Superorganism: Microbes or Humans

“Whose house is this? /Whose night keeps out the light in here?/ Say, who owns this house?/ It’s not mine./ I dreamed another, sweeter, brighter/ with a view of lakes crossed in painted boats;/ of fields wide as arms open for me. /This house is strange. Its shadows lie. Say, tell me, why does its lock fit my key? – Toni Morrison, Home. 

The human microbiome contains vast number of micro organisms residing in our bodies in complex relationships. According to Sherwood & Woolverton (2013), the human microbiome refers specifically to the collective genomes of resident microorganisms. These relationships can take the form of symbiosis including commensalism, mutualism or even parasitism. Commensals are organisms which reside in a host body not causing harm but not adding benefit either. Rather, these organisms do all the benefiting. Mutualists organisms give us benefits while also receiving benefits. The parasitic ones are the most dangerous capable of threatening our very lives much like a brain eating Amoeba. Yikes! However, if like Michael Pollan, New York times asserts that we are made up of 10 percent human,  then the 90% of the organisms within us are the majority. We never gave our consent to these millions of microorganisms living with us yet we need some of them. The questions in the opening passage of “Home” resounds clearly in my mind, “whose house is this? Whose night keeps out the light in here?/say who owns this house”.  Even as Philosophers like Socrates, Aristotle have likened our bodies to be temporary houses that we shed as we pass away from this life, our bodies are important to us! These numbers of organisms that cohabit in our house, some paying rent like e coli that helps to break down and digest the food we eat. Some that live in the attic quiet like the commensal flora and fauna that feed on dead skin cells. While others weaken our body in a bid to become master of the house like protozoans.  Say who owns this house?

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Who Would Survive a Zombie Apocalypse?

Though I’d like to (and I will) get into the actual content of the book, Zone One by Colson Whitehead soon (seriously, I’m really liking it so far),  I’d like to briefly discuss something that caught my eye in the first few pages of the novel.

“He was their typical, he was their most, he was their average.” “He staked out the B or the B chose him: it was his native land, and in high school and college he did not stray over the county line…” “… He was not made team captain, nor was he the last one picked. He sidestepped detention and honor rolls with equal aplomb.” “His aptitude lay in the well-execute muddle, never shining, never flunking…” (Page 11)

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Social Climate Change and the Xenogenisis Trilogy

After my research abroad on the concept of social climate change over the summer in Dakar, Senegal, I find it difficult to not relate climate change back to almost all things I learn about.  Social climate change explains how the changing climate affects the way people interact with each other, themselves and their surroundings.  A war is referenced several times during both Dawn and Adulthood Rites as the reason their planet was destroyed.  This leads me to wonder the immensity that humans will go to, to ruin their environment and each other. Read more

Gender as a Social Construct and Way of Understanding

This past Thursday, I attended a panel discussion titled “Trans? Fine by Me”. This student-organized event featured a panel of three students and two members of faculty, all of whom are part of the Geneseo community as well as the transgender community. This event helped me to realize and expand my thoughts on something that I have been considering throughout this course, which began as a seed of an idea that Butler’s works planted in my head.

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The Challenger Shuttle Disaster

Hey so I, and maybe some of you guys too, did not know much about the Challenger explosion that Dr. McCoy talked about on Friday. So I figured I may as well get a blog post out of it and learn a bit at the same time. In 1986 the NASA space shuttle program was still growing strong, long past the space race and the moon landing. Instead of the Apollo spacecrafts though, NASA had shifted to using space shuttles. The Challenger spacecraft itself had gone on nine missions ahead of its last on January 28, 1986. When it blasted off it was only in the air for 73 seconds before it exploded (History.com Staff).

 

Like Dr. McCoy said, everyone on board was killed including the teacher Christa McAuliffe. What’s actually super interesting is that she was going to teach lessons to kids all around the country from space (History.com Staff). Losing a family member who is an astronaut is hard. Losing anyone is hard, in any way. But I cannot imagine being a family member of Christa McAuliffe’s family after that explosion. It makes my heart hurt thinking about it. I always liked the idea of the space race, and space travel growing up. Seeking to learn more by leaving Earth is such a beautiful dream. Learning it all was about trying to be be better than the Soviet Union put a bit of a damper on that thought, but none the less it’s still beautiful for those who dream.

 

NASA ended up learning that the explosion was caused by the freezing of two O-rings that were designed to keep sections of the rocket booster separated. They had frozen because of the cold weather in the days leading up, and the day of, the launch. Engineers actually wanted to delay the launch so they could check to make sure there wouldn’t be any failure, but they were denied by superiors. President Reagan reacted like a president should, he appointed a special commission to investigate what went wrong and prevent future catastrophes from happening (History.com Staff).  

 

My first thought when Dr. McCoy explained this tragedy to me was to compare it to 9/11. They’re both an event that is visually and emotionally etched forever in the minds of those who witnessed it, whether in person or on TV. A landmark tragedy in the eyes of America that unfortunately will survive forever.

 

Works Cited:

History.com Staff. “Challenger Disaster.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 2010, www.history.com/topics/challenger-disaster.

 

PTSD vs. PASD

I’m sure most of us are familiar with the term PTSD, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. We’re used to hearing about PTSD it in the context of war and active combat, it’s also prevalent after experiencing natural disasters, car accidents, sexual assault, and other life-threatening events. However, in the novel Zone One by Colson Whitehead, a psychotherapist named Dr. Neil Herkimer presents a new diagnosis: PASD, or Post-Apocalyptic Stress Disorder.  While I was reading about the condition, I was wondering why it wasn’t just called PTSD. I assumed that an event such as the one the novel focuses on (the apocalypse) would fall under the same category. After googling and reading more about PTSD, I realized how wrong I was.

 

Both conditions entail symptoms such as changes in sleeping habits, weight gain or weight loss, nightmares, feeling jittery and paranoid, loss of energy, trouble concentrating or making decisions, and thoughts of death, dying, and suicide, as well as negative thinking in general. These are only some of the existing similarities.

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Consent

Throughout the book Clays Arc there has been a reoccurring theme of a lack of consent. Consent is the permission from both parties for something to happen or an agreement to do something. The characters in Clays Arc, Blake, Keira, and Rane, have been taken away from their homes without their consent, and have been forced to live in hiding. While living in these homes they have come into contact with a deadly disease that has been spread onto them yet again without their consent.

Consent is black and white. Unfortunately the struggle of consent has been prominent for decades. One major topic relating to lack of consent is medical experimentation on slaves. Although slavery no longer exists, the repercussions are still relevant today. According to this Daily News New York article, protesters demanded a removal of  a Central Park statue of 19th century doctor who experimented on slave women. The doctor’s name was J Marion Sims.  The article writes, “Sims, a South Carolina native, is considered by some to be the ‘father of modern gynecology.’ He developed a surgery to treat a tear women sometimes suffer after childbirth and founded the first hospital designed specifically for women in 1855. But Sims honed his craft in the 19th century by carrying out a series of experimental operations on African-American slave women — without using anesthesia.” Although Sims may have thought he was helping these women, he did not take into consideration the unethical work he was committing. Consent is not something to take lightly. It occurs daily whether it be intentional or not. I believe it is important for students to be informed about the topic of consent to help diminish possible problems in the future.