Article Response #7: Running on unhealthy

Article: http://www.runnersworld.com/health/running-empty

Author: Caleb Daniloff

Title: Running on Empty

Main Topic: This article talks about personal stories that took their obsession with running too far and let it develop into an eating or exercise disorder, and analyses different takes on the situation with the goal of raising awareness on the issues and finding more ways to get out of them.

 

This is quite a lengthy article, but I believe that it is well worth people’s time to read it – especially for runners who can learn much from the advice and anecdotes contained within. Several runners tell their stories, which are collected and relayed by writer Caleb Daniloff. These stories usually start out with the narrator being a dedicated, fairly healthy runner, who then hears that being lighter can improve running speed. Each runner-narrator then responds by gradually starving him/herself in order to beat his/her running records. Strangely enough, this tactic works, and the runners do in fact improve – quite noticeably, even. However, even after they revert back to healthier eating and gain back the often redundant weight they lost, their running continues to improve! I am glad that Daniloff mentions this, because it raises a suspicion in the readers that maybe being anorexic and running better are not so much a cause-and-effect as a coincidence.  It is certainly not a good thing for more people (especially active athletes!) to get positive ideas about conscious starvation. I’m a little frightened that other runners will read this article and only take from it the notion that losing weight improves running. It’s easy to ignore things such as long-term health issues when you can do something that gives you quick, short-term results.

I would have preferred if this article gave more information with regards to the health of runners and how they should be taking care of themselves. It talks a lot and gives a lot of opinions, but barely any scientific and nutritional information. All the people with eating disorders that tell their story end up becoming healthy eaters – but do they really? Caleb Daniloff mentions them eating burgers and fries, and endorsing the notion that it’s a diet that is completely fine. (Maybe that was the reason for their weight gain in the first place.) I’m not saying that even if you really love fries, indulging in a small serving once in a while is unheard of. I just don’t think such foods should be eaten regularly, because they’re not much of a good fuel for running, or much of a good fuel at all, if we get down to it.

I like the way this article gives advice and stories from accomplished runners to people who look up to them, but I think the direction strays from where it should go. I had really hoped it would be the sort of encouraging, “moral is: eat healthy and don’t be afraid to have a cookie here and then, and DON’T starve yourself!” kind of article, but it kind of left me hanging at the end. I’m not sure if the author intended for the audience to scratch up their own selection of advice from the article, or if there is in fact not supposed to be a moral. With something as severe as eating disorders among heavy athletes, I would expect there to be one.

I was also surprised how people who exercise so much can find themselves with considerable extra weight in the first place. If they are running through 600-1000+ calories with each training session and they train several times a week, then they must eat absolute junk to have 20+ extra pounds! There is an easy solution that everyone seems to ignore: the balance. I think there should be a middle ground for these runners, somewhere between their obsession with eating little and super healthy, and their later (or original) “burgers and fries” slack attitude. Runners need good fuel; all of carbohydrates, protein, fat, and fibre, but not in the form of ice cream and cookies for lunch! It is possible to stay in good shape with a well-balanced diet even without running marathons, so I’m sure these runners will be able to accomplish their fitness goals as long as they make smart decisions. I just hope they know what smart decisions are.

Article Response #6: Break-ups hurt EVERYONE

Aside

Article: http://goodwomenproject.com/from-the-men/break-ups-hurt-us-too

Title: From The Men: Breakups Hurt Us Too

Author:  Stephen (no last name given)

Main topic: an article written in a personal letter format, addressed to all ladies on the topic of the stereotype that men move on immediately after a breakup

 

I always find articles like this interesting; perhaps because I have an interest in psychology (and relationships are a huge part of it!), perhaps because these sorts of articles are written in such a sincere and honest fashion, or perhaps because there is STILL so much confusion and arguments over these topics.

The latter is understandable, and the main reason for the continuing controversy (despite so many confessions and “truths” being discussed) is that every man is different. Some men, yes, will move on immediately, as if they were never attached in the first place (and they probably weren’t if they reacted in such a manner). But other men will brood over breakups much longer than the females will. It is thus apparently very hard to put a label on men collectively, because like women, they all have different responses to breaking up. From the collective, broad perspective, men perhaps do seem to move on faster. However, I think I agree with Stephen in that men are simply just better at hiding their emotions. Women aren’t the only ones that fall deeply in love.

I like that this article is written with such an honest and sincere tone. It makes me feel like Stephen is going through some sorrow -perhaps even a hard breakup- himself. Moreover, the readers will then lean in closer to be touched by his words, and his article will reach a bigger audience on a deeper level.

In conclusion, relationships continue to be a complex issue in all societies, and the best thing we can do in order to work on them is to talk about them. This article does just that, so I have no complaints.

Article Response #5: So, where are all the funny women?

Article: http://cratesandribbons.com/2012/11/18/women-arent-funny-gender-and-stand-up-comedy/

Title: “Women Aren’t Funny” – Gender and Stand-Up Comedy

Author: writer of blog “Crates and Ribbons:

Main topic: analyzing the belief that women aren’t as  funny as men and why

 

The blog-writer of “Crates and Ribbons” raises many good points in his/her article. (To make referring to the author easier, since neither name nor gender are known, I will use the author’s blog name to refer to him/her.) The topic is feminism- one that is definitely not new to our bulletin boards -and the arguments and observations raised probably aren’t any sort of novelty either. Still, Crates and Ribbons’ approach to the information at hand is refreshing. The author outright says he/she is a feminist, so he/she would naturally be arguing that women can too be as funny as men. But I was pleased to discover that Crates and Ribbons’ is also capable of thoughtfully and objectively analyzing what the non-feminists have to say. I do think that both sides can have some correctness in their arguments.

Perhaps there is in fact a biological trait that makes men naturally funnier than women. Or, maybe they are just naturally more confident on stage. Maybe looks don’t matter that much to them, so even not-so-good-looking men can make it to the show business, thus providing a much broader selection of male stand-up comedians than female ones. The author of this article brought up this possible factor as well, stating that women have to conform to much stricter standards of beauty and attractiveness to make it to TV (almost any broadcaster or show host that is female could have been chosen for her looks!) so not as many of them (compared to men) will try. I also thought that it was very interesting to think that women still consider themselves to have a lower social status, which is why they would sooner laugh at jokes than tell them.

The author admits (and I’m pretty sure everyone else can agree) that he/she has female friends that are just as funny as his/her funny male friends. But maybe that changes when people have to do it on stage. Be it because of an evolutionary course, or a cultural/social norm, we cannot deny that men seem more comfortable and adept at bringing the audience to laughter, making them more common comedians than females.

Crates and Ribbons wrote with a thoughtful and not-too-biting tone, which is what allows him/her to present information and personal opinions to the readers without giving off the feeling causticity or attack. Readers are free to take what they want from the article without feeling like they have to snap back at the author (this often happens with delicate issues such as feminism and women’s rights) and that is why I think this article is really good. As far as the content goes, I don’t have much to add to what the author suggested, other than my curiosity for humans to figure out more about this odd trend. Feminism is certainly nowhere near coming to a conclusion yet.

Article Response #4: Controversial gluten

Article: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jj-virgin/gluten_b_1834836.html

Author: JJ Virgin

Title: 7 Ways Eating Gluten Makes You Fat, Sick and Tired

 

The introduction of this article contains (subtly) the sort of fact controversy that so often (and frankly, easily) happens in today’s informational paradigm. The article’s author, JJ Virgin, provides a link to an article written by Dr. Glenn Gaesser that goes on to explain how gluten is presumably good for people. Although the latter article is no longer accessible, it supposedly briefs readers through several health benefits of gluten such as those to the heart, gut, and immune system. JJ Virgin continues her article by expressing her disagreement with Dr. Gaesser, and goes on to explain the various ways your life will improve if you remove gluten from your life. More specifically: how avoiding gluten will make us thinner, healthier, and more energetic.

What I saw in between the lines of the article was a dilemma of contradicting facts which all appear to be equally supported. JJ Virgin did not include any direct claims that say that gluten is good for you, but many authors write about that topic, including Dr.Gaesser, whom she provided a link to. It may thus be a little strange for me to talk about the authenticity of the information in JJ Virgin’s article when none of her statements contradict each other; but I think that every good reader should not naively gobble up every “fact” they come across. It’s important (especially with the internet!) to apply critical thinking and logic to analyze if the information you’re reading makes sense, and if it’s an absolute truth. In this case, you can’t be sure. Who to believe, then? This sort of dilemma happens very often nowadays because things people say are often: a) not backed up by enough supportive evidence (or none at all), b) not verified, c) myths with false evidence, or d) what people want to believe, so it’s accepted as truth with no second thought. Dr. Gaesser and JJ Virgin cannot both be correct; If Dr. Gaesser is correct in his statement that gluten is healthy for us, then it would be incorrect for JJ Virgin to argue that we should remove it from out diets. Perhaps there is a middle ground on which they are both right. Gluten may have benefits for some body types, or if eaten in moderation. On the other hand, in excessive amounts or for some people, it may become detrimental to our health, figure, and energy.

About the claim of weight gain due to eating gluten, I agree with how JJ Virgin states that calories-in, calories-out is what really matters. Whether junk food is gluten-free or not, excessive amounts will still make you gain weight. Further into the article, the author backtracks and states that eating gluten also stalls weight loss by exacerbating cravings, inhibiting nutrient absorption, and worsening thyroid gland performance (which regulates the metabolism). These were rather interesting pieces of information, and they reminded me of the sort of claims that are made in the book “Flip the Switch, Lose the Weight”. I am referring to claims of the likes that just doing some movement every half hour will keep your metabolism running fast (even if the movements are very easy, such as walking around the room a few times). Such claims are nice to believe, which is primarily what makes them come off as truthful, because people feel more comfortable believing the information then going through the tedious process of verifying the facts and finding out they are wrong. However, the question of whether or not they are correct still remains open. Similar pleasing-to-the-thought ideas (“just don’t eat ____ and you’ll lose weight!”) appear rather most ridiculous when analyzed with any degree of logic. For example, there’s the claim that certain foods (including many fruits and most vegetables) make you burn more calories than they give you. If that would really be true, then if you ate a ton of those foods, you would become increasingly more skinny and emancipated until you’d supposedly die of malnutrition (while you’re stuffing your face with food). Now, I know apples and carrots are healthy, but they are not a magic weight loss pill. It just does not make sense for nature to give us food that does exactly the opposite of its intended purpose. Yet, there was a whole book based on this claim (“Foods That Cause You To Lose Weight: The Negative Calorie Effect”, written by Neal Barnard) and it was backed up by “facts” as well.

It is apparent, then, that misunderstandings do happen rather easily in the modern information era. I am not saying that I equate JJ Virgin’s words to ludicrous statements that should only be regarded skeptically; perhaps she is completely right. But, we don’t know if she is. A trick that helps to discern authentic statements is looking for possible false claims and telling them apart from real evidence. JJ Virgin seems to provide substantial evidence in her article advocating the removal of gluten, including explanations of some functions of the digestive system, but we know that even studies and researches can be faulty. There have been many cases of this already, and certainly many more to come; there are dozens of published studies whose thesis is the complete opposite of an opposing study.

Therefore, as I am no health or nutrition science expert, I feel I have to remain skeptical about the content of this article, and I think that any information given to people should be viewed in a similar manner instead of being naively accepted as gospel truth. However, I think that JJ Virgin’s words may be interesting and helpful to read. If nothing else, then it at least provides a thought-provoking perspective on a fairly easy (since almost everything out there has a gluten-free counterpart) way to diet .

Article Response #3: The T-ara Mystery

Article: http://www.allkpop.com/2012/07/breaking-ccm-announces-hwayoung-will-leave-t-ara

Author: “MountainMadman”

Title: CCM announces Hwayoung will leave T-ara

Main topic: explanation of what happened surrounding a member’s dispatchment from a popular Korean Pop girl band

 

I don’t read that many newspaper-styled articles. But, if there is one thing I know from my small scope of knowledge on the subject, it is that they are often so overfilled with biased opinions and exaggerations to make the content seem scandalous be read, that the facts are often buried under the mountain of connotations and fancy words. Thusly, I am glad to see that this article, written by someone who goes by the username “MountainMadman”, has chosen the formal “let’s not offend anybody” approach. Although I am not exactly thrilled with this style of writing, I think that it is at least much more respectful of everybody involved to not try to skew up the facts in favor of someone.

As Simon and Martina explained in their video “TL;DR – T-ara’s Break Up Scandal and What It Means To Kpop”, no one really knows what happened to trigger the splitting of Kpop band T-ara. Unless you’re a member of T-ara. Then you probably (hopefully) know what happened. It is the same situation in everyday teenager’s school lives. If two friends have an argument, or a fight, or a misunderstanding occurs, rumors can fly about it all the way to the opposite end of the school even before the lunch bell rings. Meanwhile, the story gets chewed over so much on people’s tongues that by the time it reaches the last pair of ears, it goes from being something like “Tony dropped a sandwich on the floor” to “A sandwich ate Tony!” while the actual story really goes something like “Tony almost choked on his sandwich and had to be rushed to the hospital”. Unless you were there, you have no evidence that what you heard about whatever it may be is true.

People are gossipy creatures, and it is perhaps our boredom that makes us want to stick our nose into everybody’s business (and change the facts around a little too). I think that it is rather unfair that celebrities are so often the targets. Because celebrities are widely known, and the media has nothing better to do, they pick at every little string and piece of lint found on the celebrities until it becomes a bulging monstrosity. “Omg, so-and-so gained so much weight!” “Wow, can you believe what she said??” “Ha-ha, he tripped and fell walking up the stairs.”. Wow! Everyone makes mistakes, we can all say the wrong thing in the heat of the moment, life goes on! But for celebrities, recovery takes much longer, or it doesn’t at all, because the media will take just an instant crawl all over an incident, pick it apart, reassemble it, and slap everyone in the face with it.

(Now, I realize that is part of their job. But sometimes it is way overdone. My protests stem from that scope of the media, not necessarily all of it.)

This article focuses on the T-ara split up, and there are two sides to the argument; one being that Hwayoung was being wrongfully bullied by the other members, and the second that she was being a B-word to them and deserves to get the booty kick out of the group. This article doesn’t express favoritism for either theory, and the only thing I have here to add is that what happens between T-ara is only T-ara’s business, and if the rest of the media had a bigger sense of respect for celebrities who are also human beings, they would not pretend to know all the facts when clearly they don’t. “MountainMadman” was to my relief very polite and plain about addressing what happened, but many other news and gossip media sources are not; and I am not just talking about professionals or people with diplomas. Anyone is capable of pompously assuming they know what they do not. I think especially news reporters could learn a little from Socrates: “There is but one thing I know, and that is that I know nothing.”

It is with this in mind that my eyes met this article’s relay of the events with much ease. A member of T-ara left the group. That’s all there is to say. Good luck to her, and good luck to the rest of the group, and good luck to the Kpop fan-world out there for not tearing themselves to shreds over it.

Article Response #2: Luck, talent, and hard work

Article: http://www.investopedia.com/financial-edge/0310/from-poverty-to-power-celebrities-who-started-with-nothing.aspx#axzz2H7IrzZwK

Author: Michael Deane

Title: From Poverty to Power: Celebrities Who Started With Nothing

Main topic: mini biographies of famous wealthy people who started from the bottom

 

This article, written by Michael Deane, may be considered an inspiration to those who feel that if they are not rich today, they never will be. I think that the fact that the world  is always changing (along with our personal circumstances) is almost blatantly obvious, but it does help to remind ourselves of it once in a while. The problem is, however, that the people spoken of in the article are more the exception than the rule. They did have great talent- but also, they found themselves in the right place at the right time. You may have the best singing voice in the world, but if you are not in the right place and time to be heard, no one will listen to you. It is partly talent, but also luck, that got Oprah, J.K.Rowling, Jay-Z, and the others mentioned to their lofty, successful positions. That being said, luck is not always just a matter of arbitrary chance. There are dozens of sayings that express this: “chance favors the prepared mind”; “some people are destined to be great, but more often they are determined to be great”; “a winner never quits, and a quitter never wins”; bottom line is, hard work pays off. Effort may, in the end, be the biggest part of success of all.

The law of attraction, an idea that’s steadily gaining popularity, may explain how all these hugely different factors tie together. Some people want something a lot, and they channel their energy correctly into positive thinking and harnessing positive “vibrations” that allow that situation to actually come to happen. Some do it automatically, without even realizing it- and call the outcome “pure luck”. The process is easy, but the reason why not everyone is able to make it work is that not everyone has the determination to work really hard at something. Or perhaps life just doesn’t want to let everybody be super rich and popular and famous – we would all be the exact same, and then where would fortune go from there, if it didn’t completely lose its value?

The way Deane wraps up his article is a perfect conclusion. It is an encouragement- an incentive nudge immediately following the evidence of “miracles do happen”, which prompts people to get off their feet and go change the world (especially their own) for the better. I would replace his use of the word “talent” with “passion”, however, as I don’t think talent exists – it is merely the result of hard work driven by our love for the given sport or activity. I feel that I should here return to my argument that things such as luck may be perceived to be randomly given out by nature, but in truth they are just results of our own hard work. You must not be afraid to get your nails dirty from effort, and the best way of ensuring this is to have a true passion for your goals. If there is one thing that the people discussed in the article have in common, it is that they all love what they do. It is impossible to work day after day for something you don’t want- something that your heart wouldn’t chase after if it could spontaneously sprout legs. I share Deane’s encouraging outlook regarding the inspiration coming from these fortunate celebrities, so I will follow his lead in my conclusion; perhaps not everyone can make it to the top, or even chase after their dreams, but you will not know if you are one of the few who can until you give it a try.

Poem Response #9

My Life

By:  Erin
Thinking back on my life, when I was a little child;
So outrageous and bubbly doing things that were wild.
Thinking back on my life, all those wonderful years;
Not a care in the world, no worries, no fears.
Thinking back on my life, all the advice I was told:
What a wonderful child, my parents hoped they would mold.
But as we all know, it’s not always what we dreamed;
Life gets harder, and to us it’s not always how it seemed.
There are two roads in life: the right one and wrong one;
The wrong one I chose and it seemed life was done.
But as time has went on, I had to agree;
I can do and be anything I want to achieve.
I have tried over and over and failed to succeed;
But I am a SOLDIER, that’s what I believe.
My LIFE is too precious to let it slip away;
I must try harder and harder each coming day.
One day soon, I’ll be All that I am;
How do I know you ask?
BECAUSE I KNOW I CAN!!!!

Source: http://www.familyfriendpoems.com/poem/life-with-heroin

 

Main theme: Change

 

Date of reading: November 7th

 

My Response:

This is another poem about personal change. I believe that it has a very powerful tone to it, because it starts off talking about reminiscing on childhood, which gives a sense of sadness, because people often think back to the “bubbly” and innocent days when they feel they have lost that. So readers may anticipate a shift to a more melancholic tone in the middle of the poem, and indeed this happens, as the author starts to talk about how she did not become the “wonderful child” her parents hoped to make of her. As the readers are expecting and ready for this shift, they can empathize with it better and the end gradually builds up a very powerful voice, with the author exclaims that her target audience should just wait and see, because she WILL become someone extraordinary!

She puts several words in caps lock, which I feel is an attempt to accentuate those words and make people realize the importance of those key terms in her message. The final sentence is entirely in caps lock, making it seem more forceful, and more powerful.