Monday, March 23, 2009

It’s the end of an era!

I went to a very interesting lecture a couple of weeks ago that was the keynote speech of a colloquium that was right up my alley. It was called "Apocalypse and Transformation," and was essentially a discussion and analysis of books about the apocalypse. Sadly, the keynote speech was the only event that I was able to make in a week-long colloquium (stupid job), but I am grateful that I at least was able to attend that.

One of the most interesting points that was touched on was a fairly trendy term that’s used today: Anthropocene. This term is used by some scientists to describe the current geological epoch that we are living in. (Officially we’re in the Holocene, but maybe that will “officially” change sometime soon.) Basically the term Anthropocene was coined because human impact is so great that we are changing the face of the earth dramatically. Greenhouse effect and global warming aside, it was also mentioned that our presence is causing mass extinction on our planet on the level of the KT extinction event that wiped out the dinosaurs.

I’d love to go into more detail on this, but honestly most of the info I have is from Wikipedia, so if you’re interested, just click on the links above. The main point I have to make about this—besides blowing your mind— is that the human species has the same effect as a giant meteor crashing into the planet. When it happened 65 million years ago, dinosaurs went extinct and mammals became the new “power” on the planet. When our work as Species Destroyers is done, some scientists predict that we’ll have wiped out 50% of extant species, but I honestly think it’ll be more. I think that we’ll be the last species that we wipe out, since we’ll have changed our planet so dramatically that it will be unsustainable to us. I wonder what the next dominant species will be? Insects? Fish? Something completely new? Hopefully not something as destructive as we are.

I’m not trying to get too deep, since this is only a blog after all, but if you believe in an omnipotent and omniscient higher power, who knows exactly what's going to happen in the future, then what does that mean that they purposefully put our destructive species in this world? I can’t help but think of the line in The Matrix where the AI Agent Smith tells Morpheus that the human race is a virus that kills everyone else. Maybe that’s been our purpose from the start.

I have trouble wrapping my brain around the idea that I was created to be a harbinger of death. Most of the time I tell myself that it’s just my vivid and paranoid imagination running away with me. But every so often, I believe.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Survivor Tocantins

Two weeks ago Sandy was voted out, a sad but inevitable occurrence. She did get me 6 points though before going, which was better than could be expected. Last night Spencer, from Alia's team, was voted out. He'd also accrued 6 points, which ties him w/ Sandy for most points won for people who are no longer in the game. (Jerry and Candace, the other two who got booted, made 0 points each before going.)

Our current standings are:
1. Pickett - 24 points
- JT (7)
- Taj (11)
- [Sandy (6)]

2. Bag - 16 points
- Stephen (6)
- Joe (7)
- Debra (3)

3. Alia - 14 points
- [Spencer (6)]
- Erinn (4)
- Coach (4)

4. Moon - 12 points
- Brendan (9)
- [Candace (0)]
- Sierra (3)

5. Doug - 11 points
- [Jerry (0)]
- Tyson (4)
- Sydney (7)

At this point it really could be anyone's game. I don't think anyone is completely secure in their position right now; a lot of strong contenders seem to be putting big targets on their backs, and a lot of underachievers and pariahs are somehow sliding under the radar. If I had to pick though I think Bag has a very solid team, followed by Doug. Tom and I are kind of hanging around the middle right now- the next couple of episodes should clarify our fates-- and Alia, after losing her number one pick, is now firmly in last place contention. (If Coach ends up winnning.... well, that's a future I'm not ready to think about yet.)

I think the two players most secure right now are probably Stephen and Joe, which means that Bag, the only person left with all three players in, is my current favorite to win the whole thing. Coach and Tyson also appear to be in very secure spots, but on a tribe that I think in the long run will lose more than they win.

Taj and Brendan, two players who last week seemed safe, are now looking a little shaky. I'm hoping this was just overdramatized for this episode though, because the loss of Taj would hurt a lot. So long as she can make it to the merge, I think she'll be fine, but I'm worried about her lasting that long. If Brendan isn't careful, he'll be gone soon too. His surprisingly canny tribe may vote him out for their own self-preservation. If they do that next, they'll have voted out 3 of their strongest, most competitive tribemates. In the first episode Coach said that he wanted to keep the strong players around, but I think once he realized that he was not a strong player he changed his mind. And Sierra's fate is tied to Brendan's at this point, so if he goes, she'll be gone next.

JT is a great player who works really hard and is the leader of his tribe, but I think that he's setting himself up to be eliminated by proving he's so strong. He'll stick around for a while, but once the merge happens, he'll need to keep a low profile to get very far.

Sydney and Erinn I think are in some danger of getting voted out as throw-aways for either team. They've done nothing wrong, but they haven't really proven themselves yet. Their tribes' success is crucial to them getting to the merge. If they get to the merge, I think they'll both be in great shape.

Debra is actually playing a really good game. She's apparently made a pretty strong alliance with Coach and Tyson, so she probably won't get voted out any time soon since they're running the show (Sierra, Erinn, and now maybe Brendan are all higher on the chopping block right now than she is). She's certainly not a physical threat, and she seems really nice, so even if her alliance gets broken up later in the game, I could see her ingratiating herself with the other team. She could easily make it to the finals if it ends up being a Final 3, just like Suzy did last season. If it's a Final 2, I think it'd be harder for her to get there.