Vestigial Structures

October 8th, 2008

            An interesting part of human evolution is the vestigial structures and organs that we still have. For hundreds of years people have been wondering what functions and uses certain organs have in the body. These structures are evidence and traces of human evolution and the theory of natural selection. That is, they prove that at one time there was a specific use for them in another environment or another species, but now they have become useless in today’s world and in the human body. A few examples of vestigial structures are the appendix, coccyx, and wisdom teeth. The appendix is used in animals to store harmful bacteria during digestion. The coccyx is the last remnant of a tail. In most mammals, tails are used for balance. Although it is still developed at the embryo stage, there is no need for it in an adult/child body. Lastly, wisdom teeth really have no advantage or need in modern times. Earlier on, jaws were larger and the wisdom teeth were needed to grind up plant food. But now they serve no purpose. All of these organs and structures are still in the human body, but are considered useless. This simply illustrates the evolution of the human body.

OCD may be Caused by Inherited Gene

September 19th, 2008
this picture demonstrates where serotonin works in the brain

this picture demonstrates where serotonin works in the brain

Since I was officially diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder in my senior year of High School, I have been researching and trying to find out the cause. It is mainly believed that OCD is caused by a lack of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is essential for cells to communicate with one another. A lack of serotonin contributes also to other chemical embalances such as depression and anxiety disorders.

Since my father and many of my cousins also have OCD and related disorders, I believe that there is something inherited in our genes that causes the lack of serotonin. At the University of Toronto, researchers studied the DNA of parents and children with OCD and found that many variants of the 5HT1DBeta receptor gene were passed from the affected parent to the affected child. 

Although this research does not prove that OCD is an inherited disorder, it does pinpoint that the neurotransmitter serotonin is the main cause. This allows for further study to test whether there are more gene sequences that contribute to the disorder.

Exercise and the Body’s Reaction

September 6th, 2008


    The above photo I took of David Wright running after he hit a homerun is just one example of how a person can exercise intensely. Sprinting, swimming, and bicycling are a few more ways a person can make their body’s muscles work and continue exercising properly.  The Biological processes that deals with muscles and exercise is aerobic and anaerobic respiration and the inclusion of ADP and ATP.

  When a person is exerting alot of energy, say sprinting, his or her entire body is trying to help the demand of his/her muscles. For instance, his heart rate will increase to ensure that blood will reach the muscles in the amount that they need while the stomache sometimes stops working to stop using energy that the muscles need. For energy, muscles need to burn ATP (adenosine triphosphate).  While burning ATP, his muscles need oxygen and need to release wastes and heat. His body needs ATP to continue exercising. A way that the body can produce ATP is through aerobic respirations where carbohydrates and fatty acids are turned into ATP needed. Aerobic respiration is slow, but it can supply energy for hours.

I find it interesting that so many systems in the body need to help in order to exercise properly.


Rhona Prescott and Violet Gordon

November 26th, 2007

I first read Rhona’s interview transcript which I found very interesting. Her experience in Vietnam was extremely intense. She saw the horrific injuries and the effects of war on the soldiers and civilians. Her first triage center in Vietnam was not well supplied and understaffed. The nurses and corpsemen she was working with seemed to have less experience and training than Rhona did. It seems unfair that injured soldiers were not totally taken care of by the government. I would have hated to be in Rhoda’s position in the triage center, she was the one who had to decide who lived and who died. That is a position nobody should have to be in.

I could easily see why Rhona wanted to stop being a nurse. The images and surgeries she saw in Vietnam were so bad that it made her unable to perform as a nurse after the war.  I am glad that finally she healed herself by becoming involved in Veterans Organizations . Talking with people that have similar problems is probably the best medicine.

Violet Gordon had a different experience. She was put in the WAC and was stationed in England and France. Her training was not physically extreme, but more of an academic setting. At the time of World War II, the army was not officially segregated so the black women were seperated from the white in different barracks. I find it interesting that both of these women became social workers after the war. 

Remembering War the American Way

November 14th, 2007

There were many interesting points the author makes in this passage. First, I think that he is right in saying that the government did not treat the veterans from Korea with the same respect as veterans from other wars simply because it was considered a conflict. These men still fought for the United States and sacrificed their lives for our cause. To consider them not important is a mistake. A disturbing fact is that the South Korean government erected memorials to the U.S. soldiers however, the American government waited 35 years to finally determine that these veterans deserved one. Also, when the monument was constructed the government did not pay for it, the money came from private contributions.

I think that the idea to make an amusement park as a memorial of war seemed absolutely ridiculus. They described that there would be plastic barbed wire and battlefields. This would not make people remember those that fought but would only glorify the act of war and violence. Thankfully, the public also thought this way and the project was not accomplished.

Thinking about war protests, I thought that the Vietnam War was the only war that was severely protested against, however, the author stated that the Civil Wasr in fact had the most dramatic and violent protests which surprised me.

Wages of War Chapters 23-27

November 12th, 2007

This reading in many ways was very disturbing. It brought up the cruel side of Vietnam and the after effects it had on soldiers. A scary problem was that of Agent Orange. The fact that our own plan backfired and caused veterans many problems in the future is disturbing to think about. One of my roommates said that her great uncle died of the after effects of Agent Orange. In the reading there were many examples of disfigured babies, and birth defects that happened years after the veterans returned home. I find it detestable that the government did not help the veterans that were suffereing from it and instead did not even recognize it as a problem for a long time. The woman that sacrificed her job at the V.A. to research Agent Orange is a real hero.

Another terrible event that Wages of War talked about was the My Lai massacre. When you think of what happened, it is hard to believe that our own soldiers acted out the devastation. If it had been any other army, the United States would have reacted harshly and it would have been all over the news. I think that the comanding officer did not get enough punishment for his brutality. The newscasters did not do a good job in relaying the Vietnam Waro to the American public. Instead, they only tried to get the most dramatic things on air without trying to question the war itself.

American college students were basically the only ones to start the fight against the war primarily because they were the ones that would be made to fight in it. For those that were safe from fighting, they couldn’t care less about what was going on.

The End of Born on the Fourth of July

November 7th, 2007

I find it hard to believe how the public outwardly hated the veterans of Vietnam. I guess that because of this, we now support the veterans of all wars. The scene in the book that I found most disturbing was when Kovic was at the peace rally and the men started to beat him up. I find this act extremely cowardly since Kovic was obviously disabled. And again I thought it was disrespectful how the people that were at the rally for Nixon spit and shouted at Kovic and his friends when they started protesting the war. It’s frustrating when people try to argue a situation they no nothing about. I feel like the public should have listened more to the veterans that came home insttead of listening to the desk office officials and politicians.

Born on the Fourth of July to page 93

November 5th, 2007

I love this book. Kovic pulls the reader in during the first chapter when he talks about his injury. The graphic and sometimes disturbing imagery he uses makes me feel like I actually can see what is going on and live through his experiences with him. I find it interesting how Kovic’s experiences and feelings about the war before and after he serves mirrors the feelings Fussell had. Originally Kovic was excited to go to war to fight for his country, just as Fussell was excited to join the ROTC. It wasn’t until after they saw the devastation and injury of war did they turn to hate the government and the army altogether.

Kovic at one point compares the hospital to concentration camps. It doesn’t make sense that so much money was being used to buy war materials and yet they didn’t have enough equiptment to help the sick and injured veterans. In this recent period of American history, it was alarming to see how unsanitary and inefficient the V.A. hospitals were. I’m hoping that the hospitals nowadays are considerably better.

In the edition of the book I have, Kovic writes and introduction about how he republished his book because he feels that the current war in Iraq is too similar to Vietnam. I find this something that many people in our nation feel, however although many people are against the war, many people are for the troops whereas in Vietnam, the people were also against the troops.

The Longest Movie Ever Made

November 3rd, 2007

Even though this movie was pehaps drawn out way too long, I think that the overall message was impacting. I like the fact that they had three different perspectives of coming home to all different ways of life. At first you had the banker who was married 20 years and had grown up kids, the man who hardly knew his own wife, and the disabled bachelor. My personal favorite story was that of Homer, the veteran who lost his hands in a fire on his ship while serving in the navy. He seemed to be the most impacted of the war and had the worst problems resulting from it. But in reality, all of the guys had problems they had to face coming back home to the same town. Al, the  banker, had to resume his old job and totally missed out on the years where his kids grew up, Fred, the bomber, had a hard time finding a job since he had no real work experience outside of the army, and Homer had to deal with the reactions of his loved ones to his hooks.

Ultimately, I think that it was interesting how they made this movie right after the veterans really came home, and in watching it, you can sense the anxiety of the veterans in not knowing what might become of their lives and the economy. I think that this movie probably helped a lot of the men who returned because it brought up all the same feelings and problems that they too were going through.   

Wages of War Ch. 20 and Greatest Generation

October 29th, 2007

I think that the comparison of the McCarthy era to the Salem witch trials is very true. The two events are extremely similar because at the time period after WWII, the nation was very fearful of communism and was ready to find scapegoats to punish in order to feel better. Chapter 20 is about how one specific veteran goes on trial after writing htat he is an ex member of the communist party. He was treated as a traitor and enemy even after he spent years serving in our army during the war. This shows that even veterans were not safe from the suspicions of the McCarthy era.

I am happy that this book actually has the time to talk about women that help the war effort. Especially in WWII, these women hold very important and dangerous positions. The WASP and WAVES are only a few of the different groups women could join to help out. There were also nurses and telephone operators that worked overseas. However, although these women worked sometimes just as hard as the men, they never recieved the respect that veterans recieve, or the benefits. Unfortunately, it wasn’t until the 1970’s when they finally gained veteran status.