The Power of Books

 

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Dear reader,

I’m back from Christmas break and decided to reflect on the types of books that I have read in 2016, and what they have helped me understand about the world around me. Probably the most interesting books that I have read over the course over the year is Dark Territories by Fred Kaplan and Industries of the Future by Alec Ross. These two books both deal with technology, but in two different ways.

Dark Territories talks about the history of cyber war back from the presidency of Ronald Reagan up to President Obama’s presidency. I found it interesting to see how people’s view of the importance of cyber war grew over the years. During President Reagan’s time, people didn’t think that cyber war was  such a big issue, because laptops and other devices had just come out and the Internet was a very new concept at the time. However, even then, the issue was very important. Over time, as intelligence agencies and the world at large saw the implications of cyber war, the issue became very prevalent in history and still is today.

Industries of the Future talks about how new technology could have an impact on what we as humans are able to do in the next few years, in spite of the fact that technology is everywhere in the modern age. For example, while we may now have drivers and Ubers taking us from place to place, in a few years, we may have self-driving cars which don’t necessarily need a driver in the car in order for it to operate. Another example that surprised me is that at the hotels, humans are now at the concierge and customer services desks, but there are already robots taking over those duties in some places around the world.

Those books made me reflect on what the future holds and what implication will it have on future generations. How can we be secure in a changing environment, be it cyber or physical? Online threats are becoming more and more important in our world, but there is also the fact that our jobs are being passed over to machines.

Those are two of the books that made the biggest impact on me in 2016. What about you, dear reader? What books did you read this past year that inspired, challenged, or surprised you? What did you learn from reading those books? Think about it.

-Kinya

Writing a Post

Hello reader,

When starting something new, you may not necessarily know where to start. That was me with blog posts. I didn’t know where to start and I was like a deer in headlights when it came to what to write about. However, I decided that the first post would integrate what I was most passionate about: music.

Writing a post using something that you are passionate about as a reference could serve as a springboard toward other ideas. Make sure that your descriptions are vivid and concrete. That can be used to make a post an enjoyable read for all. Using personal experiences could also serve as a way of making your post effective because it makes you relatable to the intended audience. If the audience knows what you are talking about and can relate to it, you will be able to let your audience connect more with the subject.

One system that works for me is keeping my blog posts consistent. Having one day every week where I know that I am supposed to write a post helps me stay organized and focused with my tasks. However, if there is an event that will take up the time that I have planned for writing the post, I will do it earlier than I usually do.

Blog writing for me is a way for me to express my views about a topic to an audience that may or may not agree with my views, and I always try to have the audience think about the aspect that I am writing about at the end of my blog. I always try to keep the audience involved in my post and would like them to think about something and respond if they wish.

Writing blogs has been an amazing experience for me. I am grateful to have the experience of writing to an online audience and getting tips about how to better my work through the comments that I have received over this semester. Comments can be a useful aspect on how to make a post better.

Those were my tips on how to write a post, but do you have any different methods of your own that you use?

-Kinya

 

The First Post

Dear reader,

It’s hard to believe that I am halfway through my junior year. Sometimes I feel like I just started the year a few days ago. My time in AP Lang has gone by quite quickly, but nevertheless I have enjoyed every minute of it. One aspect of the class that I have enjoyed the most is the opportunity to have a weekly blog and talk to people through each post.

Before I was in AP Lang, I hadn’t even the faintest idea or interest of starting a blog. I didn’t even know WordPress as well as I do now and all the neat things you could do with it. In fact, starting a blog was one of the last things I wanted to do at first and when we were told that we would have to start one, I started panicking inside. I had a million questions floating in my head like, “What should I write about?” “What should I title my blog?” “How will my work look like in the blog?” and so on.

When it was finally time to start my introductory post, I struggled a lot. The ideas just wouldn’t come, but I slowly started having ideas to write about my blog name. And so, I did. After I finished writing the post, I was feeling not at all confident, but told myself that this is just the first in many more posts. Cringing, I pressed the publish button and hoped for the best. Over the course of a few days, I started to get comments from people, and they surprised me, because they said that I did a good job.  I was over the moon and was starting to get excited about the prospect of having this blog.

Since then, I have fully enjoyed every prompt, whether or not the answer of what to write comes easy to me. With every post, I feel like I have an opportunity to grow as a writer and that makes me excited for what prompt I get next. To me, the blog posts don’t feel like homework. They feel like an opportunity to grow.

What about you, dear reader? Have you ever had an experience that you were not either interested in or nervous about doing only to find out that you loved it in the end?

-Kinya

Broken Melodies

Dear reader,

I would like you to picture the world as one piece of music with many different melodies. Each continent has its own type of music, melodies, and harmonies, but the one thing that is universal is that none of the melodies are ever completely perfect. There are wrong notes in every piece, subtle or grand, that make the music sound not quite right. Whenever a mistake is made, the continent that made the mistake comes under intense pressure and ridicule from the others and is branded as an outcast. But with time, the music begins again and the mistake is forgiven.

I have read The Scarlet Letter recently and it paints the main character, Hester, in a similar light. Because of what she has done, she is branded as an outcast with the symbol of a scarlet letter on her chest. In the Puritan society, she is seen as someone who is apart from the general community and is treated differently from the others. She struggles with the fact that she as a person is defined by what she did and that that situation will haunt her throughout her life. However, over the course of the book, Hester grows out of those thoughts, becomes strong and independent and gets accepted by her community.

This book has taught me that even though there may be problems in the world, the aspect that matters most is how to forgive the individual. Look past the mistakes made, and accept the person for who they are, and don’t shun them for what they did. That way, the music can continue to play as best as possible, despite the mistakes.

-Kinya

Giving Thanks

Dear reader,

Have you ever thought about the importance of giving thanks and why it is known as ‘a magic word’? Have you ever thought about the importance of just saying thank you? Why is saying thanks such a big part of our society in terms of good manners?

Other than the fact that it shows that you are being polite and that you are appreciative of something, giving thanks could make someone happy about what they have done for you. Giving thanks also shows that you are appreciative of what is around you. Whether that is giving you a gift on your birthday, receiving an invitation to go to a concert with a friend, or cheering you up when you feel down in the dumps, saying thanks is a way for you to convey that you truly appreciate what the other person has done for you.

You can also be thankful about your environment such as the house you live in, your family, or even something as vast as nature. I had just finished school and was walking off to the place where I would be picked up and I looked around at the trees that surrounded me. In that moment, I gave thanks for the beautiful nature around the campus that made my school look so pretty and for nature all around the world that made Earth look more than just a barren landscape of a planet.

So giving thanks, small though it may be, could even help someone be a way to let someone know you are thankful for what they did for you and can help you see the bigger picture in even something as ordinary as a tree in a field.

That was my take on giving thanks, but what about you? What are you thankful for? Think about it and try to write it down so you don’t forget it.

-Kinya

The Scales of Justice and Grace

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Dear reader,

As our world stands now, there are many difficulties. Refugee crises, climate change, unemployment, and others. When reflecting on a situation and how it could develop, we can sometimes see it through two different angles: justice and grace. Which one of those two is the most important?

Justice is an important factor of dealing with problems, but sometimes that can blind us to the concept of grace. Grace is unmerited favor. The concept of grace can be applied in most areas of our everyday life. For example, someone treats you unfairly and blames you for something that you didn’t do. Later on, that same person decided to come back to you and apologize for their actions. In that moment, you have two options presented to you. Either get back at the person (justice) or forgive them (grace).

Choosing justice in that situation may feel very satisfying in the moment, but it may have consequences in the long run. You start to feel guilty about what you did and want to show grace to the person and apologize for what you did in the moment, but your sense of justice inhibits you from doing that. As a result, that conflict remains and may wear on you in the future.

However, choosing grace leads to a wonderful sense of freedom and in the long run, you will feel happy about your choice and that you did the right thing. Also, you may even want to know the person who did you wrong. You may even become close friends at the end of the day.

An example from my life would be with one of my best friends, Christina. We were both in 5th grade and we were not close at all. One day, I found that the snack I had from the day was missing from my bag. I remember that I saw Christina taking something that looked familiar to my snack, and I went at the end of the day and talked to her about it. She said that she hadn’t taken it and that I was wrong. I decided not to pursue it further and went home.

The next day, Christina came over to me and said that she did take my snack and that she was sorry. I had a choice to either not forgive her and harbor bad feelings against her (justice), or to accept her apology and forgive her (grace). I immediately chose to forgive her and show grace. She was surprised that I would choose to forgive her this easily and we became friends. To this day, we are inseparable from each other and have never fought since.

That was my experience with the choice of justice or grace, and there are many more examples strewn across my life. But what about you? What do you think of justice and grace? Which do you think should be more important and why? Think about that.

-Kinya

Relationships with Books

“A good book deserves an active reading. The activity of reading does not stop with the work of understanding what a book says. It must be completed by the work of criticism, the work of judging.”
Author: Mortimer J. Adler

Dear reader,

Books can be read several different ways, depending on the purpose of the reader. Some can be read for fun, some can be read for answering questions, and others can be read for understanding and wrestling with the text. It is important to know where one’s relationship with a book is so one can be able to determine how to grow and get more out of the book other than just a story.

If one reads a book that really challenging and intriguing, but doesn’t put that much thought into what the author is saying or how it is being said, a book will be read only for the sake of the storyline instead of the underlying purposes of what the author was trying to imply. However, if the underlying purposes of the author is noticed by the reader, questions will start to form in the reader’s mind that show active participation in trying to see what the author is trying to imply in the text. Then the reader may ask questions about why the author tried using particular methods or word choices.

It may not be easy to analyze a book, but it also depends on how the books are treated once they are bought. If the book is brand new and remains unmarked when it is being read, there may not be any active reading involved. However, if a book is bought and there are marks all over the book, notes inside the pages, and observations and questions by the reader, that shows that the reader has analyzed the book and is trying to get a better understanding of the concepts involved.

I have admittedly not been the most active reader, and I am trying to improve as much as I can. My hope is that I will become a reader who can be able to analyze and annotate a book and see the ideas presented behind the text. I would like to ask you a question, dear reader. How do you view relationships with books and what could you gain from that viewpoint?

-Kinya