TU English

Twenty-First Century Linguistics and Writing Styles

Steven Pinker, a cognitive psychologist, linguist, and author, details on reasoning on how to reach a reader using proper wording and phrasing, as well as using common themes and ideas. He uses popular culture and humour to engage the audience in his lecture, including presidential quotes with grammatical errors and memes.

Pinker started off with humor about bad writing and how it is complex to set definitions of it. Is bad writing intentional, or is good writing hard to come by? He goes over theories, such as the idea that modern technology is often used as an excuse for causes of bad writing, but then goes on to explain that each generation has similar consistencies of bad writing.

One major topic that our friend Steve goes over is how language can be used. Some may say that using proper grammar is more of a guide than a rule, others may only care if the the point of the conversation or writing piece has been understood. Because language is constantly evolving, different rules can be applied in one instance that wouldn’t have applied in a different era. He discusses this throughout the lecture, including using examples of grammar rules that are now obsolete.

Another important takeaway from Pinker’s lecture was the discussion about Classic Prose and Professional Narcissism, where he discussed the reader being on an equal level with the author, and where writers may over-complicate their statements with complex wording to sound more professional. He discusses examples along with the simple English counterparts translated to show how simplification can dramatically change how the reader absorbed the message.

In a business context, making sure that the message is understood the way it was intended to is essential. Conveying the message in simplistic to-the-point manner is important, while using filler and extended versions of words can be more of a distraction and an inefficiency. On the other hand, when something is too simplistic, it isn’t suitable for use in a business setting. Kind of like Apple products, as seen below.

The pains of attempting to use an MacBook for presenting to an audience, needing far too many conversion cables, thus, the products are too simplistic and don’t include basic video output.
TU English

Writing For Business and Industry

All new blog posts relevant to the course “English 317 – Writing For Business and Industry” at Towson University will be added to a category of this blog labelled TU-English.


Non-Organic Foods: Naughty or Nice?

Organic food is healthier than conventional food. Many people believe that the term “organic” is just a marketing scheme created by the food industry, which is why numerous certifications have been created to ensure organic authenticity. It is considered better for the environment to choose organic. Another argument that is often considered when choosing organic food is if cheaper conventional food is less healthy, or if it is worth paying a few dollars extra for that special label. Some studies show that the offspring of pregnant women who ate organic do not have a significant difference from the offspring of those who ate conventional food in regards to their mental health, but other studies show that pregnant women exposed to pesticides from their surroundings have a higher risk of giving birth to babies who will develop autism or a lower IQ (Moyer). If proof is found that pesticides used on conventional foods are dangerous, that organic food is beneficial to the lifestyle of youth, and that it is indeed safer for the environment to go organic, that would demonstrate that organic food is healthier.

         Pesticides are often a concern among parents of younger children. Many people confuse “organic” and “pesticide-free”, which are two counterintuitive terms, because organic produce can contain certain types of pesticides (Langlois). These pesticides are generally comprised of toxic chemicals that leave a residue on produce. All fruits and vegetables should be thoroughly washed to minimize toxin consumption. The toxins are feared to affect the mental health of younger children, whose brains haven’t been fully developed yet. A prospective study, the Agricultural Health Study has shown that pesticides are positively associated with depression (Beard). Another study that linked ADHD to pesticide exposure demonstrated that children who had a higher amount of the pesticide in their urine had about 1.5 times the likelihood of having ADHD. These studies did not involve pesticides from food, but rather from general exposure from living near farms or the workplace. But why risk eating foods covered in toxic residue when there are pesticide-free foods available?

         Organic food is supposedly healthier for today’s youth, but doesn’t really make a difference. Young children are exposed to many things that are more growth-impairing than pesticides, such as viruses and bacteria found in schools and from common hygienic habits. A 2012 Stanford study showed that organic produce doesn’t cause a significant health difference than conventional food (Greene). If one can afford it, they should buy organic produce for the environment, but it might not make much difference for the health of their children.

         Buying organic is better for the environment because it promotes organic farming. Conventional agriculture has been known to erode the soil as well as harm the local surroundings (Om Organics). Organic produce does have some negatives on the environment, such as the fact that the transportation required for organic produce is generally longer than for conventional and locally grown produce (University of Alberta). Also, the organic industry is getting larger every year and all mass production has a negative effect on the environment, which is another negative for the environment. For every positive, there will be negatives to go along with it.

         For any produce, you should consider the pros and cons of buying organic or conventional. If you have kids and it works with your budget, you may want to purchase more organic foods than conventional. If you care for the environment, it may be better to purchase locally grown foods as opposed to foods from a different location. Since both organic and conventional produce may have residue from pesticides, fruit and vegetables should be thoroughly washed before consumption.

Works Cited

Beard, John D.1,2, et al. “Pesticide Exposure And Depression Among Male Private Pesticide Applicators In The Agricultural Health Study.” Environmental Health Perspectives 122.9 (2014): 984-991. Science Full Text Select (H.W. Wilson). Web. 27 Nov. 2016.

Greene, Alan. “Why Organic Is the Right Choice for Parents.” N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Nov. 2016.

Langlois, Maureen. “Organic Pesticides: Not An Oxymoron.” N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Nov. 2016.

Moyer, Melinda Wenner. “Skip the Organic Aisle. Conventional Produce Is Good for Your Kids.” Slate Magazine. N.p., 2014. Web. 28 Nov. 2016.

Om Organics. “Conventional Farming – Degraded Soil.” Om Organics – Harm from Conventional Farming – Degraded Soil. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Nov. 2016.

Shute, Nancy. “Docs Say Choose Organic Food To Reduce Kids’ Exposure To Pesticides.” N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Nov. 2016.

University of Alberta. “Organic Food Miles Take Toll On Environment.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 June 2007.


Consumerism – Apples to Apple

Do people want consistency? Or do they want variety? In our world, this is a real question. On the one hand, consumers want consistency and precision. When people go to McDonald’s to purchase a cheeseburger, they know what they are getting every time they buy it, due to predictability (Ritzer 105). Andy Warhol outs the consistency in this: “What’s great about this country is America started the tradition where the richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest. You can be watching TV and see Coca-Cola, and you can know that the President drinks Coke, Liz Taylor drinks Coke, and just think, you can drink Coke, too. A Coke is a Coke and no amount of money can get you a better Coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking. All the Cokes are the same and all the Cokes are good.” Coca Cola is consistent so anyone can enjoy the product, and every Coke is the same, no matter how much is paid for it. However, consumers sometimes want to have a say in what they receive in a product. That may be a color preference, flavor, consistency or other options. Purchasing soda is an example of how variety comes into play. The consumer gets a choice, but different flavors may vary in appeal and in price. There is no lack of familiarity because the taste is expected. Consistency is a good quality in a product line, but variety is frequently desired as well.

One company that is often engaging in planned obsolescence when a product is destined to become obsolete is Apple Incorporated (Elmer-DeWitt). Their tactic is to release a few new features with each model of their iPhone devices so their customer base will want to upgrade to a newer model. Companies add new features to their products all the time, but Apple often withholds, and even removes these features that are in other phones for years, such as the NFC chip and in the newest generation, the headphone jack (Kastrenakes). The author of this essay took a quick poll of 100 people who owned iPhones. 51 people had iPhones from the 6th generation, 20 had iPhones from the 5th generation, and only 19 had phones from the 7th generation which was released on September 7th, 2016. The people who participated in the poll were current US residents and used an iPhone as their primary cell phone. As seen from the results of this survey, not many people were early adopters of the newer iPhones because they were either happy with their current devices or did not want to lose essential features such as the headphone jack. This is an example of how consistency and planned obsolescence can go wrong, because if there is an outdated piece of technology that people expect on their devices, removing it destroys what customers come to expect from company.

When people purchase an iPhone, they come to expect a few things: a somewhat rectangular device with a round home button at the bottom, headphone and charger jacks at the bottom, a speaker at the top, and control buttons such as power and volume keys. Over the course of the last nine years, there have been 15 versions of the iPhone, and currently 5 different devices are in production for sale (Apple). The 3 devices from the previous generation of iPhones include a headphone jack while the 2 current devices (iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus) do not. Mobile statistics demonstrate that only the four 6th generation iPhone devices and the iPhone 5c budget-phone are listed as the top 5 iPhone devices most commonly used (Mixpanel). The adoption rate for the new iPhone generation, the percentage of people who purchase newer models, is significantly behind the previous generations due to the removal of the headphone jack, which breaks the chain of consistency in the company’s products.

In the modern day, choosing a cell phone is much like purchasing a bottle of soda from the supermarket. There are many different sizes and flavors to choose from. From the low budget “can” phones to “half-gallon” phablets, the endless possibilities of sizes and flavors appeal to everyone differently yet will always be somewhat consistent, no matter what size they are. Having a mix of consistency and variety is essential for consumer acceptance in the marketplace.

Works Cited

Apple. “IPhone.” Apple, n.d. Web. 28 Nov. 2016.

Elmer-DeWitt, Philip. “John Gruber on Apple: Damned If They Do, Damned If They Don’t.” Fortune. N.p., 2013. Web. 28 Nov. 2016.

Kastrenakes, Jacob. “The IPhone 7 Has No Headphone Jack.” The Verge. N.p., 2016. Web. 28 Nov. 2016.

Mixpanel. “Mixpanel Trends – Mixpanel | Mobile Analytics.” N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Nov. 2016.

Ritzer, George. The McDonalization of Society: An Investigation into the Changing Character of Contemporary Social Life. N.p.: Wiley-Blackwell, 1993. Print.


Education – How The 2016 Presidential Election Will Affect American Education

Public education in the United States varies greatly in quality by the district. Schools that are lacking funding often can’t hire qualified teachers or afford updated textbooks and equipment. In the words of John Gatto, “But what shocks is that we should so eagerly have adopted one of the very worst aspects of Prussian culture: an educational system deliberately designed to produce mediocre intellects, to hamstring the inner life, to deny students appreciable leadership skills, and to ensure docile and incomplete citizens — all in order to render the populace ‘manageable’.” (Gatto). The public schools are currently set up to be limiting the students and their education. Some aspects, such as the Common Core standards, were originally intended to improve college preparation but ended up as a standardized testing mechanism that doesn’t prepare students for highly selective universities (Pioneer). This incomplete educational system isn’t meeting the needs of some students, as they aren’t always being prepared for the transition to college because of poor curriculum, lack of school funding and unqualified teachers.

The public education system in our country needs repair. Students are being denied quality schooling and are being taught mainly to improve standardized test scores. The teachers are underpaid, and the schools can’t afford more qualified, experienced educators. This can be improved, no matter which candidate is elected. It would significantly increase the number of students properly prepared for college if the elected candidate succeeded in his or her plan for a better education in America.

Of potential ways to fix these issues, one way it can be done is by knocking it down completely. Donald Trump has proposed School-Choice, where $20 billion in Federal block grants would be directed to low-income families, so they can choose what schools their children attend (Emma). Under this proposal, schools would be competing to get students instead of receiving a list assigned by district, like how the Public-School system currently works. School-Choice would force schools to improve the quality of education to meet the approval of the parents. This would be positive for the schools, would likely create a more diverse student body, and would better prepare students for college.

School-Choice may not be the most effective solution to guarantee and provide an equal education. Hillary Clinton plans on reprioritizing federal funding, to put forward more for school equipment and raising teacher salaries. By raising the pay, more qualified individuals would become available to teach, thus improving the quality of the education. She also plans on starting a campaign for modernizing and elevating the profession of teaching, as she feels teachers aren’t being “set up for success.” (Hillary for America). This solution seems like what our government has already been doing over time, only the plan seems geared more towards the teachers than the students.

One problem with schools is when they receive extra funding to follow bad standards, such as extra testing. As demonstrated in an article by Lizette Alvarez, school testing is a large standard and is overwhelming the students and teachers alike. In Florida, a third of the school year could be dedicated to standardized tests alone. Former Governor Jeb Bush was one of the first governors to introduce high-stakes testing and an A-to-F school grading system. This was especially a problem for underperforming schools. Many parents pulled their children out of Florida schools because of these excessive Common Core based assessments (Alvarez). The Common Core standard is a base for the Math and Language Arts curriculum that is used for standardized testing. The more testing there is, the less learning is accomplished, which is not a good thing, especially for college readiness.

Common Core is a problem that made its way into the public-school system. The Obama administration pushed states to adopt certain school reforms, including Common Core to receive additional federal funding. During a GOP debate, in response to a question about how he would cut government spending, Donald Trump stated that he plans on getting rid of the Common Core “disaster” completely, and instead would let the schools educate at the “local level” (Strauss). Hillary Clinton believes that there should be national standards, and was formerly very positive about Common Core, but says it doesn’t really work the way its goal states “… to come up with a core of learning that we might expect students to achieve across our country, no matter what kind of school district they were in, no matter how poor their family was, that there wouldn’t be two tiers of education.” (LaTour). Hopefully, Common Core will be replaced with better standards that properly prepare students a college level education with high-quality material.

Student debt is an extensive problem in our country. For higher level education, both candidates have ideas on how to relieve students of debt. Hillary Clinton proposed the plan of debt-free colleges by the year 2021. Families with an income of $125,000 or less would pay no tuition. It would be fully paid for by “limiting certain tax expenditures for high-income taxpayers” (Hillary for America #2). Donald Trump wants federal student loans to be issued by private banks, allowing the banks to decide the worthiness of the loans based on the student’s major and future prospective earnings (Nykiel). This would not be positive for students with liberal arts majors, but will not be a bad deal for students of most business majors.

These plans will probably not happen anytime soon, if at all. They are only ideas on how we can bring our country’s educational standards to its full potential. However, if the government keeps the goal of trying to improve the system in progress, we may just reach the point of obtaining an equal and plentiful education for the next generations of youth in the United States. Hopefully, all American students might someday be fully prepared for the college level curriculum ahead of them.

Works Cited

Alvarez, L. (2014) “States Listen as parents give rampant testing an F.”. In Conversation: A Thematic Reader for Critical Thinking. 2016. (Pg. 34 & 35)

Emma, Caitlyn Z. “Trump Unveils $20B School Choice Proposal.” Politico. 8 Sept. 2016. Web. 28 Sept. 2016.

Gatto, J. (2003) “Against School”. In Conversation: A Thematic Reader for Critical Thinking. 2016. (Pg. 25)

Hillary for America “K-12 education”. (n.d.). Hillary for America.

Hillary for America “Making college debt-free and taking on student debt”. (n.d.). Hillary for America,

LaTour, A. ” The Hillary Clinton Common Core Plan: Don’t Rock the Boat” GenFKD. YoungAmerica.Org,Inc.,

Nykiel, T. (2016, July 25). 4 Ways a Trump Win Could Impact College Students. NerdWallet.

Pioneer Institute (2013, Oct. 1). “Lowering the Bar: How Common Core Math Fails to Prepare Students for STEM”, Pioneer Institute,

Rappeport, A. “Donald Trump vs. Hillary Clinton: Where They Stand on Education.” The New York Times 2016: Academic OneFile. Web. 28 Sept. 2016.

Strauss, V. “Donald Trump is wrong about Common Core — but he’s not the only candidate who is” The Washington Post, 4 Mar. 2016,


How to Connect a non-Gmail address to Gmail

  1. Go to Gmail Settings
  2. Go to the Accounts and Import tab.
  3. Find the “Check mail from other accounts” section.
  4. Click the “Add a mail account” for a popup window.
  5. Enter the full email address.
  6. Click Add Account.
  7. The username is the full email address. Autofill gets it wrong.
  8. Password is given.
  9. POP Server is given by the provider. Autofill gets it wrong.
  10. Port is the default.
  11. Check “leave a copy”
  12. Check “always use SSL”
  13. Click next.
  14. “Send Mail as” in settings if option not provided.
  15. Choose “Yes, I want to send as”.
  16. Click Next.
  17. Choose a name to appear as the sender.
  18. Keep Treat as Alias checked.
  19. Click Next.
  20. SMTP Server is given by the provider. Autofill gets it wrong.
  21. Port is given by the provider.
  22. Username is the full email address. Autofill gets it wrong.
  23. Password is given.
  24. Leave TLS checked and click next.
  25. Gmail will now send an email, find it.
  26. Verify via the link or code given.