History

I am a complete history geek. It has come to my attention many times in recent and not-so-recent years that a lot of people are of the mind frame of “Oh, history is boring, it doesn’t matter. It’s just a bunch of dead guys, what’s so great about them?” I heard one of the best rebuttals to that “bunch of dead guys” comment from my dad not long ago. “Never forget that those ‘dead guys’ were once alive.”

And he’s right. They were just as alive as you and me. Part of the reason, I think, why so many people find history “boring and useless” is because we’re so far removed from it. We aren’t given anything we can relate to.  The way history is taught in most places is absolutely appalling.  Being told to read out of a textbook and do definitions is not history.  History should be told as a series of stories.  How every event leads to another.  All the people as characters, all the events as a plot.  But would most teachers ever do that?  No.  Because that’s not good for the “OMFG standardized tests!”  I hate the education system.

Human Body: Pushing the Limits

I’ve been watching the Human Body special on Discovery (yes, I’m the person who stays home on Saturday nights to watch documentaries).  I mean really watching it.  They’re showing it on a loop, and I swear I’ve seen the Brainpower episode three times.  It is truly fascinating.  I’ve always been interested in biology, although my science classes have really only done human body units this year.  Learning all these new things has made me realize: we are bloody miracles.  Every last one of us.  We can do extraordinary things that nothing else can.  The scary part?  So few of us do.  Most people are content to live an ordinary life.  That’s always annoyed me.  I can’t understand it for the life of me.  I want to do things with my life.  I want to meet new people, learn new things, and make experiences.  But not everyone wants that.

OK, this has gone off into a philosophical tangent, which it wasn’t supposed to.  The narrator just said, “…which is no longer compatible with life.”  I admit, I laught.  That’s great.  Compatible with life…nice.  But, getting back to my original point, humans are a truly remarkable species.  The impact we’ve had on the Earth is tremendous.  Maybe not always in a good way, but it’s true.  This is like when I watched the Life After Man special on History Channel.  The things we’ve done to the world wouldn’t truly be gone for at least 10,000 years if we were to suddenly disappear right now.  Yes, some big things would happen within a week, but the Hoover Dam, the Pyramids at Giza, even Mount Rushmore would last for millenia.  It’s almost reassuring to know that it hasn’t all been for naught.  And by “it” I mean thousands of years of human civilization.  It really is a fascinating concept.  I can tell my brain is being rewired to accommodate new ideas, new knowledge.  I’m easy to rewire.  Does that make me an Innovator?

For those who don’t get the So Yesterday reference (Scott Westerfeld  http://scottwesterfeld.com/blog/), Innovators are the people who think of new trends.  Here’s how he explains it (or rather, the main character, Hunter explains it): “At the top of the pyramid are the Innovators.  The first mythical guy to wear his baseball cap backwards.  When you meet them, most Innovators don’t look that cool, not in the sense of fashionable, anyway.  There’s always something off about them.  Like they’re uncomfortable with the world.  Most Innovators are actually Logo Exiles, trying to get by with the twelve pieces of clothing that are never in or our of style.

“Next level down the pyramid are the Trendsetters.  The Trendsetter’s goal is to be the second person in the world to catch the latest disease.  They watch carefully for innovations, always ready to jump on board.

“Below them are the Early Adopters.  Adopters always have the latest phone, the latest music player plugged into their ear, and they’re always the guys who download the trailer a year before the movie comes out.

“Further down we have the Consumers.  The peopel who have to see a product on TV, placed in two movies, fifteen magazine ads, and on a giant rack in the mall before saying ‘Hey, that’s pretty cool.’

“Last are the Laggards.  Proud in their mullets and feathered-back hair, they resist all change, or at least all change since they got out of high school.”

Even for a work of fiction, it’s surprisingly accurate.  I’d say I’m mostly a Logo Exile with flashes of being an Innovator.  Where do you fall on the pyramid?  If you’re an Innovator, what’s your one special thing that makes you one?  Mine would have to be slang.  I invent words nigh on constantly (and they miraculously catch on), bring back old words, etc.

Getting back to the original point, few people are easily rewired like that.  It doesn’t take a lot to change my entire outlook on life.  Even a simple documentary like this one can.  You know, if I could, I would download all the documentaries I’ve really liked over the years and put them all on an 80 GB iPod.  I would carry it around with me and watch them all the time.  I could educate the pervasively stupid masses!  We should all take that upon us as a task.  A New Year’s resolution, of sorts, without the New Year.  To teach people things.

 OK, I’m setting a new goal for me, and all who read this (which I’m sure isn’t many).  Teach someone something new everyday.  Sort of like a twist on the old proverb, “You learn something new everyday.”  And don’t teach them in a dry stuffy manner that so many teachers use.  Casually bring up something relevant to the topic at hand, get your audience interested, and hit them with the facts.  It doesn’t have to be anything big.  It can be something as simple as a trivia tidbit.  Knowledge is power, even in a world ruled by seeming idiots.  Don’t be afraid to put opinion into your little lessons, either.  Hell, get into a debate over it.  It’s a good thing.  Debate stimulates rational thought (don’t be afraid of overreaching that part of your brain, people; it gets enough rest while you sleep) and it usually provokes emotional responses.  Anything to reach through the little bubble of ignorance that so many people like to keep floating around their heads.

In my last entry, I mentioned rereading Good Omens.  Once again, it’s a phenomenal book.  I’ve also noticed that it’s better if you read it in one session, than if it’s spread out.  The plot is so complex that it only gets jumbled if you stop reading for a while.  When I finished that, I reread Elantris, also mentioned in that post.  I noticed something in a scene that I hadn’t noticed before: Sarene, at Roial’s party, runs away from all the happy couples because it reminds her that Raoden is dead and that they could’ve been happy.  I noticed that I do that a lot.  Not when I’m single, but when I’m in a relationship, because they’re usually happier than I am.  I’m happier when I’m single.  Not that I would ever scorn love (being a romantic, and all), but I’m a teenager.  Teenage relationships very rarely end well.

So, to summarize: humans rock, social hierarchies are easier to describe than I thought, we should all go out and teach people things, and teenagers are hormonally fucked up.  The end.

Underestimating People

I can’t understand it.  Until you know someone or learn their limits, you shouldn’t underestimate anyone, regardless of age, sex, race or anything.  I’m talking mostly about the age one here, since that’s the one I’ve experienced most.  Yes, I know we haven’t dealt with the “real world” yet.  So what?  It doesn’t mean we’re worthless.  We can pay attention to the news, we can learn, we can have opinions.  And yet, some adults seem to think otherwise.  For example, I haven’t had to pay taxes yet.  But for some reason, my parents don’t think I understand how much it sucks.  I do.  I listen to them, I hear people talk about it.  I’ve heard enough to know what it’s like.  Or, I’ve had people read my writing and say “I never thought someone so young could write with such a vocabulary!”  Well, maybe it’s because they never give them a chance.  You can’t judge all of our skills by some of our skills.  I know, the chain is only as strong as its weakest link, but here’s one scenario where it doesn’t apply.  In this, we are all our own chains.  Yes, we’re young.  Yes, we have talents.  Get used to it.

Welcome In + Let’s Get Started.

This is my second blog; http://www.phoenixquill.wordpress.com is my first.  That one’s for news and information about literature.  This one here is more for my random thoughts about how completely insane the world is.  Ranting and raving is what I’m good at.

So, here’s my thoughts for today:

1. Why do politicians all resort to slander of their opponents?  Ad hominem attacks don’t make them look any better, and frankly, it’s a sign that they’re desperate.   Personally, I’d rather support a politician who relies on his own policies and strategies rather than poking fun at other candidates.  It’s a weak and cowardly way to gain support.

2.  I’m in high school.  I’ve always been one of the “good kids” in school.  Always did my work, never got in trouble, you know the sort.  So, why is it that when the good kids slip up, it’s always much worse than when the “bad kids” do something wrong?  Teachers tend to make a bigger deal out of smaller things when you’re a good kid.  Maybe they’re just used to the bad kids?  I’ve wondered about this since elementary school.  Even the good kids aren’t perfect.  We need to make mistakes, too.