Monday, August 29, 2011

Humans Evolving From Mesoamerica?

What if humans evolved from Mesoamerica? Wow according to Diamond that would have affected so many things, for example, he mentions in page 159 the the major five domestication mammals (cows, sheep, goat, pig, and horse). Well these important mammal were not necessary found in Mesoamerica. He does mention the African Elephant but as you might have read form the reading, the African Elephant was captured and tamed but could not be domesticated, so both Africa and Mesoamerica had issues with animal domestication. With that being said, I believe the definition of a domesticated animal is: “...defined as animal selectively bred in captivity and thereby modified from its wild ancestors, for use by humans who control the animal's breeding and food supply.” (159).
Mesoamerica, I believe, would have been a harder place to start human evolution. Why? Honestly well Mesoamerica didn't have much large animals that could provide much of anything and the animals that were available were small or too hard to capture. Also Diamond, mentions how many animals change in size through out evolution. Yes they change size but they didn't get bigger in Mesoamerica in fact they got smaller in size that wouldn't have help us either.
Also in Mesoamerica, the animals were not use to humans, thus making them not aware to avoid the enemies, humans. The very few animals that were available in the island were being taken advantage of. Since the evolution of animals and humans would have been similar then I believe animal domestication would have taken longer to acquire. What do you guys think?

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Geographical Determination

Jared Diamond is guilty of geographical determination. The entire book talks about how certain people were lucky enough to live in the places they lived on the map because that had an over advantage over the rest of the world.

He says that European settlers had an advantage in Africa because the Cape of Good Hope (where Europeans first landed) has the similar distance from the equator as Europe did. This gave the European invader an advantage. They were able to grow the same crops that they have been growing in Europe for centuries and raise the same animals they have been raising for centuries. Another example he uses a lot is the way New Guinea was different from Europe. It is on a different Latitude from the rest Europe and wasn't able to grow the same foods as the Europeans. The only native plants they had was bananas. Bananas need a certain type of climate that is completely different from that needed to grow wheat and barley. They also didn’t have the same animals need to help them plow their farms. Those animals couldn't survive on the island, due to the different line of latitude. Finally, he talks about the east-west alignment. Due to this factor, plants and animals from the Middle East could grow and be raised where it shared the same line of latitude. To this day, most plants and animals, that live on that east-west alignment are relatively the same. In conculsion, Diamond is guilty of geographical determination.

Flora in the Middle East and the Americas

Diamond would say that the three most important aspects of flora in the Fertile Crescent are that they were easy to plant, store, and provided a lot more calories then the plants of New Guinea. The plants of New Guinea took a lot of time and energy to grow, they could not be stored because it would rot within a couple of days and it didn't provide the same amount if calories or protein as the cereal plants of the Fertile Crescent. Those three aspects encouraged domestication. If the plant was easy to plant, that meant they could grown more food to feed more people. If it could be stored for a long period of time, then people would had longer lasting food supply. If it provided more energy, then people could be able to do more. These three aspects led to the advancement of the Middle East a lot quicker then in New Guinea or any other part of the world.

If these aspects were to be true in Mesoamerica, domestication would only exist in one area of the American continent (not all of it). The reason for this would be because of the north-south longitude. The northern part of the Americas could not grow the same foods as those in the southern parts of the Americas because they had a radically different climate. Overall, the doestication of plants and farming would happened in the Americas at different times and with different plants.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

I Think He IS

I do believe that Diamond is a geographic determinist. Throughout the book he makes the case that, a person’s future is based on the location that person was born. If someone was born in Australia during the 1800’s, they would live with primitive tools and a basic lifestyle. Whereas, if that person was born in Europe during the same time, that person would be a part of a complex society with many advance tools.

Diamond also shows this is by convincing the reader that Europe won history. He shows that the majority of the world was conquered by some European country at some point in time. This determines the fate of the people in the location that was conquered because the Europeans could have completely whipped out the natives or just forced their beliefs on them. This could completely change the future of the natives.

Diamond is a geographic determinist. With these arguments he makes throughout his book, he is basically saying that it does matter where someone if from. The location of your birth will determine your future.

The Importance of Livestock

Had humans evolved and spread from Mesoamerica rather than Africa, things would be so much different. The livestock would be different as well as the domestication of the animals. On page 160, Diamond lists the major five species of big herbivorous domestic mammals and mentions that the top five are sheep, goats, cows, pigs, and horses. What I noticed was that it says that these animals were found either in West and Central Asia, Eurasia, and North Africa. These animals were and still are very important because they provide so much. For example cows produce milk, cheese, and meat and pigs can be eaten as well so as far as those animals, they are very important.

Horses were very helpful when it came to humans spreading. Humans domesticated these animals and they turned out to be very useful. It would've taken much longer for humans to spread around the world without the help of horses, mainly. The reason it would've been different had humans evolved in Mesoamerica is because horses weren't found in that area of the world. Everything would've been much slower. If humans started spreading from Mesoamerica and moved west to Eurasia and Africa, it would've been harder for them to domesticate these animals. It would've taken them much longer to begin working with crops if they didn't have domesticated animals because these animals have been proven to be very helpful with crops. For example cows provide the plants with very good fertilizer. Of course Mesoamerica had animals of their own such as llamas and alpacas but even then, it would take longer for them to spread. Humans who evolved in Africa, of course, had a difficult time at first with getting food since almost half of Africa is dessert, but once they stumbled upon the Fertile Crescent, they were good to go. With all this being said, one can only say that had Mesoamerica been the new Africa, the whole spreading around the world process would've been slower, animal domestication would've been more difficult, and it would've taken longer for societies to develop.

Guilty

Starting off the book, Diamond stress his importance for Yali's question of "Why is it that you white people developed so much cargo and brought it to New Guinea, but we black people had little cargo of out own?" (14) He could have easily stated that the reason was because they weren't resources properly and therefore they didn't domesticate animals nor plant crops. But then he would have written an enormous book. I believe he is guilty. Throughout the book all he talks about is how geography was the reason that the Africans weren't the ones that dominated the world because they sure did have an advantage over everyone else because all other people originated in Africa.

Climate was the biggest problem for why Africa wasn't able to produce crops as easily as the Eurasians. It all has to do with the geography of Africa if I would have been located on a more fertile place in the world then it would have been Africa that dominated the world but it wasn't that way. Half of Africa is a dry desert and nothing can grow there and he few places that can grow things can't handle the production of wheat or barely. Like Diamond says, "...Nor could food productions spring up spontaneously in deserts remote from sources of water for irrigation..."(93). Saying this he means that some places it was impossible for there to be a crop production because of the land. And the land is like that because of it's geographical location.

On page 180 Diamond asks this question, "What is it about the Americas an Africa that made the spread of food production more difficult there than in Eurasia?" Diamond tells us that because Eurasia had a Fertile Crescent! That is the main reason for why they produced so much crop that spread rapidly. And this is an example of Diamond stressing that is was the geography of Eurasia that made is the most dominate influence of the world. The food and animals that we have today are only here because the geography was go good in Eurasia and that allowed for them to explore more parts of the world to spread this "knowledge" of things.

To end the book, Diamond states that, "...it was due to accidents of geography and biogeography--- in particular, to the continents' different areas, axes, and suits of wild plant and animal species." (401) There he pretty much tells us directly that it was geography that shaped the world. So in my eyes he is guilty as charged.

The New Africa

Africa is were we say everything started out. But what changes would have happened if instead of Africa it all started in Mesoamerica? How different would things be? I've thought about this for a while after having read the question. And I have come to the conclusion that not much would have changed.

The only thing different would have been the animals. There are different types of animals in Africa and Eurasia than there are in the Americas. But still I don't believe that could have made a difference because Diamond says that animals evolved alongside humans and so whatever animals were there were the ones that would have evolved with the human.

Eurasia would have still been dominating because they still would have had the animals like horses and cows and others that would have really impacted their community. The Americas wouldn't know much about civilizations while the Eurasians would have.

It stared in Africa and it still didn't become the dominating county so why would things if it all stared in the Americas. The fertile crescent would have still been on the other side of the world so it still would have been hard for them to produce crops even if they did have the animals to do so.

Livestock

The animals were a big part in why Eurasia was the champion of history. The livestock not only provide a way of transportation but also food and some even milk. Once the people had domesticated the animal they could use it to help the grow crops an with the help the could produce more food to feed more of the community. They even had food to feed all the animal that they domesticated.

Livestock are important because if they ate the animal that itself produced a lot of nutrition. If the people only ate fruits and vegetables then they wouldn't have been as strong as they were. Also they could use the skin of the animal as clothing or even to build a tent. It was important that they stay warm during cold temperatures in order to live.

The livestock were the muscles! Yes, before the animal they had to use the human but if you think about it, how much could a person really do? Of course the animal was stronger and could handle more labor than a person can. That is why with animals they were able to produce more and more crops to feed more and more of their community.

The written language was important for the people but it didn't get them more food and muscle power it just allowed them to communicate. Although communication was important, at the time, the livestock was far more useful and necessary for life.

Would things be different?

I doubt that it matters a whole lot whether human evolution began in Mesoamerica or in Africa pertaining to animal domestication. Diamond writes in pages 168-175 the reasons for there being only 14 ancient species that were domesticated were: Diet, growth rate, mating habits, disposition, reactions to danger, and social hierarchy.
In class we discussed that had humans evolved in Mesoamerica as opposed to Africa, then the animals of African descent wouldn't have evolved alongside humans and therefore wouldn't see them as a danger. Thus, it would have been much easier to domesticate some of the animals from Africa. However, I don't think that the presence or absence of humans would have a drastic affect on the African animal's reaction to danger or their nasty disposition. There were 51 species in Africa that could have potentially been domesticated, but many had an instinct to panic and try to get away (such as gazelles) or to always be aggressive and unpredictable (such as buffaloes) . Yes, this could have been in part the fault of human's hunting, but there were 50 other species whose hunting contributed to these species's nasty dispositions or instinct to panic. So if humans had slowly moved from Mesoamerica to Africa, the animals there would still be impossible to domesticate.
It also wouldn't have mattered whether humans evolved in Mesoamerica or Africa first because they would have still domesticated plants around the same time as the real course of history. In Mesoamerica it wouldn't make sense to domesticate plants because they didn't have very many to choose from and those they did have would either take too long or not produce enough for everyone. Since they couldn't take that first step and domesticate plants, they wouldn't have anything to sustain an animal's diet. It wouldn't be until they got to Eurasia and found plants that could be easily domesticated, that humans could begin to domesticate animals.
I think there wouldn't be much change in how societies would develop over the course of history if they had evolved in Mesoamerica or in Africa, because in either situations they would have to wait until they reached Eurasia to begin to domesticate animals

Isn't it obvious?

"In short, Europe's colonization of Africa had nothing to do with differences between European and African people themselves, as white racists assume. Rather, it was due to accidents of geography and biogeography-in particular, to the continents' different areas, axes, and suites of wild plant and animal species. That is, the different historical trajectories of Africa and Europe stem ultimately from differences in real estate."(400-401)

Ultimately I believe that simply with the presentation of this quote a guilty verdict can be drawn in the case of determining whether Jared Diamond is guilty of geographical determinance or not. Second of all, I believed that that is what the book was meant to explain. Throughout the entire work, Diamond blames geography. He spends most of the book narrating the differences between the conditions within the different continents. The biggest and best example of geographical determinance that he gives is that of the different rates of advancement in the Polynesian islands. Here he spends an extensive amount of time describing the different geographical elements of each of the islands and the way those elements affected whether one society became more advanced and was the conquerer or the conquered. I believe there isn't much to discuss about this topic because Diamond is obviously a geographical determinist.

It all comes down to alignment

What determined history and the fates of humans on different continents was geography, as Diamond makes clear. However, the most important factor within the geographical category was the alignments of the major continents. Eurasia and its early inhabitants had an advantage over Mesoamerica and Africa because it is lined up in an east-west axis instead of a north-south one. This leads to remarkable differences in determining which region can spread its people, animals, and crops faster or at all. Diamond explains that, "Localities distributed east and west of each other at the same latitude share exactly the same day length and its seasonal variations. To a lesser degree, they also tend to share similar diseases, regimes of temperature and rainfall, and habitats or biomes"(p.183). With this said, it should be clear to many of why Eurasia received the better part of the deal in geographical terms to be able to sustain faster advancin early societies. In Eurasia farming just had to begin spontainiously in one place, such as the fertil crecent, and from the spread to other places east and west of it and the plants that were farmed spntainiously could survive in those other localities. However, when it comes to Mesoamerica and Africa, they too have areas that are est and west of each other but to a much lesser extent not enough I believe to compete with that of Eurasia. Their alignments from north to south bring about the complication for farming to begin spontainiously in ares north or south of each other due to the differences in climate, day length, and seasons. Perhaps the idea of farming could spread but not the plants because they wouldn't survive since they are used to those specific factors and how they play out in their specific areas. Once the idea arrived to a different location, the process of domesticating local plants had to begin over and over again unlike in Eurasia where the same plant could survive.

Plants are food and food is needed for life. Hence, it makes sense that animal domestication in an area would most of the time come after there was food to feed those animals. As for language and writting, these can only come once a society has become a sedentary society in which some produce food and other have time to develop such systems. Sedentary societys can only exist once there is enough food grown to feed many and in order to produce enough food, animal help is needed. This means that farming is the root of civilizations. Aparently, the east-west alignment of Eurasia spread farming faster, which made societies or civilizations spring up faster.

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Price Paid for Mastery.

So all this talk about mastery didn’t necessarily start this year; I still remember stepping into Susan’s class sophomore year and her telling us that at least 10,000 hours are required to be a “master” at something. I did a bunch of different calculations just for mere curiosity (Intrinsic motivation at its best!). But, all this talk of “mastery” resurfaces in Pink’s book. He says “mastery” is a very tough thing to achieve with lots of hard work and dedication required for it to happen. What I want to do is to emphasize just how hard that road can sometimes be, with nothing else than examples from musicians (Oh yay! Otilio’s talking about guitars again). The first musician I wanted to mention was Tom Morello (a celebrated guitarist), who started practicing the guitar avidly when he was studying at Harvard. He practiced for 8 hours a day everyday (coincidentally, according to Susan’s 10,000 hour idea 8 hours a day means “mastery” in 3.5 years). Well Tom Morello graduated from Harvard with a bachelor in Political Science; however he soon became a male stripper shortly after moving to Los Angeles in order to support himself. Since then however he has done numerous thing including working with Rage Against the Machine, Audioslave, pursuing a solo career as the “Night watchman”, and his new band Street Sweeper Social Club (he was also included as a character in Guitar Hero 3).

The next person I’d like to mention worked with either Marilyn Manson or White Zombie, maybe even both (frankly I can’t remember). But I do remember the words he said, he spoke to Guitar World magazine about his experience as a struggling guitarist trying to “make it”. He spoke of his living conditions, he lived in a cramped small New York apartment filled with cock roaches and working dead end jobs on the side; he also said that anyone should expect to live like this for at least five years before the band they play in gets truly recognized. Anyways, the point is that “mastery” really is a tough thing to accomplish, and the road leading to it is definitely not something that should be taken lightly.

Guilty as Charged

I certainly believe that Diamond, author of Guns, Germs, and Steel, is a geographic determinist. Throughout the book Diamond defines/judges a person's future as to where that person is from, where he/she was born.

Diamond tries and in many cases, brain washing us into: believing that Europe, just because it was a very advanced country- in many different aspects, won history. What those that even mean?

Well, throughout our school carrier, our geographic teachers have taught us of European colonization and conquer-ability through a major part of the world. The culture, the religion, their land property, the future of these people who were "conquered or colonized" by the Europeans drastically changed, for they were "brain washed", influenced, by these "superior" individuals.

I personally think that Diamond is a geographic determinist, I had given plenty of thought to this, and the conclusion I came up with was: by him repeating himself throughout GGAS; saying that the location of someone's birth shall determine someone's future, not where one's from.
And to me, that is very strong statement to say, but he proved his point on his book. The idea that if the Europeans "won history" is still very unclear and undefined to me. I do think this book was one of the most important books in history, but I shall read in depth the idea of Europeans gaining victory over history.

Livestock and it's importance

Animal domestication is very important for us and as been for many many years. The author of Guns, Germs, and Steal, Diamond, lists the top five herbivorous domestic mammals, which were mainly found in West and Central Asia, Eurasia, and North Africa. These animals where and are very important for us to this day, they have made our lives easier in so many ways and we've found so many uses for these animals: sheep, goats, cows, pigs, and horses.

These animals help us provide for our families and others, they've helped us survive throughout rough times. We've found many different uses for cows, goats and sheep. For example, they all produce milk, that contains the calcium and other vitamins we need. Their meet is not only very delicious, and nutritional, it's also a great source of protein. When we eat the meat we feel full, more than what we would feel if we only eat wheat and fruit. The fat of the pig might not be very healthy, for it has plenty of fat, but it sure kept us full as well. These animals are very easy to take care of, we didn't have much trouble domesticating them. Also, since all they eat is herbs, their excrement is used as good soil fertilizer, which is only helpful for us.

The skin of the cows, sheep and goats where very valuable as well, we could use their skin as clothing and blankets. As, we keep finding new ways of using these animals that didn't have to be fed meat (other animals); the number of these animals kept increasing. As well as our increase in technology. The use of fire to heat up the meat and cook it, also finding new ways of using their milk. We now use cow and goat milk, and other dairy products that are very profitable.

The horses are exceptionally important in our animal evolution and our human evolution. These animals have helped us in battles in the early days. They were a sign of power in many places. For example when the Europeans went to places like Mexico and PerĂº, they were viewed very differently. The Aztecs where frighten of these "monsters". Nevertheless, they were useful to carry out messages to other places, since technology wasn't as advanced as it is now.

Nevertheless, if humans started spreading from Mesoamerica and little by little moved west to Eurasia and Africa, it probably had been quite difficult to domesticate the animals specified above. Growing crops would have been a very slow process if we were to do it manually without the help of these animals. And to not mention animal domestication would have become very difficult.



Senior Project

So, I’ve been thinking about this for quite some time and I think that I might end up going in the same direction Nick Saenz did last year: Music. But I’ve been oscillating for quite some time now, and the reason is that I see a lot of draw backs and obstacles. However, I don’t want to step down before I ever take on the challenge. The obstacles and draw backs I’m referring to are that for one what would I record my music on? I have no studio, I don’t know anyone who does and even if I did I wouldn’t know the first thing about how to use any of the equipment. A second approach to this might be to record all the music on a computer program similar to Garage band, but the problem with that is that I need the proper equipment to record the instruments onto the computer, which I don’t have and I guess are probably expensive. A way around this would be to simply play the music live, which is always a possibility.

Another obstacle is that I want to write the music, which means guitar, bass, vocals, and I might be able to defer to Erick Martinez for the drum parts, but a decent knowledge of music theory is needed for this, and I lack that. So I might spend the majority of my senior project time trying to learn as much as I can about theory and practicing my instrument, and start the actual writing process towards the end of the project. I’m not quite sure however. If anyone has any suggestions or feedback, please don’t hesitate to voice it, it’s more than welcome.

A Self Realization

When I was finally done reading Daniel H. Pink’s Drive I realized something about my past. Something that I had only vaguely given thought to before. For well about over a year I had no intrinsic motivation in my life, and it showed. I spent my days irritated, anxious, and exhausted. I didn’t even realize it at the time. I was just getting through the day; I had nothing to devote my time to, nothing to focus myself on, to devote myself or strive to. My grades fell to a level that was uncharacteristic for me, and all the while I thought that I had just been getting lazy. It never occurred to me that I (desperately) needed something else in my life, and it probably still wouldn’t have occurred to me had it not been for Pink’s book.

So all this being said something changed, I finally found that intrinsic motivation. What was it? It was the guitar. The guitar gave me something to focus on, to devote myself to, and to strive for, everything that I lacked then. My behavior improved which was followed by an increase in my grades, and it wasn’t that I was trying any harder it was just that I finally had something for myself. I found myself practicing with every spare moment I had, I would even show up late to class because I spend the minutes between class playing for a few minutes, and my roommates had definitely gotten annoyed by my constant “noise making” at night. It was Pink’s book that helped me to see the intrinsic motivation within myself, and because of this book I know realize that intrinsic motivation isn’t just a bunch of rhetoric because I’ve lived without it, and I can easily say that living without something to devote yourself to life is boring indeed.

Idea for Senior Project

I am not a hundred percent sure what I want my senior project to be about yet, but do know what I want to incorporate into it and that is culture and politics. This summer I have had the opportunity of a lifetime. I was selected by EIL to join a group of other young people to explore the country of Turkey. There I had the opportunity to do something I love doing: learning about new cultures. I had a very small idea about the history of Turkey and knew almost nothing about how their political system worked. It was shock that the Ottoman Empire (based in Turkey) had a great influence over the Middle East and in a huge chunk of Europe. They conquered the Greeks, were allies with the French, English and Germans, won wars against Russia and Sweden, and made it all the way to the gates of Vienna, Austria. This empire has done so much and was one of the richest and most powerful empires in Europe and the world. Then I tried to look for them in the 10th grade world history book called The Human Story by James C. Davis, they were not mentioned. And as for it's major city (and former capital) Istanbul, it is only talked about when it was called Constantinople (under Roman rule). This left me baffled. How can a powerful empire who's influence spread so far and army conquered so much territory not be mentioned in a history book?

This left me wondering. What else if left out of history books that is had a great impact on history? What current events will shape our lives in coming year are going under the radar? Even major events that have recently happened. How many people actually know about the? Which comes to my idea for my senior project. I want to do something like a political and history awareness group. Something that will get people thinking about how much people really know about history and politics.

Diamond: Guilty as Charged

Throughout Guns, Germs, and Steel, Jared Diamond emphasizes the idea that advancements made by different human civilizations arose not because of biological or genetic advantages, but as a result of geography and surrounding resources. The author uses this argument in his comparisons between different culture groups' advancements and change over time, whether it be in tools, farming techniques, or disease. Evidence of his deterministic view is shown when he contrasts the growth of peoples in Europe and in Africa, stating "In short, Europe’s colonization of Africa had nothing to do with differences between European and African peoples themselves, as white racists assume. Rather, it was due to accidents of geography and biogeography—in particular, to the continents’ different areas, axes, and suites of wild plant and animal species. That is, the different historical trajectories of Africa and Europe stem ultimately from differences in real estate." (401).


Diamond not only exemplifies the ways a population's geography has encouraged these advancements, he also illustrates the way various groups show continuities in intelligence and problem solving capability, arguing that these abilities were simply used in different ways depending on the group's location. This viewpoint is clearly seen when Diamond states, "Eurasia's considerable initial advantage thereby was translated into a huge lead as of A.D. 1492-for reasons of Eurasia's distinctive geography rather than of distinctive human intellect." (264). It’s clear that Diamond is a geographical determinist and he is guilty as charged.


The Importance of Livestock

The use of livestock in Eurasia gave its people an advantage over the rest of the world. These animals didn’t only provide meat for the families to be fed, they provided things such as milk, material for clothing, manure for crops and above all: muscle power. Native Americans had the llama, but unfortunately this furry animal was not enough to help create a strong society.


A European farmer was able to transform farming with a little help from the horse. The horse gave them enough muscle to immensely increase the productivity of crops. More crops meant farmers could feed more people, and if they had more people they could increase the complexity of their society. Europeans did not originally have the livestock that they ended up with before they started colonizing different parts of the world. These animals, which Europe should be thankful for, came from the Fertile Crescent. This is why, if Americans had the livestock that Eurasia was able to get through the Fertile Crescent, then America would have become the dominator of history. It’s simple, although the Fertile Crescent wasn’t located in Europe, it was still close enough to domesticate the livestock from there and increase the complexity of their societies.


Another reason for why it was so easy for Europeans to conquer Native Americans was because the Indians were not immune to the diseases Europeans brought from their homeland. Before Pizarro even came to conquer the Inca Empire, the Incans were already severely ill through diseases that had spread from Mesoamerica into South America. This weakened the regime and made it easier for the Spaniards to conquer the New World. Suppose Native Americans had the immunity against the diseases Spaniards brought, what would have happened then? It would have certainly been a much harder task for the Europeans to take control over these people.


Europeans had horses for a very long time and learned how to ride them for easier mobility and control over other animals. Automobiles weren’t available at the time so transportation via horse was the fastest way to get to places and the quickest way to scare people that were unaware of the animals from the Old World.


These livestock animals gave Europeans the greatest advantage over the rest of the world and allowed them to take over others much more easily. Native Americans could have enjoyed the help of these fascinating animals in daily farming, riding, and feeding. Unfortunately, they were an ocean away from the Americas, and traveling across the great waters was definitely not an intention that the Native Americans had.


He is guilty

Human history has been dominated by the Europeans, and many we ask ourselves how did they get to control the whole world. How did Europe become so powerful? Jared Diamond explains in Germs Guns and Steel how geography determines human history. Jared believes that everything happened because of locations, and where certain civilizations were located. In his book he states that if he was to summarize his book he would say " history followed different courses for different peoples because of differences among people's environments, not because of biological differences among people themselves." (pg 25).In here Jared openly states that the reason history happen the way it happen was because of environments. Environments defined what kind of plants were to develop in certain places. Environments led to the development of guns germs and steel.
Jared believes that once people actually had the knowledge and the senses to make rational decisions, they still did not have as much influence as nature itself. "That demographic shift of the last 500 years- the most massive shift on any continent except Australia- has its ultimate roots in developments between about 11,000 B.C and A.D 1." (375) Jared believes that the different changes that have happened in the last 500 years actually were created by the major developments at the beginning of society. The developments at the beginning of society were created due to geographical location. For example irrigation systems were developed in the Fertile Crescent. Then from there it was able to spread to other places of the world. Animal and plant domestication were also developed mainly in Eurasia since they had a huge variety of plants, and had the most amount of domesticated animals. Germs were then developed also in Eurasia and from there spread to other parts of the world. Now a days we have diseases, plant and animal domestication, and guns in bigger numbers, but its origin came from when civilizations developed.

There is another piece of evidence that indicates that Jared did believe that geography influenced history."In short, Europe's colonization of Africa had nothing to do with differences between European and African peoples themselves, as white racists assume. Rather, it was due to accidents of geography and bio geography -- in particular, to the continents' different areas, axes, and suites of wild plant and animal species. That is, the different historical trajectories of Africa and Europe stem ultimately from differences in real estate."(401) Here again Jared states how colonization had nothing to do with who was the most powerful. Many Europeans that they were the strongest because of their race and because of the were smart, yet in reality it is as Jared says that "axes" were one of the biggest factors in defining what civilizations were to become powerful. Jared states that the west east axes were the reason that diseases and animal domestication were able to occur. Unlike in the Americas were ideas were not able to spread between civilizations.

Drive messed up my thought cycle!

So ever since I finished reading our senior seminar book Drive by Daniel Pink I have been over thinking many of my ideas for my senior project. I think up great ideas that I believe I am intrinsically motivated to do but then I question if I I really am intrinsically motivated to do carry out such project or if I am simply being extrinsically motivated by other factors. The factors making me believe this include trying to impress people, showing off, shutting some people up, or wanting some recognition and praise. Every project I find myself finding one of those things and I get disapointed because I realize, I don't want to to this for me, but for him, her, them, others. I don't understand why it all leads to that. Before reading Drive I would've believed completely that I was doing it for me but certain parts of the book caught me by surprise and installed this sense of checking to see if my actions are truly for myself.

The ideas I have however are of concepts that I love so I find myself wanting to do them but then I feel that those extrinsic factors might come into play later on in my project and crush my creativity or lower my performance, which are two of "the seven deadly flaws" of extrinsic motivators and Motivation 2.0. Part of me is telling me that it is ok to go with my idea because my intrinsic motivation is much larger than the extrinsic one so perhaps as my project advances intrinsic will rule out extrinsic. In a way I am a bit mad at Daniel Pink for interupting my minds thought cycle. I would have had a set idea a long time ago instead of thinking I have one but then wanting to change it or being confused about it. I wouldn't be thinking about all this extrinsic motivation stuff if it wasn't for him. However, I know he was just putting the truth out there, or some of it since I don't agree with many of his ideas. Even with the knowledge of extrinsic motivation I think I will choose the idea that I believe is at least eighty percent intrinsic and the most twenty percent extrinsic and hope the intrinsic shuts the latter down because I don't believe me or anyone can have an idea that is completely one hundred percent based on intrinsic motivation at first.

Parents, parents, parents.

The thing with parents is that they always want what is best for you so they take away all the fun and make you focus on school, well in my case that's the case. I get no free time whatsoever. It's always do your homework! If it wasn't for them I wouldn't be at Chinquapin they kind of forced me. And at 12 years old, I didn't really have much of a choice. My elementary year were full of all A's and I remember my 4th grade year I got my first B and 87 and I cried because I thought I was going to get in trouble. My parents always said B's would equal serious trouble usually I'd get a spanking but since I had never gotten a B before I didn't know what to expect. So to get at my point: what motivated me was making my parent happy. Actually it was the fear that I would get in trouble if I didn't meet their all A's requirements.

Then I came to Chinquapin doing the exact same thing. I got good grade for them not for myself. And now I question myself why not? Why wasn't I doing it for myself? Why was it always about satisfying my parents and not doing what genuinely made me happy? I think my fear of what they were capable of doing to me is the main reason that I always did my work and got good grades. I'm not saying that I didn't want to get good grades but I wished that I would have done it for myself rather than my parents.

Acquiring internal and external confidence are totally different. Believing in yourself is hard but having people believe in you and motivate you is hard too. Which one is harder? I believe that one is always harder on oneself than others are on that person. So finding it in one to motivate oneself is hard because we always find the flaws in our self not the goods.

With myself I always say, "Why didn't I do that?" After I've done something wrong rather than saying, "C'mon Angelica I know you can do it." It's more getting mad at myself after I haven't do it. I don't really have internal motivation. I always do things to please others and that' one thing that I really hate about myself. I need to learn to be a little selfish, but not too much.

The fear and pain that goes into mastery

What is mastery and how do you know when you have finally achieved it? The truth is that there is not such thing as mastery. According to Daniel Pink's book Drive, it nothing that we can truly accomplish. Mastery is an asymptote. You can get closer and closer and closer but never really achieve true mastery. Even if you spend every waking moment of your life truly practicing whatever it is your doing for the next ten years you will not master it. This is the thing that discourages me the most about doing a senoir project in the first place. How can we display mastery if it is impossible to do so to begin with. The only thing we can do is get close. Even with getting close, there is going to be a ton of work and not enough time to do so. Pink also said that there is going to be pain involved with mastery. To be completely honest, I am horrified at the amount of responiblity I will have to deal with if I even start it. All the due dates and the planning and the teachers breathing behind our backs tell us to “do our best” and “try our hardest”. On top of that we had other class work to be doing and universities to apply to. How do I get over this fear and rise to mastery?

Honesty is the best policy

Let's pretend we are in a courtroom. If we were part of the jury, the most important thing is that we pay close attention to the evidence. Our job isn't to try and figure out if this person is in the wrong or right about whatever they did. Our job is to merely observe the evidence provided and from that come to a conclusion of guilty or non-guilty. In the case of Jared Diamond, he is obviously guilty of being a geographic determinist. Throughout the book he clearly states that human history was different because of the geography, more specifically the plant life, animal life, and climate of an area.

Diamond basically wrote the entire book to explain why geography does determine human history. In my personal opinion he is right, and this is a very noble act. The reason he wrote the book was to prove to Yali and millions of others that it is not the limitations of his people that set them behind, but limitations of their environment. And many people believe that the more adversity you face, the better you will be. "As a rule, people do their best thinking and planning, their minds are most alert and inventive, and they have the best judgment when the thermometer out of doors falls toward freezing at night and rises toward 50 degrees or 55 degrees by day,'' declares Ellsworth Huntington in ''Principles of Human Geography (Patricia Cohen, New York Times)." This quote serves to show that even scholarly people believe that you think more when you are in a harsher climate, because you have to adapt quicker, outlive your environment. But in the case of Diamond, it doesn't matter if we believe he was in the right, according to the evidence he is in the wrong. Diamond states, "We found that these differences between the Fertile Crescent, New Guinea, and the eastern United States followed straighforwardly from the differing suites of wild plant and animal species available for domestication, not from limitations of the peoples themselves(Diamond,153)." He clearly states that the environment the people were in affected them.

Diamond goes on to state, "In addition, Australia's aridity, infertility, and climatic unpredictability limited its hunter-gatherer population to only a few hundred thousand people (Diamond,311)." Diamond is guilty as charged. He admits through his writing that he believes geography determines human history. He states over and over again that the conditions of a country are directly related to the development of that country. The first person to propose this idea of geographic determinism was Ellsworth Huntington. "He proposed that geographical conditions are the sole determinant of the philosophies and infrastructure of a civilization.(Aaron Hoffer, Slideshare) Even the person who created this theory would agree that Diamond is guilty of the same crime. They both believe that geography determines what will happen to a society.

Countless times Diamond explains that the environment affected the people of that area in many ways. If it wasn't the climate, it was the animals. If it wasn't the animals, it was the plants. If it wasn't the plants, it was everything else. I personally don't see how this is a crime, and I commend Diamond for being bold and creating this book. However, in terms of being a geographic determinist the proof is in the pudding. Like Diamond states, "All human societies contain inventive people. It's just that some environments provide more starting materials, and more favorable conditions for utilizing inventions, than do other environments (Diamond, 408)."

Point-blank Diamond is guilty of being a geographic determinist, no question about it.

Go For It

Autonomy means self-government. When it is applied to humans it means to take control of his/her life: self control. This, along with mastery and purpose, led a person closer to motivation 3.0. There have only been a few cases were I had the freedom to study what I wanted or explore something new that I was curious about. Most of those times consisted of me being in front of a computer (when I am suppose to be doing homework) and looking up random articles on Wikipedia that I thought were interesting. This I called Wikipedia Randomnis.

Then I join The School for Ethics and Global Leadership (SEGL). While I was there, I told classes with people who were experts in their field and really enjoyed teaching. The highlight of the entire semester, though, would have to be Odyssey Week. To clarify what that means, Odyssey was a two week experiment (we were the first semester to do this) that began with a scavenger hunt around Washington, DC and our own organized case study that could be about anything we wanted it to be about. In the scavenger hunt portion, I was given an envelope with three questions about who I am as a person and what I cared about. My advisor told me where to go; I had to do this journey alone though. The journey took me to many places in the greater DC area. Once I arrived at my location, I sat and reflected about what in the exhibit had to do with me. It is very open ended and very inspirational. My favorite part of the odyssey was when I arrived at the Struggle for Freedom exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery. The exhibit showed how people who were different (African-American, people who identified as LGBTQ, Native Americans, women and the disabled) lived in a time when no one cared about there rights and what they did to improve their lives. It just left me wondering: how could anyone be treated like that?

The second part of Odyssey was when we got the chance to organize a meeting with our elected official (or their staffers) and other NGO's that could help us understand the topic we were researching. I choose a topic that I wanted to learn more about: abortion. This required a ton of work. It required us to send out emails, call people and organize a meeting with people. This was way easier said then done. It was easier said then done. People would always say that they were busy doing whatever they are doing, they didn’t organized meeting with young people and one women even yelled at me. In the end though, after many many tries, I finally got a meeting with Emily Dillard who was the Legislative Aide to Texas Senator Cornyn. She was very helpful, willing to answer any questions I had and told me more about the Senators stance on the issue.

Overall, it was a two week odyssey that showed me the true power of Autonomy and what it can really do. Do what you honestly care about doing! If you have the choose to do the things you have a passion for or simply want to learn something new that could soon become a passion, you should go for it.

In need of Inspiration

I have been thinking about what I'm going to do for my senior project for the longest time. I started thinking about it last school year when it began to hit me that I was soon going to be a senior as well and I, too, was going to have to go through everything last year's seniors went through. It has been really hard for me to find inspiration with everything that's going on, but I know sooner or later I will find something. I want to do something life changing; experience things I've never experienced, and if it's not life changing to others, at least it should be life changing for me. I want my project to be something I am proud of and will remember for the rest of my life. I want to be able to look back when I'm older and say, "You see that? I did that." I just hope I will be able to accomplish that this year. I want to do great things and not limit myself this year. This is my last year in high school and I don't want it to go to waste. This only happens once in a lifetime and I wanna enjoy it to the fullest in every aspect. I don't want to look back at this at the end of the year only to see that I didn't accomplish anything, so this is kind of like those letters you write to yourself and look at years from now, except I will look at this a year from now. This really is for ourselves and it's a great opportunity to do something we have always wanted to do. For now, I will keep searching for inspiration all around me in hopes to come up with a great senior project.

Little change

As we know human evolution began in Africa, yet Africa still came behind Eurasia in the production of guns, germs, and steel. It was europeans who conquered and colonized africans instead of vis-versa even though Africa received such a head start. With this said, I believe that if humans would have taken their first steps in Mesoamerica, there would be little difference in the modern turn of events. I don't feel as though this thought should be surprising because if we simply place these three areas in order of alignment of human migration, Afrcia came first, then Eurasia, and third came Mesoamerica. Now supposing humans began in Mesoamerica first, they would most likely then have spread to Eurasia and finally to Africa. There is something here that doesn't change. Eurasia always stays in the middle. Africa came first and still got conquered by Europe so I believe then that if Mesoamerica would've came first, Europe would have still conquered and the only thing that would have change would be that Mesoamerica would be the new Africa. I believe this because the animals would've evolved alongside Mesoamericans would have been afraid of them and wouldn't have been able to be domesticated so wouldn't be useful to help out in farming. However, once arriving in Europe, homosapiens would have probably killed many of the animals there but in Eurasia there were many more locations suitable for farming so more farming would have evolved in Eurasia still. Also more of the same farming because of the alignment of Eurasia and the fact that most of it is in the same region and climate unlike the americas which vary much in climate. It would have been a close race between Eurasia and Mesoamerica only because Africa would have dropped out of the race because it was the last and because of its sahara desert. I don't think it would have been as easy for europe to conquer the americas under those circumstances as it was in reality but it would have still won.

Sticking to my gut

In my first post I explained how my project would have an impact and how I was passionate about it. I love movies that affect the audience and I would love to have that kind of impact by making a movie of my own. Impact and passion, I learned in our senior retreat, are essential to our senior projects. From my summer reading I also know that autonomy, mastery and purpose are other necessities that will help me feel motivated and want to complete my senior project.
Like many of my classmates, I felt discouraged from learning that mastery was something "intangible". The maxim "practice makes perfect" was, unfortunately, not true. I learned that no matter how hard I try, I cannot truly master anything. However, after reading one of my classmate's posts, I realized that that shouldn't stop me from trying to do my senior project. Because I have autonomy, it is entirely up to me whether I want to make this a good or bad senior year. This project is one of the few things that are (almost) entirely up to us. We help each other decide what we want to do and how to do it, then I'm the one that decides whether or not I put in the effort to do it. This is one of those few projects where we are in the driver's seat. I hope my classmates can see that so they can be successful with their projects. I hope they realize that they shouldn't just pick a project because it's easy or because they "couldn't really think of anything and had no other options". Projects with a purpose that one doesn't truly believe in, aren't going to be fun. Those projects are the ones you dread doing- the ones where you are limited by a teacher's rules and regulations. Hopefully my class can find something worthwhile in their projects.

Facing the obstacles

I know there are going to be a lot of problems with my project. For starters, well...I don't know where to start. Should I be starting on the script right now? Or should I be trying to figure out my time schedule? I fear that this project (since it seems so big right now) will make me neglect my other classes. However, I want to work hard so at the end I can have that feeling of accomplishment. Currently, the obstacles I'm facing are: lack of movie-making knowledge, no script, no money, no "connections", no help, and pretty much no anything. However, this blog post will be somewhat of my brainstorming session.

I'm thinking about a lot of different directions to take my movie, but I know that it will be really hard to take it in certain directions. For example, I don't have the budget/skills/etc. to make a sci-fi movie. A horror movie might be easier depending on the "monster". Action movies fare a different set of obstacles. I could probably make a documentary, but I'm not sure how to "move" the audience with a documentary. I've also considered a soap opera. I think clay/animation would take way too much time. Not considering genre, I've thought of a lot of different script ideas. I have a short story I was writing over the summer about a man that wakes up in the future after a 28 year old coma, but I'm not completely convinced about it. I also wrote a short story about a desk whose owner stops showing up for school, but it would need to be adjusted to make an hour long movie. I've been thinking about writing a story about a future in which-out of the blue- men start having babies. Lastly, I've thought about making a movie about Chinquapin, but I'm scared that I won't be satisfied with the final product.

All these different factors are what I'm scared of. I think sometimes I don't like making big decisions for fear that I'll make the wrong one. So I tend to put them off, but I don't want to do that with this project. I want to jump into it right away, but I don't want to be reckless about it. Another problem is that most of the time I'm too scared to ask for help. I get a little stuck, and I just let myself get sucked into it until it's too late and I'm drowning in a huge workload. I think the best thing for me right now is to ask for help, advice, comments, suggestions, etc etc. So if anyone would like to give some insight on my project, feel free to do so.

Getting the ball rollin'

Needless to say, I'm a bit nervous about starting this senior project. I have a lot of different ideas, but I feel -and fear- I lack the confidence to pick one and stick to it. From Drive I've learned that I need autonomy, mastery, and purpose in my work in order for it to be successful. While at the Senior Retreat, I learned that I need my project to have an impact on others not just myself, and that it should be something I have a passion for. Every idea I've had feels too easy, too hard or as if it doesn't encompass all of these different factors. I'm scared my project will be too easy and will leave me unfulfilled at the end of the year or that it will be too hard and will be impossible to finish.

One idea I'm taking into consideration is to make a movie. I'm not talking about a 5 minute movie like the ones made during creativity week nor do I want to make a full 2 hour movie; I want to create a movie that is roughly 45 minutes long- maybe an hour. There are two reasons behind this project. 1) I want to leave an impact on whoever watches the movie and 2) I want whoever was part of the process to leave with a feeling of accomplishment.

I love when I am watching a movie and at the end I think to myself: I need to watch this again. I love when a movie is so good that it lingers in the back of my head. Those movies that I just have to tell someone -anyone- to watch this amazing movie. I want to create a movie that stays with the viewer long after they've left the movie theater. I don't plan to do that right now, but I do want my movie to have some type of impact on the person watching it. The movies I like best are the ones that make me want to ask questions. I'm not looking to make the next INCEPTION, but I want my movie to incite an interesting conversation or make someone see the world in a new light. I want it to have some type of effect on people.

I can only imagine how I might feel at the end of the year when I have something to show for what I've been doing this whole year. I think it would be better if I could share this feeling with others. I know that I can't make this movie on my own- at the very least I'll need actors, right? Well, I want everyone that helped me throughout the yearto watch the finished movie and have a feeling of "wow I helped create that".

Bribes vs Real Motivation

Different things motivate different people. But what Pink said about that sometimes the people that aren't going to make a dime are the most motivated really confused me. I always used to try to motivate my brother buy saying that I would buy or give him different things and it only worked sometimes, now I know why. I guess it gets old. He's 7 so maybe a little toy car will work this time but it may not work next time. How exactly do I get him to work hard without bribing him? That's what Pink was discussing in his book. If there are many ways for people to get motivated why are some still not motivated? Why do some people feel like nothing motivates them when they have many different options to motivate others and themselves?

Bribing someone isn't going to work. We are all humans and we have feelings. I imagine that showing someone you care rather than just giving them false motivation with objects is more effective. If that's the case what do we have to do to motivate others but not bribe them. Like Pink says that we need to show them that what they are doing is for a greater purpose. That what they are doing is for example, a grocery store worker is told that he isn't just there to work to make money but create happiness.

But what exactly is defined as purpose? Other than producing happiness for others, what other purpose is there?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Then what am i doing?

"Mastery is an asymptote? But an asymptote is never ending! What's wrong with this guy?"

These were my thoughts when I turned from page one hundred and twenty-five to page one hundred and twenty-six in the book Drive and I saw the heading in bold. I understood two pages of writting with the aide of only a heading and a diagram. With this I went on reading but now with a sort of disapointment. The reading said exactly what I had predicted, "..mastery is an asymptote. You can approach it. You can home in on it. You can get really, really, really close to it. But like Cézanne, you can never touch it. Mastery is impossible to realize fully." (Pg.126) It sounded so obvious to me yet to unreal. Instantly after reading this I thought to myself, why try to get better at something if you'll always have to feel like you'll need to get better at it still? Simply to be better than others? I thought that that couldn't be because it would be bringing in extrinsic motivation.

I believe it was right of the author to put the truth down for his readers, because it warns the reader and gives them another reason why to keep playing soccer, basketball, and all the concepts we want to master. He directly tells the reader that he will never achieve mastery, but indirectly says to do it because you simply enjoy doing the activity that way you will fade away from the extrinsic motivation of wanting simply to beat someone at this activity. Although I was torn down at first, I now believe that section of Drive built me up stronger in this esense.


Failure

Why is that intrinsic motivation is so difficult for me to discover? With the start of senior year, I've already been more stressed than I have been during finals of any other of the past years. I know that it's this time when intrinsic motivation is a crucial tool to have. Even though I've always been quite lazy, I've somehow managed to actually get things done. Looking back, I can't think of what it was that pushed me.

Bribes work. Bribes in the sense of getting a new phone if you get high grades. But that doesn't always work for me. I've spent so much time trying to find the passion that is supposed to drive me. My motivation has evolved, but not enough to the point to where I have the perfect version.

However, I think I've found what pushes me. I don't want to be a failure in any sense. In the end, I am self-centered. Failing myself is the worst thing I could possibly do. I don't want to fail. I've set a certain standard for myself. I've set the bar high and failure to reach it is complete disappointment. Even though I don't know what I want to do in college or what I want to study, I've always believed that I would succeed. Failure is not going to be my ending result.

Idea Still in Process

Yes, I have my idea down for my Senior Project but I can't seem to find a project that expresses the passion I have for this idea. I was talking to Liszette Garcia on the bus one Friday afternoon and I decided to tell her my idea for my senior project. I told her what I had in mind; I want to hire a full-time councilor. I believe that not everyone needs to see a councilor everyday or every once a week, but that they will at some point in there life need the extra help. I will, not lie; I got the idea from the comedy TV show Glee. In the TV show there is a councilor that helps everyone without having to make an appointment or wait for that one day the councilor arrives. I want to help teenagers feel free to get help, that's OK and that it is nothing to feel bad about nor be looked down upon. I guess this also has to do with self-esteem but more importantly it has to do with feeling safe, comfortable, and not having to carry other people's burdens.
What do you guys think is this something you guys would be interested? I like what Liszette told me to bring back Women's Group but I feel that its not the same I mean it can be part of it but I want a one on one talk with an adult that can help you when you feel disoriented.

Something to call your own

Autonomy, mastery, and purpose. These are the three elements of motivation that Daniel H. Pink talks about in his book. We are completely free to do whatever we please for our project, so the concept of autonomy, in this case, is taken care of. With this freedom, finding motivation shouldn't be so hard since we can do this project on anything. If we were to have been assigned what to do for the project, that would limit our ideas and the projects probably wouldn't be as good because we wouldn't be doing something we really enjoy doing. I really like the idea of being able to do anything we want, but what's going to make it difficult is the fact that there is an endless list of things we can do, and I think that is why I'm having such a difficult time figuring out what it is exactly that I'm going to do.

As for mastery, I believe that it doesn't really exist. There are some people who are better at what they do than others, but nobody is perfect at anything. Practice does not make perfect, it only makes you better, but not really to the point where you are the best. For example in art, there is no such thing as perfect. Pretty much anything could be considered art and anybody can create art. It is all about creating something you visualize; something unique. Something only you see. One of things that has always bothered me, but I know it must be done, is the fact that schools give out grades to students in art classes. I am not a big fan of that because there's no way a simple number can be put on your creativity. Art should be all about having the freedom of painting, drawing, or sculpting anything you like. It's about creating something you can call your own.

Passion. As far as passion goes, I am not sure what it is yet, but I know once I find out I will do my project based on that. That way I know I will be giving it my all if I'm really passionate about it.

Evolving motivation

In Drive, Pink makes the argument that motivation has evolved alongside the course of human evolution. I can't say I completely agree with Pink on this matter, but I can say that my own motivation has evolved.

When I was younger, school was everything to me. I didn't know anything else. I was, and still am in some ways, more reserved that the others around me. This was even more so when I was in elementary school. Of course, my parents emphasized on how I should always do well in school. Grades were all I thought about. Even thinking of how obsessed I was with trying to impress my parents makes me uneasy. I wasn't doing well in school for myself; I was doing it for my parents. My motivation was horribly extrinsic.

As I grew, my motivation evolved. I didn't exactly want to be the best, I just wanted to beat everyone else. Maybe I was just jealous when someone else would do better than I did. But that also changed. I realized that wasn't the way I should be looking at school or anything. So once I found genuinely caring friends, I began to work for them. Not because they made me or pressure me, but because I wanted to. Everyone should have someone or something to be proud of. I wanted to give them someone to be proud of. I worked for self-growth and, in turn, I also became someone to be proud of.

As my motivation evolved even further, I tried my best to emulate the one I looked up to. Not only in grades, but also in attitude. Confidence another thing I have always lack, and by surrounding myself with people who were confident I felt as if I was growing more confident. It's a constant struggle for me to stay motivated for anything. As soon as I "upgrade" my motivation, it soon becomes out-dated. But one thing that keeps me going, even if it's at a slow pace, are the people I look up to. Just being able to see that someone else is motivated rekindles hope within me.

This is what I'm lacking. Now that I'm the senior, I have to be my own motivation. I have to stop relying on the people I look up to, because someone might be looking to me for motivation.

Lacking Motivation? Or not?

One thing I enjoyed about the book, Drive by Daniel Pink, was that it made you realize what type of person you are, by what motivates you. I loved the “X” and “Y” scenario the book introduced. It made me realize that there are other ways to be motivated. The book focuses on the advantages of being a “X” or a “Y. When I finally decided that I should find out what is my type of motivator; I started to think. After a while I realized that I couldn't really pick one side. I was in the middle or neutral. I talked to my peers and Alejandra Badillo's response was the one that caught me of guard. She said that she felt bad that she was so certain that she was “X”. She expressed her concern, I understood why, I mean the book Drive wasn't known for talking wonders of the motivators of the “X” factor. But what got me of guard was that she could really be 100% sure what motivated her; Did that mean I'm not motivated or motivated enough? That nothing drives me to accomplish a goal? I was confused that it made me rethink about my motivation for my senior project.

Not just that but I started to doubt how was I suppose to get through senior year! I felt a little disoriented but later I realized the reason I can't lean to one side or choose a specific motivator was because I was a mixture of both. I wont lie that made me feel better, but would you think that since I can't relate to one side I lack motivation?

Drive related to my drive...

I think Drive will be related to my senior project unfortunately in a very minimal way. I think the book is fantastic in it's own way, but I honestly think it will be most beneficial to me while I transition from college into the workforce. As far as autonomy, mastery, and purpose, I will try to tie them to my senior project, because I do believe they are good factors. If through Daniel Pink's science my project could possibly come out better than that is something I'm willing to try.

I know this book wasn't just any old book, it was given to us for a purpose. What that purpose was I'm a little confused on. I had interpreted it to be a way to motivate us, but now I believe it's actually of form of making our projects better. It was more an example than a guide. What I mean by this is that we were meant to apply the factors to our project, like in the examples in the book. It wasn't meant to help guide us in deciding what our project would be or how we would get to it. That is a decsion that we have to come to on our own.

But if we can successfully apply those factors to our projects, like those companies we too will be able to have success. Having autonomy would just mean that we had control. That we were the ones deciding what our projects would be. The reason that is so crucial to any success is because the more closely we have a say in what is done, then hopefully we will apply ourselves more closely. The project will belong to us and so the hopes are that we will work even harder on it.

As far as mastery goes, this will only be something that can help us. In no way are we being asked to choose something we will never master. However, at the same time we are also being asked to understand that full mastery takes much, much time to accomplish. But if we can get started in something we want to do, than maybe we can master it much sooner. Or even just understand it much better for our own knowledge.

Lastly purpose. Of course any of us could choose something that will only affect us, but when you give what you are doing a greater purpose, you are not only helping yourself, but also others. And in the environment we've grown so much in, hasn't giving back already been instilled in our hearts. Purpose to inspire others, purpose to help others, to believe in others, to push others, to simply help others. This will probably be the factor that I will tie closest to my project. Because while I do want to do something that I choose, that I care about. I also want it to impact others positively. That to me will make all the difference.

And as I write I'm even more flabbergasted by the conclusion. I thought this blog would explain why Drive wouldn't be included in my project, but as it seems it will be more closely related to what I do than I thought.

My Motivation History

It has been almost six years since I started going to school here at Chinquapin and to be completely honest, I was doing it for selfish reasons. I wanted to be the one in my elementary school to get ahead and do something that I thought was going to get me into college easier. I was not thinking about wether I liked it or not. I just knew it was something I had to do. The classes I took ranged from integrated science to pre-algebra to art. I will admit that there were some classes that I had absolutely no interest in. I will not revile which classes they were or who the teachers were, but I will say that I would have much rather have done something else that I wanted to do then study for that upcoming exam. Coming back to the present, Susan had us Drive, by Daniel Pink, to read over the summer. In the first chapter of the book, it talked about humans having three types of motivations that make humans do what they want to do: motivation 1.0, motivation 2.0 and motivation 3.0.

Motivation 1.0 is the simplest type of motivation; it is a biological that helps us stay alive. For example: when we are hungry, then we do what we can to calm our hunger. Simple.

Motivation 2.0 is more complex the Motivation 1.0. It is a type of motivation that requires external forces (such as rewards and punishments) to make a person motivated to do something he/she may or may not want to do. Pink uses the carrot and stick example to help us understand. If a horse does a good job, it is rewarded with a carrot. If not, it is hit with a stick. This sounds a lot like school: do the work and get the grade. So has my entire Chinquapin career been a the human example of the carrot and sticks method?

Finally we get to last type of motivation. Motivation 3.0. It comes from within ourselves. It is when we find our deepest passions and try to master it. This is something that I have done on rare occasions and enjoyed deeply.

Which brings me to my last though. What are my passions? Do I have any? Or has my educational career made me completely overlook what my passions are and only focus on the thinks I have to? Only this year will tell.

I Speak The Truth

Our Senior Projects, as Susan puts it, are based to make an impact on others not just our selves. But how can we accomplish this if we don't know what we're really passionate about? What really motivates us? Are we going to master this?

I am confident that at the end of this year, we will be mastering our topic of our project, that we'll be so passionate and so motivated, that we are going to find the thought of us not accomplishing this project, foolish. We need autonomy: taking self control of our lives; our future. This project is something I want to look back on for the rest of my life. I want everyone to feel self accomplished and feel like if they can accomplish something as great as this project, they can accomplish anything that comes in their way. But, it just depends on how much effort and self determination; autonomy, one puts in this project.

I know this project comes with many obstacles, and expectations. Many of us are facing obstacles already. I have no idea what to do! I've never really stopped and think about what motivates me, what drives me to be the person I am. It's really difficult for me to say and choose. For example, I've always enjoyed the idea of doing new things, taking risks. And that's my down fall; I believe. I've never done something for so long, for I always want to try something new. And for my project I want to do something new, for that would reflect on who I am. But, my concerns are that I won't be satisfied. How can I plan something I've never tried before? Should there be a plan?

All I know is that I would put my heart and soul, I'll probably even grow white hairs during the process, but I know that it would be worth it. I may not be able to master "it", for "Mastery is and Asymptote." (Drive, 126) I shall grow from my mistakes, keep my head up, and never give up. At the end of this project I want to be in the edge of having the qualities of type I behavior: the way of thinking and approaching my life mainly on intrinsic motivators. "To do better by ourselves and our world." (Drive, 211) That's what I want to accomplish.


Let's play ball

I may not always seem that way, but I am terribly shy. I'm scared to get up in front of people to talk. They just make me nervous somehow. So what I was thinking for my Senior Project I want to be able to conquer that fear. I want to be able to walk up to people and have a conversation without being scared. I want to be able to get up in front of the class and not panic. I need to learn how to teach people without feeling like I don't know what I'm doing. I lack confidence. The confidence that helps me push myself to do the things that I'm most scared of. The things I know I know how to do but think too much so I scare myself out of doing them.

Not too long ago my friend asked me if I wanted to coach a little league baseball team with him. We are both around the same age and if we coached we'd be the youngest coaches at the park. That's a lot of pressure because you have to gain the respect of your teams parents because they are always gonna doubt our ability because you're are so young. Keeping these things in mind, I immediately said no. I told him because I was too busy but the real reason was because I was scared. I've played baseball/softball for maybe 8 years. It's what I absolutely love doing, but I still wouldn't coach with him.

My Senior Project should be fun! So i was thinking Baseball is my passion and I know it maybe be difficult but I want to coach a little league team. That way I conquer my fear of 1) teaching and 2) gain some confidence. Feedback please! Let me know what you think. Too hard?

Hunger for Money

Money, money, money! Money is paper, yes. But this isn't any regular paper. This kind of paper helps every single one of us. To either spend the money or to pay off bills, tuition, food, gas, etc. . . Money can be an issue as well . How so? Let me explain.

Money is power. Money helps you influence and reward people who need it. If you own a company and you want your employees to speed up the process of work, you can bribe them and give them more money. But, as Daniel H. Pink writes in his book Drive, he says that many owners would reward their employees for the great work they have accomplished. But these employees get used to this monetary reward, once you stop, the quality of their work decreases; yet they still expect to get that monetary reward.

So, even though you, the boss, only wants the best for your business giving money to motivate your employees is not the right way to do things. Gunther is against rewarding or motivating employees with money. He mentions, "[it] creates a culture that says it's all about the money and not enough about the work. . .Money, a threshold motivator." (87) Rappers like Rick Ross, Lil' Wayne, for example, always brag about how much money they have in their pockets, but is that really their motivation? Are they really hungry for money? Is that our motivation too? No. We all have intrinsic desires, which are desires that make us better our selves and motivate others by motivating ourselves first.

The purpose of this book and our Senior Project is to realize that we should find what motivates us, that the external factors are not worth it; like money. We need goals to reach our purpose, and within that purpose we need internal motivation.

Without passion, true success isn't guaranteed.

While reading Drive by Daniel Pink, I was actually kind of surprised at first when he said that money wasn't really what motivated people, but then again, he can't really say that this is true about every single person in the world. Many people do say that money is what drives them to do better every time, but for me that's not so much the case. Yeah, everybody enjoys getting money every once in a while because you can reward yourself with whatever you please and knowing that you worked hard to earn it, makes it that much more rewarding.

For me, it's not so much the money that drives me. Motivation 3.0 is all about a drive that comes within yourself. The kind of drive that makes you feel good and accomplished after having done something either for yourself or for someone else. I like to believe this is my case. I like the feeling of accomplishment and knowing that I have done good to either myself or someone else. I like feeling that I have grown as a person because otherwise whatever it is that I'm doing, would seem sort of useless and just a waste of time. By the end of the year, I don't want to feel as if I've wasted an entire year doing something that I didn't enjoy doing or feel as if I didn't learn anything from it. I want to be able to do good, if not for others, at least for myself for now. I am still in that phase where I am getting to know who I really am and what my passions really are. Although I really enjoy painting and drawing and pretty much anything art-oriented, I am not quite sure if I'm ready to call it "my passion." I really do enjoy it and it would be nice doing something art-oriented, but I know there's a lot more things I must explore before I can settle for that. For now, I must keep asking myself what it is I am passionate about and what good would come out of my senior project. Once I get to know myself a bit better, I will know what I will set out to accomplish this year.

A Documentary to Help my School

Pink said that one will succeed in a career or a project in this case, if he or she is passionate about it. I’m passionate about making money but I also care deeply about the future of my school. Pink talked a lot about business in his book Drive so I will try my best to try to defend his argument and what he says about passion. I'm into making videos and I think it'll be fun to try to make a documentary.


As you probably know already, I want to help my school by making a video that will attract donors. The school has done a lot for me and has help me grow as a student and I think the perfect way to repay it back would be with a little money help. I’m not sure how much this video will be able to help my school but I’m positive that whatever quantity of money I make I will be happy.


As a side project, I would like to also make videos that I can have a lot of fun with such as videos of my class and myself. I enjoyed making videos last year and I think it’s best way to express myself and my thoughts since I obviously don’t have the voice to sing.


I’m worried a little bit about the quality of the video. I want it to be the best interpretation that a student can make of his school and I don’t want it to be look down as a failure. We have plenty of time but I will try talking with Mr. Dilworth and see if he could help me. I’m probably going to need some good equipment to make a descent video of the school so I will try to see if I can get some connections with people.


I don’t think I’ve ever been satisfied with videos that I’ve done for school so I can assure you that I will try to make it perfect. Please classmates, if you’ll have any ideas on this project feel free to comment. I’m excited and I hope you guys are too.


Motivation? Purpose?

Many of us are having a hard time thinking about our Senior Project. Some of us, at least in my case, the main concern is answering: What motivates you? Do we have internal motivation, or do we only have external motivation? Is there a purpose for what motivates us?

This summer we were assigned to read Drive by Daniel H. Pink. It caught me off guard when he would explain how many of us where influenced in our every day life; giving us examples of how people coped at work when giving money or incentives. This summer I got "a real job" per-say. I finally did something out of my comfort zone (baby-sitting), and got a different job, at the New Flea Market (making copies of keys). My first day went well, my boss had given me my cut for the day plus a bonus. On my first day of work! I asked him why? And his response was, "you did very well and many costumers came by, and you made me big bucks!" I was flabbergasted, I wasn't expecting to get a bonus, specially not on my first day of work. Nevertheless, on my second day of work I was smiling all day, being nice to all the people that came by to get keys, I wanted my bonus again! I was only disappointed, at the end of the day when I didn't get that bonus. I went home that afternoon, and Drive came to me. What was my purpose and goal for the day? It was to get that monetary reward as I'd gotten the first time. My motivation? Money! Was I really happy with the outcome? Of course not! I did the same work as the day before, maybe a little more, trying to literally sell myself of with my good behavior, but at the end of the day, I didn't get that monetary reward.

Do I regret it? No. I personally think it made me a better employee. I do wish I would get that monetary reward more often, for I do bring plenty of costumers, but it makes me work harder. Like psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi told Daniel H. Pink, "Purpose provides activation energy for living"(134). In my case, the monetary incentive provided me with energy to do well on my job and get that incentive once again; it was that external motivation that made me pursue that joy I felt when I got my bonus.

I know that many of us are the same way. We let external components in our life change the way we accomplish our work, either in school or at our job. This year, our Senior year, should be based primarily on internal motivation. Pleasing ourselves with what we have accomplished this year. Stop trying to please others, and step up and let Motivation 3.0 take upon us, and make sure the purpose of this project and this year be to better ourselves and accomplish our hopes and dreams; which YOU only know what those are.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

First Baby Step

After reading Drive by Daniel Pink, I realized that the best motivation is the one that is self enforced and is passionately pursued. I made the connection with the senior project, even though, I was not completely sure what the senior project was all about. I had seen last year's seniors struggle and enjoy their senior project; I even knew some seniors that constructed a project that totally consumed them so I had a vague idea about it. I had thing clear: Motivation was a big factor. Actually, I figured that motivation is involved and is a major component in accomplishing the project or anything in life.

For my senior project, I would like to help young teenagers not be overwhelmed by stress that really isn't theirs to burden with. I could relate with this idea for as long as I can remember, and I realized this is by going to counseling. The word “counseling” usually has a negative contention, well in the naive or ignorant audience. My idea consists of focusing on helping teenagers not get disoriented from their dreams or goals because they lose themselves in situations that they feel burden to carry when actually it would be best for life to take its course or let adults handle it.

According to Drive, the fact that I can relate to this specific idea, I believe that I am motivated enough to come up with a project that will express my idea of growing up too fast with unnecessary stress. So far, I have taken my first baby step. I know what I am passionate about; helping others not go through my main life struggle. Now that I have the idea, I must think about a project that can help my get this message across to other students that have a similar issue.

Drive or No Drive

First and foremost I have not yet determined what my senior project will be, though I have an idea (become an entrepreneur). The book Drive however made me feel that my idea would be a complete failure. It read plenty of times that when the goal is profit, performance is poor. That discouraged me from becoming an entrepreneur, somewhat. Still after reading it I have an urge to become an entrepreneur and I have been trying to come up with ways to make this idea a success. So, I have decided to break it down a bit. How can me becoming an entrepreneur and acquiring a decent amount of money via entrepreneurship be different, important and make a huge statement? I pondered for days and concluded that pursuing this would be important and make a huge statement. Why you ask? Because most adolescence under the age of 18 are limited in their employment. Essentially, if you are not yet 18 you have to settle for a minimum wage job that, hopefully, most of will dislike. By my doing this project and seeking success, juveniles will hopefully be motivated to do more and not settle for less. Yes, we are under 18 and have no degree, but we have ideas. Why must we be broke?

Monday, August 22, 2011

The fate of Neil Diamond

Diamond is guilty. It’s obvious; most of what he talks about in his book, the fall of the Native Americans, the stone tool usage of the Aborigines Australians, China’s decent into technological inferiority, Europe’s rise to technological superiority, etc. he credits to geography.

His reasons as to why the Native Americans were conquered by the Spanish were Guns, Germs, and Steel. He then later claims that the reason the Spanish had all these things and that the Native Americans didn’t was geography. Europe was on an East-West alignment with the Fertile Crescent, which is where crops and animals were domesticated. These animals lead to germs and the animal crop package lead to sedentary lifestyles which produced the guns and the steel. On the contrary the Americas were on a North-South alignment. They did not produce domesticated animals (other than the llama) nor did they domesticate many plants. The llama (because it is not a herd mammal) did not lead to germs and the crops, although they did lead to sedentary lifestyles, did not lead to guns or steel.

Australia, because it was so isolated from the rest of the world never developed past stone tools. China’s technology, because the country was so unified, never went through the autocatalytic process whereas European technology, because it was so divided, did.

He even states that “the continents differ in innumerable environmental features affecting the trajectories of human societies” (406) he then later goes on to explain the four geographical differences that lead to history as we know it, which include differences in plant and animal species on different continents, diffusion and migration within those continents (think East-West vs. North-South), followed by diffusion within continents, and lastly the area and total population size of a continent.

Everything he says throughout his book can somehow be traced back to geography, and for that reason he is a geographical determinist and should be sentenced as such.

The East-West determinent

I believe that the East-West alignment of Eurasia is what lead to the European conquest of the Americas. Sure it was the diseases that arose from animal domestication that thinned the ranks of the Native Americans, but had it not been for the East-West alignment of Eurasia the Spanish never would have received the animals or crops that they did from the Fertile Crescent. Had that been the case they never would have developed the diseases which aided in their campaign against the Native Americas.

If the Americas had an East-West alignment and Eurasia didn’t then history would be very different indeed. Of course the Americas wouldn’t be the spitting image of what was Europe at the time of the Spanish conquest, but it would be much more advanced. Let us consider what was present in the Americas when the Spanish arrived. In Mesoamerica they domesticated corn, invented a wheel, developed a writing system and an empire. In the Andes they domesticated the llama and had widespread metal tools (as well as an Empire) (362). These were only a number of things these two Empires managed to accomplish, and I’m not including the Indians of the Eastern U.S. either. But imagine what could have happened if these isolated ideas and objects had the chance to spread. Perhaps plants domesticated in one area could be widespread throughout the Americas. The llama could travel and even be used for plowing, increasing the efficiency of agriculture. This increase in agriculture could lead to more sedentary societies in turn leading to more specialists which meant better technology. Perhaps the wheel developed by the Aztecs could be put to use as more than just a mere child’s toy. The writing system would spread and possibly even, through blueprint borrowing and idea diffusion, give rise to new languages spoken by more than just temple scribes. The metal tools could have developed into metal weapons. The once isolated areas would soon become enemy states which would lead to competition, in technology, between them. As Diamond says “technology begets more technology” the technology that would now be spreading throughout the Americas would constantly be improved by the autocatalytic process.

Now what would Spain, and the rest of Eurasia, have looked like if it were on a North-South alignment. Yes perhaps there would have been plant domestication, animal domestication, and even writing systems but all of these things would be in isolation from each other. Plants and animals that could live in one latitude cannot live in another. Due to the inability of language to spread it would likely remain a language used only for the scribes. So Eurasia would look a bit like the Americas did different technologies arising here and there, but in isolation and with little chance of spreading which also means with little chance of growing.