Sunday, April 15, 2018

Argument Essay

Prompt: Make a well-developed argument on whether the civilization of the United States is declining or ascending.

 Most people who are aware of global affairs would say that the world is facing the worst times in recent history with environmental collapse, terrorism, racial and economic inequality, fascism, and more. However, worldwide, extreme poverty and malnutrition are at new lows, and risk of dying due to war or violence is at the lowest in human history. In the U.S., discrimination, disease, crime and most forms of pollution are in decline, while education keeps rising and economic indicators are better than previous generations. America has come a really long way since its creation, and it's only progressing. 

When Donald Trump came into office, the unemployment rate was low enough that the number “would have caused economists of the 1970s to fall to their knees and kiss the ground.” Crime is down almost everywhere, fuel abundant, inflation low, and food cheap. Gregg Easterbrook, author of It’s Better Than It Looks: Reasons for Optimism in an Age of Fear, argues that since the country as a whole is aging, it can only see everything from a declinist point of view. That things are worse than the way things were a few generations back. But if you go to any city in America, it is always more prosperous than the cities of most developing nations. We have never had it better. We live longer, we are richer, and we are more democratic. Now, I know that this may be too optimistic and that there are still important problems around the world like the current Syria airstrikes. But the fact is that we are progressing compared to previous times. 

The economy has continued to improve under Trump, with the unemployment rate falling from 4.8 percent to 4.1 percent, and GDP growth ticking upward. The stock market has likewise risen quickly.  The United States and Russia both dialed back their numbers of nuclear weapons, bringing the global total down. The number of apprehensions of people entering the country illegally at the southwestern border has fallen off from 408,870 (2016) to 303,916 (2017). In addition, improved economies in Latin America give fewer people with reasons to leave, according to the Bipartisan Policy Center. In 1950 75% of the world were still living in extreme poverty. But today, those living in extreme poverty are now less than 10%. Now 8 out of 10 people can read and write. In the 19th Century almost everyone lived in autocratically ruled countries. Today more than half the global population lives in a democracy.

Most people today don't agree with the fact that the world is improving and this is partly due to different sources of media, which focus on the things wrong with the world and not enough on how it's changing. An article about a growth in healthier people worldwide doesn't get as much attention as some bombing. People are led to believe that everything is worsening and that the person in charge is to blame. The fact is that the world is improving. 

Easterbrook, Gregg. Its Better Than It Looks: Reasons for Optimism in an Age of Fear. PublicAffairs, 2018.

Kurtzleben, Danielle. “How America Has Changed During Trump's First Year In Office, By The Numbers.” NPR, NPR, 20 Jan. 2018,

Denning, Steve. “Why The World Is Getting Better And Why Hardly Anyone Knows It.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 30 Nov. 2017,

Policy Center.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Synthesis Essay

Prompt: To what extent would people sacrifice their well-deserved rewards in life for their families? 

Most people believe that they would sacrifice anything for their family as part of human nature, but to what extent? Some would give up comfort to ensure the safety of their family, even going as far as picking emotion rather than logic. They would even sacrifice their own life if they had to. However, some people would sacrifice their family for personal gain. 

Although human nature shows that people like to stay in the comfort of familiarity, in cases such as immigration, people would give up their current lives and comfort in order to ensure that their families remain safe and healthy. An example of this would be Chinese immigrants to the United States in the 1880s. Most Chinese immigrants were men who came to mine and work on railroad construction for cheap labor to support their family back in China. Since Chinese laborers would work for cheaper pay, the white working class was losing their jobs. These men eventually influenced politics and there was discrimination against the Chinese. The Chinese immigrants only brought further development to the United States and they suffered more to provide for their families back home. They couldn't see their family for years while they worked there. However, this wasn't of importance to the white laborers and politicians of the time, they wanted the Chinese gone. They achieved this through the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. The Chinese immigrants left the familiarity of their own country in hopes of granting their next generation with a better life than their own.

Humans provide love and affection for others due to the fact that they choose emotion rather than logic. People would commit illegal crimes in order to protect and benefit the family. This can be seen in A Thousand Splendid Suns when Mariam turned herself into the police so that Laila could escape safely. After years of abuse, they both had planned to escape Rasheed and ended up killing him. During their escape, they were caught by the police. Mariam took the full blame for the murder of Rasheed so that Laila and her kids could escape to her lover. Mariam did this out of love for Laila even though she was the other wife. To Mariam, Laila and her children were family. She gave up her life so that they could live in safety, away from the bomb attacks. The illegal crime that Mariam performed to protect her family was out of love and affection for them.

Although most people believe that people would sacrifice anything for their family, there are people who would sacrifice their family for wealth. Most wealthy people sacrifice time with their family for success compared to people less off. These people would give up close relations in pursuit of wealth and success, which is the opposite behavior of what most people consider "human nature".

People would leave their comfort and safety for to sake of their family and even commit crimes for their sake, however, there are people who would give up their family for personal gain. 

Hosseini, Khaled. A thousand splendid suns. Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation, 2013.

U.S. Department of State, U.S. Department of State,

“Family life sacrificed to the pursuit of wealth.” The Telegraph, Telegraph Media Group, 29 Aug. 2002,

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

A dream deferred.

I've spent class time reading and on some days I've read at least 20 minutes at home. I've read 2 books which add up to 624 pages. This time I challenged myself by reading a play for Literary Criticism UIL. The plays name is "A Raisin In The Sun" by Lorraine Hansberry. The genres I read were romance and historical fiction for the first one and  realist drama african american studies for the second one. I was able to understand this very well and I finished it in a day because I found it very intriguing. 
This book was written in the 1950s in New York during the Harlem Renaissance. The setting is between 1945 and 1959 in the south side of Chicago. The themes of this book are the value and purpose of dreams, the need to fight racial discrimination, and the importance of family. The story focuses on the Youngers. Recently, Walter Younger had passed away and left $10,000 for his wife. The Youngers were colored folk so this money meant so many thing for them. For Walter, Walter Younger's son, it could be the stepping stone to achieve his dream, to own a liquor store. Of course Lena, his mother, being the virtuous women she was, wanted nothing to do with this liquor store. This created a wall between Walter and Lena since he felt that his mother couldn't understand him, that she didn't want him to achieve his dreams. Lena wants nothing less than best for her children but growing up in different times and troubles, she can't relate with Walter. Lena wanted to spend this money on her daughter, Beneatha, so that she could become a doctor. It is revealed later, however, that she looks down on female doctors when she says "'She'--What doctor you went to?" (59). This puts a pressure on Beneatha. She knows that everyone looks down on colored people and women. Even her sexist, colored boyfriend looked down on her for being poor. Her own mother, who wants this for Beneatha, doubts that a woman can be a good doctor. Despite all this, Beneatha had always striven to be a doctor and being a poor, colored woman wasn't about to stop her from accomplishing her dream. Until, Walter goes behind everyone's backs to spend it on the liquor store, only to find out that his friend had stolen the money "Willy!...Willy...don't do it...Please don't do it...Man, not with that money...Man, please, not with that money...Oh, God...Don't let it be true...Man...I trusted you...Man, I put my life in your hands...Man...THAT MONEY IS MADE OUT OF MY FATHER'S FLESH--" (128). This was was for Lena, who had to watch her husband work to death. "I seen...him...night after night...come in...and look at that rug...and then look at me...the red showing in his eyes...the veins moving in his head...I seen him grow thin and old before he was forty...working and working and working like somebody's old horse...killing himself...and you --you gave it all away in a day--" (129). Now, before this, Lena had bought a house without telling anyone to surprise them. This surprise didn't please Walter since he wanted to invest it to give a better life to his son. It's all a circle really, Big Walter wanted a better life for Little Walter and Little Walter wanted a better life for his son, Travis. Anyways, a neighbor from the new neighborhood came to visit and he explained to the Youngers that they most likely wouldn't be welcomed there since white people worked hard to get there. Obviously, this offended the Youngers. They had worked multiple jobs each for years and still lived in a two bedroom apartment housing five people for over thirty years, and this white man comes out of nowhere telling them that their hard work wasn't enough, that the white people with their white privilege had clearly worked harder than them and didn't want to ruin their reputation by living next to colored people. The Youngers kicked him out of the apartment with plans to move into the new house right away. This became an issue when they found out that all the money was gone. The white man from earlier had offered to pay money just so they wouldn't live there, and Walter planned on begging him for it. Lena didn't like this one bit which is why her response was "Son--I come from five generations of people who was slaves and sharecroppers--but ain't nobody in my family never let nobody pay 'em no money that was a way of telling us we wasn't fit to walk the earth. We ain't never been that poor. We ain't ever been that--dead inside." (143). Walter ignores his mother's words and says "I'm going to look that son-of-a-bitch in the eyes and say, 'All right,Mr. Lindner that's your neighborhood out there! You got the right to keep it like you want! You got the right to have it like you want! Just write the check and--the house is yours.' And--and I am going to say-- 'And you-- you people just put the money in my hand and you won't have to live next to this bunch of stinking niggers!...' And maybe--maybe I'll just get down on my black knees...'Captain, Mistuh, Bossman--A-hee-hee-hee! Oh, yassuh boss! Yasssssuh! Great white Father, just gi' ussen de money, fo' God's sake, and we's--we's ain't gwine come out deh and dirty up yo' white folks neighborhood...' And I'll feel fine! Fine! FINE!" (144). This was the funniest thing I've read all year. Walter is me. He literally exits the room and slams the door after saying all this. Hilarious. Okay back to the story. Beneatha hears all this and says that her brother is dead to her. Lena doesn't like this one bit either (I'm funny) so she rants about love. "There is always something left to love. And if you ain't learned that, you ain't learned nothing...Child, when do you think is the time to love somebody the most? When they done good and made things easy for everybody? Well then, you ain't through learning--because that ain't the time at all. It's when he's at his lowest and can't believe in hisself 'cause the world done whipped him so! When you starts measuring somebody, measure him right, child, measure him right. Make sure you done taken into account what hills and valleys he come through before he got to wherever he is." (145). This one quote teaches many things, it teaches you to love someone even in their darkest moments and that if you're going to judge someone, then judge them right by considering what all they have been through. Walter hears this speech and changes his resolve. Lindner comes in and Walter says "I have worked as a chauffeur most of my life--and my wife here, she does domestic work in people's kitchens. So does my mother. ...This is my son, and he makes the sixth generation our family in this country...And we have decided to move into our house because my father--my father--he earned it for us brick by brick...And that's all we got to say about that. We don't want your money." (148). If you don't feel pride right now it's because you haven't read the book. You should read it by the way. The climax was so close to the hooray part of this book that you could be crying for one minute then laughing and whooping the next. This ends the portion of my understanding of the book. I know finally right.

JUST KIDDING! Just one more quote I promise. A very long one that you're welcome skip just the way you probably skipped through the paragraph above. "Then isn't there something wrong in a house--in a world--where all dreams, good or bad, must depend on the death of a man? ...You! Your brother made a mistake and you are grateful to him so that now you can give up the ailing human race on account of it! You talk about what good is struggle, what good is anything! Where are we all going and why are we bothering! I LIVE THE ANSWER! In my village at home it is the exceptional man who can read a newspaper...or who ever sees a book at all. I will go home and much of what I will have to say will seem strange to the people of my village. But I will teach and work and things will happen, slowly and swiftly. At times it will seem that nothing changes at all...and then again the sudden dramatic even which make history leap into the future. And then quiet again. Retrogression even. Guns, murder, revolution. And I will have moments when I wonder if the quiet was not better than all the death and hatred. But I will look about my village at the illiteracy and disease and ignorance and I will not wonder long." (135). Asagai, Beneatha's new boyfriend (yes), was reprimanding her when she started complaining about her lost insurance money. My boy, Asagai, just summed up the author's point and connected it to the situation around the world during that time for me. Again, this whole book is about dreams. I'm sorry this is long...I didn't plan for it to be. I just really love this book. I didn't include Ruth. I'm neutral on this topic even though I
 seemed biased. I was just rooting for the main characters.
See the good thing about historical fiction is that it's easy to connect it to what actually happened. So, here we go.

By Langston Hughs
What happens to a dream deferred?

      Does it dry up
      like a raisin in the sun?
      Or fester like a sore—
      And then run?
      Does it stink like rotten meat?
      Or crust and sugar over—
      like a syrupy sweet?

      Maybe it just sags
      like a heavy load.

      Or does it explode?

This poem was an artistic cry of protest against racial injustice in the U.S. He was addressing the increasing frustration and anger of felt by African Americans whose dream of equality was continually being deferred. Harlem was the epicenter for America's first embraced black arts movement. It was an explosion of dreams.

I have analyzed this poem thoroughly. Just for fun. I wish I could share it with everyone but this blog is long enough as it is.

Well, that's it...for now ;) Time to get my two hours of sleep ;)) BYE

Hansberry, Lorraine. A raisin in the sun. Benediction Classics, 2017.
Hughes, Langston. "Dream Deferred" Montage of a dream deferred, 1951.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Bloody murder

I'm back with historical fiction! Yay? I've only been reading in class so I haven't gotten as far as I'd prefer. In total I've only read 96 pages. This book is challenging for me because the setting is in the 1800's in New York, a time period and place I have no interest in. This book is an easy book to read, easy to understand. If I were to read an hour a day, I could finish the book in four days.

The book that I am currently reading is The Luxe by Anna Godbersen. This books focuses on many characters from a third person's view. Every character's life revolves around Elizabeth Holland. Even after her death. "A cold snap had greeted all of New York that morning, rendering the sky above an unfathomable gray. It was, Reverend Needlehouse murmured as his carriage pulled up to the church, as if God could no longer imagine beauty now that Elizabeth Holland no longer walked his earth." (3) . The elites were focused on gossip and scandal, a thing they considered worse than disease. Elizabeth Holland was murdered and the suspect has yet to be found. The worst scandal, however, was the scandal Elizabeth was involved in herself. She was in love with her family's stable boy, but engaged to Henry Schoonmaker. Now Penelope, Elizabeth's "best friend" is "in love" with Henry Schoonmaker. This makes Penelope a potential murderer. But did Penelope really love Henry? Or was she just after his money which Elizabeth so dearly needed? "Because in romance--as in all things--I choose only the best for myself. I am the best of the girls of my set, Henry, and you are the best of men. The richest, the brightest." (84). Clearly, Penelope just wanted to be on top of the social ladder.

Lina is also in love with the stable boy, Will. She is an unknown potential murderer. Just like Abigail from The Crucible who wants Elizabeth dead for John Proctor, Lina wants Elizabeth out of the way so that Will can think of her instead.

Chicago style: Godbersen, Anna. The Luxe. Vol. 1. The Luxe. London: Penguin Books, 2008.
Miller, Arthur. The crucible: a play in four acts. New York: Penguin Books, 2016.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Sorry, this ending is way to happy,

I've read 500 pages a day. I have finished a few books this week. Although, most of them are short stories. I ended up holding back the AP book till the last-minute. I like Shakespeare most of the time, but I was more in the mood for young adult romance this week. As you like it  reminded me of  Twelfth Night because they had similar endings. In both the lead girl cross dresses as a boy and a girl falls in love with her not knowing this. In both they group the couples and get married together.

I am very close to my female friends. I get very touchy and hug them as much as possible. You can guess how many jokes were made about this, yet I continue to do it. I always tell them "you're so cute!" or "I love you!". That's how I was able to relate to this quote:

"Rosalind lacks then the love
Which teacheth thee that thou and I am one.
Shall we be sundered? Shall we part, sweet girl?"
(Shakespeare 1.3. 45)

Celia and Rosalind are close enough to continuously tell each other that they love the other. There's
always a hint of romance but people still know to think otherwise, which, is exactly the same as my relationship with my friends. 

I'm going to put off  late night reading till the end of school as a break. Once summer break starts I'm going to tackle the books required English 3 AP and the poems, plays, and literary terms required for the Literary Criticism UIL team.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017


I got back my minimum reading time. This past week I've read for five hours a day. I completely finished The Selection series.  I read a total of 809 pages. This wasn't too challenging since I love this series. I'm going to further challenge myself by reading Shakespeare's As you like it

I personally never understood people who act like some they're not...I get that sometimes you have to but why? I never bothered to please people like that. I've always thought "Well, if they don't like me then ok that just means we wouldn't get along anyways." I think it has more to do with laziness. Either way, I just never cared for these things. That's why I couldn't relate with Eadlyn. Reading about this characters growth gave me more insight on this matter. Eadlyn spent her whole life pleasing others. She never took time from herself. All this work gave her enough stress to kill someone but she pulled through. Everyone in the world expected her to be perfect as the future queen. One tiny mistake and it would be broadcasted every where. With pressure like this you'd expect someone to go crashing down. Eadlyn, with the support of others, eventually realized that in the end her life was hers. “If any of us had stopped worrying about how we looked like we were performing and focused on how we were actually performing, we would have come to this conclusion long ago.” (Cass 357) I felt like I was screaming these exact words to her the entire time I spent reading this book. With this conclusion Eadlyn made a brave move that benefited everyone. She was able to be her best when she was being herself. I like how Cass chose to use "performing". Most people would use "looked". This was a good choice of diction because it makes readers realize that Eadlyn had always been performing her whole life. 

Friday, April 7, 2017

My life so far as a reader

I'm Ashley Sebastian, I'm a sophomore in highschool, and I want to restore my passion for reading. Reading was about all I did growing up. In kindergarten time out meant reading time so, I'd get in trouble on purpose just to read. By first grade, I was reading Magic Treehouse and Judy Moody, both series meant for kids older than me. My love for books was pretty clear, when I received gifts, they'd always be books. By fifth grade, I'd already finished A Series of Unfortunate Events, The Chronicles of Narnia, Harry Potter, and Percy Jackson. I would consider the day unproductive if I didn't read at least 700 pages. By the time I reached seventh grade I started reading my father's philosophical books. I would give examples but I'd have to sneak through his library for that. They were intriguing but my interests lie elsewhere. In eighth grade, I switched back to young adult books such as: The Hunger Games, Divergent, The Selection, Twilight,  Heroes of Olympus, Ruby Red Trilogy, Abandon series, and the Mortal Instruments. My all time favorite from the Ap reading list would have to be A Thousand Splendid Suns. When I reached high school I got bored with what became my regular book. They all seemed the same to me. I discovered historical fiction. Since then my life has been mystical. I absolutely love historical fiction...if anyone has any recommendations please get to me. Please look up Philippa Gregory.  My goal this year is to read at least 20 books. I used to read for five hours a day. Now, I only read an hour a day. I'm going to try fixing this in the summer when I have more time to read.