(Copyrights of the image above belongs to NOVA PBS)
Unearthing Our Journey to Humanity: Becoming Human, Second of a Three-Part Series, a Film Review
If the Part I of Nova PBS documentary film, Becoming Human had caused us the daunting reality of our ape origin, the Birth of Humanity was an inspiring one. For in this second part of the film, the journey of our ancestors to humanity was featured in such a meaningful way. As nearly one-and-a-half-million years ago, a very intelligent species called Homo erectus evolved, lived and left the “great rift valleys of Africa,” and begun colonizing different parts of the world.
In 1984, a fossil discovered by well-known African anthropologists Richard and Meave Leakey, Turkana Boy—was found to have a bigger brain, bigger jaws, and very much taller compared to any Homo habilis or Lucy and Selam (Australopithecus afarensis) who highlighted the Part I.
Named after the Lake Turkana of Kenya, the species of Turkana Boy—Homo erectus was branded as the pioneer in so many human traits and behaviors; and, was also tagged as the “fire tamer,” tool maker, innovator, the great “originator of human society,” fierce-hunter, and one of the most successful species in the Homo genus.
What was truly remarkable in Part II, was the chain of compelling stories told by scientists about human evolution that existed roughly 1,300,000 years ago by merely fossil discoveries alone. And it was through Turkana Boy and the completeness of his skeleton, that scientists learned thoroughly about the physique, height, and face structure of Homo erectus. In addition, his age and even the medical condition he suffered were likewise traced through the genetic dating process called molecular clock.
But one big difference of Turkana Boy to Lucy and Selam was his ability to run persistently. Although the latter have pioneered bipedalism (walking upright on two feet), they weren’t capable of long distance running at all. This was because, through the nearly hairless bodies (having the ability to sweat and diffuse heat) of Homo erectus, that they became so agile and adept to persistent hunting.
On a lighter note, scientists believed Homo erectus can cook too. And though primitive, that cooking led to the transformation and development of their physical features. It made them sociable as well.
Experts likewise attributed their success, to their apparent exodus to Africa. Labeled as great travelers and colonizers, they started building the human societies in Indonesia and China.
To end, the Part Two of Becoming Human was indeed very inspiring. For through fossil discoveries, and the painstaking works of scientists, and amid earth’s primitive age—it was clear, that our ancestors evolved and survived the wilds, and found their road to humanity by exhibiting the simplest, yet greatest and most humane behaviors. For it is during the Prehistoric time of Homo erectus, our ancestors started caring for one another. It was then, that they started to think analytically and creatively. As they made enhanced tools out of stones, to outwit animals, and to feed themselves and take care of one another. Therefore, it wasn’t just about physical differences that truly set distinctions between earlier species and Homo erectus. Rather, it was during the Prehistoric existence of the latter, that our ancestors earned the universal legacy of exhibiting emotional, analytical, and social characteristics. For those humane behaviors have ultimately led Homo erectus to the path of humanity–and this is something we should always keep in mind. For those traits, even on these very modern days, should be inherent to all of us. For those traits set us apart and above everyone and everything in the animal kingdom–we should really be mindful of them all the time.
What’s in the News:
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Sabiniana B. Baliba
29 January 2014
Becoming Human, First of a Three-Part Series, a Film Review
Nineteen experts, and a vast of information on Prehistoric human evolution, Becoming Human—a NOVA PBS documentary film, that aimed to share monumental discoveries and breakthroughs (research) on fossils relating to our origin—was first aired by the Public Broadcasting Station, on November 3, 2009. A revelation we should not miss, the film was about our “harsh” beginning, and how our ancestors survived the wilderness–aka survival of the fittest– as they evolved many million years ago (mya).
One of the strength of this film, was that experts from prestigious colleges and universities from different countries contributed and have zealously searched for evidences, and collaborated their discoveries for our better understanding on how man (with the scientific name of Homo sapiens) had evolved and survived the prehistoric times.
Equally important to fossil discoveries, is climate change—as it isn’t just happening in these modern days, but it’s a part of our evolution way back from the prehistoric days.
Supported by physical evidences gathered at Afar, Ethiopia, and Africa, the presence of diatoms are evident to lakes (and some others) that appeared and disappeared many times, and over-and-over-and-over again during the time of our ancestors.
In addition, the film presented in-depth explanation on how our “greatest grandparents” behaved so wildly (as they ganged on ferocious animals to exhaustion for meat and skin) out of their instinct to adapt and survive the wilds. Moreover, such wild behaviors made our “ancestors” responsible for the extinction of other animals.
Also, how primates developed bipedalism (defined by Encarta as the practice of walking upright on two feet, as opposed to moving on all four limbs) over the course of time, not just to survive and hunt for food, but at the same time save energy. Paleontologists then used found fossils of two skulls of primates from different eras–Lucy (a fossil of 6,000,000-year-old) and Selam (fossilized bones of a child from 3.5 mya) to determine, when and which among the primates are responsible for the development of bipedalism.
In regards to the film’s weaknesses, though the results of their stringent studies are indeed astounding, but since none of them are showing exact dates of their discoveries, the credibility of the data presented, and the hypotheses (that could have been very enlightening) are then compromised. For although the film may seem to be very interesting and so upbeat, but with its strength merely based on cinematography, and that dates of fossil discoveries are missing, it’ll of course cause doubts to our minds.
Finally, Becoming Human indeed, is a film we shouldn’t miss—for it involves our roots based from science; for it explains how ill human behaviors is so innate to us, most especially, if we are caught in situations that invoke flight-and-fight response, we’ll behave just as how other animals behave in the wilds. However, filmmakers should have been meticulous to details, because the film is primarily intended for academics. Therefore it should have been subject to standards as imposed by academia and linguistic communities such as MLA (Modern Language Association) or APA (American Psychological Association). Though the film indeed is educational and very entertaining. It’s just that I wish, it’s the other way around. For what could have made more sense to me: Becoming Human should have been very educational and entertaining, instead of the other way around. For it involves our origin, and it involves all of us. Most importantly, they are linking us to ancestry of apes: chimpz, gorilla, bonobos–such a daunting reality; such a very harsh fact, they should have been more keen (as scientists should be) and careful.
Videos to watch:
Becoming Human, Part 1
Becoming Human, Part 2
Becoming Human, Part 3
What Darwin Never Knew?
McDonalds’ Plan to Win
-An evaluation essay required in academia-
In MLA (Modern Language Association) format
“McDonalds’ brand mission is to be our customers’ favorite place and way to eat and drink.” It assures its billions of customers all over the globe of world class commitment to an “exceptional customer service” that focuses on “People, Products, Place, Price, and Promotion.”
In its seven-paragraph mission statement at WWW.mcdonalds.com, this multi-billion-dollar company, neatly pledged its commitment to excellence. As its mission and vision depicted the organization’s core beliefs, values and culture–all focused not just to the welfare of its customers, but likewise to “owners/operators, suppliers, and employees” as well.
What is truly commendable, McDonalds commits “to continually improve its product, prices, promotions, and all others, to better serve all stake holders. Although, the line may sound vague (to its critics and competitors), but given the fact that the company’s priorities are clearly stated right at the beginning, McDonalds’ mission statement efficiently serves its purpose.
In addition, what is admirable too, is its commitment to give back to the community. For not all successful companies have that sense of diligent corporate responsibilities and strong commitment to the general public.
Finally, from better location, products, promotions, and prices, and most of all, with its efforts to reach out (and to continually reach out) to us, customers, along with its deep commitment to its owners/operators, employees, and the community, and that it all reflects the way the organization do their business, it is safe to say that McDonalds well deserves its continued success.
SLEEP DEPRIVATION is a growing medical condition. As technology changes our ways of life, and demands of higher cost of living are inevitable as ever, the silent growing killer of sleeplessness have been taking toll to the health of many.
The culprits of the growing sleeplessness include: “the irresistible charms” of the internet, the seduction of video games and hundreds of TV channels from different nations, and in all field of interests, are only few of the many factors keeping people up until wee hours in the morning.
According to an intensive research at Harvard, 40% of the American people get less than the eight hours required sleep. The author of the Harvard Medical School’s Guide to a Goodnight Sleep, Dr. Lawrence Epstein emphasized, that “the link between sleep and health is getting clearer and clearer” these days.
Why do we need sleep?
Scientists are saying that sleep enables our bodies and minds to recover from fatigues and stresses, thereby giving them chances to recharge, maintain and repair. Also, sleep does wonders to our brains, as it enhances our ability to concentrate, focus, and improves our mental health. It complements our memory, and it could also lead us to positive mood.
Below are sleep’s 5 superpowers; and, they are the very reasons why you should really “sleep tight” and that “you shouldn’t let the bed bugs bite:”
SLEEP POWER NO.1: A good sleep makes us feel best!
When we don’t sleep well, we feel wasted when get up in the morning–a feeling of stickiness and unusual humidity exudes from our bodies, which makes us feel uneasy and irritable when we don’t get good sleep.
In addition, sleeplessness also makes us lazy and unproductive. Because once we are tired, chances are, we will end up up slouching all day and probably all over the place.
What is worse, according to science, is when we do not sleep well, we are actually harming our growth hormones. For those hormones are responsible for keeping us “looking good,” and it even delays aging. A heart surgeon, Mehmet C. Oz MD, coauthor of the YOU health books even added, that “the levels of growth hormones drop dramatically between the ages of 20 to 60.”
Dr. Oz stresses “It’s rejuvenating and when you have high levels of those hormones. For they can give you muscles, will definitely improve your skin, so you might want to keep your growth hormones as high as possible. And the best way to do it is to simply sleep.”
SLEEP POWER NO.2: A good sleep makes our brain healthier.
While sleeping our brains are utilizing important neuronal connections that might otherwise deteriorate from lack of mentally healthy activities. Because only through deep sleep that our brain shuts downs and get relieved of controlling our emotions; decision-making analysis, and even social interactions. Thereby enabling us to maintain better emotional and social functions’ stabilities.
A good sleep likewise contributes a lot to our ability to concentrate; focus, and have good memory and optimist mood.
Science also has proven that people with insomnia produce higher rates of stress hormones than the normal others, as it could lead our bodies into a hyper-aroused state that will make it difficult for them to wind dow.
Moreover, sleeplessness can even trigger depression and vice versa. “People who don’t sleep well, could easily get depressed and depression worsens insomnia, so it’s a vicious cycle,” says Dr. Oz. “The more and better we sleep, the more we feel happier and relieved,” he added.
SLEEP POWER NO.4: A good sleep makes us lose some pounds and be sexy.
As sleeplessness produces higher rate of stress hormones, stress triggers us to eat more and gain weight.
Recent studies are even further saying people who get inadequate sleep are more likely to gain more pounds. As “with sleep deprivation, we see a reduction in metabolism and an increase in appetite,” say Michael Breus, PHD, author of Good Night: The Sleep Doctor’s 4-Week Program to Better Sleep. Inadequate sleep lowers the level of leptin (the hormone that can cause us to feel full), and it increases levels of ghrelin (which is the opposite of leptin, as it is the hormone that makes us feel hungry and craving at all times).
Breus further stresses that sleep deprivation also influences our food choices; it can make us crave for high carbs and high in sugar foods.
SLEEP POWER NO.5: A good sleep makes us healthy.
“Anything that disturbs the quality and quantity of sleep can have serious and long-term consequences to both our body and mind,” says Dr. Gerard T. Lombardo, director of the Sleep Disorder Center for the New York Methodist Hospital in Brooklyn.
Sleeplessness triggers blood pressure to go up; while, rates and BPs are typically at their lowest during sleep. The association of hypertension to sleep duration is linked and proven by various research findings. It is even linking the latter to increased heart attacks, diabetes, obesity and some other health issues causing morbidity and too rampant these days.
“When people are deprived of sleep, there levels of stress hormones in our bodies will go up, and an increased inflammation might occur. Moreover, sleeplessness decreases our bodies ability to generate and utilize our immune functions,” explains Dr. Phyllis Zee, director for Center of Sleep and Circadian Biology at Northwestern University in Chicago. Furthermore, sleeping well could helps us fight illnesses, in fact, it could even make our flu shot work better. Plus, it is only through sleep that our major organs repair and recharge on their own.
Hence, from physical to psychological, sleep really does lots of wonders. The benefits extend way beyond just feeling good waking up in the morning; it just doesn’t perk us up and recharge our energies, but it actually recharges our whole system; from our brains, all the way to our immunity, it could do so much good to our bodies and minds.
Finally, beauty sleep isn’t just a myth. For it does lessen the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, as it makes our skins glow to perfection. And because we sleep well, our aura would be more radiant and glowing. In short, a total make over awaits you, once you improve your sleeping habits. Therefore, try to sleep more, and wake up for a whole new you!
Writing is more than just a talent and a passion, for it is a skill that when we master, it could empower us professionally, and it could enrich us personally. And although there are news, or rumors, or both that our writing skills have gone bad in this Digital age, but given the fact that it’s a skill, I am positive that all of us can write. That the only question is; how well we write.
Regardless, there are “rules-of-thumb” that we, writers and aspirants could count on, and must adhere to ensure good writing. They are as follows:
Defined by Encarta as a “meaningful linguistic unit—a group of words or a single word that expresses a complete thought, feeling, or idea. It usually contains an explicit or implied subject and a predicate containing a finite verb,” and depending on the clauses, there are four types of sentences:
- Simple sentence contains a single independent clause.
- Compound sentence contains independent clauses joined by coordinating conjunction (e.g. and, for, but), or a conjunctive adverb (such as however, therefore, thus, hence), or a semicolon alone.
- Complex sentence contains a single dependent clause (headed by a subordinating conjunction or a relative pronoun) joined to an independent clause,
- Compound complex sentence contains two independent clauses joined to one or more dependent clauses.
Subject-Verb agreement is one of the “holy commandments” of writing. It means that if the subject is singular, the verb must be singular as well (For example: Lisa is reading, or Lisa reads).
Structure is the “skeleton” or the framework of writing—for without a clear and organized structure, our paragraphs will not be in coherent with one another. What’s worse, our readers might end up wandering; meandering as to where our writing is going.
Style is the way we arrange our sentences in the most convincing ways. Style enables us to display our eloquence and intelligence in getting our messages across to our readers.
A single misspelled word could hurt our writing substantially. For a simple typo could turn off our readers. So make sure, you use spell checker or a pocket dictionary, along with a thesaurus each time you write.
Succinctness is about brevity, or clarity on how we “neatly” package our words into strong arguments. Ideally, the concept of “short, but sweet” applies in all genres of writing. However, in academics, as one furthers one’s degree, there are more numbers of words required in academic writing (the longest I had was twenty-five pages, in double space, excluding work cited for my business law class). But then again, in most cases, what is ideal indeed, is to deliver our messages in the most meaningful, yet shortest ways.
Simplicity is also in the “holy commandments” of written language. In fact, according to the great William Zinsser “Who can understand the clotted language?” He further stresses that with simplicity at scarce, we are nothing, but “a society of strangling in unnecessary words, circular constructions, pompous frills, and meaningless jargon.”
Sense of Humor
“Laughter is the best medicine,” says an old quote. However, we don’t have to take laughter so literally. More so, to ridicule anyone, or ourselves (and engage into self-deprecation) when we contemplate of adding humor to our writings. Nonetheless, it really won’t hurt to add a “dash” of fun, for most of us do appreciates sense of humor. In addition, sometimes, the best key in “winning” our audiences is to make them laugh (or smile at least).
Sound of Your Voice
Writing is a conversation. Which means, we should “speak” naturally when we write. For writing doesn’t have to be stiff and uptight for us, neither for our readers too.
Moreover, writing in the sound of our voices doesn’t only make our writing more authentic and distinctive, but through the sounds of our voices, we can write “with breeze” and ease. In addition, we should never copy anyone’s style, more so, anyone’s words. Although we must follow the same rules and mechanics, but we really must carry our respective characters each time we write.
Lastly, sincerity is the soul behind our manuscripts. For writing sincerely, is the most meaningful way to touch our readers’ lives.
Finally, writing is a skill that when we master, it’ll compensate us professionally and enrich us personally. So, write well, and keep track of all the “s” mentioned above.
LIFE is one of the most powerful words connecting us all. Defined by Encarta as the existence in physical world—life, in its simplest term is the force and spirit behind our and all other living things’ existence.
Watching several documentary films and researching about the holocaust and Auschwitz led me to write this narrative–a sentiment as to why we, humans are creating our own destructions? There are countless of them, but the three worst, demonic kinds destructions of wars, illegal drugs, and genocides, are all man-made and caused by greed.
Such anthropogenic took not just hundred millions (maybe even billions) of lives, but also the hopes and dreams of their victims and even their faith. What was worse, perpetrators showed no remorse, and not the slightest of it.
Defined as a period of hostile relations between countries, states, or factions that leads to fighting between armed forces, especially in land, air, or sea battles, wars, as of press time, approximately reached a hundred-twenty-seven count by occurence. The worst of them all, is World War II (1939–1945)—as its death toll reached roughly seventy-eight millions of people from all over the world. (Wikipedia)
Another mean and deadly (and not to mention addicting) man-made destruction, is also known as ice, shabu and meth–methamphetamine is an illegal drug used as a stimulant.
It massively proliferated in several third world countries of Columbia, Mexico, even in Hongkong, Taiwan and in mainland China.
According to Jeannine Stein of Los Angeles Times, there are approximately“200 million people around the world” so hooked on illegal drugs every year. In third world countries, kids and women are even utilized as couriers and workers in “cooking labs” of triads and all other drug rings or syndicates.
Another notorious anthropogenic is genocide—the systematic killing of all the people from a national, ethnic, or religious group (Encarta). The worst genocide ever recorded is the holocaust. From 1941 to 1945, there are about seventeen millions of Jews and all others (from Germany, Poland, and all over Europe) died in the satanic reign of Adolf Hitler and his Nazi chain of command.
Personally, I can’t tell you enough how hard I cried reading and watching films about the sufferings of the victims and the cruelty of perpetrators. I still can’t believe such evil people existed in this world, as I really have zero tolerance for violence. What pierces and tears my heart the most, women and kids, and elders and people with disabilities were the defenseless victims of holocaust. For those are the type of people I work with at Legal Aid Society of Hawaii (every tax season).
Nowadays, atomic war is posing threats (North Korea is ridiculously contemplating). While genocides are reportedly still happening in many parts of the world like Cambodia, China, and the Middle East. And the continued massive proliferation of meth is unstoppable.
In this regard, maybe we can’t do anything drastic on our ends, to stop and completely eradicate such crimes against humanity. However, please be reminded that we are now empowered by the Internet–and we can all use this medium to voice out our stance and be vigilant in upholding and safeguarding life. And mind you, no voice is too little, when one speaks of truth, especially if it is for a cause.
Finally, life and love are the strongest “dots” connecting us all. For if we can just put love on everything we do, perhaps Michael Jackson’s dream to Heal the World isn’t too impossible to achieve. However, if it’s too hard for one to give love, at least, one should respect and value life—for by simply respecting and honoring our differences on our mentality, religions and beliefs, and even on our cultural values, we truly can make this world a better place. Besides, reality is, we are co-existing with one another, so we must work out those differences. Maybe not in the most compassionate ways, or all the time. However, nothing is impossible if there’s a will. Moreover, anything logical could be doable. After all, we are in this very civilized age, and civility nowadays, is simply, but a common sense.
PS (Something borrowed from Lyrics, Sentiments and Me):
Below is a video from my favorite musicians these days–the PianoGuys giving a very wonderful treat to the elderly–such an awesome treat to celebrate life!