#SOTU

Go America! Go 2015!

President Obama delivered his 2015 State of the Union Address this past Tuesday, January 20th. It was, as expected, a speech of optimism and hope, emphasizing the achievements and future goals of America.

Personally, I usually do not take a great interest in political practices, but I had to admit [from a very neutral and objective point of view] that President Obama’s was actually kind of nice (BEST PART AT 57:22). Yes, it was slightly one-sided, however I think that we too should have a time when we can acknowledge our successes (to however degree you may believe them to be).

One aspect of President Obama’s speech that I rather liked was the way in which he implemented real people’s stories to provide evidence and credibility for his thought and future aspirations. The story of Rebekah and Ben who worked and persevered endlessly to sustain for their future child. Their story is not an accurate illustration of most middle-class and lower-class families lives, but their story does relay inspiration. It was really cool to also see Scott Kelly because I had just read an article about him a few weeks ago. He has a twin brother who was also a previous astronaut. In order to help with scientific research, Scott Kelly will spend a year in space while his brother will stay on the Earth. They will both be monitored and scientists will be able to study the effects of space travel on human beings.

Also, maybe it was just the video that I viewed, but I thought that the statistics/pictures/quotes slide show that played simultaneously with President Obama’s speech was very easy to reference. The various graphs were well-made to support the President’s claims. Some of the pictures helped to stress patriotism, duty, and hope.

But in all, what I most respected about President Obama’s speech was his acknowledgement of our failures, that he did not merely romanticize and disregard these negative aspects. By doing this, he was able to more effectively underscore the importance of cooperation, the importance of equal opportunities for those willing to work hard, the importance of providing what we need for the children, the future generations of America and therefore provide a strong foundation in which to bolster his proposals.

Not everyone is a Republican. Not everyone is a Democrat. In all sincerity, there are people like me who still don’t even know the differences between the two parties. There will always be consent but there will also always be opposition. But what our nation really needs is to find a way in which to triumph over the barriers that arise because of our differences.

“Let’s begin this new chapter – together – and let’s start the work right now.

Thank you, God bless you, and God bless this country we love.”

Check out President Obama’s 2015 State of the Union Address:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cse5cCGuHmE

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What Happened Gatsby?

For those of us who have read The Great Gatsby, one of the most common items in the American high school English curriculum, we may have been slightly disappointed. From personal experience myself, I was puzzled by the purpose of this novel. All the characters were unlikeable. The lack of concern, lavish life-styles, and horrible affairs prevalent throughout the novel were quite appalling. The only part that I really seemed to respect was the ending and yet I had no idea how such a poignant conclusion could have possibly been captured by this novel.

I was among many to have this typical reaction at my first encounter with The Great Gatsby. However, as I later discovered, there is a beautiful message to be taken from this novel. As Corrigan, the author of So We Read On: How the Great Gatsby Came to Be and Why It Endures, puts simply ‘”You can’t escape the past, but isn’t it noble to try? […] That’s the message here … to be the boat against the current, even though failure and death inevitably await you. The doomed beauty of trying — that’s what this novel is about.”

The history of The Great Gatsby is actually quite intriguing. By exploring a little into its author, F. Scott Fitzgerald, we can find some strikingly similar parallels. The affluent Jay Gatsby, known for his extravagant parties and massive mansion, was actually once a very poor man. James Gatz (the original Jay Gatsby) strived to create for himself a totally different identity, one of riches and wealth, through hard work in order to win back a woman from the past. Similarly, Fitzgerald grew up in a lower income family. He always wanted to fit in and, as described in a Fresh Air program, he “remade himself but was also aware at times in his life that he was pretending to be someone he was not.” Additionally the funerals of both Gatsby and Fitzgerald, although unintentional, were to some degree unsatisfying. At Gatsby’s funeral, preceding Gatsby’s murder [SPOILER], only three people participated compared to the hundreds of well-dressed men and women who would come to Gatsby’s parties. At Fitzgerald’s burial, his body was prohibited from residing with those of his other past deceased family members “because the Catholic Church decided that his novels were a little too risque and … didn’t approve of them” (Fresh Air program interview). He was instead moved to a Protestant cemetery.         

And so, maybe The Great Gatsby isn’t as insignificant and impossible as I thought. Its messages are relevant even today, providing different perspectives on societal behaviors and corruptions, and the history behind The Great Gatsby shows that Fitzgerald ingeniously blended small aspects of his own personal life into his novel. Which comes to show that yes, we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but maybe we also shouldn’t judge a book by its first read.

The Renowned Yet Unknown

Barbara McClintock

Barbara McClintock was an American cytogeneticist (one who studies the structure and function of the cell) who won the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine and was the first women to win the prize in this category unshared. She was born on June 16, 1902 in Hartford Connecticut as the third of four children. As a child, she was known for being independent and solitary. She rediscovered her love for science in high school and longed to study at Cornell University. Although her mother was in strong disagreement, thanks to her father she was able to apply and later on be accepted.

During her college years, McClintock specifically gained a love for genetics after taking a genetics class taught by C. B. Hutchinson, who would later become impressed by her strong passion and invite her to partake in a graduate genetics course at Cornell. As a result of this opportunity, McClintock became a key player in assembling a group that would study cytogenetics, a new field, in maize (including future Nobel laureate George Beadle). McClintock strived to develop ways in which to visualize/characterize maize chromosomes.

McClintock’s breakthrough came in 1930 when she became the first person to provide an illustration of “the cross-shaped interaction of homologous chromosomes during meiosis,” basically that genetic information could be transposed from one chromosome to another, a very important and essential idea in the field of genetics. She also published the first genetic map for maize the following year. Throughout the next few years, McClintock would make many novel hypotheses and perform numerous experiments.

Sadly, McClintock faced many setbacks. For one thing, genetics was not well received or practiced at the beginning of McClintock’s career. To top that, women scientists were also not viewed in high regard. However, McClintock’s largest problem was that she was ahead of her time. Even with her groundbreaking discoveries, those that seemed so simple in her mind, they would not be accepted or appreciated until the discovery of DNA many years later.

McClintock’s works have had profound effects not just in genetics but science itself. She has been compared to Gregor Mendel, founder of the modern science of genetics, and was finally given the honors and recognition that she deserved. “Jumping genes,” one of McClintock’s works, would help to explain how bacteria can build up resistance to an antibiotic and that they (jumping genes) could possibly be involved in the alteration of normal cells to cancerous cells.

Sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barbara_McClintock

http://www.famousscientists.org/barbara-mcclintock/

http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/medicine/laureates/1983/mcclintock-bio.html

Some other amazing people to check out:

http://zenpencils.com/comic/152-on-the-shoulders-of-giants-the-science-all-stars-poster/