Tag: Evolution and Creation

Life finds a Way

Don’t worry, I’m not here to complain about Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom again.

Even though I’m sure I definitely could.

In my somewhat exhausted, mediocre blog post from yesterday which I completely understand if you all skipped, I mentioned that one of the highlights of the day was finally finding a mentor for my Senior Honors Project.

It has been a long time in the making, as I was supposed to find a mentor and get a proposal for my project signed off on last semester. However, I didn’t feel very confident with my project premise at the time. At least not confident enough to ask anyone to stick with me for a year on a large venture.

So I took the summer to work on the overall premise of my novel, hashing out the plot and some of the major characters. All of it was under the impression that I’d come back to campus this semester and find someone to work with me right away.

For the most part I accomplished step one, getting myself to a place of comfort with my overall idea.

However, finding someone to work with was much more difficult.

I’ve approached a good number of different professors in the Comm Department, English Department and Honors Program over the last few weeks and had very little luck.

The reasons varied, usually fitting into one of three categories. Either they had no interest in working on an Honors Project, were too busy working on other things to devote enough time or had some extraneous circumstance preventing them from helping — despite wanting to.

It was frustrating and somewhat disheartening to me, even if I completely understood where most everyone was coming from.

Though it wasn’t all negative, as many of the people I talked with were able to offer various pieces of advice that I’ve since incorporated into my ideas for the story and how I’ll be processing the writing of it.

It simply became more of a concern under the upcoming time crunch of having to register for classes at the end of October. Because one of the main drives behind finding a mentor is that multiple independent study classes are required for the project, and your mentor grades you for it.

I approached Professor McConnell, who’s one of the main Honors instructors that helps students through the project planning stage, on Monday expressing concerns that I was not having a lot of luck. He recommended a few more teachers that I should try and talk to, and said if I continued to have trouble we’d take some more drastic measures down the line.

One of the teachers he had suggested was Holly Rizzo, who I’m currently taking Mass Media Ethics with. We’ve had a few conversations in the past and I genuinely enjoy chatting with her and being in her class, so it seemed like a decent option to try.

Within about 30 minutes of asking, we had already agreed to work together. It all just clicked so well for a number of different reasons.

After months of anguish and frustration, I finally had a mentor. It felt awesome. And I had Professor McConnell to thank for pushing me in the right direction.

Or so I thought.

The story continued today, when I talked with McConnell after our class — he teaches the Evolution and Creation course I’ve been enjoying thus far and have talked about a couple times. Namely with that short thing I did on Charles Darwin.

He was really excited to hear that everything had worked out so perfectly, as I was. Said it made his day even, and that I deserved to work with someone who was eager to work with me.

Felt good to hear him say that.

But then… He pointed out that he had no idea who I was talking about with the person I’d taken on as a mentor.

As it turns out, Rizzo was not the person he has recommended I talk to.

He had recommended I talk to Heather Osborne-Thompson, a professor in the CTVA department (who I talked to at one point for a story in the Daily Titan last semester, as a fun fact for you all).

Somehow or another I took that as Holly Ocasio-Rizzo.

Signals were very much crossed somewhere along the lines. I blame the very similar H & O name structures, and probably the fact that I was busy being worried about my midterm for Rizzo the next day.

Yet, despite the fact that I had gone somewhere he did not suggest, it all worked out almost too perfectly. Professor Rizzo has experience with Honors projects that are eerily similar to what I’m working on now, and she had a bunch of really interesting ideas to present that got me more excited for what I’m working on.

I’m not a very religious person. My family kind of lives by the moniker that we’re bad Jews.

But I would be willing to argue that some semblance of fate weaved its way into this series of events. Because it really does all seem to have worked out miraculously well.

Hopefully that will continue to be a pattern with my Honors project stuff. After all, now that I’ll be getting past this phase I’ve been held up at over the last couple months, I’ll probably have a lot more to talk about around here.

And boy am I excited about it!

A quick glance at Yoruba Creation Mythology

In what seems to be the growing pattern lately, I’m rather late getting a jump on this post from a combination of going to school, doing homework and helping to straighten the house for my Grandmother coming tomorrow.

Which, looking ahead slightly, will probably give me an easy post for tomorrow. But I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.

For now, I was struggling to decide what I wanted to write about out of a rather mundane day. But then I realized (thanks to a helpful little push from Mom) that there isn’t anything wrong with just regurgitating some information I learned through my studies today as an interesting tidbit to fill a quick-and-dirty blog post.

So that’s precisely what I’m going to do.

As I’m sure some of you remember, I wrote a nice piece the other week about Charles Darwin as I was in the midst of reading his “Origin of Species” for my Honors Evolution and Creation class. Since then we have begun to move out of talking exclusively about the origins of evolution and into some early examples of creation myths.

Soon enough that will evolve into a more Christianity-centric religious creation as the latter half of the class will focus a large chunk of time on the oft cited debates in America, but until then we’ve been reading creation myths from a number of different groups around the world.

My reading tonight featured at least one that had a detail so specific and bizarre, I felt it was worth talking about.

Though for general reference, we’re primarily reading excerpts from “A Dictionary of Creation Myths,” by David Adams Leeming and Margaret Adams Leeming for the assignment I just worked on tonight. If anyone is curious as to where I’m pulling this stuff from.

While the excerpts our professor pulled together were all generally interesting and spoke to varying degrees of shared human thought and experience when crafting their creation stories, the Yoruban creation story out of Africa (specifically the Nigerian region today) in particular, caught my eye.

According to the text (which summarizes the stories more than it does recreate the entirety of the myth), everything began when the supreme deity Olurun (or Olodumare) sent the lesser god Obatala down to the earth.

At that point, the earth was only water and chaos. Obatala brought with him a shell, some iron and a rooster as he descended down a chain which hung over the water from the heavens. He placed the ground-filled shell on top of the iron before letting the rooster spread the land further.

Once there was enough dry land, other gods descended to help create everything else.

As the rest of existence took form, apparently Obatala took control of creating humanity — shaping beings out of earth so Olurun could bestow life upon them. All children born are thereafter shaped by Obatala in their mothers’ wombs.

While the story of creation set up here is fascinating to me in how it differs from so many other myths depicting a complete void from which things emerge, it isn’t entirely novel. Most of the Native American myths we read out of this same collection also depicted beings rising earth out of the waters in a similar fashion.

What makes the Yoruba creation story stand out most to me is a detail that seems pretty insanely specific and unique. I’ll write out what I have here exactly, because I’m not sure I could summarize it any better:

“… one day [Obatala] got drunk and by mistake started making cripples, who are now sacred to Obatala.”

We had to read 15 creation stories for this assignment. On top of that, three stories were read for our assignment due today on Judeo-Christian stories.

Yet between all of those stories and everything else I’ve personally heard before now, not once have I heard of any one society going so far as to explain the existence of cripples.

It’s actually fascinating to think that was a detail they wanted to include. Kind of goes to show that we have a desire to explain everything about the world around us, even if you need to collage a variety of different cultures to get the full picture.

The Shoulders of Giants

The Shoulders of Giants

Don’t have anything too crazy for y’all today. Mostly because I procrastinated doing this for a while.

Classes, the gym and a homework assignment I’ve been putting off that’s due tomorrow took priority, I’m afraid.

Sorry about that, blog.

But I can do something about procrastinating another day. Today I wanted to talk really quickly about something that came to my attention the other day while doing a different assignment.

Lately I’ve been reading chunks of Charles Darwin’s “The Origin of Species” for my Evolution and Creation class. I actually mentioned it right at the beginning of my Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom pseudo-review yesterday, but we’ve been talking about natural selection and all of the details surrounding it for about two weeks now.

While reading the introduction to his arguably seminal work (which he calls an incomplete abstract in hilarious contrast to the fact that it’s nearly 500 pages), something very poignant struck me.

At one point, Darwin mentions a specific tenant of his theory: That creatures who have specific adaptations more beneficial than others will be more likely to live on and spread their genes, hence propagating that new adaptation.

Admittedly a bit distracted while reading through that part of the piece, I rolled my eyes and muttered, “well duh.”

Then I had to stop myself and reconsider my entire life.

Because I had just ‘well duh’d’ the man who literally invented the concept I was brushing off as obvious.

A concept which he only brought into popular consciousness less than 200 years ago.

Just starting to imagine that such a ubiquitous idea in modern science is so relatively recent is kind of mind-blowing. Schools teach Darwin’s ideas of natural selection and evolution as the first two paragraphs introducing a chapter in Biology 101.

The casual air with which we treat these, frankly, revolutionary and recent ideas is kind of stunning. It’s amazing how much one can take for granted that old tenant that we stand on the shoulders of giants with regards to the sciences…

But also with practically anything else on Earth today. Seriously, even things that we consider wholly modern like social media or 3D printing can see roots traced back to town criers in a pre-mass literate era and rudimentary use of electricity brought about by pioneers like Benjamin Franklin.

Honestly I think that’s the kind of mindset I’d like to hopefully instill in all of you with this quick post.

Even if you don’t agree that Darwin was a revolutionary figure (as I recognize that much of my reverence comes from a liberal-leaning Western education and an understanding of how hilarious the man was from reading his works directly), there are tons of things you use every day that you could think about in terms of which developments have become ubiquitous in making them a now casual idea.

So go on and think about all of the cool things you use that would be unthinkable just decades ago, and let me know what sort of interesting things come to your attention.


P.S. — When I say Darwin was hilarious, just know that in the portion of Darwin’s “The Voyage of the Beagle” that covers his trip to the Galápagos, he spends a page-and-a-half describing how he repeatedly threw the same iguana into the ocean to see how it would return.

That’s the kind of man I would party with.

Fall 2018 First Impressions

I may have another day of travel to Fullerton tomorrow, but as of 6:00 p.m. today I have officially experienced all my new classes for the semester. So, as promised, I’m going to take my blog post today to run through my first impressions of all five courses I’m taking.

You know, outside of the general little factoids that are just a part of every new semester.

Like parking being garbage.

Or the fact that I’ve probably spent more on gas this week than I did over the entirety of the summer.

Some of my opinions here may seem more aggressive or more mundane than I’ll actually feel by the end of the semester, but that’s just the nature of first impressions isn’t it? Being probably a little too far on either end of the spectrum?

Frankly I’m not even sure why I’m giving this long disclaimer. It’s a personal opinion post on my personal blog that may or may not be played more for comedic value if anything else.

That’s basically what America was founded to facilitate.

So yeah let’s get into it.


Mass Media Ethics

I decided to go in order of major classes, minor classes then honors classes for this small listing even though it isn’t the order I actually have those classes throughout the week.

Thus we begin with my first Comm class, Mass Media Ethics. It’s a bit strange starting with my two classes that are one-day-a-week, three-hour blocks… But that’s just how things wound up this semester.

Despite those seemingly long, arduous class periods, I think these two Comm courses are probably toward the top of my positive first impressions. Mass Media Ethics specifically started off in a good place because it was my first class this semester where I had a friend.

Tim, who was a social media assistant on the Titan last semester, is in that class with me on Tuesday. Funny enough Chelsea, the other social media assistant last semester, is in my Visual Comm class on Wednesdays.

But that’s a topic for later obviously.

Mass Media Ethics was also interesting in that it presented me with the first time a professor knew who I was before I knew who she was. The professor was an ex-Daily Titan advisor, so we already had some common ground, but it also turned out that she knew my name from an SPJ newsletter announcing my having won that scholarship this summer.

I don’t exactly have too much to say about the class itself since we mostly utilized our time to get to know one another and read out the syllabus. But just based on that alone, the air of support and camaraderie amongst those of us in that small room was already pretty great.

Plus, the one actual ethics thing we started to look at was a debate about publishing the name/picture of a mass shooter from around the Orlando Pulse Nightclub shooting a few years back. So there’s definitely some interesting stuff coming down that pipeline.

Yet. The most interesting thing about that class, hands down, is the fact that it isn’t in the basement.

I know that sounds like a joke, but literally every class I’ve had in the Comm building before now has been in the basement and this one wasn’t. So it’s already an exciting change of pace.


Visual Communication

I’m fresh off of this class, given the fact that it’s my 4:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. Wednesday night course. Honestly the only thing separating me from writing it on-the-spot is my hour-long drive home.

Even if I had a little more time before writing this, I’d still say the first impression for this class was strong.

My professor here seems far more energetic than just about anyone else I have even in the face of a 230-person lecture.

Oh and I mean 230 people. Because he took attendance for every single one of them today. All 14 pages of his roll sheet.

Granted from here on out he said he’ll just be utilizing a sheet we’ll pass around, but it was still interesting watching that whole experience happen.

Especially since we also talked about the syllabus right after that, so probably close to the whole first hour of the three-hour course was just introductory stuff!

But like I said, he was so energetic and fun about it that that wasn’t even a problem.

Then our first broach into the subject included, amongst other things, discussions about Tom Hanks in The Da Vinci Code, Ridley Scott and Blade Runner, Harold and Kumar go to White Castle and other various and sundry movie-and-pop-culture-stuffs.

So, as I said in a tweet during the break we took:

Well said, me.

Also every exam is online only. ‘Nuff said.


Learning and Memory

Alright, these next two classes are my Psychology minor block. Learning and Memory specifically is actually the first class I took this semester since it’s my earliest Monday/Wednesday session.

It’s also probably the class I’m most divided on now that I’ve had my first two days of it.

On the one hand, my professor seems like a nice, old man. Which isn’t just a derogatory ‘lol he’s old,’ I genuinely wouldn’t be surprised to find out he’s one of the oldest members of the department.

It’s great in my opinion. More experience = more knowledge to impart and all that jazz.

Though an unfortunate side-effect of it is the fact that his voice doesn’t travel very far. So it’s a little harder to fully gather everything he’s saying in what is already a quickly escalating lecture course.

Also there are certain ways the class is constructed that baffles me and that I will openly complain about regardless of who may see this.

Like every other class, we’re required to write a paper sometime during the semester. For this class, it’s going to be a paper analyzing the similarities between what studies have found regarding operant conditioning practices in animals and in humans.

Pretty interesting stuff, in my opinion.

The problem is… According to our syllabus and his discussion of the paper…

We’re not allowed to quote or paraphrase anything in the paper we right.

So.

We have an analytical research-driven report that requires us to discuss specific experiments that have been conducted in the past using very specific detail to demonstrate various given vocabulary words.

But we can’t actually directly reference any of the experiments we’re utilizing within the text of the essay.

This and a few other things scattered throughout the course bewilder me in how nonsensical they seem to be. I suppose I’ll just have to see how it all turns out.


Sensation and Perception

Out of all the classes I’m taking, I probably have the least to say about this one. Which is ironic considering it’s the subject I’d argue I’m the most excited to learn about coming in.

Sensation and perception was actually a large part of the reason I fell in love with Psychology back in high school.

Just based off our first class session, it promises to deliver on the cool brain stuff. We’ve already discussed why everything tastes like chicken, for example!

The professor is also pretty chill and prides himself on a sarcastic sense of humor. Yet that sarcasm isn’t so pervasive that it overshadows moments when he comes to the front of the room to tell a story, or when he asked me to stay back after hearing I’m just a Psych minor to make sure I felt okay with the style of essay we’d be writing coming in.

That’s all pretty sweet.

I just don’t have a lot to talk about beyond that really. Seems like it’ll be a good time.

Actually, if I did have one more thing to discuss — what is it with upper-division Psychology classes this semester asking me to present evidence that I’ve passed the prerequisites?

Both my Learning/Memory and Sensation/Perception teacher made out first assignments presenting some kind of proof that we meet the requirements to be there. To which I say… Wouldn’t the computerized system prevent us from taking this upper-division class if we didn’t pass its prerequisites?

I would think so.

But oh well, it’s easy points for me in the end.


Evolution and Creation

My only honors class this semester, given the fact that I didn’t finish with my Honors Project proposal last semester, is Evolution and Creation. An examination of the two differing world views on how we got here.

It’s actually a course that I’ve been looking to take for years now. It always sounded like a fascinating subject to examine, but my schedule has never allowed for it. That’s just life when you have four nights of newspaper production a week.

But this semester I don’t have four nights of newspaper production a week, so I actually had the opportunity to take this class I’ve always wanted to take!

As an added bonus, it’s a class being taught by a professor who I’ve had a couple of classes with in the past, so I already know I like the guy.

The only thing I can really think to complain about in that perfect storm… Are the chairs in the room.

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For some reason. This tiny ass room in the bottom of the education building. Is the one place I’ve ever seen these bizarre alien chairs.

Not only are they on wheels and roll around like bumper cars, but the chair piece and the desk piece both independently swivel above the black piece.

It’s honestly like sitting in a chair meant to distract anyone with a semblance of ADHD.

No idea how anyone can learn in them, but I suppose I’ll have to figure it out.

On the bright side, they’re easy to move around the room. So we’ll be able to gather in circles for all of the discussion-oriented portions of the semester.


That just about wraps up my first impressions of my classes this semester. For the most part I have a lot more positives than negatives, and the extra time I’ve built for myself really opens up more work opportunities and the option to keep up with my time in the gym.

So if anything, I think this might just be one of my better, healthier semesters overall.

That said, how are all of you faring if you’ve just started school again for the year/semester? Let me know all about it in the comments down below!