State of the Season 4: Evolution to Exploratory Oil Drilling – Celebrating a Summer of Science and Cinema

Hello one and all! Welcome back to my iamprobablynotwearinganypantsrightnow blog which will be celebrating its first birthday next week! Yay! It’s hard to believe it’s already been one long year I’ve been blabbering on to the internet about my favorite subjects in science, film and television, social interest, and whatever the hell I feel like writing a few paragraphs about each week. What a perfect time to reflect back on the past three months of my weekly thoughts than the one year mark of monotrememadness?! I hope that you’ve enjoyed the ride so far, and that you’ll be back for more because I have no plans to cease activities yet. In case you’ve missed out on the action for a while, or want to easily recap the recent posts, check out these summaries of my past 12 posts.


My first post of this most recent season was “It’s Not Personal, It’s Just Monkey Business” which discussed the details of the Tennessee Scopes Evolution Trial of 1925 and its continued impact today. I really enjoyed writing this post because I am a huge proponent of educating others about evolution (it was a big focus of much of my Biology core in college, after all). Additionally, I learned a lot about the trial that I had not previously known, like how the whole thing was arranged by the ACLU and evolution supporters to challenge the ridiculous Butler Act, and how Scopes himself agreed to break the law to be tried. And anytime I can plug a great and applicable film like Inherit the Wind is a plus for me.


After seeing the season finale of The Simpson’s I had to talk about my main men Rick and Morty literally crashing the show with their inspired couch gag, and I did with “It’s Another Appreciation of the – Urp! – of The Simpson’s. The episode of our favorite fallen family from Springfield I chose to ramble on about was “A Streetcar Named Marge” which features a musical version of Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire. I wasn’t going for a Tennessee theme (consult last year’s posts about my trip to Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge for that) but rather a Louisiana connection that I felt was fitting as I was going to make a trip to New Orleans with one of my best friends in June. Keep an eye out for the post that will describe the fun had on that excursion due out in the near future.


My third post of the season was an untitled piece about the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in honor of Memorial Day and requires no more words here than the few I wrote there.


Rounding out the first month of this fourth season was a cathartic airing of emotions regarding a number of ones that got away from me that I moped to the masses about in “The Marriage of Single Living and Happiness is Difficult to Keep from Ending in Divorce”. In addition to my sappy sadness that sprouted from an invitation to my friends’ wedding, I elaborated on my love for Lana Del Rey, Walt Whitman, and Will Shakespeare whose poetic talents are all impressive yet inversely related to their attractiveness to me.

I probably should have whined about my recent lack of success with romance sooner because ironically shortly after posting this I met a lovely lady whom I have become very close with. We’ve spent many happy hours together since and despite my undying love for Chris Pratt, she’s basically my girlfriendish thing. She even went to that wedding with me as my date!


In celebration of World Oceans Day, I wrote “Here’s to an Ocean of Fun” and delved into the advent of the occasion. Topics of interest were Canada’s involvement in it all, sustainable seafood, Jacques Cousteau, and sharks – which would become a very popular topic for the summer so far. You’ll understand more of why shortly.


I got back into my movie mojo by excitedly explaining more about summer blockbusters of today and simultaneously celebrating the 40th Anniversary of the best blockbuster, and film in general, Jaws. In “You’re Gonna Need a Bigger Theater”, there was some further talk on other blockbusters like another of my favorites Star Wars (which I won’t belabor now because I will in December), but the real focal point was on my favorite movie so far this year (sorry MaxJurassic World. I mean, I was just happy to see dinosaurs again, but the perfect touches of nostalgia and pacing were enough to make me ecstatic. And then that finale! Leaping mosasaurs!


I was so pumped up about the exciting ending of Jurassic World I decided to dedicate my next post to making a countdown of my favorite film climaxes from my favorite director, and that’s just what I did in “Just Remember, It All Started with a Shark”. The number one selection may look familiar and certainly was an inspiration for making the list, but I stand by it. Look for more of these top tens from me. I mean, now that Letterman’s off the air someone’s got to make them beside WatchMojo.com.


In the wake of one of the most exciting film climaxes came one of the most exciting Supreme Court decisions in recent US history, and it had nothing to do with dinosaurs! I did work in some shark talk from off the screen though in “Flags of Our Freedom: Everybody Deserves Rights and Respect, Especially Sharks”. The main focus was the landmark ruling for marriage equality that made me jubilant, but in addition to the rainbow flag being raised I was also a happy man to see the Confederate battle banner of Robert E. Lee come down from South Carolina’s Statehouse. I maintained a writing presence in the Carolinas as I hoisted up a flag for respect for our marine neighbors who got a worse rap this summer due to more up close and personal encounters with people. I’m not trying to downplay the harm done to the unfortunate people who were bitten by sharks this summer; just trying to put the facts of the situation in perspective to show that we didn’t have a real-life Jaws situation on our splashing, swimming hands.


Sharks took center stage again, especially relevant as it was their week, in “Today We Declare Our Independence From Silly Shark Pseudoscience”. The post was all about sharks and the hopes for an improved Shark Week, which arrived a few weeks earlier than it usually does each summer on the Discovery Channel. Overall, I received Shark Week much better this year than in the past, especially the last two years filled with false and straight up ridiculous programming. There’s still room, for improvement, but at least things are looking up. Most importantly, if the shark science is real, then people’s love for the animals doesn’t have to be given warily.


As I spent more time with the aforementioned fantastic female, I spent less time researching current events and discussing new and interesting topics. Yet not wanting to fall out of form or let a week go by without a quality post, I looked into my computer archives for inspiration and worked in some of my past writing assignments for college courses to discuss topics and experiences I’ve had that have bearing in today’s society. One such was my 50th post (which counts my not really official post where I plugged charities and organizations for the fight against Ebola – which still rages by the way – but whatever; I’ll count it if WordPress does). In “What Better Way to Celebrate 50 Posts than with Wilford Brimley?” I drew upon the day I spent a few hours at a diabetes fair to spread the word of the benefits of a good diet and regular exercise, as well as going out of your comfort zone to help others once in a while. You might learn something new about yourself along the way.

Also, this meme was too awesome not to include and I’m sorry it got cut off by the title.


The next week was a severe “I don’t even care” throwaway that was forced by my need to prepare and travel to the wedding of my friends that keeps coming back into play. Fortunately, it was saved by my inclusion of the Rick and Morty where Jerry declares Pluto to be a planet again with disastrous results. Rolling off of the recent hubbub surrounding the New Horizons mission by NASA, “Pluto is a Cold, Cold Celestial Dwarf”, which was taken directly from a line in that episode, was my shortest post to date, yet also one of my most immediately successful in terms of views and likes. Maybe that should tell me something. Less from me; more from others who are actually funny – got it!


Last week’s post, “A Case Against Oil Drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge… And Hopefully the Rest of Alaska… And the Rest of the World” was a wordy title, but a clever one as those who know me may realize. It was heavily drawn upon from a paper I wrote in college that was the chief assignment for a class called Environmental Justice Movements. It was a writing course that focused on, well, environmental justice. In other words, we studied examples of legislation and lawsuits that arose from the wake of environmental disasters or concerns of impending ones. Throughout the year we drafted and worked on one paper about a current environmental justice debate that particularly struck us. I chose the question of “to drill or not to drill” in the ANWR and gradually composed the paper that I placed a humor-infused version of in the final post of this season.

The picture I included in the title was my favorite one I took of Denali, more commonly referred to as Mount McKinley, the tallest mountain in North America that I was lucky enough to not only see, but see clearly on my trip to Alaska in 2009. Mountains, especially really tall ones, have a tendency to create their own weather. This often leads to them being enshrouded in cloud cover, but every once in a while you get a clear sunshiny view of the majestic mountain in all its glory. While not as tall as Everest, it’s apparently more difficult to summit on account of its fiercely steep incline.


Thanks for reading, today, over the past three months, and throughout the last year! Climb back next week to kick off another year of fun! As always, feel free to talk to me in the box below or at monotrememadness@gmail.com. Now, as is tradition in a State of the Season, I will leave you with some random fun facts, once more space-based because I neglected to write about the 46th Anniversary on the first moon landing a few Mondays ago and I didn’t quite elaborate on Pluto’s new pictures.

  • Alan Shepard was the first American in space and the only one of the Mercury 7, America’s first batch of astronauts, to walk on the surface of the moon, which he did when he commanded the Apollo 14 mission, although Gus Grissom, who made the second American spaceflight after Shepard, was lined up to be the first man on the moon. Unfortunately, Grissom and astronauts Ed White and Roger Chaffee died in a test for Apollo 1.
  • NASA’s Galileo probe was intentionally crashed into Jupiter so it wouldn’t contaminate Europa with Earth bacteria. Europa is one of Jupiter’s largest moons. Discovered by Galileo Galilei in 1610, it was (much) later determined to be a potential home to microscopically small simple cellular lifeforms thanks to its favorable conditions which may include a ocean under the icy surface. All the more reason not to get your dirty microbes all over it.
  • A day on Venus is longer than a year on it. It sounds crazy, but it’s true! Venus makes a full rotation on its axis at the slow pace of 243 Earth days, yet it makes an orbit around the sun in only 224.7 Earth days! This is due to the fact that Venus’ equator rotates at 6.5km/hr (about 4mph), meaning that most of us can easily out-jog Venus’ rotation. Earth by comparison rotates on its equator at a much faster 1670km/hr (1040mph).

Stay spacey,

Alex

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