10-15 Homework #9:
Read Linda Tirado’s famous blog post “This Is Why Poor People’s Bad Decisions Make Perfect Sense,” Barbara Ehrenreich’s “It Is Expensive to be Poor,” and Derek Thompson’s “Your Brain on Poverty” and in a 3-paragraph essay analyze the validity of their claim that poverty is a vicious cycle of helplessness and victimization.
Option Four. Read Linda Tirado’s famous blog post “This Is Why Poor People’s Bad Decisions Make Perfect Sense” and Derek Thompson’s “Your Brain on Poverty” and develop a thesis that defends, refutes, or complicates the assertion that Tirado and Thompson’s essays are guilty of painting the poor as helpless victims and as a result doing a disservice to the poor.
McMahon doesn't like the wording of his assignment. He'd rather revise it:
In the context of the three essays, defend, refute, or complicate the argument that poverty is not so much a self-inflicted wound as the result of structural inequality in which access to healthcare, education, and healthcare determine wealth more than alleged pathological self-destructive "poor" behavior.
If the poverty topic interests you, you may use the movie Sorry to Bother You (Boots Riley 2018), a movie about poverty and class exploitation (dark comedy for adults only) as a resource for your essay. In fact, one could write an argument that Boots Riley's film is a refutation against the victimization myth of poverty.
10-17 Peer Edit for Essay #3 and Portfolio Part 1 up to Homework #9.
Canceling 10-31-18 Homework #12. Instead on 10-31 we will watch 13th on Netflix.
10-29 Homework #11: Read Adam Gopnik’s “The Caging of America” and write a 3-paragraph essay that explains why mass incarceration is America’s greatest scandal. Show 13th on Netflix on 10-31. Cancel HW #12.
10-31 Show Netflix documentary 13th.
Read Julia Belluz’s “We’re barely using the best tool we have to fight obesity” and in a 3-paragraph essay analyze the causes of Bulluz’s optimism about bariatric surgery.
More Sources on Bariatric Surgery
Prewriting Thoughts from McMahon
We will find that bariatric surgery in various forms, with the exception of the lapband, is largely effective, but that it comes with a price: malnutrition such as vitamin and mineral deficiencies; ulcers, acid reflux, gastrointestinal bleeding, hernias, stomach pain, bowel obstruction, and vomiting. We will find that this surgery has benefits: 30% loss of weight, changes in hormones like insulin, changes in Set Point, reduced diabetes 2, possibility for romance, higher self-confidence.
It would appear that to submit oneself to such an extreme surgery one's life would have to be extreme in obesity, health risks, and general depressive misery.
In other words, there is a larger point here: When our lives become extreme in misery, we are more compelled to take on extreme measures even when those measures present us with risk, pain, and harmful side effects. We can conclude that for some of us life exists only on a Misery Scale, and we must make a choice between Misery 10 and Misery 6.2 or some such subjective calculation.
If we feel the less misery of bariatric surgery is significantly less than the misery of our current obesity, we choose the surgery.
We also have to throw one more factor in the mix: The medical community doesn't tell us all the risks that ensue with their procedures because they are not as regulated as we believe. We can see evidence to this claim by the documentary on Netflix, The Bleeding Edge.
Sample Thesis Statement
Considering all the ill side effects of bariatric surgery and the risk of gaining one's weight again, I would posit that most of us should avoid gastric bypass operations, but that for some of us our condition of obesity is so extreme and makes us so morbid that we are compelled to take on bariatric surgery as a necessary evil.
The notion that we sometimes find ourselves in such extreme conditions that we must embrace a "necessary evil" is both preposterous and fallacious and does nothing to persuade me to prescribe bariatric surgery to anyone under any conditions. In fact, the evidence shows that bariatric surgery is a fool's errand that will cause more harm than good.
Counter to the Counter Thesis
To make a blanket statement against all bariatric surgery for all people is balderdash. Denying such life-saving surgery to those who suffer from morbid obesity and whose previous attempts at dieting have failed may result in premature death. Let us avoid blanket statements and let patients and their doctors engage in due diligence before recklessly making such general prohibitions against this problematic surgery.
Counter to the Counter of the Counter Thesis
I reject the very premise of your thesis--that bariatric surgery is "life-saving"; I also reject that "due diligence" is the common state of affairs between patient and doctor. Further, I reject that it is "reckless" to discourage bariatric surgery when the evidence shows such surgery presents risks that are greater than the alleged benefits.
Sample Introduction and Thesis
When you’re standing on a cliff and about to die from something extreme in your life such as morbid obesity and your doctor urges you to to get bariatric surgery, a dangerous procedure that involves tying your intestine in knots and stapling your gut shut, you look into the side effects: acid reflux, stomach aches, malnutrition, intestinal obstruction, vomiting. But you go through the procedure anyway because you’re desperate. On a scale of 0-10, your life on the Misery Scale is a 10. You’re an adult and you’ve never dated, you have no self-worth, you have diabetes 2, and your doctor says you could soon die. So you get the bariatric surgery, have your gut stapled shut, and now you’re less miserable. On the Miserable Scale, you’re down from a 10.0 to a 6.2. Yeah, bariatric surgery sucks. Having to deal with acid reflux sucks. Having to endure intestinal-exploding stomach aches sucks. Having to suffer from constant nutritional deficiencies sucks. But you know what. Sometimes in life you take what you can get. Sometimes in life, you trade Misery 10.0 for Misery 6.2. Call the surgeon. I'll take that surgery.
Ways to Improve Your Critical Reading and Assess the Quality of Your Sources
- Do a background check of the author to see if he or she has a hidden agenda or any other kind of background information that speaks to the author’s credibility.
- Check the place of publication to see what kind of agenda, if any, the publishing house has. Know how esteemed the publishing house is among peers of the subject you’re reading about.
- Learn how to find the thesis. In other words, know what the author’s purpose, explicit or implicit, is.
- Annotate more than underline. Your memory will be better served, according to research, by annotating than underlining. You can scribble your own code in the margins as long as you can understand your writing when you come back to it later. Annotating is a way of starting a dialogue about the reading and writing process. It is a form of pre-writing. Forms of annotation that I use are “yes,” (great point) “no,” (wrong, illogical, BS) and “?” (confusing). When I find the thesis, I’ll also write that in the margins. Or I’ll write down an essay or book title that the passage reminds me of. Or maybe even an idea for a story or a novel.
- When faced with a difficult text, you will have to slow down and use the principles of summarizing and paraphrasing. With a summary, you concisely identify the main points in one or two sentences. With paraphrase, you re-word the text in your own words.
- When reading an argument, see if the writer addresses possible objections to his or her argument. Ask yourself, of all the objections, did the writer choose the most compelling ones? The more compelling the objections addressed the more rigorous and credible the author’s writing.
Lesson on Using Sources (adapted from The Arlington Reader, fourth edition)
We use sources to establish credibility and to provide evidence for our claim. Because we want to establish credibility, the sources have to be credible as well.
To be credible, the sources must be
Current or up to date: to verify that the material is still relevant and has all the latest and possibly revised research and statistical data.
Authoritative: to ensure that your sources represent experts in the field of study. Their studies are peer-reviewed and represent the gold standard, meaning they are the sources of record that will be referred to in academic debate and conversation.
Depth: The source should be detailed to give a comprehensive grasp of the subject.
Objectivity: The study is relatively free of agenda and bias or the writer is upfront about his or her agenda so that there are no hidden objectives. If you’re consulting a Web site that is larded with ads or a sponsor, then there may be commercial interests that compromise the objectivity.
Checklist for Evaluating Sources
You must assess six things to determine if a source is worthy of being used for your research paper.
The author’s objectivity or fairness (author is not biased)
The author’s credibility (peer-reviewed read by experts)
The source’s relevance
The source’s currency (source is up-to-date)
The source’s comprehensiveness (source has sufficient depth)
The author’s authority (author’s credentials and experience render him or her an expert in the field)
Warning Signs of a Poor Online Source
Site has advertising
Some company or other sponsors site
A political organization or special interest group sponsors the site.
The site has many links to other biased sites.
Recommended Online Sources
New York Times
Los Angeles Times
The Daily Beast
The New Yorker
The Weekly Standard
The American Spectator
The American Conservative
The Washington Times
The New American
The Christian Science Monitor
Cybercast News Service
MLA Documentation Review
MLA documentation consists of two parts: parenthetical references in the text of your paper and your Works Cited page at the end of the paper.
A parenthetical citation consists of the author’s last name and a page number.
When you use a signal phrase, which is the preferred way to introduce a reference, you include only the page number:
According to environmental activist Brian Fielding, the number of species affected is much higher (213).
When referring to a work by two authors, include both authors’ names.
(Strange and Hogarth 53)
When citing a work with no listed author, include a short version of the title.
When citing a source that is quoted in another source, indicate this by including the abbreviation qtd.in.
According to Kevin Kelly, this narrow approach is typical of the “hive mind” (qtd. in Doctorow 168).
When you are referring to the entire source rather than a specific page or when the source does not include page numbers, you must cite the author’s name in the text of your paper rather than in a parenthetical reference.
In fact, if you are referring to an author for the first time in your essay, you should rely on an introductory signal phrase and not simply rely on the parenthetical reference.
You must document all information that is not common knowledge, whether you are summarizing, paraphrasing, or quoting. Common knowledge is factual information that is not limited to the domain of an elite circle of experts but can be found in so many sources that we say the information is ubiquitous or everywhere.
With direct quotations, include the parenthetical reference and a period after the closing quotation marks.
According to Doctorow, this is “authorship without editorship. Or authorship fused with editorship” (166).
When quoting a passage of more than four lines (which I discourage unless you think it’s absolutely necessary), introduce the passage with a complete sentence, followed by a colon. Indent the entire passage one inch (usually 10 spaces) from the left margin, and do no use quotation marks. Place the parenthetical reference after the final punctuation mark.
Preparing a Works Cited page
Always start your Works Cited page on a separate page, the last page of your essay.
Center the heading Works Cited at the top of the page.
List entries alphabetically by the author’s last name—or by the title’s first word if the author’s name is not given. However, when we alphabetize a title, we don’t include the article a or the.
Double-space your entries in the same way you double-space your entire essay.
Each entry begins at the left-hand margin and is not centered.
Italicize all book and periodical titles just like you do you in your essay.
Use a short version of the publisher’s name (Penguin rather than Penguin Books) and abbreviate University Press (as in Princeton UP or U of Chicago P).
Integrating Sources and Avoiding Plagiarism
“A summary restates the main idea of a passage in concise terms” (314).
A typical summary is one or two sentences.
A summary does not contain your opinions or analysis.
A paraphrase, which is longer than a summary, contains more details and examples. Sometimes you need to be more specific than a summary to make sure your reader understands you.
A paraphrase does not include your opinions or analysis.
Quoting sources means you are quoting exactly what you are referring to in the text with no modifications, which might twist the author’s meaning.
You should avoid long quotations as much as possible.
Quote only when necessary. Rely on summary and paraphrase before resorting to direct quotes.
A good time to use a specific quote is when it’s an opposing point that you want to refute.
Using Signal Phrases or Identifying Tag to Introduce Summary, Paraphrase, and Quoted Material
According to Jeff McMahon, the grading rubric in English classes is used in such a way by instructors that soon there will be no such thing as an “easy” or “hard” professor. They’ll all be the same.
Jeff McMahon notes that the grading rubric in English classes is used in such a way by instructors that soon there will be no such thing as an “easy” or “hard” professor. They’ll all be the same.
The grading rubric in English classes is used in such a way by instructors, Jeff McMahon observes, that soon there will be no such thing as an “easy” or “hard” professor.
The grading rubric in English classes is used in such a way by instructors that soon there will be no such thing as an “easy” or “hard” professor, Jeff McMahon points out.
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.
Agreement / Addition / Similarity
The transition words like also, in addition, and, likewise, add information, reinforce ideas, and express agreement with preceding material.
in the first place
not only ... but also
as a matter of fact
in like manner
in the same fashion / way
first, second, third
in the light of
not to mention
to say nothing of
by the same token
as well as
Opposition / Limitation / Contradiction
Transition phrases like but, rather and or, express that there is evidence to the contrary or point out alternatives, and thus introduce a change the line of reasoning (contrast).
although this may be true
of course ..., but
on the other hand
on the contrary
at the same time
in spite of
even so / though
be that as it may
as much as
Cause / Condition / Purpose
These transitional phrases present specific conditions or intentions.
in the event that
as / so long as
on (the) condition (that)
for the purpose of
with this intention
with this in mind
in the hope that
to the end that
for fear that
in order to
seeing / being that
in view of
only / even if
so as to
Examples / Support / Emphasis
These transitional devices (like especially) are used to introduce examples as support, to indicate importance or as an illustration so that an idea is cued to the reader.
in other words
to put it differently
for one thing
as an illustration
in this case
for this reason
to put it another way
that is to say
with attention to
by all means
important to realize
another key point
first thing to remember
most compelling evidence
must be remembered
point often overlooked
to point out
on the positive side
on the negative side
with this in mind
to be sure
Effect / Consequence / Result
Some of these transition words (thus, then, accordingly, consequently, therefore, henceforth) are time words that are used to show that after a particular time there was a consequence or an effect.
Note that for and because are placed before the cause/reason. The other devices are placed before the consequences or effects.
as a result
under those circumstances
in that case
for this reason
Conclusion / Summary / Restatement
These transition words and phrases conclude, summarize and / or restate ideas, or indicate a final general statement. Also, some words (like therefore) from the Effect / Consequence category can be used to summarize.
as can be seen
in the final analysis
all things considered
as shown above
in the long run
given these points
as has been noted
in a word
for the most part
by and large
to sum up
on the whole
in any event
in either case
all in all
Time / Chronology / Sequence
These transitional words (like finally) have the function of limiting, restricting, and defining time. They can be used either alone or as part of adverbial expressions.
at the present time
from time to time
sooner or later
at the same time
up to the present time
to begin with
in due time
as soon as
as long as
in the meantime
in a moment
in the first place
all of a sudden
at this instant
by the time
Many transition words in the time category (consequently; first, second, third; further; hence; henceforth; since; then, when; and whenever) have other uses.
Except for the numbers (first, second, third) and further they add a meaning of time in expressing conditions, qualifications, or reasons. The numbers are also used to add information or list examples. Further is also used to indicate added space as well as added time.
Space / Location / Place
These transition words are often used as part of adverbial expressions and have the function to restrict, limit or qualify space. Quite a few of these are also found in the Time category and can be used to describe spatial order or spatial reference.
in the middle
to the left/right
in front of
on this side
in the distance
here and there
in the foreground
in the background
in the center of
Example of an Essay That Never Uses First, Second, Third, Fourth, Etc., for Transitions, But Relies on "Paragraph Links"
Stupid Reasons for Getting Married
People should get married because they are ready to do so, meaning they're mature and truly love one another, and most importantly are prepared to make the compromises and sacrifices a healthy marriage entails. However, most people get married for the wrong reasons, that is, for stupid, lame, and asinine reasons.
Alas, needy narcissists, hardly candidates for successful marriage, glom onto the most disastrous reasons for getting married and those reasons make it certain that their marriage will quickly terminate or waddle precariously along in an interminable domestic hell.
A common and compelling reason that fuels the needy into a misguided marriage is when these fragmented souls see that everyone their age has already married—their friends, brothers, sisters, and, yes, even their enemies. Overcome by what is known today as "FOMO," they feel compelled to “get with the program" so that they may not miss out on the lavish gifts bestowed upon bride and groom. Thus, the needy are rankled by envy and greed and allow their base impulses to be the driving motivation behind their marriage.
When greed is not impelling them to tie the knot, they are also chafed by a sense of being short-changed when they see their recently-married dunce of a co-worker promoted above them for presumably the added credibility that marriage afforded them. As singles, they know they will never be taken seriously at work.
If it's not a lame stab at credibility that's motivating them to get married, it's the fear that they as the years tick by they are becoming less and less attractive and their looks will no longer obscure their woeful character deficiencies as age scrunches them up into little pinch-faced, leathery imps.
A more egregious reason for marrying is to end the tormented, off-on again-off-on again relationship, which needs the official imprimatur of marriage, followed by divorce, to officially terminate the relationship. I spoke to a marriage counselor once who told me that some couples were so desperate to break-up for good that they actually got married, then divorced, for this purpose.
Other pathological reasons to marry are to find a loathsome spouse in order to spite one’s parents or to set a wedding date in order to hire a personal trainer and finally lose those thirty pounds one has been carrying for too long.
Envy, avarice, spite, and vanity fuel both needy men and women alike. However, there is a certain type of needy man, whom we'll call the Man-Child, who finds that it is easier to marry his girlfriend than it is to have to listen to her constant nagging about their need to get married. His girlfriend’s constant harping about the fact their relationship hasn’t taken the “next logical step” presents a burden so great that marriage in comparison seems benign. Even if the Man-Child has not developed the maturity to marry, even if he isn’t sure if he’s truly in love, even if he is still inextricably linked to some former girlfriend that his current girlfriend does not know about, even if he knows in his heart of hearts that he is not hard-wired for marriage, even if he harbors a secret defect that renders him a liability to any woman, he will dismiss all of these factors and rush into a marriage in order to alleviate his current source of anxiety and suffering, which is the incessant barrage of his girlfriend’s grievances about them not being married.
Indeed, some of needy man’s worst decisions have been made in order to quell a discontented woman. The Man-Child's eagerness to quiet a woman’s discontent points to a larger defect, namely, his spinelessness, which, if left unchecked, turns him into the Go-With-the-Flow-Guy. As the name suggests, this type of man offers no resistance, even in large-scale decisions that affect his destiny. Put this man in a situation where his girlfriend, his friends, and his family are all telling him that “it’s time to get married,” and he will, as his name suggests, simply “go with the flow.” He will allow everyone else to make the wedding plans, he’ll let someone fit him for a wedding suit, he’ll allow his mother to pick out the ring, he’ll allow his fiancé to pick out the look and flavor of the wedding cake and then on the day of the wedding, he simply “shows up” with all the passion of a turnip.
The Man-Child's turnip-like passivity and his aversion to argument ensure marital longevity. However, there are drawbacks. Most notably, he will over time become so silent that his wife won’t even be able to get a word out of him. Over the course of their fifty-year marriage, he’ll go with her to restaurants with a newspaper and read it, ignoring her. His impassivity is so great that she could tell him about the “other man” she is seeing and he wouldn’t blink an eye. At home he is equally reticent, watching TV or reading with an inexpressive, dull-eyed demeanor suggestive of a half-dead lizard.
Whatever this reptilian man lacks as a social animal is made up by the fact that he is docile and is therefore non-threatening, a condition that everyone, including his wife, prefers to the passionate male beast whose strong, irreverent opinions will invariably rock the boat and deem that individual a troublemaker. The Go-With-the-Flow-Guy, on the other hand, is reliably safe and as such makes for controlling women a very good catch in spite of his tendency to be as charismatic and flavorful as a cardboard wafer.
A desperate marriage motivation exclusively owned by needy, immature men is the belief that since they have pissed off just about every other woman on the planet, they need to find refuge by marrying the only woman whom they haven’t yet thoroughly alienated—their current girlfriend. According to sportswriter Rick Reilly, baseball slugger Barry Bonds’ short-lived reality show was a disgrace in part because for Reilly the reality show is “the last bastion of the scoundrel.” Likewise, for many men who have offended over 99% of the female race with their pestilent existence, marriage is the last sanctuary for the despised male who has stepped on so many women’s toes that he is, understandably, a marked man.
Therefore, these men aren’t so much getting married as much as they are enlisting in a “witness protection program.” They are after all despised and targeted by their past female enemies for all their lies and betrayals and running out of allies they see that marriage makes a good cover as they try to blend in with mainstream society and take on a role that is antithetical to their single days as lying, predatory scoundrels.
The analogy between marriage and a witness protection program is further developed when we see that for many men marriage is their final stab at earning public respectability because they are, as married men, proclaiming to the world that they have voluntarily shackled themselves with the chains of domesticity in order that they may be spared greater punishments, the bulk of which will be exacted upon by the women whom they used and manipulated for so many years.
Because it is assumed that their wives will keep them in check, their wives become, in a way, equivalent to the ankle bracelet transmitters worn by parolees who are only allowed to travel within certain parameters. Marriage anchors man close to the home and, combined with the wife’s reliable issuing of house chores and other domestic duties, the shackled man is rendered safely tethered to his “home base” where his wife can observe him sharply to make sure he doesn’t backslide into the abhorrent behavior of his past single life.
Many men will see the above analysis of marriage as proof that their fear of marriage as a prison was right all along, but what they should learn from the analogy between marriage and prison is that they are more productive, more socialized, more softened around his hard edges, and more protected, both from the outside world and from themselves by being shackled to their domestic duties. With these improvements in their lives, they have actually, within limits, attained a freedom they could never find in single life.