Saturday, December 13, 2014

Medea Quotes

These are some quotes I found important about Medea's extreme transition when it comes to her emotions. These quotes in the beginning of the play demonstrate how Jason's betrayal immediately leads to her passionate hatred that comes to define her purpose and motivation in life.

"But now there is hatred everywhere. Love is diseased." (17) Speaker: Nurse

"I am afraid she may think of some dreadful thing. For her heart is violent. (37-38). Speaker: Nurse

Great people's tempers are terrible, always, Having their own way, seldom checked, Dangerous they shift from mood to mood." (118-120). Speaker: Medea

Shakespeare in DNA: Hands-Down Coolest Thing I've Read This Weekend

     Besides the literature on which we're being tested (of course :) ), I read an old NPR article a few hours ago that blew my mind. Two scientists in the UK used a cypher to encode all of Shakespeare's sonnets first into binary (0's and 1's) and then into DNA base pairs (A and T, G and C). The researchers calculated that everything written in human history (approximately 50 billion megabytes of data) would weigh about 5 ounces in DNA-coded form.
     By comparison, the human brain is estimated to hold anywhere from 1 terabyte (1000 megabytes) to 10 terabytes of information. After you live a long life packed with memories, if you were to code each memory (and you can code pictures and videos with binary, too), your life would weigh between 1/10,000,000 and 1/1,000,000 of an ounce. That's about the weight of the head of a fruit fly. Congratulations.

Here's the article:

Voltaire's "Poem on the Lisbon Disaster" and Rousseau's Response

In class, I read an excerpt from Voltaire's "Poem on the Lisbon Disaster." Here's the text in full. For the exam, it's obviously mandatory that we are familiar with Voltaire's opinions (and they're pretty bluntly stated in Candide). This poem further showcases his opinion, and the full article presents a slightly dissenting opinion by Rousseau. Having some context to backup opposing ideologies can beef up your essay, so it's worth the read.

Relax! With Candide

Don't freak out about exams! Would you rather be subject to an auto-da-fé? Didn't think so. Relating to both relaxing and Voltaire's Candide, I thought y'all would care to listen to the "Candide Overture," composed and conducted by Bernstein himself! It's pretty short, as it is an abbreviation of his operetta, "Candide." The overture has obvious themes of adventure and conflict (supplied by the loud percussion section, see around 0:20 in the video). Bernstein conducted this performance in 1989, about a year before his death. Here it is:

Enjoy! Good luck studying.

STM Forever

Well people, we have made it halfway through our senior year. I cannot believe that it is going by so quickly. I wanted to let each of y'all know that I love y'all more than anything. Even though we will all be going our separate ways after senior year, we leave a part of ourselves with each other.  I always hear Isabel saying that she does't believe that she is ready, but I say she is. She will be ready because she knows that we are all here to support her. That goes for everyone else here as well. I do not believe that the help of each other we could have accomplished what we have so far. Each of y'all have taught me a lesson that I will carry in my tool box for the rest of my life. I just want to remind everyone that no matter how far apart we end up traveling, whether 20 miles to 2,000 miles, we are always here for each other.


I'm really stressed out about college apps and exams so I decided that I was going to post some really bad jokes (because I really enjoy those) and hope that I can brighten my and everyone else's week.

  • There are two muffins in an oven. One muffin says, "It's getting hot in here." The other muffin says, "AHHHHH A TALKING MUFFIN."
  • Why did Sally fall out of the tree?
    Because she had no arms.
    Knock knock
    Who's there?
    Not Sally
  • What do you call a cow with no legs?
    Ground beef
  • What is brown and sticky?
    A stick
  • Why did the mushroom buy drinks for everyone at the bar?
    He's a fun guy!
  • What do you call a boomerang that doesn't come back?
    A stick
  • Three blondes walk into a building. I don't know why one of them didn't see it.
  • What do you call a dinosaur that smashes everything in it's path?
    A tyrannosaurus wrecks

Also this is always something that gets me through exams:

Good luck on exams this week, guys!

Reviving Ottoman Empire Language?

The Washington Post published an article that proclaimed Turkey's current president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, desires to revive the language of the Ottoman Empire in Turkey. In 1928, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founding father of the Turkish Republic, initiated radical reforms that banned the "Ottoman" Turkish language. He viewed the language as elite, and desired Turkey become more secular and nationalist. Earlier this week, the National Education Council, fouled by those who support Erdogan's will, voted to make Ottoman Turkish required in high schools. With backlash from the Justice and Development party, the prime minister updated the law, making Ottoman Turkish an elective. He adamantly declared "Whether they like it or not, the Ottoman language will be learnt and taught in this country". Clearly, he leaves no room for negotiations. Many compared it to teaching Latin in schools, also considered a dead language; however, there are benefits to learning languages used avidly long ago. Others view Erdogan's ideas as a radical attempt at the Islamization of Turkey, which, thanks to Ataturk, is secular. Erdogan has pride in the Islamic past of Turkey, and desires others appreciate the history as much as he does. He hopes it bridges the gap between the old history and current times, and allows people to appreciate their rich history. Here's the article if you want to read more.

Washington Post Article

Quilt for college

Hey y'all! So this isn't anything related to exams, but it's definitely something related to this class. Some of y'all may have seen me working on/heard me talk about a quilt that I'm making. Basically, I'm cutting up a whole bunch of old t-shirts, pajamas, etc. that I have and making a quilt to take off to college with me (because no matter where I end up, it's gonna be cold). You may be thinking, "How does this have anything to do with Humanities?" I promise, it relates.

Seeing as Humanities takes up to 3/7 of every school day, I spend a lot of time with you guys (especially my AP Euro buddies, Mrs. Q and Tiffany). I have known every single one of you since I started StM in 3rd grade (even Bre, who didn't remember me...), each and every one of you have played a huge role in both my school experience and my life as a whole up to this point. That being said, it would mean the world to me if you would each contribute a square to my quilt for me to take with me when I leave St. Martin's.

Below is a picture of a part of the quilt that I have already completed. Each square is approximately 8 in x 8 in (if you don't feel like measuring, just give me the fabric and I'll do it). Pieces bigger or smaller than that would also be appreciated. Blue, green, gray, white, or black would be best but any color would work just fine. Old t-shirts or sweater or pajamas or anything really works.

Ms. King and Mrs. Quinet, I'd really love it if the two of you would contribute as well. As my teachers y'all have been so supportive and made senior year a blast so far (as I'm sure it will continue to be). Thank you.

It's been great serving with y'all all these years. God bless :)


Unbearable Lightness Quotes

Hey, I feel that these quotations from The Unbearable Lightness of Being are important to the theme of identity regarding the body and the soul.

It would be senseless for the author to try to convince the reader that his characters once actually lived. They were not born of a mother's womb; they were born of a stimulating phrase or two or from a basic situation. Tomas was born of the saying "Einmal is keinmal." Tereza was born of the rumbling of a stomach. (2.1.1)

And so the man who called to her was simultaneously a stranger and a member of the secret brotherhood. He called to her in a kind voice, and Tereza felt her soul rushing up to the surface through her blood vessels and pores to show itself to him. (2.8.6)

But then it occurred to her that she was actually being sent to him by Tomas. Hadn't he told her time and again that love and sexuality had nothing in common? Well, she was merely testing his words, confirming them. She could almost hear him say, "I understand you. I know what you want. I've taken care of everything. You'll see when you get up there." (4.15.4)

Pick A Side

In class Tiffany and I presented you all with information about the Jesuit wars, and the controversy over whether they actually helped the native Guarani tribes there or not. I am interested to see what everyone thinks about this debate and "pick a side." I feel that this may be useful for our Humanities am on Tuesday because we have to know historical information about this event and others for a debate. So, without further ado, I will present my own side.

I feel that the native tribes were benefitted by the Jesuits only slightly, with more negative effects present than positive ones. For example, while the Jesuit missionaries provided the Guarani with a stable food supply, they also made profit off of their labor, an act that goes against their religious ideals.

Let me know what you all think!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Throwback Thursday: One Hundred Years of Solitude Edition

This meme (hehehe, Meme...) pretty much sums up 100 Years to me. Personally, Marquez is probably the book that we've read so far this year that I wanted to hate the most but ended up absolutely loving in the end. Regarding things we've read in Humanities this year, what was 1) your favorite, 2) the biggest surprise (i.e. thought you'd hate it, ended up liking it), and 3) what made you think the most?

For me, it goes as follows:

1) Hamlet, because it's Shakespeare and Hamlet's level of snark reminds me of my own inner monologue
2) As I stated before, 100 Years of Solitude because, after discussing it in class, I came to see that nothing Marquez included was arbitrary but instead actually served to make the book an intricate web of symbols, themes, and history
3) Candide, because, as ridiculous as it is, it made me think about action v. thought and how to put philosophy into action

Whirling Dervish

Since we were talking about dervishes in Candide, in which the dervish is relatively useless,  I wanted to show another side of Sufi culture. The whirling dervishes are about the coolest thing I’ve ever seen. Sufi whirling is one form of active meditation in the Sufi branch of Islam. It is still practiced today by the Mevlevi Order, which has been around since the 13th century. The word “dervish” itself means an initiate of the Sufi order.

Watching the dervishes is absolutely mesmerizing. I feel like even people who don’t share the dervish Muslim and Sufi beliefs can get something from watching them meditate. It’s almost trance-inducing to watch them spin. There is a link to a video about whirling below.

P.S. For you musical people who may or may not be familiar with Rodgers’ and Hamerstein’s The Sound of Music, there is a line in the song “How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria” that directly refers to whirling dervishes: “She'd out pester any pest, drive a hornet from its nest. She could throw a whirling dervish out of whirl.” I’ve attached a link to the song below.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Murder Board at St. Anna's

When we were talking about the general desensitization of the public and media toward violence, I immediately thought of St. Anna’s Church in the Treme area. Since 2007, St. Anna’s has kept and added to what had become known as the “Murder Board.” The board, which is situated directly next to the sanctuary doors, lists the names of every person killed in the Treme community, along with the date of death and the cause of death. 

On that board, victims of child abuse are listed next to suicides and victims and perpetrators of gang violence. They are exhibited without judgement. Viewers will never know who was criminal and who was innocent. Instead, they simply mourn the tragic loss of human life and rage at the society that has allowed such atrocities to continually happen. When asked where they would put the names when they ran out of space, Father Bill Terry, the church’s rector, responded, “We will wrap it around the block two times if we have to.”

(The above photo is Father Bill with the tally just for 2007 in a single community)

The purpose of the Board is twofold. First, it makes us remember the death as individuals, not a simple annual tally. Second, it ignites a fire of anger in those who read it, who see children burned, young men gunned down, and who see the sheer number of dead. Below I have posted a link to a video that talks about the Murder Board. I would encourage you to visit St. Anna’s and talk to Father Bill. I first met Father Bill on a retreat this past weekend. Out of the whole congregation he was preaching to at that retreat, I was the only one who has lived here my whole life. Father Bill talked about what it was like to see the kids who he taught in St. Anna’s after school program and saw every Sunday end up on that board. He shared his dream of opening up a free Episcopal school for about 20-30 students a year in the Treme community. At the last Diocesan convention, he challenged churches around the country to support his dream. A good, Christian education for these children would only cost approximately $3000 per child per year. By contrast, the public school system, as awful as it is, spends about $8000 per child per year. I guarantee you that St. Martin’s spends much more than that every year.

Father Bill challenged us to go home and look at our Episcopal school with our nice equipment and fancy buildings and quality books and think of those kids in the Treme. Think of the kids who have nothing when we have so much. Father Bill told us how he had seen just the one-hour after school program make a huge difference in the community. The children in the program would take their desire to learn, grow, and seek out a better life home to their parents and caretakers, many of whom are uneducated and /or addicted to drugs. The adults have been inspired by the youth to reject the idea that this is “the best of all possible worlds” and demand something better. 

I sincerely hope that this post has made you think about who we are as a school and who we are as a larger community in New Orleans. I know it did for me.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

I've already done my three posts for the weekend, but I liked this photo so I thought I'd share

Macondo and El Dorado

As we discussed in class the similarities between Macondo and El Dorado, I came to realize how El Dorado is truly a "magical" type of place like Macondo is. Although Voltaire isn't using magical realm, the fact that El Dorado is a type of utopian society, in my opinion, does give it a sense of magical realism, especially when the kids were playing with gems. I think the idea of a utopian society by itself is something that seems "unreal" and "magical." The idea of a place where everyone is equal and puts happiness first and where items of value seem like simply pebbles cause me to feel that El Dorado is a dream like and an idealized type of place. I think it's interesting how Voltaire and Marquez point out that the only obstacle preventing a perfect place like Macondo and El Dorado from existing is the influence of the outside world. I think that once people have a knowledge and a desire for the ways of the outside world, there is no way to preserve a utopian kind of society.

Yzma = Tom Sawyer

The other day in class we were talking about how Tom Sawyer is stuck in an eternal state of boyhood and about how he develops elaborate plans to accomplish simple tasks. It reminded me of Yzma and the below video:

The "Beautiful Sex"

This link is to a Verizon Wireless commercial which points out that many times in our society women are told that the most valuable thing about them is the way they look. When girls are told over and over that looks are the only thing that make them special, they begin to put all their eggs in that basket and stop worrying about something much more important - their mind. Sadly, I've noticed this in many girls that I know in real life.

When we were reading Candide, I noted that women were referred to as "the beautiful sex", as if that was all they had to offer to the world. Going back now, I can't find it in my book, but the phrase reminded me of the above commercial.

Here are some complements that aren't about physical appearance that are applicable to any gender whatsoever:

  1. You're empowering.
  2. I like your voice.
  3. You're strong.
  4. I think your ideas/beliefs matter.
  5. I'm so happy you exist.
  6. More people should be listening to what you have to say.
  7. You're a very warm hearted person.
  8. It's nice seeing such kindness.
  9. You're very down to earth. 
  10. You have a beautiful soul.
  11. You inspire me to become a better person.
  12. Our conversations bring me a lot of joy.
  13. It's good to see someone care so much.
  14. You're so understanding.
  15. You matter a lot to me.
  16. You're important even if you don't think so.
  17. You're intelligent.
  18. Your passion is contagious.
  19. Your confidence is refreshing.
  20. You restore my faith in humanity.
  21. You're great at being creative.
  22. You're so talented at _____.
  23. I don't get tired of you.
  24. You have great taste in _____.
  25. I'm happy I've met you.
  26. I wish more people were like you.
  27. You are so good at loving people.
So in conclusion, to everyone in our class, remember that you are SO MUCH MORE than your looks. Everyone of us is special and every one of us has extraordinary talents.
  • Sri - You're such a loving person. You always put a smile on my face. You also kick butt at Just Dance.
  • Breuna - You're such a talented theatre person. I look up to your self confidence and admire how you are so outgoing.
  • Joey - You are involved in so many things and you manage to balance it all. I have no idea how you do it. You're so dedicated to so many things and have many talents. 
  • Alex - You are so intelligent and are so good at explaining things to people who don't understand them. I know I can always ask you whenever I have a question and that you'll be patient in helping me understand. You also have so many random and vastly interesting facts stored in your head that you're always ready to share. 
  • Ross - You are such a good hearted person. You always do the right thing and you always put others first.  
  • Bonnie - You are one of the funniest people I've ever met. You're also a fiercely loyal friend. You love other people endlessly and you care about them just as much.
  • Tiffany - You are one of the biggest hearted people on this earth. You give the best advice. You're also extraordinarily hardworking at everything, especially your school work.
  • Iris - You're so creative. I love watching you when you work on art pieces and getting to see the gears turn in your head. You're also really good at writing college essays. That's so random, but I always notice how creative and well thought out your responses are.
  • Ms. Quinet - You have such a huge reserve of knowledge stored in your head. I sometimes just sit in awe about how much you know. You're also an incredibly strong and passionate woman. I'm still jealous that you passed Bonnie and I up in the Race for the Cure.
  • Ms. King - You are an amazing teacher. I've been continuously amazed since the beginning of the year at how you are able to spark and contribute to class discussion. I also enjoy that we share a love of theatre.

Candide and Forest Gump

The other day in class some of y'all said that you have never seen Forest Gump, which in itself is a crime because it is such a good (funny) movie. Like Candide, Forest is a gullible optimist who goes through life and experiences many different things. Funnily enough, the things he sees are cut and pasted into the movie from actually events in real life into a hilarious collage. Forest even has a love interest, Jenny, who only decides to be with him after she gets AIDS. Anyway here are three short clips from the movie, you may just find some other similarities between the two stories. Enjoy!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Calculus SMACKDOWN: Newton vs. Leibniz

     Ah, yes: one of the most infamous debates in mathematics and, perhaps, academic history. Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, coming in at the ripe age of 368 (has not done much for the past 298 years), versus Sir Isaac Newton, also 368, in the ultimate smackdown of the centuries. Who really invented calculus? We may never really know. But we will know that, instead of collaborating like honest intellectuals, these two blockheads (jokes, y'all) decided to bicker and overuse the childhood phrase "I said it first!"

     Let's start with Newton: he claims to have developed the method of "fluxions" in 1666 (when he was 23, not bad for a post-grad, eh?); however, there's not much to defend this claim other than word of mouth and a small endnote in a publication). Over 20 years later, Newton published his research in his most famous work, Principia. His notation for the derivative (which he called the fluxion) was \dot{x}. For two derivatives, he put two dots; however, this notation becomes cumbersome after four derivatives (although not much research goes on currently with derivatives beyond three, excepting a few remainder theorems). Further, his method of integration (for which he noted as the "inverse" of differentiation and called "fluents"), was honestly pretty sloppy and unstandardized.

     On to Leibniz: He created much of the notation that we use today for calculus. The earliest publications of his work with differential analysis dates to around 1677. Further, his notation was highly standardized and versatile. For instance, his derivative notation is one of the primary notations used today is the following:        \frac{d^ny}{dx^n},\quad\frac{d^n\bigl(f(x)\bigr)}{dx^n},\text{ or }\frac{d^n}{dx^n}\bigl(f(x)\bigr)He also invented the notation for integration. Pretty savvy dude.The "prime" notation (f', f'', f''', f^(4), etc.) was invented by Lagrange, who earned his doctorate with a slim 19 page thesis and is often dubbed the "Prince of Mathematics."

In my opinion (everyone's got one), Leibniz takes the cake. Newton's notation was clunky and not published until the 1680s.

Rice and Architecture Nerdiness

     I just got back from Rice, and it was a blast! It definitely got bumped up a few places on my college list. Anyway, when my father and I arrived on campus (40 minutes early because, well, Father DeCorte likes to be "punctual"), we walked around Lovett Hall (pictured below). As we were walking, I looked up to a dome at the corner of a walkway and said "Oh, dad! Pendentives!" My father gave me a quizzical look and said, "Yes... Yes indeed."
     A few moments later, I noted (to myself this time) the the arcade that circumscribes the quad. While walking around campus, I noticed a bunch of the architectural features that we learned last unit in Humanities that had been applied to secular buildings.
     This made me think about the future. A lot of the theoretical knowledge we gain at St. Martin's will influence (whether willingly or unwillingly) our lives well down the road. This seems like a pretty obvious thing to say, but this simple, concrete example of me geeking out over architecture (a field in which I have no desire to do anything career-wise) made this all very real for me. St. Martin's (and especially Humanities, of course) has made us well-rounded people that are interested in a broad scope of academic and practical concentrations.
     Here's Lovett Hall:

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Human Arrogance in "Cause and Effect" Logic

I was thinking back to Jacques's death Chapter 5, specifically, Pangloss's reaction to his drowning, and realized how arrogant Pangloss's philosophy seems. Pangloss responds to Candide's desire to jump after Jacques by justifying his demise as what was meant to be: "but the philosopher Pangloss prevented him by proving that the Bay of Lisbon had been formed especially for this Anabaptist to drown in" (192). Does Jacques really matter that much? I mean, is one human really so important that  God created a whole body of water millions of years in advance just to drown an goodhearted Anabaptist? Personally, I think that smacks of human arrogance. We aren't the only ones inhabiting this earth. What about the countless fish that were fertilized, hatched, lived, and died in that bay? the birds that flew over it? even the other people who have sailed the bay? Why does it exist solely to drown Jacques? While I love him dearly, poor, unfortunate Jacques just isn't that important on the universal scale.


"No one expects the Spanish Inquisition."

In case you didn't catch the reference Bonnie made yesterday in class, I'm going to explain the joke (and ruin it in the process). First aired in 1970, "The Spanish Inquisition" is a series of sketches from the sketch-comedy show Monty Python's Flying Circus, which featured the surreal comedy group Monty Python. It parodied the events of the real life Spanish Inquisition and spawned the phrase you may have heard yesterday in class: "No one expects the Spanish Inquisition." Below I have included a link to the sketches on Youtube. It's absolutely brilliant (as one might expect from the Pythons) and I encourage you all to take a break from work and enjoy the ridiculousness that is "The Spanish Inquisition."

"Singin' in the Rain"

The auto-da-fe in Chapter 6 (p. 194) reminds me of the infamous "Singin' in the Rain" scene in the Stanley Kubrick movie adaptation of Anthony Burgess's A Clockwork Orange. A Clockwork Orange is best known for its dystopian setting, commentary on behaviorism and juvenile delinquency, argot (Nadsat), and extreme violence. In Kubrick's movie, the violent depiction of the crimes of the protagonist, Alex DeLarge, and his gang earned the film an "X" rating in the US and removal from the British market. The "Singing' in the Rain" scene shows Alex's gang of "droogs"(as they are referred to as in Nadsat) engaging in "ultra-violence" against a writer and the writer's wife. They permanently cripple the writer and brutally rape his wife while cheerily singing "Singin' in the Rain," hence the title of the scene. All of this is shown on camera with no cutaways or silhouettes to cushion the emotional impact of the scene. Though it's not anywhere near as violent as Clockwork, Candide has some similar elements in its depiction of crime and punishment. It makes constant references to heinous crimes (especially sexual violence) where the criminals are never punished, and Candide's flogging at the hands of the Spanish Inquisition in time with the music closely parallels Clockwork. The desensitization present in both works is terrifying, especially if you see the works of fiction as a reflection of society's attitudes.

Disclaimer: For obvious reasons I won't post a clip of the scene, but I thought it was an important comparison to bring up. I would definitely caution you about watching Kubrick's film as it is rated "X" (even though an "R" cut was later released) and incredibly disturbing.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Scottish Panama????

So guys and gals,

We often discuss the colonies in the "New World," I mean they're the reason we're here today. Usually when we discuss the american colonies, we talk about Spain, France, England, and the Netherlands to an extent, but why don't we ever talk about Scotland? Did you know that the Scottish colony was actually one of the primary factors that unified Scotland and England into the United Kingdom. It is absolutely fascinating to me that this topic isn't discussed more. In the 1690s, the Scottish were looking around in the Caribbean for a piece of the puzzle to grab for their own, and they saw Panama as a chance for enormous economic opportunity, for they would control the flow of goods through the middle of the Americas, for they thought that they could build the Panama Canal. The Scottish tried to settle in this land, however, this land was terrible to settle on and the only people that could successfully settle this land at the time was the Kuna native american tribe. The Scots put a hug investment in their Scottish colony, and it failed. This economic tragedy actually weakened Scotland to the point where the English could economically buy out the Scots and practically force them into the UK. Here's the link for the article!

Actual Amazons

In ancient and classical Greek mythology, there was a nation of all female warriors. Herodoctus wrote about them in his book and said that they were located in modern day Ukraine. Some contemporaries said that their tribe was in Libya. They even fought in the Trojan war alongside other warriors. Some of the common figures from the time are Penthilsilea and Hippolyta. These female warriors would not allow any male warriors to live within their lands, and they would visit the neighboring tribe once a year in order to beget children. If they had any males, they would be set free into the wilderness to fend for themselves. According to tradition, this was an actual tribe, and I thought I'd share this tidbit since we were discussing the Amazon Rainforest's namesake yesterday in class.

Citrus at Versailles

So, this summer when I went to Paris, we had to do the quintessential trip out to Versailles and we checked out the sun king's palace. Here we a part of the garden of Versailles. Much like Frederick the Great, Louis XIV also manipulated nature to get his own crops. He asserted his will over nature and decided that he was going to have a citrus garden even though citrus fruits are completely non-natural for the region. During the winter they wheel all of the plants into an underground greenhouse and in the summer they put them on display. I think this enforcement of man's will over nature during this time period is interesting.