Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Experimenting with Metafiction

Somehow I've gotten myself interested in metafiction (definition: fiction that deals, often playfully and self-referentially, with the writing of fiction or its conventions). So, pretty much like Inception but with literature. Fascinating, huh? Anyways, I whipped this up real quick to try my hand at the whole metafiction/breaking the fourth wall style - it's pretty fun. I'd like to write a longer work in this style but I doubt I'll have the time...

One of the rules of being an author is respecting the fourth wall – the barrier between the writer and the reader. This barrier protects the writer from the reader and the reader from the writer. They exist separate from each other, both observing the same thing but not interacting with each other. In this limited type of literature, the reader may as well be in an entirely separate universe. There is no connection between me, the author - the person trying to tell the story, and the reader who happened to pick up my book. Why should it be this way? Who’s to say that I can’t take my reader by the hand and lead them through my story? It certainly would be more personal. More appealing. You don’t respect the fourth wall while having a conversation with a friend. Why should I respect the fourth wall while trying to tell a story to a friend? Just because my story is being relayed through the pages of a book doesn’t mean it can’t be personal. I shall tear down this fourth wall, brick by brick. Dear reader, my friend, let us journey through my story as equals, not with you as a mere onlooker as I struggle to turn a personal story into an impersonal work of fiction. Come, take me by the hand, I promise you will enjoy it. Though I must warn you, once you enter my story, you may not want to go back. 

*FUN FACT Inkheart by Cornelia Funke is a metafictional work. It also happens to be on my list of favorite books :)

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Defending the Faith


I found this fictional conversation while browsing the random corners of the Internet and I immediately thought to myself - why can't we be learning how to do this in Apologetics class?


A VERY INTERESTING CONVERSATION

An Atheist Professor of Philosophy was speaking to his Class on the Problem Science has
With GOD , the ALMIGHTY. He asked one of his New Christian Students to stand and . . .

Professor : You are a Christian, aren't you, son ?
Student : Yes, sir.
Professor : So, you Believe in GOD ?
Student : Absolutely, sir.
Professor : Is GOD Good ?
Student : Sure.
Professor : Is GOD ALL - POWERFUL ?
Student : Yes.
Professor : My Brother died of Cancer even though he Prayed to GOD to Heal him. Most of us would attempt to help others who are ill. But GOD didn't. How is this GOD good then? Hmm?

(Student was silent )

Professor : You can't answer, can you ? Let's start again, Young Fella.
Is GOD Good?
Student : Yes.
Professor : Is Satan good ?
Student : No.
Professor : Where does Satan come from ?
Student : From . . . GOD . . .
Professor : That's right. Tell me son, is there evil in this World?
Student : Yes.
Professor : Evil is everywhere, isn't it ? And GOD did make everything. Correct?
Student : Yes.
Professor : So who created evil ?

(Student did not answer)

Professor : Is there Sickness? Immorality? Hatred? Ugliness?
All these terrible things exist in the World, don't they?
Student : Yes, sir.
Professor : So, who Created them ?

(Student ha d no answer)

Professor : Science says you have 5 Senses you use to Identify and Observe the World around you. Tell me, son . . . Have you ever Seen GOD?
Student : No, sir.
Professor : Tell us if you have ever Heard your GOD?
Student : No , sir.
Professor : Have you ever Felt your GOD , Tasted your GOD , Smelt your GOD ? Have you ever had any Sensory Perception of GOD for that matter?
Student : No, sir. I'm afraid I haven't.
Professor : Yet you still Believe in HIM?
Student : Yes.
Professor : According to Empirical, Testable, Demonstrable Protocol, Science says your GOD doesn't exist. What do you say to that, son?
Student : Nothing. I only have my Faith.
Professor : Yes, Faith. And that is the Problem Science has.

Student : Professor, is there such a thing as Heat?
Professor : Yes.
Student : And is there such a thing as Cold?
Professor : Yes.
Student : No, sir. There isn't..

(The Lecture Theatre became very quiet with this turn of events )

Student : Sir, you can have Lots of Heat, even More Heat, Superheat, Mega Heat, White Heat,
a Little Heat or No Heat.
But we don't have anything called Cold.
We can hit 458 Degrees below Zero which is No Heat, but we can't go any further after that.
There is no such thing as Cold.
Cold is only a Word we use to describe the Absence of Heat.
We cannot Measure Cold.
Heat is Energy.
Cold is Not the Opposite of Heat, sir, just the Absence of it.

(There was Pin-Drop Silence in the Lecture Theatre )

Student : What about Darkness, Professor? Is there such a thing as Darkness?
Professor : Yes. What is Night if there isn't Darkness?
Student : You're wrong again, sir. Darkness is the Absence of Something
You can have Low Light, Normal Light, Bright Light, Flashing Light . . . But if you have No Light constantly, you have nothing and its called Darkness, isn't it? In reality, Darkness isn't. If it is, were you would be able to make Darkness Darker, wouldn't you?
Professor : So what is the point you are making, Young Man ?
Student : Sir, my point is your Philosophical Premise is flawed.
Professor : Flawed ? Can you explain how?
Student : Sir, you are working on the Premise of Duality. You argue there is Life and then there is Death, a Good GOD and a Bad GOD. You are viewing the Concept of GOD as something finite, something we can measure. Sir, Science can't even explain a Thought. It uses Electricity and Magnetism, but has never seen, much less fully understood either one. To view Death as the Opposite of Life is to be ignorant of the fact that Death cannot exist as a Substantive Thing.
Death is Not the Opposite of Life: just the Absence of it
Now tell me, Professor, do you teach your Students that they evolved from a Monkey?
Professor : If you are referring to the Natural Evolutionary Process, yes, of course, I do.
Student : Have you ever observed Evolution with your own eyes, sir?

(The Professor shook his head with a Smile, beginning to realize where the Argument was going )

Student : Since no one has ever observed the Process of Evolution at work and Cannot even prove that this Process is an On-Going Endeavor,
Are you not teaching your Opinion, sir?
Are you not a Scientist but a Preacher?
(The Class was in Uproar )

Student : Is there anyone in the Class who has ever seen the Professor's Brain?

(The Class broke out into Laughter )

Student : Is there anyone here who has ever heard the Professor's Brain, Felt it, touched or Smelt it? . . .
No one appears to have done so.
So, according to the Established Rules of Empirical, Stable, Demonstrable Protocol, Science says that You have No Brain, sir. With all due respect, sir, how do we then Trust your Lectures, sir?

(The Room was Silent. The Professor stared at the Student, his face unfathomable)

Professor : I guess you'll have to take them on Faith, son.
Student : That is it sir . . . Exactly !
The Link between Man & GOD is FAITH.
That is all that Keeps Things Alive and Moving.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Junior Thesis: An Intelligently Designed World


In 1919, Sir Arthur Eddington proved Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity by observing the bending of starlight around the sun during an eclipse. Einstein’s theory predicted that “the universe was either expanding or contracting” and Eddington’s observation proved that the universe was not in a constant state (Dooley). Using the proven general theory of relativity, in 1928 Edwin Hubble demonstrated that the universe is expanding (Theory of Relativity). The evidence for this claim “pointed to a rapidly expanding universe that of necessity had a finite past” (Dooley). The universe had a beginning. Science has proven that the universe is not in a constant state and that the universe is expanding and growing. The universe has not always existed, it had a definite beginning of which could not have happened by chance. This belief is called Intelligent Design.


What is Intelligent Design? The Discovery Institute defines it as a theory that proves that “certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection” (Meyer). It is supported by groups of scientists, researchers, philosophers and scholars who seek to prove the evidence of design in nature.


The term ‘intelligent design’ has unknown origins, but many scientists have traced the idea back to the natural theology of William Paley and the arguments of philosopher Thomas Aquinas. Some have even traced it back to the Greek philosophers Plato and Aristotle, who both believed that “a mind was required to explain life’s existence” (Meyer). Isaac Newton once said “Was the Eye contrived without Skill in Opticks, and the Ear without Knowledge of Sounds? …And these things being rightly dispatch’d, does it not appear from Phaenomena that there is a Being incorporeal, living, intelligent, omnipresent…” Many of the world’s greatest thinkers supported the general idea of intelligent design.


Intelligent design most recently came into play in the court case Kitzmiller v. Dover, which argued against the teaching of intelligent design in public schools. The conclusion reached in this case was that intelligent design is not a science and is directly related to creationism and religion. (Matzke). However, I disagree.


Intelligent design is not a religious belief. It is not directly associated with Christianity and should therefore not be challenged as ‘religious dogma.’ (Intelligent Design, Ward). Intelligent design is a scientific theory that is trying to prove the existence of a creator through evidence in the physical world. Many evolutionists, when debating with someone who holds to the intelligent design theory, will eventually turn the argument to a religious war. Intelligent design should not be challenged as a religion during debates. It is true that many religious people agree with intelligent design, but as do many non-religious people. Intelligent design is a scientific theory and therefore should be treated with as much respect as scientists give evolution.


Intelligent design holds to the idea that evidence found in the natural physical world points to a universe created by an intelligent designer and disproves evolution. The main arguments intelligent design holds against evolution involves entropy, the specific complexity of life, and the apparent fact that the universe had a beginning.


Intelligent design, commonly shortened to ‘ID’, directly refutes the theory of evolution or Darwinism. Darwinism, as defined by The New Encyclop√¶dia Britannica, is a “theory of the evolutionary mechanism propounded by Charles Darwin as an explanation of organic change” (“Darwinism”). Neo-Darwinism, which is more commonly believed today, purges Darwinism of the Lamarckian theory. The Lamarckian theory is the belief that an organism can pass on characteristics it acquired during its lifetime to its offspring. Modern scientists quickly realized that the Lamarckian theory was wrong and adjusted Darwinism to be more accurate.


Intelligent design’s main arguments include concepts such as increasing entropy and the Second Law of Thermodynamics. The New Encyclop√¶dia Britannica defines ‘entropy’ as a thermodynamic property or state function of matter related to the amount of energy that can be transferred in the form of work (“entropy”). More simply put, it is the measure of how much energy is not able to do work in a system. It can also be defined as the measure of chaos or disorder in the universe.


The Second Law of Thermodynamics, which is also known as the Law of Increased Entropy, states that energy is lost over time and is converted into entropy or unusable energy (“Second Law of Thermodynamics”). At first glance, the Law of Increased Entropy seems to refute evolution perfectly, assuming that it is saying since everything in the universe is descending into a state of chaos, the evolutionary process of organisms becoming more ordered cannot be true. If the Law of Increased Entropy is true, then it does not make sense for the evolutionary process to be true as well. If organisms were to be evolving into a more ordered state, the organism’s surroundings would have to make up for this decrease in entropy by becoming less ordered. With the billions of years of evolutionary process that the Darwinists claim happened, the entropy level of the universe should be much higher than it is now.


There is no such thing as ‘simple life’. Even the smallest cell is more complex than the human mind can even imagine. The human body is composed of over 100 trillion cells alone (Shriver). Within each of these cells is a microscopic virtual city. Each part of the cell has its own function and is essential to keep the cell working properly. Everything from the plasma membrane to the ribosome to the mitochondria has a purpose. However, the nucleus holds the essential information for the cell to function. Found in the nucleus is the DNA, the “genetic code that coordinates protein synthesis” (Carpi). This genetic code can be described as the language of life. The DNA holds such specific coding that it regulates the human’s eye color, hair color, skin color, protein sequence, toenail size, and much more. It manufactures over one hundred thousand different proteins (Carpi). The DNA, a tiny yet extremely important part of the cell, achieves a task that would take a supercomputer to mimic.


There is more to the cell than just DNA, however. The cell membrane, essentially the ‘wall’ of the cell, regulates what goes in and out of the cell. The organelles are like the machines in a factory that carry out all of the daily tasks. The ribosome, one of the organelles, helps in protein synthesis. Transcription for synthesis takes place in the cell nucleus, but the translation process occurs in the ribosomes. Mitochondria are sometimes considered the “power plants” of the cell because they are responsible for producing the energy the cell needs. The lysosomes are organelles that help in the digestion of nutrients and other materials.


Intelligent design uses the cell and DNA as proof for an intelligent creator. Similarly, just as the microscopic cell holds confirmation for intelligent design, the macroscopic universe is abundant in evidence as well. Douglas Adams, a science-fiction author, once wrote the simple yet accurate statement “Space is big. Really big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is.” (Adams, 53). At the current moment, scientists do not know the exact size of the universe. It has been estimated to be around 900 Ym, which is equivalent to 9 x 1026 meters or roughly 9.6 x 1010 light years (Huang). Within this vastly immense universe are billions of galaxies that each contains trillions of stars. Edwin Hubble proved that the universe is expanding, a fact that baffled even Einstein. With the knowledge that the universe is expanding comes the assumption that the universe must have been smaller at some point in time. This fact can be argued as supporting evolution, specifically the Big Bang theory, as well as supporting intelligent design. My argument rests in the probability factor of this expanding universe theory.


The probability of the universe as a whole being created from nothing or occurring by chance is so slim that it can be argued as being unscientific. There is no definite number that illustrates the probability of the Big Bang actually occurring or the results of the Big Bang being what they are. The reason for this lack of definite answers is because the only information scientists possess to come up with these numbers are theories. Therefore, they could come up with a theoretical number for the probability of the Big Bang. This theoretical number would no doubt be inconceivably small, due to the massive amount of factors that need to be taken into the ‘theoretical equation’ (Lowell). In order for the Big Bang to have produced the evolutionary process which then would have to achieve the current complexity of life found on Earth, there would have been millions upon trillions of mistakes resulting from natural selection and random mutation and it would have required much more time than the age of the Earth.


Theoretics expert Dr. Harold Morowitz was once hired by NASA to calculate the probability of life. His answer was the probability of life occurring by chance was a one in 10236 chance, which is about the same chance of throwing 4 billion pennies into the air and having them all land heads up. He said “the universe would have to be trillions of years older, and trillions of times larger, for a protein molecule to have occurred by random chance” (Caylor).


Evolutionists who have accepted this low probability of life factor have resorted to looking elsewhere – extra-terrestrial ancestors. This concept is considered a ‘sect’ of intelligent design and is what most evolutionists who accept intelligent design believe. It was determined by those scientists who desire to have everything logical and non-supernatural. Richard Dawkins called the ‘Intelligent Alien Design’ theory an “intriguing possibility” and “that if you look at the details of biochemistry and molecular biology, you might find a signature of some sort of designer, and that designer could well be a higher intelligence from elsewhere in the universe” (Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed). Richard Dawkins admitted to intelligent design being a legitimate theory. Yet he still rejects it wholeheartedly and pushes for Darwinian evolution as the explanation for life, even with all of the very apparent evidence against Darwinism found in the natural world.


Darwinism holds to four main arguments that evolutionists will categorize as the four “patterns in nature”. These arguments are adaption, genetic variation, divergence, and evidence in fossils. Intelligent design addresses each of these arguments and provides reasons for why they do not support evolution.


Adaption is a term used to explain the evolutionary processes visible in organisms. It is how the physical attributes of an organism will change, or alter, in order to survive in their environments. A common example of this can be seen in the hollow bones of a bird, which allow them to fly. Evolution claims that the hollow bones formed when the bird species found it necessary to be able to fly in order to find food or escape from predators. Another example is fruit bats, which are said to have developed echolocation in replacement of sight when they became nocturnal in order to evade predators. Intelligent design would argue that these two species are proof of a designer, not evolutionary processes. The birds and fruit bats did not develop hollow bones or echolocation; they were specifically designed to have hollow bones and echolocation in order to survive.


Genetic variation is the relationship between genes and organisms. Genes directly link back to how organisms appear and how they behave. Genetic diversity within all species is massive – no two genetic makeups are the same. Evolutionists claim that without genetic variation, the basic mechanisms of evolutionary change cannot occur. However, intelligent design will argue that these variations within the species are a result of a designer, and not random mutations. The evolutionists recognize that genetic diversity is largely prominent. To a person who supports intelligent design, this seems illogical. Evolutionists admit to no two genetic compositions being the same, yet claim that all species share a common ancestor.


Divergence is how even though all species differ from one another they all evolved from a common ancestor. This can be proven using Carl Linnaeus’ classification method, which categorizes species into genera, genera into families, families into orders, and so on, ending up with the three kingdoms. This pattern of classification greatly resembles a tree-like pattern that branches out into all the species but can be traced back to one original group. This implies a divergence from a common ancestor. What evolutionists do not take into account is that Carl Linnaeus’ method may actually be incorrect. Evolutionists hold Linnaeus’ classification system on the same standard as Christians hold the Bible. It is one of their main arguments for the common ancestor argument. But Carl Linnaeus was a man, and all men make mistakes. The Linnaeus classification system is not set in stone as an absolute truth. All Linnaeus was doing was observing and recognizing similarities within the species and then classifying them into groups, tracing all the groups back to three kingdoms.


Evolutionists say that all species came from a common ancestor, yet it is still undetermined what that ‘common ancestor’ is. They claim that fossils are the most solid proof of evolution. Fossils are the preserved remains of dead or extinct organisms. They are said to hold the proof of all the above arguments for the evolutionary theory. Many fossils greatly resemble modern species today, and many fossils are species that are long extinct. Earth has been estimated by evolutionists to be around 4.5 billion years old and the earliest bacteria fossil is about 3.5 billion years old (Lenski). Fossils from the Cambrian period show a wide range of multicellular animals. But what these fossils do not show are their ‘evolutionary predecessors’. The fossils found in the Cambrian in 1909 by Charles Walcott were well preserved, unique, and quite unlike anything that had ever been discovered before. Darwin himself admitted that the lack of evidence for the evolution of the Cambrian fossils “may be truly urged as a valid argument against the views here entertained” (Luskin). An article in Nature stated that “virtually all animal groups alive today were present in Cambrian seas” (Collins). These fossils challenged the Darwinian thinking because of how they seemed to ‘appear’ abruptly without any record of previous fossils to explain their evolution.


One of the concepts of intelligent design that is most often refuted by evolutionists is the belief that the earth is only a few thousand years old. Evolutionists believe that the earth is millions, if not billions, of years old. They hold this belief because evolution takes time, and with the complex and clearly evolved organisms on the earth today, the earth must have been at least a few million years old in order for those organisms to evolve from amoebas to what they are now. They also bring up the example of how we, on our supposed thousands-year-old Earth, can see light from stars billions of light years away. A light year is the maximum distance light can travel in one year through space. Rounded greatly, one light year is about 6 trillion miles (Lochner). So, evolutionist will ask, if we say the earth is only a few thousand years old, how can we see the light from these stars that are trillions upon trillions of miles away? The answer lies in a substance called ‘ether’.


The New Encyclopedia Britannica defines ‘ether’ as “a theoretical, universal substance believed during the 19th century to act as the medium for transmission of electromagnetic waves (e.g., light and X-rays)” (“ether”). In simpler terms, space is not the empty void as most perceive it to be, this determined by Albert Einstein. Ether is infinitely elastic. Therefore, it can be distorted. The larger amount of mass, the more the ether will be distorted, and therefore distort that which surrounds it. Large masses, like that of stars or planets, with large gravitational fields can form a ‘gravity well’, which act similarly to a black hole. These ‘gravity wells’ will distort ether, light, and even time.


Time is not a constant. One of the theoretical consequences of the Theory of Relativity is called the Gravitational Time Dilation Effect, or GTDE. Physicists Robert Pound and Glen Rebka demonstrated that the farther an object travels into the ‘gravity well’, the slower the time passes (“Distant Starlight”). On a small scale, a clock placed at sea level and a clock placed at the top of Mt Everest will not record time at the same rate. The clock at sea level will record time slower, but only by a miniscule degree. Across the cosmos, the effect of GTDE is much more. According to General Relativity, at the boundary of a black hole, time stands still because of the massive gravitational field. This area is known as an ‘event horizon’ by scientists because the force of gravity is so large that even light cannot escape it.


Hubble’s Law states that the universe is expanding. Stellar redshifts are “doppler effect phenomenon[s] whereby radiation wavelengths (like those of starlight) lengthen as they move farther away from an observer” (“Distant Starlight”). By observing the effects of these redshifts, scientists can prove that the universe is expanding and that the primordial universe was more compact than it is today.


With that in mind, in a “bounded universe” where matter is condensed and has a center and an edge, the compression from the stellar redshifts would deepen the gravity well caused by the mass of the universe. This intensifies the GTDE, which therefore causes time to pass slower in the center of the universe than near the edge. If the universe was created all at one time, which should therefore make it all the same age, some parts of the universe can be younger due to the fickle nature of time. Since time is not a constant, light could travel billions of light years in one part of the universe but here on Earth it would seem to be a much smaller time period. Because the universe is expanding, the gravitational well is evening out and becoming less intense, and light, therefore, can travel over large distances in shorter periods of time than physics would assume.


Perhaps one of the most puzzling arguments evolutionists will pose is that on the origin of life. Darwin wrote a book titled The Origin of Species, yet never addresses the issue of how the life that the species ‘evolved’ from came into existence. It is implied that some life form, supposedly a single-celled organism, formed by chance as the result of the perfect conditions on primordial Earth. However, this is not the case. The atmosphere required for life to form must be exactly precise. The atmosphere present today is composed of 78% nitrogen, 21% molecular oxygen, and 1% other gases such as carbon dioxide and water vapor. While oxygen is necessary for present life to exist, it would be fatal to early life organisms trying to form. “Free oxygen would oxidize and thus destroy all organic molecules required for the origin of life” (Gish). Because of this, evolutionists have declared that there was no oxygen in the earth’s atmosphere at the time of the origin of life. However, this is still fatal to the evolutionary origin of life. With no oxygen, there would be no ozone layer to protect the surface of the earth from the harmful UV rays. Thus, evolutionists have put themselves in a tricky situation – oxygen or no oxygen, life could not have simply formed or evolved.


The scenario which evolutionists paint for the origin of life calls for a large amount of available energy. This available energy would have mainly been found in the forms of radiation from the sun, electrical discharges (lightning), and energy from radioactive decay and heat. However, the problem with this scenario is that “the rates of destruction of biological molecules by all sources of raw energy vastly exceed their rates of formation by such energy” (Gish). The raw energy needed to ‘spark’ life on primordial Earth would have done more harm than good because all raw forms of energy are destructive.


If there was some way for ‘simple’ life to have formed on early Earth, the results would not have been a nice, neat little organism. The result would have also included a massive chaotic mess. Twenty different amino acids have been found in proteins today, but there would have been hundreds of others produced in the attempt to find the perfect combination to form life. Basically, in order to achieve the perfect balance of amino acids, proteins, DNA and RNA, there would have been an immense amount of failed attempts since the probability of life forming is so slim (Gish).


To summarize, intelligent design is a theory describing that the universe and all things in it did not occur from a random event, be that event the Big Bang or a random organization of amino acids, but instead was created by an intelligent Creator. Its main arguments include that of entropy, the nonexistence of “simple” life, the complexity of the cell, and the low probability of life occurring by chance. It refutes the evolutionist views by addressing the Cambrian fossil dilemma, the ‘missing link’ between the common ancestor and living organisms, the age of the earth, and the issue regarding the origin of life. Most importantly, intelligent design is not a religious belief, but a scientific theory held by many scientists who are searching for the truth.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Movie Review - Chronicle

*WARNING - SPOILERS*

Well, I just got back from seeing the movie Chronicle with a few friends and I'd like to say I was pleasantly surprised. I walked into the theater honestly not really knowing what I was about to watch, just that it was about a few teenagers developing superpowers. I was expecting a whole 'save the world' mentality to come out of that, but surprisingly, there was none. What these three teenage guys did do was use their new powers of telekinesis and flying to 'have fun'. This included everything from throwing baseballs at each other and trying to catch them in midair with no hands to throwing a car - with a person inside - off of the road and into a pond (this was, of course, an accident, but still). I liked this spin on the much overdone plot line of "inheriting" superpowers. Chronicle showed the story of three guys just having fun with their powers. Of course, all good things must come to an end, but I'm still getting to that.

The entire movie was filmed from the point of view of one of the characters' (Andrew) camera. At first, my thoughts were along the lines of "great, just like Paranormal Activity. I'll most likely leave here with a headache from all the camera movement." However, I was proven wrong. This perspective of filming not only made the entire movie more personal and interesting but made it different from all the other superhero movies. And once Andrew developed his telekinesis power, he could float the camera around so it would pan like a normal camera would film a movie, yet it still retained the personal aspect. Towards the end the view would switch in and out of other cameras, like security cameras and camera phones and the like. Altogether, the effect was pretty darn good, keeping the attention of the audience without making them sick from all the motion.

Andrew, the main character and the guy with the video camera, was pretty much your average unsocial nerd. No friends, got beat up all the time, sat alone at lunch on the bleachers and watched the cheerleaders practice, etc, etc. His cousin, Matt, was the one person he actually talked to. The whole superpower thing came about when Matt dragged Andrew to a party and they ended up exploring this random massive hole in the ground in the middle of the woods along with this other guy Steve. Yes, random plot twist and not the most well done way of introducing the thing that gives these guys their powers. Its pretty much this pulsing crystalline structure below ground, most likely radioactive judging by how it messed up the camera (cool effects at that part). It does this weird exploding thing and the next day, Andrew, Matt and Steve have powers. There were some pretty funny scenes of the guys testing out their powers which involved throwing rocks at each other and building a lego tower without touching the legos. As you might expect, Andrew finds friends in Matt and Steve, mutually drawn together by their new powers. They have fun together, mess around with their powers, learn to fly, pull some pranks, almost kill a guy (the one in the car, but its okay. Steve saves him. Or maybe Matt. I can't remember.) But like I said before, all good things must come to an end.

Andrew's family is messed up. His mom is terribly sick and his dad is an alcoholic who beats him. After a particularly bad interaction with his dad, Andrew retreats to the sky to be angry. Steve, sensing Andrew's anger, goes to find him. But what he didn't know is all of a sudden Andrew can pretty much create a thunder storm. So, in a fit of rage, Andrew accidentally kills Steve with lightning. This sparks the undoing of Andrew's sanity. Of course, we bring up evolution and natural selection and the apex predator idea. Andrew decides that he, being the strongest of the three, is the apex predator (or alpha male). While trying to get money to buy medicine for his mom, he robs three guys who had beaten him up multiple times and then robs a local drug store. He gets caught after almost blowing the place up, lands in the hospital, almost blows the hospital up and then tries to drop his dad off the roof. Matt, of course, shows up and catches Andrew's dad before he hits the ground, but now their cover is completely blown since that happened in front of a massive crowd. Long story short, Andrew goes completely insane and power hungry, kills a bunch of people, nearly destroys an entire city, and ends up being killed by his cousin Matt to prevent any further harm to people. Matt runs away (actually flies) to "help people" as he says and find out what made them have powers to begin with. This could possibly be hinting at another movie (?) which hopefully will be good considering the fact that sequels are always worse than the first.

Final Thoughts:
I liked it. Maybe not loved it, but it was still good in its own weird sort of way. Kind of like reading really strange poetry. It was, for lack of a better word, unique. I was upset that they brought up the whole evolutionist apex predator idea, but the 'apex predator' did not end up surviving, so I guess in some ways that negates itself. I liked how Chronicle was not just another movie about superpowers. Because honestly, if I developed super powers, I wouldn't immediately say "oh, lets go save the world and be good citizens and save people and stuff." No, I'd be more like "awesome, what crazy things can we do with these powers now?" And that's exactly what happened. Just three guys messing around with superhuman abilities. I am also glad that they did not all live by flying off somewhere remote and living a life of luxury. No one can have that much power and live a long life. It just won't work. So I guess another good way to describe Chronicle is real.

Yes, I would suggest for you to see this movie. BUT keep in mind that it is all from the perspective of three teenage guys. I'll just leave it at that. Other than that, good, unique movie that got your mind working. Plus, there were some pretty amazing shots of them flying and if I had a superpower it would easily be the ability to fly. So I really liked those scenes, 'cause there's nothing like playing football in the clouds.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Procrastination is a Virtue....I Think....

Guess what? I'm supposed to be doing homework right now. Big surprise, I know. I'm also supposed to be reading 100 books, but we all knew how that commitment would turn out. (I've completed a few chapters of a few different books before I lost interest - I mean, had to, uh, do other things.... yeah.) And since I like to make my procrastinating actions slightly productive (in my eyes, anyway. My teachers would disagree with my methods), how bout a blog post? Oh sure, because people totally still read this thing.

Anyway... where was I going with this.... ah, yes. Productive Procrastinating. (might I point out the alliteration in that?) I think the best way to demonstrate my Procrastination Productivity is to write out a 'day in the life of' sort of post. So, here it goes.

I wake up at 6 am. Normally. Occasionally the alarm clock will mysteriously malfunction and I'll get to sleep until around 6:30 before the alarm clock that never malfunctions (read: my father.) summons me out of bed with much groaning, incoherent mumbling and resistance.
I stumble into the shower in that weird half-awake half-asleep state of being, will normally trip over various items and hit my head on something.
I then spend about ten minutes wandering around my house looking for my school uniform which, honestly, could be anywhere, but is normally in the most obvious place. Like a hamper. Or the dresser.
Breakfast is skipped because at this point I'm running late from spending an additional ten minutes wrestling my textbooks back into the three bags I take to school (yes, you read that right - three. Welcome to private classical school.)
Occasionally I'll drive to school, but not normally because if we are running late then Dad drives. He won't let me drive under pressure because apparently when I'm late I drive fast.
Ah, school. Now don't get me wrong - I love my school and my friends and learning (normally). But sometimes (read: most of the time) the work load is excessive, the people get on my nerves, and the learning just doesn't appeal to me. But I spend 7 hours every day there, so I just have to buck up and take it like a man. Well, woman.
When school lets out is when the real Productive Procrastinating begins. Certain days will be spent at Panera with my best friend. Half the time we are there is actual work, the other half is spent tumblr surfing and stuffing our faces with the amazing cream of chicken and wild rice soup (my stomach is growling just thinking about it...). Days that I don't go to Panera are normally spent in my room, with either chocolate or Goldfish to snack on. I'll spend a good amount of time playing my guitar, which I'm actually getting pretty good at (yay!). I can play three Mumford and Sons songs now and am working on a fourth :)
After guitar practicing is another raid of the pantry, then back to my "cave" as my mother calls it to do some actual school work. I always start with Calculus or Physics. Always. Because that's what I enjoy most and if I try to do my history reading first I'll whither away and die inside. History and Lit homework is saved for when I'm in bed at around 10 at night and absolutely have to do it or else. Sometimes I have papers to write, sometimes I have speeches to rehearse. Today, for instance, I have lines to memorize for drama (we're doing a scene from Waiting for Godot - I'm playing Estragon, if anyone is interested.) and also blocking to figure out for the scene I'm directing (blocking is figuring out how the actors will act and not just say lines. The scene I'm directing is from Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead - one of my favorites).
If I'm lucky I'll have time to work on my novel, which is progressing so slowly its starting to depress me. I hope to have it finished by June (and no, you can't read it until I am willing to have it published). I haven't had much time for reading for pleasure lately - reading Crime and Punishment for Lit class has been taking up a lot of my designated reading times. I have, however, been reading through the memoirs of my great-grandfather Alan Richardson Jones (my mother's grandfather), who grew up in over yonder England. I now know where I get my writing skills from. He was a doctor who specialized in blood types and things related to that sort. He also did a little bit of minor forensic work (see Mom? I'm not crazy for wanting to major in forensic science after all!). From what I've read so far - which isn't much - I've determined that my grandfather was a fascinating man and it makes me wish that I had known him better.

See? Productive Procrastinating! I'm increasing my musical talents and reading up on the history of my family! Now tell me what could be a better use of my time. At least I'm not off playing video games or sitting in front of a TV screen.

This is what a decent education will do to you. First, it will give you a sincere appreciation for learning of any kind. Then it will keep piling on the work, hoping that this appreciation will make it all okay. That then forces you to say "no, I'll do this another time. Now I'm going to go read up on my ancestry and teach myself a foreign language - FOR FUN! (did I mention that one? yeah, I'm trying to teach myself Italian and possibly Irish Gaelic...)" All because I'm so addicted to obtaining as much knowledge as possible.... I spent almost an hour yesterday solving riddles. Because I wanted to challenge my mind. I know that this all probably sounds so great and everything and possibly makes you want to send your kid to my school (actually, please do. It's a fantastic school.), but all I'm thinking is "why am I not normal??"

Thursday, December 29, 2011

100 Books in a Year

Call me crazy, but I'm going to do it. Reading 100 books in a year has become my new year's resolution. Hopefully (if time allows) I'll write up a short review of each of the books I read and post them here. Of course, I've told myself in the past that I will blog and it has never happened, so we'll see. Anyway, here is my list of 100 books if anyone is interested:

A Little Princess
Pride and Prejudice
Lord of the Rings - The Fellowship of the Ring
Lord of the Rings - The Two Towers
Lord of the Rings - The Return of the King
Jane Eyre
Wuthering Heights
Gone with the Wind
The Time Traveler’s Wife
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
War and Peace
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
The Wind in the Willows
The Grapes of Wrath
The Count of Monte Cristo
Golden Compass
Subtle Knife
Amber Spyglass
Robinson Crusoe
All Creatures Great and Small
All Things Bright and Beautiful
All Things Wise and Wonderful
Uncle Tom’s Cabin
The Mortal Instruments - City of Bones
The Mortal Instruments - City of Ashes
The Mortal Instruments - City of Glass
The Mortal Instruments - City of Fallen Angels
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
Anthem by Ayn Rand
Copper Sun by Sharron Draper
Growing Up Christian
Through Painted Deserts by Donald Miller
Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller
The Arabian Nights
Brave New World
Persuasion
Emma
Sense and Sensibility
Mansfield Park
Northanger Abbey
Lady Susan by Jane Austen
Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe
The Hidden Hand
Leaves of Grass
David Copperfield
Treasure Island
Artemis Fowl
The Alchemist
The Iliad
The Aeneid
The Book Theif
Hamlet
The Art of Racing in the Rain
Things Not Seen by Andrew Clements
The Chosen One
A Song of Ice and Fire - A Game of Thrones
A Song of Ice and Fire - A Clash of Kings
A Song of Ice and Fire - A Storm of Swords
A Song of Ice and Fire - A Feast for Crows
A Song of Ice and Fire - A Dance with Dragons
A Song of Ice and Fire - The Winds of Winter
The Complete Grimm’s Fairy Tales
Middlemarch by George Eliot
The Divine Comedy by Dante
Vanity Fair
Redeeming Love
Paradise Lost
For Whom the Bell Tolls
The Talented Mr Ripley
Das Kapital
The Kite Runner
The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy
Crime and Punishment
The Idiot
The Picture of Dorian Grey
The Importance of Being Ernest
Born Free
Out of My Mind
Thirteen Reasons Why
The Lamplighter
The Adventures of Augie March
Absalom, Absalom!
On the Road
Lord of the Flies
Tender is the Night
Ethan Frome
Little Women
The Help
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
A Room with a View
Incarceron
Waiting for Godot
Water for Elephants
The Red Badge of Courage
The Death of the Heart
The Wonderful WIzard of Oz
War Horse
The Hearts of Horses
Pippi Longstocking
The Last of the Mohicans

Quote of the Day:
"Energy and persistence conquer all things." ~Benjamin Franklin

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Benefit of Understanding

Many schools teach foreign languages as a chance to widen one’s cultural knowledge. They teach languages such as Spanish, French and German because they are spoken in countries and will benefit the learner. But what about the classical languages – Latin and Greek? Very rarely is a school found that teaches these so called “dead languages”. Yet they are not as ‘dead’ as the world supposes. Winston Churchill once wrote in an autobiography “I would make them all learn English: and then I would let the clever ones learn Latin as an honor, and Greek as a treat.” The benefits of studying the classical languages of Latin and Greek are many.
Languages that are derived from Latin are known as the romance languages. This group includes languages such as Spanish, French, Portuguese, Italian, and as many as twenty other lesser known languages. Over fifty thousand English words are derived from the Greek language, and as many from Latin. For this reason alone, the studying of the classical languages can be considered beneficial. As one who has studied Latin since the fifth grade, I can confidently state that my knowledge of the Latin language has aided me in the studies of other areas, especially in other languages.
Many may say that the studying of the classical languages is pointless. They may claim that since they are no longer spoken, they are no longer of any use. However, the opposite is true. Almost all of the languages spoken today have derived from the classical languages of Latin and Greek. As I stated before, modern languages such as Spanish and French came from the ancient Latin language. Both Latin and Greek contributed to the languages of German and Russian. With the knowledge of the classical languages come the ability to better understand the romance
languages, and therefore be able to learn and speak them easily.
The studying of the classical languages will also help keep the mind active and thinking in a different way. When having to translate from any language, an understanding of how the native speakers think is required. This forces the mind to think in a way in which it is not comfortable. It is often challenging to translate the classical languages, but the rewards of it are great. Being able to manipulate the mind into understanding different ways of thought process is helpful in not only merely broadening the mind, but exercising it as well.
The study of the classical languages aids in the understanding of the English grammar. Many people will ignore grammar when they speak or write. Sometimes they understand it so well that they no longer need to keep it in mind. When studying Latin or Greek, however, the only way to understand the idea the writer is trying to convey is to carefully evaluate their uses of grammar. If the different elements of the sentence are not observed correctly, the meaning of the passage can be obscured or misinterpreted. Deciphering Latin or Greek sentences can help one develop skills at recognizing patterns and analyzing language with almost a mathematical perspective. It is therefore beneficial to know grammar well, and through studying the classical languages one will develop a better understanding of the English grammar system.
Studying the classical languages gives one the benefit of understanding. Anybody can read a book that tells of the history of a culture that has died out centuries ago, but to actually read a firsthand account of that culture provides the reader with an entirely different experience. Instead of just being a history lesson told by a scholar, the reader himself becomes the scholar. Through the classical languages one can become part of history. No longer does one become a slave to the historians and translators, forced to rely on their interpretations. Instead, one can read it for himself and determine his own interpretation. The knowledge of the classical languages and ability to read manuscripts written in those languages removes any faulty prejudices or biased that are implemented by the translators.
As I have mentioned before, many people say that classical languages are dead languages. I disagree. They may be ‘dead’ in the sense that they are not spoken any more, but Latin and Greek are just as much alive as the modern languages, if not more so. Many do not realize that they use Latin and Greek in their own language. Countless words have been derived from the classical languages. Penelope Lively, and author of both children and adult fiction, once wrote “We are all walking lexicons. In a single sentence of idle chatter we preserve Latin, Anglo-Saxon, Norse; we carry a museum inside our heads, each day we commemorate peoples of whom we have never heard.” Latin and Greek live through the languages they have influenced. The languages themself may not be spoken anymore, but the classical languages have left a definite mark on culture.
Another common excuse for not wanting to study Latin or Greek is that they are not useful for future tasks. Again, I disagree. Latin students have proven to perform exceptionally well on tests such as the SAT and standardized tests. This is due to the fact that Latin increases the vocabulary of the student as well as increases the knowledge of grammar of the student. Between the years of 1997 and 2006, Latin students scored around 150 points higher than the average student on the verbal portion of the SAT. It is commonly known that higher scores open doors to scholarships for colleges. And again, the study of classical languages will make it much easier to learn the grammar and vocabulary of the modern romance languages. Latin and Greek are the key to the modern languages.
In conclusion, the studying of the classical languages in high school or college will increase the knowledge of the English vocabulary and the knowledge of English grammar, as well as the ability to learn other romantic languages. But the most important benefit of studying Latin and Greek is that it will provide an appreciation for the ancient cultures that cannot be found elsewhere.