Met up with Jojo and Pip and Emma. Could tell Pip was upset about something, sensed that it wasn't exam-related from posture and a few things she mentioned to Emma she probably didn't know I heard. I gave her arm a rub and didn't mention anything. Had icky exam-nerves.
Went in and saw the questions. Laughed inside.
First question: Unicorns are closely related to horses and are sexually dimorphic. Only males bear the characteristic horn and they have very large testes relative to their body size. Both sexes are long-lived. Outline what you think their likely social system (i.e. pattern of mating, dispersion of males and females) is and describe the studies you would undertake to quantify the relative costs and benefits of male versus female offspring to parents.
I think I rocked it. I was unsure at first, and I know I didn't cover the studies very well (remembering the scientific processes/experiments is not my particularly skill), but other than that I think I did well.
Second question: Extinction is a natural process, but conservation organisations typically fight to prevent any species from going extinct. Imagine that you have to let a single mammal species go extinct. Which species would you opt to let go extinct and why?
As soon as I got halfway through the question I thought "human." We're an engineer species--in times keystone species--but we've gone haywire. We're pretty much invasive at this point. So I knew immediately I'd be writing that. We're a mammalian species, I thought, why not? We have hair, mammae, a single lower jaw bone, squamosal jaw articulation, diphyodont teeth, 3 middle ear ossicles, one main artery leaving the heart branching left and a muscular diaphragm. Why wouldn't we count as a mammal we could let go extinct?
So I wrote about it. Our habit for clear-cutting and monoculture, world trade affecting species populations, invasives, inability to share (wealth vs. poverty), demands on the planet and resource, global warming, our affect on the sea and soil and sky. I just let loose. I didn't see why not. We have a big footprint on the world. Huge. Bigger than the dinosaurs, despite our small stature. I didn't see any reason not to write humans. In fact, I thought everyone would be.
I mentioned using humans to Pip and she laughed and laughed. She hadn't even thought of it. She took me out for hot chocolate and talked about her family and uncle, who is HIV pos and now dying of lymphatic cancer but is refusing treatment. She's upset, with good reasons. Hard news to hear during exams. She mentioned to me that he had attempted suicide. She told me she thought I would get what she was saying, because I've been brought up liberal and don't seem to have such a stigma with death and all. She mentioned that in a way she was happy for him. She was relieved when I started nodding along. We talked about what it was like for him to finally have a natural way out when he had decided he didn't want to live so long ago. He knows his deadline now--before it had just been hanging over his head, keeping him from living the life he wanted--and time to get his affairs in order. We talked things over. I mentioned the Forum somehow and explained how my parents had met, and how I had done the Forum and Advanced course to cement my ideas of how to live my life with good communication and integrity. She said she thought that was why I was who I am today, why she finds it so easy to speak with me despite my only being 19, and we smiled. Went on to lighter easier subjects. Talked quite a bit and then split ways, after I was hopping up and down. [I occasionally just start popping up and down in my interactions with people. My body says hop, I do it. It amuses her as well.]
Came back and apparently my choosing humans was much more controversial than I expected. I ended up in two debates on others' status updates. Both of them brought the personal into it ("that would include you and your friends!" or how it would be an iffy marking chance) and I don't know, I guess I was just looking at is objectively, not personally. I took a step to the left and chose which species extinction I thought would have the most positive long term effect and thought it was humans. I didn't see how my answer was any less valid than some others mentioned, especially given that the first question was to describe the social patterns of UNICORNS of the possible eusociality of WOMBLES, a made-up burrow-dwelling creature!
Eventually with both debates we came to the general agreement that long-term, yes, humans would be the best to go but that we all prefer that DOESN'T happen, and that instead we stick around and clean up our mess. Keep our population from rising out of control, clean up the huge poverty issue and inability to share resources, ease of the requirements we have on the resources and just clean up the earth. So in the end it was a day's good work in the name of ecology!
But it definitely reminded me that I generally feel icky when debating. The first one was alright but the second one felt a bit ick at first with a bit more aggressive tactics. The first one felt like a two-way discussion, the second more like a debate. But in the end they both seemed to end well and that's what I like. =)
This entry was way longer than I intended! It's now approaching half four and at some point I'll have to do chem revision. Not so worried about tomorrow's exam. Hayls will help me get the maths right, hopefully. I think I do understand a lot of the chemistry.
So! Here's to hoping I got good marks today despite my general controversial nature! We'll see how that goes! Hoping tomorrow will be good too.
5 down, 3 to go!