Saturday, March 31, 2007

The trouble with being human these days: Identity by Zygmunt Bauman

The trouble with being human these days: Identity by Zygmunt Bauman

" Inevitably, the undermining of familiar institutions, an aspect of modernity that has certainly been intensified in recent years, has had important consequences for people's sense of identity. There is nothing new about the observation that national and class-based identities (both of which had seemed almost definitively modern) have been upset by the end of the Cold War and various other developments discussed under the heading of 'globalisation'. Similarly, Bauman notes that while the workplace was traditionally a very important source of personal identity, changes in the economy have rendered it far less reliable. He suggests that the enduring identities once associated with work have given way to looser and more provisional identities, and conceptions of community, that are subject to constant change and renegotiation. Indeed, Bauman points to a more profound transformation of how we understand what it means to be human in the absence of transcendent ideologies (traditional or otherwise) such as have characterised modernity until recently."

Friday, March 30, 2007

Scientists discover 'shadow person'

Scientists discover 'shadow person' | COSMOS magazine
"Ever feel as though you're being followed? As if someone is behind you, shadowing your every move? It might be your ‘shadow person', created by unusual activity in a specific brain region, a new study shows.

The paper, published in the British journal Nature, describes the case of a 22-year-old woman with no history of psychiatric problems who was being evaluated for treatment of epilepsy. When a region of her brain called the left temporoparietal junction was electrically stimulated, the woman described encounters with a ‘shadow person' who mimicked her bodily movements.

"Electrical stimulation repeatedly produced a feeling of the presence of another person in her extra-personal space," said Olaf Blanke, co-author of the study conducted by a team of researchers from University Hospital in Geneva, Switzerland.

When the patient was lying down, stimulation of this brain region caused her to feel that someone was behind her. She described the person as young, of indeterminate sex, "a shadow who did not speak or move, and whose position beneath her back was identical to her own", according to the researchers.

When the patient sat up, leaned forward and clasped her knees, she felt that the figure was also sitting, embracing her in its arms - a feeling she described as "unpleasant"."

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Bizarre hexagon spotted in Saturn’s clouds

"Astronomers can’t explain six-sided pattern at planet’s north pole"

Blimps to swim through the air like fish

Blimps to swim through the air like fish - space - 23 March 2007 - New Scientist Space
"Blimps steered by artificial muscles may one day swim through the air like fish, suggest recent flight tests. The blimps would be much quieter than those steered by traditional blimp propellers, making them ideal for observing wildlife."

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

A mysterious aerial device falls in Somalia.

A mysterious aerial device falls in Somalia.

"Ilyas spoke of the device, telling that in the daylight it glitters and in a nighttime, it turns lights and speaks a strange language which can’t be understood by the villagers."

Monday, March 12, 2007

Puppet Masters 2

Mind-Control Microbe
"When he looked at the clinical records of more than 1,800 babies born from 1996 to 2004, he noted a distinct trend: The normal sex ratio is 104 boys born for every 100 girls, but in women with high levels of antibodies against the parasite, the ratio was 260 boys for every 100 girls. Exactly how the parasite might be tipping the odds in favor of males isn't understood, but Flegr points out that it is known to suppress the immune system of its hosts, and because the maternal immune system sometimes attacks male fetuses in very early pregnancy, the parasite's ability to inhibit the immune response might protect future boys as well as itself."

Friday, March 09, 2007

American Civil Liberties Union : How the USA PATRIOT Act redefines "Domestic Terrorism"

American Civil Liberties Union : How the USA PATRIOT Act redefines "Domestic Terrorism"
"The definition of domestic terrorism is broad enough to encompass the activities of several prominent activist campaigns and organizations. Greenpeace, Operation Rescue, Vieques Island and WTO protesters and the Environmental Liberation Front have all recently engaged in activities that could subject them to being investigated as engaging in domestic terrorism."

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Fort Eustis drill sergeant faces charges of molesting trainees

ARTICLE: Fort Eustis drill sergeant faces charges of molesting trainees
"The soldier told Estrada that he felt depressed after being relieved of his training status, and said Estrada suggested "a technique that he had used previously to help soldiers with their self-confidence and alleviate depression," the affidavit said.

The technique involved role-playing scenes from a pornographic movie, which depicted a Superman character weakened by Kryptonite as the subject of sexual torture.

"Estrada would verbally describe a sexual act of torture, relating to the pornographic movie, and (the victim) was to respond in a sexual manner by moaning," the affidavit said. The soldier also said he eventually was forced to "dress in a 'Superman' or similar outfit" while Estrada performed sexual acts on him."

Monday, March 05, 2007

I"m a Loser, Baby...

So here it is; another weekly writing deadline is about to arrive and I have nothing. Nothing but excuses, that is.

It really is amazing how many things can distract me from doing what I really want (and actually enjoy) to do each week. Or is that pathetic? Yeah, it's definitely pathetic. I can sit around all day long, doing absolutely nothing, as if it were some sort of accomplishment.

Although to be honest, I do have teaching work to do. Papers to grade, assignments to plan, etc.

Except I don't do enough of that stuff either.

Next week there will definitely be some writing done.

I plan on either continuing the storyline I've already started (which is not what I want to do) or jumping head first into the next character's story (which is what I really want to do). The only problem with the new character's story, is that I'm not happy at all with where the first draft starts out with her. I'm thinking about reworking her entire introduction and her situation, and that's really what's got me distracted, I think. That's a lot of work. Much more than just working on a simple rewrite.

So while I grade papers and plan my classes and work my night job, I need to be thinking about this character (Emma's her name - which is odd, since I now have a cat by that name), and how to introduce her, plunge her into peril, and get her to her next major plot point.

Here goes.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Steampunk Star Wars

Eric's Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Idea: steampunk star wars

"Lord Vader
More machine than man, Vader is the Empire's most decorated General and a very powerful practitioner of the Force's dark arts. He is obsessed with communicating with the spirits of the dead, spending every sleepless night trying in vain to contact his lost love. Twisted and broken in body and mind, Vader is driven with sadistic passion.

He is a master with the traditional weapon of Force champions, the Phlogisticated Aether Torch, more commonly referred to as the phlogisabre."

LA Weekly - A Terrible Thing to Waste

LA Weekly - A Terrible Thing to Waste

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Writing Log (A Little Late)

Whoops. Not only did I not write anything this week, I forgot to update here. Not that there's much to say. It was my birthday, so I sat on my ass all day (after mooching a fantastic Sushi Lunch) and did nothing.

So there.