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Timeless Stories

Part 1: The Coon Attack 

The moon was full like a perfectly round yellow balloon waiting to be popped.  A swarm of stars peaked through the obstinate clouds as small sparkles of light.  I imagined the night sky was a long road waiting to be traveled and the stars were the lights that guided one there.  As I moved my eyes down toward the corn field I marveled that no one would ever be able to experience the infinite length of the starlit path that seemed so impossibly distant from Earth.

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Synoptic Evolution

“One may as well begin with” (Forster 3) the evolution of literature.  There have been many instances in the history of literature where an author’s writings are disassembled, only to be reconnected, possibly with different characters and scenery, but still having the basic themes and ideas of the original piece.  Zadie Smith’s On Beauty has this type of interconnection with E.M. Forsters’ Howards End.  I found it rather remarkable how a similar tale could evolve within two completely different societies and contexts.  Howards End is based in equestrian England in the early twentieth century among different social classes, and On Beauty is based in present day Massachusetts among social and racial classes in a university atmosphere.  What appears to make up the plethora of differences between the two similarly based stories is the audience to which the story is written.  This adjustment to a story to better connect and interact with the audience, I think, has always been the driving force for why authors find the need to revamp a story, such as Zadie Smith did with E.M. Forster’s Howards End and the writers of the Gospel of Matthew and Luke have done to the Gospel of Mark. 

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Cultural Relativism and Alternative Unions

Adult union and the consequent development of a family, exists throughout many world cultures.  Unlike the United States, where serial monogamy is the prevailing relationship category, many other cultures support a variety of adult unions, which would be illegal or socially unacceptable in the United States.  These alternative adult unions can be as diverse as the cultures themselves, confirming that there is no “universal system of ethics” (Dennett 494).  Taking a closer look at the “culturally strange” relationship arrangements in other countries, will help to increase Americans’ appreciation for and understanding of the social dynamics within those cultures, which ultimately leads to better cross-cultural communication. I think this communication must occur to prevent “ethics [from settling] into an … equilibrium” (Dennett 494).  I believe that the United States should encourage educational programs that discuss and appreciate the diverse cultural traditions such as those of the Na of China, the Tibetans of Nepal and the Indians of India.  Cultural relativism is the view that all cultures and beliefs are as equally legitimate as the next.  I am convinced that cultural relativism, and not ethnocentrism, needs to be the prime focus of all learning institutions to further encourage the understanding that alternative and seemingly “strange” relationship categories are often adapted by different social groups as a mechanism to cope with economic, religious and culture pressures. 

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The Final Mass Extinction

With the human species in a full dominance swing over the world, is the world due for a mass extinction?  At the end of the Cretaceous period, 65 million years ago, an event occurred that would forever change organisms’ interactions amidst the earth’s biota.  For 160 million years, the dinosaurs played the same role that humans are staring in on the present earth.  The question is, when will this reign terminate?

The dinosaurs had 160 million years to completely diversify into over 330 species, and while the animal kingdom was able to radiate into thousands of different species, the one species that has taken control of nearly every ecosystem on this earth is the Homo sapiens.  The anatomically modern human has only been roaming the earth for 200,000 years.  Humans are so homogeneous that they all fit into one species that has very little variation at the chromosomal level.  Therefore, while allegedly, the intensely disparate dinosaurs needed an enormous asteroid to crash into the earth at the Yucatan Peninsula to inevitably end their reign over the earth’s ecosystems, what would need to happen for the same result to happen to an exceptionally homogenous group, whose parasitic relationships have affected every organism on this planet?

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