Letter to the Editor

The Article:


Are Cells the New Cigarettes?

By Maureen Dowd

Published: June 26, 2010


The great cosmic joke would be to find out definitively that the advances we thought were blessings — from the hormones women pump into their bodies all their lives to the fancy phones people wait in line for all night — are really time bombs.

Just as parents now tell their kids that, believe it or not, there was a time when nobody knew that cigarettes and tanning were bad for you, those kids may grow up to tell their kids that, believe it or not, there was a time when nobody knew how dangerous it was to hold your phone right next to your head and chat away for hours.

We don’t yet really know the physical and psychological impact of being slaves to technology. We just know that technology is a narcotic. We’re living in the cloud, in a force field, so afraid of being disconnected and plunged into a world of silence and stillness that even if scientists told us our computers would make our arms fall off, we’d probably keep typing.

San Francisco just became the first city in the country to pass legislation making cellphone retailers display radiation levels. The city’s Board of Supervisors voted 10 to 1 in favor. The one against, the Democrat Sean Elsbernd, said afterward: “It’s a slippery slope. I can go on Google right now and find you a study that says there’s a problem with the Starbucks you’re drinking.”

Different phone models emit anywhere from 0.2 watts per kilogram of body tissue to 1.6 watts, the legal limit. The amount of radio frequency energy seeping into the body and brain is measured by a unit called the Specific Absorption Rate (SAR).

“You see all these kids literally glued to their phones,” Gavin Newsom, the mayor of San Francisco, told me. “And candidly, my wife was pregnant and on her cellphone nonstop. So I dusted off some studies and started doing research.

“That’s when I discovered that companies who make cellphones are already required to disclose that information to the federal government, and that it exists but somewhere on someone’s Web page on the 88th page.” Why not underscore it, he thought, by alerting consumers at the store, putting the SAR level in the same font as the phone price?

His alarmed advisers, accustomed to seeing the sleek Newsom diving into bold stands without calculating the potential blowback — as with gay marriage — told him to focus on jobs and the economy.

“They said: ‘There you go again. They’re going to mock you. It’s going to be another sideshow,’ ” he recalled. But stroking his baby daughter’s soft head and reading new studies on the vulnerability of children’s thinner skulls to radiation, he persevered.

One Swedish study that followed young people who began using cells as teenagers for 10 years calculated a 400 percent increase in brain tumors. But as Nathaniel Rich recently pointed out in Harper’s, studies about cellphones’ carcinogenic potential all contradict one another, including those involving children.

When Newsom proposed the bill, telecommunications lobbyists went to the mattresses, as did hoteliers, who feared losing convention business.

He said that lobbyists from Washington made it clear that they would invoke “the nuclear option” and come down “like a ton of bricks.”

“This is tobacco money, oil money,” he said. “But these guys from D.C. do not know me because that has exactly the opposite effect. Shame on them, to threaten the city. It’s about as shortsighted as one could get in terms of a brand.”

Months before the bill passed, he read me part of a letter that Marriott sent him: “CTIA — The Wireless Association, which is scheduled to hold a major convention here in October 2010, has already contacted us about canceling their event if the legislation moves forward. They also have told us that they are in contact with Apple, Cisco, Oracle and others who are heavily involved in the industry, as you know, about not holding future events in your city for the same reason.”

Sure enough, when the bill passed Tuesday, CTIA issued a petulant statement that after 2010, it would relocate its annual three-day fall exhibition, with 68,000 exhibitors and attendees and “$80 million” in business, away from San Francisco.

“Since our bill is relatively benign,” Newsom said, “it begs the question, why did they work so hard and spend so much money to kill it? I’ve become more fearful, not less, because of their reaction. It’s like BP. Shouldn’t they be doing whatever it takes to protect their global shareholders?”

So now we have Exhibit No. 1,085 illustrating the brazenness of Big Business.

They should be sending Mayor Newsom a bottle of good California wine for caring about whether kids’ brains get fried, not leaving him worried about whether they’ll avenge themselves in his campaign for lieutenant governor.

He’s resigned to that possibility, just as he is to his own addiction. “I love my iPhone,” he said cheerfully.


Dear Editor,


What have we come to? It seems like nowadays we are more and more attached to technology. I am referring to our cell phones. Cell phones are not so much a device but part of us. It seemed like only yesterday when cell phones were more for business people. Now it’s a whole different story.

Approximately 88% of teens between ages 12-17 own a cell phone (“Teens, cell phones, and texting”) compared to 51% back in 2006. We teens have made cell phones an attachment to us. Everywhere we go, we can see teens with their cell phones out, whether one is at the park, at the movies and sometimes even at church. Nowadays most of us teens seem to not be able to get through the day without our cell phones.

Although owning a cell phone can be beneficial because there is always a need for communication between one another, cell phones only give us basic communication. What I mean is that we want to stay connected with our friends and family but we don’t do it by calling but rather texting. Although texting is a form of communication, it sometimes just leads us to forget to express ourselves. There are more teens that text now than actually make a call. The statistics show that teens enjoy texting rather than picking up the phone and saying “hello”.

As a teen myself I know its true. I find it easier to text than to call but in reality we are losing the form of communication where one can hear the reaction or expression of language. 54% of all teens are texting while only 38% make a call (Pew Research). One in three teens send more than 100 texts messages a day (Pew Research).

This is a call to action for us teens to limit ourselves on texting before it creates a major change to who we are. What I mean is that sometimes it’s a toll on us when we do not have a cell phone. As an example we have 16 year old Phillippa Grogan who said “Id rather give up, like, a kidney rather than my phone” (Teens, cell phones and texting). This for some of us might be how we would think. We become so attached to our phone that we can’t give it up.

This is because we have our own little world when we have our phone. As a female teen myself, I enjoy texting because I can gossip with my friends without people hearing, this I think is true for most girls and some guys. Some of us give way too much importance to our cell phones rather than actually going out and talking to our friends. Sometimes when we are out with friends we are still texting. What happened to the times where hanging out actually meant hanging out. Actually being able to have a good time without having a side conversation with someone else who is not there.

We as teens enjoy texting because we feel more privacy about what we say when people are around. I think we text because it keeps our parents from knowing what we are saying. This means we have our own “private world”. However, we should know where to have our limits set. We should not text when we are at family gatherings. Rather than being at the dinner table texting we should start a conversation and make it interesting. I’m not saying that all teen’s text while at dinner table, but the majority do. I learned that it’s not right because it’s a moment when one is with the family and texting can wait.

We need to break out of our own little world and step out of the keyboard range. We need to think back when we didn’t give too much of importance to cell phones and when we didn’t get upset because someone didn’t text us back. This includes parents as well.  The parents have to be aware of when a child is spending too much time texting.

There are some teens that might spend hours of his or her cell phone rather than being outside doing an activity or even homework. Hopefully we teens make more use of being with friends and actually communicating like years back, rather than just using our cell phones and texting most of the time. We should use our cell phones and text only when we know its appropriate, like not at school or at church or at the movies. Maybe limit our texting and hang out more with our friends to keep the expression of language.



Angelica Mendoza



Works Cited:


Henley, Jon “Teenagers and Technology” 15 July 2010


Lenhart, Amanda “Teens, Cell Phones and Texting” 20 April 2010


McKee, Jonothan “The Impact on Teens and Technology”





The Cockroach

Class 6 Your Nota

Class 5 Poetry


Screen shot 2013-10-14 at 12.24.49 PM


Pike, three inches long, ______________ (adjective)
Pike in all parts, green ______________ (verb) the gold.
Killers from the egg: the malevolent aged grin.
They ____________(verb) on the surface among the flies.

Or move, stunned by their own grandeur,
Over a bed of____________ (noun) , silhouette
Of ______________  (adjective) delicacy and horror.
A hundred feet long in their world.

In ponds, under the heat-struck lily pads-
Gloom of their stillness:
Logged on last year’s black leaves, watching upwards.
Or hung in an amber ___________ (noun) of weeds

The jaws’ hooked _____________ (noun) and fangs
Not to be changed at this date:
A life subdued to its instrument;
The gills ______________ (verb) quietly, and the pectorals.

Three we kept behind glass,
Jungled in weed: three inches, four,
And four and a half: fed fry to them-
Suddenly there were two. Finally one

With a sag _________ (noun) and the grin it was born with.
And indeed they spare nobody.
Two, six pounds each, over two feet long
High and dry and dead in the willow-herb-

One jammed past its gills down the other’s gullet:
The outside eye stared: as a __________ (noun) locks-
The same ______ (noun) in this eye
Though its film shrank in death.

A pond I fished, fifty yards across,
Whose lilies and muscular tench
Had outlasted every visible stone
Of the monastery that planted them-

Stilled legendary depth:
It was as _________ (adjective) as England. It held
Pike too __________ (adjective) to stir, so immense and old
That past nightfall I dared not cast

But silently cast and fished
With the hair _________ (adjective) on my head
For what might move, for what eye might move.
The _______ (adjective) splashes on the dark pond,

Owls ____________ (verb) the floating woods
Frail on my ear against the ______________ (noun)
Darkness beneath night’s darkness had freed,
That rose slowly toward me, ______________ . (verb)Screen shot 2013-10-14 at 12.26.57 PMScreen shot 2013-10-14 at 12.28.17 PM

Class 4 Poetry


This is an intriguingly ambivalent portrayal of a snake.  Wright manages to convey an impression that the snake is both strikingly important as well as nothing much to worry about.

Devices: In the image of the “sun glazed [on] his curves of diamond scale,” Wright seems to emphasise the snake’s special, regal qualities through her use of the diamond metaphor.  The snake glitters mesmerisingly before the speaker’s eyes.  She also uses alliterationat several points to dramatise the snake’s authority, such as in the phrase, “food / fled living from his fierce intent”.  The alliterative words here fall on strongly stressed syllables which gives a sense of the snake’s power.   Wright finishes with a pointedly nonchalant tone as they “took a deeper breath of day, / looked at each other, and went on.”

Word Choices: The snake comes across as an invasive and arresting threat comparable to the famous serpent in the Genesis story in The Bible, especially in the contrast Wright’s words make between the walkers’ calm, warm world and the snake’s active, cold one.  The sibilant words in the opening line, “Sun-warmed in this late seasons’ grace”, establishes a relaxed warm mood which the snake penetrates: it “froze” the walkers mid-stride.  In addition, the word “Cold” has a heavy effect at the start of the final stanza, which leaves a final impression of the snake’s potent presence.  However, unlike the biblical snake, this one ultimately fails to gain dominance over the walkers.

The poet and her companion were walking on a pleasant autumn day when they see a black snake that speeds past, intent on catching its prey. The rest of the poem concentrates on the reactions of the poet and her companion. As they stood still taken aback by the sudden appearance of the snake in the grass, the snake slithers away.
Main Subject
The main subject of the poem is the sudden appearance of the snake and the surprised reactions of the poet and her companion. The snake does no harm to the walkers and they in turn do not harm the snake.
Apart from being a poet, Judith Wright was also an environmentalist who sought to preserve the natural surroundings in Australia. She cared intensely for the Aboriginal people who lived in close intimacy with nature which the settlers did not. The poem is on the face of it about sudden appearance of the snake but it could also be about the various creatures that lived in Australia and the animal friendly way of life of the aboriginal people.
The initial emotion that overtakes the poet and her companion is shock or surprise. They are in no jungle but walking along a grassy patch when they see the snake “reeling by”. Soon this surprise is overtaken by admiration for the perfection of its body, the symmetry of the scales on its surface and the single minded (“fierce intent”) pursuit of its prey.
“Head down, tongue flickering on the trail
he quested through the parting grass,
sun glazed his curves of diamond scale
and we lost breath to see him pass.”
Technique / Craftsmanship
The poem has a tightly controlled structure that does not permit much innovation, but the last stanza gives the poet some leeway. The beginning of the poem describes a peaceful scene when nature is full of the mellow sunshine of autumn, then comes the surprise of finding a snake in their midst. But there is no sudden movement or strong emotion expressed so there is no change in the structure either.
The poem has four quatrains with a traditional rhyme scheme of abab, cdcd, efef in the first three stanzas but the fourth stanza is ghhg. The change in the last stanza is like the letting out of breath (“We took a deeper breath of day,”) after having unconsciously held it while the snake was around.
The language used is very simple but the imagery is strong making it a visceral poem. The choice of sibilants (“we scarcely thought; still as we stood”) mimics the movements of the snake.
The use of strong imagery marks the poem. The opening images are of a balmy day in autumn when there is a “mellow fruitfulness” everywhere. The calm is broken by the sudden arrival of the snake. The picture of the snake in single minded pursuit of its prey, tongue darting as it feels the ground, the grass parting as it moves through are pen pictures which allow us to “see” the event. The poem focuses on the event rather than the narrator allowing us to share in the emotions.
Movement / Rhythm
The rhyme scheme is a simple abab, cdcd, efef and ghhg. The rigidity of the scheme allows the poet to focus on the event rather than on the emotions or the feelings of the poet or blank narrator. Movement of the snake is copied in the movement of the lined. The sibilants evoke a slithering sensation.
Alliterative sounds as in “sun glazed his curves of diamond scale”, “we scarcely thought; still as we stood” convey the impression of a slithering movement of the snake as it moved fast over the grass.
Figures of Speech
Through an extended metaphor, the poet tells us of the symbiotic relationship between the snake and man. There is no maudlin talk about the prey or the cruelty of the snake as a hunter but merely an acknowledgement of the sense of purpose behind the movement of the snake.