The History, Function, and Significance of Semaphore Telegraph Towers – Update 1

     Over the past two weeks, I have consulted various sources concerning optical telegraph systems, ranging from technical diagrams and close-up photographs to philosophical analysis of communication and comparisons to ancient and modern technologies.

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Repeat Photography and Glacial Shrinkage in Glacier National Park (Update 2)

I have now been in Montana for a few days, and I have finished taking photos for my repeat photography (see my last post for the photos I am recreating). For the duration of my trip, visibility has been hampered by wildfires. Saturday night, three wildfires started in Glacier National Park, and they have further reduced visibility and caused a major closure in the park.

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Combining Magic Realism with Psychedelic Art

I began my research project this summer with the intention of creating a realistic scene of nature with magical, unrealistic aspects. I wanted to paint a scene that had meaning in my imagination so that I could embed some interesting images from my imagination. This idea changed, however, when I visited Seattle, Washington in June. Seattle is a vibrant city with a rich culture centered around art and expression. Many buildings in the university district had giant murals painted on them. This is where I became interested in psychedelic art. These paintings were so colorful and mind boggling because they brought to life a whole other world that lies deep within a person’s mind. These artist were able to create a visual that allowed onlookers to  experience the sights, smells, sounds and feelings of hallucination. I thought about what this type of art would look like in the genre of magic realism. When I returned home I did some research and found an artist who created paintings very similar to what I had in mind. Hannah Yata is a psychedelic, surreal painter and her work exemplifies an explosion of colors and characters that keep your eyes wandering around and finding new things. I have taken a lot of inspiration from her work and I would like to learn more about how to create eye grabbing paintings like hers.

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Socioeconomic Determinants of Oral Health

Since posting my initial research plan in the spring, further reading has convinced me to slightly adjust my topic. While I was originally set out to uncover the reasons why some people feel uncomfortable at the dentist, I stumbled upon a much larger and perhaps more obvious problem: it’s not that most individuals don’t want to go to the dentist, it’s that many of them cannot go to the dentist. According to a recent study of the National Health Interview Survey, the main cause for adults to avoid the dentist is cost: over 40% of the surveyed population could not afford treatment or had no insurance, whereas only 10% of adults cited fear as the reason they had no recent dental visit. Certain populations within the United States are facing a serious disparity in accessibility to quality oral healthcare; many individuals either lack dental insurance and cannot afford it or don’t have access to a health center offering affordable services.

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The Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905)

Unlike the two previous wars I have studied, the Russo-Japanese war (1904-1905) receives real attention from Western military historians. However, there is still debate over its historical relevance. Some scholars label the war “World War 0,” while others study it as nothing more than a regional conflict. There are certainly lessons to be learned from the warfare in the Russo-Japanese war which hinted at the shape of battle in World War One. Additionally, Japanese experience in the Russo-Japanese War certainly shaped the strategy of the Japanese navy in the two World Wars.
The Russo-Japanese War was a precursor to the World Wars for several reasons. First, it was a total war which involved the government, people, and economy of Russia and Japan to fight. Both nations held a sense of racial superiority over the other, which led to a sense of nationalism in the war. Russians were discontent with the Tsar’s regime, but the Russo-Japanese War saw a rise in patriotism among Russians. Japan had to ask England for help financing the war. Non-government agencies such as the Red Cross played a role in tending to the wounded on both sides. Finally, the conflict was settled with the assistance of another nation, the United States. So despite being regional if looking at theatres of battle, the war involved nations globally.
The second aspect of the Russo-Japanese War which heralded the World Wars was weaponry. On land, both sides use weapons such as the machine gun, magazine rifle, barbed wire, and field guns with explosive shells. At sea, both sides used underwater mines, torpedoes, and armored fleets with diversified ships. The Japanese also launched the first great torpedo attack in history on Fort Arthur at the outset of the war.
Third, the effectiveness of new weapons warned of how battles would be shaped in the world wars. Both sides mobilized large armies, which fought in long pitched battles. Infantry suffered mass casualties when attacking in waves. Frontal infantry attacks often failed, and even the successful attacks led to many deaths. The Japanese won by pressing forward not matter the cost. The casualties would serve as a lesson for battles in WW1, in which a frontal infantry charge meant suicide. Russian leaders such as the Cossak Krasnov and Colonel Vannovskii believed that their powerful cavalry would easily disrupt and destroy the Japanese ground troops. However, the war was a fight between infantry, and the cavalry did not play the decisive role they might have in former conflicts.
Another aspect of the Russo-Japanese war which held lessons for the WWs was military intelligence. Russian intelligence on the Japanese armed forces was mostly based on the reports of military attachés. In the years Colonel Vannovskii (up to 1903) served as an attache, information on the Japanese army was scant and biased by his disregard for the Japanese people. By the time he was replaced in 1903 by Lieutenant Colonel Samoilov, the Japanese had restricted Russian access to their military drilling and numbers due to increased hostility. Given the lack of accurate intelligence, the Russian army was not prepared to face the Japanese. Russian leaders estimated that around 350,000 Japanese troops could be mobilized and between 120-160 thousand would land in Korea at the outset of conflict. More accurate French estimates put Japan’s mobilization ability at around 600,000 troops and in reality Japan mobilized 1,185,000 troops for the war. 204,000 landed in Korea and 442,000 were deployed on all fronts during the war. The poor intelligence saw Russian commanders facing many more Japanese than they believed. Often, Russian leaders were demoralized and retreated when they could have held ground. Looking ahead to WW1, the value of the plane as a method of reconnaissance clearly changed how commanders were able to interpret opposing forces.
The Japanese navy especially learned lessons from the Russo-Japanese war which would influence their tactics over the next 50 years. Going into the war, Japan had a largely British built navy. Admiral Yamamoto had argued for a strategically balanced fleet which included armored cruisers, protected cruisers, destroyers, and torpedo boats, not just battleships. Many of the ships were ordered built in Europe due to Japan’s developing iron refining capability, however, before 1904 Japan was able to construct smaller ships, including cruisers. Japanese designs were also unique based on the requirements they sent to British shipyards. From the Sino-Japanese War, the Japanese navy learned the value of ships which could sail at the same speed and act with coordinated movement. Japanese battleships and cruisers were therefore made faster to match older ships despite heavier armor and guns. The quality of Japanese warships was one of the most important aspects of victory against the Russian navy.
Not all of Japan’s navy was based on Western design and theory though. First, Japanese shells differed from European design and theory. While European theorists promoted the use of armor piercing shells which had a delayed explosion, the Japanese designed shells with a fuse to explode on impact. They also developed their own explosive formula. The explosive shells served the Japanese navy well, destroying structures on Russian ships and inflicting many casualties on crewmembers. Lucky shots on the capital ships of the Russian were certainly made more effective by the explosive power of the Japanese shell.
Japanese naval tactics were unique, as the navy had experience from the Sino-Japanese war in addition to studying developing naval theory. The great strategist Akiyama who was credited by Admiral Togo with developing all the tactics of the naval war studied classical Japanese and Chinese military treatises along with Western theory.

Establishing a Conceptual Framework – Update 1

I recently completed my first week of research, which involved laying a theoretical foundation for the second part of this project. More specifically, this process comprised reading about and documenting the main tenets of queer theory, as well as the defining musical and sociocultural components of the genres I chose – rock, rap, electronic dance music (EDM), and country. Deviating from my original plans slightly, I ultimately opted against including each genre’s aesthetic elements, as I believed incorporating them into the research’s second part would fail to yield any significant findings. I also decided to narrow my focus from hip hop to rap, a practice within the former. Nonetheless I gleaned a wealth of information regarding the aspects I did pursue in research this past week.

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Using LSTMs for Music Composition – Second Update

If you haven’t read my first update, I recommend you do before reading this post.

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Summary: High School Fraternities and Sororities

At this point I have completed my draft for my paper and feel that I am able to post a well-rounded summary! My first blog post mainly focused on the newspaper articles I found pertaining to high school fraternities and sororities and my second blog post addressed educational research articles about high school Greek letter organizations. I used the dates of the newspaper articles I had found to synthesize a general timeline of high school fraternities and sororities from the late 1800s to mid-1900s. This basic timeline helped me to analyze why the groups became so popular (much like how today’s collegiate fraternities and sororities are popular across the country), why they were opposed, and how they reached their end. Comparing high school fraternities and sororities to their collegiate counterparts led me to find some major differences between them as to why the high school groups had a shorter lifespan. I believe that by adopting the methods used with high school fraternities and sororities.

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Defining Modern Terrorism and Resisting Stereotypes: Update 2

As of a week ago, I completed (almost) all of my research and travelled to W&M to meet with my advisor and discuss my process thus far.  I have narrowed my case studies to the past 5 years, looking at the seven mass shootings with the highest mortality rates within that time period (San Bernardino, Umpqua Community College, Pulse nightclub, Sutherland Springs, Las Vegas, Parkland, and Santa Fe).  One of the more interesting things I’ve noticed through researching via news sources is how differently the cases are treated based on whether or not there was a connection to Islamic terrorism.  When the shooter had declared an allegiance to the Islamic State, there is very little mention of their background or their mental health; however, when the motives of the shooter are unclear, there is a more thorough investigation into their childhood, home life, and mental health problems.  I am planning on doing some further research and analysis regarding the implications of this.

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Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation as a Treatment for PTSD – Update 1

Before starting my research on Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS), I was rather skeptical about its potential for healing. Mental health is comprehensive and highly dependent on the individual, and the idea of using magnets to alleviate symptoms of a disorder as complex as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder seemed quite far-fetched. After having investigated the process of TMS and its effects on the brain, however, I am more hopeful about its potential as a legitimate psychiatric treatment. In this first update, I aim to explain what TMS is and how it works. I also intend to introduce several different forms of TMS, and how they have been used in the field of psychiatry.

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