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E True Hollywood Stories: The Three Little Pigs

As I sat down on Thursday night before dinner, I flipped on the TV, wanting to let my mind drift away while some mind numbing TV entertainment news informed me of the latest gossip.  E True Hollywood Stories never fails to let me down, so I turned it on and awaited the familiar theme music…

“Hello, I am Suzy Sanders and thank you for watching E True Hollywood Stories!  For you Hollywood viewers at home we have a very special story for you tonight, the true story of the three little pigs…”  Ugh, I sighed. Another over dramatized television special.  I almost turned the television off, but for some reason though better of it. 

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Drug of Choice: Food

Weight loss is always a popular topic of New Year’s resolutions, talk shows and self help guides. However, recently concern has turned toward a more severe form of weigh gain, obesity.  It seems one cannot open a newspaper without reading about it.  In fact, in 2000, Philadelphia was the fattest city in the United States and in 2005 the third fattest city. (1)  Clearly, obesity is a pervasive problem, a disease occurring with alarming frequency.  Being obese, having a body mass index of over 30, (2) is associated with risk factors such as high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, sleep apnea, cancer, diabetes, and death: 300,000 deaths a year in the United States are linked to obesity. (3)  In 1998, the Nation Institute of Health (NIH) found that 55% of the United States population is overweight, and estimated that in 2004 this had climbed to two-thirds of adults in the US.  These statistics have grabbed the attention of both the NIH and the World Health Organization (WHO), which composed a Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity, and Health in 2004. (4)  While many factors and causes are being investigated for this growing problem, the science behind addiction can help us understand this disease.

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Dr. Sacks and an Anthropologist on Mars

I have always been fascinated with Dr. Oliver Sacks since reading The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat.  This book sparked my primary interest in neurology and brain and behavior studies.  After my first reading of a Dr. Sacks text, I found that the stories of the individuals were so complete and holistic that medical studies, for me, lost their impersonal images of stainless steel and sterility.  The title of the book was quirky, and unlike other medical texts did not push the readers away with highly scientific terms.  Dr. Oliver Sacks, a neurologist and a professor, has written several other books including Awakenings and Seeing Voices: A Journey into the World of the Deaf. When I opened my second text by Dr. Sacks, An Anthropologist on Mars, I was anticipating great stories and discoveries; my expectations were fulfilled.  In fact, before reading the book I started to think about what this title could mean.  Sparked by our class discussion, I very quickly realized that Dr. Sacks, as well as all of us, are “anthropologists on mars” when it comes to brain research.  We are all stumbling around on the foreign plant that is the brain, trying to understand the functioning and patterns of every day life there.

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Evolution of Sex in Literature

Literature, like biological evolution, does evolve, adapting and changing overtime.  Specifically when literature evolves the themes and literary devices central to literature and writing evolve as well.  Sex, both human nature and therefore a common theme in literature has evolved across authors and genres.  The descriptions of sex, and the literary devices used to describe it, have changed drastically over time thus portraying different messages and meanings to readers.   Sex is not only a strong literary theme but also a driving force in human reproduction and human nature and is therefore an important evolutionary topic to study.  Sexual contact is presented in different literary forms and mediums from the biblical scriptures to Shakespeare’s plays to Forster’s book Howard’s End and Zadie Smith’s novel On Beauty.  In the Bible and Shakespeare sex is portrayed to the reader in a shorter concise manner, while in On Beauty almost every aspect of sexual intercourse is described.  Interestingly, in Forster sex is almost not described at all. By studying the evolving course of this literary theme we will be able to explore why the theme may have evolved this way, what this then says about the themes evolutionary history in the past and its future and how the evolution of this theme relates to man kind.  The wife's body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband.In the same way, the husband's body does not belong to him alonebut also to his wife (1)           

 

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Generative Dreading

How many times have you been in class or at a meeting when the moderator or professor sets a deadline for a presentation and everyone moans about how early that deadline is, yet on the day of the presentations there is a line to go first?  It seems as even though these individuals did not feel that they had enough time to finish the presentation, but everyone cannot wait to get it done and present at the first possible moment!  Why is it this way?  I always want to go first and not simply because I think I will get a better grade or be on the professors’ good graces, it is because I want to get it done and over with!  If presenting, or other things of this nature, is painful and traumatic to us physically and mentally, why do we continue to want to face these challenges head on instead of trying to avoid and run from them?  What is this supernatural force that causes us to have superhuman will power and attack these painful threats head on?  Dread.  The dictionary describes dread as a noun and a verb: (v) to fear greatly; be in extreme apprehension of, to be reluctant to do, meet, or experience, (n) terror or apprehension as to something in the future; great fear (1).

           

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In Evolution We Trust

The current struggle between religion and science leads to many heated and debated questions and theories.  Many of these questions surround the existence of god and of when and how this existence evolved into being.  The concept of religion and god evolved in human culture as a result of brain structure and survival adaptation. Biologically, god and religion evolved as humans’ first form of consciousness.  Specific brain structures and brain formations allowed and encouraged this.  In addition there are several social and behavioral adaptations in man’s early culture that promoted the existence of god and religion.  Both biological and socially, early mankind was suited for the evolution of god and related concepts. 

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Aphasia: The Result of Broken Cables in the Brain

I was shell-shocked and disoriented, unaware of what was happening to me. Every time I tried to express myself nothing came out. I was forced to remain silent and could not follow either verbal or written commands. Words sounded to me like jargon… the people around me spoke a foreign tongue. I could neither comprehend nor use language...I lay in bed, staring blankly and feeling helpless. (1)

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Western Society: Do We Control Natural Selection?

Humans are taking an active role in evolution both biologically and socially, having the effect of altering natural selection, perhaps even halting it.  Evolution, as proposed by Darwin, is a combination of heritability, random variation of genes and natural selection; the later two which Darwin formulated.  Evolution involves the appearance of a trait due to a random genetic mutation which can be selected for and thrive in the environment, or which can be chosen against and accordingly eliminated.  However, in Western society we are effectively taking control of our evolution through new biological and medical discoveries that can, among other things, extend one’s life and prevent possible extinction from undesirable traits or illness.  In addition, survival and reproduction in our society no longer depend entirely on genes and biological traits.  Social traits are often able to override seemingly negative biological traits and allow for the reproduction of that individual and their genes.  When these biological and social selection traits are combined, individuals and genes often survive that would not have, had these safeguards been eliminated.  This has the effect of increasing these genes and traits in the population and allowing for a larger population.  There are many positive and negative side effects that will be associated with this control of traits, one of them being that the effects of natural selection are being overridden. 

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