Monthly Archives: March 2017

Exs and Ohs

So this past week I received a Facebook message from my ex, and instead of internally dissect every word and comma (as one usually does when encountering such a message), I have decided instead to examine its form and content with an academic eye- because if I’m going to overanalyze something, why not learn from it?

“I want to talk more later as friends if you are willing.”

The specific sentence I’ve selected is quoted above. This excerpt may be short, but its also full of meaning. There is a lack of punctuation, which generally eludes to a more casual atmosphere. However the wording, “if you are willing”, leans towards a stricter and more formal interaction. An interesting addition to the sentence are the words “as friends”. Given the context, these two words can hold a vastly different meaning. “As friends” can be taken as a lighter or inviting phrase, saying that the author is hoping that differences can be put aside, and two people who may not have always been friendly towards each other can still communicate. On the flip side of that coin, “as friends” can be seen as an attempt to “pump the brakes” or set boundaries- a way to say “this meeting is friendly/ cordial at best”.

Just as it’s interesting to examine what’s present in this sentence, its also important to consider whats absent. The author starts the sentence by discussing themselves, then ends by talking about the reader. Therefore, the main subject of this sentence is the author, with the reader coming second. The verb of this sentence is “want” (the author wants). An alternative way to write this sentence would have been putting the reader at the beginning, “If you are willing…”, or even switching “you” and “I” (“If you want…. I am willing). The fact the author holds the stronger, more assertive verb “want”, while the reader “is willing” also hints at a power dynamic- but this power dynamic could go either way too. One reading would put the author in a more dominant spot, since they want to meet while the reader is merely willing. However, it could be read that the author is extending themselves, saying that they want an action to occur, but only if the reader is willing to agree (putting the reader in a position of power).

The last thing that can be dissected is the choice of the word “talk”. In today’s millennial culture, many words have taken up numerous different meanings depending on their context- “talk” is one such word. Talk can refer to the step which a couple takes before dating (those two are talking), it can reference the actual verb of physically being in a shared built environment and exchanging dialog (we talked in class), or it can elude to messaging back and forth over text, instant messaging, etc. (we were talking till midnight over dm’s). The fact that “talk” was chosen here makes this a very open-ended sentence, which ultimately allows the author to dictate their own meaning from the word with the reader being left unsure.

Overall, the english language is extremely complex, and even a simple 12 word sentence has the power to bewilder…

DA Interior

The George Washington University Hospital, as the name may give away, is a medical care facility. This means that access into this physical site is limited, for various reasons. However, thanks to Google, there is still a way to see inside this built environment. Pictured here is a patient room (http://www.usa.skanska.com/projects/project/?pid=10839) located inside the hospital, from two different views. Its easy to see that this could be considered a fairly “nice”  and up-to-date hospital room. Of course since these are staged photographs its important to note that real life may not look quite this glamorous, but the rooms look generally clean, spacious, and contain lots of modern technology. Another photograph of the interior main nurses’ station (https://www.shannonspecialtyfloors.com/george-washington-university-hospital-washington-d-c/) is also shown, which exhibits many of the same characteristics of the room: clean, spacious, and with modern technology. For reference, I have included a picture of another hospital in DC (https://www.pinterest.com/pin/388294799092313596/), but this hospital is located in an area of lower socioeconomic status, and serves a very different clientele. This hospital, known as United Medical Center, is located in SE (rather than NW) DC- and the differences are very obvious. From these interior pictures alone, we can tell that the George Washington University Hospital is very well funded, and most likely serves a more prestigious client-base than some other hospitals in DC.

City of Rhetoric

City of Rhetoric

In chapter 3.8 of David Fleming’s City of Rhetoric, Mr. Fleming argues that society benefits from critically examining what usually appears innocent to us and then applying that to organize the world in a certain way to increase or decrease citizens’ opportunities. The chapter, entitled “Toward a New Sociospatial Dialectic”, begins with Fleming quickly reviewing his previous seven chapters. He considers it important to note that we have neglected to fully assimilate the youth of today with people who are unlike themselves, due to the extreme alienation of classes and races within our housing complexes. The author continues to say that this can be fixed, in part, by creating “commonplaces” for people of all classes, races, religions, etc. to come together. However, this problem persists due to the creation and separation between the urban ghettos and suburbia. These places in of themselves are often seen as opposites, yet there is also a great deal of separation within these communities, as smaller groups of like-minded people tend to come together. Attempts have been made to fix this issue, with communities such as North Town Village in Chicago. But in the end, these communities are either not large enough, filled with too many like-minded people, and/ or too far removed from the rest of America to be a true success. Here David Fleming switches to discuss how important “place” actually is upon the individual. According to him, the importance of place on one’s life has lost ground in recent years, since this material framework is looked down upon. However, Fleming argues that one’s built environment is of extreme importance and cannot be overlooked. The fact that those who are in areas of better education and social involvement have advantages that others do not is the framework for American poverty. These advantages greatly affect how successful these people turn out to be, and these advantages can be directly related to where one lives. One’s physical place of residence effects school, proximity to jobs, one’s neighbors, and one’s peers, amongst many other things. It is for this reason that Fleming feels that “over and above race, ethnicity, income, education, religion, and culture, place matters” (189). Since North America is segregated primarily by race and class, it’s important to realize that enduring poverty is caused not by the poor themselves or the culture of society, but by the very environments in which they live- yet all hope is not lost. Mr. Fleming does believe that here are ways to structure the built environment to evade this cycle of poverty, and he gets into this possibility in later chapters.

Work Cited

Fleming, David. City of Rhetoric: Revitalizing the Public Sphere in Metropolitan America. Albany, NY, SUNY Press, 2009.

Annotated Bibliography 3 & 4

Charron, David. “Five Walkable, High-Density D.C. Neighborhoods That Are Also Quiet.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 13 Mar. 2017, www.washingtonpost.com/news/where-we-live/wp/2017/03/13/five-walkable-high-density-d-c-neighborhoods-that-are-also-quiet/?utm_term=.c65e913fea36. Accessed 25 Mar. 2017.

In David Charron’s article, “Five Walkable, High-Density D.C. Neighborhoods That Are Also Quiet”, the author insists that the location close to the George Washington University is one of Washington DC’s most livable neighborhoods. The article, written for the Washington Post, feels that DC residents are currently seeking areas to live in that are close to urban centers and have city amenities, without having a complete city atmosphere. According to David Charron, the area where Foggy Bottom meets Georgetown, aka George Washington University Hospital’s location, is this perfect mix of quiet and urban living. This is no longer an area reserved for students of the university, or patients visiting the hospital. Instead, this area now has a Whole Foods and numerous upscale restaurants that offer a level of sophistication to anyone wishing to reside there. David Charron also uses the nearby hospital as a selling point, saying that having a major hospital walking distance away from your residence helps create a home which one can truly age in. Without having to worry about transportation to and from one’s healthcare, residents are able to have much more “peace of mind” about where they live. Although specific neighborhoods within this area are not listed, Mr. Charron also mentions that there are numerous “vibrant” neighborhood options which make this area so appealing for current DC homebuyers. The article continues to also talk about 14th street and the Southwest Waterfront/ Naval Yard as desirable places to live for people now living in DC.

For my previous two sources, I focused much more on the background and basic information surrounding the George Washington University Hospital itself, such as when it was built, what its used for, who owns it, etc. Now, however, I want to focus more on the area around it. I feel that this information can tell more of a story about the hospital than simple statistical information. Currently I know very little about the surrounding neighborhood, or the hospital’s past (other than renovations). This first article I’ve chosen paints the hospital, and surrounding areas, in a very positive light. It almost puts a smile on gentrification and seems to support it in this context. The author directly states that the addition of Whole Foods and upscale restaurants is a positive addition to this area, one which makes moving here more enticing. Of course, the people moving here are not the same type of socioeconomic people who were living in these neighborhoods before. But this begins to shine a light on the discourse about the gentrification of the area surrounding the hospital. For a Whole Foods and upscale restaurants to come into an area to make it more enticing, must mean that there were not such “luxuries” existing there before. Was that simply because this area was specifically for students and patients, like the author made it sound? Or is there another demographic which the author overlooked during writing. If there is a “third demographic”, were they left out of this article on purpose or by accident? Clearly this source doesn’t necessarily contain lots of answers, but it does help to open up an interesting and important topic to be researched further to better understand this built environment.

 

Iweala, Uzodinma. “The Gentrification of Washington DC: How My City Changed Its Colours.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 12 Sept. 2016, www.theguardian.com/cities/2016/sep/12/gentrification-washington-dc-how-my-city-changed-colours. Accessed 25 Mar. 2017.

 

In “The Gentrification of Washington DC: How My City Changed Its Colours”, Uzodinma Iweala’s argues that Washington DC is losing its cultural authenticity as white gentrification changes the city. Although the argument around the negative sides of gentrification is nothing new, Uzodinma Iweala does bring a somewhat new stance to this train of thought. For him, DC was, and somewhat still is, a black city- even though it is rarely seen or projected as such. It should be noted that this article is not specifically about the George Washington University Hospital (though it is explicitly mentioned once), but rather about DC as a whole. According to Iweala, who is originally from Nigeria, DC was once over 60% black. When he grew up in DC, the city was not anything close to what it is today, or even how the people around him perceived it back then. Iweala himself was lucky to grow up in an affluent household, so even he (and his classmates) were not exposed to the city’s “true”, colored population. However, he was still able to see it, thanks to his father and other black friends. Aside from the Northwest corner of DC, the majority of the city was predominantly black. Areas such as Adams Morgan, H Street, and 14th Street were working class or immigrant based communities, which are now seen as trendier, whiter neighborhoods. Iweala is afraid, and it seems that many people he has talked to share his same opinion, that DC used to have a close-knit feel to it, which it now lacks almost completely.

The only time GW Hopsital is explicitly mentioned is when Iweala’s father talks about how he worked at Providence Hospital, which treated many middle-class black residents of DC until about the late 90s. At that time, the city hit some financial hardship, and hospitals which treated lower class citizens of DC were closed. After the closing of those hospitals, other health care facilities (such as Providence) saw an increase of lower class patients with problems such as gunshots, alcoholism, and drug overdose. Some hospitals though, such as the George Washington University Hospital, actually acted illegally and turned these patients away saying that they could not help them. This is an extremely interesting point. Iweala is quoted numerous times stating that the area of Northwest DC is the most affluent, yet GW is not located in this area. Still, this hospital was in an economic situation where they felt it necessary to turn away these lower-class citizens. This black history of DC, in particular the area surrounding GW Hospital, was not one which I ever previously thought to consider. As mentioned above, this article does not exclusively talk about GW Hospital, but I still feel that it is still extremely important to help better understand my built environment. The social history of DC in general must be taken into account in order to understand my specific section, and I look forward to using this article as a solid racial/ social piece of background. The first paper I wrote discusses how GW Hospital is stuck behind traditional racial and sexual constructs in their representation on their website. This article definitely helps to shed some light on to why exactly that might be.

 

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1-I_N8NZw8avTlUaow9KM9PEqwqCp5LUoXw359bA80gE/edit?usp=sharing

The Complexity of Chanel

“The use of the brand Chanel was apt, with the image of Chanel’s interlocking ‘C’ logo engrained in many of our minds as some of the most iconic fashion images to emerge over the last century — a clear symbol that no matter what direction you look at it from, can only be Chanel.”

-Evan Ross Katz

About a week ago, singer/songwriter Frank Ocean released a new single entitled “Chanel”. This release came somewhat suddenly, without many knowing about the release in advance. His song, which obviously uses the brand Chanel as its very foundation, sparked a bit of conversation concerning the exact intent of this brand reference. This conversation gained momentum when Chanel released pictures on their Instagram referencing Frank Ocean and his new song. People began wondering if this could signify a collaboration between the singer and designer label. This is a reasonable question to be asking, especially at a time in fashion where collaborations are a hot-ticket item (think Louis Vuitton + Supreme’s recent collaboration announcement).  But what exactly would a collaboration between the french fashion powerhouse and r&b/ rap singer entail? Evan Ross Katz wrote for Mic.com about this very topic in his article “Are Frank Ocean and Chanel collaborating? Cryptic Instagrams suggest maybe so”. Most people, even those who are unfamiliar with fashion or designer labels know, Chanel’s logo of the interlocking C’s is world-famous. In Frank Ocean’s song, he uses the line “I see both sides like Chanel” in his chorus. This line is clever given the word-play with “see” and the letter “c”, but this line would mean nothing if people weren’t familiar with the brand’s iconic logo. As Evan Katz explains in the quoted sentence above, Chanel’s interlocking Cs is quite possibly one of the most iconic fashion images to emerge over the past century. Not only is Evan Katz accurate in what he’s saying, but the complexity of the sentence which he writes is also interesting. His sentence is a longer one, which he breaks apart by using commas and a dash. He begins with an independant clause, which he followed by two dependent clauses joined together by the dash. Its almost to give reference to the fact that Frank Ocean’s song itself is rather complex, even though some may discount that given the title is a designer brand name.

GW Hospital

The George Washington University Hospital’s Reliance on Status

The George Washington University Hospital’s website has everything one would expect from an accredited health institution’s page. It has a clean layout, thoughtful design, and plenty of accessible information. However, there is so much more to this website than what simply meets the eye. The George Washington University (GWU or simply GW) Hospital uses this website to represent itself and its employees to the outside world. Since print ads and brochures are a thing of the past, a company’s website is their primary way of showcasing itself to anyone of interest. GW had to think about every link, color, picture, and word which they published- all with the hopes of painting their brand in the best light possible. They had to extensively consider their staff, location, and most importantly their clientele. Since any company’s main goal is to enlarge and/or maintain their customer base (since without customers a company would cease to exist), one could conclude that the customers of GW Hospital are the primary viewers of their website. Therefore, this thought could be extended to conclude that the social, political, and educational views of the clientele of GW Hospital are the primary drivers behind the website’s content. The George Washington University Hospital attempts to push the social and historical boundaries concerning their company, yet also seem to rely on these preconceived notions for the success and accreditation of their business.

The first thing one may notice when arriving at The George Washington University Hospital’s website is the logo in the upper left corner of the screen. This logo (pictured) actually says a great deal about the hospital without tremendous effort. The most obvious visual aspect of this logo is how the word “Hospital” is bolded, as opposed to the rest of the title which is in normal uppercase lettering. As anyone who is familiar with GW in general would know, GW’s hospital logo is incredibly similar to the GW University’s logo, including the sepia picture of George Washington and the two lines above and below the text (also pictured). This is the first “clue”, aside from the name of the hospital itself, that there is a strong correlation between the hospital and the university. This may seem like a trivial fact, but it actually holds significant importance. GW was chartered in 1821 by an act of congress (Washington), while the hospital itself did not come into existence until 1948 (Admin). The current ownership of GW Hospital is between two companies, GW and A King of Prussia. A King of Prussia is actually a subsidiary of Universal Health Services Inc. (UHS), which is a Pennsylvanian healthcare management company.  A King Of Prussia holds an 80% stake in the hospital, where GW only holds 20% (About).  It is interesting that even though UHS holds a much greater stake in the hospital’s management, GW is the company which gets the majority recognition. The name, logo, and location of GW Hospital are all directly correlated to GW itself, and there is actually no reference to UHS at all. This is of even more interest when one considers that UHS is actually one of America’s largest healthcare management companies (About). Therefore, this suggests that the members of the board for GW Hospital have decided that recognition with GW means “more” in some sense than recognition with a prominent national healthcare company.

The next thing a viewer may be drawn to is the revolving banner of pictures across the center of the screen. Here there are four different pictures which cycle on a continuous loop, each with a different title and caption accompanying them. The first of these pictures is “Top Docs” with the caption “We’re proud to have more than 200 physicians recognized as 2016 Top Docs by Washingtonian…”, with a “Learn More” button is located underneath. This is followed by “Living Seizure-Free”, then “Surgical Excellence”, and lastly “Neurology and Neurosurgery”. These banners are simplistic in design, yet informative with what most patients at a hospital are probably most concerned about- namely receiving expert care and living symptom-free after their visit. It is also interesting to note the subjects in the pictures. The viewer begins by seeing an asian female doctor address a black male patient in a hospital bed, followed by two black woman with a child (possibly hinting at the child having a non-traditional family structure), then two separate pictures of white male doctors who appear to be in surgical attire. These pictures were most likely very selectively chosen, since they are on the front page of the hospital’s website, and therefore clearly represent the hospital in a major way. The first two pictures definitely seem to elude to diversification and inclusion of both the hospital staff and those who they help, but the last two pictures seem to almost take a step back in that sense. Although a female doctor is shown earlier, when it comes to pictures of the actual surgeons only white men are selected. Now to be fair, these pictures may actually be of well-respected surgeons who work at GW Hospital. Even if that is true, the average visitor to the website most likely does not know who those surgeons are, especially because no doctor’s names are given in any of the banner slides.

Under the revolving banner are the words “Welcome to the George Washington University Hospital”, followed by what appears to be a mission statement in simple black text. This mission statement refers to the “quality and convenience” of care which “thousands” of patients receive at GW Hospital each year. Below the mission statement are two separate columns, one for careers at GW Hospital, and the other for patients and visitors. Underneath these two columns is another row split into three columns with the categories “Cardiac Surgery”, “The GW Comprehensive Breast Center”, and “Robotic Surgery at GW Hospital”. Out of all five of these columns there are three separate pictures of staff at GW Hospital, all three of which are white. Two of these white staff members are female (one is a nurse and the other is the CEO of GW Hospital), while the male is again a surgeon. The only information under these three columns is a link entitled “Awards and Accreditations” in simple black text, followed by all of the legal and site-map informational links.

In order to best understand GW Hospital’s intent from their homepage, it is important to also understand a little more about GW’s background. On GW Hospital’s website there is a link to a page which provides a brief history about the hospital. On this page, it states that the hospital “serves a diverse group of patients, from area residents to visiting dignitaries and heads of state” (About). A different website boasts that GW Hospital “is the premier healthcare facility for Washington DC, serving our President and Congress when in session” (Admin). Clearly, the clientele of this hospital are very esteemed members of society. Additionally, it is interesting to note the socioeconomic ties associated with GW Hospital. According to wNYC DataNews, GW Hospital is located in a neighborhood of DC where the median household income is only $20,673 (News), yet the actual students who go to GW have an average household income of about $182,200 (Economic Diversity). Since the participation of the George Washington University is an essential aspect of the hospital, the economic and political background of the students, and families, funding the school should be heavily considered. In reference to an earlier paragraph, it is assumed that the board of GW Hospital clearly decided that having GW represent the business was in the best interest of the company. This most likely has a strong correlation the socioeconomic and political atmosphere related to GW University itself, which is one of the nation’s top 100 colleges according to US News (How). A similar situation would be how movie posters always show the names of the well-known actors starring in them, or how singers have guest stars sing in some of their songs on their album- status, and any correlation to that status, helps sell. GW Hospital is no exception to this rule, as they are using the prestige of GW University to establish themselves as a prominent healthcare facility worthy of dignitaries’ business.

When it comes to GW Hospital’s website homepage, they seem to put forth effort to showcasing diversity and inclusion, yet also stick to traditional ideas surrounding gender roles. They show numerous pictures of minorities in both roles of leadership and those being helped, but when it comes to the more prestigious positions (surgeons of the hospital) GW chose pictures of white men. This choice should not be looked at as a mere coincidence, but should be examined as a thought-out and educated decision by the hospital. Yes, they are a company which is attempting to show that they have a diverse staff and are willing to serve a diverse client-base, yet they also rely on preconceived notions towards positions of power. Perhaps this is simply to cater to subconscious ideas which people already have, but the execution is questionable. GW Hospital also relies heavily on the pre-established reputation of George Washington University. This reliance is sort of an “old trick” in the sense that it blatantly uses the hard work and reputation of a different company in order to make itself look better. If the hospital was more accurately named “UHS Hospital”, there would definitely be a greater unknown, and possible hesitation, around choosing to be cared for in their facility. Overall, GW Hospital does seem to making steps towards a broader and more inclusive future, but their current state is heavily reliant on society’s preconceived ideas around power and importance.

 

 

Works Cited

“About George Washington University Hospital.” The George Washington University Hospital, 16 Jan. 2017, www.gwhospital.com/about.

Admin. “The George Washington University Hospital WASHINGTON, DC.” HCD Magazine, 1 Sept. 2005, www.healthcaredesignmagazine.com/architecture/george-washington- university- hospital-washington-dc/.

“Economic Diversity and Student Outcomes at George Washington.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 18 Jan. 2017, www.nytimes.com/interactive/projects/college-mobility/george-washington-university.

George Washington University Hospital Banner. The George Washington University Hospital, https://www.gwhospital.com/.

George Washington University Logo. George Washington University, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Washington_University

“How Does GWU Rank Among America’s Best Colleges?” U.S. News & World Report, U.S. News & World Report, www.usnews.com/best-colleges/gwu-1444.

“Living Seizure-Free”. The George Washington University Hospital, https://www.gwhospital.com/.

“Neurology and Neurosurgery”. The George Washington University Hospital, https://www.gwhospital.com/.

News, WNYC Data. “Median Income Across the US.” Median Income Across the US, WYNC DataNews, project.wnyc.org/median-income-nation/.

“Surgical Excellence”. The George Washington University Hospital, https://www.gwhospital.com/.

“Top Docs”. The George Washington University Hospital, https://www.gwhospital.com/.

“Washington, D.C.” The George Washington University, www.gwu.edu/about.

3 Part Commonplace

Part 1:
“After five-plus weeks of gleefully setting the Washington establishment ablaze and declaring a new war with virtually every public utterance, Mr. Trump took the radical step on Tuesday night of delivering a soothing comfort food of an address to a jittery Congress and skeptical public.” -“5 Key Takeaways From President Trump’s Speech”, The New York Times

 

The first part of this sentence, from “After” to “utterance”, is completely dependent upon the second part of the sentence. The second part, however, is a completely independent clause. This is a fairly complex sentence, yet it’s also easy to understand (most likely due to the simplistic wording). Although there are numerous nouns, the main subject of the sentence is easily identified as Trump, who set Washington ablaze, declared war, took steps, and delivered an address. The remaining words in the sentence are more informative, referring to how Trump did certain actions (i.e. gleefully set), and who he did those actions to (jittery Congress).

 

Part 2:

David Fleming concludes his City of Rhetoric by arguing that “education [should be] oriented to the ‘strong publics’ of decision making rather than the ‘weak publics’ of opinion formation” (205). For Fleming, then, composition courses, which traditionally have asked students to write ____________________________, should instead have students __________________________.  In other words, ___________________________.

 

Part 3:

Trump’s Trash

Often times, it’s the words that aren’t said that leave more of an impact that those which actually are- unfortunately this is not the case with President Trump. On Tuesday, February 28, 2017 Donald Trump made his first official address to congress. During this address, the president referenced numerous points of his agenda as leader of our great nation, including: protectionism, infrastructure and of course his many achievements from these first five weeks of his presidency. His speech, as they usually do, sparked quite a bit of conversation. Some individuals feel that he was well behaved and tame, while others feel that his speech was disconcerting, if not alarming. Countless articles, tabloid pieces, and blog posts (including this one) continue to pop up discussing every aspect of the speech and those who attended. A simple visit to any news agency’s website will result in an immediate bombardment of more Trump-themed information than most people would want to read in a lifetime. However, one of these very articles stuck out to me. This piece, written by Glenn Kessler and Michelle Ye Hee Lee for the Washington Post, is entitled “Fact-Checking President Trump’s Address to Congress”- a simple and straightforward title for what seems to be a simple and straightforward topic. Yet, there is almost this sinking feeling in my stomach when I read the title of this article. I have to pause and think to myself, “does the President of the United States of America really need to be fact-checked?”, to which the answer is a resounding “yes”. But why are we (as a society) at a place where the leader of the free world, a man who is arguably the most powerful person alive, can stand in front of an entire congress and say false information? What’s more upsetting is the fact that all we can really do about the situation is write precisely worded articles on the topic, pointing out all of the cringe-worthy “alternative facts” Trump decides to use. This article in particular is well captured by the title- it’s well written and not rude or condescending towards the president. It seems to be written with the pure intent of informing people about the accurate and not-so-accurate pieces of our current president’s address.

 

Link Below:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2017/02/28/fact-checking-president-trumps-address-to-congress/?tid=pm_politics_pop