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Adnan Syed: Guilty or Innocent?

I believe Adnan Syed is innocent. At the very least, deserves a retrial.

After watching the podcast Serial, the circumstances around the death of Hae Min Lee’s murder and the conviction of Adnan Syed seem confusing.

First of, I think it is important to note that there was no physical evidence to link Syed to the murder. Without physical evidence, I believe that makes the case weak.

Second, the conviction is based on witness testimony. I don’t think that is very trustworthy. People are sketchy. Jay Wilds testified that he helped Syed bury the body. I think Wilds statement is exactly what makes him lack credibility as a witness. There is a lot of evidence that Jay is a liar (Here’s a blog, providing that info).

According to “Jay… was a serious drug dealer living in a culture that feared and mistrusted the police”. This is used as a reason to explain Jays inconsistencies- he is just scared of getting in trouble for drug dealing, but in my opinion this just is further proof of bad character, and more reason why this witness lacks credibility. Can’t trust a liar nor a lying drug dealer.

So not only do I find Jay Wilds credibility lacking, there is also a witness that claims to have been with Syed at the time of the murder.

Furthermore, there is new evidence of forensic analysis:

This case really does take you back and forth, which is also what the Serial podcast did- is he or isn’t he? It is because of the fact that there is reasonable doubt that I believe Adnan Syed deserves a retrial.

Dystopian Future or Present Day?

For the culminating task, I choose the book The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. Many of you have probably heard of it because of its adaption into the popular television series by the same name. Though I have yet to watch the series, I have heard a lot about it. The series is the reason I picked this book. So far, I am one third of the way through it and I am loving it.

My main issue right now with the book is that it is slow. It has revealed setting and characters, and not much more. So we know it is a dystopian society and females are given to the Commanders in the military and used for producing children. I’m sitting here not having any idea what you can do with that? I have a few theories on how the novel will develop:

1) The women rebel- which is unlikely given how much grooming they go through, how the main character views herself and her servitude- she is constantly remembering her past life with longing but yet doesn’t have any anger or resentment towards the new life. It also seems unlikely because they are guarded 24/7. The women also have animosity between themselves.

2) Women die- The book hints at the other place where people go when they are of no use anymore. This other place could turn out to be a lot bigger prospect and a decent plot the book could further develop on.

3) Another Army/Enemy invades- there have been a few hints about war in the novel, so it is not unlikely that war could enter the home front and dissipate their way of living.

What I would absolutely hate to happen is for the main character, the Handmaid Offred, to fall in love with the Commander she is stationed too. So far, only once has there been a scene between them and it was weird. It would be so disappointing for the women in this novel to fall for their abusers. I can’t even get into how ugly that is.

Despite how slow the novel is, I do appreciate how well Margaret Atwood writes. She incorporates an amazing amount of symbolism into the work that is captivating. Everything she describes has colour- which enriches the text, and creates a vivid and stark backdrop fitting to the themes. One of the main roles of colour is to distinguish rank in the community. Red is for handmaid’s, blue is for Wives, black for the Commander, and green for Marthas.

The first connection I made with this novel before even reading it, but having seen the handmaid’s dress was that the dress reminds me so much of Little Red Riding Hood- each have a long red cape/cloak. Offred even makes that connection herself saying “I go down the stairs, round, convex, like the eye of a fish, and myself in it like a distorted shadow, a parody of something, some fairytale figure in a red cloak, descending towards a moment of carelessness that is the same as danger” (9). I think that this distinct connection to Little Red Riding Hood is a bit of foreshadowing.

What the biggest take away from the reading so far is and the connection I can make to it, is specifically to the role of women in society. Margaret has even said herself that she used events in human history as inspiration for this dystopian society but yet, it doesn’t seem too far fetched or even that dystopian. I think this is a connection a lot of people can make. We don’t live in a Puritan regime, but society is still very patriarchal. It is majority men who make laws regarding my reproductive organs. I deal with misogynistic attitudes on a daily basis. The Handmaids Tale is almost like a subdued modern day. For some others more than for myself- I say this because there are people out there, who for “religious reasons” have multiple wives, and do follow very strict rules, some of the same ones that the handmaids in this book do.

For a conclusion, I think it is best to watch John Greens Crash Course on the Handmaid’s Tale. He offers a perfect summary of what it is.



Should Real Life Murder Cases Be Used For Our Entertainment?

The Serial podcast was an interesting listen. As someone who watches a lot of crime television shows and is interested in investigative journalism, I found the podcast exceptionally well done, definitely up to par with other series (mainly tv ones), maybe even better than the older, boring ones like Law and Order.

I would of liked Serial better if it was in a video format. I think podcasts- in just an audio format- are a horrible way to showcase “investigative journalism” – if that is what we are calling Serial. Podcasts are something that people play while commuting or working out. So something that is meant to be detail oriented or focused on, I wouldn’t use it as background noise. I am not someone who can just stand/sit there and listen to something.That is not to say that I can’t stand there and can’t listen to people talk face to face because that actually engages more of me, but just solely listening to audios are incredibly boring, no matter how much I like the content. I find I have the same problem with talking on the phone to people, I just can’t do it, it is going to be brief- we either have to see each other in person or text. I will start doing other stuff while talking on the phone and that means I’m half listening to the conversation and also some other menial task. So in my opinion, podcasts aren’t a great way to get across to me or interest me. I also didn’t think it did Serial enough justice and again would prefer it to be a mini television series.

HBO gets the idea and is doing a documentary called “The Case Against Adnan Syed (2019)”

If I had to choose between audio format or reading, I would prefer reading. Again it depends what it is. For leisure activities I would prefer audio because my mind doesn’t want to work that hard (audio preference like music- not podcasts). If it is for studying or work I would prefer to read. 

“There are differences between print and audio, notably prosody. That’s the pitch, tempo and stress of spoken words. “What a great party” can be a sincere compliment or sarcastic put-down, but they look identical on the page. Although writing lacks symbols for prosody, experienced readers infer it as they go. In one experiment, subjects listened to a recording of someone’s voice who either spoke quickly or slowly. Next, everyone silently read the same text, purportedly written by the person whose voice they had just heard. Those hearing the quick talker read the text faster than those hearing the slow talker.

But the inferences can go wrong, and hearing the audio version — and therefore the correct prosody — can aid comprehension. For example, today’s student who reads “Wherefore artthou Romeo?” often assumes that Juliet is asking where Romeo is, and so infers that the word art would be stressed. In a performance, an actress will likely stress Romeo, which will help a listener realize she’s musing about his name, not wondering about his location.

It sounds as if comprehension should be easier when listening than reading, but that’s not always true. For example, one study compared how well students learned about a scientific subject from a 22-minute podcast versus a printed article. Although students spent equivalent time with each format, on a written quiz two days later the readers scored 81 percent and the listeners 59 percent.

What happened? Note that the subject matter was difficult, and the goal wasn’t pleasure but learning. Both factors make us read differently. When we focus, we slow down. We reread the hard bits. We stop and think. Each is easier with print than with a podcast.” ( 

Memory is a major topic at the beginning of this podcast. Sarah and a few others she interviewed mention that when trying to think of something they did a while back they have no idea what they were doing and it is only if something significant happens that events of the day are more clear. I differ from most people in that aspect, my memory is excellent. I can definitely tell you what I was doing three years ago. Especially during significant events, even from when I was a child, I can tell you exactly what I was thinking, doing, what I saw, what I perceive from the people I interacted with that day. 

As a closing remark to this personal reflection on the Serial podcast I think it’s appropriate to remind people that this is a true crime- which means it’s literally people lives we are discussing and that sometimes the feelings of these people are often left out of discussion. I can’t imagine having to be reminded in the media of the investigation involving my daughters death or the possible wrongful conviction of my son, or having my conviction publicized like this. Also I wouldn’t be able to sit back and ignore anything, I would of been guns blazing from the second anyone even considered my child a suspect or from the moment my daughter was murdered. The fact that this is true makes it hard for me to input my opinion because I can feel for the people this affected. And I think more people should have that same consideration. Also I just don’t think it is possible to have a case this undecided- especially murder cases. There are distinct things about murderers that sets them apart. Where is the psychological evaluations of everyone involved? I find it hard to pick a side here because I don’t like to sit here and look at evidence someone is giving me and interpret an opinion from that. Especially with how much we are taught about bias in the media. There are things I am not shown and can’t look at to judge for myself, so therefore don’t want to pick guilty or innocent. Another thing is that, this is just a podcast, and though someone did put in a lot of effort to get details for a case and critically think and deliberate on the case, it is still put together as a means of entertainment, value and money is in entertainment. How much truth is in it when it is put together for entertainment?

Lastly, I included this video of celebrities and their reactions to Serial- it is a perfect way to summarize how good Serial is..that is, how it takes you on a journey of is he or isn’t he? Serial does a good job of stringing you along. Almost everyone is hooked!

Is equal opportunity, equal opportunity and equal effort?

Today’s question is should grade 12 University level English be a requirement for entry into all university programs?

I think this question is a difficult one to answer because we live in a very globalized world and a multicultural society. When I first read the question, my main thoughts went to certain people I know, how good their English is, and whether I think those people are smart. The best way to explain what I mean by that is be using a real life example. That example being actress Sofia Vergara. Now Sofia Vergara is Columbian, English is not her first language and I wouldn’t consider her fluent, though her English is quite good. Now since Sofia isn’t fluent or doesn’t have perfect grammar (like a lot of other English as a second language people) her English mark might not be as good as others or even at the minimum grade point of 65. Does that mean that she can’t communicate? That she isn’t smart? That her ideas aren’t better than yours? Of course she can communicate well, of course you can understand her. Of course she can get a point across. Now, it has been a while since I’ve taken an English course and I don’t really pay attention to how much spelling, grammar and punctuation are weighted but we are marked on it, is it fair that these things are used to determine our ability to communicate especially when it these marks are what determine someone’s future and enrolment at university? (Not saying, punctuation, grammar, sentence structure, aren’t important and this is referring to mainly written communication. Also well aware that universities will require you to show proof of English language proficiency– this is beside the point.)

Should she have to work twice as hard to perfect idle things that don’t inhibit how well she can communicate? Is it noted that she has to work twice as hard to be at the same level you and I are?

Another scenario:

Person A, is much like Sofia Vergara, English is a second language. Wants to get into the nursing program at Western. She has the prerequisites and an average of 76.

Person B, English is their first language. Also wants to get into the nursing program at Western. They have the prerequisites and an average of 86.

Let’s pretend there is only one more spot in the program and it is between person A or person B. Who do you think will get the spot. On paper person B looks better. If we looked at their situations person A has more of what it takes to be successful.

NOW, despite that argument, I do believe grade 12 University level English should be a requirement for entry into all university programs. I just hope that the people in admissions do more than look at a number on paper to make decisions that affect people’s futures.

Lastly, I feel like some changes could be made to university admission requirements- not necessarily getting rid of grade 12 university level English but rather giving the option to submit an essay about yourself along with a transcript, if you feel like your grades aren’t as competitive as others.