In this piece of writing, author Maude Barlow provides in-depth details regarding the world’s water supply. It was very interesting to read because I had no idea how serious of an issue it was. Barlow covers a variety of topics including water consumption, the trading of water internationally, as well as gives details about countries whose water shortages are causing death of humans and animals. It was certainly an eye-opening article to read and is an issue, which deserves a lot more attention.

The voice of this piece of writing was an informative and serious one.  Barlow is an expert on the subject and she provides a lot of useful information regarding the world’s water supply. By the tone of the article, you can tell that this is an issue, which Barlow is very passionate about and wants others to be too. From her point of view, the world’s water supply is dwindling and serious measures need to be taken to ensure our most important resource is preserved for future generations. I think her point of view is reasonable since humans need water to survive. If we continue to let private corporations control the world’s water supply, we will soon find ourselves facing a huge shortage.

The audience for this piece of writing could be quite broad since it covers an issue, which affects everyone. However, people interested in the environment and saving water would likely be the first ones to read it. I found this article straight forward and easy to read, which is good since I think everyone should be informed about this issue. It was not confusing to read and I think Barlow did a good job recognizing that she needed to deliver the information in a clear, concise manner so people understood the severity of the topic.

I think this piece had a very clear purpose. Barlow wanted to inform people about the world’s water consumption and how we will be facing a shortage if changes are not made soon…”If current trends persist, by 2025 the demand for fresh water will rise by 56 percent and as many as two-thirds of the world’s population will be living with serious water shortages or absolute water scarcity.” This quote really emphasizes the author’s point and creates a strong call to action, since 2025 is only 15 years away.

This article definitely came up with some new ideas. Barlow identified one of the major reasons for our water shortage is the fact that corporations are privatizing the world’s water supply. She stated that this needs to be changed.”Water belongs to the Earth and all species and is sacred to life. Therefore, the world’s water must be conserved, reclaimed, and protected for all future generations and its natural patterns respected.” Also, “Water is a fundamental human right and a public trust to be guarded by all levels of governments. Therefore, it should not be commodified, privatized or traded for commercial purposes.” These were quotes from “The Cochabamba Declaration,” which Barlow wrote about and provide a good perspective to view this issue from.

Barlow also provided a lot of great details to really emphasize her point. Statements such as, “more than 5 million people, most of them children, die every year from illness caused by drinking poor-quality water” really give you an idea of just how devastating the world’s water shortage can be. Another fact that was really interesting was that, “eighty percent of China’s major rivers are so degraded they no longer support fish. China is facing the likelihood of severe grain shortages because of water depletion and the shift of water resources from agriculture to industry and cities.” Facts like these indicate how the water shortage can not only harm business, but also end the lives of humans and animals.

After reading this article, I was quite surprised, but felt much more informed. I would say that the VAPID did work. Barlow took a serious look at this issue and presented the information in an informative manner. She recognized that lots of different people would be reading it and wrote it in a way that was simple and easy to understand. She also had a strong purpose. You could tell that she wanted changes to occur and the sooner that they do, the better. She also put forth some good new ideas and provided a lot of great details to back up her point of view. Overall, I am now much more interested in this topic and motivated to help the cause. I think more people should read this so steps can be taken towards preserving our earth’s water supply.

Posted by: march13 | April 7, 2010

Pushing the Envelope by Steven N. Austad

In this piece of writing, author Steven N. Austad describes a number of scientific books, which all have to do with adventure and thrill seeking. This multi-book review offered some really interesting details into why humans choose to engage in dangerous activities such as bungee jumping, sky diving, deep-sea diving, and shark swimming. I found the review particularly interesting because I myself am interested in adrenaline packed activities and always enjoy experiencing a rush of excitement.

Austad is a professor of zoology and his university background certainly comes through in this review. The tone is an educated one and focuses on the physiological reactions that humans experience when taking part in extreme activities. You can tell that the author is an adventure seeker himself as he describes his sky diving experience. I think his point of view is reasonable. He is simply offering details on a number of books related to the science of intense activities.

The audience for this piece of writing would most likely be adventure seekers. However, the review talks about the science behind adventurous activities, so with that in mind, the audience would also likely be educated individuals who are interested in physiological effects. It was interesting to read, however I think more details could have been offered on the various books in this review. He offers small bits of information but nothing enough to make me want to read any of the books. However, I would say that in terms of the writing style, Austad did write accordingly.

I think the purpose of this review was to educate the reader. He offers some information about the reason why humans react the way they do when they are in extreme situations. It seems like the topic was one that the author was very interested in. So for that reason, the purpose may have been simply to write about something he enjoys, while recommending books to his audience.

I don’t think this review really came up with any new ideas. It basically talked about ideas that other authors have already come up with. For that reason, I didn’t think the author offered too much in terms of his own perspectives.

Even though there wasn’t a lot of original ideas, there was some great details. Descriptions such as, “the small hemorrhages commonly precipitated in the eyes of bungee jumpers are caused by the great g- (for gravitational) forces exerted on the head as the bungee cord snaps taut during free fall” paint a vivid picture for the reader and give them an idea of the strain caused by the act of bungee jumping. Another great description was, “The bar-headed goose does not need to acclimatize to flying over the Himalaya, even though it may have taken off from sea level earlier the same day.” When I read that, I pictured a huge bird soaring over a high mountain. I think it’s good when an author is actually able to make the reader visualize something in their mind.

Overall, I don’t think the VAPID worked. The author was clearly interested in the subject of the physiology behind extreme activities, and in fact so am I. However, I found the piece a little boring to read and couldn’t really identify the purpose of this piece of writing. It was a review of a number of different books, however I don’t think enough detail was given into each particular book. I was not left desiring to read any of the books Austad had talked about. Also, it seemed as if he was just spitting out facts that he had learned, without coming up with any unique ideas himself. One positive thing though, was that there were some great details, which painted a picture in my mind.

Posted by: march13 | March 15, 2010

The Blair Kitsch Project: An Indie Hit Goes Hollywood

In Brian Johnson’s review of Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2, he calls out the director for creating an inferior sequel to the famous original, The Blair Witch Project. He cleverly titles his review, The Blair Kitsch Project, which is fitting in my mind. After seeing both the original and the sequel, I can honestly say that I was also disappointed with the later of the two. In my mind, the Blair Witch Project was a creative film and one that had me on the edge of my seat. It was a thriller film, but it was based on a true story and for that reason, I found it suspenseful and intriguing. The sequel on the other hand, was clearly trying to profit from its original version and I agree with a lot of the points made in Johnson’s review.

The tone of the piece was one of disappointment. It is obvious that the author was not impressed with the effort put into directing the sequel. He openly states that, “in the end, no amount of conceptual subterfuge can disguise the naked desperation of filmmakers trying to turn a cult phenomenon into a Hollywood franchise.” This quote really hit the mark I think. The Blair Witch Project was “the most profitable indie film in history” and in my mind, the second movie did not do justice to the originality of the first one at all. With that in mind, I think the author’s point of view is reasonable. He disses the sequel, but for good reason. It simply was no where near as good as the original.

This review was written for Maclean magazine, so I think the audience would be primarily Canadians. They would also be individuals who know about the Blair Witch movies and likely would have seen at least one of them. This piece of writing was full of words that I had to Google in order to understand their meaning. Words such as “subterfuge,” “trope,” and “Wiccan” left me searching for a dictionary. However, the reader’s of Maclean magazine are primarily older than I am and more educated. So for that reason, I do not think the language Johnson used in his review was inappropriate. Even though it was a little confusing for me to read, I was able to comprehend the main point behind the review and I think the author recognized who is main audience is and wrote accordingly.

I think the purpose of this review was to inform people that the sequel did not do justice to the original film. Johnson may have also been trying to save people some money by informing them how terrible Book of Shadows was. In addition to saving people the cost of watching the movie, I also think Johnson may have been trying to provoke some change. He states that, “Hollywood knows that every hit horror movie should spawn a sequel, if not a franchise. But duplicating the phenomenon of “The Blair Witch Project,” the most profitable indie film in history, presents a conundrum.” It seems that all too often, a great movie’s reputation is tarnished by the second-rate sequel that follows it. I think Johnson was trying to convey the message that directors producing sequels should be more focused on honouring the original film by making a great sequel, not just creating a movie to make a buck.

Johnson did present some interesting ideas in his review. He explained that the director of Book of Shadows, Joe Berlinger is a documentary film maker, who was directing a fiction movie for the first time. Although Berlinger’s previous movies covered similar material to the Blair Witch Project, the sequel was not filmed in the “shaky-camera documentary style” of the original. With that in mind, it likely would have been a good idea for Berlinger to match the original film’s style in terms of how it was filmed.

There was some specific details in particular that I agreed with. The author talks about the sequel’s plot and states, “with the evidence mysteriously encoded on videotape, the group retreats to Jeff’s warehouse lair – it has a drawbridge – and the sequel turns into a haunted castle movie, with jarring flashes of slasher violence and a litany of homages to horror classics.” I got the same impression when I watched Book of Shadows. It seemed to turn into a completely different type of horror movie when the characters randomly ended up in a castle in the middle of the forest.

In terms of the VAPID for this review, I would say that it worked. The author had a distinct point of view and wrote accordingly for his audience. There appeared to be a purpose behind the review, however I think there could have been a stronger call to action. There was some interesting ideas presented with some specific points to back them up. I think the review could have been better if it was a bit longer and made more comparisons to the original film. Overall I agreed with most of the author’s points though, and certainly think Book of Shadows was a weak attempt to profit off of a unique movie.

Posted by: march13 | March 3, 2010

The Eminem May Melt Your Ears

In this piece of writing, author Mike Ross examines rapper Eminem’s album”The Marshall Mathers LP.” Ross provides his insights on the rapper’s lyrics and it is evident that he is not impressed with Eminem’s style. As a supporter of the rapper, I disagreed with a lot of the comments made by Ross and think that this piece of writing was too short to even begin to examine the complexity of Eminem’s style of rap.

The voice in this piece of writing appeared to be negative and malicious. Although there were times that Ross complimented some aspects of Eminem’s album, the overall tone seemed to be an attack on the rapper. The author of this piece of writing is a musician and even played in a Blues Brothers cover band. With that in mind, the point of view was obviously coming from an individual with a completely different taste in music. He is much older than the demographic Eminem is trying to appeal to and I do not think Ross’ point of view was very reasonable.

Unfortunately, the audience for this piece of writing would have most likely been older people, around the same age as the author. It did not state specifically, but seeing how Ross used to work for the Edmonton Sun, I imagine this piece would have been a review that was published in that newspaper. So, I imagine that the people reading this would have been individual’s who read the paper in Edmonton. I said “unfortunately” at the beginning of this paragraph because I do not think it’s appropriate for a writer with such a different style and taste in music to write a review on Eminem’s album. He is voicing his opinion to an audience who likely has never heard Eminem’s album. After reading Ross’ review, I imagine that those individuals who have never heard Eminem would also have a negative opinion about him.

I think Ross’ intended purpose for this piece of writing was to diss Eminem. The author clearly did not approve of the album and made that quite clear. It appeared that he was trying to inform others that Eminem’s style is vulgar and offensive. While that may be true for some of the rapper’s songs, the album does also contain a lot of powerful and significant messages. I also think that the author wanted to provoke change with this piece of writing. In his last paragraph, Ross states, “M&M better delve into more interesting subject matter if he’s going to grow as an artist.” To me, that comment is simply ignorant! First off, the author didn’t even spell the rapper’s name right. Secondly, “The Marshall Mathers LP” holds a Guinness World Record for the fastest selling solo album ever and also won the Grammy Award for Best Rap Album. With that being said, I think Ross offering advice to Eminem on how to grow as an artist is completely ridiculous and uncalled for.

I don’t think this piece of writing really came up with any new ideas. I have listened to “The Marshall Mathers LP” and in my opinion, that album came up with some new ideas for the genre of rap music. Eminem is hands down the most successful white rapper in the world. His albums have sold millions of copies and broken numerous records. The only idea Ross came up with in this piece of writing was that Eminem should delve into more interesting topics. However, that statement does not necessarily provide any suggestions for improvement. It simply implies that the author does not like Eminem’s subject matter, which is prevalent in his songs.

There definitely were some specific details that the author used to try to illustrate his point. In his first line he states, “Anything less than his shocking, violent, sexist, vulgar, outrageous, hilarious debut album would be seen as going soft – and that would be death to this white trash-talking rapper.” That sentence is very powerful and packed full of opinion. Right off the bat, you can see that from the author’s descriptions, he does not think highly of the album. Ross also states that Eminem’s new album is practically identical to his first, and that it’s the “musical equivalent of Quentin Tarantino’s worst nightmare rendered by a convincing actor/rapper whose mood ranges from manic anger to homicidal insanity.”

Overall the VAPID certainly did not work for me. The author was trying to convince the reader that Eminem’s new album, and style in general is offensive and not worth listening to. I can definitely see how Eminem’s lyrics could offend some, however I think the rapper has created a whole new genre of rap music. In my opinion, Eminem is a lyrical genius who uses obviously offensive lyrics to shock his audience. He started from practically nothing and perfected his art to the point that brought him fame and fortune, and for that reason alone I have to applaud Eminem. Overall, I think Ross needs to take some time and listen to a lot more rap music, as well as the rest of Eminem’s albums before writing another review. It is evident that the author is uneducated on rap music and should stick to writing about the Blues Brothers.

I agree with you that the author offered an honest and realistic perspective of racism. I also think the author identified that a lot of people are not necessarily racist, only ignorant. I liked how his tone was not accusatory.

I like how you identified that the author’s message regarding racism was universal and not only geared towards Canadians. The description about racism being as Canadian as maple syrup, as Chinese as chow mein, etc. was one that I found to be very true. Every culture has a history of racism in some way or another.

I also agree with you that the author wants people to closely monitor their actions and words. Simply stating “I’m not racist, but…” does not justify saying insensitive or ignorant things. All too often people think that joking about racism is okay. However, those jokes do have an impact on others and can in fact be hurtful.

The point about overcompensation for racism is a concept that I also found quite interesting. Questions begin to arise when events for particular groups of people are held. The hypothetical example of holding pageants for all black people or all white people would certainly cause an uproar in society. I don’t think racially segregated events are justifiable. Like you noted, it indicates that certain groups of people are not capable of competing with the majority of the population.

Overall, I think you did a really good job identifying the main points that the author was trying to make. Your view on this issue is one that I completely agree with. Good review.

Posted by: march13 | February 18, 2010

Time to Think About Torture

Time to Think About Torture, by Jonathan Alter provided a very interesting perspective on the issue of torture. It was written in regards to the terrorist attacks on September 11 and makes the statement that some types of torture should be allowed when interrogating terrorists. I am not sure if I agree with his opinion completely but I can certainly see some of the reasoning behind his arguments. This piece was quite entertaining and has made me more interested in learning more about the topic.

The tone of this piece was very serious in nature. Alter talks about a variety of different types of torture techniques as well as the pros and cons of each. The voice was also very informational. The author provided a lot of information regarding the legal issues surrounding torture. Alter explained how physical torture cannot be legalized, but that laws not allowing psychological torture should be lifted. The point of view is clearly one in support of certain types of torture. The author feels strongly about bringing terrorists to justice and that using drastic means is necessary to do so. In my opinion, I am not sure if the author’s point of view is reasonable. The issue is very controversial and I would have to do some more research before fully agreeing or disagreeing with the author.

The audience for this piece would be mostly American citizens living in New York. They are the ones who are most affected by horrific events that took place on September 11. However, since the incident was so drastic, most of the world knows about it. For that reason, the audience for this piece could include individuals from all over the world who are interested in learning more about the event. Also, I think people who agree with the author’s point of view would be ones who would be utilitarian in nature. They would most likely believe that torturing a small number of individuals is just as long as it results in the lives of others being saved.

I believe this piece had a strong purpose. The author was definitely trying to convince the readers that certain types of torture should be allowed. He identifies a variety of different types of torture that aren’t physical and that he believes are acceptable to use in order to obtain valuable information. I think he wanted to provoke change so that laws limiting non physical torture are diminished. The piece is very persuasive in nature. Alter claims that some types of torture are necessary and should in fact be used on terrorists.

This piece did generate some ideas in my mind. It got me thinking about different types of torture and whether using any kind is justifiable. It introduced me to different types of torture including physical, psychological, and using other techniques such as truth serum.

The author used a lot of specific details in this piece. He describes psychological torture styles such as forcing terrorists to watch tapes of dying rabbits as well as forcing them to listen to high-decibel rap music. These descriptions painted a powerful picture in my mind. Another detail that was very powerful for me was when the author talked about sending terrorists to countries like Saudi Arabia where torture like beheadings take place. I thought this was quite harsh. I personally don’t think it’s right to send people to other countries to get killed.

Overall, I don’t think the VAPID worked completely for me. It did introduce me to the issue and identify a lot of different torture techniques, but I don’t fully agree with the author’s opinion on the matter. I think torture is a very serious topic and one that should be studied extensively before determining whether it is the appropriate course of action. Although I wasn’t persuaded to approve of torture techniques however, I did feel more inclined to do some research on the issue after hearing the author’s arguments. Alter provided a lot of details about the different techniques and generated some new ideas in my mind.

Posted by: march13 | February 15, 2010

Response to Marc’s Review of “The Veil”

 Marc made some very valid points and some that I hadn’t considered myself. I agree that the voice of this piece was one of confidence. In a time of such change it is remarkable to observe the passion a young girl has towards her religion. I agree that she held nothing back and was not afraid to speak her mind when most would have bit their tongue to avoid criticism.

I do agree that the audience for this piece could be quite broad but I think Iranians may be able to relate better to the message. When I first read the comic I was a little lost as to what was going on. However, I think it is good for people to read things like this so they become more educated on the subject.

I also liked how the piece was from a child’s perspective. It does come across as being more innocent and unbiased. The ideas that were generated from this piece were insightful but unfortunately I didn’t understand them completely. The idea about the cadillac for example is one that I didn’t quite comprehend. I wasn’t familiar with the religious reason behind why every person should own a car. With that being said, I agree with your statement about some of her ideas being more meaningful to her then they necessarily are to people like us.

Like you stated, the ideas were very simple and in your face. For me, the ideas were a little too simple. I found the comic jumped from one thought to the next and I wasn’t able to fully figure out what was occuring.

Overall your review of this piece was one that I shared a very similar opinion of. Good work.

SantOsh, I thought you identified a lot of the main points in your review of “What a Certain Visionary Once Said.” I did agree with a lot of your ideas, however I did not agree with your first paragraph. In my opinion, a visionary is someone who is passionate about pursuing a particular goal and works hard to achieve it. I don’t necessarily think their point of view is always unrealistic. I know there are visionaries out there who have in fact successfully accomplished their goals.

I do agree with what you said about Tomson Highway portraying an almost surreal image of Canada’s landscape. The description used to describe our country was so powerful and I could really picture the land itself living and breathing.

I thought you did a good job demonstrating the voice in this piece, but when I read your review, it seemed that you were repeating what the author said. I didn’t see where you talked about the audience in this piece. In my opinion, the audience would probably be Canadians who are proud of their heritage and are able to relate to the descriptions the author provides.

Also, I didn’t see where you talked about the intended purpose of this piece of writing. I think that the author was trying to paint a picture about what Canada is like and possibly instil a sense of pride in Canadian citizens.

I think you did a great job covering the specific details that the author used. You provided some great quotes that really portrayed the author’s main point. Good review but I would suggest trying to cover the VAPID points a little more clearly and thoroughly.

Posted by: march13 | February 15, 2010

Response to ToddLloyd’s Review of “How to Mark a Book”

I agree with a lot of the points you made regarding the piece “How to Mark a Book.” I definitely think that writing in a book while reading it results in absorbing more of the information and understanding the story better. I can see your point about the voice of the author sounding demanding. I also thought it seemed that the author was saying if you don’t write in your book, then you are not really reading it. While I can see the value behind marking  up a book, I also think it’s possible to comprehend the story without defacing the pages.

I also agree that the author’s intended purpose was to convince people to start changing their habits and actually start marking up their book. I liked the way he classified book readers into three different categories. Originally, I would have considered myself to be a reader who didn’t want to ruin my books. However, after reading this piece, I think I may try marking up my books. I have never been a very fast reader and I think that marking up a book may help me grasp all the concepts in a story more clearly. So, for that reason, I have to disagree with your statement about the author not achieving his purpose. I know I can only speak for myself, but I certainly am more inclined to try his methods after reading this.

Overall, I found the concept behind this piece of writing very interesting and I agree with a lot of ToddLloyd’s ideas. Although the article may have impacted me more, I still see the reasoning behind a lot of the points that ToddLloyd brought up. Good review.

Posted by: march13 | February 11, 2010

Our Daughters, Ourselves

In this piece, Cameron provides insight into some of the many problems women face in society. She explains how mothers try so hard to give their daughters the best opportunities possible, but there is still a serious injustice when compared to the advantages men receive. The author speaks of how many mothers hope that conditions will improve for their daughters but still do not predict great improvements in the near future. She then discusses the Montreal Massacre and speaks out in disgust regarding the way women are treated. It is a powerful piece with an unsettling but important message.

The voice of this piece of writing seemed to be one of a serious nature. For years, women have struggled to improve their status in society, only to be held back by men. Although they have made progress in many areas, there are still a lot of issues that need to be resolved. Cameron outlines problems about boys receiving more sports funding in school, men having higher paid jobs, and men constantly making jokes that are demeaning to women. The tone appeared to be somewhat informative as well. It seemed like Cameron was trying to make a point about the inequality between men and women so that matters coud begin to be understood and addressed. However, the point of view was very one-sided and appeared to depict men as ignorant and mean. While some men may be that way, that is not the case for all. For that reason, I felt a little attacked as there was certainly a type of stereotype portrayed.

While the audience for this piece should be both men and women, I believe the piece would be read mostly by women, mostly 30 and over. They are the ones who are concerned about the safety of their children and have the most experience regarding inequalities in society. With that being said, I think they would be able to relate to this piece on a more personal level. However, there is a lot of insight in this that men should read as well. A lot of my friends often make demeaning comments towards women, only thinking that it’s all fun and games. I think a lot of men don’t realize how unjust society can be and how certain comments can have a very negative impact on women. Demographically, the audience for this piece would probably be Canadian citizens who are aware of the Montreal Massacre. Those living in Montreal would most likely be more inclined to read it since the incident was so close to home for them.

I believe the purpose of this piece is to educate men on the topic of women being treated unfairly. Unfortunately, the title, “Our Daughters, Ourselves” may attract more women to read it. Nevertheless, I think Cameron was aiming to bring her issue more into the spotlight. It is a problem that has taken place for many years and I definitely think it needs to have more attention. Occurences like the Montreal Massacre are absolutely terrible. There is no reason for anything like that to happen. By reading this piece, I think men would begin to understand why many women get offended following demeaning comments towards them. I think Cameron was trying to provoke some change by making men realize that their actions have far reaching effects on women and their role in society. I believe she was trying to illustrate that treating women as if they are less significant can lead to disastrous events such as the Montreal Massacre.

In my mind, this piece of writing certainly introduced some new ideas. I will definitely be more conscious and careful of any sexist jokes I come across. Also, I think the way she related the demeaning of women to the Montreal Massacre was a powerful way to get her message across. What took place was such a tragedy and I think that more people need to be informed on the occurence and understand why it took place. The man who killed all those women “blamed feminists for his troubles.” It is absolutely disgusting to hear of an individual meticulously slaughtering innocent women just because they were trying to become engineers. By highlighting the reasoning behind the Montreal Massacre, I think men could start to watch what they say and become more accepting of women in society.

The details that really illustrated the author’s point for me were all the descriptions about mothers trying to protect their daughters. So many things are done by parents to insure their children’s safety. After hearing about all the efforts to protect their daughters, then hearing about the murders in Montreal, the issue of gender equality really hit home. People don’t realize how this concern can escalate and I think this piece can shed some much needed light on the topic.

Overall, I think the VAPID worked but it could have been even more effective. If the author spent some more time discussing men like the one responsible for the Montreal Massacre, I think her message would have been stronger. When people understand that viewing women as inferior can lead to such horrific events, I only hope that things will change and the inequalities experienced by women in society will be eliminated.

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