Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Civic Involvement

Hi blog readers - 
A friend from my high school posted this on his Facebook. I applaud his civic involvement and think he's polite and well-written, so I encourage you all to read it. I don't know what your political affiliation may be, and I don't want to argue about that here. Rather, I do hope you are aware of the situation he mentions, because I do really believe that people should have a civic opinion (See this week's staff editorial in the Retriever Weekly, I helped write it. http://www.retrieverweekly.com/opinions/staff-editorial-1.3054602). But here's the letter, shared on behalf of a friend.

"To anyone who is against fighting in Syria, my letter to my Congressmen and women is below if you want to copy/alter it and send it to yours.

Senator Cardin:
I hope you had a restful August recess; thank you for returning to Washington early to hear the Obama Administration's arguments for an intervention in the Syrian civil war. It is a proposal I am adamantly against and wish to briefly explain this view to you and your office for your consideration.

Syria does not pose a threat to United States soil, and as such, attacking Syria without U.N. approval would be an act of aggression that violates the U.N. Charter. To put it bluntly, it would be a war crime.

To be sure, the use of chemical weapons on civilians is also a horrific crime. But firing cruise missiles into Syria as punishment to Assad is hardly humanitarian aid -- these are highly destructive modern weapons, and in modern warfare, collateral civilian casualties are inescapable. Our punishment for killing innocents will only kill more innocents, thereby increasing anti-American sentiment in the region and possibly convincing outraged Syrians to resort to terrorism.

Please consider these implications of intervening in the Syrian conflict carefully when making your decision.

Thank you for taking the time to read my e-mail. I hope you will weigh all your constituents' opinions carefully and come to a decision that best represents the state of Maryland.


(I removed his name for privacy)

My thoughts on "perfection"

So, tonight was my technical writing class. The professor seems like a nice professional lady, she's going to be a good enough teacher. We have some cool projects, like writing something for a non-profit (their choice) for experience with a "client" and some long ones (a 15 page research paper). But what I want to talk about today is the dreadful peer-review process.

Our first-day writing diagnostic was to draft a memo to our class introducing ourselves and peer-review it. Now, I am the Technology section editor of my school newspaper, so sometimes I'm a little annoying about editorial comments. However, I believe that peer reviews are supposed to help people improve their writing so I make an effort to be thorough and honest. Not mean, I try to do the "compliment sandwich" where I say what's good and what's bad, then say another positive thing. But I do always have comments. Sometimes they're the kind of comment that can be ignored (I realize that my writing style and other students writing styles are different) but I always have comments.

It annoys me when I get back peer reviews that say "Your writing is perfect!" and nothing else. And this has been happening to me since high school. Now, I know I am not a perfect writer. I've seen the edits that my fellow Retriever Weekly staff can apply to my writing, and I know that I need editing. I also know that not everyone has the training to see those errors. But the word "perfect" really, really annoys me. Writing assignments can always be improved. 100% is only accurate on math assignments and the like. I realize some people do receive all the credit on essays, but I really think that's because they're being weighted against their classmates and not because it's impossible to improve on their piece.

Of course, I realize that's my being picky. But I remember, as a child, the pastor at my church preaching a sermon on how the word "awesome" was over used, and that the things it was used for didn't REALLY draw awe from the person using it. I think "perfect" is the same way.