Monthly Archives: November 2011



Lincoln, in this quote, is saying that Douglas’s argument is incredibly shallow and without substance. A type of argument that would qualify as one “as thin as homeopathic soup” is one that argues expectations over results, or theory over reality. Such was the argument held by American Socialists like Frances Fox Piven in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Socialists expected that an omnipotent federal government would be capable of reducing poverty and increasing the well-being of society. What they failed to see, however, was that such all-powerful governments had always failed to achieve equality in the past; indeed, in Socialist Russia and Communist China, what began as crusades for equity and equality turned into governments in which the disparity between the rich and the poor was far, far greater. As Thomas Sowell points out, any effort to ascribe to a group of people any social status, inferiority, equality, or even superiority, must necessarily take away freedoms from that group of people. For the same reason that Piven’s argument is irrelevant, Douglas’s argument for popular sovereignty is too. Douglas expected that popular sovereignty would reflect the will of the people, but in reality, the process faced problems such as border ruffians and squatting voters. Even more importantly, the desire of the slaves to be free could not be reflected in this popular sovereignty system because slaves could not yet vote.


For further inquiry, Robert chose:

“His argument is as thin as the homeopathic soup that was made by boiling the shadow of a pigeon that had been starved to death.”

~ Abraham Lincoln, speaking of Stephan Douglas

Lincoln extends a simile and thereby extends the possibility for nuance in his meaning.  Please think of what type of argument would be so poor, and, after putting the above quote into your own words, please describe this argument.  Use examples if you get too abstract.  8 sentence minimum.



“I go on working for the same reason that a hen goes on laying eggs.”

H.L. Mencken

I had a hard time analyzing this quote. To be honest, I had no clue why hens even laid eggs, except for to reproduce (which was probably not what the quote meant). Did hens themselves even know why they were laying eggs? I actually googled “why do hens lay eggs” but there were no relevant results. It seems that everyone else is satisfied with the answer being that they just do because they can. I thought and thought for a long duration of time and then it hit me— because they can. If a hen were fertile and capable of laying eggs, why wouldn’t it? Just like the logic behind that, I understood that if I am capable of working, why not work? This quote made me think about a homework assignment a teacher at school gave me in 6th grade. It was not the typical one-night assignment with one task for the student to work on. It was a long sheet of math questions. We could do as many or as little as we wanted (because it was a busy week at school and the teacher was being thoughtful), there was no penalty either way. At first I was set on doing just a few problems, but then after I had completed those, I had nothing else to do. I felt almost uncomfortable just sitting on the couch doing nothing, so I did the rest of the problems. My mindset then was, if I am able to do the work and there is nothing stopping me, why not? There will be a time later in my life when I am unable to do work, and so I might as well work while I can. It seems to me now that the small hen knew a valuable lesson before I did.

The only way to enjoy life is work. Work is much more fun than fun.”


Unlike with the other quote, I understood what this one meant immediately. I instantly thought of last year—  a few months after the BP oil spill. This quote resonates with an assignment Mr. Watt assigned me last fall. I was to write an essay on the spill. After I had figured out what were my opinions on the issue and I began to write, I began wanting to spend time working on my writing. The topic was interesting and being able to help the environment made me feel good about myself. After a while, I actually started working on my piece for fun instead of watching TV or going online. The “normal” fun that I had is something I still enjoy, but while writing the essay I felt as if it was not exciting enough. I not only took more pleasure in writing the essay, but also acknowledged the sense of accomplishment that would follow the completion of the piece. That sense of accomplishment just made the process more fun. That was something I would never be able to get if I were just on Facebook.


I can relate my work with My Childhood to H.L. Mencken’s quote. I remember spending my summertime reading My Childhood. It was very slow and difficult – just like work. I spent time going over parts I didn’t get, like you would go over the parts of homework you don’t get. Reading My Childhood can be related to the quote because I was reading it to see how the story would turn out: the hen keeps working to see how her chicks will turn out. That is the similarity between those two things. I can also relate Noel Coward’s quote to my band assignments. To enjoy my week, I first have to finish these.  When I was recording with Smart Music, I was able to play familiar tunes with my trumpet. Playing these songs was fun because I kept improving and my tone moved into clarity. I kept trying and trying to get it perfect, and when I finally finished it, I felt relieved. I played some familiar tunes that I never knew I could play, and when I finished, I got the satisfaction of finally finishing this long project. So these two quotes can definitely be related to my everyday work with Mr. Watt, and at school.


Work is necessary in order to be successful, just like how hens must lay eggs in order to be productive. From the essay prompts you assign me, I am able to map out my essay exactly, making a strong outline for my entire piece. Even though this counts as work, homework even, it does pay off in the end, because now I know how to write my Welty essay. For example, you assign me to brainstorm more on my essay questions and think of some of the books that I am going to use. This not only helps me develop the question more, but also forces me to concentrate on each of Welty’s stories.

Work may not seem more fun than fun, however, it is more fulfilling. As January is inching closer and closer, I get busier and busier in order to prepare for high school. This same time last year, I was more focused on school and had a lot of down time. However, during the times when I was surfing the web, hanging out with friends, and basically having fun, I felt unaccomplished. Now, as I get busier with more work piled on me, it feels like I achieve fulfillment and fun.