Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Studying "Lion", by Saroo Brierley

Image result for lion book
I am starting (with my class) a novel study on a book of our choice (from a small selection). All of the books chosen have to common theme of global issues.

When our librarian was describing some of the books in the choice pool, this one caught my attention. I'm not sure why, and I'd never even heard of this book before now. But something about the story makes it seem like a good read, though it has only 273 pages of story.

It's about the author, Saroo Brierley, and how he got lost as a 5-year-old on a train. He survived through unlikely odds and ended up as a middle-class Aussie. After 25 years and a ton of luck (and Google Earth), he found his way back home to his family.
I am pretty excited to start reading this novel, and I hope it's better than the last novel study we did on the "House of the Scopiron by Nancy Farmer.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The House of the Scorpion and Gattaca: Similarities and Differences (House of the Scorpion) (SPOILERS)


Over the past few days, my class did a film study on the 1997 sci-fi film "Gattaca".

The film is about a man named Vincent, who was born normally. He had multiple imperfections and in the beginning of the film, the doctors took a blood sample seconds after he was born and estimated his susceptibility to diseases, heart failure, and life expectancy.

After a few years, Vincent's parents wanted him to have a brother, Anton. He was going to be genetically engineered. What does that mean? Well, it means that Anton was going to be born possessing only the best traits of his mother and father. growing up, Anton was always better than Vincent at everything. He was taller, stronger, had better grades, everything that Vincent wasn't. Until one day, where they had a race in the ocean to see who was faster. For once, Vincent was better than Anton, and Anton passed out, drowning, as Vincent carried him to shore.

Vincent ran away and got a job at Gattaca (a future NASA) as a janitor. From then on, Vincent wanted to go into space but wasn't able to since he was an "invalid", someone who was born naturally, without being genetically modified.

So he met a doctor who disguised him as a Jerome Morrow, a valid who was crippled in the legs and therefore couldn't do anything. So in return for giving Vincent samples so that he could sneak into Gattaca and get a job there, Vincent helped Jerome live his life.

Finally, Vincent is leaving for Titan, one of the 53 moons of Saturn, in a week. There was a murder at Gattaca, and the detectives find Vincent's eyelash. The security amps up and, even though Vincent didn't kill the man, he still tries to hide his real identity until he can complete his dream.

Now, if you've read my other blog posts, you will know that Matt is the main protagonist. And a clone of a man named El Patron. Matt was harvested from a brood cow. According to Steven, one of the other children in the book, Matt is considered livestock for that reason. Everyone except for a few people treat him like an animal, being constantly compared to Furball, Maria's dog.

After El Patron's death, Matt attempts to cross the border, but get's caught by the border patrol. Then Matt is taken to an orphanage to work for these people called "keepers". Then it's a big chunk of finding out that the food is made of plankton, whales are extinct, escaping, finding the church and Maria, and then finding out everyone at the Alacran Estate was dead, except for Daft Donald, Celia, and Mr. Ortega (if you've read the book, you'd understand this much better).

So we can already see some similarities and differences. Matt and Vincent are discriminated because they aren't like everyone else. In the case of Vincent, it's punishable by law. Both of them are trying to fit into their society, and getting help from other people. In the case of Matt, it’s more of a belief and ethic. One of the major differences between Matt and Vincent is that Matt is a clone, and Vincent was genetically engineered.

But what’s the difference? Well, a clone is a complete genetic recreation of another organism. Often times, they are grown from a tissue from the original organism. They are grown in another animal, while they produce, and are eventually harvested after they grow into a baby. Genetically modified organisms are specifically bred to have certain properties and get rid of certain disadvantages that the original organism would have had if they were born naturally.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Farm Patrol and the Canada Border Patrol (House of the Scorpion) (SPOILERS)


Here in Canada, we have been dealing with hundreds of immigrants and asylum seekers crossing the border illegally. Even though there are extreme conditions, the are still people who trek through the dangerous cold, some too afraid of being in Trump's America to stay there, some because they would be kicked out and sent back to where they came from if they didn't. Some people even lose fingers because of frostbite.

But how does this tie in with the Farm Patrol, whatever that is? Well, the Farm Patrol is a lot of guards hired by El Patron who patrol the border between America and Aztlan. Aztlan is the future version of what is modern day Mexico. So we can already see some of the similarities between the Farm Patrol and the Canada Border Patrol. When the Farm Patrol catches someone, they turn that person into an eejit. Eejits are humans who have computer chips in their brains that erase all emotion. They listen to simple commands like "stay", "sing", "come", "drink", and so on. In other words, eejits are zombies that you can control.SPOILERS AHEAD! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

But are there coyotes on the Canada border? Well, yes! There exist coyotes which smuggle people across the American/Canadian border. Now, some of you are probably uninformed about what a coyote is (not the animal). A coyote is a human who people pay to get smuggled across borders. But the average coyote is not a good person because as soon as they think that they're going to get caught, they abandon the people they were helping across the border. The reason I mentioned coyotes was that in "The House of Scorpion", Celia says in her story of meeting El Patron, a coyote smuggled (and abandoned) Celia and a group of other individuals when taking them over the border from the U.S.A. to Aztlan, the future of Mexico. Yet another similarity between the book and the Canadian reality!

So it seems that parts of the book do align with the somewhat sad reality. But remember that "The House of the Scorpion" is just a fictional novel, and that reality is enjoyable (even though in the end, it doesn't even matter).

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

What are clones? (The House of the Scorpion) (SPOILERS)


In "The House of the Scorpion", Matt, the main protagonist, is a clone. Everyone except his caregiver Celia and his original El Patron call him a monster; an animal; a beast. But if he is another version of a human, isn't he human too? Let's dig a bit deeper.

The definition of a clone is an organism or cell, or group of organisms or cells, produced asexually from one ancestor or stock, to which they are genetically identical. This means that a clone is a part taken from an organism, which has it's DNA, and is grown into an organism itself. This would make it exactly the same genetically as his/her original.

So wouldn't that make Matt, though a clone, a human as well? Genetically yes, but since he was harvested from a brood cow, he would technically be considered livestock.What if Matt was harvested from a human? Then he would be considered human both genetically AND technically. But since Steven said that Matt was livestock because he was born from a cow, does that mean that we are categorized by who/what we're born from? If that's the case, just think about it! If you were born from a dolphin, would you be an aquatic animal? If you were born from a crocodile, would you be a reptile? You would think that's absurd, everyone else would still treat you like what you were taken from. This is how Matt feels for most of the book.

Monday, February 27, 2017

What does it Mean to be a Caregiver/Mother/Father? (House of the Scorpion) (SPOILERS)


What does is mean to be responsible for caring for someone? Well, when you’re a parent or caregiver, you are usually caring for a child, perhaps under 17 or 18 years old. At that age, most of those children are unable to have the discipline for themselves and need someone wise enough to impose rules and to keep them happy and safe. Once they are old enough, they can do the same for themselves and others.

But what is the difference between a mother, father, and caregiver? Your mother and father are with you from birth, but it can also be an adoptive relationship (by that, I mean that you were adopted from an orphanage as a baby). A caregiver is a “guardian” of sorts, and by that I mean they could be anyone, usually older than you. For example, maybe you live with your grandmother, or godfather, or maybe someone you aren’t related to (genetically) in the slightest.

In the case of “The House of the Scorpion” (the book my class is doing a novel study on), Celia is Matt’s caregiver, because she was not his birth mother, and they are not genetically related at all. But what about Senator Mendoza and Maria? Well, Senator Mendoza is her father, because they are genetically related and his wife gave birth to her. And Felecia, MacGregor, and Tom? Well, Felecia and MacGregor are Tom’s birth parents (mother and father), since Felicia and MacGregor did “the thing”, then Felecia gave birth to Tom, so they are genetically related.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Thought on pages 1-100 (The House of the Scorpion) (SPOILERS)


So far, the book my class has been perusing — The House of the Scorpion — has been quite a roller coaster of plot. In my opinion, the book doesn't have a straight path in terms of where the story goes. First there's Eduardo who's mentioned in the prologue and never again, then there's Matt and his caretaker Celia (who get introduced quite well compared to Eduardo), then Matt is suddenly pulled into the Big House (Alacrán Estate) where Celia works, and is revealed to be a clone (probably the one Eduardo had successfully grown), and then the plot finally settles down and goes across a calmer, easier-to-follow path. Every important character for sections "Youth" and "Middle Age" had been mentioned by around page 90, and introduced by page 105. I find this book interesting mainly because of this plot without a straight trail. One thing I don't enjoy about this is the cheesiness of the text. For example, page 71

"'Learning is fun!' said Teacher. 'I'll bet you're a smart boy. I'll bet you learn all your lessons fast and make your mommy proud of you.'"

Or maybe page 72:

"Every time he finished a lesson, Teacher cried, 'Very good!' and printed a smiley face on his paper. After a while Matt wanted to leave the table, and Teacher sat him firmly back down again.
     'No no no,' she cooed. 'You won't get a gold star if you do that.'"

Friday, February 10, 2017

New Project Coming Up!

Hey everyone!

Our teacher has just informed my class and I about a new project we will be starting: The Scorpion Project. For this, each student will be reading the book "House of the Scorpion" by Nancy Farmer, and will reflect upon what we've read and share it with you. This came up pretty suddenly, but I'm still pretty excited to read this. I'd just like to inform all of the people to check this blog that I will be posting a lot more often now that this project has started. Check on the blog occasionally for more posts.