Essay #4 Options with 3 Sources for Works Cited Due 11-20
One. Support, defend, or complicate the assertion that the unstoppable presence of trolls on Twitter has made being on Twitter, for many, an exercise so embedded in futility that deleting one's Twitter account is probably the best option. Consult Lindy West's "I've Left Twitter," Joel Stein's "How Trolls Are Ruining the Internet," Kathy Sierra's "Why the Trolls Will Always Win," Andrew Marantz's and "The Shameful Trolling of Leslie Jones." You can also consult the online essay “The Unsafety Net.”
Two. In the context of “The Flip Side of the Internet” and “The Evolution of Shaming,” develop a cause and effect thesis about the frenzy of shame that is evident in the age of social media. How do shame and fame feed each other is a sick symbiotic relationship? Consider envy, desperation for attention, loss of boundaries, and the need to push the envelope in order to "be heard."
Three. Comparing “Faces in the Mirror” and “The Flip Side of the Internet,” develop a thesis that analyzes the confluence of narcissism and celebrity worship. If narcissism is the undeveloped, immature self, as Sherry Turkle suggests, then it makes sense that narcissistic souls hunger to be worshiped on the grand scale of the very celebrities they both adulate and despise out of envy.
Four. In the context of “Unspeakable Conversations,” defend, refute, or complicate Peter Singer’s position that there are moral grounds for infanticide or “mercy killings.”
Five. Develop a thesis that defends, refutes, or complicates Paul Bloom’s assertion that simple-minded notions of empathy are actually dangerous and diminish us as human beings. Here's the link:
Here's a rebuttal:
Six. Develop a thesis that defends, refutes, or complicates the argument that the NFL is a moral abomination that must be boycotted. Here's the link:
Steve Almond's essay: https://www.salon.com/2015/03/23/the_nfl_is_morally_reprehensible_as_players_walk_away_from_brutality_fans_must_do_the_same/
Rebuttal Link: https://www.latimes.com/opinion/opinion-la/la-ol-nfl-football-feminism-20141003-story.html
Seven. Develop a thesis that defends, refutes, or complicates the argument that mass incarceration is “The New Jim Crow.” See Adam Gopnik's "The Caging of America."
Eight. Develop a thesis that defends, refutes, or complicates the argument that the United States government is morally compelled to give some African-Americans reparations for the injustices of slavery. See Ta-Nehisi Coates' essay "The Case for Reparations."
"Internet Trolls Are Often Psychopaths and Narcissists" by Lindsay Dodgson
"Online Disinhibition and the Psychology of Online Trolling" by Alan Martin
"Anonymity or accountability: Should trolls have to identify themselves before speaking out?" by Matthew Rozsa
"How Twitter Killed the First Amendment" by Tim Wu.
(Online troll hides behind anonymity or distance like someone feels protected in their car while they road rage.)
Read the first half of Joel Stein's "How Trolls Are Ruining the Internet"
This story is not a good idea. Not for society and certainly not for me. Because what trolls feed on is attention. And this little bit--these several thousand words--is like leaving bears a pan of baklava.
It would be smarter to be cautious, because the Internet's personality has changed. Once it was a geek with lofty ideals about the free flow of information. Now, if you need help improving your upload speeds the web is eager to help with technical details, but if you tell it you're struggling with depression it will try to goad you into killing yourself. Psychologists call this the online disinhibition effect, in which factors like anonymity, invisibility, a lack of authority and not communicating in real time strip away the mores society spent millennia building. And it's seeping from our smartphones into every aspect of our lives.
The people who relish this online freedom are called trolls, a term that originally came from a fishing method online thieves use to find victims. It quickly morphed to refer to the monsters who hide in darkness and threaten people. Internet trolls have a manifesto of sorts, which states they are doing it for the "lulz," or laughs. What trolls do for the lulz ranges from clever pranks to harassment to violent threats. There's also doxxing--publishing personal data, such as Social Security numbers and bank accounts--and swatting, calling in an emergency to a victim's house so the SWAT team busts in. When victims do not experience lulz, trolls tell them they have no sense of humor. Trolls are turning social media and comment boards into a giant locker room in a teen movie, with towel-snapping racial epithets and misogyny.
They've been steadily upping their game. In 2011, trolls descended on Facebook memorial pages of recently deceased users to mock their deaths. In 2012, after feminist Anita Sarkeesian started a Kickstarter campaign to fund a series of YouTube videos chronicling misogyny in video games, she received bomb threats at speaking engagements, doxxing threats, rape threats and an unwanted starring role in a video game called Beat Up Anita Sarkeesian. In June of this year, Jonathan Weisman, the deputy Washington editor of the New York Times, quit Twitter, on which he had nearly 35,000 followers, after a barrage of anti-Semitic messages. At the end of July, feminist writer Jessica Valenti said she was leaving social media after receiving a rape threat against her daughter, who is 5 years old.
A Pew Research Center survey published two years ago found that 70% of 18-to-24-year-olds who use the Internet had experienced harassment, and 26% of women that age said they'd been stalked online. This is exactly what trolls want. A 2014 study published in the psychology journal Personality and Individual Differences found that the approximately 5% of Internet users who self-identified as trolls scored extremely high in the dark tetrad of personality traits: narcissism, psychopathy, Machiavellianism and, especially, sadism.
But maybe that's just people who call themselves trolls. And maybe they do only a small percentage of the actual trolling. "Trolls are portrayed as aberrational and antithetical to how normal people converse with each other. And that could not be further from the truth," says Whitney Phillips, a literature professor at Mercer University and the author of This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things: Mapping the Relationship Between Online Trolling and Mainstream Culture. "These are mostly normal people who do things that seem fun at the time that have huge implications. You want to say this is the bad guys, but it's a problem of us."
A lot of people enjoy the kind of trolling that illuminates the gullibility of the powerful and their willingness to respond. One of the best is Congressman Steve Smith, a Tea Party Republican representing Georgia's 15th District, which doesn't exist. For nearly three years Smith has spewed over-the-top conservative blather on Twitter, luring Senator Claire McCaskill, Christiane Amanpour and Rosie O'Donnell into arguments. Surprisingly, the guy behind the GOP-mocking prank, Jeffrey Marty, isn't a liberal but a Donald Trump supporter angry at the Republican elite, furious at Hillary Clinton and unhappy with Black Lives Matter. A 40-year-old dad and lawyer who lives outside Tampa, he says he has become addicted to the attention. "I was totally ruined when I started this. My ex-wife and I had just separated. She decided to start a new, more exciting life without me," he says. Then his best friend, who he used to do pranks with as a kid, killed himself. Now he's got an illness that's keeping him home.
Marty says his trolling has been empowering. "Let's say I wrote a letter to the New York Times saying I didn't like your article about Trump. They throw it in the shredder. On Twitter I communicate directly with the writers. It's a breakdown of all the institutions," he says. "I really do think this stuff matters in the election. I have 1.5 million views of my tweets every 28 days. It's a much bigger audience than I would have gotten if I called people up and said, 'Did you ever consider Trump for President?'"
Trolling is, overtly, a political fight. Liberals do indeed troll--sex-advice columnist Dan Savage used his followers to make Googling former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum's last name a blunt lesson in the hygienic challenges of anal sex; the hunter who killed Cecil the lion got it really bad.
But trolling has become the main tool of the alt-right, an Internet-grown reactionary movement that works for men's rights and against immigration and may have used the computer from Weird Science to fabricate Donald Trump. Not only does Trump share their attitudes, but he's got mad trolling skills: he doxxed Republican primary opponent Senator Lindsey Graham by giving out his cell-phone number on TV and indirectly got his Twitter followers to attack GOP political strategist Cheri Jacobus so severely that her lawyers sent him a cease-and-desist order.
The alt-right's favorite insult is to call men who don't hate feminism "cucks," as in "cuckold." Republicans who don't like Trump are "cuckservatives." Men who don't see how feminists are secretly controlling them haven't "taken the red pill," a reference to the truth-revealing drug in The Matrix. They derisively call their adversaries "social-justice warriors" and believe that liberal interest groups purposely exploit their weakness to gain pity, which allows them to control the levers of power. Trolling is the alt-right's version of political activism, and its ranks view any attempt to take it away as a denial of democracy.
In this new culture war, the battle isn't just over homosexuality, abortion, rap lyrics, drugs or how to greet people at Christmastime. It's expanded to anything and everything: video games, clothing ads, even remaking a mediocre comedy from the 1980s. In July, trolls who had long been furious that the 2016 reboot of Ghostbusters starred four women instead of men harassed the film's black co-star Leslie Jones so badly on Twitter with racist and sexist threats--including a widely copied photo of her at the film's premiere that someone splattered semen on--that she considered quitting the service. "I was in my apartment by myself, and I felt trapped," Jones says. "When you're reading all these gay and racial slurs, it was like, I can't fight y'all. I didn't know what to do. Do you call the police? Then they got my email, and they started sending me threats that they were going to cut off my head and stuff they do to 'N words.' It's not done to express an opinion, it's done to scare you."
Because of Jones' harassment, alt-right leader Milo Yiannopoulos was permanently banned from Twitter. (He is also an editor at Breitbart News, the conservative website whose executive chairman, Stephen Bannon, was hired Aug. 17 to run the Trump campaign.) The service said Yiannopoulos, a critic of the new Ghostbusters who called Jones a "black dude" in a tweet, marshaled many of his more than 300,000 followers to harass her. He not only denies this but says being responsible for your fans is a ridiculous standard. He also thinks Jones is faking hurt for political purposes. "She is one of the stars of a Hollywood blockbuster," he says. "It takes a certain personality to get there. It's a politically aware, highly intelligent star using this to get ahead. I think it's very sad that feminism has turned very successful women into professional victims."
A gay, 31-year-old Brit with frosted hair, Yiannopoulos has been speaking at college campuses on his Dangerous Faggot tour. He says trolling is a direct response to being told by the left what not to say and what kinds of video games not to play. "Human nature has a need for mischief. We want to thumb our nose at authority and be individuals," he says. "Trump might not win this election. I might not turn into the media figure I want to. But the space we're making for others to be bolder in their speech is some of the most important work being done today. The trolls are the only people telling the truth."
The alt-right was galvanized by Gamergate, a 2014 controversy in which trolls tried to drive critics of misogyny in video games away from their virtual man cave. "In the mid-2000s, Internet culture felt very separate from pop culture," says Katie Notopoulos, who reports on the web as an editor at BuzzFeed and co-host of the Internet Explorer podcast. "This small group of people are trying to stand their ground that the Internet is dark and scary, and they're trying to scare people off. There's such a culture of viciously making fun of each other on their message boards that they have this very thick skin. They're all trained up."
Andrew Auernheimer, who calls himself Weev online, is probably the biggest troll in history. He served just over a year in prison for identity fraud and conspiracy. When he was released in 2014, he left the U.S., mostly bouncing around Eastern Europe and the Middle East. Since then he has worked to post anti--Planned Parenthood videos and flooded thousands of university printers in America with instructions to print swastikas--a symbol tattooed on his chest. When I asked if I could fly out and interview him, he agreed, though he warned that he "might not be coming ashore for a while, but we can probably pass close enough to land to have you meet us somewhere in the Adriatic or Ionian." His email signature: "Eternally your servant in the escalation of entropy and eschaton."
While we planned my trip to "a pretty remote location," he told me that he no longer does interviews for free and that his rate was two bitcoins (about $1,100) per hour. That's when one of us started trolling the other, though I'm not sure which:
From: Joel Stein
To: Andrew Auernheimer
I totally understand your position. But TIME, and all the major media outlets, won't pay people who we interview. There's a bunch of reasons for that, but I'm sure you know them.
From: Andrew Auernheimer
To: Joel Stein
I find it hilarious that after your people have stolen years of my life at gunpoint and bulldozed my home, you still expect me to work for free in your interests.
You people belong in a f-cking oven.
From: Joel Stein
To: Andrew Auernheimer
For a guy who doesn't want to be interviewed for free, you're giving me a lot of good quotes!
In a later blog post about our emails, Weev clarified that TIME is "trying to destroy white civilization" and that we should "open up your Jew wallets and dump out some of the f-cking geld you've stolen from us goys, because what other incentive could I possibly have to work with your poisonous publication?" I found it comforting that the rate for a neo-Nazi to compromise his ideology is just two bitcoins.
Expressing socially unacceptable views like Weev's is becoming more socially acceptable. Sure, just like there are tiny, weird bookstores where you can buy neo-Nazi pamphlets, there are also tiny, weird white-supremacist sites on the web. But some of the contributors on those sites now go to places like 8chan or 4chan, which have a more diverse crowd of meme creators, gamers, anime lovers and porn enthusiasts. Once accepted there, they move on to Reddit, the ninth most visited site in the U.S., on which users can post links to online articles and comment on them anonymously. Reddit believes in unalloyed free speech; the site only eliminated the comment boards "jailbait," "creepshots" and "beatingwomen" for legal reasons.
Sample Thesis and Supports for Going Off Twitter
While Twitter is a legitimate way to receive news from our favorite journalists and while I support maintaining a Twitter account with the caveat that we’re not being bombarded by trolls, I would agree with the argument that for those Twitter users who are in a collision course with the troll community, it would be better to delete their Twitter account for several reasons.
Some Reasons to Delete One's Twitter Account
For the undisciplined, Twitter can be, as Lindy West has noted, a bottomless “time suck” in which people start arguing endlessly back and forth just for the sport of arguing. This time suck becomes unpaid work.
Going on Twitter for “stress relief,” as Lindy West observes, can quickly become a reversal and afflict the user with even more stress than before.
Arguing with a troll becomes a waste of time and exercise in futility. In fact, trolls want to argue. Arguing back with them is their nourishment. We are “feeding” them, as Lindy West points out.
We can’t even report threats from trolls, Lindy West chronicles, without being called “censors” by the Twitter community.
Twitter cannot stop trolls who are creating pollution on the site. Lindy West has concluded that in a way Twitter is enabling trolls, so it’s best to bail from this toxic landscape altogether.
Twitter makes you more vulnerable to people who can be hateful toward your political views. In contrast, you can manage your Facebook page to create a cozy bubble in which you converse with like-minded souls.
Joel Stein makes excellent point that Twitter, and other social media, produce the online disinhibition effect: Without face-to-face interaction and hiding behind anonymity, people who are normally cowards feel emboldened to unleash their inner demons of hate, rage, and obnoxious bullying so that online discourse becomes a toxic environment stripped of ethical mores and civil decorum.
Trolls and others can engage in “doxxing,” the act of stealing people’s personal data and publishing it.
Joel Stein observes that trolls are not just losers on the fringe; they are mainstream people who, frustrated, and shackled by Internet addiction, including the need for attention, develop into trolls.
Reminder: You need at least one counterargument-rebuttal paragraph.
Suggested Essay Outline
Paragraph 1: Summarize Joel Stein's essay: 250 words.
Paragraph 2. Write your argumentative thesis about deleting Twitter or not. 150 words: 400 subtotal.
Paragraphs 3-6: Your supporting paragraphs at 150 words each for 600 words and 1,000 words subtotal.
Paragraphs 7 and 8: Counterargument-rebuttal paragraphs at 200 words each for 1,400 words.
Conclusion of 100 words for 1,500 total.
Addressing Catherine Buni and Soraya Chemaly’s “The Unsafety Net,” develop an argumentative or cause and effect thesis of your choice about misogynistic trolls and social media.
There is no legal or cultural protection for the colossal swatch of trolls who hate women. Lacking meaning and conscience, this mass of misogynists hate women as a sick sport that diverts them from their narcissistic emptiness, abysmally low self-esteem, and pathological stagnation. Because there are no safeguards to protect women from these obscene fiends, women are better off staying off the Internet and promoting their voice through avatars, pseudonyms, and other forms of trickery.
Causes of Misogyny in Age of Internet Trolls
One. Men fear they're losing control in age where 1 in 5 men are unemployed and women are succeeding more in college.
Two. Men fear they're losing power for reasons stated above and they have a history of sexist entitlement, which is being threatened.
Three. Peggy Orenstein, author of Girls and Sex (and interviewed on Fresh Air), observes that misogyny, that is disrespect of women, has been worsened in Internet age where women are objectified in porn and encouraged to "look hot." These sexualized images of women become valued by men, not women themselves, and this connects men to images but not human beings. Disconnected from human beings, men feel no empathy for women, and this leads to misanthropy.
Four. Jezebel gives 4 more reasons, we should read.
Sample Outline for "The Unsafety Net" and Misogyny
Paragraph One: Summarize "The Unsafety Net" in 300 words.
Paragraph Two: Develop a cause and effect thesis that analyzes misogyny. 150 words.
Paragraphs Three-Seven: Supporting paragraphs (causes of misogyny in the Internet Age) 150 x 5. 750 and 1,200
Paragraph Eight, Conclusion: 200 words, 1,400 total.
According to Andrea A. Lunsford in The St. Martin’s Handbook, Eight Edition, there are 20 writing errors that merit “The Top 20.”
One. Wrong word: Confusing one word for another.
Here's a list of wrong word usage.
A full-bodied red wine compliments the Pasta Pomodoro.
Compliment is a to say something nice about someone. "You look nice in that pumpkin polo shirt. Very nice pumpkin accents."
Complement is to complete or match well with something. "This full-bodied red wine complements the spaghetti."
The BMW salesman excepted my counteroffer of 55K for the sports sedan.
The word should be accepted.
Kryptonite effects Superman in such a way that he loses his powers.
Effect is a noun. Affect is a verb, so it should be the following:
Kryptonite affects Superman in a such a way that he loses his powers.
Confusing their and there
There superpowers were compromised by the Gamma rays.
We need to use the possessive plural pronoun their.
Two. Missing comma after an introductory phrase or clause
Terrified of slimy foods, Robert hid behind the restaurant’s dumpster.
In spite of my aversion to rollercoasters, I attended the carnival with my family.
Three. Incomplete documentation
Noted dietician and nutritionist Mike Manderlin observes that, “Dieting is a mental illness.”
It should read:
Noted dietician and nutritionist Mike Manderlin observes that, “Dieting is a mental illness” (277).
Four. Vague Pronoun Reference
Focusing on the pecs during your Monday-Wednesday-Friday workouts is a way of giving you more time to work on your quads and glutes and specializing on the way they’re used in different exercises.
Before Jennifer screamed at Brittany, she came to the conclusion that she was justified in stealing her boyfriend.
Five. Spelling (including homonyms, words that have same spelling but different meanings)
No one came forward to bare witness to the crime.
No one came forward to bear witness to the crime.
Every where we went, we saw fast food restaurants.
Everywhere we went, we saw fast food restaurants.
Love is a disease. It’s sickness derives from its power to intoxicate and create capricious, short-term infatuation.
Its sickness derives from its power to intoxicate and create capricious, short-term infatuation.
Six. Mechanical error with a quotation
In his best-selling book Love Is a Virus from Outer Space, noted psychologist Michael M. Manderlin asserts that, “Falling in love is a form of madness for which there is no cure”.
In his best selling book Love Is a Virus from Outer Space, noted psychologist Michael M. Manderlin asserts that, “Falling in love is a form of madness for which there is no cure.”
In his best selling book Love Is a Virus from Outer Space, noted psychologist Michael M. Manderlin asserts that, “Falling in love is a form of madness for which there is no cure” (18).
“It forever stuns me that people make life decisions based on something as fickle and capricious as love”, Michael Manderlin writes (22).
“It forever stuns me that people make life decisions based on something as fickle and capricious as love,” Michael Manderlin writes (22).
Seven. Unnecessary comma
I need to workout when at home, and while taking vacations.
You do however use a comma if the comma is between two independent clauses:
I need to workout at home, and when I go on vacations, I bring my yoga mat to hotels.
I need to workout every day, because I’m addicted to the exercise-induced dopamine.
You do however use a comma after a dependent clause beginning with because:
Because I’m addicted to exercise-induced dopamine, I need to workout everyday.
Peaches, that are green, taste hideous.
The above is an example of an independent clause with a essential information or restrictive information. Not all peaches taste hideous, only green ones. The meaning of the entire sentence needs the dependent clause so there are no commas.
However, if the clause is additional information, the clause is called nonessential or nonrestrictive, and we do use commas:
Peaches, which are on sale at Whole Foods, are my favorite fruit.
Eight. Unnecessary or missing capitalization
Some Traditional Chinese Medicines containing Ephedraremain legal.
We only use capital letters for proper nouns, proper adjectives, first words of sentences, important words in titles, along with certain words indicating directions and family relationships.
Nine. Missing word
The site foreman discriminated women and promoted men with less experience.
The site foreman discriminated against women and promoted men with less experience.
Chris’ behavior becomes bizarre that his family asks for help.
Chris’ behavior becomes so bizarre that his family asks for help.
Ten. Faulty sentence structure
The information which high school athletes are presented with mainly includes information on what credits needed to graduate and thinking about the college which athletes are trying to play for, and apply.
A sentence that starts out with one kind of structure and then changes to another kind can confuse readers. Make sure that each sentence contains a subject and a verb, that subjects and predicates make sense together, and that comparisons have clear meanings. When you join elements (such as subjects or verb phrases) with a coordinating conjunction, make sure that the elements have parallel structures.
The reason I prefer yoga at home to the gym is because I prefer privacy.
I prefer yoga at home to the gym because of privacy.
11. Missing Comma with a Nonrestrictive Element
Marina who was the president of the club was the first to speak.
The clause who was the president of the club does not affect the basic meaning of the sentence: Marina was the first to speak.
A nonrestrictive element gives information not essential to the basic meaning of the sentence. Use commas to set off a nonrestrictive element.
12. Unnecessary Shift in Verb Tense
Priya was watching the great blue heron. Then she slips and falls into the swamp.
Verbs that shift from one tense to another with no clear reason can confuse readers.
13. Missing Comma in a Compound Sentence
Meredith waited for Samir and her sister grew impatient.
Without the comma, a reader may think at first that Meredith waited for both Samir and her sister.
A compound sentence consists of two or more parts that could each stand alone as a sentence. When the parts are joined by a coordinating conjunction, use a comma before the conjunction to indicate a pause between the two thoughts.
14. Unnecessary or Missing Apostrophe (including its/it's)
Overambitious parents can be very harmful to a childs well-being.
The car is lying on it's side in the ditch. Its a white 2004 Passat.
To make a noun possessive, add either an apostrophe and an s (Ed's book) or an apostrophe alone (the boys' gym). Do not use an apostrophe in the possessive pronouns ours, yours, and hers. Useits to mean belong to it; use it's only when you mean it is or it has.
15. Fused (run-on) sentence
Klee's paintings seem simple, they are very sophisticated.
She doubted the value of medication she decided to try it once.
A fused sentence (also called a run-on) joins clauses that could each stand alone as a sentence with no punctuation or words to link them. Fused sentences must be either divided into separate sentences or joined by adding words or punctuation.
16. Comma Splice
I was strongly attracted to her, she was beautiful and funny.
We hated the meat loaf, the cafeteria served it every Friday.
A comma splice occurs when only a comma separates clauses that could each stand alone as a sentence. To correct a comma splice, you can insert a semicolon or period, connect the clauses with a word such as and or because, or restructure the sentence.
17. Lack of pronoun/antecedent agreement
Every student must provide their own uniform.
Pronouns must agree with their antecedents in gender (male or female) and in number (singular or plural). Many indefinite pronouns, such as everyone and each, are always singular. When a singular antecedent can refer to a man or woman, either rewrite the sentence to make the antecedent plural or to eliminate the pronoun, or use his or her, he or she, and so on. When antecedents are joined by or or nor, the pronoun must agree with the closer antecedent. A collection noun such as team can be either singular or plural, depending on whether the members are seen as a group or individuals.
18. Poorly Integrated Quotation
A 1970s study of what makes food appetizing "Once it became apparent that the steak was actually blue and the fries were green, some people became ill" (Schlosser 565).
In a 1970s study about what makes food appetizing, we read, "Once it became apparent that the steak was actually blue and the fries were green, some people became ill" (Schlosser 565).
"Dumpster diving has serious drawbacks as a way of life" (Eighner 383). Finding edible food is especially tricky.
"Dumpster diving has serious drawbacks as a way of life," we read in Eighner's book (383). One of the drawbacks is that finding food can be especially difficult.
Quotations should fit smoothly into the surrounding sentence structure. They should be linked clearly to the writing around them (usually with a signal phrase) rather than dropped abruptly into the writing.
19. Missing or Unnecessary Hyphen
This paper looks at fictional and real life examples.
A compound adjective modifying a noun that follows it requires a hyphen.
The buyers want to fix-up the house and resell it.
A two-word verb should not be hyphenated. A compound adjective that appears before a noun needs a hyphen. However, be careful not to hyphenate two-word verbs or word groups that serve as subject complements.
20. Sentence Fragment
Marie Antoinette spent huge sums of money on herself and her favorites. And helped to bring on the French Revolution.
No complete verb
The aluminum boat sitting on its trailer.
Beginning with a subordinating word
We returned to the drugstore. Where we waited for our buddies.
A sentence fragment is part of a sentence that is written as if it were a complete sentence. Reading your draft out loud, backwards, sentence by sentence, will help you spot sentence fragments.
Subordination and Coordination (Complex and Compound Sentences)
A complex sentence has two clauses. One clause is dependent or subordinate; the other clause is independent, that is to say, the independent clause is the complete sentence.
While I was tanning in Hermosa Beach, I noticed the clouds were playing hide and seek.
Because I have a tendency to eat entire pizzas, inhaling them within seconds, I must avoid that fattening food.
Whenever I’m driving my car and I see people texting while driving, I stop my car on the side of the road.
I have to workout every day because I am addicted to exercise-induced dopamine.
I feel overcome with a combination of romantic melancholy and giddy excitement whenever there is a thunderstorm.
We use subordination to show cause and effect. To create subordinate clauses, we must use a subordinate conjunction:
The essential ingredient in a complex sentence is the subordinate conjunction:
I workout too much. I have tenderness in my elbow.
Because I workout too much, I suffer tenderness in my elbow.
My elbow hurts. I’m working out.
Even though my elbow hurts, I’m working out.
We use coordination to show equal rank of ideas. To combine sentences with coordination we use FANBOYS (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so)
The calculus class has been cancelled. We will have to do something else.
The calculus class has been cancelled, so we will have to do something else.
I want more pecan pie. They only have apple pie.
I want more pecan pie, but they only have apple pie.
Using FANBOYS creates compound sentences
Angelo loves to buy a new radio every week, but his wife doesn’t like it.
You have high cholesterol, so you have to take statins.
I am tempted to eat all the rocky road ice cream, yet I will force myself to nibble on carrots and celery.
I want to go to the Middle Eastern restaurant today, and I want to see a movie afterwards.
I really like the comfort of elastic-waist pants, but wearing them makes me feel like an old man.
Both subordination and coordination combine sentences into smoother, clearer sentences.
The following four sentences are made smoother and clearer with the help of subordination:
McMahon felt gluttonous. He inhaled five pizzas. He felt his waist press against his denim waistband in a cruel, unforgiving fashion. He felt an acute ache in his stomach.
Because McMahon felt gluttonous, he inhaled five pizzas upon which he felt his waist press against his denim waistband resulting in an acute stomachache.
Joe ate too much heavily salted popcorn. The saltiness made him thirsty. He consumed several gallons of water before bedtime. He was up going to the bathroom all night. He got a bad night’s sleep. He performed terribly during his job interview.
Due to his foolish consumption of salted popcorn, Joe was so thirsty he drank several gallons of water before bedtime, which caused him to go to the bathroom all night, interfering with his night’s sleep and causing him to do terribly on his job interview.
Bob dropped his peanut butter sandwich in the tiger’s enclosure. He leaned over the fence to reach for his sandwich. He fell over the fence. A tiger approached Bob. The zookeeper ran between the stupid zoo customer and the wild beast. The zookeeper tore his rotator cuff.
After Bob dropped his peanut butter sandwich in the tiger’s enclosure, he leaned over the fence to recover his sandwich and fell into the enclosure during which time he was approached by a hungry tiger, forcing the nearby zookeeper to run between Bob and wild beast. During the struggle, the zookeeper tore his rotator cuff.
Don’t Do Subordination Overkill
After Bob dropped his peanut butter sandwich in the tiger’s enclosure, he leaned over the fence to recover his sandwich and fell into the enclosure during which time he was approached by a hungry tiger forcing the nearby zookeeper to run between Bob and the wild beast in such a manner that the zookeeper tore his rotator cuff, which resulted in a prolonged disability leave and the loss of his job, a crisis that compelled the zookeeper to file a lawsuit against Bob for financial damages.
McMahon Grammar Lesson: Comma Rules (based in part by Diana Hacker’s Rules for Writers)
Commas are designed to help writers avoid confusing sentences and to clarify the logic of their sentences.
If you cook Jeff will clean the dishes. (Will you cook Jeff?)
While we were eating a rattlesnake approached us. (Were we eating a rattlesnake?)
Comma Rule 1: Use a comma before a coordinating conjunction (FANBOYS) joining two independent clauses.
Rattlesnakes are high in protein, but I’d rather eat a peanut butter sandwich.
Rattlesnakes are dangerous, and the desert species are even more so.
We are a proud people, for our ancestors passed down these famous delicacies over a period of five thousand years.
The exception to rule 1 is when the two independent clauses are short:
The plane took off and we were on our way.
Comma Rule 2: Use a comma after an introductory clause or phrase.
When Jeff Henderson was in prison, he developed an appetite for reading.
In the nearby room, the TV is blaring full blast.
Tanning in the hot Hermosa Beach sun for over two hours, I realized I had better call it a day.
The exception is when the short adverb clause or phrase is short and doesn’t create the possibility of a misreading:
In no time we were at 2,800 feet.
Comma Rule 3: Use a comma between all items in a series.
Jeff Henderson found redemption through hard work, self-reinvention, and social altruism.
Finding his passion, mastering his craft, and giving back to the community were all part of Jeff Henderson’s self-reinvention.
Comma Rule 4: Use a comma between coordinate adjectives not joined with “and.” Do not use a comma between cumulative adjectives.
The adjectives below are called coordinate because they modify the noun separately:
Jeff Henderson is a passionate, articulate, wise speaker.
The adjectives above are coordinate because they can be joined with “and.” Jeff Henderson is passionate and articulate and wise.
Adjectives that do not modify the noun separately are cumulative.
Three large gray shapes moved slowly toward us.
Chocolate fudge peanut butter swirl coconut cake is divine.
Comma Rule 5: Use commas to set off nonrestrictive (nonessential) elements.
Restrictive or essential information doesn’t have a comma:
For school the students need notebooks that are college-ruled.
Jeff’s cat that just had kittens became very aggressive.
For school the students need college-ruled notebooks, which are on sale at the bookstore.
Jeff Henderson’s mansion, which is located in Las Vegas, has a state-of-the-art kitchen.
My youngest sister, who plays left wing on the soccer team, now lives at The Sands, a beach house near Los Angeles.
Comma Rule 6: Use commas to set off interrupters or interjections between sentences.
Keith Manderlin, a close friend of mine, went on the buttermilk fried chicken diet and lost 45 pounds.
I looked down at my thumb, a flat grape in the aftermath of me hitting it with a hammer, and realized I had better have my wife drive me to the emergency room.
Green tea, which is believed to be rich in anti-oxidants, varies in quality depending on your supplier.
I sat down and wrote a song on the piano, a lugubrious homage to my angst-ridden adolescent years, which became my all-time selling hit single.
Peanut butter, known to contain significant amounts of rat and cockroach parts, continues to be a brisk seller in spite of its reputation for containing impurities.
Commas and Other Punctuation for MLA Citations
The following needs commas:
When Zombies Became a Worldwide Pestilence, Circa 2012
I’ve been teaching college composition and critical thinking for thirty years. If I had to pick a year that defined a radical change in my students I’d have to point to 2012. That was the year things started to go downhill. It was the year when smartphone users in the United States topped 100 million. It was the year a growing number of Americans and people worldwide began to see the smartphone as a necessity more important than having a toothbrush or wearing underwear. The smartphone became an external organ an external amygdala with Wi-Fi.
More than a human appendage, the smartphone became an opium-drip machine that you carried around with you 24/7. You could enjoy validation and dopamine all day long, until your brain dulled and short-circuited rendering you a mindless zombie falling down a rabbit hole of anxiety and depression.
Depression made people turn to their little opium gadgets with even greater intensity as if the very source of their mental disease might save them and put them into states of euphoria the gadget had once provided them.
I talk about the smartphone-induced zombie state with my students all the time. I talk about how this zombie state will make them “bottom feeders” in the new economy. Their time and energy wasted on their opium machine will make them lose their competitive edge to those who have the strength of mind to keep their smartphones in their proper place.
Having a competitive edge has never been more urgent in this age of merciless economic stratification where everything is tiered including our educational caste system. I remind the class that 8000 students walk through the Humanities Building every week and of those students only 3% will pass our college’s Critical Thinking courses which puts my students in the 97 percentile. A staggering 90% of the remedial students won’t even make it to freshman composition.
It’s one thing to struggle at the bottom of the educational ladder with the odds set against you. But it’s a far worse thing to voluntarily keep a smartphone attached to you constantly because now you’re aiding and abetting in your own demise by allowing this insidious contraption to turn you into a dysfunctional zombie.
I tell my students that this zombie state was prophesied in the 1999 film The Matrix in which we see we have a choice to take the Red Pill of knowledge or the Blue Pill of ignorance. Most people in the film’s future dystopia choose ignorance. The Blue Pill prophecy was fulfilled I tell my students in 2012 when everyone in the world believed erroneously they not only did they need a smartphone; they needed to constantly address the smartphone’s voracious appetites.
All of my students have horror stories of friends and family members whose lives have been ruined by smartphone addiction. They’ve traded ambition and caring for being numbed and depressed by their little dopamine device. They talk of older brothers and sisters unemployed college dropouts who malnourished and corpse-like languish in dank, dimly-lit basements where they are shackled to their smartphones day and night.
My students speak of their own battles with social media-induced anxiety and depression. Listening to my vitriolic rants against social media many of them have deleted their Facebook accounts. They all feel better for it. I’ve had students announce to the class that they deleted their Facebook account and it was followed by applause as if they were announcing their many days of sobriety at an A.A. meeting.
I confess to my students that while I rarely use my five-year-old smartphone a dinosaur by today’s standards I have wasted tens of thousands of hours mindlessly relaxing in front of the Internet since the late 1990s when I was deluded like millions of others into believing surfing the Net gave me infinite possibilities and a giddy sense of omnipotence. But thousands of hours wasted on skimming news articles, consuming entertainment, and conducting product research was time I could have spent practicing writing and playing piano. Rather than honing those skills I’ve remained a dilettante.
I too am in need of an intervention I confess to my students. I too am a casualty of the false utopian promises of technology. Looking at twenty years and tens of thousands of hours wasted wallowing in the malaise of the Internet's mind-numbing seductions I must now redeem myself before it's too late.
I make an announcement to my class. I am going to write a book about critical thinking as the antidote to the zombie state, which became a worldwide pestilence in 2012. The process must be reversed. The Red Pill must replace the Blue Pill. I will call my book Critical Thinking for the Zombie Apocalypse.
This sound like futility.
This sounds like a fool’s errand.
This sounds like the desperate play of a washed-up nonentity straining for relevance.
But my quest to save the students in my critical thinking class is like religion when you think about it. Religion tells you the world is a place of darkness and that to surrender to the world results in death—you navigate the Earth like a mindless zombie unaware that you slog across the planet in darkness.
I can shrug my shoulders and say the hell with it. Why fight the current? Why fight this tsunami of social media and smartphone addiction that is eviscerating our brains? Because complete surrender is nihilism the belief that nothing matters.
I cannot be a Priest of Despair and Hedonism.
I cannot tell my twin daughters now in the first grade that life is a meaningless joke.
If George Carlin is right that when you’re born you’re given a free front-row ticket to the freak show then you should know why it’s a freak show. And you should learn to tell the difference between a freak show and a non-freak show.
Knowing the difference means a lot to me.
But George Carlin was only half right.
The world is a freak show to be sure but only part of the world is. A freak show by definition means something deformed, grotesque, askew, out of whack. But these conditions are degraded versions of something better.
An informed opinion is a rare thing and it is a good thing to have.
An uninformed opinion one that is held out of habit and reflex more than anything else is a degraded version of the informed opinion. Mobs of people with uniformed opinions wreak hell and havoc on the world.
If they win then let the freak show begin.