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The Great Gatsby, The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock, and the Trouble With Modern Men

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Jay Gatsby and J. Alfred Prufrock are two modern literary protagonists who’d probably never be caught dead in the same room together. Although both turn-of-the-century men are in love with utterly unattainable women, their attitudes toward life, the universe, and everything couldn’t be more opposite. Gatsby amasses a fortune, buys a mansion, throws lavish parties, and completely reinvents himself, taking the flamboyant peacock approach to wooing his ladyfriend. Prufrock, on the other hand, reluctantly initiates a meeting, hesitates, broods, retreats, and ultimately resigns himself to a life of isolation, taking more of a unabomber approach to courtship. Yes, ladies – sometimes these are your choices.

Although Jay and J. Alfred seem to live worlds apart, chronologically speaking, they are only separated by about a decade. In fact, both characters are pioneers of a cultural period that was shortsightedly dubbed “modernism” on the off chance that nothing would ever change again. With booming cities, huge crowds, division of labor, and division of wealth suddenly becoming commonplace, people experienced an unprecedented sense of isolation, disjointedness, and anonymity in the new cultural landscape. On some level, Gatsby’s and Prufrock’s troubled romances represent a larger struggle to find their place in early twentieth-century city life, which is strongly reflected in the way they’re each narrated.

Jimmy Gatz’s humble North Dakota upbringing does nothing to prepare him for the extravagant 1920’s city life that his childhood sweetheart, Daisy, so relishes. His “Gatsby” persona is essentially an elaborate, extended performance for her and society’s benefit, so it’s only fitting that we’re forced into the position of audience by the fact that The Great Gatsby is narrated in the third person. In the style of a game of “telephone” (telegram?), we are first introduced to Gatsby by an outsider, who originally hears about Gatsby through gossip, which people have picked up from friends of friends that might as well have overheard it from a passing trolley.

Although hearsay works in Gatsby’s favor for a while, it doesn’t take long for the posh New Yorkers who crash his parties to smell that he’s not one of their own. Gradually, the narrator uncovers the truth of Gatsby’s history: Jay is a small-town, uneducated bootlegger hell-bent on winning back the (now-married) girl of his dreams. Highly damaging personal secrets aside, we nevertheless end up with very little sense of what’s going on in Jay’s head, just most of Gatsby’s party-goers have no sense of / appreciation for the good guy he really is. By playing the part of a wealthy social elite, the true Gatsby becomes just as inaccessible to big-city society as it is to him. Looks like not much has changed since the days of your brother’s tree-fort clubhouse.

In a vast departure from Gatsby, we get the sense that Prufrock was born and bred into his rigid bourgeois society – and that nothing could be more stifling. Although he longs more than anything to share his feelings with a mysterious unnamed woman, he feels crippled by social convention, ultimately deciding to tell her nothing at all. The first-person narration of “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” is completely inseparable from Prufrock’s innermost thoughts and feelings, leaving us with almost no objective sense of the things around him. In fact, scholars still don’t agree on whether the poem is about a romantic interlude gone wrong or an imagined scenario whose imagined failure prompts Prufrock to keep his mouth shut.

By placing an impenetrable barrier between the reader and the external reality of the poem, Prufrock forces us to share his sense of separation from the outside world, which consists of formality, routine, triviality, and lots and lots of tea. Looking out through Prufrock’s eyes is like looking through the bars of a jail: virtually everything he describes is segmented into parts, whether they be “faces that you meet,” “hands of days,” “eyes that fix you,” “[a]rms that are braceleted,” “long fingers,” “nerves in patterns,” or even the interrupted back-and-forth s tructure of the narrative itself. This moody “pair of claws” is torn over how to convey his feelings to an unfeeling culture, and it definitely shows in the dismembered bodies that surround him. Prufrock is the depressive to Gatsby’s manic – though perhaps the two could bond over a pint, a good cry, and the fact that neither of them ever gets the girl.

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Candle Making – Beeswax Vs Paraffin Wax

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There are many different kinds of wax used in making candles including paraffin, beeswax, soy wax, gel wax, and palm wax. The two most common waxes used today are beeswax and paraffin, but soy wax is rising in popularity. Let’s compare paraffin wax and beeswax.

Paraffin wax was discovered by Carl Reichenbach in 1830 and by the late 1800s this was the most common wax used in candle making. Liquid paraffin is known as mineral oil and has many cosmetic and medical purposes. Before the discovery of paraffin, natural waxes and fats were used for candles. In North America, the two most common waxes used were bayberry wax and beeswax. Around the world people used the available natural resources for waxes, such as the wax derived from the tallow tree in China. All these waxes have different traits. They burn at different rates and some are fragrant while others are not.

Beeswax is suitably named because it is taken from the hive of the honeybee. After the honey is removed the wax is cleaned by melting and straining of all debris. Beeswax has a golden color and a sweet fragrance that has made it a favorite for centuries. Sometimes beeswax will be bleached to make it white.

It burns very slowly and does not shrink as it hardens so beeswax does not need the topping off step when making a candle. The biggest deterrent to using beeswax for candles is that it is soft and sticky so it doesn’t release well from the candle mold.

Paraffin wax is a by-product created in the petroleum industry. It is a white semi-transparent hard wax and is suitable for lots of different uses in candle making. It is not sticky like beeswax and therefore releases well from most molds. It has no scent at all and burns faster than beeswax. Paraffin has different melting points so it is important to purchase the correct melting point for the type of candle you are making. For example, container candles need paraffin with a melting point of 126-131 degrees Fahrenheit while candles created by overdipping need a melting point of 154-156 degrees Fahrenheit. The melting point of a wax is the temperature at which the wax becomes liquid. The flash point, or temperature at which the wax ignites, rises as the melting point does. There are many different grades of paraffin and basically you get what you pay for.

To sum up, you should choose your wax by considering the characteristics listed above and the appropriateness to the method or type of candle you are making.

Beautiful ready-made candles

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The Best Tips to Avail the Most From Search Engine Optimisation

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It is not difficult to get a listing on the various search engines when your website details are being looked for. The challenge, however, is to achieve top rankings on these search engines. There are certain tricks of the trade that need to be followed in order to get the desired ranking.

So, how does one go about it? Here are a few basic points that you need to incorporate in the making of your website that will help you achieve the desired result.

Avoid purchasing a new domain unless it is necessary to do so

The search engine gives a lot of value to the fact as to how long your website and its domain have been in business. No doubt, there is a way out here according to which you can redirect your old domain to the new one. But your best bet would still remain to stick to your existing website.

If you are for some unavoidable reason forced to start from scratch and use a brand new domain, then you should be prepared to experience some loss in the traffic flow of search engines. This loss of traffic can be for a few weeks or more. It could even go up to few months or more.

Always make sure that your site’s optimisation is done for the users

The optimisation of your website should always be done for the users and not the search engines. This is important because search engines only look for websites based on the key terms which are punched in by users.

Now, if the keywords which are typed in by the users are in anyway related to your website, then these users account for your target audience. Thus, it is important that your site’s optimisation is done keeping users in mind. If you are not clear about who your target audience is then you need find it out as soon as possible.

Do an extensive research about your keyword phrases

There are chances that the keyword which you think your target audience is looking for may be incorrect. There are many research tools which can help you point out the key phrases which can help in your website optimisation.

You can compile a list of the relevant phrases for your website and then can choose a few different ones for each page.

Design and format your website on the basis of your keyword research

It is important that you design and categorise the navigation and architecture of your website on the basis of the keyword research which you have done for your web page.

Equally important is ensuring that your website is crawler-friendly. Thus, it should be well connected with proper links to all its pages. It is also vital is to write a compelling content for the key pages of your website and it should based on the keywords and phrases that you have researched about.

Most importantly, ensure that the website is link worthy and keep yourself and your website updated with the keywords.

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50 Popular Beliefs That People Think Are True by Guy P. Harrison

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50 Popular Beliefs That People Think Are True

Of course what is implied is that these beliefs are not true, or at least unproven. And as it happens that’s quite right, he sets about dismantling each of these beliefs. Harrison does this by assembling the facts, the evidence, the basis of the story. Where did it come from? Who said this? What evidence is there for this belief? With some beliefs like flying saucers, he is ready to believe, he does not dispute the possibility, but is waiting for reliable evidence, which he shows does not yet exist. Because something is not understood, that does not mean we should believe in some explanation that has no factual basis, like ancient Greeks thinking Zeus was throwing lightning bolts whenever there was a storm.

There are plenty of beliefs to consider. Here’s a list of a dozen.

You’re Either Born Smart Or You’re Not.

Astrology is Scientific

A Psychic Read My Mind

Atlantis is Down There Somewhere

Creationism is True and Evolution is Not

Stories of Past Lives Prove Reincarnation is Real

Ghosts Are Real and They Live in Haunted Houses

UFOs Are Visitors From Other Worlds

Area 51 is Where They Keep the Aliens

My Religion is the One That is True

Global Warming is A Political Issue and Nothing More

Television News Gives Me An Accurate View of the World

Well there are still about 40 more beliefs to be examined.

This is an interesting book, one that you can dip into at any chapter. First he gives a presentation of the belief, and then explains why it is false or unsubstantiated. That is, he gives factual evidence, not opinions.

Yet there is another aspect to this book; someone who believes in Creationism– that the world is only 6,000 years old and was created in six days–is not going to be convinced by any amount of factual information. Their beliefs are not evidence-based, but faith-based. People who believe in many of these beliefs do so not from logical, scientific, reasoned information, they do it from emotional convictions, or accepting the word of some authority. Facts are not going to disturb their beliefs. And yes, they have a perfect right to their beliefs as all of us have.

We can understand that, because most of our beliefs become set with emotion, and once that happens it is hard to shift them. For example, most of us vote for one political party, and will do so all our lives no matter what happens. It is the small number of swinging voters who actually decide who wins elections.

Harrison met a woman in California who carried a sandwich board which proclaimed the world would end on May 21, 2011. She believed that 97% of the world’s population would be destroyed; only the faithful, the chosen, would be taken to heaven. Despite all his arguments, she was utterly convinced of her belief. The Judgement day had been proclaimed by Harold Camping, but when it failed to occur he told his followers, it was an “invisible Judgment Day” and the actual date of destruction had been revised to October 21, 2011. Even after this, many of his followers still believed in his prophecy.

This book is interesting reading, particularly if you are prepared to listen to what is presented. For example, “A Flying Saucer Crashed Near Roswell, New Mexico, in 1947… “ Personally, I have always had doubts about this, possibly it could be right, yep, I saw some blurred photo of a Martian, but was never quite convinced either way. It is nice to get some unbiased information about something that so many people believe in.

Reading this book will expand your understanding of life. It gives you both sides of many issues, and teaches you to consider the facts, the science if there is any, without swallowing some internet story without thought.

Harrison points out that good sceptics don’t accept any wacky claim that comes along without evidence, but neither do they reject wacky claims totally. There is always a door left open, waiting for evidence.

Harrison discusses some of his own experiences, which leads him to understand why people believe things that are not true. He tells of his college days when he lived in an old two-storey house. Often he was alone in the upstairs section, but he would hear creaking noises, as if someone was walking around downstairs. When he investigated, he found nothing. Although he logically came to accept this, his emotions often cried out with fear. So when he hears of people believing that a house is haunted, he feels some sympathy, some understanding.

He makes an interesting point about miracle cures by evangelical preachers when he points out that although there have been many thousands of people who say they are cured from various illnesses, in all history there has never been a case of an amputee being restored. The cures are all on the inside. He once went to a religious meeting and wrote about an elderly woman who was taken up to the stage, blessed, and cured of cancer. He wrote this case up for his newspaper. But the following week she died. The newspaper editor told him not to run the story of her death. So people were misled.

Harrison explains how we accept some of these beliefs. Think of a stage magician, he is not using magic to perform these miraculous tricks. He is using Tricks! Smoke and mirrors, psychological tricks, false panels. Sure, you can enjoy the “magic” but don’t for a minute believe in his “magical powers” just because you don’t understand how his tricks are done.

In this book, each belief fits into a larger pattern, such as Magical Thinking, or Strange Healings. At the end of each chapter he provides a list of books that give evidence about each belief so that you can follow-up with some more detailed information.

If you read this book, it is certain that you will broaden your mind, and learn to think more objectively. You will be more aware, not sceptical, but less unsuspecting.

Finally, he provides a theory as to why people continue to believe unproven, discredited beliefs.

“… it is important to be aware of how we perceive and assess the world around us. We know that humans are pattern-seeking creatures. Without even trying, we naturally attempt to connect the dots in almost everything we see and hear. This is a great ability if you are trying to catch a camouflaged bird in a tree for your dinner… But pattern seeking also leads us to see things that are not there… which might waste our time and maybe get us into trouble… we also have a tendency to automatically make connections and find patterns in our thinking. This is one reason that unlikely conspiracy theories are able to take root and blossom in the minds of so many people.”

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