Serial: Season One: Final Thoughts

Hello all, and welcome back to the good ol’ blog. I believe that this will be my last post, so I’ll try to make it a good one!

In this post, I’m going back to discussing the podcast Serial, and my final thoughts as to Adnan Syed’s guilt or innocence. I finished the first season with Episode 12: What We Know, which you guys can find here.

I’ll admit, at first, I thought Adnan Syed was guilty. After all, he’s been tried in a court of law, and found guilty. If the court system is throwing innocent people in jail, especially on a charge as significant as this, can we trust it? I feel that the answer is no. If we begin to doubt the justice system, the world begins to fall apart, dissolving into corruption and conspiracy, whether actual or merely perceived. For this reason, I, and I believe most people, put their faith in the court system, and trust the outcomes of its processes.

The court system (Russia Now).

Sarah Koenig, the narrator of this podcast changed my thoughts a little bit. She pointed out that much of the evidence used to convict Syed is very unreliable and circumstantial. No one knows if Syed made the call, or if Jay Wilds did, or if it was someone else! Someone could know who made the call, and could be lying, or not telling anyone at all. It’s a mess, and I don’t think that the cell phone records are reliable. Also, the other outstanding piece of evidence is the testimony of Jay Wilds. HIs story changed, and some of the information he provided was proved false. There are several alibis, all for different people. To put it in the word’s of Koenig, the case is a mess (Serial “What We Know”). It’s incredible to think that the case and verdict took as little time as they did, when it appears that the case should have dragged out for months, even years.

There is also the issue of Asia McClain.  She provided Syed with a very clear alibi, stating that he was at the library at the time of the murder, with her, chatting.  McClain even went so far as to provide a signed affidavit affirming her statement.  For no particular reason, this was never explored in court, not even mentioned.  Furthermore, Asian McClain was never even contacted by Syed’s lawyer, Cristina Gutierrez.

A picture of Asia McClain (Khan)

Speaking of Gutierrez, that’s a mystery in and of itself.  She did not explore many possibilities and pieces of evidence that may have resulted in Adnan Syed being found guilty.  Strange thing for a defense attorney to do to her client.  Some, including Koenig, have speculated that Gutierrez may have planned to appeal the case, and then win there, allowing her to charge the Syed more money.  Before this could happen, an investigation occured and Gutierrez was disbarred for overcharging her clients.  In the years since, Gutierrez has died, forever leaving these questions unanswered (Serial “The Alibi”) .  I must ask, though, is it possible that Syed’s lawyer could have blown the case in an effort to make more money in the appeal.  Would a lawyer be able to send someone who they are supposed to protect to prison for more money?


US Currency is seen in this January 30,
Money, money, money (Tight Lines).


There is also the issue of another criminal.  According to Episode 12 of Serial, the Innocence Project found that a criminal was released around the same time that Hae Min Lee was killed, and that he was known to have killed in a similar way to the way Lee was found.  DNA testing was being performed at the time of the episode airing, and I was not able to find the results.


Something has happened, that also helped change my mind.  Syed and his lawyer have come forward and asked for a new trial, thanks to the evidence uncovered by Sarah Koenig and the Serial podcast (Anderson).  The court has not yet decided on whether or not to grant the motion, but it has been delayed for a considerable length of time, meaning that there is serious consideration going on about the case and its verdict.  This influences my opinion and thoughts the greatest, pushing me to believing in Syed’s innocence more and more.  If a court is taking over a year to reach a decision on whether or not to give Syed a new trial, I begin to question the original verdict (Fenton).


New trial for Syed (Fraser)?


All facts taken into account, I feel that Adnan Syed is innocent.  There are too many inconsistencies and an appalling lack of solid evidence involved in this case.  The details and facts of this case are so few and far in between that I don’t think Syed’s case should ever have been brought to trial.  I understand that the prosecution probably wanted to solve a murder, and to bring closure to a grieving family, but at the cost of a young man’s freedom?  The court is supposed to find a defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, and I don’t think that the jury was really able to do this with the case, as I can’t.  I can’t even imagine being able to, when imagining just the facts that were available at the time of the trial…

I believe that Sarah Koenig and the entire team of Serial has done some excellent investigative journalism, and uncovered interesting issues and details of the case.  They have brought the attention of the world onto an old case in Maryland, and this may result in the exoneration of an innocent man.  It will be interesting to see what the ultimate outcome of the case will be, and I will definitely be waiting to hear it.


Serial (Cresswell)


That’s all for now!  A huge thank you to all my readers, for doing just that, reading.  Alec Gilvesy, signing off.

Works Cited

Anderson, Jessica. “Appeals Court to Hear Arguments June 8 on Whether ‘Serial’ Subject Syed Should Receive New Trial.” 31 May 2017. Web. 28 July 2017.

Cresswell, Leanne. “Serial Podcast: Episode 1 ‘The Alibi’ – Summary.” Leanne Cresswell. 05 Dec. 2016. Image. 28 July 2017.

“Episode 01: The Alibi.” Serial. Podcast. 28 July 2017.
“Episode 12: What We Know.” Serial. Podcast. 28 July 2017.
“Faith and Money.” Tight Lines. Image. 28 July 2017.
Fenton, Justin. “Appeals Court Takes up ‘Serial’ Case, Could Extend Resolution by a Year or More.” 18 Jan. 2017. Web. 28 July 2017.
Fraser, Keith. “B.C. Man Convicted of Sex Offences against Minor Gets New Trial.” Vancouver Sun. 08 Feb. 2017. Image. 28 July 2017.
Khan, Mariam. “Asia McClain Speaks Out About ‘Serial”s Adnan Syed.” ABC News. ABC News Network. Image. 28 July 2017.
“Russian Intellectual Property Court to Review Procter & Gamble Claim in Trademark Dispute.” Russia Now. 11 July 2016. Image. 28 July 2017.


My Thoughts on “Serial”, Episode One

Welcome back to another blog, readers!  Today, I’ve got something very interesting to discuss: cereal.

A very interesting bowl of cereal (Crawford)

Er.  No.  Actually, that popular podcast Serial, and the first episode of the first season.  For those, who don’t know, the first season of Serial is the story of the investigation a journalist, Sarah Koenig, does on the second-degree murder conviction of Adnan Syed.  Here is a link to the first episode, The Alibi.


Adnan Syed in a photo from Serial.

Personally, I really liked this episode.  I’m also not the only one.  The average number of times each episode of “Serial” has been downloaded, as of December 22, 2014, is 3.4 million (Roberts 14)!  Obviously, many people, including I, found it interesting to see how, even many years after Adnan Syed’s case was closed, people took up an interest in this young man, and whether or not he is guilty.  I love mysteries, and the justice system, and I think that many people enjoy these too.  Just the first episode of this podcast features mysteries such as Asia McClain and her missing, changing testimony, and which witness is telling the truth.  I expect many more of these mysteries, possibly with some of them being solved in the next few episodes.  It was after listening to this podcast that I wondered how the Syed family felt about it.  I thought that they would be supportive of the podcast, because it is bringing attentions to an issue that is still going on for them, and it might result in action happening in their favour.  I also worried that their initial excitement and hope would quickly be replaced with sadness, as the conviction has already been made, and was made quite a long time ago.  To see how accurate I was in my thoughts, I made a quick Google search, and found out, in an article from The Baltimore Sun.   It turns out that the Syed family was brought back to life, in a way.  The podcast and its popularity showed them that they weren’t the only ones in believing that Adnan is innocent (George).

A podcast logo (The Samplecast).


This is my first podcast, and I have to admit that I quite enjoy the experience.  It’s a lot like reading, but you are able to do something else while you listen.  For this reason, I think that podcasts are better at telling stories than books.  With books and reading, you can imagine the world and characters explained, but with podcasts, you can take your focus off, and lay back and close your eyes, and become fully immersed in the universe of the story.  To read, you have to stay focused, and you must devote your time and energy to reading alone, which makes it less attractive.  Also, reading may give you some details, but podcasts allow for different characters to have different voices, and different expressions and pronunciations, which makes what is being told more engaging.

Sarah Koenig, the investigative journalist and narrator of Serial, begins this episode by interviewing different people around Adnan Syed’s age at the time of the murder about 21 minutes on a Friday six weeks ago.  I really thought that the responses were quite funny, as two friends contradicted each other in their recollections.  It goes to show that the human mind can be influenced by a number of factors, and it can be difficult to recall what exactly happened.  Even memories from a few days ago are often distorted and changed representations of what actually happened at the time.  I, personally, do not think that I would be able to remember exactly what happened in that specific period, and I would describe myself as a person with a very good memory.  In a time without smartphones, the task gets even harder.  It will be interesting to see how, in future episodes, what evidence can be gotten from witnesses, and how reliable it is, from both perspectives; the defense’s, and the prosecution’s.

Sarah Koenig (Parco).

I think this podcast is an interesting example of what investigative journalism is, and what it can become.  This podcast has generated a great deal of interest, and has done a lot of good for Adnan Syed.  He is getting a new trial, where the evidence used in his conviction will be reviewed, and the evidence explored in this first episode, that of Asia McClain’s alibi for Syed, will be considered (Silman).  If investigative journalism done in this way can have this massive effect of being able to get a court to review a case over fifteen years old, and attract the interest of millions of people across the world, I believe that it should be done more often, on a variety of issues.  Investigative journalism is how the biggest stories break, and how the public learns about events and happenings that they otherwise may not.  This podcast started small, and snowballed into something much bigger than itself.  With websites, Facebook pages, Twitter hashtags, subreddits, and news stories all devoted to this cause, and begun because of this podcast and its impact.  Sarah Koenig has created something unique, and it will be something to watch in the future.

In conclusion, I think that Serial is a very unique and interesting podcast, and concept.  It is an example of how modern technology and social networks can influence the world, and shape media and people.  A great deal of good has been done, I feel, by Serial, and it will be interesting to see the outcome of Syed’s new trial.  I’ll keep listening to the episodes, and stay tuned to the news.  Until next time, readers!

Works Cited

Crawford, Elizabeth. “Healthy Cereals Could Help Industry Grow Modestly in 5 Years, IBISWorld Predicts.” 12 Feb. 2015. Web. 21 July 2017.

“Episode 01: The Alibi.” Serial. Web. 21 July 2017.

George, Justin. “‘Serial’ Brings Healing to Syed Family.” 20 June 2016. Web. 21 July 2017.

Parco, Nicholas. “Sarah Koenig Is ‘shocked’ That Adnan Syed Is Getting a New Trial.” NY Daily News. 06 July 2016. Web. 21 July 2017.

“Podcast.” The Samplecast. Web. 21 July 2017.

Roberts, Amy. “The ‘Serial’ Podcast: By the Numbers.” CNN. Cable News Network, 23 Dec. 2014. Web. 21 July 2017.

Silman, Anna. “The “Serial” Effect: Adnan Syed Gets a New Hearing – and Potential Alibi Witness Asia McClain Will Be Heard.” Salon. Web. 21 July 2017.

Post-Colonial Literary Theory and Robert Macfarlane’s “The Wild Places”

Hello, all!  Here’s a video, which explains post-colonial literary theory and how it relates to The Wild Places.  I’ve included a transcript below.

Hi guys, and welcome back to my blog!  This time we’re discussing the second half of Robert Macfarlane’s The Wild Places, and how it relates to post-colonialism literary theory.

To start things off, I’ll establish who the coloniser is, and who the colonised is.  In this book, humans are the colonisers, and the wild places of the United Kingdom are being colonised.  I’ll give you an example to show how this is the case.    Macfarlane, the author, visits a holloway on one of his journeys, which is essentially “[a] route that centuries of use has eroded down into the bedrock, so that it is recessed beneath the level of the surrounding landscape.  Most will have started out as drove paths, paths to market.  Some as Saxon or pre-Saxon boundary ditches.  And some, like the holloways near Bury St Edmunds, as pilgrim paths.” (135).  These paths are created out of the landscape by human actions.  The people responsible for creating these paths, pushed nature and the wilderness out of their way, and forced their will upon it.  This aligns perfectly with post-colonialism literary theory, because it is clear that there are two, distinct groups: the humans, the colonisers; and the wilderness, the colonised.  

This theme of the wilderness being oppressed and changed is frequently mentioned in the book.  I’ll give you another example.  Robert Macfarlane has a friend, Roger.  Roger has a farm, and has lived there for a considerable length of time, almost forty years.  At the time Roger first moved to his farm, “…he estimated there to be four miles of hedge within half a mile of his house, excluding his land, and a total of thirty-seven miles of hedge in the parish itself.  Now only one and a half miles were left in his vicinity, and no more than eight miles in the entire parish.” (Macfarlane 140).  This is just in one parish, but, “[s]ince the Second World War, the UK’s ancient hedgerows have dramatically declined due to removal to increase field size and to make way for development. By the 1990s, 121,000 km of hedgerows had been lost across the UK.” (The Wildlife Trusts 8).  This shows that the destruction of these hedgerows is very widespread, and has been occurring for quite some time.

In these two examples, you can see that there is a trend of almost hostility towards the wild, where humankind bends the wilderness to its will.  These two examples also show how this is done both consciously, and unconsciously, but both examples have the common fact that the colonisation of the wilderness benefits humanity.  Whether it is so that people are able to transport their goods to market more efficiently through the holloways, or for farmers to remove hedgerows to create larger fields, for more efficient farming, the destruction of the wild has clear benefits for mankind.  

Robert Macfarlane, in one of his travels, visits Orford Ness.  The Ness is a place consisting mainly of shingles, with sparse vegetation.  Its size and shape shifts with every tide and storm, and wind is constant.  Even in a place such as this, humanity has left their mark, with “…enigmatic military structures…protrud[ing] from the shingle – pre-fabricated barracks, listening stations, beacons, watch-towers, bunkers, [and] explosion chambers.” (Macfarlane 161).  The resilience of humankind, and our ability to build and shape nearly every location and landscape is remarkable, but it is also damaging.  Humanity often has little regard for the importance of the wilderness, typical of the colonisers for the colonised, and this importance is often not recognised until too late.

Nearer to the end of the book The Wild Places, there is almost a reversal of the theme of the book, where instead of the humans being the colonisers, and the wilds the colonised, humankind and its civilisation and legacies are shown to be colonised by the wilderness.  For example, Macfarlane mentions what happened with the wilderness around Chernobyl in the years after the disaster, and the establishment of the exclusion zone.  He mentions that “…silver birch now throng the empty streets and court-yards.  Flower meadows of exceptional botanical diversity have grown up through the paving stones.  Forests of pine and willow have populated the city’s outskirts…” (175).  This reversal of the roles of coloniser and colonised is unique, and interesting, as it is not evident in other works.  Macfarlane does not say that this reclamation by nature is happening soon, but rather that it is coming.  With global warming, and rising sea levels, settlements will be abandoned, and “[v]egetable and faunal life will reclaim them: the opportunist pioneer species first – dog-rose, elder, fireweed, crows…” (175).  Global warming and the rise of the sea can almost be seen as the revenge of nature for colonisation, and they are very real events, that are happening. Evidence such as “[c]ore samples, tide gauge readings, and, most recently, satellite measurements tell us that over the past century, the Global Mean Sea Level (GMSL) has risen by 4 to 8 inches (10 to 20 centimeters).” (National Geographic 1).  It is human activity that has caused this rise, and nature is fighting back, similar to the colonised rising up against the colonisers.

I hope I’ve outlined how The Wild Places demonstrates attributes of post-colonialism literary theory, and offered some insight as to how humanity interacts with the wilderness.  The wild is essential to the planet for a myriad of reasons, and how we use and treat this wild can have a significant impact on the environment, both short-term and long-term.  We must take care, and be mindful of what we use from the wilderness, for these reasons.  Thanks for reading, everyone!  See you soon!

Works Cited

Hedgerows | CPRE Herefordshire. Web. 20 July 2017.

CITiZAN – Blog – Orford Ness: An Amazing Landscape with a Rich and Varied History – and an Extremely Dynamic Coastline. Web. 20 July 2017.

“Dog-rose – Rosa Canina.” Dog-rose | NatureSpot. Web. 20 July 2017.

Douville, Amanda. “Inside the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone.” NY Daily News. 26 Apr. 2016. Web. 20 July 2017.

Faherty, Mike. “Symondsbury, Holloway.” Symondsbury, Holloway (C) Mike Faherty :: Geograph Britain and Ireland. Web. 20 July 2017.

Farminguk. “Farming Connect: Potential of Tree and Hedgerow Planting to Reduce Frequency and Impact of Flood Events – Farming UK News.” Farminguk. FarmingUK, 03 Nov. 2016. Web. 20 July 2017.

“FireweedChamerion Angustifolium.” Edible Wild Food. Web. 20 July 2017.

“Hedgerows.” Hedgerows | The Wildlife Trusts. Web. 20 July 2017.

Macfarlane, Robert. “The Wild Places.” Goodreads. Web. 20 July 2017.

Macfarlane, Robert. The Wild Places. New York: Penguin, 2008. Print.

“Orfordness.” The Crown and Castle. Web. 20 July 2017.

“Treasures from the Hedgerow: Elderflower Cordial.” The Teacup Chronicles. 15 July 2010. Web. 20 July 2017.

Warne, Kennedy. “Sea Level Rise.” National Geographic. 07 Apr. 2017. Web. 20 July 2017.

“The Circle of Life. The Little Elder Tree Mother. Elderberry Syrup and Tea!” Wildlettucegal’s Blog. 22 July 2015. Web. 20 July 2017.

Archetypal Literary Theory and Robert Macfarlane’s “The Wild Places”

Hey, guys!  Welcome back to another blog post!  This time, I’m discussing archetypal literary theory and the role it plays in Robert Macfarlane’s  The Wild Places.  For those who don’t know, The Wild Places is a novel written about the author and his journey to find the last remaining wild places of the United Kingdom.  Although I’m only halfway through, I’d highly recommend that you give it a read!


The Wild Places, Robert Macfarlane


The main character in The Wild Places is the author himself, Robert Macfarlane.  In the novel, Robert fits quite well into the archetype of the Hero.  I say this because he is on a sort of quest, if you will, and feels the draw to go on the quest, like many heroes in other tales; “For weeks before the windstorm, I had felt the familiar desire to move, to get beyond the fall-line of the incinerator’s shadow, beyond the event-horizon of the city’s ring road.” (Macfarlane 10) Unlike many heroes, I would say, Macfarlane plans out his journey, “I listed hill-forts, barrows and tumuli in the Welsh marshes and the south-western counties, and plotted routes between them.” (Macfarlane 15). In my experience, most heroes start off with a rough idea of where they are, and where they want to go, then make up the in-between as they go.

Throughout his travels, Macfarlane both brings along with him different characters fulfilling the archetype of the Mentor, including his father and an old friend, but also gathers information from those he meets along the way. For instance, whilst exploring a river-mouth, he encounters a lumberjack by the name of Angus. Angus invites Macfarlane to come fishing with him the next day, to which Macfarlane agrees. It is when they are fishing that Angus points out “…the ruins of a nineteenth-century look-out point. [It was there that] [d]uring the spawning season, men would sit there watching for incoming shoals of salmon.” (Macfarlane 78). It is through the teachings of his companions that the author learns more about the wild places that he visits, and their histories. Gathering mementos and objects from the places of his travels also helps Macfarlane remember and learn about these places. It was from his parents, one of whom accompanies him on one of his travels, that he learned to do this; “My habit of gathering stones and other talismans was a family one. My parents were collectors. Shelves and window-sills in my house were covered in shells, pebbles, twists of driftwood from rivers and sea.” (Macfarlane 58)

There is also a fair amount of symbolism through things such as water and wood, in this book. For example, a piece of pine wood that Macfarlane picks up in the moor symbolises life, even after death in this case, since the wood is long dead; “I placed the pine fragment at the end of the loose line of objects, and it watched me with its knot-eye while I worked” (Macfarlane 58). Trees are very important in many cultures, often representing life, sometimes even people. For example, First Nations teachings “speak of trees as ‘The Standing People’.” (Touch Wood Rings 4). Pine, specifically, symbolises peace (Touch Wood Rings 9).

Knotty pine driftwood


Water is also key in Macfarlane’s journey, being present in almost every location in some form or another. The many forms of water mentioned in the book, from sea to snow, from river to loch, show how water, archetypically, is used to symbolise rebirth. I think that, since Macfarlane mentions water so much, and that water is a symbol of rebirth, he is stating, albeit indirectly, that, although much of the wilderness of the United Kingdom has been lost today, he hopes that at least some of it will be able to reclaimed in the future.

Colours and the archetypes they represent are also mentioned frequently in this work. Macfarlane begins with describing the phosphorescence of the ocean off of Ynys Enlli, “I walked down to the edge, squatted, and waved a hand in the water. It blazed purple, orange, yellow and silver.” (Macfarlane 29).

Ocean phosphorescence


The number of colours and their vibrance, I feel, symbolises the many wonders of nature, much like the colours of autumn leaves mentioned in numerous films and books, and how the different aspects of it can be the same, whilst other aspects remain different. Also mentioned in the book so far is the colour white, as in the snow found in the Black Wood, “A flake fell on the dark cloth fell on the dark cloth of my jacket, and melted into it, like a ghost passing through a wall.” (Macfarlane 60). The archetypical role of the colour white is to symbolise innocence, whilst dark colours, such as black, are used to symbolise darkness, chaos and upheaval. The fact that the white melts into the dark is representative of the white innocence of the woods and the wild melting into and being absorbed by the dark human machine.

As I hope I’ve made clear to all of you, there are quite a few good examples of archetypes in The Wild Places, at least in the first half. I encourage you all to look into it a bit more, maybe even read it! Just in case there are a few of you out there who will take me up on that, I’ll try to stay away from giving away too much, but I’ll still keep everyone up to date and posted on what happens in the second half. That’s all for now, and thanks for reading!

Works Cited:

Driftwood. Digital image. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 July 2017.

Macfarlane, Robert. The Wild Places. London: Granta , 2010. Print.

Ocean Phosphorescence. Digital image. Pinterest. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 July 2017.

The qualities of wood for your wood ring. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 July 2017.

The Wild Places. Digital image. Amazon India. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 July 2017.

Why Grade Twelve English Should Be a Requirement for all University Courses

Hello, surfers of the Internet!  Have you ever wondered why Grade 12 University Level English is a requirement for so many university courses?  It may seem unrelated in many fields, such as in engineering and in mathematics, but the skills learned in English are essential in almost everywhere, no matter what your interests are!  Today, I will be talking a little bit about how.

Learning how to analyze material in a manner such as explored in English classes is a valuable skill, and it is not taught in any other course.  Universities value this greatly, as evidenced by the fact that two of the top-ranked schools in Canada, McGill in Montréal,

McGill Arts Building, in Montréal

and U of T in Toronto, require 4U English for nearly all of their programs.  For instance,

University of Toronto, St. George Campus, Toronto


in engineering, writing up a report is a necessary skill.  Without some of the vital skills that one learns in English through doing things like writing an essay, writing things like these reports would be much more difficult, with the final product being of a much lower quality.  With these top two universities, one of which I hope to attend, valuing English so much, I want to do my best in the class, to learn the valuable skills it offers, and take this with me to university.

English class also provides an ideal environment for learning both teamwork and individual work.  For example, when I was making my director’s notebook in grade 11, I was working with 5 or 6 people, all with different skills, abilities and comfort levels.  It was only through working together that we were able to get the project complete, and with the highest level of quality.

Teamwork is a vital skill, exercised in English

As for working alone, grade 11 English also helped me to do this, and to do it well.  Managing the time required to produce lengthy literature analyses was difficult, but it helped me in my second semester, where I had two science courses and a math, and I know that it will continue to be of use to me in the future.  Time management and teamwork skills are essential in university, since, for many, it is their first time on their own, and they must manage their time well, to avoid slipping behind.  This further adds to the value grade 12 English courses have to universities.

Finally, English is communication.  Communicating is one of the most important things we do as human beings, and this is quintessential in school, in the workplace, and in life.  I love to talk to my teachers.  It’s the best way to express my thoughts and ideas, whether it be in writing, through analyses and essays, or verbally, through debates and discussions.  If you can’t communicate well with your professors in universities, you aren’t going to do as well as if you could.

All in all, folks, remember that English courses should be required for university courses because they provide many, many valuable skills that are applicable in university and beyond, no matter what field you are in.  That’s it for now! Peace!


“Ontario high school.” Ontario high school | Applying to Undergraduate Studies – McGill University. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 July 2017.

“Undergraduate Programs.” Undergraduate Programs | University of Toronto. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 July 2017.