Critique of Bear Island: (Part 1&2)

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PART ONE:

Bear Island: the War at Sugar Point is by Gerald Vizenor. The foreword by Jace Weaver and the introduction by Vizenor give a fairly detailed account of the Sugar Point incident near the more notable Bear Island. It was an incident that predominantly occurred after Chief Hole in the Day became upset at being forced to walk a long distance after being acquitted of whiskey running charges. He swore he would never deal with the white man’s court again, so when he was again subpoenaed to go to court, this time as a witness, he refused. Thus, the authorities attempted to arrest him, but the chief called for aid and approximately twenty natives helped him escape. Continue reading

Leading up to the Red Power Movement

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People often try to pinpoint specific events when they talk about the birth of wars, happenings, fads, and major movements. For instance, it is easy to say America entered into a war with Japan after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. It is a lot harder to retrace historic and cultural events which paved the way for Japan to ally itself with Germany and Italy. The same concept applies with consideration over what paved the way for the Red Power Movement of the 60s and 70s among the Native Americans. Similar to a chef adding various ingredients to some meal a variety of events occurred among Indians, over a thirty to forty year period, that created the recipe which brought forth the Red Power Movement. It is a complex issue that could easily require a volume of text to do justice. However, for the sake of brevity, I will point out some of the predominant ingredients which helped create the socio-political concoction known as the RPM: government policies, poverty, perseverance, and place paved the way for the Red Power Movement. Continue reading

Magic and Mythology: Literary tools of Shakespeare

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Magic and a sense of the divine were often used by Shakespeare, though their use and purpose varied. An example of this variation can be seen when comparing The Winter’s Tale with A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

In The Winter’s Tale, the magical elements are presented more like an illusion, similar to a magician’s trick. And the incidents that are not illusionary are credited to the supernatural, primarily Apollo. Even while Leontes is half-crazed by his own suspicions he still seeks divine confirmation: “For in an act of this importance, ‘twere most piteous to be wild – I have dispatched in post to sacred Delphos, to Apollo’s temple – (2.1.181-183). And to boost the divine element there are several passages which allegedly illustrate supernatural characteristics or acts attributed to the divine. For instance, Cleomenes claims, “But of all, the burst and the ear-deaf’ning voice o’ th’ oracle, kin to Jove’s thunder, so surprised my sense, that I was nothing” – (3.1.9-10). The incidents primarily attributed to divine intervention occur after Leontes claims the oracle’s reply to be false. The death of Mamillius seems but a heartbeat after the false accusation, which is credited to Apollo by Leontes, who quickly begs forgiveness: “Apollo, pardon my great profaneness ‘gainst thine oracle” – (3.2.150). Yet, Paulina then brings word of Hermione’s alleged death as well. And, subsequently, the death of Antigonus and the boat crew are considered byproducts of the supernatural, for they are foretold by Hermione in Antigonus’ dream: “For this ungentle business put on thee by my lord, thou ne’er shalt see thy wife Paulina more” – (3.3.33-35). And in the same scene Clown tells his father how he saw both the ship “flap-dragoned” by the sea, and Antigonus killed by a bear. And yet, the most magical-like incident in the play comes by way of Paulina and Hermione’s 16-years of hide’n’seek, and getting the others to believe Hermione is a statue transforming back into the queen in the final act: “Music, awake her: approach; strike all that look upon with marvel; come; I’ll fill your grave up” – (5.3.99-101). This truly goes to show that suspending disbelief applies not only to the audience, but equally to the characters within the play.

By comparison, and unlike The Winter’s Tale, A Midsummer Night’s Dream utilizes magic in abundance, and not like a magician’s illusion, but portrayed as actual power within the fantastic characters inhabiting the fairy realm. Thus, it is a substantial part of the theme: a parallel between the real and fantasy, and how both worlds fall into disarray when love is out of balance. However, the characters in the real realm, similar to The Winter’s Tale, portray a strong belief in the supernatural realm, though, for the most part, they cannot see it. We see an example of this when Hermia makes a promise to Lysander: “I swear to thee, by Cupid’s strongest bow” – (1.1.169). And confirmation to the reality of these characters follows later in the play. For instance, Oberon confirms the existence of Cupid within his realm when he recalls how Cupid missed a shot and the arrow hit a flower: “It fell upon a little western flower, before milk-white, now purple with love’s wound, and the maidens call it love-in-idleness” – (2.1.166-168). Puck, likewise, speaks of Cupid as a living entity within their realm: “Cupid is a knavish lad, thus to make poor females mad” – (3.2.440-441).

The fantasy realm, magical though it might be, and well able to use their powers to manipulate characters in the real realm, still find themselves plagued with problems. When Oberon and Titania show human-like emotions, both love and pride, it creates disharmony in nature: “Therefore the winds, piping to us in vain, as in revenge, have sucked up from the sea contagious fog; which, falling in the land, hath every pelting river made so proud that they have overbourne their continents” – (2.1.88-92). This event of nature out of harmony when Oberon and Titania’s love is equally in disarray parallels the upheaval caused to Hermia, Lysander, Helena, and Demetrius; both through the prideful act of Egeus, and later, the magical mishap of Puck. Subsequently, when love is once more in harmony it appears to heal most ills, as if, and in this play, with the help of magic. Even Bottom, clearly the most ill-used by the fairies, from ass in action to ass in appearance, feels no animosity after being a pawn in their game. In fact, he feels blessed, as if awakening from a wondrous dream: “I have had a most rare vision. I have had a dream past the wit of men to say what dream it was” – (4.2.207-209). And yet, he still confirms the ass it made of him: “Man is but an ass, if he go about to expound this dream” – (4.2.209-210). However, dreaming is merely another plot to the play. After all, Shakespeare has Puck recite the following within the closing dialogue: “That you have but slumb’red here, while these visions did appear, and this weak and idle theme, no more yielding than a dream” – (5.1.427-430).

Natural Selection: asexual, sexual, and unisexual

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Reproduction among the animal kingdom appears to be a hit-and-miss proposition. Even evolutionary biologists cannot come to one accord on a given direction with natural selection. Throughout the history of science sexual reproduction – the fertilization of the egg by sperm – has predominantly been considered status quo. However, early in the twentieth century scientists began noticing unisexual species, and further discoveries included asexual species to the growing list. In fact, in less than one hundred years there is now a list of over fifteen-hundred nonsexual species recorded.

The initial assumption arrived at by the majority of researchers in the biological field was that they were seeing the beginning of natural selection paving the way for the next evolutionary step in the reproduction of species. But was that truly the case? They thought so at first, after the initial fifty or so discoveries. But as the number of species elevated rapidly that hypothesis no longer seemed to hold up. Furthermore, technology improved, which played a role in many of the initial discoveries. And as technology continued to progress biologists realized that evidence seemed to suggest some of the nonsexual species they had found, along with species that reproduced both sexually and nonsexually, were hundreds of thousands of years old: with several they even believed to be as much as two-million years old.

Species that were hundreds or a few thousand years old were considered too young, by evolutionary biologists, to have seen a complete evolutionary change in their sexual reproduction. But the older species tore apart the belief that natural selection had only recently (in evolutionary terms) begun to make the next major evolutionary leap in animal reproduction.

I am not quite sure I agree with that initial hypothesis. After all, Darwin recorded noticeable evolutionary changes in certain species (like the finches) from one generation to the next as a result of the change in available food supply. There has also been a wide variety of recorded information in the past fifty years showing species in controlled environments going from sexual to unisexual, and sexual to asexual species in one or two generations. However, some species fail to mutate in controlled conditions, while others mutate sporadically with as little as one-to-six percent transforming. And yet, other species have shown one-hundred percent mutation in a single generation: and their offspring reproduced without sex… though some species still needed fertilization of the egg, but without the sex act.

The result of the diverse findings has led to a hodge-podge of beliefs. No one has come up with anything close to a universal hypothesis to explain the absence of uniformity in animal reproduction.

Most evolutionary biologists question the need for sexual reproduction: “If reproduction can occur without sex, why does sex occur at all?” (Johnson, 2012) One train of thought contends that there appears to be an inevitable limit to long-term species survival inherent in clonal reproductions (Johnson, 2012). It is a phenomenon known as the ratchet mechanism, or Muller’s Ratchet, after Noblest Herman Muller, in the early sixties (Simon et al 2003).

Another contention, called the Red Queen Hypothesis, asserts that there is an instant advantage with sexual reproduction in producing genetically diverse offspring that make it tough to be targeted by harmful parasites (Simon et al 2003). This hypothesis was tested using Crucian Carp: the diploid sexual had fewer parasites than the triploid gynogens (cited in Simon et al 2003).

A third contention is known as the DNA Repair Hypothesis. Various geneticists believe sex continues because “only a diploid cell can effectively repair certain kinds of chromosome damage,” (Johnson 2012), primarily double-strand breaks in DNA. They suggest that synapsis “which in early stages of meiosis precisely aligns pairs of homologous chromosomes, may well have evolved originally as a mechanism for repairing double-strand damage to DNA” (Johnson 2012).

After reading up on the abundant variations of asexual and unisexual, along with the equally diverse methods of research, I came away with far more questions than answers. One of the biggest problems I saw in the research is that there is no standard methodology for studying or recording the information and data acquired. It is impossible to arrive at a universal answer to the basic ongoing questions when every scientist and research group alters their methodology to accommodate their resources, and often their hypothesis. For instance, certain scientists I read about confirmed that specific species have had no known mutations in sexual reproduction in their natural environment. But that did not stop them from isolating the species in a controlled environment to force mutation: and even after the forced mutation the mutated species never took hold in the natural habitat after they released it into its known environment.

Similarly, there are examples of natural mutation that have failed to show identical results in controlled settings. This raises additional questions of validity with regards to natural selection. How many of the alleged fifteen-hundred-plus asexual and unisexual species have honestly been naturally selected or genetically mutated (engineered) by humans? Which creates another question in a similar vein: how much of the human pollution, and toxic or nuclear waste, has added to the mutation level in the natural environments of many of these mutated species?

For instance, I know of several areas, such as dams and reservoirs, where the fish, fowl, and other local species have shown dramatic mutation in size, appearance, and behavior. Yet, not once in all the examples of research into mutated species on sexual reproduction that I have read did the scientists consider unnatural or external elements in the species natural environments a possibility  for mutation: to prove or disprove. That seems highly unprofessional, and yet it is the standard practice (as far as I can tell), to automatically discard the possibility of something that has been confirmed many times over, in many areas, simply because it does not fit their initial hypothesis.

Instead of learning what I hoped to learn while researching this paper, all I ended up discovering was my distrust for the recorded findings. So much of the methodology proves more about the genetic manipulation by humans with career aspirations than it does about natural selection. I admit that I am not a geneticist or evolutionary biologist, and will never be. But I was an investigator for many years, and I know a lot about eliminating suspects (or non-truths) to get at the right culprit (or truth). And as I read the research, if I only looked at the alleged data (like the proverbial tree) it seemed valid, but when I looked at the big picture (like the proverbial forest) all I saw was a lot of window dressing to validate their hypothesis in order to keep their grants coming in: there are just too many unanswered questions and areas never considered.

 

References

American Museum of Natural History. (2012). Web.

Johnson, G. (2012). The Living World. McGraw-Hill, NY. (180-181).

Patrusky, B. (1982). Where Males Don’t Count. Mosaic. (2-8).

Schlupp, I. (2005). The Evolutionary Ecology of Gynogenesis. (399-412).

Simon, J., Delmotte, F., Rispe, C., and Crease, T. (2003). Phylogenetic relationships between parthenogens and their sexual relatives: the possible routes to parthenogenesis in animals. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society (151-163).

 

Outlaw Dick Fellows has no horse sense

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They say “there’s no accountin’ fer’ taste.”

Perhaps it’s the same fer’ brains.

Like choosin’ a horse bearin’ criminal path

while unable ta’ control the reigns.

Dick Fellows was just such a fool,

though others would claim he was wiley.

Yet the mistakes he had made were of such a low grade

he would admit them quite rare, an’ then only shyly.

Assault an’ a robbery had bought him some time,

an’ the place he was sent was San Quentin.

Though the time that he got was cut rather short

on account of the faith he was hintin’.

He acted quiet pious, an’ bowed ta’ his knees,

then quoted a verse here an’ there.

A jailhouse conversion of the first magnitude,

with a personal testimony ta’ share.

Well, Governor Booth got wind of the change,

“let’s cut that poor Fellows some slack.”

So they unlocked the shackles an’ set Fellows free,

but the guards, they knew he’d be back.

He weren’t much of a worker, but wished ta’ be rich,

so to crime once more he did turn.

Yet ta’ rob a stagecoach he needed a horse,

but horses caused his innards ta’ churn.

Fellows went ta’ the livery ta’ rent a cayuse,

then sought a Wells Fargo stage he did fancy.

But on the way ta’ the hold-up, the ridden got wind of the rider,

an’ the spirited horse became antsy.

It bucked an’ it reared an’ threw Fellows down,

then ran off back ta’ the livery.

The timing now off, the first got away,

he switched targets fer’ the second delivery.

The Bakersfield stage he got ta’ hold-up,

then realized he forgot vital tools.

He could not break the locks so he carried the box.

How foolish ta’ forget all the rules.

The second horse then took off like the first,

leavin’ Fellows ta’ hump his own load.

But he’d gone this far, so carry he would,

just hopin’ he’d got him some gold.

So he shouldered the box, an’ walked in the dark,

then took a near twenty foot fall.

Down the number five tunnel of the Southern Pacific,

where he broke his leg an’ wanted ta’ bawl.

He drug himself ta’ a Chinaman’s tent,

an’ he found an axe ta’ steal.

Made himself a crutch, then chopped open the box,

“Eighteen-hundred, my God, what a deal!”

He then limped along ta’ the Fountain Ranch,

where he stole himself a new horse.

Then made his way ta’ an abandoned shack,

where he was arrested by detectives, of course.

Fer’ the crime he committed the verdict came down,

eight long years he must do.

Though the very next day Fellows could not be found,

a tunnel in the floor he went thru.

He stole one more horse, but had similar luck,

the law caught him before he could run.

Shipped him straight ta’ San Quentin, the guards had been right,

he was back there under the gun.

He was freed in five years, instead of the eight,

but quickly forewent honest means.

So he held-up a stage an’ got clean away,

but with only ten dollars in his jeans.

Well, he tried it again, but it was worse than before,

the cash box contained a mere letter.

Then the third attempt, after waitin’ some time,

had a similar outcome, not better.

Less than a year from the time of his release

back behind bars he did go.

He was sentenced ta’ life, at Folsom this time,

yet he escaped once more, don’t ya’ know:

though he hadn’t learned nothin’ in all his attempts,

as he mounted an’ grabbed up the reigns.

The horse bucked him off, the lawmen did scoff,

cuz’ once more the horse showed all the brains.

© JW Thomas

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A Man is a Man by His Actions

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I’m a boy from the slums where livin’ is rough

Fought daily for survival, you’ve got to be tough

One on one is expected, but one against many is too

Arise and keep swingin’ or they’ll walk all over you

 

If you can’t take a fall and quickly bounce back

You’ll never earn respect, and they’ll never cut you slack

You learn to be ruthless, when ruthless is called for

But don’t let it change you, not deep in your core

 

Being ruthless is not the same as being mean

It’s taking others down, but keepin’ it clean

Purely for self-defense or in defense of others

Continue to respect life: fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers

 

From slums to foreign soil when fightin’ for “Uncle Sam”

For freedom and G.I. brothers… fuck the political flim-flam

Busted and bloody, but I returned standing tall

But don’t give me no praise, give it to those who gave all

 

Dad said, “A man is a man by his actions

not from his years on Earth;

he sweats courage and bleeds honor

and guards integrity for all it’s worth”

Dad in Navy

War touches all

The following is a term paper based on several books written about the Vietnam War; but it is just as relevant for any war… and for any time.

[Take your ego and preconceived notions out of the equation and it’s never too late to learn.]

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War touches all

War is greedy. A little thing can release it, but after it is let loose it cannot easily be tamed. It has no loyalty, not even to those who cast it forth. It seeks to ravage anything and anyone it touches, and it touches everyone. And anyone touched by war will never be the same. But individuals who experience war firsthand will, inevitably, bear a bigger cross: a burden uniquely forged by their experience and perspective. Continue reading