Write a piece in which you discuss an issue, problem, discovery, technique, idea, system, method, question, or phenomenon that interests you and that you'd like to know more about. Use this piece as an opportunity to explore something you enjoy. Your purpose in writing can be 1) to impart info in an engaging way, 2) to present a point of view about the material in a persuasive way, or 3) to combine 1 and 2. This piece should be at least 1500-2000 words long (6-8 pages typed) and should incorporate info you have gathered through primary and secondary research.  It should be revised in response to peer comments.  Like the profile, I will grade this piece when it is handed in. But like all pieces for this course, it may be revised again for the portfolio.

While this piece requires research, do not think of it as a "term paper" but rather as a piece written in a less formal style for the enjoyment and edification of your peers. (No footnotes or bibliography, please! I do not want a term paper.) Your readers are people at J J, not just Prof. Licklider.

I am also very concerned that you not misuse your sources.  Plagiarism is a very serious offense, and I will FAIL you for the course if you hand in a paper in which you pretend to have written something you did not write.  You must give credit to your sources.  How to do this without using citations, footnotes or a bibliography will be fully discussed in class.  

We will also try doing peer reviews of your draft online on  Submit your draft to this site by midnight, Friday, April 19.  Also comment on the drafts of two peers on turnitin by midnight, Sunday, April 21.  The final version, revised in light of these comments, is due later that week.

As models for how to present info in engaging ways, see the Student Pieces below, articles in the New Yorker, the 3 pieces in Chapter 15 of Writing True, and these pieces in Welcome to our Voices: "You Have Been Chosen" by Z. Quraishi, "The Fatherís Rule" by R. Edwards, "Danger on the Slopes" by G Azurdia, and "Five Meters to Freedom" by J. Pagan.


Writing Tips:

First read the advice of former students of Eng. 245 below at Student Comments.

To help you get started, think of the piece in three parts, though it need not be organized in this way: What do I ALREADY KNOW about the subject?  What do I WANT TO FIND OUT?  What DID I FIND OUT, and did the new information CHANGE MY OPINION at all? Another strategy for getting started is to begin with a general area you want to know more about and then to list the sources of info that you could realistically find and use in two weeks. NARROW DOWN your subject until it's small enough for you to research well in so short a time.

For topic ideas, go back to your lists of interests from the first day of class, or pursue a subject you've already written about this term, or explore more fully something in your major. Learn more about your subject by doing some PRIMARY RESEARCH:

You can TALK to knowledgeable people; VISIT suitable places; conduct a small SURVEY; DIRECTLY OBSERVE whatever you are studying as if you were a social scientist; EXPERIENCE your subject for yourself.

Also do some SECONDARY RESEARCH on your topic: You can access info on the INTERNET; listen to appropriate TV SHOWS (The college library has access to hundreds of videos you can watch); visit MUSEUMS OR specialized LIBRARIES; and, finally, READ books, magazines, newspapers. However and wherever you gather info, be sure to take FULL NOTES. There is nothing worse than trying to write a paper on a deadline with incomplete info.  Use your sources responsibly.

We will work on organizational strategies on April 14, when you bring in a list of your paper's tentative parts.  For more ideas, examine how the Student Pieces below are organized.


Student Comments:

Pasey Taylor:

The reporter-at-large piece works better if you do the research (on whatever topic that is close to your heart) and do an analysis of the information rather than reporting the data, statistics, and facts in general, which was mainly what I did.  In the class round-robin [reading session], I noticed that there was a lot of personal analysis rather than just factual reporting, and the pieces worked a lot better that way.  My advice to other students is not to assume that the facts speak for themselves.  The reader might not get what you are trying to say or may become muddled and sidetracked by details.

Anna Michelle Bracero:

To suggest finding a topic that readers will enjoy is easier said than done.  If you have a topic, ask your friends if they would be interested in reading about it.  What would probably help is to ask someone you know whose interest is the opposite of yours.  If that person likes your topic, chances are you have a good one.  The only other advice I can offer is to believe in yourself and in your writing.

Debra Jones:

Whenever I have the opportunity to choose the topic of a paper, I think back to a past class where we covered something that interested me, but that we didnít have enough time to go into detail about.  So I thought back to the heated debates my philosophy class used to engage in regarding female circumcision, and a light bulb went on inside my head.  I was a bit worried, though, that because of the nature of the topic, I would never be able to present it in an engaging way.  But then I discovered that if you are curious about a subject, event, or phenomenon and it really interests you, presenting it in an engaging way will come a lot more easily.

For those of you who canít remember covering anything that piqued your interest or curiosity in your past classes..., try getting ideas from others or the library.  If you are still hitting a mental brick wall, pick up the newspaper or turn on the news, and write on whatever controversy the country is torn apart over now.  Itís sure to gain a response.

Juan Pagan:

Deadlines, deadlines, deadlines.  God, I hate deadlines.  They cut right into the creative process--right to the core of it.  But deadlines are a part of life, especially if youíre in college.  So, when writing, "reach for the stars, but keep your feet on the ground," and submit your papers on time.  Why am I saying this?  What I had planned to be my editorial became my reporter-at-large.  I became so involved in searching for facts and information that I abandoned everything else.  I forgot that I was a college student and not a journalist.  Now, because of my running rampant with my reporter-at-large, my final portfolio will not reflect my true abilities.

Ethel Cox:

Oftentimes, things do not go as you planned....  For the reporter-at-large piece, I changed my subject three times.  Because this piece required some research, time was important.  JJís library is good for criminal and legal research, but the social science material leaves a lot to be desired.  That is why I say time management is important.  Because I changed my subject matter more than once, I was late getting started on my reporter piece.  Although I completed it on time, my research was rushed, and I had to substitute the library for some of my other classes.  I do not like rushing because when I rush, I always seem to leave things out.  This class entails heavy writing, and that should be taken into consideration when deciding your schedule.


Student Pieces:


Dennis Young

I can ever forget that hot summer day in 1974 when Keith Timms, Charles Lloyd, the Staple family, and the Jenkins family announced the good news they had received from the New York State Urban Development Corporation. They were all accepted to the new Schomburg Plaza complex.  Keith's face was beaming as bright as the sun.  But I was sad.  They were my best friends, and I felt they were leaving me. I  learned later on that day that there were more families in the neighborhood also moving to Schomburg Plaza. I t seemed like the whole neighborhood was leaving. I  immediately ran home and asked my mother, "Are we moving to Schomburg Plaza with everybody else?"  She gave me a stern look and said, "No."  She went on to explain that it wasn't a good idea to follow the crowd.

She turned the conversation into a learning experience.  She wanted to know what Schomburg Plaza had that our tenement building didn't have. I wanted to tell her that it probably didn't have rats as big as cats in its backyard, but I didn't.  I told her it had apartments with terraces, and it was a high-rise building with many high floors facing Central Park.  She looked at me and said, "I'm not moving into any high-rise building.  If the firemen's ladder can't reach my window, it's not a safe place to move." I  will never forget that conversation.  To this day, I refuse to live in a building without fire escapes or some other means of escaping fires.  She made a lot of sense, and she managed to persuade me against my desire to move.  During this time, the South Bronx was burning down, and there was always something in the newspapers and on television about people getting killed by fires.

So the fall if 1974, I made a pretty good amount of money moving my friends into their new apartments.  The view from the 34th floor was spectacular.  The building was brand-new; all the apartments had brand-new appliances and it had 24-hour security.  Most of the apartments had terraces.  About eight thousand families, of all different income levels, are living in the Schomberg Plaza complex today.  hat's too many people living in one place, but they all get along like one big family.  There were arguments over the use of the elevator during the time my friends were moving in, but that was expected.

The building at first seemed like heaven to me, but that perception changed a short time later.  During the screening process, a lot of smokers were allowed into the complex.  Most of them had never lived in a building with a garbage chute, so they weren't accustomed to using one.  hey were throwing lit cigarettes, cigars and unsmothered ashes down the chute.  This practice caused the building to become plagued with compactor room fires. These became a major problem because of the large number of unsupervised children roaming around the building.  The kids got a kick out of watching the fire department respond to the building and hearing about people who were stuck in the smoke-filled elevators. Most of the parents were working so there wasn't anyone available to keep an eye on the children, especially the teen-agers.

This problem was never settled, and city officials and politicians began to discuss it whenever they visited Schomberg Plaza seeking votes during election time.  But, according to Sam Perkins, the head of the plaza's tenants association during that time, the politicians wanted to arrest and prosecute violators, knowing that this was an impossible task for the police, but that was cheaper than providing money to educate people about the problem.  The fire department never conducted any fire safety seminars at Schomberg, and neither did the police department.  This was a great concern to the elders, for most of them had health problems, and they were afraid of being injured from smoke inhalation. I t wasn't unusual to see ambulances and oxygen delivery trucks parked in front of Schomberg.  My friend Edward said residents, returning from work, always asked that dreadful question before entering the building in the evening, "Did we have another fire today?"  I asked my friend Chico how they could live under conditions like this, and he answered, "My mother and father don't want to move, so they just stay in the house."  Now I realized that mother was right when she said she didn't want to move into a high-rise building.

My friend Stanley wasn't worried about the compactor room fires as much as everyone else. He lived on the 33rd floor, and he felt that the fire department would put out any fire before it spread that far up.  He was wrong.  He used to drive his own taxi cab, working the 12 am to 12 pm shift.  After work, he would sleep most of the day, so he didn't experience getting stuck in the elevators with smoke and the other problems that were related to the compactor room fires.

On March 22, 1987, at 7 am, someone threw a lit cigarette down the garbage chute.  This time it was unusual.  Keith, Dwayne, Chico, Carl, and just about everyone else I've spoken to who lives in Schomberg didn't remember ever seeing or hearing about a compactor fire being started that early in the morning.  The fire department responded and treated this fire like a routine compactor room fire.  I was very surprised upon learning that some of the responding fire companies made U-turns and went back to the fire stations after realizing they were responding to Schomberg.  This information was obtained from the preliminary New York City Fire Department report.  The fire officials who did proceed relied on the maintenance workers to extinguish the fire.  The maintenance workers kept garden hoses in the compactor room for that purpose.

Eighteen minutes after the fire departmentís arrival, twenty-one calls were made to the 911 operator from residents on the higher floors, complaining about heavy smoke on those floors.  The dispatchers relayed that information to the firemen on the scene, only to be told that everything was under control.  After more calls continued to be made, the fire captain on the scene decided to send two firemen up to the higher floors to investigate.

The two firemen discovered heavy smoke and evidence of flame on the higher floors, but they didn't have radios to call that information down to the captain.  Meanwhile, my friend Stanley's wife was burning to death inside his apartment, and his 11-year-old daughter and two sons were hanging over the terrace on the 33rd floor, screaming for help.

The fire department had to scramble to find water because the sprinkler systems didn't operate.  In fact, they never operated because they were never hooked up after the buildings were completed.  During this time, a large crowd had gathered outside the location.  They were screaming up to the children not to jump.  But while the fire captain was calling back the trucks that had left and looking for water to extinguish the fire, Stanley's three beautiful children jumped to their deaths from the 33rd floor. According to the New York Times and the Technical Report Series completed by the United States Fire Administration, a young man named Leroy Cary and his friend jumped from a terrace on the 25th floor to the 24th floor to escape the fire, for it had spread to the 33rd, 25th, 22nd and 21st floors.  They saved a young woman who was about to jump off the terrace with two babies.  A total of seven people died.

The fire started in the compactor room, but it traveled up the garbage chute to the higher floors.  The builders hadnít used the proper materials during the construction process.  Three-inch fireproof walls were supposed to be used around the compactor chute, but they werenít.  This problem can't be fixed now because the inside of the building would have to be torn out and rebuilt.

I'm a frequent visitor at the Schomberg Plaza complex.  I find that most of the tenants behave in a paranoid fashion, especially when the time comes to enter the elevators.  I noticed the scared looks in some residentsí eyes during a spring-break visit I made there.  This behavior is probably justified, considering the fact that the compactor room fires are still occurring.  I was very surprised and disappointed upon being informed of that fact.

One of the maintenance workers told me that the sprinkler systems were fixed after the deadly fire, but they are not in working order all of the time. Some of the maintenance staff, with their unionís backing, tried to squeeze more income out of the state by expressing a need for a 24-hour fire safety supervisor on duty to operate and check the sprinkler systems.  Every time smoke fills the compactor room, the sprinkler system activates.  The workers complain that it is not in their job description to operate the sprinkler systems.  It is also a complicated task, and it is easier to disconnect the systems and use the garden water hose in the event of a fire.  They even sent around fliers to the tenants expressing their views and, in the process, causing more fears about living in Schomberg.

As time passed by and new mayors were elected to office, Dinkins and Giuliani, and a new governor, the people of Schomberg were forgotten.  There were all kinds of promises made after the fire, and mistakes that were made were supposed to have been corrected, but the conditions that led to the great loss of life are still the same.  The fire department is required to check the sprinkler systems on a regular basis, but they don't.  The state was supposed to make repairs, and it didnít.  All the great things that were supposed to improve conditions at Schomberg were never completed because of budget cuts.  The families won money with the lawsuits that were filed, but the people in Schomberg said the attorneys representing the families received most of the funds.

The New York State governmental officials decided that it was less expensive to settle the class action suit recorded against the state by the residents of Schomberg than to make the necessary repairs.  Meanwhile the tenants live in fear, waiting for the next deadly fire that could claim the lives of their loved ones.




Claudia Fraser

As children growing up in Jamaica, my siblings, my cousins and I would wait in anticipation for the weekend festivities of my grandfather's story-telling.  In fact, after dinner and the required evening bath, we would all hurry to gather on the veranda and listen to Grandpa.  Sometimes he would tell us scary stories (or what we called Duppy stories) and sometimes he would tell us Anansi stories.  If we were given a choice between the two, we would all yell, "Anansi stories!"

While discussing trickster figures in a mythology class, I was astonished to hear the professor say the word Anansi.  "Anansi!" I repeated to myself. "Is she referring to the same Anansi my grandfather used to tell me stories about?"  By the end of her statement I realized that it was indeed the same Anansi.  As I departed, I thought, "I didn't know Anansi was a real word.  I thought it was just another word made up in our broken dialect.  However, to my surprise, I not only found extensive works on Anansi and his tales, but I also found information on how the tales got started and where they came from.  Anansi is a trickster figure from the African folk-lore of the Ashanti people.  Literally, Anansi means "spider," and in Jamaica today he is also referred to as Kwaku (uncle) Anansi, Nancy, Aunt Nancy, Sis' Nancy, and Br'er Nansi.   He is often depicted as a creature who is preoccupied with outsmarting other creatures of the fields and forest, as well as men, and even gods.  As seen through his tales, Anansi is sympathetic, shrewd, wise, greedy, cunning, unscrupulous, gluttonous and an overall clown.  Like the little David who conquered Goliath, Anansi is also known for being victorious over those who are larger and stronger than he is.

Anansi stories, which are also called "Anansesems," are used either as moral teachings or as entertainment--like our modern-day fairy tales.  Despite his victories and his admirable attributes, Anansi doesn't always obtain moral approval. Instead, he is used as a tool to exemplify the moral consequences of his actions.  Another aspect of Anansesems is that they are used to explain the creation of natural phenomena, customs and traditions.  For example, Anansesems have been used to explain the creation of the moon, of debts, of the tongue, and of why spiders build webs in dark corners.  "Anansi Owns all Tales That are Told" is the story which explain the creation of Anansesems themselves.  According to this tale, the god Nyame told Anansi that he could purchase the rights to have all stories known as Anansi's tales if he presented him with three gifts. Nyame asked for (l) Mmoboro, the hornets, (2) Onini, the python, and (3) Osebo, the leopard.

Being clever and in full practice of outwitting the others, Anansi was able to deliver all the creatures without much struggle. He arrived at the home of the hornets drenched from head to toe with dripping water.  He then poured some of the water over the hornets and covered his head as if he was shielding himself from the rain.  He asked the hornets why they were foolishly standing in the rain, and they replied, "Where should we go?"  Anansi quickly answered, "Here, go in this jar where it's nice and dry."  Anansi then quickly sealed the jar and brought them to Nyame.  He tricked the python by telling him that his wife disagreed that he was longer than the bamboo stick he was carrying.  Onini stretched out along the stick to measure himself and Anansi tied him to the stick and delivered him to Nyame.  For his final task, he trapped Osebo in a hole, then pretended that he would help him escape.  Anansi tied the head of a tree to the ground.  He then attached a rope to the tree for Osebo to tie his tail to. However, instead of helping him out of the hole, Anansi cut the rope which was holding the tree and Osebo snapped out of the hole, hanging by his tail from the tree.  Anansi then slaughtered the hanging Osebo and delivered him to Nyame.  Nyame kept his promise and after receiving all three gifts, he declared that all stories would be known as Anansi's tales.

In another funny tale, "Anansi Gives Nyame a Child," the creation of the tongue is explained.  It all started when the god Nyame wanted a red child that was of a different color from the others, who were dark.  Anansi promised to get him the baby, but couldn't deliver on his promise, and bought time by saying, "Everyone knows it doesn't take two months to make a baby." When Nyame asked again and again for his baby, Anansi replied with the same answer "Everyone knows it doesn't take four months to make a baby"--always adding the passed months.  Finally, at nine months he couldn't evade Nyame any longer and decided he would go hide in a tree in the forest.  While hiding in the tree, Anansi heard a baby cry.  To his surprise, and his luck, it was a baby who was not only abandoned, but was also red.  Anansi took the baby to Nyame, who gave it to one of his wives.  However the more she fed the baby, the more the baby wanted.  She had a hard time feeding the baby and had to ask the other wives for help.

When all the wives failed, Nyame tried to do the task himself.  However, the more he fed the baby, the more the baby wanted. When the baby realized that all the food Nyame ordered was gone, he looked around from left to right.  An old man was standing in the crowd looking at the baby with amazement and his mouth ajar.  The baby jumped in his mouth and,  it is said that tongues are never satisfied.  No matter what is eaten, it's all the same to the tongue.  This tale also ties Anansi to the saying, "Although the stomach has plenty, the tongue wants more."

In the past, Anansi's stories were told in the Caribbean as a part of the tradition of preserving culture through story-telling instead of writing.  Today there are only minor changes in the literary translations of Anansi's stories. I t is also said that the noticeable differences are a result of changes in the environment of individual tribes.  This variation can clearly be seen in the tales of the Caribbean, where the structure of the stories were not changed, but the names of tools, utensils, plants, trees, rivers and so on were.  It is said that pronunciation of words in Jamaica resulted not only from a union of words taken from the different inhabitants of the island (Spaniards, Indians, Europeans, Africans, etc.) but also as a means to rebel against, confuse and sometimes mimic the slave-owners.  Mispronouncing the words also allowed African-Jamaicans to tell their stories and communicate with each other without the masters understanding everything being said since they were also obligated to speak English and not their native tongue.

The story "Thunder and Anansi" is a popular tale of the selfish Anansi and is told differently in Jamaica than in the interpretation I found in a book of African folklore.  Changes can be seen only in names and places.  Originally, the story is about Anansi's hunt for food to feed his family during a famine.  Being unable to find food, one day Anansi was gazing out to sea when he saw an island with a tall palm tree.  He was determined to reach the island and climb the tree in hope of finding nuts on the tree.  He tried seven times before he was able to use an old boat he found along the beach and reached the island.

He tied the boat to the trunk of the tree and climbed to pick the nuts.  He then attempted to drop them one by one into the boat.  Regrettably, they all fell into the water instead.  When the last one remained, he aimed extra carefully, but also missed. He was so hungry and disappointed that he didn't have anything to bring home that he threw himself into the water. He was again surprised when he found himself not drowning but standing on the bottom of the sea in front of a pretty little cottage. An old man came out and asked him what he wanted so badly that he had come all the way to Thunder's cottage to get it. Anansi told him his troubles, and Thunder felt sorry for him and gave him a cooking-pot.  He told Anansi he would never be hungry again since the pot would supply enough food for himself and his family.

Anansi couldn't wait until he got home to test the pot and decided to test it in the boat.  He then said, "Pot, pot, do for me now what you used to do for your master."  Immediately all sorts of good food appeared and Anansi ate a hearty meal.  When he reached land, he thought about going home, but changed his mind when he thought the magic of the pot might run out. Although his family was weary and weak from hunger, Anansi hid the pot in his room and used it secretly whenever he felt hungry.  As he grew plumper and the family got thinner, they decided to find out his secret.  One of his sons, who could change himself into anything, changed into a fly and followed him for a day.

When he discovered his father's secret, he told his mother, and she used the pot to provide food for the rest of the family and the whole village.  The pot overheated from all that work and melted away.  The rest of the family decided to say nothing, and Anansi said nothing because he didn't want them to know what he had done.  Early the next morning he went back to the boat and climbed the tree.  This time he intentionally aimed all the nuts at the water, but they all fell into the boat instead. He threw them all overboard and jumped after them.  He found himself at Thunderís cottage again and told Thunder his troubles.  This time he gave Anansi a stick and said good-bye.  Again Anansi couldn't wait to get home to test his gift. However, this time upon saying, "Stick, stick, do for me now what you used to do for your master," the stick began to beat him so severely that he dropped the stick and swam ashore, wishing he had acted more wisely.

This tale as told in Jamaica is different in that instead of going to Thunder's cottage under the sea, Anansi met an old lady who gave him the pot.  The palm tree was said to be a coconut tree, and instead of keeping the food all for himself, he was said to give some to his family, barely enough, which he pretended to have brought back from his daily hunts. The changing of the palm tree to a coconut tree is a prime example of an environmental change, since coconut trees are more abundant in Jamaica than palm trees.

Anansi's tales are still told in the Caribbean as a part of the tradition of preserving black folklore through story-telling.  It's also a humorous form of entertainment.  For those who are still not clear on how to visualize Anansi, just think about some of our modern-day cartoon tricksters, such as Bugs Bunny, Jerry of "Tom and Jerry," Woody Woodpecker, and Roadrunner.  Like Anansi, these tricksters are small in size and rely more on their cleverness than their strength to outsmart their opponents.  It is also said that trickster figures, such as Anansi and Bugs Bunny, are popular because of their position as the little and oppressed figure who is able to outwit the bigger opponent.



Maria Moure

Dear Ann Landers:

Last fall my 47-year-old brother was diagnosed with lung cancer. Years of smoking had finally caught up with him. Doctors have told us that my brother has maybe one or two years left before the cancer kills him. My heart is broken. I am not ready to say goodbye to my brother. Please, Ann, get the message out that all those smokers who think they are hurting only themselves are sadly mistaken. Inspiring some smokers to quit could spare their children, parents, brothers, sisters and friends the heart-breaking sorrow I am experiencing today.

Saddened in San Jose

(Read in the Daily News)


You know that you should quit smoking, and yet you still smoke. You're a reasonable person.  So why don't you just quit? Because smoking isn't a reasonable problem.  Quitting smoking is not like shedding a "little habit."  Here are some reasons why you smoke:

* Habituation--It is a conditioned response.

* Compulsion--You do it even when you donít want to and even though you know it's harmful to you and those around you.

* Socializing--It makes it easier to be with people.

* Physiological addiction--Nicotine is one of the most powerful addicting drugs....Yes, you are addicted!

* Psychological dependency--It's a crutch for you. It boosts self-esteem but crushes it too. It's calming, soothing, eases the pain of awkwardness and vulnerability.

* Emotional reasons--You smoke when youíre sad or angry and when you feel sorry for yourself.

* Physical energy--You smoke just for a lift, but it also causes you fatigue.

* Oral fixation--Your mouth constantly receives attention.

* Environmental factors--The tv ads and others who smoke influence you.

Many smokers feel that they cannot quit smoking because their lives are so stressful and smoking puts them on "an even keel." We have been told that smoking "steadies our nerves."  On the contrary, smoking a cigarette introduces nicotine into the system via the soft tissues of the mouth as well as through the lungs.  The body reacts violently because nicotine is a poison. The reaction causes a flow of adrenaline and other hormones which make us more aware and briefly give us increased energy in a crisis by elevating our blood-sugar level.  This causes a temporary "lift," but it is followed by a burst of insulin which causes a sharp drop in blood-sugar levels, resulting in fatigue.

If a smoker could see inside his body, he would be amazed by all the action taking place.  As his glands are squirting adrenaline, his pancreas is busily dealing with the glycogen his liver is shooting.  All this raises the blood pressure, which increases the heartbeat rate by at least nine beats per minute.  Astonishingly enough, a smoker's heart beats around 10,000 extra beats a day!  Consequently, red blood cells are obstructed from carrying oxygen to the heart and brain because of the carbon monoxide and other gases in the cigarette smoke.  A smoker has just increased his risk of a heart attack.


Since 1950, 2,494,000 people have died of lung cancer.  It is estimated that 87% of lung cancer deaths were caused by smoking; therefore, 2,169,780 people--our mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers--suffered and died unnecessarily.  Deaths attributable to smoking include:

* Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

* Burn deaths caused by smoking

* Urinary cancers

* Pancreatic cancer

* Respiratory diseases (emphysema)

* Cardiovascular diseases

The Environmental Protection Agency has stated that every year second-hand smoke kills 53,000 Americans.  Second-hand smoke is a silent killer.  For eighteen years of my life, I was a second-hand smoker, thanks to my father's habit. I  developed severe asthma, which has reduced my lung capacity to 70%.  Quitting smoking not only saves your life, it saves the lives of those around you.

A smoker's lungs have an overload of tar, gases, particles, and bronchial impairments.  The lungs become dark brown because of the tar, which includes hydrogen cyanide, nitrogen dioxide, and more than six hundred other chemicals.  The cilia protecting the lungs from harmful particles and germs are virtually destroyed, leaving the lungs more susceptible to infections and diseases.

Smoking kills over 400,000 Americans each year--more than alcohol, homicides, cocaine, crack, heroin, fires, car accidents and AIDS combined.  Smoking doesn't necessarily kill you quickly, it more often maims you.  I knew a woman who smoked practically all her life.  She was diagnosed with emphysema.  The last five years of her life were truly sad.  She could not walk without having to sit just to catch her breath.  You could hear her labored breathing from three yards away.  She died at the age of 58.

Do you know how cigarettes are made?  Tobacco leaves are sticky.  Everything that passes over them sticks to them, including bugs, worms, pesticides, dust, and mud splashes.  The leaves are hung to dry, are cured and processed, then ground up. Nicotine is extracted and replaced in quantities necessary for the brand--plus other chemicals are added.  Finally, they are packed into little white cylinders, ready for you to smoke.  Can you imagine what you are really smoking?  What does the idea of inhaling dead bugs do to you?  I know what it does to me.  UGH!

According to Jackqueline Rogers, author of Why Youíre Glad You Quit Smoking, when a tobacco company executive was asked why he did not smoke, he answered, "Are you kidding? We reserve that right for the poor, the black, and the stupid." Cigarette companies do not care about your health and longevity. Their main concern is to make sure that you remain addicted and continue to buy their cigarettes.  When you die, they will entice another person through ads to compensate for the lost revenue your death caused.  You spend hundreds, even thousands of dollars each year investing in your own death.


Donít you think it's time to start investing in life?  Your spouse, children, heart, lungs and body will thank you for it.  More importantly, the benefits of quitting smoking will belong to you.  You will reduce your chances of getting lung cancer, heart disease, and emphysema, and you will have overall good health.  Good health so you can do what? LIVE LONGER!

The physical benefits of quitting include the following:

* Your mouth is no longer dry; your tongue is no longer "brown."

* You can breathe through your nose instead of your mouth for the first time in years.

* Your nasal passages are free from burning and no longer congested.

* Smoker's cough is gone.

* You have renewed energy.

The emotional benefits of quitting include the following:

* You have increased self-confidence & self-esteem: feelings of accomplishment.

* You enjoy having more money.

* You get a feeling of a "new start" in life.

* The support from family & friends is rewarding.

* Anxiety changes into energy.

The benefits of quitting smoking are endless.  Maybe you feel that quitting smoking will not do any good.  The damage is done, right?  WRONG!  Just twenty minutes after you have smoked your last cigarette, your body begins an ongoing series of beneficial changes:

Within twenty minutes, your blood pressure and pulse rate and the temperature of your hands and feet return to normal.

Within eight hours, carbon-monoxide level in blood drops to normal and the oxygen level in your blood increases to normal.

After 24 hours, your chance of a heart attack decreases.

After 48 hours, nerve endings start regrowing, the ability to smell and taste is enhanced, and walking becomes easier.

After 2 weeks to 3 months, circulation improves, and lung function increases up to 30%.

After one to nine months, coughing, sinus congestion, fatigue, and shortness of breath decrease.  Cilia regrow in lungs, increasing their ability to handle mucus, clean the lungs and reduce infection.

One year after your last cigarette, your risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a smoker.

Quitting smoking is not easy, but it can be done. You can contact the Heart Association or the Red Cross for further information.  The YWCA chapters all over the city also offer quitting seminars for as little as forty dollars.  You can start now. Light up your life not with a cigarette but with good health.

Dear Ann Landers,

Two years ago, my husband quit smoking after surviving a heart attack.  He was only 42 at the time. I was also eight months pregnant with our first child, and I couldn't bear the thought of losing my husband, lover, and friend.  The thought of my child never knowing his father was heartbreaking.  The joy and love we experience today may not have been if it weren't for his decision to quit.  Ann, please tell everyone it's never too late.  

Miracle in Texas

For life, for your loved ones, for YOU. Here's to a new beginning....




Patrick Phillips

"Hey, Taxi! Can you please take me to Rockefeller Center?...What?...What did you say? I told you to take me to Rockefeller Center! What did you say? Huh? Speak English! You're in America now!"

This gap in communication with non-English people often occurs in cities throughout America.  There's a strong sentiment in America on the issue of establishing a common language.  It is the "English Only" movement that is slowly taking the forefront of right-wing conservatives in America.  Conservative politicians have attached themselves to this growing sentiment against foreign languages.  Outspoken politicians, like Pat Buchanan (R), have described the situation as a cultural war in America.  The idea that the English language will soon be a forgotten language has placed many fears in the American populace.  But are these fears valid to warrant this type of action?  What culture is invading America that puts us in a cultural war?  Why do we have to mandate the use of English?  What would it mean if implemented?

The "English Only" movement advocates the use of English as the primary means of communication.  The supporters of this movement feel that English should be the only language used in the private and public sector.  This means that when an immigrant tries to fill out an application for services, English would be the only language on the form.  No more second-language forms to assist people who only speak another language.  The idea is that if they are in this country, they will have to speak English.  Proponents feel that establishing English as the common language will create an atmosphere of unity amongst the diverse ethnic groups in America.  They also feel that the need for implementing a common language for communication and business purposes is dire.  The fear that is expressed is that business would be hindered by a communication gap.  Some say that English would soon be dominated by a foreign language.  In a recent issue of a Massachusetts newspaper, The Concord, an "English Only" supporter explained that English needs to be protected.  His worry was that by the year 2000, we're all going to be speaking Spanish.  The fear of being dominated by people of different ethnicity seems to be the underlying issue.  Mandating the use of English only gives reassurance that English will not become a secondary language in America.

I once embraced the sentiment of "English Only" when I first became aware of the movement.  Having visited countries like Korea, Japan, Guam, Saudi Arabia, and other Western Pacific islands, I was aware of the importance of learning a country's language. These countries did not provide services to assist foreigners in their own language as we do here.  But there is a vast difference between these nations and America.  I soon became wise to the fact that these countries are homogeneous in population.  They do not face the influx of immigrants that has made America what it is today.  Countries like Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and so forth have a population where an overwhelming majority of the people speak the same language.  This is unlike America, where there is a diversity of ethnic backgrounds.  Therefore, on that basis alone one can easily see the problem of establishing a common language in America.

The problem that I became aware of when hearing proponents of "English Only" laws is that such laws would prevent foreign-language speaking citizens from obtaining services.  Currently in Arizona and several other states, "English Only" has become law.  This means that the only language that can be used in government institutions is English.  Many foreign-speaking citizens who are not yet proficient in English will be discriminated against.  Where will the unification between ethnic groups that is advocated by the right come from if they are being alienated from services because of their inability to speak English?  What would have been the result of this "English Only" movement when America was expanding and there was need for immigrants?  This is something for those "English Only" supporters to think about.

Jose R. Vasquez, a resident of a Latin American community in Bronx, N.Y. for over thirty years, conveyed his sentiments on the idea of implementing an "English Only" policy:

"I feel that no one should be in America all their life and not speak English.  But, with that in mind, I think America cannot establish an ĎEnglish Onlyí policy at the expense of alienating the same people that made this country.  There is nothing wrong with establishing a common language but not with mandates that will prevent Spanish-speaking citizens from receiving services, or any other ethnic group for that matter."

English as a common language is the catalyst for conservatives to alienate foreigners and keep them from interacting in American society.  The attempts to establish "English Only" has surfaced at the same time that white extremist groups and anti-government groups are on the rise.  The pendulum has begun to shift to the far right in American politics.  Even deprived Americans who have been afflicted with years of injustice are blindly riding the bandwagon of "English Only" as if this will provide them new opportunities.  "English Only" is no different from previous discriminatory practices that America has become infamous for.  Depriving human beings of essential services because of their inability to speak English would be a great injustice to these foreign-speaking Americans.  The dominant culture has accepted immigrants for years as a way of saying that Americaís doors are open.  The call for democracy was the advertisement slogan when coaxing immigrants to America, but now that they have been exploited, there is no need for their services.  "English only" is now the outcry to immigrants to go back where they came from.  This appears to be a wrong step for America if it wants to unify the diversity of people that inhabit her.

With an open-door policy to America, it seems almost impossible to enforce the "English Only" movement.  Ideally, English can be the language of the nation just as the American bald eagle is our symbol.  But depriving foreigners of the fruits this country has to offer because of their inability to speak our language would be unAmerican.  The emphasis of "English Only" should be the long-term goal taken up by our educational institutions, not by laws.  If we educated immigrants well, the next time you hail a taxi, the majority of taxi drivers, regardless of their ethnicity, would be able to take you to Rockefeller Center with no problem.