Outline of a Shark : The Basic Facts

A bit ago, I was privileged to spent some time with these totally cute little girls that I tend to only see at church once a week. It was a wonderful time had by all I think and I have found I am growing to love these wee ones so much. While I sometimes wish that I had more children, I have managed to find some comfort in caring for other people’s children and trying to help them with their tasks. (I do enjoy going to bed when I want though ;) During our game playing and chatting, the six year old saw a statue (maybe curio is a better word) of a shark on my bookcase- one of my treasured possessions that my sister gave me after she was married. Grimacing, she then told me that she ‘hates’ all sharks because they are always hungry and always biting people. Nothing that I could say could shake that simple foundation of that knowledge. It felt a bit sad because that seems like such a extreme and also mainly unnecessary fear. So, I picked up a few of my books- those who know me tend to know that sharks are something that I enjoy and have been trying to instill that sense of joy and wonder in my son- and we started to read about several different kinds of sharks. She decided at the end of our conversation that we should study all of them- each and every species – so we can decide who is right. A fairly mature response for anyone that age… and a little more motivation than I think I have ;) But we decided to start on the basics. So after about twenty minutes, these is what we came up with. (I have added a few of her comments in bold and parenthesis.)

We started with studying and trying to observe through picture the basic physical design. Some of the characteristics common to all sharks are gill slits on the sides of their heads and a skeleton made of cartilage and connective tissue. Sharks live in all the oceans and seas on this planet and a few species can live in freshwater rivers, although they are in the minority. All sharks have long rows of teeth that are replaced several times over their lifetime- some estimates suggest that some species grow over 10,000 teeth in their lifetime. (WOW!) Almost all sharks have eight fins and no shark has the ability to directly ‘back up’- they can turn around and go back making a u-turn if you will….but it is impossible for them to stop and swim backwards. All have skin that is covered with dermal dentacles that make their skin feel smooth from head to tail, giving them smooth and fast movement through the water. However, if you rub your hands along the skin from the tail towards the head, the skin will feel rough, like sandpaper and can even break your skin open (probably not a great idea around a shark per se ;) Most sharks need to keep moving and are unable to sleep for large periods of time without sinking and drowning; some species have developed the ability to push water past their gills when they are not actually swimming allowing them to remain stationary of settle at the ocean floor. The majority of sharks are ‘cold-blooded’ with large stomachs and short intestines. Their ability to sense smell and follow it as well to sense electromagnetic fields make them pretty excellent predators in the water. Interestingly, sharks have eyes that have the ability to change the size of their pupils (just like us) so while scientists do not understand much about their vision, that is an interesting starting point for speculation. (SO SEE, THEY CAN SEE IT’S A PERSON AND THEY DO IT ON PURPOSE!) They are also colorblind (WELL, I STILL THINK WE DON’T LOOK LIKE A SEAL) and have an average life expectancy of 20-30 years. Like us, they also take a long time to grow and mature enough to have children and they may migrate thousands of miles every year. They are thought to be quite intelligent and have been observed showing curiosity and play like behavior… which reminded me a little of dolphins. (vigorous head shaking!) Only four species have been involved in a significant number of fatal unprovoked attacks on human beings; the (in)famous great white, the oceanic white tip, the tiger, and the bull shark. Ironically, humans as a species kill on average over 100 million sharks a year for both commercial and recreation purposes. As many as one forth of known shark species are threatened with extinction and twenty five species are listed as critically endangered.

Sharks have been living in our oceans since near the beginning of creation – some estimates suggest they existed at least 400 million years ago and in many ways, they still be have and live the way they did back then. The first sharks showed great physical diversity- more than we tend to see in shark species today- and new ‘ancient’ sharks are still being discovered today as paleontologist comb through rocks and ground for fossils. With over 470 species of modern sharks in several classifications, I suspect that we will not manage to study or write about all of them. I think that’s probably reasonable and in the end I am hopeful that her fear and hatred will feel less strong towards them. But we’ll give it a good start and see where we will go from there! Any particular one that you suggest we study first? :)

pictures from: http://oceana.org/en/explore/marine-wildlife/whale-shark, http://www.aquariumofpacific.org/onlinelearningcenter/species/zebra_shark, http://www.mediabistro.com/prnewser/animal-rights-groups-help-inspire-hong-kong-shark-fin-ban_b72810


The 'Wicked Witch' in the Sixteenth Century... and Today

The word ‘witchcraft’ brings to the mind visual images and emotional reactions for many people. So it has from the creation of the idea of magic, witchcraft, etc… but even in our civilized and enlightened society today. The origins of magic and its practitioners or ‘witches’ are unclear; there are various references to both in the King James Version of the Holy Bible, in the Jewish holy scripture book called the Torah, in laws and court hearings in both Ancient Greece and Rome as well as references and myths written by the Greeks, Romans, Babylonians, Early Egyptians and the Persians. Depending on the time frame and the culture in which you live, the images and emotions provoked are very different. Today as I get ready for the Halloween traditions in my culture, I expect to see costume- clad children knocking on my door and I will ‘ohh and aww’ over their choices while I pass out goodies and smiles. It was not always this way and the ideas of witchcraft and magic, or ‘unnatural acts’, have provoked much less benign and more violent reactions from those who feel threatened.

So what is witchcraft… and who are those who practice it? Again, that definition can change based on time, place and culture, but the generic definition of witchcraft can read as follows: the practice of magic, especially black magic; the use of spells and the invocation of spirits… the art or practices of a witch. Those who practice the craft are thought to be individuals with three specific qualities; use of malevolent power, a depraved heretic towards the majority religion and/or power structure, and also the acts of sexual deviancy. It was thought that both men and women could practice the art of magic and in some cases that magic could be ‘white’ (good) or ‘black’ (bad). During the sixteenth and seventeenth century, the idea of witchcraft and its practitioners changed in the minds of many and how it was dealt with became a larger and more significant issue then it had been in other times during human history. Many aspects of culture at this time can be analyzed to understand and recognize how situations like witch-hunts happen, how the targeted individuals are picked and why, and what forces are in play to cause the volatile fearful situations. I wish to look at the political, education, social, and religious constructs of early modern Germany as well as the continent of Europe as a whole to try and understand how all the violence came to be and who it was against. It is hopeful by understanding it, we can work to not perpetuate it in our own lives and cultures.

This time period was a time of great change and many of these transitions help explain some of the fear and escalation in these communities. This was the time in history that we also call the Reformation when the Christian religion was going through a significant change as the Catholic Church no longer had a complete monopoly on Christ and Christian thought. Individuals such as Martin Luther and John Calvin wrote about their ideas/ thoughts on their concerns in the Catholic Church and its teachings following with suggestions for change and needed reform. These men and others created new communities or groups that came to be known as Protestants and which vied with the Catholic Church for converts. Rulers, kings and other political elite found that the doctrinal instability in the religions and communities correlated into political instability. One side benefit - rulers who converted to a Protestant religion could stop paying the Roman church high taxes and could also seize Catholic funds and assets in their own lands providing themselves with a new source of revenue. During this time there were also times of sickness and famine as the ‘Little Ice Age’ passed through which caused a lot of hardship and death for all. Protestant thought at this time also stressed that Satan was a physical being and Luther himself described himself as having many encounters with Satan who attempted to keep him from reforming the church. So it is into this time of insecurity- both of doctrine, politics and the beginnings of the questioning of sexual relationships, power that we start our journey into sixteenth Germany.

Before the sixteenth century, the idea of witches and their ‘craft’ were fading from the public sphere across Europe and magic was thought to be a superstitious practice with very little real power. In the early Catholic church, the ideas of witchcraft were thought to consist more of idolatry and illusion- sins to be sure, but not the cause of direct harm to others and, in an anonymous text titled Canon Episcopi from the ninth century which is part of canon law, it states that ‘there was no such thing as an actual witch’. During the development of early modern Germany and other states, misogynist writings and men in power worked to change the viewpoint of the whole society towards witches, magic and its practitioners. Books such as the “Malleus Maleficarum” helped to define and spread the new image of witches; they were real, they were women, and the source of all societal degradation. Add to those ideas the concerns of Catholics at a rapidly changing religious landscape, the changing power structure, and the tensions between the differing factions began to stretch and break. Some women joined one of the differing groups of Protestants and found they had more opportunities and influence than they had when participating in the Catholic Church. The obvious threats to the power structure of the church caused the religious male hierarchy to go on the offensive. Under the belief that the female sex is more susceptible to evil influences and is the inferior of both genders, any woman who did not strongly conform to the local religious and cultural expectations was easily accused of being a witch. (Some historians show evidence that the witch hunts were strongest and encompassed the most victims in territory that was 'Protestant controlled' but that is not definitive- Sociologist Nachman ben-Yehuda states, “Only the most rapidly developing countries where the Catholic Church was weakest, experienced a virulent witch craze.”) It is quite evident that both religions and their leaders used the supposition of witchcraft as a way to try and regain their lost power and hierarchy in areas where they were at risk. In some cases, there is evidence that men who were not seen as being vigilant enough in finding and persecuting witches were disparaged as men who were weak, womanly, etc... What is clear is that the idea of witches/witchcraft was no longer a subtle idea or existed only in the realm of thought- these ideas were now useful as a confrontational and aggressive way to deal with ‘enemies’ or other undesirables in the community.

In essence, any woman who (or was thought to be) engaged in behavior that felt threatening or was unconventional in behavior or appearance was at serious risk for problems. Many women could be accused and found guilty and executed on little to no evidence of significant wrong doing. The most common way was to accuse a 'witch' and charge her with heresy. As the definition of heresy was defined by the specific religion but usually enforced not only religious orders and leaders but also enforced by the secular legal power structure. In that light, a heresy charge was a pretty significant and threatening event in someone’s life as well as a charge that didn’t depend on physical proof for convictions- circumstantial evidence, hearsay and confessions under torture were sufficient. Due to women’s influence in their homes and as the transmitter of the culture to their young children, they were in the position to spread unconventional information to their children. As this could potential force changes in the hierarchy and its power, men were encouraged to be actively engaged in keeping the women in their family / household under their control. Single women, whether due to a lack of marriage or from being widowed, were also likely to be accused and condemned for a few reasons. Due to their single status, they had no male protectors and were easier to accuse than married females. In that same sense, they had no men to ‘control’ and keep tabs on them and their behavior and if they were self-sufficient or financially independent, any woman who could be seen as too prominent in society for any reason was in a dangerous situation. Also, by being single and taking assents, these women could and did stand in the way of the orderly transmission of property from one generation of males to another.

The ways that ‘witches’ were caught and were mostly women make sense in the power structure at that time. Midwives who practiced medicine could be targeted for that by their male rivals. A midwife or healer could be accused if a birth didn’t end perfectly or a child died- even one accusation could easily multiply as other individuals looked back at past experiences and reinterpreted them with the accusation in mind. In some ways, midwives, and medical women were seen to have power over life and death. Over centuries, the Catholic Church taught that the suffering and illness of this world were only temporary and fleeting. It was thought that God was no longer involved in the physical world so anyone who was able to divine or understand natural knowledge was seen as using supernatural power… or power from the devil. As the concept of medicine and medical care developed and gained a following, the church put its backing behind the upper class men who studied and practiced it and supported medical care for the few who could afford it. To control medical knowledge, it was taught in the first universities (in which women were not allowed to study) so any woman who practiced medicine was self or informally taught – a method described as “If a women dares to cure without having studied than she is a witch and must die.” Add to those thoughts that women were thought to be more likely to be able to weld unnatural, malevolent power and even bad weather and environmental conditions were blamed on local women. Whether being accused of calling up a storm to try and drown a King in his ship at sea, a papal bull stating “…have blasted the produce of the earth, the grapes of the vine….” or the entire chapter written on the subject in the Malleus Maleficarum titled “How they Raise and Stir up Hailstorms and Tempests, and Cause Lightening to Blast both Men and Beasts” ending with the sentence “Therefore it is reasonable to conclude that, just as easily as they raise hailstorms, so can they cause lightning and storms at sea; and so no doubt at all remains on these points.”

The other thing that made women more likely to be accused and punished of witch craft was if they could be suspected of sexual deviancy. Many women were prosecuted based on charges relating to their own motherhood and role in the home. Sexual orgies, having sexual relations with the devil and the normal sexual misbehavior or fornication and adultery were all reasons that could be used in accusations of witchcraft. Any kind of male sexual dysfunction- from impotence to premature ejaculation to complete disappearance of the penis and other sexual organs was also blamed on the power and perversion of witches. To counter this problem, men used trials to assert their dominance over women and their bodies with public strip searches, torture, etc… giving themselves permission to sexual assault women and remind everyone of their place.

There seems little doubt that religion and gender played a huge role in the witch-hunts in early modern Germany. Whether the ‘witch’ was burned, hanged, strangled, or beheaded, it is clear that most of the accused were female and were chosen because they were perceived to be a threat to the male hierarchy. By criminalizing women’s attempts to share power as well as the anxiety that was felt by the male hierarchy over women’s societal roles and the influence and power in them, a women’s perceived sexual prowess, and the general weakness of women to resist and therefore were more susceptible to witchcraft, those in power had a lot of leverage to control women’s behavior, place in society and to remove them if necessary. We still struggle with these same issues today. While we no longer call women we fear witch (very often) and as a civilized society unnecessary violence is abhorred, the fears, confusion and anger over women and their choices spills out into the communities in more subtle and acceptable forms in our patriarchal society- negative labels, harassment or assault both physical and sexual, as well as cultural expectations that indirectly (and directly) place limits on the behavior of women. Politicians and those individuals on all sides of the political spectrum use their beliefs, desires, value systems and power in society to 'create' and name our new 'witches'- single mothers, poor and elderly women, feminists, working women, women in power, minorities, etc... Some religions also continue to set limits and rules on women's expectations and behavior that are not applicable to men and women who speak out against injustices in their faith communities can be removed or kicked out- many by male only courts. It is important to recognize that, while the concentrated and active witch trials of the sixteenth century are in the past and we no longer 'burn' witches, the feelings, anger, and power struggles of that era have not been resolved and are still alive in us and our society today. That different methods are used to cause fear, oppression, or motivation to keep the status quo of power in the hands of the few, the rich, and the male doesn't suggest anything other than a recognition of the gender power struggle itself will not bring about peace between genders and stability in society. Only time, a willingness to share power and humility will bring the possibility of that….

pictures from: http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/dominicselwood/100252072/the-dark-deep-roots-of-britains-fascination-with-witchcraft/, http://www.damnedct.com/connecticut-witchcraft-trials, http://www.biography.com/people/john-calvin-9235788, http://www.malleusmaleficarum.org/shop/the-malleus-maleficarum-in-latin-pdf/, http://www.malleusmaleficarum.org/shop/the-malleus-maleficarum-in-latin-pdf/, http://witchnest.blogspot.com/2010/07/killing-witches-as-best-way-to-kill.html, http://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&ved=0CAMQjxw&url=http%3A%2F%2Fen.academic.ru%2Fdic.nsf%2Fenwiki%2F11823268&ei=cKPjVPK9L-OxsASR94DIDw&psig=AFQjCNGjAAFlzXs6eji2QEbpsIhDxcZ0Pg&ust=1424291020320634, http://en.academic.ru/dic.nsf/enwiki/11823268,


Introduction to This Month’s Topic: The History of Women in Western Civilization

This was a class I wanted to take for a few reasons. One reason is that I love history and it feels like I have studied it all my life. I grew up with a thirst for it and devoured every book I could find that I could understand. I think that this passion for learning and history has served me well in my life and has been very enjoyable for me. However, I found that I felt over time that my knowledge was really very limited and as I looked at it from an education and a religious standpoint, I realized that I pretty much can give the basics on many of the individuals that have made history, but the majority are men. The exceptions in my mind can be classified as wealthy, white, powerful women such as Catherine the Great of Russia and Queen Elizabeth I of England... which were rare. Over the last year or so, I have tried to change that and have actively tried to look at the flip side of the coin so to speak. I have found the information a lot more challenging to come by and having anyone to discuss the information I do find with is difficult because the history of anyone besides men isn't taught in most standard classes so the discussion becomes a bit of a lecture or monologue.... which is no fun at all. So I saw this particular class as a lot of fun and a great resource towards gaining more knowledge, but also more guidance towards more resources for future study. I was hopeful that I can learn more not only about women and their struggles in culture, families and in creating a human history of their own, but also that I can develop a better understanding of the struggle for gender equality that is going on in my own lifetime. I also wanted to have a better understanding of how power and entitlement work between gender, class and race and how people are working towards changing the cultural biases that affect the under-privileged majority of people.

I found myself really interested in learning about how women's history is being compiled by historians and feminists today and how, as history is complied, what forces or parts of culture tend to decide which history is most important for the average student to learn about. I recognize that politics enters that equation as well so I understand that question must needs be open ended without a full solution to be had.

I think that anyone who approaches any of this information differently on a few levels. As our gender is intertwined in our mind and our thoughts without it being consciously there, each individual will have no choice but to either ignore or recognize that you will look at in the material based on your gender. However, I think that we are each much more likely to approach the material from a just as personal and unapproachable bias.... the bias of our own life experiences as well as current life circumstances. Our experiences, culture, family and our choices over time have helped each of us develop into a unique and amazing person and we cannot help but approach any topic with those biases in place and work to try and set them aside as we study and try to look at the topics addressed. I do not think that it is possible for any of us to do that completely- part of me at least has a hard time recognizing biases in myself and I assume others may have the same difficulty in self reflection and introspection. So I suspect that even when many of us appear to see the topic in the same 'light' and have the same viewpoint, we are getting there from very different paths and thoughts.

I recognize that the topics that I will address in the next several posts may be unknown to most and may also be on topics that are sensitive or cause negative emotions in yourself and others. I am not sharing them to cause any harm or anger; rather, I am sharing because I believe that the only way to change culture is to talk about it. From my writings, you will find that some of these topics were challenging for me and my emotions will hang off of some of my sentences and paragraphs. I hope that as readers, we can share our thoughts freely and discuss our feelings and concerns on the history and the topics that are discussed… many of which are still relevant to ourselves and women around the world today.

pictures from: http://www.citelighter.com/film-media/fashion/knowledgecards/womens-fashions-of-the-medieval-era, https://oregonheritage.wordpress.com/2012/05/18/oregon-womens-history-project/, https://oregonheritage.wordpress.com/2012/05/18/oregon-womens-history-project/, http://www.ora.tv/offthegrid/article/grid-history-women-history


Thoughts on the CES - Consumer Electronics Show

For the last assignment of the class, we were invited to explore the Consumer Electronics Show. It was a little nostalgic to go the CES website and look at what’s going on this year. I lived in Las Vegas for several years and I went to a few of the conventions and usually left with a hypothetical shopping wish list that was way too long and too expensive. So I looked through the site and I will admit that I giggled as my shopping list was a lot lower. I live in a small building off the grid without running water and so thinking about air conditioners, cameras, phones and video gaming as potential purchases seemed a bit out of reality. I don’t think I would want most of them even if I did have the money. So I decided to look up Blackberry as that is the phone I used to use and I really do like using their products.

I looked at a few links and then I went to this one. http://www.cnet.com/news/blackberry-ceo-we-will-survive-as-a-company/

I was pleased to see that it looks like Blackberry will survive its financial crunch and I looked at other sites afterwards and saw a new blackberry that looks wonderful- I will admit that $599 is a little out of my price range though ;) It looked a lot easier to use and still has a keyboard which I am in love with- hence why I prefer Blackberrys over so many other phones. I thought the review was helpful, but also a sales pitch so it worked as I want one of the phones, but doesn’t tell me how much better or useful than the one I have.

When I went into the Smartphone category, I saw lots of links about using fingerprint technology and eyescanners and how some companies were really interested in the technology and other companies were interested but wanted to wait until the technology was more proven and less difficult or prone to problem- that seemed like a cautious and prudent idea. I also liked reading about the bigger phones and tablets and I found myself pretty interested in them as well. AS most tablets are touch screen but big enough so I feel like I can use them, one of the ‘phablets’ seemed like a potential idea for a large phone that I would like. I tend to not like to hold my phone up to my ear and use the speakerphone feature so that is nice as well. http://www.cnet.com/news/all-hail-the-phablet-jumbo-phones-finally-going-mainstream/

On a side note, I saw the link in the category car tech for ‘Doc Brown and his Delorean’ showing up CES 2014 and that was funny. http://www.cnet.com/pictures/doc-brown-appears-in-his-delorean-at-ces-2014/

I am interested to see what other people thought was interesting on the site, especially people who use technology more than me. I’m pretty curious to see what other people find and find interesting....


Thoughts on Kevin Kelly and Predictions on Technology

*For this discussion, we started by watching a youtube video that war filmed in 2007 that you can find here. I highly recommend it! It is a video by Kevin Kelly about predictions on technology and computers.

This was a really interesting video and I am really impressed with Kevin Kelly and his research. He certainly made a quite a few predictions that are true today and I am interested to see how his predictions for the future turn out… it appears he will be pretty on there as well. One thing that I thought was interesting and I have spent some time chewing on is that the more transparent we are on personal things, the more we can gain. I am still a bit of a dinosaur when it comes to technology- mostly because I just can’t afford it- and I do share some things that are personal on Facebook and through email but I am still really learning about all of this. And even when saying that, I really that I am codependent on my technology that I do use. So is my place of work, my school, and most places that I go to. I was thinking about it and I see benefits to being so dependent on machines and also some downsides. I think that everything in life has some benefits and not so good things… anyone who has kids knows that ;) I like being able to get personalized recommendations and to be able to research and do things that so much more easily, but I also do not like being inundated with ads and other useless things. Thinking of the web as a living breathing beast was a metaphor that really did seem to work for me and thinking about how we are teaching machines to see and think for us and eventually being able to do it much better than us collectively (I think we are there now actually) is an image I do not think I will lose soon.

One last thing that I thought about was how ‘we cannot imagine ourselves without writing or alphabets’. That is really true. I love reading and do it as much as I can. I love writing and consider it one of my best talents. I can’t imagine a life without that and it is a pleasure to hold a book in my hand and sometimes I wake up with that same book there. But I also wake up with a phone next to be to so that I can check my email, etc… So I am changing slowly but adding technology when I can. I feel sad that so many books are not being read on a computer but it also makes books more available for people to read and that’s a great thing. How can I be upset about that? So it is interesting to think about how we are embodying machines with our characteristics and anchoring our lives around them as well.


Thoughts on Ted.com.... and the Intelligence of Crows

So I searched the Ted site for a bit before I found one that I really wanted to watch. I started with a video on vultures that you can find here…. Which was wonderful! It was called “Why I love vultures and the talk was given by Munir Virani and lasted 6:38 minutes. If you are feeling cynical about politicians and politics these days, watch the first few minutes of it for a great laugh. :) I didn’t know that vultures were endangered as I have thought they really sort of had a niche in the environmental. Knowing that we as human beings are poisoning them feels a little sad and weird. I felt a little motivated to do something, but I also wasn’t really sure what I could do besides maybe writing a letter. I saw a turkey vulture by the side of the road a few months ago and it was the highlight of my day. While they are not the prettiest little things, they are pretty cool.

The next one I watched for fun was given by Joshua Klein and was on the intelligence of crows. It was ten minutes long…. Joshua studied crows for years and he built a vending machine for crows. It’s really quite cool and I want one because I look watching crows. We had a pet crow for a little while when he was injured in the wild and I have a short video of it if anyone wants to see it. The video was fourth down on the same page as posted above and he talked about how a lot of the animal conversations these days tend to focus on animals that are becoming endangered and not on animals that are hyper adaptive and are doing well with us in their environments and in fact have adapted to use us in their environments. Talking about developing mutual beneficial systems and ideas on it was great and I have posted the video to my Facebook page.

Here is the page I found both of these on. I am going to watch some more of them. I think this is a site I will visit more over time...

What are your experiences with this site? I even found John Dehlin on it.... it has alot!


Thoughts on a Typing Adventure.....!

This assignment was really interesting with a few websites to explore. I tried all four websites for the typing skills and I found varied responses when using each one. I do not know how to touch type very well and I am much faster typing with my three fingers and looking at the keyboard. I found that my typing was either slower or faster depending on the site and how it arranged its tests. I found some challenges figuring out how to work some of the tests as well so I did spent a lot of time just figuring out how the tests worked on each of the different sites. Here are my thoughts:

1. Typingtest.com – The first thing about this site was that I got lost within a few minutes of getting to the page. I found myself not sure of how to proceed and would click on the sponsored links which would then take me to the same subject on different web sites or offer me a lot of other options and I would realize I had made a wrong turn. Once I figured out what I was doing, I did the typing test a few times, both with the ‘Aesop’s fables’ as a base and the ‘Enchanted typewriter’. I found my average typing speed was fluent or average (between 37-47 words per minute. I tried some of the tutorials and I didn’t enjoy them very much and didn’t find that helpful, however, I suspect that trying to change my typing style now would be difficult and so that was part of the problem. Sitting my fingers in ways that do not feel comfortable to me may be a significant setback on trying to relearn to type, especially if I do not feel really motivated to do it.

2. Mrkent.com – I didn’t enjoy this site very much. I struggles through most of the tutorials and felt a bit like a failure at the end of it. My average was six correct words a minute between the lines of jumbled letters and numbers and I found the totals only got worse the more annoyed I got and the faster I tried to be. The Mosquito Revenge Typing Game was pretty fun though and I found I ‘splatted’ a lot. My son thought that was great! So he will probably keep using the site as he was much more successful than I was. A few of the other links on the home page were pretty neat and I made my ex a ‘word find’ puzzle for fun (Don’t worry, professor! I am on good terms with him and we are dating again so the puzzle was full of nice words! ;)

3. Powertyping.com – I liked this site. I found it frustrating to start with, but as I figured out how to use it, I enjoyed a lot of the games. I started with the “Calvin and Hobbes’ image and typed in the words first on beginner with animals and was very successful. The amount of success I had was gauged on how quickly I was able to pick up on everything. As it got faster, I was less successful, but I didn’t feel as stressed or let down with these games so I think this website is the one I like the most.

4. Typingweb.com – I thought this site was fun, but was also a site I did really poorly at. I couldn’t keep up well or would try to rush and did poorly, but since I am not a touch typist, I suspect quite a few people would struggle with typing ‘zachory, zabba, zaman, zaxy, zavvy, zamn’ pretty quickly. Especially since they spelled ‘zachory’ wrong- I had do look back and change it as my mind automatically corrected the spelling. It was fun, but I wasn’t very successful.

So this week felt like a little bit of a mixed bag but, I think that most of that comes from my pretty poor typing skills. After all you are never going to like a site that tells you through its test that you can only type six words a minutes when you recognize that is partially you but also the test itself. I think I just typed the last few lines in a minute period of time and there are a few more words than six ;) I did find one site I really liked and two that were ‘ok’ so my son can learn how to type correctly and we can have fun together with it. I also will keep in mind some of the other functions for word finds, etc… which can come in handy for church activities, etc…

So, did you give any of these a try? What are your thoughts? Were any of the above sites useful to you?


Thoughts on Google Voice…

* a link to the site.... :)

This discussion question was a sigh of fresh air because I have actually heard of and used the website suggested before! Until a year or so ago, I had a Google voice number and I found that it was helpful in a few ways. It offered me a second number to put on resumes and you can have the voice mails left on it forwarded to your 'original' number. You can also- I am not sure how as my ex did all that- set it up so that it will transcribe the message and send it to your email. It you have a limited cell phone plan and no house phone, a google voice number can really save you some minutes because you get the message without using any minutes to check the voice mail and it helps you to be able to only use your minutes for the important calls you wish to make. My cell company also had a way online to put a few numbers as family and frequent call numbers that would allow anyone to call those numbers and not use minutes... or I could use it and not use minutes. Our family and close friends would always call us on the Google voice number and so we were able to use the minimum phone plan with very few minutes but not really feel any kind of a pinch or too limited. It also would keep records of the calls which ended up being really helpful sometimes. I never used it to make calls straight from the computer because that option wasn't one that I needed, but I do like the program nonetheless as it was so useful in other ways. The only reason I let the number lapse was that I have an unlimited plan now and since I didn't use it on the computer, it was a small hassle to keep. But I would cheerfully sign up again if needed. It was great! Only downside that I saw was that the transcription would sometimes have problems based on ways that words could be pronounced or with accents... so I might need to make small translations of the translation myself- very rarely was the translation so off that I needed to listen to the message to figure it out. It would transcribe things like Harry Beattie to 'Harry Baby' due to his accent. Minor things like that really weren't an issue and did make me giggle.

So I watched the videos- there were twelve that seemed to be the starter ones. And I feel like I learned a few things and I remembered a few things that I loved about it like the personalized greetings. I had a few of those in the past and I really liked those... at least I had fun with them. I also learned about blocking calls- I didn't know you could do that nor did I know about the option for conference calls. This project has sort of convinced me to possibly sign up again. :)

Have you used it before? What are your thoughts?


Thoughts on the Khan Academy...

I started this assignment by looking at the Khan Academy website and watching the video about Saloman Khan and how he started his videos for family use and then eventually developed a public site. Two things struck me right away. First, I used my home laptop at the school and since I was logged into my Facebook account, the home page for the academy told me that three of my 'friends' were also 'friends' with them. That felt a little intrusive and odd that this site I had never heard of had figured out 'who I was' before I even set up an account. I also discovered pretty quickly that I couldn't watch any other videos without opening an account. While I appreciate that the site allows you to sign up for free and then you have full access to all of it, but I am very careful with how I give out my info and I felt a bit trapped at that point. I needed to watch a video or two for the discussion, but couldn't do so without giving my name, email address, and my birth date. I went ahead and did so, but I still feel a little uncomfortable with that.

The video that I started with – the interview with Salam Khan- was really interesting. I liked listening to his journey of the opportunity and the desire to help his nephews learn and how those few videos he put out that seemed to be so useful that he branched out and they eventually became the website that I just visited. I love the fact that it’s free- cost can be such an impediment for some groups of people. I know for me I am much more likely to take the time to check it out if I do not have to shell out money to do so. I next decided to try a few things that I knew to see what I thought about them. I have been teaching BLS for over a decade so I looked up CPR and they have a program for it. The program tries to teach body position and arm angles and hand placement and as soon as I figured out how the program worked I has able to successfully do it. I thought it was interesting but I wonder how much can be really learned when you are using one finger to do it. One of the things we do in class is the do the ‘maneuvers’ several times over a class to try and develop a body memory so that if you cannot mentally remember what to do, maybe your body will. I think this was a great introduction to the topic and gave you a few good ideas so I thought it was useful. I wonder if any users have felt compelled to take a real class from using the program on the site... I would love to know that answer.

I next went to a few medical videos and watch those. I worked for Mercy ambulance in a big city out west for a decade and I saw a few abdominal aortic aneurysms in people- some who survived and some who didn’t. So I did watch the video on the site about it here. I thought it was very accurate and pretty interesting. Covered all the facts I knew and two that I didn’t. I do recommend it for everyone to watch for informational purposes because many people have to have the AAA burst before they recognize they have it and makes it more challenging for medical staff to fix. The video didn’t cover all the ways to recognize them, but an aneurism is a hard thing to recognize because it depends on where they are in the body. But it covered quite a bit and all the testing that doctors do to diagnose it.

The next one I watched was on breathing and asthma that can be found here: It was just awesome and I am going to recommend it to the current teacher of the medical assistant program. I thought it was really helpful and reinforced what I knew and I gained some knowledge as well. I think I might be start using this site as a permanent feature of my education… even if they do track me and my friends ;)

What are your thoughts?


Thoughts on Gcflearnfree....

At the site gcflearnfree.org, I checked out a few tutorials on some things that interested me. This was another site that I hadn't heard of before and after some time on it, I had a little bit of a mixed opinion. Since I struggle hard core with math in my personal life, I thought I would start there. The math portion was divided into sections that covered the basics and a little bit of fourth grade math (fractions), but except for some basics it didn't really do much for me. For instance, it gives practice problems, but doesn’t give a way to check your answers to see if you understood- if they do I couldn't find it. There was a zombie game in that section which I tried and that would allow you to do the math problem and let you know whether you arrived at the right answer or not and it was a little fun, but I thought it might also be stressful because you have to 'rush' the answers or the zombie will 'get you'. That said I realized that I was better at addition in my head than I thought ;)

I glanced through “All the Topics” next and I found that there were a lot of good topics, but not many that interested me right now. I looked at reading because it is one of my favorite things to do and I thought the exercises were great- only thing I would have changed is except for the 'grammar' section, there wasn't much on writing. (I suspect that is because writing is much too complex to put in small bites – at least that's how I see writing.) I also looked at the Microsoft office section because I am currently taking a beginner's computer class and that is something that we are learning about. I found that the topics I already understood well I could understand clearly in the exercises, but I did struggle a little with trying to figure them out if I didn't already have some understanding of the concept discussed.

I think that this might be a site that I would use again, but I didn't feel completed grabbed by the site in such a way that I will be more likely to use it on a regular basis. It was good to learn about and I am interested to see what other people thought of it. I think if I was in a position to be able to use the internet more and to need the information it provided I would be more interested in using it more often. Anyway, it's good to know! :)

What do you think? Have you tried it? On a semi weird note, when I first saw the website title I read it so fast that I thought it was about gluten free stuff and I was really excited... and then confused for the first few seconds of looking at the site... You can't tell what's always in my head, can ya? :D


Thoughts on Onguardline.gov….

** Please visit this federal government site to learn about internet fraud, computer security, and how to protect your personal information if needed***

I was excited to start this week looking at onguardline.gov. I found this topic really interesting, especially due to the recent news about Home Depot’s computers being hacked with a large data loss. On my computer I use a few programs to help me try to protect my data. I use LastPass for my password vault and HTTPS-Everywhere on my computer when I am searching or using the web and that has been the extent of my computer protection with the exception of virus protection.

So when I looked at the site I started with ‘Tips for Using Public Wi-FI Networks’. In one of the tips it mentioned the secure internet program I am using and with few exceptions, I have really enjoyed using it. I haven’t had any problems over the last few years. (Knock on wood!)

I do have a cell phone but I am woefully ignorant on mobile apps for I went to the ‘Understanding Mobile Apps' next. I had heard about being able to use wi-fi with my home instead of just my data plan and I had forgotten about it. The reading reminded me of it- and also reminded me that using it might be a bit risky- and so I left the sight to look up how to do that on my phone and ten minutes later I have finally figured it out. (If anyone wondered why I am taking a computer class, this is why… Even the programs that I have used to secure things were decided and downloaded by my ex. :) I only have two apps on my phone for two things and do not have any other ones, but I did find myself a little more interested in looking to see what options I might have. I am really cheap so I don’t know, but I may look at the ‘app store’ this weekend and look. I do not have a security app on my phone so I should look and see what is out there. The advice on kids and mobile apps was very timely too because my son is starting to show interest in a cell phone and we have started the conversation in the family. I feel like I got some more information to take home and talk with my ex-husband and son about while we are trying to make our decision. The ‘Protect Kids Online’ section which I went to next was a little eye opening. I went next to the video on protecting kids online and then decided I’d made enough notes and questions to take home.

I didn’t know about this site and was glad to be introduced to it. Looking forward to more sites!

Did you give it at try? Have you used it in the past? What are your thoughts....


Thoughts on HealthyComputing.com….

I think this site would be very useful for people who do not know a lot about computer and body ergonomics and if you are having some problems that you think are based on using your computer, check it out.... :)

I spent forty minutes looking over the site http://www.healthycomputing.com. My first inclination was to not find the site very interesting. I am having some significant health issues right now so the first section I checked out was the ‘Your Health’ section and I didn't find anything that seemed to fit me very well. I looked at all four sections and I copied out the stretches- I think that I have accidentally been doing those stretches pretty often over the last few years, but I thought I would put the copy on my fridge and remind myself about doing them more often. Under 'conditions and treatments' only one thing really was pertinent to me and has been pertinent since I was a wee child and that was myopia with slight astigmatism. I am extremely blind/ near sighted without my glasses and so it was interesting to read that my eyesight could be getting worse due to computer use. I haven’t found that it’s really getting worse over the last several years and I do use the computer a lot, but I know that my near vision should be changing soon simply due to age. When human beings reach their forties, the lens in the eye loses its ability to perform ‘accommodation’ which makes the near vision more challenging or harder to use… hence bifocals or reading glasses. Did I mention I am not looking forward to that?!?!?!

I also looked at 'Causes of Discomfort' but I didn’t see any that I tend to have troubles with over the several sections in it. I’m grateful for that! So I didn’t find this site terrible useful, but only because I have already been fairly well educated in the topic. I am determined to not need carpel tunnel surgery for as long as possible. So to sum up, I found the stretching information very interesting and printed it out for future use, but didn't find much of the rest of the information pertinent to me. :)

How about you?


Thoughts on eHow....

This was the first website I was introduced to in the class: http://www.ehow.com I searched for some topics that I was interested in and … so without further ado, I will move on to the discussion. :)

I have never used the website 'eHow' and so I took the opportunity to really check it out. I read some of the articles and watched a few of the videos. The first two I watched were as follows:

“Learning to Drive a Car” by Casey Atkinson – length of 1.01 minutes

“How to Change a Fuel Filter” by Richard Goms – length of 3:39 minutes

I choose these few to start with because I have been interested in learning to do a few things with my car and so I thought this might be an opportunity. I watched the videos and for the most part didn't feel like they were helpful. I felt like if I already knew most of the information, then I could learn something, but if I knew very little then I felt like I watched something, but didn't really feel like I learned anything. I realized after looking at my car that his instructions wouldn't really work for my brand of vehicle. So I wondered if the articles might be more helpful, and so I looked at a few of them. They were as follows:

“Want to Display Your Favorite Knives? Do it in Style on a DIY Rustic Wall Rack” by Tim and Mary Vidra

“How to Make Healthy Cat Food” by Sunny Griffis

“How to Give CPR” by an eHow contributor

For the most part, I felt the same way about the articles. I have been a BLS instructor for over a decade and didn't find anything factually incorrect, but I also didn't feel like I would have learned much from it. I guess that when I looked at the articles and the videos I had so many questions and I couldn't get them answered. I found that a little ironic because I like online classes for their flexibility, but I also recognize that I prefer the give and take of the real classroom and being able to look at the person I am speaking to and to ask questions when I have them. I did make the cat food and found that very easy and it was appreciated by my crew, but as someone who cooks a lot and understands that process more... I think that I pretty much just used the recipe and just 'did it'.

I am not sure whether the time I spent on the videos was worthwhile in any sense other than the curiosity I was able to use and to decide whether the site would be useful or not. I don't think I will actively use it again unless I need to for an assignment but I don't consider my time wasted trying to make that decision. I do not think I will recommend it to anyone because I think that many other people would have the same problems that I had with the information; either too little information or the inability to have things explained in a different way and questions answered. At least for me, I do not think this site would help me learn much that I didn't already have some decent knowledge in. I asked my ex-husband to watch a few and he felt like he could learn a few things so I think that maybe the ways that I learn are not compatible with many of the ways that the sites uses to teach. Just my thoughts.

For any of you guys who have used this site… what were your thoughts?


“Introduction to Computing 101” – Introduction to April’s Topic

There will not be very many posts for this class that I can actually put on my blog. I have used a computer for years but I haven’t ever really had any formal training in using many programs and have simply just worked my way along. I took the class for a few reasons; to try and cement some basic knowledge and learn more about the programs that I currently use, to learn more about programs I know very little about but would be very helpful in the workplace, and to see what other resources and programs are out there that I might want to use if I knew how. I knew that this class couldn’t entirely give me everything that I was seeking, but I did get quite a bit out of it and even know how to make some snazzy posters now. :)

What I would like to post about since I can’t post most of my work and it wouldn’t be very interesting to look at is to post about different resources that I was introduced to and my reactions to them. That way I can also introduce my readers to some of these websites that they may not know about which could be helpful to them. I wish I had been able to use some of these sites when I was a few decades younger. So the posts will be pretty short and sweet but hope they will be useful interspersed with the personal postings. Enjoy!

pictures from: http://globe-views.com/dreams/computer.html


Brief Views on Early New England

If ten people were to focus on the same aspect of time, all ten individuals would have different and unique perspectives on it. One person may see abundance, peace, and joy... while another sees pain, destruction and death. Still another may see parts of both of these views and then add another twist to their vision. I tried to look at some of the history of New England from some of these different perspectives: the people, animals and communities after the the colonies were started in the area of the United States that we still call New England. I also incorporated some commonly known history in the mix...

The most common way to study the history of New England is to study the perspective of the explorers and the reigning government's point of view. Another perspective is to look at the history from the standpoint from a colonial settler. Living in the 'new' world was hard. Most colonial settlers had no commercial talents – the majority of people came to this world to flee religious persecution, to find land and wealth, or to even try and escape punishment or the gallows for misdeeds such as murder; to have a fresh 'start'. A lot of money and wealth could be made by cutting down trees and shipping the created by-products to England as well as the collection and shipment of fish and other natural resources. However, many settlers had to learn that money can not be 'eaten' and couldn't be used to purchase food where none was available/grown. The major commodity for making money was through trees and created wood products- masts, casks, tools, lumber for construction, barrels, etc... This created the incentive for individuals to sell all the resources available...leaving none for yourself, your family or your community. From the settlers point of view, the land was a God given right, a place of hardship and work, but a place of potential- a new world of wonders and great fertility.

Another way to study the history of New England is to study it from the perspective of the beaver. In the world that the beaver inhabited before the arrival of the Europeans, the beaver was a king. It manipulated the physical environment more than any other animal on the continent... besides us. :) Through the efforts of the beaver, many trees were felled or downed, soil erosion was controlled as the water table rose, new homes are created for animals and fish, and new meadows would develop over time. Beavers had been on this continent for millions of years, and lived building dens and traveling over land and water. They were difficult for their predators to catch and the life they set up for themselves and their progeny was quite successful. The arrival of the Europeans found an animal quite spread out over its environment and in control of its land. Unfortunately for the beaver, the fact that their fur
was easily used to imitated a type of hat manufacturing already in existence in Europe created a further incentive to kill the beaver after if was discovered by the new settlers. In humans, the beaver found the ultimate apex predator who would chase them out of the water to kill them, had a significant incentive to do so, and would do so at will. Due to the economic inequality between the Europeans, the trade desires between the Indians and new settlers, and the profit margin of upwards of 2000% on the fur, beavers suffered horribly. It is believed that only the laws created by the early American government to control and limit the use of beaver products saved the animal from extinction. The beavers lost their land, safety and even the possibility to survive without the intervention of the same species who had brought them to near annihilation. The difference between these two histories in some ways is plain. It can certainly be said that the beaver's history in some ways mirrors the history of the Native Americans- both groups had made themselves comfortable and relatively at peace and in harmony with the land... the coming of the European settlers not only spelled the near annihilation of both groups, but also their loss of land, food, harmony and peace.

The relationship between Blacks and Indians in the colonial South is a bit complicated. Both Blacks and Indians could and had been enslaved by the white Europeans, but the rules of bondage that were held in the laws were interpreted more harshly for blacks. Many Indian tribes accepted runaway slaves into their tribes and intermarriage was acceptable in most of these cases. However, many Indian tribes would turn in runaway slaves and would get benefits and rewards for doing so. In some cases such as the Seminole tribe, Indians would also own blacks as slaves and at the end of the civil war, some tribes had to actually be forced to free their slaves. Europeans would in some cases cause problems between both of these groups by suggesting to members that the other group was working against them; i.e. Indians would be told that Blacks were working against them, etc.... Some sources suggest that working to cause and develop racism in Indian tribes against African Americans was part of
the early government's public policy. Europeans tried to stop the flow of runaway slaves to Indian tribes and even signed treaties with some tribes with the agreement that these tribes would return runaway slaves- most who signed did not follow through and did not return the runaway slaves. The reality is that Indian tribes welcomed runaway blacks into their folds for the most part which caused President Andrew Jackson to fight with and push the Indians out of many of their lands. In the area we now call Florida, so many blacks were escaping from Georgia and living with Indians that the local Indian tribes were seen as a threat for that reason alone. Some of the ways that these groups tried to deal with their conditions was to hold tight to their cultures (although some groups allowed forms of assimilation), some grew foods from their native lands and others tried to find other ways to find peace with their situation. Some ran away, assimilated, or found justification in exploiting others like their European counterparts.

There are a few differences between an organic and an inorganic economy. An organic economy consists of natural resources such as wind, water, animal and human labor. Inorganic economy consists of iron ore, charcoal, etc... In many instances the resources that make up an organic economy as more easily expanded and grown that those that govern the inorganic economy. Human labor is renewable through rest and the importation of servants, slaves and explorers. Wind and water are fairly abundant and while less controllable than human labor, they can be created, collected, and harnessed to squeeze all the available resourcs out of them. Animals can be bred, imported and even trained fairly easily. However, sources such as iron ore are not quickly duplicated. Iron takes a long time for nature to develop and charcoal can be made, but it takes a lot of 'waste' or resource usage to create a small amount of charcoal. So an inorganic economy can be made, but is a riskier
proposition- you risk the loss of the economy when resources run out... if you do not have a strong organic economy you risk starvation, etc... The Europeans focused so much in some cases on the creation for wealth through inorganic economies that they had to buy or steal food from the Indians to survive and some laws had to be passed in some areas that required the growth of grain if you participated in a part of the economy that did not actual create food. Learning about this phenomenon was really interesting because I was a little shocked that people would 'forget' or would be unwilling to waste their 'time' growing food... but would want to eat it later. In many ways we have that same economy today where people have separated themselves from the growing and making of their food... and our farmers can be quite poor even though they work really hard and product an important commodity. In many ways we still 'despise' this labor even as we eat from it.

The importance of Christopher Columbus's report to Queen Isabella cannot be understated. His report of a new land filled with potential converts to the Christian religion, gold and other riches, but most importantly.... land for the taking after conquering was staggering and exciting! While this news was important to the Queen and to Spain, the rest of Europe was also in a situation that caused desperation and it was only a matter of weeks before the letter that Christopher Columbus had written to the Queen had been translated, copied and traveled throughout all of Europe by other travelers and pilgrims, traders,and armies. Soon other countries were arming ships to head to the new land with people who had nothing to lose in the hopes for land, a better life, and riches to gain in the new world. Spain started the lead for colonies first, and when England had fought and beaten the Spanish army, the English came and started their own settlements. Other countries soon followed created French and Dutch colonies and more rivalries for land and resources.

Until the arrival of the Spanish, horses were not an animal known to the Americas since the prehistoric ice age. However, the Spanish brought them in abundance to the Americas to aid in their conquest of the native populations and it is thanks to the horse that Pizarro and his Spanish army conquered the local populations in such a small period of time (the diseases that the Spanish brought with them muct also be given some credit, but I digress :). As some horses escaped and became wild, a new breed of horse was developed that we today call the mustang. This breed became extremely numerous and they populated the land across the continent- the horses didn't stay in the 'conquered' lands. These large groups of wild horses changed the way that the Native Americans lived in a dramatic way. Horses gave the native populations new ways to do almost everything. They could fight, hunt and travel on horses and this 'blessing' transformed their lives. Some tribes become more nomadic as moving farther distances was easier/ possible and horses became a new part of the Indian's culture and lifestyle. It seems almost rare to hear about the culture of Indians and not hear about the horse. The horse becomes a symbol of the Indian's culture and life to the Europeans and their future progeny... even though the history of Native Americans is thousands of years long and their history with the horse is only a few centuries.

Pigs were brought from Europe with the explorers and they were a blessing to these non-native people. Pigs are prolific, small, not too picky about food, easy to care for and are willing to look after themselves. Some pigs were let loose into the 'wilderness' on purpose- with markings on their ears to show ownership- and then were hunted as needed by their European owners. This way their owners didn't have to care for them and just 'collected' their property when needed. As the Americas were conquered by the Spaniards, the pigs helped the conquerors by attacking and eating the local native's crops of corn- they competed with Indians for the Indian's food. Native Americans didn't fence their fields and so wild pigs were able to eat the small shoats and cultivated crops of the natives. (Between pigs and the entitlement felt by the Europeans that they could take the native's seed corn whenever they wanted to, the Native Americans must have felt quite trapped and desperate... which explains some of their aggression towards the incomers. Within a few generations, there would be tens of thousands of wild pigs which became more aggressive over time and developed tusks... becoming a serious and daily problem for the Native Americans.

The Europeans reacted to the seemingly endless supply of trees and fish with joy and greed. Europe was desperate for both wood and fish and the 'new world' seemed to be overabundant and unending in these resources. The land is describes as having rivers with more fish than water and trees that are so numerous that a squirrel can go from the north of the country to the south without ever touching the ground. The newcomers saw it as their 'duty' to tame the forests and civilize the land for God. So the forests are cut down for building and 'needs' for not only this new land, but the lands of Spain and the Old World. Fish were harvested as if there would always be an overabundance so it
took only 200 years to over-fish the Americas. Wood was taken so quickly that some areas in the Americas were literally denuded of trees – and this 'new world' begins to look like the land that they left. For the settlers, someone who owned land would be able to sell the fish for money or other goods creating wealth- and since the land wasn't owned, the land's resources cost nothing. I think it is safe to say that both wood and fish were harvested with only greed and need in mind and not conservation or with the thought that the resources might potentially be limited. Both of these resources with be overused and run low... and were probably a factor in the fight for independence from the European powers... it would allow those that lived in the Americas to keep more of the resources to themselves and not have the largest share (or what was left) travel across the seas.

The animals that were brought over from Europe such as the horse and pig changed the landscape of the American continent in many ways and the arrival of women and their animals also create great change. Women brought the way of life that they were used to in Europe which included plants such as wheat, barley, fig trees, olives, bananas, other fruit trees, etc … and animals such as goats, chickens, sheep, cows, etc…. Through these passengers that traveled to the America's, other 'tagalongs' such as weeds like dandelions and European insects (including bees) arrive and start to populate the environment. With all of these changes, the Americas and it's land literally fall under an environmental revolution as the land becomes a mirror image of the European lands that these people have left behind. The land was invaded by all of these animals and the new plants and the land is forever changed through the trampling and domination of the new animal population. In the end, the settlers do not have to tame the land... they practice environmental imperialism and conquer the land itself, bending it to their will and leaving death, destruction and sometimes extinction to the native flora and fauna that were once strong. One quote I found stated- “livestock and grains changed this world into a true New England.” The land was permanently changed and today looks nothing like it did before the Europeans arrived.

The new discoveries of resources in the Americas created a demand for luxury goods that were purely American products. Fur and other 'hide' products became in high demand and some animals (such as beavers) were hunted almost to extinction... (But I bet everyone in England and some of the other European countries look very fashionable in their fur coats and beaver hats. :) The land was quickly cleared for gardens and orchards/plantations and the demand for fruit from the 'New World' is high in Europe. Sugar and tobacco (the luxury goods with highest demand) were also desired luxury items which were packed and shipped in large amounts to Europe. To satisfy the large demand of these products in the Old World, huge plantations or large mono-cultures were developed that stretched over enormous swaths of land and Africans are captured, forcibly immigrated, and then compelled to work these huge areas/ plantations for the profit of the white Europeans. These African slaves were needed as the Native American population could not really be enslaved – too many of them had been killed or died out from the new diseases brought by the European immigrations. The downside of growing sugar and tobacco is that they really can not be eaten(for nourishment and health)and these plants tend to rape the soil of all it nutrients. So growing these products in many ways required the development of slavery and the loss of forests as more land had to be cleared to grow these crops when current fields were no longer fertile. The upside is that sugar tastes really good... sorry, couldn't help that comment. :)

The discovery of the potato took a few centuries to really take hold in Europe, but when it does it becomes a necessary and needful food item for the poor as a healthful and nutritious product. Potatoes are introduced to Spain and from there to Europe and it is embraced in Ireland. Ireland is constantly short of food for its population due to bad land, wars, exc... The potato is easy to grow and has less chances in war time of being burned and destroyed. The population in Ireland will more than double due to the potato and other towns in Europe with explode in population due to the impact of this easy to grow tuber. The fact that potatoes also have a goodly amount of nutrients including vitamin C (which helps prevent scurvy) made them an indispensable food for a moving and financially strapped population.

The impact that the new diseases brought from Europe had on the native populations was nothing short of devastating. Conservative death estimates suggest that around 50% of these native populations died, but it appears that the estimates that suggest death numbers might be over 90% mortality may be a lot more accurate. Historians are still trying to discover all the diseases that were spread and to grasp a clear and accurate mortality number, but we are sure that one of the diseases that caused such devastation was smallpox and, because the virus was so strong and traveled so easily, many populations of native tribes fell to the disease and death without ever meeting any of the Europeans who originally brought the disease to their lands. Another disease that is know to have causes large scale death and destruction to the Native Americans was influenza. Neither of these diseases was known in the Americas before the arrival of the Europeans so no native animal or person was immune from these diseases and had little to no defense. As the Native Americans fell sick and perished (and their civilizations failed), the Europeans would give thanks to God and see the death/destruction of the natives as a blessing and a mandate from God; that the land was theirs to tame and occupy, that the natives were sinners, etc... and not worthy of the land, and that the land was a gift from God for them. These thoughts and prejudices allow the settlers to see themselves as the true owners of the land and to see themselves as better and more worthy than the native populations. These viewpoints would justify the exploitation of the land and the European settlers would feel justified in their minds that their actions were right and appropriate... and not greedy and unrighteous. It allowed them to look at the natives and label them 'savages' and other forms of animals - not actually human beings like unto themselves (and God's image).

Some of these views we as a human race are still struggling with. Racism, exploitation, belief in Godly entitlement... these are all viewpoints that can easily be found on a daily basis in our communities. I wish I had easy answers to solve the problem but I really don't. What I know I can do is work to change myself and work to create change in my community. What do you think? What are you doing?

pictures from: http://www.instantshift.com/2010/08/24/88-brilliant-examples-of-forced-perspective-photography/, http://www.albinocrowgallery.com/murals.html, http://www.zmescience.com/ecology/animals-ecology/beaver-damn-climate-change-17122014/, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slavery_among_Native_Americans_in_the_United_States, https://www.pinterest.com/russellgavin/black-native-americansmixed-race/, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atlantic_slave_trade, http://www.billsbearrugs.com/clearance/, http://natureworksct.blogspot.com/2012/03/grow-food.html, http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2012/05/21/american-history-myths-debunked-columbus-might-have-been-jewish-and-other-unknown-facts, http://myhorse.com/blogs/horse-breeds-information/wild-or-rescued-horses/colorado-state-university-researchers-try-birth-control-vaccine-on-wild-horse-herd/, http://research.cnr.ncsu.edu/blogs/news/2011/05/04/wild-hogs-researchers-examine-impact-of-feral-pigs-in-eastern-n-c/, http://inhabitat.com/epa-declares-more-than-half-of-us-rivers-unfit-for-aquatic-life/, http://miriadna.com/wallpapers/forest, http://www.wildmanstevebrill.com/Plants.Folder/Dandelion.html, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beaver_hat, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Potato, http://espressostalinist.com/genocide/native-american-genocide/


Eugenics in America After 1945: Term Post #2

...Here are some examples:

North Carolina had a sterilization program in place from 1929-1974 in which approximately 7,600 individuals were sterilized with over 70% of those coming after 1945 when the program expanded after World War II. One unique aspect of North Carolina's laws was that they were written allowing people to be recommended for sterilization by doctors, social workers and other government employees they dealt with in their communities and homes. About 85% of those referred for sterilization were women. One guideline for sterilization was if a person had an IQ of less than 70. In July 2013, the state set aside ten million dollars for compensation to the verifiable victims of this program of which approximately 3000 are thought to be still alive.

In the 1950’s, black women in the south became targets of forced sterilization via tubal litigation or hysterectomy, commonly referred to by women as “Mississippi appendectomies,” because women entered hospitals to have abdominal surgery and left unknowingly without their uteri. In 1972, testimony before a US Senate committee brought to light at least 2,000 involuntary sterilizations that had been performed on poor black women who were mothers with multiple children. They were usually told that their appendix needed to be removed and were sterilized at that time or at the birth of a child, especially if the women was unmarried. There is evidence that many women may never have known why they couldn't conceive.

Forced sterilization practices changed and were focused on specific populations in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s through newly established federal family planning programs. Mexican and Mexican-American women were coerced or tricked into forced sterilization at the Women’s hospital of the University of Southern California- Los Angeles County Medical Center. Public concerns that the rise in Mexican immigration was overpopulating the state and purposely expanding state welfare needs was high. The idea that women became pregnant and then worked their way across the American – Mexican border to give birth and give themselves and their new family a secure financial benefit through the various welfare programs available is still an active concern in our present political climate. There is no known number of how many involuntary and coerced sterilizations there were before the federal class court case Madrigal v. Quilligan - a lawsuit brought against a hospital and their doctors by some women who discovered their unwanted sterilization. However, statistics show that elective hysterectomies had a 742% increase and tubal ligations a 470% increase within a two year time frame. At least 140 women shared their stories of being forced to agree or not being given any kind of informed consent at all. Some described situations that can only be described as blackmail. i.e.; I will not give you pain medication to finish your labor and delivery unless you comply. The lead defendant in the court case, Dr. Edward Quilligan, was quoted by a medical technician as stating, “poor minority women in L.A. County were having too many babies; that it was a strain on society; and that it was good that they be sterilized.” The plaintiffs lost their case, but the case did change and created stronger informed consent rules through legislation in California including bilingual language on the consent forms.

In 1955, the federal government changed the way that health care for Native American populations was provided. Depending on many factors, the quality of care throughout the Indian Health System varied considerably due to individual facilities, staff opinions/prejudices, and changes in 'coverage' due to Congressional appropriation hearings and decisions. These changes had some significant benefits as the new program was much better funded which helped increase services and decrease mortality. Another potential benefit which was added was the provision of family planning services. On reservations, Native American women became targets of physicians employed by the Indian Health Services who believed that restricting these women’s reproduction would reduce their poverty and dependence on the state. Through the
sharing of stories, complaints of coercion or harassment, and from research and interviews preformed through investigations, it is estimated that IHS hospitals and their affiliates sterilized between 25 and 42 percent of all Native American women of childbearing age between 1970 and 1976. Even with mandated changes requiring informed consent, added waiting periods and added safeguards, in 1974 more accusations cropped up that IHS staff in some places were not following the new guidelines and questionable sterilizations were still taking place - almost all subsidized with federal funds. Evidence shows that these types of experiences not only changed the relationships between Native Americans and the government/Indian Health System but also caused significant changes in an individual’s life and their standing in the community, as well causing economic and familial harm- some marital relationship were also severed over the procedure. In 1976, Congress passed the Indian Health Care Improvement Act which gave tribes the right to control Indian Health Service programs and there is no evidence that inappropriate sterilizations have happened after that time.

In case we believe that our society’s beliefs and behavior has changed since the late 1970's, we have other more recent examples. In 1909, California was the third state to pass a eugenics sterilization law and over the years had sterilized around 20,000 patients or around 1/3 of all the sterilizations in the country. That law was finally repealed in 1979 after a lawsuit by several women who had been coerced or forced into their own sterilizations. Yet, at least 148 women incarcerated in four California prisons were illegally sterilized in the years 2006-2011 costing the state $147,460 for the procedures. One of the physicians, Dr. James Heinrich, has stated that the practice of sterilizing female prisoners saves the state money because the patients would no longer have “unwanted children as they procreated more.” Auditors found in those cases that sometimes paperwork was altered to look like compliance with current laws was achieved and in many cases, no informed consent was attained. On September 25, 2014 California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill prohibiting forced sterilization in the state.

That the United States has not been able to shake the ideas and prejudices that informed and created the original Eugenics movement. Today eugenical ideas and procedures are still officially permitted. Voluntary sterilization for therapeutic or for reproductive reasons is a great blessing for thousands of people and should be accessible for those who need it. However, its availability gives eugenic proponents the tools they need to pressure individuals to give up their dignity and human right to reproduction. Some women may lose that right without being told of the procedure or are given false information such as it is reversible. There is even incidental evidence that federal money is being spent on experiments and science that are clearly eugenic in nature. In the end, eugenics is still very much successful in America. I am aware that I personally fit several of the ideals for eugenic sterilization –I am so myopic I am considered legally blind, suffer from celiac disease, and have two other severe medical issues as well as PTSD, and severe sensory/ anxiety issues. I have given birth to a child that also has problems with celiac disease, has sensory problems and had seizures for seven years before outgrowing them. And yet, my son is a wonderful human being and he is well liked in his community. He is smart and compassionate in spite of his disabilities and my life wouldn’t really feel worth much without him. I have chosen to not have any more children and being able to make that choice for myself is one of the most wonderful things I appreciate in my life. I am hopeful that as society recognizes the individual worth of all individuals, may the concept of eugenics pass away… and rest in peace.

pictures from: http://www.carolinapublicpress.org/9854/house-passes-eugenics-compensation-bill, http://www.indyweek.com/indyweek/the-american-eugenics-movement-after-world-war-ii-part-1-of-3/Content?oid=2468789&storyPage=3, http://gloriamolina.org/2014/01/15/looking-back/, http://www.quora.com/Native-Americans, http://www.uvm.edu/~lkaelber/eugenics/SD/SD.html, http://articles.latimes.com/2013/jul/12/opinion/la-ed-sterilization-female-prisoners-california-20130712, http://www.examiner.com/article/illegal-sterilizations-forced-on-women-california-prisons, http://rt.com/usa/167660-california-illegal-sterilization-women/