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Being a chemist. Oops, science is POWERFUL!

ENGL 390, 390H, and (sometimes) 398V  Class Journal

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Directions! Next week

That is our plan, with some flexibility on due date, either Friday before break or Monday after. DO NOT STRESS about this.  Here is an assignment sheet to guide you.  Come on Monday with an idea to write about.  More about this in class. Students report that this assignment is pleasant and a break from drafting coherent prose.

Before we turn in all the coffee cup memos, let's consider this image to help us with a word of nearly no specificity. Does this image make sense at all to you?  You could show your parents or grandparents.

Oxford comma helps from science, now. Consider these examples from Sarah Lichter.  Here is one from my writing practice recently:

Conservation biologists look at two approaches to biodiversity losses, species counts in the tropics and changing distribution maps.

What about this one that the protodoctors among us might say to a patient:

Your cancer can be treated with chemotherapy, surgery or immunotherapy.

 

More Oxford comma information (some of which is at the Wikipedia entry) now. Note, much of this content circled around pedagogy circles even before Wikipedia was built.  Think on that sort of citation problem.

Oxford comma (wars): Look at these examples, to jump start the lesson.

To my parents, Ayn Rand and God.

To my parents, J.K. Rowling and God.

To my parents, Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart.

OR

In a newspaper account of a documentary about Merle Haggard:

Among those interviewed were his two ex-wives, Kris Kristofferson and Robert Duvall.

These two preceding examples are from Theresa HaydenHere is another doosie that cries out for a serial or Oxford comma.

 Here is another doosie that cries out for a serial or Oxford comma.

The Times once published an unintentionally humorous description of a Peter Ustinov documentary, noting that

"highlights of his global tour include encounters with Nelson Mandela, an 800-year-old demigod and a dildo collector."

Now, to be clear, the serial comma does not always solve ambiguity problems:

They went to Oregon with Betty, a maid and a cook –

  • They went to Oregon with Betty, who was a maid and a cook. (One person)
  • They went to Oregon with Betty, both a maid and a cook. (One person)
  • They went to Oregon with Betty, a maid and cook. (One person)
  • They went to Oregon with Betty (a maid) and a cook. (Two people)
  • They went to Oregon with Betty, a maid, and with a cook. (Two people)
  • They went to Oregon with Betty – a maid – and a cook. (Two people)
  • They went to Oregon with the maid Betty and a cook. (Two people)
  • They went to Oregon with a cook and Betty, a maid. (Two people)
  • They went to Oregon with Betty as well as a maid and a cook. (Three people)
  • They went to Oregon with Betty and a maid and a cook. (Three people)
  • They went to Oregon with Betty, one maid and a cook. (Three people)
  • They went to Oregon with a maid, a cook, and Betty. (Three people)

We can also look at the grocery list problem: 

buying  bread, jam, coffee, cream, juice, eggs, and bacon. VS

eating toast and jam, coffee and cream, juice, and bacon and eggs

 

 

Posted on Friday, March 9, 2018 at 08:42AM by Registered CommenterMarybeth Shea | CommentsPost a Comment

TRANSITIONS! Flow and coherence

First, begin by looking at this OWL PURDUE exhibit on useful transition words and phrases.  Back to paragraphs:  

  • look at the last sentence of each paragraph; 
  • then look at the first sentence in the next paragraph.

Do you see connection between content, including a reasonable pivot to new information?  The paragraphs, although they stand alone in topic and content, should CONNECT or TRANSITION with the surrounding paragraphs.  

Paragraph check: Ask

  • What is the paragraph doing in the document?  What type of paragraph serves this purpose? For example, a narrative paragraph can tell a brief story or present a case or example.  An illustrative paragraph – cousin to descriptive paragraphs - paints a picture.
  • Is the paragraph cohesive?  Does the content “hang” together?  Do the sentence choices achieve cohesion?  Look at the transition words and phrases in the OWL link above.  You can use them to achieve cohesion and flow between sentences. This focus is called local coherence, which is key to achieving flow.

Finally, paragraphs do not truly stand alone in most documents. Paragraphs combine to provide coherent content in a document for a reader.  Ask this:  do the paragraphs fit and support the arrangement or structure of the document?  Focus on transitions between paragraphs, which help with cohesion in the document.  Local coherence (within a paragraph) + global coherence (between paragraphs and within a document) create overall flow.

Cheap! Way To achieve cohesion between paragraphs try "chaining" by transitions. Place the  topic of the next paragraph in the last sentence of the preceding paragraph. The first sentence of the new paragraph must include that topic also. Doing this knits or binds the paragraphs to each other.  Here is how a math person would say this: 

Let ParaA be the preceding paragraph. 

Let ParaB be the following paragraph.  

Let T be the topic that should appear in both paragraphs.  

We will limit our discussion now to two sentences: 

  • the last sentence of ParaA and the 
  • first sentence of ParaB. 

In reality, ParaA and ParaB exist in a document with an arrangement of many paragraphs.

ParaA relates to ParaB through the last sentence of ParaA AND SIMULTANEOUSLY through the first sentence of ParaB. The relating elements is a topic, T;  T can be a repeated word or a phrase.  Some variation on T makes for good style.  Now, let's look at two real world documents that show two types of T: tight transitions and loose transitions.

Memo is due in hard copy on Friday, in class, double-spaced.  Here is a working checklist you can use.

Posted on Wednesday, March 7, 2018 at 07:51AM by Registered CommenterMarybeth Shea | CommentsPost a Comment

More sentences to use in the coffee cup memo

Sentences and paragraph-parts bank for the coffee cup memo: 

Having described both our office problem and reviewed the way we use and dispose of hot beverage cups, let's turn now to life cycle analysis (LCA).  LCA is.......The EPA provides this useful definition  THREE OR FOUR SUMMARY SENTENCES THAT YOU PARAPHRASE.....then, (EPA, n.d.)

Hocking's work, though dated, is strong support for the styrofoam cup choice.  We should, however, acknowledge that if you weight the fate of ocean plastic as more important than climate change, you would reach another recommendation. Oceanographer Charles Moore.......

Moore's work as a science advocate requires that we use his peer reviewed, co-authored work as a primary and trusted source.  This ocean plastic problem is emerging in both understanding and seriousness......ADD SOURCE IF YOU WANT?  Referral link? 

Overall, I recommend paper cups for our office.  I based my analysis on two criteria:

fate of ocean plastic as the primary environmental problem, and,

LCA to examine the existing peer-reviewed evidence.  (climate change/energy efficiency)

Now, some humility sentences for closing up your recommendation (science is HUMBLE before truth) that address fairly the counter-argument, for the last part of the memo:

I want to acknowledge the reasonableness of the other recommendation.

Clearly, this recommendation is limited in several ways. First, we begin with the environmental problem in our analysis.  

The problems of the fate of ocean plastic and climate change are incommensurate, or without common measure.  

These two problems resist a direct and definitive comparison. In other words, you cannot declare which environmental problem is worse.  Both problems pose serious sustainability problems for us.

Citation conventions for using Hocking and Moore work (formal, in-text parenthetical citations):

You will need to use signal phases as way to be professional, ethical, precise, and careful in your citation. Read this brief guide, noting carefully the table of words and phrases at the end. The signal phrase ANNOUNCES where your cited information begins.  Then, you complete the announcement by placing the author, date--parenthetical cite.  Example,

According to Hocking's 1994 analysis (INSERT, SAY FIVE SENTENCES). . . . . . THEN (Hocking, 1994)

RECALL this bottom line:  When you place a cite in a paragraph, the location can be ambiguous in at least three ways:

  1. do you mean to cite on the information in THAT ONE SENTENCE?
  2. do you mean the cite to encompass or surround all the information that PRECEDES the citation?
    1. to the beginning of the paragraph?
    2. just select sentences?
  3. if you place the citation at end of paragraph, do you mean to cite
    1. ONLY THE LAST SENTENCE?
    2. the ENTIRE PARAGRAPH?
Posted on Monday, March 5, 2018 at 08:37AM by Registered CommenterMarybeth Shea | CommentsPost a Comment

Arranging the information for coffee cup problem-solution memo

Lesson on paragraphs, here for early in your memo, in the definition/description move (STASIS 2) where we also need to address context.  Skill?:  Coherence in a paragraph (sample content but the paragraphs might not be complete for the purposes of your coffee cup paper):

"Meh" paragraph
Plastic and paper cups pose problems for recycling. Ceramic cups are very energy intensive to produce. Recycling seems environmentally-sound.  Paper does not degrade deep within most landfills and the plastic coating is also difficult.  Not all plastic can be recycled.  You need to check the bottom of the container.  Landfills are increasingly full.  There is a huge "patch of garbage" in the Pacific Ocean. Supply chains of garbage recycling, especially plastic do not really work.  

Note: can you see the compare/contrast move here, even in this meh or necessary draft version?

Better paragraph
Paper and plastic both pose disposal problems.  First, not all plastic can be recycled. Check the bottom of the plastic container. "No. 1" and "No. 2" types can be recycled by most facilities. Second, paper does not degrade deep within most landfills because of low oxygen conditions. The plastic coating also interferes with decay. Landfills are increasingly full.  There are several huge "patches of garbage" in the Pacific Ocean. Recent analysis suggest that China is a source of this garbage.

Note: do you see a place for a referral citation, using the Seattle news article posted earlier? Can you find a more general article that you can refer to, about the limits of recycling and landfilling?  Recall that this information, now, at this level of detail is common knowledge, even if you do know this.

Even better paragraph (can you see the re-thinking of content as well as sentence-level revision)
Paper and plastic both pose disposal problems.  First, not all plastic can be recycled. Check the bottom of the plastic container. "No. 1" and "No. 2" types can be recycled by most facilities. Second, paper does not degrade deep within most landfills because of low oxygen conditions. The plastic coating also interferes with decay. Landfills are increasingly full, with paper and plastic part of the waste stream. Not all plastic is recycled or landfilled. According to the Algalita Foundation,  huge "patches of garbage in the Pacific Ocean are further evidence of of the environmental harm posed by plastic.

Note: do you see another place for a referral citation?  Should we build a new paragraph with this information?

==== (pivoting away from definition/desorption to causal analysis (STASIS 3); reveal your decision criteria!)

Life cycle analysis definition paragraph content items:

use a sourcing sentence (signal phrase) like

According to ........Life cycle analysis (LCA) assesses......

Life cycle analysis is the primary decision criteria used in this memo to evaluate our coffee cup choice.

Note that Martin Hocking's work uses LCA to assess the energy intensivity of paper, styrofoam, and ceramic cups.

Charles Moore's work on the fate of ocean plastic focuses on the disposal step of life cycle analysis.

(These last two sentences serve as transitions to the summary paragraphs where you focus on the science of Hocking OR the science of Moore, depending on your recommendation (STASIS 4->5 Value to Policy). This is the heart of your memo, the evaluation PARA that uses evidence for your claim on which cup is better, given your problem frame)

On the board, in class, we will work out a P1, P2, P3. . . series arrangement where P = Paragraph. Take a picture of this to guide your work.

Posted on Monday, February 26, 2018 at 08:42AM by Registered CommenterMarybeth Shea | CommentsPost a Comment

Coffee cup

Now, she wants a problem-solution memo about the type of coffee cup we use in our firm. 

Let's start by reading this article from Seattle:  Coffee Cup Recycling Brims with Obstacles.

Jane wants a coffee cup policy for the office that is "green."  OK, that is the content for your invention.  Here is an arrangement (paragraphs):

POLITE OPENING, with your recommendation that previews your final policy paragraph

CONJECTURE PARAGRAPH 

Problem description (our office situation, with quantifiers)

Environmental problems (energy efficiency ->climate change AND persistence of plastic in ocean -> food chain disruption)

YOUR WEIGHTED PROBLEM (revealing your pre-analytical frame or bias)

DEFINITION-->CAUSE/EFFECT information 

Coffee cup types (how many?  Can we do this in one paragraph or do we need one per coffee cup type? Use counting technique of two or three)

Decision criteria (HINT:  Life cycle analysis, and define this; use an EPA source) HERE, this definition helps us move to the VALUE paragraphs

CAUSE/EFFECT continued (system) -->VALUE (Harm or benefit)

Martin Hocking's work on life cycle analysis of paper v. Styrofoam

Charles Moore's work on size of ocean garbage patches

POLICY/ RECOMMENDATION

Science/Research support (remind about evidence discussed above in VALUING PARAGRAPHS)

Qualification (concede reasonableness of the other position)

Concrete examples (2)

Sentences that can help you as topic sentences or transitions sentences between paragraphs

Any analysis of coffee cup choice requires use of life cycle analysis.

Life cycle analysis -- also known as cradle-to-grave -- helps capture the entire environmental effect from origin and inputs through use and, importantly, to disposal.

In my analysis, I weight [name environmental problem] more heavily than [the other problem].

Life cycle analysis can help us understand this difficult question about coffee cup sustainability

We have two choices in coffee cups: paper or plastic (Styrofoam).

Martin Hocking conducted the first -- and to date only -- peer-reviewed analysis of the energy embodied in coffee cup choices.

Charles Moore is among the first to alert us to the huge problem of persistent ocean plastic.

....more on Monday.

Posted on Friday, February 23, 2018 at 08:49AM by Registered CommenterMarybeth Shea | CommentsPost a Comment