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Everybody Wants to be Us

Graduate Student at Loyola University Chicago. Check out the blog for what I'm currently obsessed with in film and culture. Michael Fassbender, Leonardo DiCaprio, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Winslet, Christian Bale, Jesse Eisenberg, David Lynch, David Fincher, Christopher Nolan, Martin Scorsese, and Daniel Radcliffe are regulars here.


2012: The Summer of the Scientist

While watching “Prometheus” I started regretting not studying more science.  All the scientists on board the ship are really cool people with bright, diverse personalities. You have the urban hipster biologist guy, the angry punk geologist, and Charlie Holloway who is rocking the garage band look while carrying a Rubik cube video projection device.  Elizabeth Shaw is the coolest of them all.  She’s an archaeologist, biologist, and can give herself surgery.  She’s empirically a bad-ass.  

"Prometheus" is not the only summer movie championing the exploits of scientists. Two of the best Avengers are super genius scientists: Bruce Banner and Tony Stark.  Tony and Bruce strike an instant science-based bromance in "The Avengers" figuring the entire movie out. Sometimes when Tony Stark talks to Captain America, you can see the little wheels turning in Steve’s head like, "Does not compute."  Tony and Bruce should have their own movie, with Tom Hiddleston of course. 

Also this summer we will get “The Amazing Spider-Man” with Andrew Garfield. The villain is The Lizard, who is Dr. Conners played by Rhys Ifans.  I like Mr. Ifans, but I know the whole time I’ll be thinking “This should be Dylan Baker! Spider Man 4 heartbreak.” 

When I was a child, I loved science.  Every year, I entered the science fair and enjoyed coming up with experiments.  Yet, sometime around middle school/ high school science became less fun, less experience based, less concrete.  We really need to think about how we teach science in schools, injecting more action-based study and imagination based exploration. After all this magnificent scientific celebration at the movies, I’m mourning my love of science and all the fun I could have had studying it at the higher level.  

I know things can be better.  My high school, St. Ignatius College Prep is in the process of building a greenhouse. I would have been ALL OVER THAT seeing as botany was my go-to science experiment topic. My friend Megan, who is a scientist and educator, studies and designs action-based science projects for students.  I went with her when she led group of students to a nature preserve where students could test water samples, collect plants, insects, and rocks, and observe different types of plant life.  It was so amazing, but most of the kids goofed off. I would have loved a project like that in school. 

Maybe it’s not too late for me.  Science, technology, and the intricacies of life still fascinate me.  As I look toward my new life as a grad student (read un-employed) I am going to find a way to put more science into my life.

"You are not special"

The Greatest High School Commencement Speech Of All Time.

English teacher David McCullough addresses the Class of 2012 at Wellesley High School 

Our school just had it’s first graduation and while it went well and there was a lot to celebrate, knowing how the sausage is made from my position there; all i really wanted was some truth.  Here is the truth I was looking for. 

You see, if everyone is special, then no one is. If everyone gets a trophy, trophies become meaningless. In our unspoken but not so subtle Darwinian competition with one another–which springs, I think, from our fear of our own insignificance, a subset of our dread of mortality — we have of late, we Americans, to our detriment, come to love accolades more than genuine achievement. We have come to see them as the point — and we’re happy to compromise standards, or ignore reality, if we suspect that’s the quickest way, or only way, to have something to put on the mantelpiece, something to pose with, crow about, something with which to leverage ourselves into a better spot on the social totem pole. No longer is it how you play the game, no longer is it even whether you win or lose, or learn or grow, or enjoy yourself doing it… Now it’s “So what does this get me?” 

This is what irks me about education and student attitudes today.  It’s more like this game between us and the students and not an exchange of ideas, concepts, and problems to wrestle with.  I always loved school because I could commune with different sources of information and map out how they all fit together in my head, and later in my life.  I think the educators are just as guilty.  The urge to say everything is fine and everyone made it ignores what we actually accomplished as well as what we need to strive for. 

I love the benediction of his speech as well:

Climb the mountain not to plant your flag, but to embrace the challenge, enjoy the air and behold the view. Climb it so you can see the world, not so the world can see you. Go to Paris to be in Paris, not to cross it off your list and congratulate yourself for being worldly. Exercise free will and creative, independent thought not for the satisfactions they will bring you, but for the good they will do others, the rest of the 6.8 billion–and those who will follow them. And then you too will discover the great and curious truth of the human experience is that selflessness is the best thing you can do for yourself. The sweetest joys of life, then, come only with the recognition that you’re not special. Because everyone is. Congratulations. Good luck. Make for yourselves, please, for your sake and for ours, extraordinary lives.

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