Friday, February 24, 2012

Word Nerd Semantics

Contrary to my previous plan, I will not be publishing my ISFLC notes as soon as
expected. I want them to be in a more coherent form.

Word Nerd Semantics

As some of you know, in addition to being a self-proclaimed word nerd, I am also
extremely picky about connotation. That being said, I do not believe in synonyms and
I really appreciate well-crafted semantics. Contrary to the opinion of one of my
classmates, I believe that a seemingly simple change in semantics can make a big

1) Course Title

Maybe it's because of my homeschooling background, where the semantics of a course
title was extremely important to my yearly objectives and portfolio. Such titles
were even more important for my high school transcript so that the local school
district could understand my outside-the-box learning in their inside-the-box terms.
Cooking? Life skills. Fundraising? Business math. Local field trips? History.
Is this cheating? No. It is true and engaging learning.

In my Public Mental Health class this week, we discussed the social issue of divorce
as far as it is related to community mental health. My professor mentioned proposed
local legislation that would offer (and potentially) require high school students to
take a marriage skills course. Really? First of all, more regulation and requirements
would not be conducive to learning. Second of all, are marriage skills really what
we want to require of high school students?

Why not something that would be immediately applicable? Why not something that would
be applicable to a variety of relationship situations? What about a relationship
skills course? What about a conflict transformation course? What about an interpersonal
communication course? What about a group process course? What about a teamwork and
problem-solving course?

Is this just a change in semantics? Not really, it's also a change in mindset. This
mindset change would be evident among the students and faculty and I think it's an
important one. How many times have you decided against taking a course based primarily
on its course title? How many times have you been unexcited about a required course
based primarily on its course title? See? Semantics matter.

2) Individualism and Communalism or Individuality and Community?

In my Community course, we have been discussing various theorists within the field
of community studies who have tried to reconcile the tensions between individualism
and communalism. All of these theorists were extremely pessimistic that these two
perspectives cannot exist together. I disagree.

For my first focus paper, I wrote about the key features of community in light of
how they are exemplified by the strongest community I know: HOBY.

For the conclusion of this paper, I explained how the key features as show by HOBY
can solve the individualism vs. communalism debate. This solution involves a change
in semantics. One of the features of a strong community is that of similarity.
However, HOBY is an especially strong community because it allows for variety, which
means that individuality and a sense of self is not overtaken by extreme communalism.
While individualism and communalism may not be able to exist together, individuality
can exist within a strong community because these forms of singlehood and cohesion
are not excessive.

3) Politicians?

As I was reflecting upon my first test for Comparative Politics that I took this
afternoon, I decided that I do not believe in the term, "politicians." Why?

Because having a separate term for those in positions of political leadership sets
them above the citizenry when they shouldn't be.

Politicians? No. They are citizens and should be held to the same standards as all
other citizens and be similarly expected to uphold the negative rights of others.

Politicians? No. They are citizens in a political office. They have the same political
rights as all other citizens and all other citizens should have an equally loud
voice in the political realm. Politicians? No. They should not have such a pedestal.

I think I'm really starting to not believe in a representative political regime.

Also, for your personal edification...

State = a system that administers laws and policies in a territory
Nation = a self-aware group with a shared identity that has or seeks control of the state
Regime = political system
_____--> Liberal Democracy, Communism, Fascism, Modernizing Authoritarian, Theocracy, and Semi-Authoritarian
Government = transient set of ruling people (incorrectly referred to as administration in the U.S.)

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