Thursday, March 10, 2011

Homework - Comparison Paragraph

More homework shenanigans from college.  This was an assignment in which I was to write a paragraph or three that functioned to either compare two things, or contrast two things.  Somewhat basic stuff.  I chose to compare, and turned in the following this morning.  On a side note, due to the submission system my school uses, I was unable to upload the chart you'll find at the end of this assignment.  At least I can rest assured that the chart (which was not necessary) won't alter my final grade on this.

A Comparison of Herd Hierarchy:  
Avon Representatives and Hamadryas Baboons

When given close scrutiny, a certain parallel can be found in the hierarchal complexes of Hamadryas Baboons and Avon Representatives.  These groups consist of distinctively different animals, but they bear large similarities in function and enjoy an almost interchangeable social structure.  Both primates, Hamadryas Baboons (mostly native to desolate, semi-desert savannahs and lower plains) and Avon Representatives (mostly inhabiting isolated, semi-matriarchal regions of lower income), enjoy a status of stability in their habitats, exist in a very male-dominated system, are often considered “nuisance animals”, and unlike other primates, both are highly terrestrial.  Perhaps most similar between these two factions is the presence of a 4-tiered command system, as well as a pyramidal social structure (Chart 1.1).  Though one might be tempted to distinguish these as being dissimilar between the two groups, regarding ultimate purpose and the result of various labors throughout each tier, I believe the similarities far outweigh the contrasts, and a cursory study of these two factions produces certain results that are difficult to ignore. 
Avon uses a multi-level marketing schematic, similar to the 4-tiered social hierarchy of Hamadryas Baboons.  With Avon, the comparative counterpart to a Hamadryas baboon clan leader is the Avon Leadership Representative.  These elusive animals exist in rare numbers, presiding over and mentoring the next level down in the hierarchy:  Training teams.  Both the Hamadryas Baboon second tiers and Avon training teams then preside over an even lower level, numbering quite high.  This particular tier is very locally specific to both groups, functioning as a regional management, with tasks decided upon and then doled out to the bottom-most tier, tasks more in league with the needs of the particular region in which each herd exists. The bottom-most tier, of either entry-level baboons or Avon serfs, consists of those creatures most likely to be seen by the general public, and performs a variety of tasks, as well as functioning as the main body of the gathering function inherent to both structures, whether in money from door-to-door sales (Avon), or grubs and ticks from small, desert mounds (baboons).  Both the upper baboons and the Leadership Representatives enjoy success by nurturing their “downlines” and subordinating resources and duties to their underlings.  It should be addressed that while Hamadryas Baboons and Avon Representatives can both fall prey to lions, leopards, and cheetahs, this alone is not a significant descriptor of similarity, as these predators are known to travel great distances in searching out a variety of prey.  Researchers also have yet to address possible similarities in fang-size between the two groups.  With regards similarity, however, we must remain empirical, and focus most on social structure; hierarchy is a much more reliable and palpable method with which to gauge similarities between the two groups.
A comparison of the two primate groups also calls into question their future.  Due to their social order and the nature of human cultures around them, over time, it is not difficult to look at the past of one group and use it to suppose a future for the other.  Hamadryas Baboons were often depicted in ancient Egyptian art as sacred attendants of the Egyptian deity Thoth, who had the head of a baboon or, at times, an ibis.  Due to similar social functions and hierarchy, and the fact that human beings have a tendency toward belief in higher powers (with a near-cyclical behavior in elevating some earthly matters and animals to these heights), it is not difficult to imagine (though subjectively) that future Avon Representatives may enjoy the same idolizing Hamadryas Baboons once received.  The plausibility of Avon Representatives reaching the exalted status of being considered sacred creatures is solid enough to warrant further investigation.  What Thoth may have preferred in his ancient baboon hordes, Thoth might readily find available in future Avon Representatives.  It should be noted that while mighty Thoth was occasionally depicted with the head of an ibis, Avon Representatives do not often herd within close proximity of ibis herds.  It is possible that there is a longstanding pack rivalry, or ongoing feud, between the two.  Further study is needed to confirm or refute this claim, but an indicator would be that ibis herds are remarkably similar in social hierarchy to representatives of Avon’s main competitor, Amway, Inc.  While the dots would seem to be present, the lines connecting them have yet to be drawn in field study. 
The future is uncertain, of course, but a powerful, group hierarchy can often shape animal interactions generation after generation, and so long as each group enjoys a society, the similarities between Hamadryas Baboons and Avon Representatives will continue to shed more light on the complex social narrative they share.

Chart 1.1
Click for larger image


UPDATE, 3-18-11:  A+

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Assignment: Introduction

Here's another assignment from the start of last term.  I'd forgotten about this until recently.  This was for a class I decided to take online, as the physical class had odd hours that simply didn't fit with the rest of my school schedule.  It was a mandatory health class.  The assignment, given on day one, was to log into a discussion forum and introduce yourself to the rest of the students in the class.  SOCC is the small college I've been attending in Coos Bay, Oregon, and in case you weren't aware of it, I use a pseudonym.  Here was the introduction I submitted.


Class Introduction - Oh, Hi There

Hi, I'm Robin.  I was born a misfigured, hermaphroditic dalmatian, but due to the vast improvements in medical prosthetics and facial reconstruction, I am now a bona fide person.  My snout was re-constructed and tapered back in 2008, and I no longer speak dog, of course, as SOCC is ill-equipped to handle my native tongue.  I have progressed with English somewhat, and now find it comes quite naturally.  In fact, I'm pursuing a teaching degree in the subject.  

After the removal of my tail, I was quite sore and had a difficult time adjusting to walking without it (our tails help with balance, something you humans can manage with free upper limbs, which I don't have, yet).  Things have come along well for me, and I am now able to take part in courses and have even (as you may have noticed) learned to type.  While my paws have yet to be removed, a special keyboard will allow me to take part in discussions online and perform the coursework required of me.

I live in Coos Bay, and I decided to take this course for the same reason you did (though my interest in the human form is more pronounced, as I'm well on my way to having one... a few more major surgeries in Amsterdam to go).  

Did you know that humans are the only mammals that can't breathe while they drink?  I know that because I'm a dog and I can drink from a bowl while breathing all I want and I've seen you humans choke while trying to do that.  It's a trip.  Also, I will not tolerate intolerance regarding my canine ethnicity, nor the customs of my race (my breath often carries the scent of Alpo, and yes, we bathe with our tongues- deal with it). 

It is wondrous to meet all of you, or as we say in my native language, affrarrurrar yip.  Had I a tail, I'd be wagging it.  Seriously.  You're all great.

I've attached one of my baby pictures, if you're curious.



Not graded, but caused most of the students in the class to reply, at least.