Category Archives: Communications

What have I written? Why does it matter? — Ethan

It’s the end of the semester, and I have 47 pages of polished writing. What have I shown?

I believe I’ve given an example of a mutually positive relationship between the U.S. government and a mainstream print media outlet, due to which the public reaction to a foreign policy event was to some degree determined by the coverage given by the print media outlet. I have demonstrated the connection between the foreign policy aims of American foreign policy leaders during and after the Six-Days’ War and those advocated and legitimized by the print coverage of the War by the New York Times. Further, I have explicated the symbiotic relationship between sources of information thought to be authoritative and credible, and the disseminators of that information, in order to substantiate the logical basis for that relationship in this specific instance of foreign policy. Continue reading

How Hitting a Button Began to Change My World-Sabrina

On May 2nd at 8:00 am on the nose, I hit enter and Project G.I.R.L went live. It was accessible to the whole world, and I felt extremely exposed.

screenshot-54.pngThe way I had described it to my friends, was that I had a baby: I had been preparing in every way, shape, and form for months and then all of a sudden, one day, it just existed. It came into the world and seemed to take on a life of its own. I understand that this analogy is intense and a little crazy because it is. Continue reading

Training an Object Detector with TensorFlow (Part II)-Kevin

For last week’s blog post, I wrote a short tutorial for training a custom object detection model using TensorFlow Object Detection API. Due to the limited space and time constraints, my tutorial was not quite finished. Therefore, in this week’s blog, I will continue my tutorial and include additional steps such as the usage of a tool to test your model’s accuracy.

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First Draft: Complete — Ethan

It’s a pretty good feeling, staring at page 47 of 47, at a draft that’s . . . rough, admittedly, but that also feels finished, feels completed. My mentor T. Olga has been looking over it this past weekend, and I’m anticipating her feedback and looking forward to refining my writing into a second draft. I’m sticking to my timeline well so far — I met my goal of finishing the first draft by May, and the second and third drafts by the time of my evaluation.

Another piece of my subsequent drafts will be formatting, of course, a different in-text citation style, and graphics. I haven’t had much experience with graphics before, but seeing as I’ve done intense analytical research into newspaper articles, parsing through them for several weeks, it would be useful to the reader if I condensed all that reading into a chart marking the evolution of the angle of the NYT’s coverage. Having done a preliminary ‘X’ chart, this is what the coverage looks like:

Screen Shot 2018-04-30 at 9.22.47 AM.png

From this, it’s visually clear that the coverage shifts from a description of the conflict itself to a nearly uniform coverage of the diplomatic battle that went on in the UN in the aftermath, with a particular focus on the Soviet and Israeli delegates, Alexsei Kosygin and Abba Eban.

There is also the matter of visualizing the relevant history and foreign policy. I took some inspiration for this from the Gantt chart I created back in sophomore year as part of T. Steve’s Design-Engineering Seminar. It’s meant to be used as an ultra-specific task planner, with flexibility to assign different types of tasks to different people over an indefinite period of time. Here’s how I adapted it for my purposes:

Screen Shot 2018-04-30 at 11.21.20 AM.png

Lastly, a quick update on publishing options: there is one for which a submission is due by May 15th, but with everything else going on up until the end of May, I won’t feel ready to submit for publication until the last few weeks of school.

 

Overall, exciting things all around going into the last month of fine tuning and reworking.

 

— EDM

Taxi Driver – Tony

This week I watched Taxi Driver directed by Martin Scorsese, a neo-noir movie that depicts the psychological predicament of a Vietnam War veteran named Travis. Set in the New York City of 1970s, this movie explores the conflict between a war hero who tries to stick to the older social norm of the era before his enrollment into the army and the new social landscape of America that took form in late the 1960s as a result of various social movements.

Travis, haunted by stress and insomnia, takes up the job as a nightshift “cabbie” to get himself busy. He is abhorred by the face that the city shows at night: “whores, skunk pussies, buggers, queens, fairies, dopers, junkies, sick, venal” (Scorsese, Taxi Driver). Apparently, he is not highly valued by the society, despite his honor in the war. His customer humiliates him with goffered dollar bills, which he can choose to do nothing about but put it in his pocket. His attempts to accost women are met by refusal and hostility, which leaves pornographic movies as his only channel to find sexual consolation. He writes so in his diary: “

“All my life needed was…someplace to go…I believe that someone should become a person like other people” (Scorsese, Taxi Driver).

His loneliness and sense of exclusion is clearly spelled through this line. He wishes for recognition, both from the society and women, yet both deny him. He detests to see morality and order breaking down at night, yet he is, at the same time, entrenched in porn movies and pills.

A key character in the story is Betsy, a secretary working for the campaign of the president candidate Palatine. An angel to Travis’ fascination, she lacks the potential threat that Marilyn Monroe poses to males, but at the same time possesses beauty and innocence. Travis sees her through the french window in her office, when she is fussed around by Tom, another male colleague of her. This man wears an Afro hairstyle, walks around in bright-colored suit and banters in lame jokes, a contradiction to Travis’ virility and conciseness. To Travis, Betsy’s innocence is an escape from the degraded world he is in. He successfully gains Betsy’s attention and invites her to a film. However, Betsy is astonished and repelled by the pornographic content in the film, which Travis enjoys as an outlet of his desire. Predictably, Betsy breaks with Travis and no longer answers his call. At the end of one scene, Travis intrudes into Betsy’s office to question why she has stopped talking to him.  Tom chases him away.

“Loneliness has followed me my whole life…There is no escape. I’m God’s lonely man” (Scorsese, Taxi Driver).

He turns to the black market to buy guns and starts planning vengeance on the society. His decision is to assassinate Palatine—–the politician Betsy works for—–someone he sees as an incarnation of corruption and hypocrisy. Not unexpectedly, this attempt fails.

This event brings Travis to his second fascination—–Iris. Iris works as a prostitute for a pimp called Sport. She once runs into Travis, but is then dragged away by a whoremaster. From Travis’ point of view, Iris is forced and trapped in this relationship, even though another scene shows Sport and Iris expressing deep affection towards each other. Travis undertakes a mission to rescue Iris—–take her home and send her to school—–even though she is content with her situation. He imagines himself as the heroic savior who now can prove his value and restore the older norm of the society.

His determination is put into action. He storms into brothel alone, shoots Sport right at his abdomen and proceeds to kill a gatekeeper and a client who has just finished with Iris. With a long interval in-between, the audience hears a thanks letter written by Iris’ parents to Travis in the next scene, which expresses their gratitude for returning Iris home. Travis is now acclaimed by the paper as a hero, but he continues his life as a cabbie. At the end, Betsy runs into him and expresses her regret, but he only replies, “So long” and drives his cab away (Scorsese, Taxi Driver).

Many critics find the last scene a fantasy in Travis’ dying moments (Ebert). In this consummated version of his life, he is elevated from the dirty sewage in New York and his virility is recognized. The ending is a milestone in film history, because while it temporarily raises up Travis as the hero, he resumes his low-profile life as a “nameless hero.” A typical plot development of older films, in which the male protagonist eventually comes together with the femme fatale, starts to give way to the characterization of a lonely hero. The male hero does not need a woman to cooperate with him, nor does he even need her in his private life. He tackles the problem by himself, while standing alone for the rest of the time. He is not particularly a misogynist or an aseuxal man, but partnership and relationship do not play a role in his life.

This prototype of a lonely and emotionless hero plays in later American films,  including Rambo in First Blood, who happens to be a Vietnam veteran as well. It fulfills a masculine fantasy of hidden honor and recognition, when the society no longer recognizes a middle-class heterosexual male as the only exemplar of success.

Travis epitomizes the social exclusion and estrangement that the Vietnam War veterans found when they came back home after years in a strange place. America had become a new place, yet they still clutched to the older society in their memory. Travis could not understand why Iris would want to stay with Sport:

Travis: “That guy Sport is a killer.”

Iris “Sport never killed nobody… He is a Libra.”

     “I’m a Libra too. That’s why we get along so well.”

Travis: “Looks like a killer to me” (Scorsese, Taxi Driver).

His action to kill the pimp and return Iris home is more of a desperate move to assert his value as a man and to bring the society “back on track”. In a way, this film records the collision between the old America and a new America, which in many respects is still happening today.

Works Cited

Ebert, Roger. “Taxi Driver Movie Review & Film Summary (1976) | Roger Ebert.”RogerEbert.com, 1 Jan. 2004, http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/great-movie-taxi-driver-1976.

Scorsese, Martin, director. Taxi Driver. Amazon, Columbia Pictures, 1976, http://www.amazon.com/Taxi-Driver-Cybill-Shepherd/dp/B000I9U7C4.

Training an Object Detector with TensorFlow – Kevin

Have you ever heard of Tesla’s Model S sedan? It is one of the few cars capable of fully autonomous driving. Although U.S. laws currently do not permit this, the Model S can pick you up at your house and drop you off at school, all without you even touching the steering wheel. To create a self-driving vehicle, Tesla engineers had to employ many machine learning techniques, including an object detector that recognizes and classifies objects around the car. For example, the on-board camera is able to recognize pedestrians and instructs the car to stop. Another example is that the object detector recognizes other vehicles on the road, keeping the Tesla from colliding into them.

With the use of the TensorFlow Object Detection API, creating such a model (though probably not as accurate as the one Tesla developed) can now be done with consumer-grade equipment such as a personal computer. As promised in last week’s blog, I will discuss how to create a customized object detector with the TensorFlow API.

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Ça va . . . (part 3) — Ethan

Eight more pages! I’m finished with the entire media section, and started the synthesis of the history and the media narrative. Being at this point in the first draft is a similar feeling to being at the same point in my outline: I can envision the conclusion of my argument, and that’s supremely exciting. So far, this section has been the most fun to organize and structure, mainly because it’s my own — my own argument, that I get to craft to be the strongest it can be.

I’m doing well at listening to my willingness to write at any given time, and writing a few paragraphs here and there as I feel like it, or working through what I’ve written and rearranging points to my argument, and this seems to be how this particular paper wants to be written. Creating content still takes priority, most of the time, but for this section especially from time to time I spend a little bit here and there refining it.

I expect to finish the first draft by the end of the month, and then it’ll be time for T. Olga to sink her teeth into it — her words, not mine.

So it goes . . .

 

— EDM

The Beauty of Tangents – Sabrina

I have spent roughly 45% of my time towards this project transcribing interviews….It is one of the hardest and most tedious tasks, especially if your interviews typically run between 30 – 60 minutes. I considered, for a moment, just simply sending my interviewees a list of questions I would like them to answer and having it be simpler

But I quickly shrugged the idea of because of one thing:

TANGENTS!

Tangents have become the core of my content when I am writing articles. When my interviewees go off on tangents, they are almost always something they are passionate about, or it is story worthwhile. You cannot capture these tangents by sending them a list of questions.

It is through these tangents that I begin to understand someone’s work and passions, and I learn who they are to their core. I get to see them and understand them and relate to them and have a conversation with them.

And though transcribing is…..interesting a living, breathing hell. Without face to face interviews, my content would not be nearly as rich or as vibrant as it is, and it is all thanks to tangents.


Before I wrap up, I just wanted to give you all some updates:

  • Our social media pages are up! You can follow us on Instagram @Project_G.I.R.L and on the Facebook page Project G.I.R.L!
  • WE LAUNCH MAY 2ND!
  • We are on track for our goals, including having our website be 75% completed
  • We have created an email as well (info.project.g.i.r.l@gmail.com)!
  • We have met with Westtown Communications (I had a meeting with Anne Burns today) and they have agreed to give us press after our launch
  • On our current team, we have a transcriber, a web designer, a digital artist, and I am currently on a hunt for a social media manager and an editor
  • We are scheduled to have 5 interviews this week!
  • I am remembering to breathe, despite the fact that I am simultaneously elated and panicking

Inspired by putting one foot in front of the other

Sabrina Schoenborn

CEO and Foudner of project G.I.R.L

Next Steps- the Survey – Liv

I’m so excited to say that I’ve finally reached the next big step in my research project: transitioning from gathering basic information on the topic to measuring just how prominent the issue of social aggression is in our own community. Because this is the starting point to the actual ‘action-based’  portion of the research plan I initially created, I’m more curious than ever to know just where this feedback will take me next. Continue reading