Rafting Fun

Rafting Fun

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Art Museum: Japanese Art (Arts and Leisure)

I went to the Birmingham Museum of Art to see what other cultures view as art and the many different types of art within a culture. I went to see if the art and some of the stories behind it could give me some sort of insight to how the culture functioned. I decided to go to the Japanese Art Exhibit to view its art and to get some kind of an idea what the culture was like. The art that I viewed at in the exhibit was in the time period 1600-1900 and some of the other pieces of art were even older than that. So this is not going to give me much insight into the modern Japanese culture, but it will allow me to see where maybe some of their traditions came from and where the people of today came from their heritage.
There were very few things that I knew about the Japanese culture. I knew that they used to have samurai which were their really good fighters and warriors. I get most of what I know about them from the movie The Last Samurai. In this movie I learned that the Samurai were the protectors of the emperor and were essentially the army of Japan. The samurai were great warriors and very skilled and when they would go to battle they would wear interesting suits of armor. The helmets of the samurai were the most interesting they were faces and sometimes would have horns or something on them it looked like they were made to intimidate the opponents. Other things that I knew about the Japaneses culture was that they were very religious and that they were usually Buddhists.
From the Art Museum I looked at the art that was on display and it was different art than what we as Americans think of as art. I think of art as being paintings, pictures, and sculptures, but this is not really the majority of what the art work was. They had many Samurai uniforms that were on display and these were pretty close to what I was expecting from the movie. The helmets had the horns and antlers like in the movies and the masks were very strange. They looked like they were made to look like some sort of face and some of them even had mustaches. They were not really normal faces but scary faces. This may be because they were trying to intimidate their opponents. The samurai weapons were also on display and it was obvious that the people that made the weapons were very skilled. They not only had the suits of armor, but they had little figurines of Samurai. So from this it is evident that the samurai warrior and the skilled weapon making was a big part of the culture. Another thing that seemed to be a big part of their culture based on the amount of art for it was religion. There were many religious figurines or sculptures in the exhibit. Most of them were some sort of Buddha statue. Others were sculptures of other deities such as Kannon Bosatsu and Jizo Bosatsu. Many of the deities were also shared by other cultures and even other nations. They also had shrine cabinets that contained different deities in them so that they could be worshipped or offerings given to them. To go along with being a very religious people they were superstitious as well. This is evident in the little doll called a Doga which was smashed on purpose in a ceremony where bad luck or illness transferred from to the doll from the person. When it smashed they thought that this would take the bad luck or illness away. They also had many paintings on cabinets or other cloth that just depicted everyday people doing everyday tasks and often some sort of animal was also involved in the painting mainly I saw birds. This tells me that they did not really idolize the rich, but were common people and that they were in tune with nature and cared a lot about nature. The dress of the people were in what looks like a robe to me or some kind of dress. This was both the common dress for both men and women. The women were also not very prominent in the art and this lends itself to mean that they are maybe not thought of as equal to men or less than men.
These very few aspects of the Japanese culture gave me a little bit more of an insight into their culture. This in no way was a holistic approach in finding out about the culture, but it would be a good place to start for someone that would want to really understand the culture. The Japanese culture is definitely different than the culture I live in. One thing is our military is not honored or maybe thought of in such a high regard as the Samurai, and it is definite that their uniforms would not be put in an art museum. The Japanese is more religious than the culture that I come from in that they have all of these statues and figurines that everywhere in their houses. They also have many deities whereas in my culture there is only one God. The idolization of the rich and powerful is very common in my culture and is in direct contrast to what it seemed to be in the Japanese culture. This shows that unlike our culture it is not as much of a materialistic culture. It is also evident that the dress is very much different because they wear robe looking outfits and robes are only worn by some people and it is an outfit for after a shower or something not a normal outfit. The lack of women in the art shows that in this culture the women were considered inferior to the men and this is rarely thought in my culture, but overall the women are viewed more or less equal to men and neither one is inferior to the other. This just shows that my culture and the Japanese cultures are very different, and it is evident enough that it can be picked up just by looking at the type of art they have.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Food, Inc. (Arts and Leisure)

I just finished watching the movie Food, Inc. which ultimately talked about how much if not all of the food we as Americans eat on a regular basis. I have heard some about where are food comes from, but I was not sure actually what went on with the production, raising, and packaging of our food. I have heard from many people about how the animals conditions that they are raised in before they are slaughtered is no good, and that they are fed food that is not really the best thing for them. I have also heard that the animals and plants are pumped with antibiotics and other chemicals to try to make them more healthy and to grow bigger, faster, and stronger. I also knew that corn is in almost everything that we eat in one form or another. So I figured going into the movie I figured they would talk about many of these issues, but other than that I am in the dark about the food industry.

There were many interesting parts of the movie that I had never heard or seen anything about. One of the major things that struck me as sort of unusual was that none of the major companies in the food industry that were not producing organic food all pretty much declined talking to the cameras. This was interesting for two reasons one it makes it look like they have something to hide from the people maybe some thing that is really wrong. The second is it gives them no opportunity to be the informant about their point of view of how the business works and why they have made some of the decisions about the food the way they did. So they were in my opinion hurt in both ways they could not state their point of view and it leaves the general public room to speculate all of the bad things going on behind the closed doors. It was also interesting to get the farmer's perspective (informant) about the way that the work was being done. It was evident the ones working for these big companies were very careful about what they said and showed to the cameramen because they did not want to lose their job. It was also evident that for most of the farmers that were working for the major food companies it was out of a materialistic reason meaning they did it just so they could get the money to live. It was really evident when one of the farmers said that whatever the consumers truly wanted and would pay for the farmers would make it if it was either the organic or not. There were a few farmers that worked for the companies that would still give the insight to what the life for the animals was. It was seen in a chicken farm that they were packed into quarters that they were right next to each other and were being pumped full of antibiotics and chemically engineered food to make them bigger and grow faster. One sad thing was that due to the fact that they grew much faster than normal their bones and muscles could not keep up so they could not walk but a few steps then would fall down. The movie also showed that there were still some farmers that are trying to grow either the animals or the crops the organic way meaning no chemically enhanced food or anything or pesticides for the crops. These farmers though they try sometimes have it real tough in ways of making a living because the big companies can just sell the food much cheaper than they can. There were also informants from this perspective of the organic farmer and also interestingly enough an organic company. This was interesting to see that there are organic companies that are in some areas just as big as some of the major non-organic companies and it was interesting to hear their perspective. They had other smaller organic people disagreeing with their decisions to be so big and to sell food in Wal-Mart because to most organic people Wal-Mart is the enemy. It was seen though that Wal-Mart would sale the organic food not because of a moral conscience they have, but because the people want organic food and they want to make a profit off of this. I also learned that part of the reason that some of the major food companies can be so careless in the quality of their product is because some of the higher offices of the regulation committees are occupied by someone that is affiliated to the major companies so they don't do anything to hurt the company. The last and most shocking thing that I learned was that in some states it can be a crime to criticize the product of one of the major companies. It was shown that Oprah got in trouble for this very thing. The other thing that goes along with this is that if a farmer is using a genetically modified crop then they cannot save the seed from the harvest to use again because the company will sue them for copyright infringement. They have even sued the person that cleans the seed because they say he is assisting the farmers to steal the copyrighted seed. It almost sounded like a food or seed Gestapo the way they had a list of people and sort of spied and hunted the people down.

I do think I will change some of the ways that I buy my food and try to be more conscious of the kind of food I buy. I know that I should sacrifice the easy not good food for harder better food. It is just that the way of life of getting easy food is so enculturated into my life that it will take a lot of work to get this to change in my life. I do agree and now feel more enlightened about the subject of going to organic food, but I see that it will be hard for people of lower income to be able to switch to more expensive but better food than the cheap not so good food. The movie was anthropological in the fact that it seemed to do a pretty good job at looking at the food problem from many different angles. It seemed to take a holistic approach to learning about the food and used the emic perspective of the farmers to get the information across. It also did not seem to judge either side of the food argument and it seemed to just try to state the facts even if it made one side look better than the other. It did however seem to have an applied anthropological feel to it because not only did the movie gather information about the food problem and food culture it did try to suggest either subtle hints or blatant words how to solve the problem of bad food, and that organic food is really ultimately the best way to go. It is seen that the food market and the big companies in the market are motivated mostly by the monetary value or the money and that whatever gets them the most money is what should be done even if it causes a drop in quality. The last interesting idea that I want to end with is one that an organic farmer stated and it was that instead of the government helping and allowing the big food companies to control the market and control the consumers by giving us not the best products the government should aim for a more honorable goal of trying to lower health problems and medical issues by helping the organic (better) food thrive and compete better. This is so that the people have better nutritional food and thus less health problems.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Kabob and Curry (Food)

I went to Kabob and Curry to eat and to try the Pakistani and Indian food. This was something that I have never really had before in my life. I was expecting the food to be hot and have lots of spices in it for some reason. I guess this reason is from a stereotype that this type of food is always spicy. Other than that I had no real expectations of what the food would be like. The restraunt was a buffet and liked this better than going to a place that you had to order from a menu because I knew I would not be sure what to order. It was also good because I could try many different things without having to buy multiple plates. There is a picture above of the food that I tried and it is labeled. The most interesting one that I think I ate was the Qeema. This looked like to me that it was ground beef with pees mixed together. Once I got home I learned that it could be lamb or beef and since I haven't really had lamb and don't know what it tastes like this could have been lamb. Well either way it was pretty good and I think this may have been my favorite thing. The meat was kind of spicy but not too spicy. It was something that I have never really seen in my culture in that the meat was mixed with peas on purpose. The curry chicken was pretty good as well and I have never had it. The two rices were not too bad to eat but they both had a weird sort of sweet taste to them. It was something that I have not really ever tasted in the type of food I eat. I was thinking the vegetable rice would be like Spanish rice but it was not really like it at all. It did have some hot little pieces in it but overall it was this weird sweet taste. Both of the rices had these orange things in them which I thought was like a carrot thing, but I think it was something else that caused the sweet taste. The other foods just looked to me like they just grabbed stuff and threw it into a dish and served it. This just shows how our cultures differ, and that in different cultures it is relative and different how they perform certain aspects of their lives. There was also pita bread that came with the meal and this was something I have had before and it was good.This was the only thing that seemed sort of normal.
One of the things that I thought was a little funny was that all of the workers except one to me looked like they were Hispanics. This is just something interesting to me because this food is supposed to be authentic Pakistani and Indian food but it is being prepared by someone that is not either of those nationalities. There being no people of the nationality of the food led to us having no informant to talk to to see how this food really fits into their culture and if it has any kind of special significance. The waitress that took care of us was definitely Hispanic because we heard her talk Spanish to some of the other customers. Which was another funny thing all of the people that were at the restraunt in the whole time we were there were not Pakistani or Indian except one man. The people that were there were whites, Hispanics, and African Americans. This was interesting to me because I would never just go to a restaurant like this ordinarily it would just seem strange to me. These people however looked like they came here often because they knew which foods they wanted. This shows that for the workers that the reason they are working there is not to be apart of their heritage it is to make money so it is a monetary reason. This one experience at a Pakistani and Indian restraunt is not enough of a picture to really understand alot about the cultures, but it does kind of give an insight to what it is like.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Anatomy of Hate (Diversity and Culture Event)

I had the opportunity to go and see the showing of the movie The Anatomy of Hate. The movie was done to try to understand where certain groups of people hate other groups and ultimately why we as the human race hate people. The movie had some anthropology concepts that the director used to get a better understanding of what hate truly is and composed of. I did not have really any ideas going into the movie of what it was going to be about except that it was going to look at a few groups of people and their extreme hatred toward another group of people. Also at the end of the movie there was a small discussion between a Christian group on campus Life 180 and a group from the Birmingham Free Thought Society. The movie was very good at showing how awful it can be for one group to hate another group so much. One of the worst groups to me that hated another group was the church that hated the homosexuals and thus hating the USA. This group was the worst to me because I am a Christian and this just makes some people think that we are all like that and in fact this is just a small part and should not be how these people act. The Ku Klux Klan/ Nazis was also a very good display of how much people can disgustingly hate many other groups of people. The movie also showed the hate that exists between the Palestinians and the Israelis. It also showed that the American Army and the Iraqi Army at first did not like each other and even had killed some of each other, but after trying to put aside their differences they end up working together.
The movie was not anthropological because it did not take a holistic approach to learning about the reasons that these groups truly hate each other. It only looked at what is going on now and not really taking into account where the seeds of hatred started. Looking back at where this hatred started would help us to understand why these people hate each other. It did use the emic perspective or informant of each of the groups to let us know how that group of people feels about the other group of people at least at this point in time, but did not expound on past events. It did show that for many of the groups that the older people in the groups would teach or pass on their hatred to the younger generation. This shows that the culture of each group is passed on and not a genetically determined thing that someone will hate another person. This goes right along with what many psychologists and other intellectuals say that our culture is learned as a young child by watching our parents and what is going on around us and that it will most likely stay with us as we grow up. It is in fact as seen in the movie that we learn by watching and then doing what our parents and elders do. The movie showed that many people can get hurt both physically and emotional by the acts of the hate groups, and it was also shown that it does hurt people that are not involved but just innocent bystanders. The director also went into many situations that were obviously in direct opposition to what he believes, but to go into the situation to learn about it and not to impose your own beliefs. This approach of being there to learn about the culture and not to critique or impose your own beliefs is how an anthropologist would do to learn about a culture.
There was also a small discussion after the movie that was pretty good I thought. I thought many of the comments were respectful of the other party, but there were a few that did seem sort of disrespectful and they were from the audience. Overall I thought the discussion was good, but I thought that it should be longer and really give the chance for more of a debate which is what I thought was going to happen. I did like however that it was pointed out that no matter what we stand for that we all want some sort of peace in the world and that we should work together to make the world a better place. It does not mean to abandon our beliefs for others, but to do small things to make the world a better place and as an example from the discussion to recycle.
I agree with many of the statements about how hate is made and why it comes about. I do agree that it does come from a fear of another group and based on this you hate them and try to keep them down so it looks to both of you that you are superior. I do agree that we learn many of our hatreds of people and prejudices towards people come from what we were taught and brought up in as a young child. I think it is evident that most of the people in the world would agree that we should work together to make the world a better place no matter what our beliefs are. I feel that for myself I learned that even though I may not necessarily hate someone or a group of people or at least not as extreme as the groups on the video, that I should try harder to really look for a way to not hold prejudices against people or stereotype them and try to look at them as a person. I also learned that from this I should really try to in my life not be so judgmental of people in my life and not think or talk bad about people groups, but to think the best of groups and not look down on other people or place a strong dislike on the people I don't even know. Overall I thought the movie and discussion was good and that it helped to open my eyes to hatred around the world and ways to improve my life.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Safe Zone (Economics and Different Political and Class Ideologies)

The Safe Zone discussion was a place where the topic of the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Trans gender(LGBT) community was discussed in an environment of acceptance of all opinions. This experience was very different from anything I had really experienced growing up in a Southern Baptist Church. This community has always been taught to me that it was wrong and a disgusting thing someone chose to do. I still believe that it is a wrong decision that someone can make, but that it is just the same as any other wrong decision and one that should not cause a hatred of people. The discussion was set up of having 2 informants and about 14 other individuals that were apart of the discussion. The informants were an emic perspective of the LGBT community. One of the informants was a bisexual woman and the other was a gay man. Both first told their story about when they realized they were this way and then when or if they had come out about their decision. The sexual identity of the woman is bisexual meaning that she has an attraction to both female and male and the society has put the constraint that a woman should be attracted to a man. So this woman is going against what many considered the social norm. She told us that she had a male fiance and then ended up breaking it off for some reasons and is now with a woman which she has been with for 9 years. She has come out about her lifestyle as a bisexual woman to everyone and her family has accepted it which in some cases is rare. The man's sexual identity is that he is attracted to a man which is considered wrong also and goes against the social norm of men are supposed to be attracted to women. He has come out to his friends and other people that he is gay but not to his family because they are Muslim and they really hate this lifestyle. We got the holistic view from them in that they told us their whole story of when this lifestyle was first realized and how it has affected their whole life. They also told us their experiences of being apart of the LGBT community and how many people groups view this community.
This discussion did give me some things to think about such as they both said that being gay or bisexual was not a choice, but that they just are and that the choice is to live it out. Even though I don't totally agree with this it was something to think about that maybe they were born with biologically some tendencies toward this lifestyle. I did agree with what they said that when someone is labeled gay that this part takes precedence over who that person is when in reality this is just a small part of who the person is. This fact changed the way I think about a person if they are gay. I will now try to view the person for more than them just being gay and to really try to get to know who they really are. I learned that it is illegal in most states for people of the LGBT community to get married to a person of the same sex. I also learned that it is up to the individual state on whether the people are allowed to get married. I also learned that one of the major issues for these couples is that they can't get benefits for each other such as medical insurance for their partner. One preconceived ideas that I had was that the people of these communities would have nothing to do with religion because many religions really are against that lifestyle. This was dispelled because they are just like any other person and choose whether they want a certain religion apart of their lives. The man said that he believed in God and was trying to decide what type of religion he would want to be apart of. Many of the controversial problems facing the LGBT community was talked about and most of the people at the discussion agreed on the same solution to the problem. One thing I learned is that the LGBT has had hate crimes against them and are trying to get it apart of the hate crime laws. I do not agree with the hate crime laws in general because if it is illegal to kill someone it does not matter what group they are apart of and it is no worse than just a normal murder. So I think as a whole hate crimes should be done away with because it should just be murder for murder or harassment for harassment and have nothing to do with the group of people. So overall there were a few things that were said that change some of my ideas, but overall I still have my same views on this lifestyle.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Global Connection: " A Conversation with Winnie Mandela" (Global Connection)

I went to the “A Conversation with Winnie Mandela” at the Faith Chapel Christian Center. When I first heard of the event I thought it would be something very interesting to go and listen to. I did not know much about what all happened in South Africa and how Winnie Mandela was involved in all of it. I knew that she was the ex-wife of the President of South Africa Nelson Mandela. I knew that there was a big problem there with racism where the ruling whites treated the blacks as inferior. I also knew that Nelson Mandela would eventually come from being imprisoned by the white regime to once it was brought down becoming the first black President and tried to bring the country together. Much of this I learned from watching the movie “Invictus” over the summer and then doing just a little bit of research about what actually happened. So I was not going to this event already knowing a lot about what went on and her role in it.

It was good to get an emic perspective on what really occurred in South Africa and the oppression that the black South Africans faced. The oppression that she talked about that they faced was very similar to what African Americans faced before and during the Civil Rights movement in our country about 50 years ago. She said that the only major difference between what happened in our country and in South Africa was that the racism was in their constitution and ours was not. Due to the similarities in the two movements the Civil Rights movement in our country gave great hope to the movement in South Africa because they were going on relatively the same time, but theirs took much longer to succeed and this happened in 1994. One difference was that in our Civil Rights movement women rarely spent much time in prison but she spent many years in prison during her fight for freedom. It seems that both of our cultures face the same evil of racism and to this day still struggle with it, but we are trying to work and get it overcome. She also said that in both of our cultures education is power and that we need to take advantage of it, and this is something I knew but sometimes take for granted or forget. I learned that she is a very brave and loving person and really cares for her fellow countrymen. I also learned that sometimes we get so caught up in our own culture we forget to look outside of ours and sometimes other cultures are dealing with the same problems or have dealt with them and we can get encouragement from them. This event dispelled for me that all of the white South Africans were the oppressors and in fact most weren’t because she said really it was the ones that were just in power in the government that were bad. Not to sound rude or racist, but from what I heard a lot of what goes on in both races whether black or white still has the race idea and that each one still feels like that they are better than the other. I also dispelled the idea that anyone from Africa was like a tribal person that foraged and hunted, but they are in some parts of Africa cities just like ours.

There were a few other interesting happenings that occurred during the program. One was that some men and women did a native South African dance which was different to a dance that is normally seen in the United States. They danced to a beating drum and they were dressed in grass skirts or animal skin skirt and they wore headdresses. This is just something an American does not see every day. Another interesting thing was the church building that the event was held in is the world’s largest monolithic dome.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


My name is Jordan Rockwell a 21 year old male. I was born into a normal family in Wichita, KS in 1988. This however being born in Kansas does not really effect my view on the culture because I only lived there for a little less than 2 years so I do not remember much about it. I was born into a Caucasian middle class family where my parents had both gone to college and received degrees. The language that is spoken in my family is English, but through high school I learned just a bit of Spanish. They were both working in the field that they got their degree in my dad an engineer and my mom a nurse. When I moved from Kansas I moved to the good old south to Athens, AL and this is where I spent the rest of my life up until college. One thing about my family though that will effect the way I view things compared to other Southerners is that my parents are from the north, Indiana. So even though I was raised in the south I have many ties and views that have come from the north. I was the second child to be born in my family and would later end up being the middle child of three(boys).

One of the major influences in my life had to be being raised in a strong Christian family and going to a Southern Baptist Church. This is something that I have been apart of for longer than I can remember. This however was just a going through the motions experience until I was 8 years old and gave my life to Jesus Christ and He became my Lord and Savior. From then on my relationship with Jesus Chris has been a major influence on my life as a whole and the way that I live it. I have experienced such a great love from my Savior that with my life I want to show His love and to be His ambassador to the world. This is the major driving force for my life and the Bible is a very important God spoken word in my life.

Some of the significant experiences that I have had in my life are being involved in sports. From a very young age I have been playing sports(basketball, football, baseball, golf, and soccer). The ones that had a lasting impression were golf and basketball because I would play those two throughout high school. They were all good experiences and would teach me many great life lessons such as giving 110% when doing something. Other fun activities that shaped my life were playing video games I also did that from a young age from Super Nintendo to Xbox 360. Getting to travel to places such as Arizona, Indiana, Florida, Louisiana, and Tennessee among others has given me a chance to see how some other parts of the country or cultures do things and given me a chance to see that there is so much more than me and my small town life to experience. I have recently gotten into hiking and camping and this has been a great experience to just see how simple life can be and how hectic school and civilized life really is. It is just good to get out and to enjoy God’s creation. In high school I would end up becoming good friends with a boy that was confined to a wheel chair due to a disease and his great outlook on his situation. This has taught me to be happy in all situations and to be thankful for what I have.

I am a straight male and have an amazingly beautiful girlfriend who sits next to me in class. I am a senior Biochemistry major with a minor in Biology at UAB and from this I view things scientifically. I am going to Optometry school in the fall of 2010 so my focus is actually in the medical field. I have no real disabilities or any amazing abilities(except a genius on tests).