Burning Questions, round 2

A few nights ago I was watching Sportscenter as per usual, and two things caught my attention. The first was the fact that they were showing a random TCU basketball highlight. I don’t think I had ever seen TCU basketball highlights that didn’t involve a Kansas blowout or some superstar Big 12 prospect dominating, but there it was on my television. And while I was trying to wrap my mind around the reasonings behind a TCU basketball highlight package being broadcast, the TCU point guard demanded my attention. At first, I thought he was white. Then, I thought he was just light skinned. Then they showed his face and I saw he was actually albino. And no offense to my man Jaylen Fisher, the first jacked and tatted up albino guy I’ve ever seen, but he looked weird.

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Seeing him sent my brain into overdrive. Mostly because I just don’t understand how albinism even happens. Actually, hold on a second. I need to change the title of this blog.

Burning Question: How does albinism happen?

This is too important not to dive into, so we’re back with another round of Burning Questions. First one is simple: how do albinos exist? Wikipedia tells me there’s a list of genetic factors that lead to it, but my one weakness is that I am not, in fact, a geneticist, so it all seems like gibberish to me. I just don’t get how it happens. How does skin and hair forget to have color? Does the key gene in the complex sequence that makes up an animal just not show up? What makes a body not produce melanin?Things like this always have some evolutionary reason. But I feel like the first albino was probably feared and an outcast. How could they have passed on the gene? If it’s true people can carry the gene without having albinism, did people have the gene before the first actual albino? And if so, why? What’s the advantage of being whi- actually, let’s move on from that. Mostly, it just boils down to my uncultured mind being scared of things I don’t understand. And I certainly don’t understand albinism.

Where did words come from?

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Tower of Babel 

I think about this every time I see a word that I think is weird or when I think about different languages. Like why are there so many languages? Who was the first person to talk, and who was he talking to? Who was the first person to use words? Who was the first person to understand someone else’s words? Who decided what word meant what? Who decided that a spoken word meant the same as a written word? In my extensive schooling I learned about the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis, which says language shapes our view of the world. For example, when I see a dog, I think it’s a dog because I know the word for dog. What did the ancient people think? What if whoever decided these things said that instead of dog, the word for man’s best friend was actually milk? (Side rant: how do people not know how to pronounce milk correctly? It’s the most simple, straightforward word out there and people still pronounce it a thousand different ways. I’ve heard people say malk, melk, molk, mælk, and everything in between. It’s spelled m i l k. Do people not know the sound the letter i is supposed to make? What causes so many people to butcher the easiest word in the English language?) What caused them to string letters (or whatever they used) together to form words? Who created the first different language? Why create a different language in the first place? It’s so hard. Some languages were created well after people in different parts of the world had contact with each other. Who has the gall to say I hate your words so much I’m going to change every single one of them even though they’ll mean the same thing? And why do dialects exist? Why alter a language everyone speaks just so you can be unique? Why make it harder on yourself? And how did the first person to translate things ever translate anything? How could anyone who didn’t know already possibly be able to tell you that želva is the Slovenian word for turtle? We’ve had language for thousands of years now. How is there still not a universal language? Everyone who writes a fantasy novel is able to create their own unique version of Elvish. No one can make a generic one for every human to use? And who was the first person with a name? Who came up with a word they liked so much they were going to call someone by it? And did people have pets during the development of language? If so, did they have names? What if someone got confused and dog was actually the name of someone’s pet, and the intended word for dog was actually Fido? Who decided that curse words were, in fact, curse words? Why does spoken language even exist at all? I think I just twisted my brain into three different pretzels.

Why doesn’t grape flavored stuff taste like grape?

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Kind of a short and sweet (maybe overly sweet? Get it?) Burning Question: Why do grape flavored things taste entirely different from actual grapes? They’re legitimately two different flavors. With the exception of blue raspberry, every traditional “fruit flavored” drink, candy, etc. at least kind of tastes like its inspiration. All these companies pass around the same recipes, so did the first guy to perfect grape flavoring never eat grapes before? Had he never seen a grape? Was he just going for what he thought the signature deep shade of purple tasted like? It’s so sweet and not grape-like. I’ve never eaten a grape and been like, “wow, this really tastes like that grape drink I got at the gas station the other day.” I can’t imagine anyone else has, either. Grapes are a top 5 fruit (in no particular order: grape, pineapple, blueberry, orange, apple. Limes would make the cut if you could actually eat them.) and deserve a better representation in our synthetic flavor market.

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