Archive for the “SW9” Category
Posted by: Ming Leung in SW9
The commodification of intelligence is a very sensitive subject to write about. Intelligence is an abstract concept, impossible to perfectly measure and analyze. Thus, our society has created the system of education. As a capitalist society, people with higher intelligence, which is measured by their education level, naturally earn more money. Capitalism also applies to the education system: to learn at a higher education level, one must invest more money. Problem is, this could create a never ending cycle, where the parents’ financial wealth translates into a child’s educational success, which in turn determines the child’s prosperity. However, with a system so closely tied to capitalism and education, critiques can easily be misinterpreted as attacks on the freedom of trade and speech. Throw in other controversies, ranging from socioeconomic inequalities in the current education system to the use of concentration enhancing drugs, and this topic becomes nearly impossible to write about.
Despite all of these difficulties, Bao Tran-Phu gives an overview of the many controversies in commodifying intelligence. Instead of jumping straight into criticism, Tran-Phu slowly develops the theme, using several examples, each of which further generalizing and building his ideas. First, he gives the background of capitalism and introduces the reader to the idea that there are markets, ranging from prostitution to hair removal, where capitalism is unnatural. He then shows, through the correlation between education level and wealth, that intelligence is also a commodity in the capitalist society. He then begins to list and explain the many ways that intelligence is absurdly commodified, beginning with very concrete examples and slowly introducing the more complex theories.
First, Tran-Phu points out the most obvious commodification – tutoring, where money is directly replaces intellectual effort. Similarly, nootropics, drugs for cognative enhancement, are also a direct approach to intellectual commodification. Next, the author thoroughly explains the disparity between the growth of farmers and electrical engineers. Despite that the society respects and pays electrical engineers much higher, and the fact that farmers’ apprinticeship and preparation is harder than the education needed to become an electrical engineer, the growth of electrical engineers and decline of farmers is much smaller than expected. This is due to the simple fact that it costs more to become an electrical engineer, preventing the poor from moving up the socioeconomic ladder. Third, Tran-Phu discusses the socioeconomic inequalities in the current education system. Since public education is based on residence and residence is based largely on wealth, the schooling is hard to separate from the structure of class. Moreover, some studies show that despite an increase in minority group enrollments, many groups are still not well represented. With education so dependent on socioeconomic standing, the motto “Invest in Yourself” becomes an ironic joke. Not only does wealth beget good education, well educated individuals might use their knowledge to gain financial advantage over less educated individuals. For example, fMRI and PET imaging results, despite their limitations, have been deceptively used to claim that acupuncture is effective. One organization even tried to use fMRI to prove that pornography is addictive. Lastly, drawing from all of the examples above, Tran-Phu discusses the implications of that the exclusiveness of intellectual commodification that prevents the poor from entering the cycle. If only the wealthiest can afford intelligence, then the very foundations for democracy would fail.
I absolutely loved how Tran-Phu patiently evolves his theme, beginning with tangible, simple ideas and slowly developing them into the complex concepts. Although there are some conjectures that needs more evidence, such as the claim that “the total physiological output of productive activity (of an electrical engineer) is likely less than the total degree of physiological expenditure put forth in the years of apprenticeship and preparation necessary to train a competent farmer”, Tran-Phu wonderfully presents the controversial idea without making his ideas sound foreign to the average reader.
While it is possible to use this form of escalating ideas to discuss concepts in a scientific paper, it probably wouldn’t be very useful. Scientific writing concentrates more on the facts and information, and thus the average reader would appreciate the paper more if the main arguments was stated immediately at the introduction.
iSmart: The Commodification of Intelligence. Deliberations Fall 2010
Grace Shutinh Wei’s article “Gaining Access to Myanmar” portrays the difficulties the victims of Myanmar encountered after Cyclone Nargis demolished their village. Wei’s commences her journalistic style article by discussing a nine year old attempt in surviving the cyclone as it ravishes through her village. The opening of this journalistic style article is intended to enrapture the reader’s mind, tempting them, especially me, to read the entire article with much interest. She then goes into much detail of how the cyclone affected over 2.4 million people and killed over 135,000 people. Despite the cyclones dramatic and tragic effects, leaving families homeless and in desperation, she transitions into Myanmar’s corrupted political authorities that only exacerbated the villager’s situation instead of providing assistance.
Since 1962, Myanmar has been strictly overrun by a military regime, prohibiting any avocation for human rights. After the storm struck Myanmar, the military did very little to assist their people in need. Victims went days without seeing any medical supplies or food. When other foreign countries attempted to supply medical relief, the military prohibited them from entering their country. Wei’s explicitly describes how the military’s refusal to accept any help demonstrated their desire to show that they can relieve their own people. Despite this, thousands of people who could have easily survived the aftermath of the storm, died due to disease and hunger. There is no happy ending to this article, for Wei states that the people have no other option but to carry on with their lives because to their government, natural disasters are not their top priority.
The author is successful in engaging the works of others, mainly relying on primary and secondary newspaper articles to assemble her own journal article. She articulates her position by writing how the devastation of Cyclone Nargis was progressed by Myanmar’s government lack of concern of aiding its own people. Her writing is identical to a news article, providing quotes, pictures and descriptions. She even provides a timeline of events. The author proves her success as an excellent writer by maintaining a consistent tone throughout her writing. Her paragraphs are well written and concise, often transitioning well into other paragraphs. She keeps the readers entertain and in my opinion never loses the reader’s interest.
After reading Wei’s article, I realized how different her style of writing was compared to mine. Granted, her writing was intended to be more journalistic while mine was to inform the reader about the effects of ballast water policy through research. In my paper, I was not able to write an anecdote as my introduction. Instead, I am obligated to write a standard introduction with a clear and concise thesis statement. If I make any claims that are not my own, then I must immediately provide a citation. Wei on the other hand was not required to o. Her only citations were at the end of her essay listed under references.
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I was very impressed with Tran-Phu’s article not only for subject matter and topic, but his ability to articulate and provide a strong argument using his sources. He also did more than merely cite his sources, but was fluently weaved them into this prose to form a very interesting and strong argument that intelligence, an abstract concept, can and has been commodified by the market activities just as other tangible goods such as dairy have been. What I enjoyed about the article was the use of examples to help explain and introduce the reader to the concept of the abstract concepts being marketable, such as the commercialization of organ transplants and surrogate motherhood
Bran-Phu argues that intelligence can be commodified within a market just as any tangible good. One of his strongest points was that knowledge has a discrete exchange value and can have a quantitative economic value expressible in monetary units. He presented an argument which included economic concepts such as supply demand, opportunity cost and incentive as he discussed how intelligence in our modern world has been commercialized. One of the major components of Tran-Phu’s article was a relationship between intelligence, educational level, certification, and career opportunity. The article goes on to further analyze the correlation between wage and intelligence in which he argued that wage disparity remains because access to knowledge and enterprise is protected to prevent devaluation. He provided an example of a farmer and electrical engineer to show this disparity. One of Phu’s strong po9nt was using Marxian theory to solidify his argument an I found this very entertaining as he showed that products and services such as Adderall, Ritalin and tutoring all aid in the commodification (commercializing) our intelligence and these false incentives we use actual detract from the pure essence and value of intelligence.
In addition he believes that the commodification of intelligence can lead to a loss of freedom.
While Tran-Phu’s writing seems to fit under the category of social science, but in regards to my MWP1 assignments has a lot of similar context. For instance the opening the introduction was, while short was written in a professional, non-fictional tone which was similar many science related-jargon. In addition, he provided much quantitative evidence for his argument, quite suitable for the context of his paper, and natural science papers.
While the tones in our paper s are similar to an extent, there is also a difference. Tran-Phu’s tone is more targeted to a general audience, while my writing tone for MWP1 was more focused on both the scientific and general community.
Paul Jordan’s article, on religious satire in hollywood, accurately captivated the mind-set’s of some of todays most popular comedians. In particular, Jordan argued that controversial films such as “Borat” and “Saved!” are to be seen as social satires on modern culture. Sacha Baron Cohen, the lead Jewish actor in Borat, makes hundreds of obscenely racist remarks to people of all backgrounds, and doesn’t acknowledge the offensive terms being used. Thus, when his films first came out, Sacha was viewed as a racial bigot; after researching his background and Cambridge education, the public became aware of his message to the world. By pointing out the extreme cases of racial and gender stereotypes, Sacha shows the public just how absurd preconceived notions can be.
Furthermore, Jordan distinguishes between the “ironic satire” nature of Borat, versus the “exaggerated satire” from the film Saved! The film, about a fundamentalist conservative Christian school, shows the extreme cases of religious culture in the South. Using words like “spiritually toxic affliction” and “fagotry” instead of ”gay”, allows the viewer to see how unrealistic of a situation they are witnessing. For instance, when the characters fear that homosexuality leads to alcoholism and drug addiction, the viewer is seeing the most extreme cases of religious superstitions, and should realize that situations like these probably have never happened. Jordan argues that the extreme cases are presented in Saved! to show the potential drawbacks of living too much of a close-minded, religious lifestyle.
I think Paul did an excellent job at captivating the reader’s interest in the article. By starting off the article with an abridged , Saturday Night Live skit, he shows the type of satirical comedy that will be discussed and analyzed later. He also, more importantly, made sure to use countless direct quotes from various films to back up his arguments. When analyzing the apparent racism in movies such as Borat and Saved!, it’s vital that direct quotes are taken from the script, as well as explaining the character’s sarcastic tone, if present.
Contrary to MWP1, Jordan’s article in Deliberations did not reference his sources using parentheses in the middle of his sentences. Also, in this journal publication, the writers were allowed to make bolded headings for their new paragraphs, as opposed to MWP1 where I wrote one, continuous review. Lastly, despite Deliberations being a first-year journal with informal topics, Paul followed a similar protocol as MWP1 and omitted all conjugations from the article.
In general, I think all writers need some “writerly moves” to grab the audience’s attention and make sure they finish reading the article. Be it in scientific writing or a movie review, a unique introductory paragraph is needed to spark interest in the reader.
Paul Jordan did an outstanding job of analyzing the relationship between religion and popular culture in his Writing 20 paper, using the examples of Borat and Saved!. The introduction grabbed my attention right away, describing a scene from Saturday Night Live. Throughout the paper, Jordan elaborates on satire’s ability to engage the public in broad cultural discussions, specifically surrounding religion. He describes how satire provides a protective “shield” that renders authors able to express their opinions over taboo topics in an “unfiltered” manner. This blatant honesty fosters the reflection of audiences over more serious topics such as religious prejudices.
The points that Jordan made were quite shocking, yet entirely true. A large percentage of the population learns about world affairs, religion, and politics through offensive (yet comical) shows like South Park and SNL. Two years ago I watched that same SNL skit that was described in my introduction; this caused a debate in my Theory of Knowledge class in high school. As ridiculous as it may sound, satire does provoke thought/debate.
Jordan uses two examples to expand upon his thesis: Borat and Saved!. In the movie Borat, Baron Cohen plays a homophobic, racist, misogynistic anti-Semite who comes to America as a reporter from Kazakhstan. As he travels across the United States, he commits a large number of socially crude acts and makes many negative racial and religious comments. The irony in it all is that Baron Cohen is a Jew. Therefore, according to Jordan, Cohen’s use of ironic satire “should be understood not as engendering of racial and religious hatred, but as a condemnation of these prejudices.” In this way, most viewers come away from the film with a sense that the absurd nature of the film ultimately points to something greater.”Exaggerated satire,” used in the movie Saved!, is described as also provoking reflection and evaluation of religious perceptions, biases, and stereotypes. This film takes place in a conservative fundamentalist Christian school, where the characters, who are supposedly “Christian jewels” that have a “holier-than-though” attitude, are hypocrites. While a character named Hillary Faye tries to seem like a “perfect Christian,” she is actually acting snobby and condescending. These images illustrate the inconsistency between fundamentalist beliefs about “loving thy neighbor” and the manner in which they actually interact with society.
Overall, Jordan sculpted an excellent essay, using specific examples, outside sources, and personal opinions. He also adds some of his own humor or “satire, ” to the essay, which makes it easy and very interesting to read. This paper caught my eye at first glance, and I could not put it down until I had read through the whole thing. A major reason that I enjoyed this paper so much was that I had seen Borat and Saved! before, so it was intriguing to look at them from a different perspective. While watching these films I didn’t realize how much I actually “learned” from them, but after reading this paper I agree that, in these cases, comedy provokes serious thought.
This paper was very different from my MWP1, which was written with a more scholarly tone. This topic was also very relatable, whereas my literature review was more directed towards scientists educated in the invasive species field. Science writing is definitely different than descriptive/opinion based writing; I often prefer the latter, however through this writing 20 class I have learned to appreciate scientific writing more as I have become more educated on the topics.
In her article “Politically Incorrect: Gran Torino and Racial Façades” from Deliberations, student Laurel Burk uses the example of the movie Gran Torino to illustrate her point about politically correct language in the modern world. She calls on the work of scholar John L. Jackson Jr. to analyze the main character played by Clint Eastwood in this movie. She uses his idea of “de cardio racism,” which is the idea that racism is not outwardly reflected in a person’s action but instead is buried in deep in their personality. Clint Eastwood’s character, Walt Kowalski, addresses this idea perfectly throughout the movie. In the beginning, Walt appears to be a terribly racist old man who constantly berates his Hmong neighbors with racial slurs. However, as the film progresses, the viewer slowly sees a relationship grow between Walt and his Asian neighbors that eventually leads to Walt sacrificing his life for them. The film’s conclusion shows how an outwardly racist man can in reality harbor a completely non-racist nature. Burk in the end connects this idea to her main point throughout the paper: that politically correct race terms and an expected outlook on race both lead to incorrect impression about people’s personal attitudes on race.
Throughout her work, Burk utilizes the analysis of a single sample and the use of an anecdote to emphasize her point to the audience. In analyzing a single sample, Burk is able to develop a strong piece of evidence to support her claim. The downside is that by going into a single example in extreme depth, she limits her argument since she can only prove it in a single case. In this paper, her design works well, but in relation to papers in Aquatic Invasive species, it may not prove to be the best strategy. Specifically, in my MWP1 the use of a highly developed example would have weaken my argument overall because I thus would not have been able to prove that my point applies to a widespread of species. Nevertheless her use of a single example works well to illustrate her point about a person’s racial outlook as opposed to how they really feel.
In her introduction and conclusion, Burk references a non-specific example of a white student feeling overwhelmed with the pressure of being perceived as a racist. By using this anecdote, she is able to pull the reader in emotionally to her point. The reader can feel the pressure on the student to say the right thing and can sympathize with how it ultimately detracts from discussion. The use of such a anecdote in scientific writing, such as is much of the writing for Aquatic Invasive Species, is often discouraged, but can help in certain writing genres. In MWP1, however, the use of such a tool would have detracted from the scientific purpose of the paper by mixing in personal feelings. Still, Burk shows that this can work beautifully depending on the genre of writing.
Overall, the different styles used by Burk compared to my MWP1 highlight the difference in genres of our writing. While she writes to show a general audience her point about an issue everyone can relate to, I write about to a more specific audience about an issue that pertains to scientists. This difference has led to a diverging in the way we both go about proving our points, and because of this, we utilize different writing strategies to illustrate our points.
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Yu’s essay studies country-pop music and its status as an independent genre rather than just a mix of two styles. First she covers its origins in Nashville, where Owen Bradley and other musicians added modern technology and techniques to country music. This combination was despised by both old-time country fans and popular music lovers because it removed the ‘authenticity’ of country while still supporting backwoods culture. As such, many have considered country-pop to be a mix of genres rather than a genre of its own right. Yu refutes this through an examination of its musical techniques and its fan-base. Though the music is fundamentally a mix of country chords/vocals and pop instruments, the mix is innovative enough to be considered an original style. Likewise, the shunning of country-pop by traditional country fans and the standard pop audience has separated its listeners from both of these groups, making a new fan-base with a distinctive culture.
While the subject of this essay is a far cry from invasive species research, its form is strikingly similar to our literature reviews. Yu first states her thesis, then gives background information about the situation, then supports the thesis with examples of artists, songs, and other authors’ work. The sources she cites are not analyzed in-depth, like in some writing style, but instead used as examples or building points for her own theories. Scientific citations are likewise used as sources of factual information rather than objects to deconstruct and study. While Yu’s use of citations sometimes bordered on the unnecessary – like the Marx reference during the discussion of Patsy Cline – her way of concisely explaining sources to support her views definitely parallels scientific writing.
The difference between this sociological writing and scientific writing is primarily the informality. While the first person is not used, Yu’s use of rhetorical questions and stub sentences in the introduction would not be appropriate for a Frontier literature review. This is because the target audience is probably music-interested citizens instead of environmental scientists. All in all, Yu did an excellent job of articulating and defending her viewpoint while at the same time making the essay interesting to read. You can also tell that she is passionate about the subject, something that benefits writing no matter what the genre.
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“Speak Softly and Carry a Lipstick”: Government Influence on Female Sexuality through Cosmetics During WWII by Adrienne Niederriter is an essay written for the Writing 20 class, The Rhetoric of What We Wear. Its main focus is red lipstick and how this accessory became a major trend of the WWII era.
During WWII, it became necessary for the US to enlist the services of women in support of the war. Their skills were needed at home, their manpower was needed on the front, and their sexuality gathered support. All three aspects of women in the war were linked through lipstick. In a man’s war world, lipstick became a signal of femininity and strength. Women were expected to do a man’s job, yet not be masculine, to be intimidating, yet inviting. Fitting was the contradictory color of red lipstick.
Wearing red lipstick during times of war became a militaristic strategy and tactic.Red lipstick redefined what America was fighting for: protection of freedom, democracy, AND beauty. Red lipstick became American women’s and American cosmetic ads’ war paint. An advertisement with a play on words relating to the war effort and an American icon was how red lipstick vendors served their patriotic duty.
Moreover, in this era women were expected to “Do as a man, appear as a women” (Niederriter, 2010). As cosmetic ads, songs, and newspaper writings argued, women were needed and capable of a man’s job, while still retaining their womanhood.
However, many worried that women taking on traditionally masculine roles would cause women to lose their lady-like qualities. These opponents were very critical of red lipstick society. For many, pin-up girls became a source of controversy. To some pin-ups were the ideal of beauty raising soldiers morale, while others viewed them as classless whores. Yet, red lipstick and other cosmetics comforted the concerns regarding women’s masculine roles and pin-up girls reputation. Cosmetics were a necessity in countering fatigue, improving morale, and increasing productivity in working and enlisted women.
Unlike the pin-ups, USO hostesses helped maintain the ideal of virtuous women. The USO was an organization established to provide male soldiers a social center for an off duty hang out, dancing, and mingling. A junior hostess supported red lipstick as a sexual tool, while a senior hostess was the motherly side of red lipstick.
Red lipstick gave women empowerment and independence. It redefined the role of women in society and began the feminist movements of 1960 and 70 and other cultural movements. Red lipstick led the way to a new frontier in fashion and sexuality. It allowed a woman to do a man’s job and be lady-like.
Niederriter engages with the work of others, articulates a position, and situates writing in a specific context. Unlike natural science writing, Niederriter uses direct quotes to engage with the work of others. Her specific discipline allows her to directly quote, as well as begin with an informal introduction. This is very different from the natural sciences which is written for a formal, educated audience. Lastly, Neiderriter states a new position on the issue of red lipstick and makes you rethink it as a household item, suiting for Deliberations. She takes the position that red lipstick allowed women to do manly jobs while still being feminine. This is similar to all types of academic writing. Why write a paper, without articulating a position? What is the point?
No matter what type of academic writing, it is necessary to entertain the audience, to articulate a position, and to create a new way of looking at familiar issues. I believe Neiderriter’s writing was extremely entertaining. I loved her topic of lipstick and how she expanded on such a common household item. I was shocked at what an impact lipstick had in WWII and how it redefined many aspects of society. I would go as far to say that Neiderriter’s topic alone draws the audience in. However, I give her credit for keeping us interested through her use of images and strong argument. Neiderriter now has me rethinking my usage, or lack of, red lipstick.
Burma, also known as Myanmar, has been in political turmoil for over 50 years. Ruled by a military regime since 1962, citizens of Burma have no political rights, and foreign journalists are prohibited from entering the country. As a result, the military has perpetrated many human rights abuses with little international recognition of the country’s severe problems. Indeed, the government has acted to specifically hinder humanitarian efforts, so it can continue to maintain power over the Burmese people. However, Cyclone Nargis in May 2008 highlighted the government’s inadequacy and the people’s desperation. The storm caused widespread destruction throughout the Irrawaddy Delta region. It is estimated that over 135,000 people died or went missing during the storm. Millions of others were left with damaged homes, fields, and villages. In spite of the devastation caused by the storm, the military responded by barring all aid workers from the country, suspecting interference from foreign governments. Though the military gradually eased restrictions on aid, millions were left without adequate homes, food, or drinking water for weeks. The refugees from the storm relied primarily on private Burmese organizations and monks for healthcare and necessities. However, even domestic aid ran the risk of upsetting the government. As a result, Cyclone Nargis left a persistent trail of death and devastation that served as a reminder to the Burmese and to the world of the present government’s neglect and abuse. The military junta ruling Burma is more concerned with maintaining power than securing the safely of its citizens. Until there is a fundamental change in Burma’s government, natural disasters, such as Cyclone Nargis, will continue to devastate the country with little hope of a quick recuperation.
In her piece entitled “Gaining Access to Myanmar,” Grace Shuting Wei presents the devastation and subsequent aid efforts surrounding Cyclone Nargis. She approaches the event from a journalistic standpoint, using photos and direct quotations from those who were involved in the storm and its aftermath. In her piece, she alters between the background of the event, its consequences, and individual stories from Burmese citizens. While beginning and ending the piece with an individual’s story is particularly effective at drawing in the reader emotionally, the middle informs the reader on the larger picture surrounding the issue. Though my literature review lacks the ‘personal’ perspective, I also tried to make my papers as informational as possible and provide sufficient background for the reader. Though the style and tone of a scientific literature review and a journalistic news article are quite different, they both strive to synthesize information and present it in a logical, informative manner. However, it is particularly important in cases of disaster and governmental abuse to chronicle the events with accuracy and power, as Wei has done in her piece, so the global community is informed on the situation and can help in whatever means possible.
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“Rehabilitation in Sierra Leone” was an article that really caught my eye. It relates the story of the small African country of Sierra Leone, which recently suffered through a long and difficult civil war. From 1991 to 2002, Sierra Leoneans fought a guerrilla war against the corrupt government. The results were far-reaching across the population in many different facets. Friends and family members were found on opposite sides, children became “soldiers, refugees, orphans”. For a country whose children make up an unfortunately large 42% of the population, the sheer loss of identity, humanity, and individuality was severe. A great contributor to this issue was the widespread use of amputation as a weapon in the war. Limbs were severed to send messages and remove the sense of self from the body a person once knew. Thousands became amputees. However, leisure, and particularly soccer, have served to help Sierra Leone regrow as a country. They provide an outlet for communities and individuals to remake their identities and their lives. Soccer more than anything else has fostered this condition, because it has avoided the taint of war, and brings people together in cooperation and teamwork.
In her article, the student used sources effectively. She placed quotations in useful places to not only aid the gravity of her paper, but also because the words of the quotations are most likely the most appropriate and efficacious. These quotations also lend some support to the ideas she presents about leisure, amputation, children, and soccer. The opening of the paper quickly draws the reader in. Talk of “Sierra Leone’s tumultous, violent past” producing “its present complex social fabric” is active and colorful. It immediately gains the attention of the reader, and the subsequent information on the civil war in the country serves to hold it for the remainder of the discussion. I also thought that the paper was definitely suited for Deliberations and would garner interest across a variety of disciplines. Perhaps the most striking aspect of the writing, however, was the inclusion of the image around which the paper is (literally) written. The picture of one legged amputees held up by arm braces and playing soccer on dirt with poor clothes is heart-wrenching and beautiful at the same time.
While on a very different topic, “Rehabilitation in Sierra Leone” shows some similarities to my own literature review on rusty crayfish. It seems a common theme throughout academic writing is a driven effort to be concise and use clear, accurate language. Like “Rehabilitation in Sierra Leone” I tried not to include unnecessary information in my literature review, simply what was required to get my point across effectively. The Deliberations writing also has some facts and figures to aid the author’s argument, like the percentages and numbers I used in my review. However, the Deliberations article’s use of direct quotations would be inappropriate in a scientific journal writing such as my literature review. Likewise, suggestion for a future direction would probably be inappropriate in “Rehabilitation in Sierra Leone”, seeing that it is an informational academic writing. Overall though, the connections between different sectors of academic writing is clear between my review and the article.
Sources: Zakutansky S. 2010. Rehabilitation in Sierra Leone. Deliberations: Fall 2010.
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