canoe/hiking journey, society is composed of these four members. On this journey, the characters escape from the collective society and become initiated in a new way of life. This new way of life is primitive, but it offers the characters many challenges and rewards. During these challenges, we find that no single hero exists. The hero is society, and society is decentralized; thus, for example, Dora Rouge navigates; Bush hunts; Agnes cooks; Angel cleans. We do get a glimpse of an individual who tries to assume the traditional heroic position. Angel tries to assume this position when she goes on a solo journey to find “wolfbane” and “redroot.” These plants will save Agnes from death. To prevent this death, Angel embarks alone on a quest within a quest adventure. If Angel were to complete this task she would have fulfilled a traditional heroic function: leave society, bring back an elixir, support and affirm the status quo. Although Angel finds both plants, she, falling asleep in the canoe, fails to make good time, and Agnes is dead before she can get back. Angel’s failing suggests that she is not ready to assume the traditional heroic stature, but at the same time, her failing is more realistic.  By writing realistic, I mean that Hogan is not following the cliched adventure story that every trial an individual/hero tackles he/she will always successfully complete, particularly in a time of need; Hogan rejects this notion and provides insight about the contemporary world.

This rejection surfaces again when the four return to the collective society. From this society, no one greets the travelers, and Angel remarks on this:

our landing should have been a momentous event. We’d crossed time and space to be there, had lost Agnes...had seen the order of the world reversed. Now we were nothing more than survivors no one knew or cared about...For what had we done this? For two women to die? For me to find a mother who had only injured me in the past? For Bush’s ideas about justice...Now the absence of Agnes was a felt thing and we’d endured hardship to be in that place where mud and silt wanted nothing more than a misplaced foot so it could swallow us the way it had swallowed the moose. We’d been beguiled. (Hogan 212).

This passage provides a comment on the traditional hero’s quest motif: All the romantic notions of an individual who crosses the threshold of danger, all the romantic notions of an individual who endures trials and tribulations, all the romantic notions of an individual who confronts death, all the romantic notions of an individual who must have the gods on their side, all the idealistic notions of an individual who sets out to change a facet of the world, all these notions Angel sums up in one line: “We’d been beguiled” (Hogan 212).
 
After being deceived, the travelers return to society. In society, the travelers meet with other fellow Native Americans and lodge with them. During their stay, they and the other Native Americans unite and form a group that has to endure modern trials. That is, they have to fight against the government, against machines, against those who oppress minorities. This fight is another variation of a trial or tribulation, and Hogan is suggesting that in contemporary society an individual does not need to go on a long journey away from society and confront death; these trials are in society, and those individuals who confront these obstacles and work together may have a chance at overcoming the obstacles. To overcome these obstacles, however, may require more than a group of minorities working together, and Hogan illustrates this too when she gives the Native American’s the victory in court, which does little for their homes and land that was destroyed.

The trials the Fat-Eaters encounter are not as traditional as Angel’s. From her trials, Angel becomes conscious that she “shaped” her “own life”; this remark opposes her statements at the start of the novel because she thought that her mother conditioned her. Angel becomes conscious of her self and the world around her. This consciousness is best illustrated by her integration with nature and her understanding of human nature, particularly when she embarks on another quest journey to the Fat-Eaters to attend Dora Rouge’s death.

***

Hogan’s novel raises many questions and concerns, including the chasm between humans and nature in contemporary society, the oppression of women, the oppression of minorities, the search for an origin.  The chasm between humans and nature is illustrated by the Native Americans and their use of contemporary amenities, including electricity and telephones and walkie-talkies. These are the people fighting for the land, fighting for an older way of life, fighting for their future, but they are supporting technological advancements which distance humans from nature. This can be a bit problematic; however, one could say that the Native Americans have a modicum between nature, technology, and humanity, but the question still remains: to what extent and why are all humans blinded/ bound to the modern/ postmodern world?  This question is difficult, perhaps impossible, to answer because many reasons exist, and another question that Hogan raises is just as impossible, yet just as fascinating: what is the story of our origin?