Humanities Journal Fall 2013

2 page self-evaluation:

This course on humanities engaged me into the world we live and have lived in for many

years through history, putting to the forefront the many complexities that go along with an

organized society.  From learning the pros and cons on subjects like “why study the

humanities”, and learning about symbols, text itself, and how to write an argumentative

paper, many areas are touched about humanities, the liberal arts, social structures, and

their influences.
We started the term learning about the liberal arts and how it was different from other

fields like science and math.  The liberal arts teach one to think in calculated ways that go

beyond the linear thinking module of tracing point a to b immediately.  Through research

and statistics it turns out that those with liberal arts degrees do just as well, if not better

than those with other degrees when it comes to finding work and having a good career.

Despite the old saying, “What are you going to do with a degree in Philosophy – become a

philosophy teacher?” it turns out employers are more interested in candidates that not only

can do the work, but can also think outside the box efficiently and effectively, opposed to

being a robot going through the learnt motions of a job.

Beyond learning about the liberal arts and learning how to write, we covered topics like

history, discourse, technology, and gender.  All these topics have social implications

generated from different opinions or point of views.  For example, in the film Reel Arabs,

we viewed how the media, specifically Hollywood, influenced generations of Americans to

be afraid of the “middle eastern Arab”, commonly depicted as the villain in films.  Most

Americans know nothing of the middle east other than what’s shown to them by the media

and thus, that is their database for middle eastern knowledge, resulting in a consequence

of false stereotype beliefs that all “middle eastern Arabs” are villains.  This film had a

resigning effect on me because they even showed Aladdin as an example towards this

stereotype, a movie I watched as a kid that I wouldn’t think twice about in terms of what

messages the film tries to evoke.
Another common theme I found throughout the course is how the media influences us –

from the early newspaper days to the modern digital media world.  Take fast food

commercials for example: they usually advertise meat as their main products, as it

represents masculinity and a wild animal that was once strong and powerful.  These

commercials usually aim at the men as meat eaters, as the media and society make it

seem as it’s mostly females that want to take care of themselves by eating healthy or a

plant-based diet.  The man must eat meat, even if he has to devour his own kill.
Interrelating with what the media presents, especially with advertising, genders are used

appropriately for full effect and value.  The Dolce Gabbana advertisement we saw in class

depicted several men in the heaven sky, surrounding a beautiful girl also wearing the Dolce

clothing.  The advertisement suggested through it’s imagery that Dolce makes you sexy,

attractive, and wanted.  The media often uses sex to sell products but this advertisement

was banned for going too far: it looked like the men were restraining the girl sexually

against her will.
These are some of the lessons of status that I have learned during this term.  There can

always be at least two opinions to a theory and we have to view all cause, effect, and

consequence to determine which position we most agree with when it comes to a social


Week 2: Tsis p. 196
1) In this excerpt, Sanford J. Ungar discusses 7 misconceptions regarding the liberal arts that are as follows:
1) A liberal arts education is a luxury that most families cannot afford.  An education in a specific field for career or training is more desirable due to getting work faster.
2)College graduates find it harder to get jobs with a liberal arts degree because it isn’t specific enough.
3)  low-income and first generation college students cannot understand and use the liberal arts properly because their level of thinking is at a lower level.
4) Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics are where the big jobs and rewards are found; not the liberal arts.
5) The liberal democrats ruined the country and therefore we should not continue to preach liberal arts if we want to change the trend.
6) America is the only country that holds high value to the liberal arts – other countries teach more practical fields  and are “running way ahead of us”.
7) Liberal arts colleges are too expensive and irrelevant to generating future gains via jobs compared to other fields.
The general themes behind the misconceptions of the liberal arts are that it is a waste of money or too expensive, that the study of this degree isn’t desirable by hiriping employers and that the study is worthless towards generating a career.  By labeling these facts as misconceptions, I read this list with a bias in which the reasons given were seen false facts.  In the case if we were to label the reasons as assumptions, I would read the reasons as having a chance at being legitimately truthful.

Week 3: Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People

1) I don’t think the public should take a film like Aladdin with its representations with complete seriousness.  Firstly, it’s a cartoon film specifically aimed towards a young aged youth.  It isn’t mandatory for a fiction film to be realistic and therefore Disney was free to pursue their vision as they wished.  Would I suggest kids view cartoon films believing all details are the truth and morally “right”?  No.  Cartoon films have no structure towards the truth and therefore shouldn’t be seen as such.
2) Hollywood would and does add images of Arabs into films unrelated to the Middle East because it is one of  the American propaganda machine’s top enemies versus the USA.  Perhaps a catharsis effect is in play here where Americans are able to expel their racist feelings through film?  Regardless, USA vs any terrorists (enemies) is usually more marketable and attractive for a pro american croud to watch than other enemies such as that in civil war.
3) When I think of Arab women, children, men, it is mostly details from what I’ve seen through the media whether it be film or the news.  I see veils and outfits being worn, strong religious beliefs, the middle east, eternal conflicts, a group of people, etc  Although the media can portray them in a violent fashion quite often, I try to remain open minded – always open to new facts.  I could definitely see why Arabs or people of middle eastern descent would find Hollywood films racist and somewhat of a hate crime towards them.
4) I believe many people gather their knowledge from the media and movies and therefore I would think Hollywood could definitely influence the public’s views by advertising the “correct view” through their films.
5) In the Arab world, I would think these movies would be seen in a negative way, especially by young people.  These movies depict the Arab world as the bad guys, causing extreme violence and being celebrated by the Americans once they are all killed and defeated.  This would make it seem no one likes the Arabs and thay they’re bad, inferior.
6) The Iraq war was made easier by a century of demeaning stereotypes.  This quote was echoed by Dr. Shaheen and I agree with it.  Most people aren’t aware of most political facts and the media, especially film greatly influence what we know.  By making Iraq look bad, it was easier for the public not to frown upon their own government.
7) I believe films have the power to reinforce or challenge stereotype animosities because they have the power to persuade us in whichever way they choose.  People will always reflect or sometimes replicate the messages sent through film.
8) Most people watch movies and I believe film and the media overall play a big role in our views by influencing us through data in bulk over time.

Week 4: Tsis p.294 #3

Steven Johnson speaks about the Sleeper Curve: a new force altering the mental development of young people.  This effect is derived from when young people engage in forms of mass diversion such as video games, violent movies, sitcoms.  The children must stay updated with the story line and it’s complex relationships between characters in order to fully grasp all intended messages from the creators.  This type of natural thinking process is part of the sleeper curve; an improvement for cognitive development that goes unannounced by the media.  The various complexities involved in a show including characters and purposes are known as threads.  By following threads, our mind adapts to follow a more complicated pattern of thinking.  Usually, these “debased forms of mass diversion” activities are seen as turning humans into zombies by offering simple pleasures and supposedly “dumbing down” the brain in doing so but Johnson claims the opposite.  Johnson uses a show like 24 to demonstrate a show with complex threads that intertwine to help move a story forward.  He argues that viewers have to understand the relationships between characters and objects to fully understand the show’s messages however one could argue that a lot of viewers don’t think about what’s going on in the show and could just be satisfied by violent action scenes as their entertainment.

Week 5: Dolce and Gabbana ad

Tutorial 3 Humanities

Ideology, Hegemony Modes of writing arguments

Kinds of Ideology: politics, religion, morality, economic (capitalist vs marxist), gender,

ideology: framework on how we interpret the world

stakes of ideology:

hard to change perspective, can dehumanize… prejudice, bias?

Hegemony: (ideology and power together)
what does it mean? how does it work?
“what do you do”


non-narrative description that relates facts:
what something is/looks like/says or does

the goal is to be as objective as possible
to provide enough concrete details about the thing being described to create a mental image in reader’s minds

narrative “to tell”
telling sequence of events

how and why

Vlad -> partner


The attempt to persuade someone of something, by giving reasons or evidence for accepting a particular conclusion

argument = analysis plus the expression of a sense of disagreement, critique, or persuasion

1) depict: everyone gets sex with dolce, male dominance, females will be surrounded by men wanting them.

2) describe: women being held down by shirtless aggressive men that stare her down as she squirms, the sky: fantasy, heaven?

3) narrative: aggressive male holding a girl down, others watch

4) analysis: how and why… holding her down bent over because she’s trying to move/escape… and to submit her

5)argument: I would argue that it sells … not clothing. Maybe it depicts that if women wear it they will get smothered by members of the opposite sex.

by men but it doesn’t seem that rewarding for the men… they have to pin the girl down instead of her coming onto them.

Week 6: tsis 333 #4
In Dennis Baron’s “Reforming Egypt in 140 characters” he explains how it is thought that modern day technology helps to spread information more efficiently, resulting in better results.  To demonstrate this Baron speaks about a twitter and facebook revolution which helped to spread the word for people to revolt against their injust totalitarian states of government.  Recently these digital social media tools have been credited towards the overthrowing of President Hosni Mubarak in Egypt.  However, skepticism towards the idea that social media helped overthrow the Egyptian government through its widespread messages does exist.  While it’s possible there was a correlation of the social media awareness resulting in overthrowing the government, there also exists the fact that most people in Egypt don’t use or have easy access to the internet and if this is the case, surely many of the Egyptian citizens knew of what was being said on facebook or twitter.    How could they know if they didn’t have access to the data?  This kind of example begs to question how former historical events could have been affected if the internet and social media existed at that time.    While surely messages could be spread more efficiently, and quicker, only those with the same privileges of technology would profit. There is no use for sending a message if others can’t receive it.  The medium may have changed over time but the messages remain the same.

Week 9: tsis p.479 #2
In the passage “Having It Hit Way: The Construction of Masculinity in Fast-Food TV Advertising”, Freeman and Merskin describe a range of fast-food commercials and how they emphasize how “manly men” eat meat, whereas a more healthy plant-based diet is more advertised as a feminine lifestyle.  Meat relates to hunting, violence, and power through its related activities and symbolism.  Kings would worship strong buffaloes and then eat them at the end of the year to “gain its strength”.  Just like many fast-food meat ads, the latest PlayStation 4 advertisement on television portrays and uses masculinity to sell its product.  The commercial is aimed to bring awareness, to excite, and to sell the upcoming video game console to men, whom are the video games main consumers (although over the years, female gamers have become a significant portion of the consumer pool).  Regardless, this commercial preaches to men through violence and camaraderie.  The commercial begins with 2 friends as med-evil knights, swinging weapons at each other in battle.  These men then transform into violent race car drivers – crashing into each other.  Finally, the friends turn into soldiers, placed in a live battlefield with explosions all around.  Despite all the surrounding violence, the men involved have smiles on their faces and sing a tune about a “perfect day” – suggesting a perfect day is playing violent video games with your male counterpart over the internet.  They compare this camaraderie to a heterosexual relationship with a female companion through the love song that the men sing.  Masculinity is advertised with these games through their violent actions and the suggestion that playing violent video games with your male counterpart is equivalent or better than having a heterosexual relationship with a female in terms of how much a “man” one is.

Week 10: TSIS p.361  #2
Tom Bissell speaks about video games, in particular Fallout 3, in which he moves around a nuclear war affected America with many options to engage in and view including exploring, fighting, goals, etc.  Before he explains his love for the game, why, and what he does in it, he begins his passage with an anecdote of what he was doing during a world historical moment.  President Obama was set to win the election as the first black American president ever for the United States and Tom Bissell had intended to watch the election results and victory speech.  Despite Bissell wanting to follow this historical moment on television, he was engulfed in his own important moment; playing the game he had been waiting years for to release.  Bissell played Fallout 3 for 7 hours straight when he first got ahold of a copy.  This video game binge made him miss the USA election results and victory speech.  I think he sets his essay up with this anecdote to prove that to him, the groundbreaking electronic game with visuals and game functions not seen before was more addictive, interesting to him than a milestone occasion in American politics.  Video games are a prevalent form of entertainment and a common activity/hobby among modern people in developed countries.  He then goes on to explain all the reasons and new technological achievements that he loves about the game that made him invest days into a virtual reality.

Week 11: TSIS p.604 #4

In paragraph 4, Krugman says that one of the best arguments supporting his view was an argument that was made to oppose Krugman’s belief.  In essence, Krugman claims the opposing argument is wrong, verifying that his opinion is the right one.  Krugman quotes Irving Kristol as saying that we shouldn’t fret over income inequality because social class distinctions are gone – we are all on the same social level.  This statement hints that if we weren’t all on the same social level, then income inequality would matter because we would not have equal rights for future achievements – and such is the case in reality.   Krugman explains, “Kristol’s fantasy world world … bears no resemblance to the real America we live in” – the one with social statuses and feelings of inferiority.

-Michael Spatz #995614982


A World of E-ddictions

February 28, 2013 – Michael Spatz

I need to feel connected… somehow”


As the modern world changes, new discoveries are  made – such as medicine, knowledge is increased and organized digitally, and new terms are created to describe every angle. There’s little doubt that technology aids us in our daily lives , regardless of where we look for proof.  Today’s world is now one with gadgets, being connected, and always being informed and up to date.  But through all the gadgets, digital information and networks, there are certain people that fall into a spiraling habit with their electronic hobbies.  But what are these people doing and why are they so addicted?  Is there help?  I’ve decided to do a little detective work to search for answers to some of these cause and effect questions.

Since there are too many electronic habits, I’ve decided to find some of the most common habits: social networking including instant messaging and e-mail, video games featuring online gambling, and pirating media.

Although most of these could fall under “Internet Addiction Disorder” (IAD), the term itself is not yet published in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) by the American Medical Association.  You can overdo many activities on the internet, but it does not mean you are addicted to the internet itself.  Different people have different e-preferences when it comes to getting their “fix”.  Speaking of getting a “fix”, studies and research today  have compared these internet enabled activities to physical substances, as brain structures have been show to correlate when it comes to internet addicts and substance abuse users.


Social Networking came into its own with the internet being available to facilitate the idea with instant online access.  These online platforms enable users to share messages, details, and media with one another including pictures, blogs, music, pretty much anything that crosses their minds.   E-mail and instant messaging are also functions part of the social networking platform.  The general idea is to build a network of friends and discover details about others including their whereabouts or favorite color.  Often, groups are formed with a large network of people to work towards a common interest or goal.

Recent studies suggest that Social Network/checking your email is more addictive than  substances like nicotine and alcohol.  It is thought that the higher addiction rate to these substances can be attributed to risk vs reward. The effort and negative consequences seem little compared to substances that have clear short and long term negative effects.  Also, wherever you can get an internet connection, you can access social media, making it very readily available for generally no cost.  Though Social Networking is still in its early life, more studies and questions are being documented on its effects.  It is said that people may feel an urge to social network in order to get a sense of feeling connected with others easily, as opposed to getting similar feelings in a physical environment.  There’s also always the potential that someone wrote to you or shared something you’d like to view.  Usually there are notifications to facilitate announcing new relevant information but that won’t stop people from looking for it themselves. Also, people who may have lower self-esteem or are depressed, may be be more prone to becoming addicted to social networking in order to fill psychological voids.  However, the same could be said for alcohol, or excessive television.  So is the social networking addictive itself or is it just a common outlet?  Like anything else, if you’re spending too much time, record and manage your usage to reasonable limits.  While it has been suggested that there is a correlation between social network addicts and “bad behavior“, other consequences include potential to help create shortened attention span and ADHD.  Lack of sleep could be common in extreme users.

images OnlineGaming
Video Games have had their own niche market in the electronic entertainment industry for decades.  Pong, a game replicating table tennis using pixels, was a game for 1 or 2 players, where they could face each other or the computer.  While this type of multiplayer gaming has been around since the 1970’s, multiplayer games really achieved the next step in their development when games started incorporating online play.  Nowadays, people can be by themselves yet be playing with millions of others from around the world on the same dedicated game network server.  There are even cafes built for the main purpose of playing games online. The ability to play games online has made games potentially more addictive, with cases of some people losing touch with reality and letting games prevent them from realizing their life obligations.  There have been reports of many deaths involving long gaming sessions without sleep or food.  As a result, most games have warnings not to play for extensive periods of time, whereas some will warn you after a certain amount of time.  “Don’t you think you should take a break?”

Another form of online gaming, online gambling, involves real-world money that you can win or lose at one’s own risk.  Generally, you must be over 18 to take part in such activities.  Pretty much every casino and card game is available to gamble online, from various companies all with their own unique bribes and reward programs.  As well as online sports gambling.  No longer do you have to go to the casino to gamble your money, the online ability to gamble from anywhere ensures less traveling and more comfort.  Due the easy accessibility of online gambling, the potential for gambling addiction increases compared to the live casino.  Sometimes it’s hard for players to remember their virtual chips are still real money, their income, regardless if they lose it all.  Though online gambling casinos are not legal in the USA or Canada, Canadian players can play on online gambling sites supported in other countries.  It is illegal to online gamble from the United States, regardless of where the site is supported.  Young adolescent males are thought to be especially vulnerable and make up large part of the online gambling community.  Common signs of an online gambling addiction include spending a large portion of time, placing larger bets, loss of income/assets, frequent obsessive thoughts of gambling, and preferring online gambling to other occasions and people such as family.  There is counseling for this addiction and the term “online gambling” is being proposed to be classified as addiction opposed to a behavior in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.


Downloading and piracy affect various media including but not limited to: software, music, games, videos and now recently affecting the book industry with the invention of e-books.  Piracy can take place intentionally or accidentally via now knowing the laws.  If you buy a CD and burn it for a friend, you’re promoting piracy.  If you send an email with copyright music, you’re committing piracy.  But why would someone be addicted to downloading copyright media?  For starters, it’s easily accessible online, and it’s free.  Some people like to collect things and others like to collect free media worth value that they didn’t have to pay.  Although piracy is at all time heights, it’s suggested that free media can also benefit the industry by being able to spread it further since pricing is not a restriction on the product.

Regardless of which electronic vice people turn to, there’s no denying that the new technological age has created new addictions and compulsive behaviors.  Though some argue that these spiraling habits may not be addictive on their own, and are usually accompanied by other psychological complexities like depression or low self esteem, there’s no denying that these activities and their effects affect daily lives negatively.  I believe that through further discovery and research, people will be able to better understand and control their electronic addictions.

Poker Thankful for Technology

How Technology Revolutionized Poker

I wish they couldn’t see me…

Dog playing poker lousy liars cartoon

In today’s tech-heavy society, technology is continuously growing to new heights and being implemented into our daily lives. From receiving news on our smartphones, to driving hybrid cars, and performing banking on-the-go, technology has revolutionized the way we live.  But why do we need and accept all this new technology?  Simply, it enables tasks to be completed with more convenience and efficiency.  Take for example, e-mailing:  E-mails for the most part, have replaced how society sends letters. After all, why wait days to have a message sent when you can send it instantly and for cheaper via the internet?   But outside all these big inventions and innovations, there’s a card game that benefited grossly from technology and the cyber-world.


How can a card game, no batteries necessary, benefit from technology?  Before we view the innovations and advantages technology has allowed poker, it’s important to learn a little about the game.  With basic knowledge of the game, it is much easier to understand how technology has impacted the game.

General Rules:
Without going heavily into the rules, the game of poker is one where players take turns betting currency (“chips”), hoping to win money back.  You win money by holding the best cards (“hand”) at the end of 4 potential betting rounds (“pre-flop, flop, turn, river”) or by making your opponent forfeit their cards by making a bet they won’t match.


Online Poker


Poker is as ever popular today due to a “Poker Boom” in the early 2000’s, which created an increase of players both new and old.  Through technology, the poker boom was achieved through increased media exposure along with the benefits of recently introduced online play.  Today, there are more players playing virtual poker online against other users than in casinos’ with physical card tables and players.

Poker Tells:


A part of poker when played at a physical table instead of a virtual one, is to try to guess what cards your opponents hold based on their betting pattern or any “tells” they may be displaying.  Poker tells are potential clues about an opponent’s cards (“hand”) based on their body language.  Players generally look for tells to gain an edge over their opponents.  If an opponent seems genuinely upset when a card appears, they may not have a strong a hand.  If they’re unintentionally grinning, they may have a strong hand.  Other times, players act in a deliberate fashion to attempt to confuse their opponents.

With online poker, all these “tells” no longer exist.  Players are represented by an avatar, a picture of their choice, with no physical tells available for detection.  The ability to hide oneself behind an image, has allowed for more people to try and play poker without being intimidated by strong body language or bold hats and glasses.  You’re safe on your couch at home from evil glares that would have beamed your way at the physical table.

Technology has made online players feel less intimidated with no tells, allowing them to play the game more fearlessly.  Many online players would have never considered sitting at a real table.

Software and Online help:

Today, poker tracking software exist to create databases based on opponent’s past hand histories. With this information, data is analyzed and calculated to show a player’s tendencies in different situations.  With this information available at players’ fingertips, players are able to get an edge over their opponents’ playing mannerisms, based on how they correlate to their past play-history.  Through the data and stats, a more educated guess of the opponent’s cards should be able to be derived. Hold ‘Em Manager is a leading product in poker tracking software.

Before this technology even existed, players had to try to store and analyze this data with only their memory and brain.  I don’t think many would argue that letting a computer program perform this process without human error is more desirable than attempts at consulting with raw human memory.

Aside from program software, technology has allowed players to seek and receive help on the internet.  Ways of improving one’s poker game can come from websites featuring online interactive video tutorials or through online forums for discussion and feedback with a community.  Before online poker and the internet, players would have to share their strategies, tactics, and tricks the old way: via mouth and ear in person.

No need for a casino:

Traveling to and searching for the right stakes ($) tables used to be the way to get into the poker game you wanted to play in.  But even then, you might have to wait in line, or for more players to arrive.  And what if everyone left or busted out after a few minutes?  None of this is a problem thanks to online poker technology.  With just mouse clicks, hundreds to thousands of games of different varieties (different $ stakes, rules) can be found and entered into instantly.  There’s most likely always a table of your preference to join.  This is possible because these internet tables don’t take up physical real-estate like tables at the casino do, and thus there are many more available.  Also, it’s much easier to click a mouse then to drive to the casino to find a desired table.
Other advantages of playing at an online table include faster deals resulting in faster games.  Faster deals means more cards are seen overall, which makes the game less dull and slow.  Onlike poker also introduces an automatic-shuffle system, resulting in no human dealer errors, such as misplaced cards.

The Media:


Aside from advantages of online play, the poker boom was created by media exposure only available in today’s society.  It first started with online poker, but then poker started to be aired on cable tv in the US and around the world.  Then the poker websites started to rise, expanding to all fields including social media.  Poker rooms and stories are advertised on Facebook, players are constantly tweeting live updates to their fans regarding their play and questions, and Youtube is used regularly to replay aired events and for tutorials.  Online communities are constantly forming to discuss the game.  All of these new outlets have propelled poker to the new heights it has reached today.

But Technology Still Growing:

Even with all these new innovations, new technology is still expanding poker to new realms.  Just recently, the first poker rooms with camera play were introduced by 888 Poker.  Now you can view your opponents and vice versa via webcam.  Because of this new innovation, poker tells are back in online poker, depending on what’s revealed by the lens.  I predict one day, there will be a software that will capture and analyze poker tells for players without them having to study their opponent’s body language or moves.

As can be seen, poker has come a long way with technology, expanding to an online world and reaching out to more than ever before via the media.  Regardless of when the benefits or changes in technology, in the game of poker, the cards will have the last say.