Sunday, January 24, 2010

My Reflection on Creating an Electronic Portfolio

The process of creating an electronic portfolio was definitely a challenge for me because I have never done it before. At first I was confused regarding almost every aspect of creating the portfolio, including the sole creation of the blog. However, in the course of my work, I realized how much I actually enjoyed posting my writing. The positive feedback which I received from my peers was very beneficial for me because it helped me improve my grammar, style and sentence structure. Sadly, I did not have the chance to communicate actively with the student from Kentucky, however I was really happy to go through the blogs of my classmates and see the wonderful job that each one of them has done. Reading the portfolios of the other participants in the project made me compare my own writing to theirs and find my faults and strengths. In this way I became a better writer and learned that in order to improve, I have to write on a regular basis and put effort and thought into what I am doing. I am sure that the experience that I have gathered through this assignment would be useful further in my life and I intend on having a blog and using it as a way to communicate with others. One thing that I would like to develop is being able to incorporate more media in my blog. I would surely scan some of my art work and post it as a way to get background, opinions and comments on it. Now that I am done with this assignment, I am looking forward to even greater challenges in my IB English class.

Twilight Book Review

The book Twilight is the new teenage bestseller which is written by Stephanie Meyer and was first published in 2005. This book debuted as New York Times #5 within the month of its release and soon took the first place. What made this book such a success? This question intrigues so many people all over the world, but yet the mystery remains unsolved. Twilight is a story about a 17-year old girl, Bella Swan, who meets Edward Cullen, the love of her life. At first the plot seems really common and trite, completely identical to the million other “romance books” in the stores, however, what is different is that in the town of Forks, where Bella and Edward live, nothing is the way it appears to be. In the course of the book, the real identity of Edward is revealed- he is a vampire. The story is told in first person from Bella’s point of view and so the life and past of Edward and his family remain in secret even by the end of the book. On the other side, the connection between Bella and Edward is also a secret for Edward who realizes that he cannot apply his mind reading abilities on his beloved one. It seems as if two worlds are brought together in order to create a love of imaginable dimensions. This is why even though the target readers of the book are at the age of 15-25, Twilight remains a novel which crosses the age barriers and intrigues the souls of both children and adults. Even though the book is often claimed to have a simple style and plain storyline, the world that Stephanie Meyer draws with her pen is so vivid and real that often the reader sees and hears every picture and every sound. The fast pace at which the action happens as well as the new perspective of supernatural powers brought into the mundane life of a normal girl, makes Twilight very entertaining and easy to read. On the other hand, the romance between Bella and Edward is intriguing and passionate, but also shows morality. Although the feelings between the two main characters are strong and compelling, there is no sex. It seems like their love is brought to a whole new level which teaches the audience the importance of the spiritual relationship over the physical one. This concept would surely appeal to almost every girl and women of all age, and will make them eager to read the sequel of this modern version of forbidden love.

Image Source:

The Remarkable Life and Work of Thomas Alva Edison

Often quoted saying “Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety nine percent perspiration”, Thomas Alva Edison was one of the greatest and most hard working scientists ever. With his 1,093 inventions this American genius holds a world-wide record. Even though during his early years he quit school because he was considered to be a misfit, the passion, intelligence, and persistency of Edison changed the world forever.
The passion towards science that the inventor had was present almost since he was born. Thomas Alva Edison has been a very curious child. At the age of six he has started a fire at his parents’ barn and burned it totally. Even though he was not appreciated by his teachers at school who thought he was stupid, Thomas Edison started studying with his mother at home. By the age of ten, the inventor has already read literary works such as The Decline of the Roman Empire, History of England, History of the World, and The Age of Reason. When Edison was eleven, he constructed his own telegraph by using only a picture from a book. It was then when he decided that he wanted to be a telegrapher. It is clear that the early life of the scientist was marked by a constant interest in the surrounding world, and in the sphere of science and it was this curiosity that made the American inventor so admired for his work.
Intelligence and independent approach towards the problems Edison faced were other characteristics that became crucial for his development as one of the greatest scientist globally. The achievements that brought him fame and utmost respect started in 1872. From 1872 to 1877 Edison made invented the motograph, automatic telegraphs systems, and the carbon telephone transmitted “button” which made telephony a commercial success and lead to the development of microphone and transistor which makes so many modern devices possible. However, his most important invention is the incandescent electric lamp in 1879. This unbelievable achievement won Thomas Edison the name “Wizard of Menlo Park”. There are numerous great inventions that did not just make the American scientist famous, but also changed the world forever.
The effect of the dedication of Edison to his work made the lives of billion people totally different and new. The electric bulb was and is still used in almost every household. If it was not for the storage battery it would not be possible for people to start their cars, and without his perfecting the motion picture camera and projector there would be no movies now. The carbon telephone transmitter on the other side improved the telephones that are used nowadays in one’s home or office. All of the inventions made have reflected on a certain area of people’s life and have altered human’s existence.
The life of Thomas Edison is a proof of his unstoppable and everlasting ambition, enormous talent, curiosity and firmness which made him a living example of how the work of one man can shift the course of history. Many of the best science and technology historians believe that Thomas Alva Edison was indeed “The most influential figure of our millennium.”

Note: This essay was written recently after I read a very interesting online article about Thomas Alva Edison. Before that I knew almost nothing about him, but after reading further and looking into his biography and achievements, I realized how much he has influenced the life we live today. I consider him a true genius and an inspiration for me and the generations to come.

Information Sources:

Image Source:

The True Villainy (Othello Passage Commentary)

Thus do I ever make my fool my purse.
For I mine own gained knowledge should profane
If I would time expend with such a snipe
But for my sport and profit. I hate the Moor,
And it is though abroad that ‘twixt my sheets
‘Has done my office. I know not if’t be true,
But I, for mere suspicion in that kind,
Will do as if for surety. He holds me well.
The better shall my purpose work on him.
Cassio’s a proper man. Let me see now:
To get his place and to plume up my will
In double knavery – How? how? – let’s see.
After some time, to abuse Othello’s
That he is too familiar with his wife.
He hath a person and a smooth dispose
To be suspected, framed to make women false.
The Moor is of a free and open nature
That thinks men honest that but seem to be so,
And will as tenderly be led by th’ nose
As asses are.
I have ‘t. It is engendered. Hell and night
Must bring this monstrous birth to the world’s light.

(Act I, Scene iii, 426-446, p.55)

Villainy is a fundamental state of depravity which regardless of time and place has existed in people’s lives. Some argue that it is an inborn quality, others believe that it is a consequence of being hurt or a result of a struggle to get something desired. Still, what is most interesting about every true villain is not how he becomes one, but how he manages to fulfill his plans by means of manipulation and treachery. In this sense, in many of his plays Shakespeare incorporates a villain who encompasses the most horrible and destructive human characteristics. The author uses the villain in order to show how even pure virtuousness and trust can be sullied and turned into suspicion and hatred. Among the many villains which Shakespeare creates Iago is the one who manages to destroy the lives of everyone around him by means of his evil plans and good manipulation skills. In fact, the monologue of the character in Act I, scene iii, reveals his personality as a villain plotting against his “enemies” and foreshadows the baleful fate which they will face.
It is false to conclude that Iago’s monologue is solely related to destroying Othello because there are several other names mentioned in his plot: first Roderigo’s, then Cassio’s and Desdemona’s. Indeed, Iago starts on by talking about his “friend” Roderigo by referring to him as a fool in line 426, “Thus do I ever make my fool my purse.” By saying that he gets his money from fools, Iago reveals himself as a manipulative character who treats people as a means to an end. Stealing from a person without feeling guilt infers that Iago does not care about anything other than his plan of destruction and disregards every human quality or virtue. What the villain does is focus only on the benefit that he can get, “For I mine own gained knowledge should profane / If I would time expend with such a snipe/ But for my sport and profit.” Indeed, the “profit” is the only motivation for him to have any sort of a relationship with Roderigo, or anyone else. This part also foreshadows that Iago has no intents to help the desperate Rodergio and thus, Roderigo will end up suffering. Iago’s actions define him not only as a villain, but also as a mercantile individual.
In his relationship with Othello on the other hand, Iago shows another side of his personality: his amorality. In lines 429-433, “I hate the Moor,/ And it is though abroad that ‘twixt my sheets/ ‘Has done my office. I know not if’t be true,/ But I, for mere suspicion in that kind,/ Will do as if for surety” Iago proves to be highly inconsiderate and lacking any feelings. The Shakespearean villain justifies his plotting by his sole hatred for someone and a rumor that his own wife may have cheated with Othello. Iago is not really concerned about Emilia’s hypothetical betrayal, but instead he is searching for a reason to hate “The Moor” even more, to punish him harsher. The key words here are “But I, for mere suspicion in that kind,/ Will do as if for surety.” The fact that only suspicion is enough for Iago to start his destructive plans against someone means that he is simply evil or in other words amoral. Furthermore, the idea of Iago’s amorality is also proved by the next few words in his monologue in Act I, “He holds me well./ The better shall my purpose work on him.” This quote represents a sudden shift in Iago’s thinking: the character is starting to plot against Othello. The villain is done justifying why he wants to destroy Othello and has quickly reached the point of putting things to work. As it seems, Iago uses what he has as a weapon against his enemy, even the fact that Othello respects Iago and has a high opinion of him. At this point except amoral, the villain is also being manipulative because he realizes that he can use Othello’s predisposition to be trusting and accepting.
It seems that in Iago’s monologue the first part is showing his personality and the second is foreshadowing the fate of the characters he is plotting against. What can be inferred from the words, “Cassio’s a proper man. Let me see now: /To get his place and to plume up my will/ In double knavery – How? how? – let’s see” is that Iago is about to use Cassio’s appearance and thus achieve two things: get his position by making Othello jealous as well as hurt Othello. By stating his plan, the villain practically tells the reader what the result of his actions will be, however, he does not explain the way he is going to do it. This builds up suspension throughout the play because the reader already knows Iago’s plan and goals, but is curious to see how he will achieve them. In this sense, Iago gives a clue to the reader by saying, “That thinks men honest that but seem to be so, And will as tenderly be led by th’ nose/ As asses are./ I have ‘t. It is engendered.” These three lines are of critical importance because in a way they reveal that the feelings and emotions of the others will be used as a main weapon and that the honesty and straightforwardness of Othello will be manipulated so that Iago’s plan is finally accomplished.
In his monologue in Scene I, Act iii, Iago proves to be a villain who is very mercantile, manipulative, but most of all amoral. His evil plans foreshadow that through adroit plotting he is going to destroy not only his main enemy, but also everyone Othello loves, trusts and respects. The mentioning of the words “hell and night” in the last two lines of the passage close the act and leave the feeling of predetermination that the devil is going to annihilate every positive human emotion in the souls of the Shakespearean characters.

Image Source: