Blooming

The Royal Poinciana is a species of flowering tree from the legume family, noted for its fern-like leaves and flamboyant display of flowers. The tree’s vivid red flowers and bright green foliage make it an exceptionally striking sight.

It is endemic to Madagascar, where it is found in the dry deciduous forests. In addition to its ornamental value, it is also a useful shade tree in tropical conditions, because it usually grows to a modest height but spreads widely, and its dense foliage provides full shade. In areas with a marked dry season, it sheds its leaves during the drought, but in other areas it is virtually evergreen.

The Royal Poinciana requires a tropical or near-tropical climate, but can tolerate drought and salty conditions. In the United States, it grows only in South Florida, Southern California, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. It is much loved in the Caribbean, and many Puerto Rican paintings feature Royal Poinciana. It is also the national flower of St. Kitts and Nevis.

Its flowering season is April through June, which coincides with the end of the school year in northern tropical climates. Because of this timing, the flower of Poinciana often generates strong emotions among graduating students, as the Poinciana bloom when they are about to leave their school and their childhood behind.

Advertisements

Support

Rattan is the name for roughly 600 species of palms native to tropical regions of Africa, Asia and Australasia. They are not trees but are vine-like, scrambling through and over other vegetation. Unlike bamboo, rattan stems are solid. Most species need structural support and cannot stand on their own. Many rattans have spines which act as hooks to aid climbing over other plants, and to deter herbivores.

Rattans are extensively used for making furniture and baskets. When cut into sections, rattan can be used as wood to make furniture. Rattan accepts paints and stains like many other kinds of wood, is available in many colors, and can be worked into many styles. Moreover, the inner core can be separated and worked into wicker.

Along with birch and bamboo, rattan is a common material used for the handles in percussion mallets, especially mallets for keyboard percussion. The fruit of some rattans exudes a red resin called dragon’s blood. This resin was thought to have medicinal properties in antiquity and was also used as a dye for violins.

In early 2010, scientists in Italy announced that rattan would be used in a new process for the production of artificial bone. The wood is heated under intense pressure with calcium and carbon, and a phosphate solution is introduced. The process produces almost an exact replica of bone material. It has been tested in sheep and there had been no signs of rejection.

In forests where rattan grows, its economic value can help protect forest land by providing an alternative to loggers who forgo timber logging and harvest rattan canes instead. Rattan is easier to harvest, requires simpler tools and is much easier to transport. It also grows much faster than most tropical wood. This makes it a potential tool in forest maintenance since it provides a profitable crop that depends on rather than depletes trees.

Perseverance

Perfectionism is the persistence of will in obtaining the optimal quality of spiritual, mental, physical, and material being. The perfectionist does not believe that one can attain a perfect life or state of living. Rather, a perfectionist practices steadfast perseverance in obtaining the best possible life or state of living.

There are no universal parameters of perfection. Individuals and cultures choose those values that, for them, represent the ideal of perfection. For example, one individual may view education as leading perfection, while to another beauty is the highest ideal.

The idea of perfectionism is that there is an unattained but attainable self that one can strive to reach. Perfectionists believe that the ancient question of living as one is supposed to make all the difference in the world, and they describe a commitment in ways that seem, but are not, impossibly demanding. They do so because it is only in keeping such an impossible view in mind that one can strive for one’s unattained but attainable self.

Certain properties constitute human nature or are definitive of humanity. They make humans human. A good life develops these properties to a high degree and realizes what is central to human nature. Different versions of the theory may disagree about what the relevant properties are and so disagree about the content of a good life. But they share the foundational idea that what is good, ultimately, is the development of human nature.

Phrase

“Elephant in the room” is an English idiom for an obvious truth that is being ignored or goes unaddressed. The idiomatic expression also applies to an obvious problem or risk no one wants to discuss.

It is based on the idea that an elephant in a room would be impossible to overlook. Thus, people in the room who pretend the elephant is not there have made a choice. They are choosing to concern themselves with tangential or small and irrelevant issues rather than deal with a larger one.

The term refers to a question, problem, solution, or controversial issue that is obvious, but which is ignored by a group of people, generally because it causes embarrassment or is taboo. The idiom can imply a value judgment that the issue ought to be discussed openly, or it can simply be an acknowledgment that the issue is there and not going to go away by itself.

The phrase “800 lb gorilla in the room” is a similar idiomatic expression. However, it refers to a large, unstoppable individual or organization that can exert its will as it desires, even if people do their best to ignore it.

Existential

Terror management theory is a theory within psychology that focuses on the implicit emotional reactions of people that occur when confronted with the psychological terror of knowing we will eventually die. Empirical support for terror management theory has originated from more than 175 published experiments which have been conducted cross-culturally both nationally and internationally.

The theory builds from the assumption that the capability of self-reflection and the consciousness of one’s own mortality can be regarded as a continuous source for existential anguish. This irresolvable paradox is created from the desire to preserve life and the realization of that impossibility because life is finite.

Humans are aware of the inevitability of their own death. Culture diminishes this psychological terror by providing meaning, organization and continuity to people’s lives. Compliance with cultural values enhances one’s feeling of security and self-esteem, provided that the individual is capable of living in accordance with whatever particular cultural standards apply to him or her.

The belief in the rightness of the cultural values and standards creates the conviction necessary to live a reasonable and meaningful life. This cultural worldview provides a base of making sense of the world as stable and orderly, a place where one rests their hopes on symbolic immortality such as having children, fame, or legacies of wealth, or literal immortality such as the promise of a life in an afterworld.

Authority

Binary opposition is a pair of terms or concepts that are theoretical opposites. In structuralism, a binary opposition is seen as a fundamental organizer of human philosophy, culture, and language. It is one of several influential characteristics or tendencies of Western thought. Typically, one of two opposites assumes a role of dominance over the other. The categorization of binary oppositions is often value-laden and ethnocentric with an illusory order and superficial meaning.

An example of a binary opposition is the presence-absence dichotomy. In much of Western thought, distinguishing between presence and absence is a fundamental element of thought in many cultures. In addition, according to post-structuralist criticisms, presence occupies a position of dominance in Western thought over absence, because absence is traditionally seen as what you get when you take away presence. Had absence been dominant, presence might have been seen as what you get when you take away an absence.

Deconstruction is the event or moment at which a binary opposition is thought to contradict itself and undermine its own authority. Although deconstruction can not explain how a rational basis for defending itself can then be maintained, it has removed any objective basis in structuralism it may have had.

The correspondence between each of the dominant Western concepts such as rational vs. emotional, mind vs. body, thought vs. writing, are claimed to show a tendency of Western thought called logocentrism. The critique of binary oppositions is an important part of post-feminism, post-colonialism, post-anarchism, and critical race theory, which argue that the perceived binary dichotomy between man/woman, civilized/savage, and caucasian/non-caucasian have perpetuated and legitimized Western power structures favoring “civilized” white men.

Tribute

Salvia hispanica, commonly known as Chia, is a species of flowering plant in the mint family, Lamiaceae, that is native to central and southern Mexico and Guatemala. It was cultivated by the Aztec in pre-Columbian times, and was so valued that it was given as an annual tribute by the people to the rulers. It is still widely used in Mexico and South America, with the seeds ground for nutritious drinks and as a food source.

The word Chia is derived from the Nahuatl word “chian”, meaning oily. Chia is grown commercially for its seed, a food that is very rich in omega-3 fatty acids, since the seeds yield 25-30% extractable oil, mostly alpha-linolenic acid. It is also a source of antioxidants and a variety of amino acids.

Chia seed may be eaten raw as a dietary fiber and omega-3 supplement. Ground chia seed is sometimes added to pinole, a coarse flour made from toasted maize kernels. Chia seeds soaked in water or fruit juice are also often consumed and are known in Mexico as chia fresca. The soaked seeds are gelatinous in texture and are used in gruels, porridges and puddings. Ground chia seed is used in baked goods including breads, cakes and biscuits.

Chia sprouts are sometimes grown on porous clay figurines which has led to the popular U.S. cultural icon of the Chia Pet. Chia Pets are grown by applying moistened seeds of chia to the grooved terra cotta figurine body. Several Chia Pet animals are available, including a turtle, pig, puppy, kitten, frog, and hippopotamus.

Literation

A lexigram is a symbol that represents a word but is not necessarily indicative of the object referenced by the word. Lexigrams were notably used by the Georgia State University Language Research Center to communicate with chimpanzees. Researchers and primates were able to communicate with one another using lexigram boards made by up to three panels of a total 384 keys.

Ernst von Glasersfeld coined the term lexigram in 1971, created the first 120 of them, and designed the grammar that regulated their combination. This artificial language was called Yerkish, in honor of Robert M. Yerkes, the founder of the laboratory within which the lexigrams were first used in 1973 by the chimpanzee Lana within the context of the LANA project.

The term lexigram has also been used to describe a mystical property of words. A lexigrammer is one who composes lexigrams, decodes hidden messages in words, titles, names, terms, phrases or succinctly stated problems by putting together full, meaningful sentences using only letters found in those expressions. These messages convey a deeper meaning related to the subject of the original name, statement or expression. The act of lexigramming is considered a spiritual process.

Associating the lexigram as a spiritual process was first done by Linda Goodman in her book Star Signs. She described several criteria which she believed were necessary for uncovering the spiritual meaning of a person’s name. While word-play lexigrams can reveal hidden codes or messages within a person’s name, the veracity of any spiritual value is subject to personal interpretation.

76_lexigram

Ideology

Honesty refers to a facet of moral character and denotes positive, virtuous attributes such as integrity, truthfulness, and straightforwardness along with the absence of lying, cheating, or theft.

While there are a great many moral systems, honesty is considered moral and dishonesty is considered immoral. There are several exceptions, such as hedonism, which values honesty only insofar as it improves ones own sense of pleasure, and moral nihilism, which denies the existence of objective morality outright. Honesty may also be challenged in various social systems with ideological stakes in self-preservation. Many religious and national formations might be so characterized, along with many family structures and other small social collectives.

In these cases honesty is frequently encouraged publicly, but may be forbidden if those invested in preserving the system perceive it as a threat. Depending on the social system, these breaches might be characterized as heresy, treason, or impoliteness. Even in moral systems which approve in general of honesty over dishonesty, some people think there are situations in which dishonesty may be preferable.

Others would not define preferable behaviors as dishonest by reasoning that they are not intended to deceive others for personal gain, but the intent is noble in character, for example sparing people of opinions that will upset them. Rather than dishonesty, the behavior is often viewed as self sacrifice or giving up one’s voice for the happiness of others. In many circumstances, withholding one’s opinions can legitimately be viewed as cowardly, dishonest and a betrayal to those who will be hurt. For this reason, many people insist that an objective approach to the truth is a necessary component of honesty as opposed to an ideological or idealistic approach.

Performance

Social capital is a sociological concept used to refer to connections within and between social networks. Though there are a variety of related definitions, they tend to share the core idea that social networks have value. Just as a screwdriver (physical capital) or a college education (human capital) can increase productivity (both individual and collective), so do social contacts affect the productivity of individuals and groups.

Early attempts to define social capital focused on the degree to which social capital as a resource should be used for public good or for the benefit of individuals. It has been suggested that social capital can facilitate co-operation and mutually supportive relations in communities and would therefore be a valuable means of combating many of the social disorders inherent in modern societies.

Child development is powerfully shaped by social capital and the continued presence of social capital has been linked to various positive outcomes, particularly in education. In areas where there is a high social capital, there is also a high education performance. When there is more parental participation in a child’s community and education, teachers have reported lower levels of student misbehavior.

It has been argued that one of the reasons social capital is so difficult to measure is that it is neither an individual nor a group level phenomenon, but one that emerges across discreet levels as individuals participate in groups. They argue that the metaphor of social capital may be misleading because unlike financial capital, which is a resource held by an individual, the benefits of forms of social organization are result of the participation of individuals in advantageously organized groups.