Concerts

9/28/2005: Foo Fighters, Weezer, and Kaiser Cheifs @ America West Arena

8/31/2006: Incubus and others (Edgefest music festival) @ Tempe Beach Park

10/14/2006: Foo Fighters @ Veteran Memorial Coliseum (Arizona State Fair)

1/5/2007: Incubus and Albert Hammond Jr. @ The Marquee Theater

9/5/2007: Jon McLaughlin, Sara Bareilles, and Raining Jane @ Club Congress

4/29/2010: Stephen Kellogg & the Sixers, Needtobreathe, and Seabird @ The Clubhouse

6/22/2010: Athlete and Carney @ The Rhythym Room

10/9/2010: Matt Costa @ Club Congress

10/23/2010: Minus the Bear, Tim Kasher (of Cursive), and The Globes @ The Rialto Theater

4/19/2011: Matt Wertz and Ben Rector @ Club Congress

8/10/2011: The Milk Carton Kids and Andrew Belle @ The Rhythm Room

9/15/2011: Bon Iver, Fleet Foxes, The Walkmen @ Comerica Theater

11/7/2011: M83, Active Child @ Crescent Ballroom

1/10/2012: Starfucker, Painted Palms @ Crescent Ballroom

2/5/2012: Courtney Maria Andrews, The Pioneers of Prime Time TV, Dylan Pratt @ Crescent Ballroom

3/7/2012: William Fitzsimmons, Noah Gunderson @ Crescent Ballroom

9/3/2012: Yeasayer @ Crescent Ballroom

9/11/2012: Passion Pit @ Marquee Theater

10/10/2012: Metric @ Marquee Theater

10/15/2012: Bombay Bicycle Club @ Crescent Ballroom

11/8/2012: Minus the Bear, Cursive @ Marquee Theater

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125 characters just doesn’t cut it

Today I am attending the first of two graduation ceremonies. At noon, hundreds of graduating seniors from the College of Science will pile into the McKale Memorial Center. A sea of navy blue will fill the floor-level of the arena. One by one, our names will be called as we approach the stage and receive our diplomas. Then in synchrony, we’ll flip our tassels and release the biggest smiles of our lives.

For this smaller ceremony we are given the opportunity to have a 125 character message appear on the big screen during our thirty seconds of fame. But what are you supposed to write? An inspiring quote, a thank you to mom and dad, something funny?

My screen will be blank, with the exception of my name and degree. I’ve never been to a college graduation, so I don’t know what people write and Google wasn’t much help. From the ideas I did gather up, I couldn’t make up my mind. I’m indecisive. I like words too much. I could never express anything, let alone everything, in a mere 125 characters.

My screen may be blank at graduation, but my mind  and my heart are not. What follows is my 2,272 character graduation message.

To my mother and father, thank you for all the sacrifices you’ve made to give me and my siblings the best education possible; thank you for continually nudging me out of my comfort zone, but never to the point of extreme discomfort; thank you for paying attention to me, my learning style, and interests and always nurturing my strengths; thank you for helping me live up to my full potential. I love you both so much!

To my younger brother and sister, thank you for being two of my best friends; thank you for looking up to me and giving me one more reason to do my best; thank you for being such wonderful and well-rounded individuals – I am so proud to call you family. I know you will both go on to do great things; know that I will alway be here to support you in all of you endeavors. I love you!

To my grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, extended family, and close family friends, thank you. In a generation of broken homes and divided families I realize how lucky I am to not only be surrounded by my immediate family, but relatives as well. I am eternally grateful to have such a strong, close-knit, supportive, and fun group of people around. I love you all!

To my friends, thank you for the good times and for your support in the rougher times; thank you for improving my quality of life and making my experiences what they were. I hope that our friendships extend far beyond graduation, but if not know that I’ll always hold these memories dear and I will never forget your kindness and friendships.

To my teachers and mentors, thank you for instilling a love of learning in me, for your constructive criticism, and for the interesting stories and obscure facts that made learning even better. Thank you for dedicating you life to such an admirable cause – education. Please know that you are greatly appreciated by parents and students alike, even if we never muster up the courage to say so.

To my fellow graduates, congratulations. Although you’ve run over me with your bikes, stolen my pens, and at times annoyed me beyond belief, you all deserve this and I wish you all the best. Remember that “you don’t have to live your life the way other people expect you to. You can do good things for yourself and make the world a better place at the same time” (Chris Guillebeau).

Matt Wertz & Ben Rector

Tuesday night, I saw Matt Wertz and Ben Rector – two of my favorite artists – perform at Club Congress. It was a great show and a lot of fun! It’s a small and intimate venue, which made the experience even more special.

 

I first heard Matt Wertz’s music about five years ago through Pandora radio. His genre is singer/songwriter with an infusion of folk and pop, and then I discovered Ben Rector about a year ago, through NoiseTrade. Both of their tunes are catchy, cheery, and perfect for summer.

Check them out, if you’re interested:

Matt Wertz – Gonna Be Good

Matt Wertz – Easier Tonight

Ben Rector – The Sophomore

Ben Rector – Hank

The Moral Animal

Though animals, like chimpanzees or dogs, human beings are different from every other species in that they have been equipped with a moral compass and drive to go above and beyond mere survival and reproduction.

In his book The Moral Animal: Why We Are the Way We Are: The New Science of Evolutionary Psychology, Robert Wright places the Darwinian theory of evolution within the framework of Charles Darwin’s own life and uses the father of modern biology’s life and disposition to exemplify his points.

The book is a well-informed and intelligently written overview of evolutionary psychology and an account of how the evolutionary process rules our everyday lives, often without our knowledge or consent. Evolution guides and influences every area of life, from love, romance, and sex, to family and kinship relations, to social structure, to internal and external conflicts. Although the individual goal may be personal success – such self-awareness, procreation, or legacy – this drive towards certain behaviors is driven by subconscious and biological forces favoring an enhanced human species via increased reproductive success.

“…humans are a species splendid in their array of moral equipment, tragic in their propensity to misuse it, and pathetic in their constitutional ignorance of the misuse.”

-Robert Wright

The first section of the book covers love, romance, and sex. Wright claims that the evolutionary goal of men is to produce as many viable offspring as possible; thus they seek young, healthy, and nurturing mothers to bear their children. Women, on the other hand, want to provide their children with all of the resources necessary for survival and success; thus women look for men with financial resources and prestige to father their children. In light of this dichotomy, Wright suggests that in evolutionary terms, the practice of polygamy would benefit women because a wealthy man could provide for several wives and multiple children. However, in this scenario men at the bottom of the ladder would be left without mates, which may lead to sexual tension and violence. Although biologically preferable, polygamy has been rejected in most societies due to the growing evolutionary importance of social relations.

The second portion of the book discusses sociality, kinship, reciprocal altruism, and emotions within social relations. Although in some respects the concept of “every man for himself” may seem a logical choice, evolution has steered us in the direction of helping others in need, in hopes that they will assist us later. Evolution favors the game theory strategy “tit-for-tat” in which those who perform positive behaviors are reciprocated, and those who perform negative behaviors are shunned. Darwinian evolution is not only maximizing the fitness of individuals, but also building a more supportive society through the development of emotions such as gratitude, obligation, guilt, and friendship.

The third section addresses status, hierarchy, and deception. Again, Wright argues that although humans want what’s best for themselves, the ultimate goal is advancing the race. Thus, those who are best suited for power take rule, while most everyone else voluntarily complies and trusts the higher ups. In order to promote their personal progress, some people may deceive others; self-deception is often implemented by the subconscious in order to make one’s arguments more believable.

The final portion of the book explores morality and utilitarianism. The topic of morality can be messy when looked at in relation to evolutionary psychology because it seems to go against what nature would intend – purely selfish behaviors. However this new perspective factors in our evolved instincts for survival as social beings, which entails helping others in order to help yourself.

The Moral Animal offers a fascinating glimpse into the growing field of evolutionary psychology, citing several studies and other researchers. If interested in the topic of evolutionary psychology and human behavior, I would highly recommend this book.