25 February 2009


Do you think my tutor actually believes that studying the clothing of the early Renaissance woman bears any pertinence to real life?

Currently, my main gripe with the Samala Robinson Academy, where I am a student (only until April 17, thank goodness) is that each week, my class is bombarded with "workbooks" - akin to something I might have completed at primary school - which are somehow supposed to enhance our learning experience of "period looks".

Period looks, as it were, refers to the makeup looks we've been practicing from the following eras: Roman Greek (yes, as if the two empires were one, they are lumped in together. Clearly whoever it was that designed the "look" never took sixth form classics), Medieval, Renaissance, Elizabethan, and currently Victorian. My understanding is that our next foray is into the World Wars (how frivolous!), and following that, the "decades" - that is to say, the '50s, '60s, '70s, and '80s. Oh, joy.

Let's just clarify. Most of the girls in my class didn't finish high school. I'm the only one with a university education (unless you count our tutor, Heather, who attended AUT for painting. Not even Elam), so for some of them, it is something of an academic challenge to regurgitate the carefully dumbed-down "notes" we receive on makeup and fashion for each era, and then to scour Google Images for well, images to pretty it up, I guess. The workbooks even require a bibliography, a word I'm not sure everyone in the class has heard before. When I asked which referencing style to use for it, I was rewarded with a blank stare from Heather.

Okay, I was showing off.

The fact that no referencing style is even required is further proof that these workbooks are actually child's play. The last time I wrote a bibliography with no specific referencing style was when I was ten years old.

It may seem childish of me to not complete these workbooks. I really can't bring myself to do it. It's something of a disheartening experience when I see the other girls handing in their "assignments", complete with cut-out pictures of Queen Elizabeth I, only to have them returned becaus they didn't elaborate far enough into just how the high society women of her time applied white lead to their faces. "Elaborate" is probably too generous a word to use here. Let's say, for ease: "explain".

Add to the fact that I commit anything I spend more than five minutes doing to long-term memory. It comes in handy for information that I may actually have use for in the future. Not so much for Medieval fashion trends.

As testament to this, tonight I learnt about parthenogenesis, which is (for those of you who don't know, or don't watch House) a form of asexual reproduction. Yes, it featured on House tonight. In human form. An immaculate conception, if you will. Borderline impossible, if not completely - largely because organisms who undergo this form of reproduction are in general, less complex (I'm using this term loosely, here having the meaning of "less chromosomes", rather than suggesting any inherent order in the animal kingdom) than humans. An exciting thought, nonetheless. And sort of scary. Can you imagine the social stigma associated with, well... self-impregnation? Eek.

Stem cell research relating to the phenomena in humans is rife, of course. In fact, further investigation led to my discovery of who sounds like a half-crazy scientist by the name of Hwang Woo-Suk. The South Korean who trained in veterinarian medicine before coming a stem cell research scientist, produced research in which he fraudulently claimed to have cloned embryonic stem cells in 2004 and 2005. Insanity! What's even crazier is that post-operative research into his findings, in 2007, showed that in fact... he had. Inadvertantly.

Mad scientist is right.

I understand that stem cell research upsets some people and that it may cause ethical dilemmas. Personally, I believe that science is the way forward, and if such research is going to increase chances of finding cures for diseases like cancer and AIDS, then maybe ethics can be placed on the backburner. Some people don't even know that AIDS was a human-created disease. It doesn't exist naturally. Ah, yes - we humans are self-destructive types.

Don't be fooled by the Flight of the Conchords, people! AIDS is not a "fun monkey" disease. It's literally a humanitarian disaster, and one that could realistically never be cured. Very, VERY few people know this, but I have pipe dreams of using my MBChB (when I get it, that is...) to contribute to a cure. Anyone who knows anything about the virus itself will find this ridiculous, but it's something very close to my heart. I don't mean to say I intend, single-handedly and in this lifetime, to wipe the disease off the face of the Earth. What I do dream of is presenting something, probably small (the best things come in small packages, they say), but something that will eventually contribute to this disease's demise.

That, or a cure.

I know, I know. I should stop talking, and find some pretty pictures of The Princess Bride to stick in my "Medieval" workbook. Spare me.

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