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Where is human soul?

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2683140/Have-scientists-soul-Discovery-consciousness-switch-human-brain-medical-breakthrough.html.

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Lance Armstrong Doping Scandal

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“What am I on?” Armstrong asks in a 2001 Nike commercial. “I’m on my bike, busting my a** six hours a day.”

After two years of Federal Investigations by the US Department of Justice and further investigations by the USADA (United States Anti-Doping Agency), it seems that seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong was on more than just his bike. In a revealing interview] with Oprah Winfrey, Armstrong finally admitted to the world that he used performance enhancing drugs such as EPO and testosterone during each Tour de France competition. He claimed that he started using the drugs in the mid-nineties when the doping culture was much more extreme and common. “The culture was what it was,” he stated, referring to the frequent doping in cycling by the athletes.

After federal investigations in which former teammates were asked to testify and Armstrong’s blood samples from this time were re-tested, Armstrong was banned from competitive racing for life and stripped of his seven Tour de France titles. Moreover, Armstrong has suffered major financial consequences as his sponsors- Nike, Trek, Giro, Anheuser-busch and Oakley sunglasses- have all decided to cut connections with the cyclist. Armstrong admitted that this loss is around 75 million dollars. Many critics believe that he only did the public interview with Oprah to generate a steady flow of money from interviews and television appearances, in order to recuperate some of the millions he is now going to lose.

In the interview with Oprah, he also revealed that he has stepped down as Chairman of Livestrong, the foundation he started to raise cancer awareness and empower cancer survivors. Armstrong was diagnosed with stage three testicular cancer at age 25, but despite a less than 50% chance of survival, he beat the cancer and has been a symbol of hope and inspiration to the cancer sufferers ever since. Despite the competition ban, he said that disappointing and losing the support of Livestrong was his “lowest moment.”

Will Armstrong ever cycle again? Perhaps more importantly, will he ever recover his destroyed reputation? It seems that this will be his toughest battle yet.

HALLOWEEN

HALLOWEEN.

HALLOWEEN

HALLOWEEN.

HALLOWEEN

PRIMAL FEAR AND MEMORY. CAN WE ACTUALLY CONTROL FEAR?

These are a series of videos related to the history of Halloween and how our brain processes emotions like fear. You can go through all the videos in the page and learn some interesting facts. You can add your comments on personal experiences related to fear or add some more interesting information for us to learn more about fear, emotions and the brain!

Flatland and 4D

It’s been quite a while since our last post, what with vacation and tests and all, but I think you’re really going to like this next one. I’m going to try to keep my own comments and questions brief to let the videos speak for themselves and give you all some real creative freedom in the discussion of the topic which is: spatial dimensions (2D, 3D and even 4D)!

You’ll be happy to know that the two videos to watch have English audio but are subtitled in Spanish. As I’ve said before, the questions I pose are not required answering. You can address as many (or as few) of them as you’d like, so long as you post a thoughtful and substantial comment related to the topic. I don’t want to see any lists of answering questions 1,2,3. Try to pick out an idea or two from the videos and the questions and focus your energy on responding analytically to those few concepts that capture your interest. In other words, responding to fewer questions with more depth is better than responding to all the questions with simple, one-sentence responses.

The first video asks you to imagine the confrontation between a 2 dimensional world and a 3 dimensional being (such as ourselves). After watching the video, considering the following:

The narrator speaks of the dots’ “fear of the unknown” and the forbidden “a” word (above). In your knowledge of the history of mathematics and science, what were some important moments and concepts that forced people to confront this basic human fear? Who were some of the important scientists and mathematicians that worked to explain and publicize their unsettling discoveries? (hint: think Galileo etc.)

Imagine yourself as the dot, confronting a being (like the white haired superhero from the video) that exists in a dimension completely beyond your experience and comprehension. How might you react in such a situation? Would you be scared? Curious? Angry? Try to think of real world examples of human reactions to scientific discoveries that threaten the comfort of existing circumstances (eg. the theory of a world that is round rather than flat). In what ways do people try to explain or justify that which they cannot understand (eg. superstitions, denial, investigation etc.)?

Food for thought: The difficulty (and frustration) that results from trying to explain something that is outside someone’s experience. Think about trying to explain the color red to a person who was born blind, and has never seen any color at all.

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OJO! Optional, secondary topic for those who prefer: If you would rather address the following questions you have that option. It isn’t necessary to answer both sets of questions unless you feel compelled to do so or wish to integrate them. If the concept of various dimensions really interests you, take a look at this video with Carl Sagan (who is really an incredible person—I highly recommend his TV series, “Cosmos: A Personal Voyage”).

In this video, Carl Sagan gives us an explanation of spatial dimensions very similar to the one we saw in the previous video, but he includes an introduction to the concept of a 4th spatial dimension and the four dimensional analog of the cube, called the tesseract. If you’d like to see a brief video that represents the rotation of the tesseract click here.

Sagan explains the tesseract as a “projection” of the shadow of a 4 dimensional shape that he calls a hypercube. Explain what he means by this.

The tesseract forms part of a theory of a 4th spatial dimention, as opposed to theories that speak of the “space-time continuum” in which time forms the 4th dimension and even more dimensions beyond that are considered possible. Do you have any ideas about what other dimensions could be like? Use your imagination. Science fiction proposals are warmly welcome!

The Yanomami

It’s been a little while since our last discussion topic so I’d say it’s time for a new one. I was very impressed with the quality of your comments last time so I hope you’ll all continue to demonstrate your intellectual and linguistic prowess. Alright, so enough of my verbiage, this week I’d prefer to have you guys do most of the talking (or writing as it were).

This discussion topic will be for Social Studies and we will looking at the Amazonian tribe, the Yanomami. On the website you can read some general information about their lifestyle, history and current threats. It’s interesting to think that while we sit at our computers commenting on a blog, there are people in the world that live in a way so very different from our own. Watch this video to get a first hand account about the current situation with the Yanomami.

After watching the video and reading up a bit on the tribe and the threats they face from intruders, there are several things to consider. As always, I like to list a number of questions so that you all have a variety of issues to consider. It isn’t necessary to answer all of them but at least 2-3 would be good depending on the depth of your response—a stronger and more elaborate answer to 1 or 2 questions is much better than one sentence responses to 5 questions.

 

Progress comes in many forms (good and bad): mining, building roads, education, product importation, medicine, etc. Considering both the potential benefits as well as the inherent risks, do you think that progress is the best solution for Amazonian tribes such as the Yanomami?

What’s the meaning of progress?

Do you think it’s important to keep Amazonian tribes? Why?

Imagine that you lived as a Yanomami. What would your life be like compared to how you live now? What are some of the pros (+) and cons (-) of each lifestyle?

What are some things that we, modern westerners, could learn from the Yanomami way of life?

*If this issue is one that you really care about, you can send a letter to the Brazilian government which expresses your concern for the welfare of Yanomami people. It’s very easy to do—just type your name and click to send.*

Montes at the Movies

I’m sure you’re all just as excited as I am about the upcoming Winter Break. One of my favorite things to do during my time off (especially when it’s cold out) is to sit around with friends and family and watch movies. Personally, I really like science fiction and horror movies but I will watch just about anything and lately I’ve been very into kung fu and samurai films. In the spirit of cinema, I thought we could have a discussion about something I think we all enjoy: the movies!

Besides entertainment, films (like books or music) are often vehicles for the expression of feelings and ideas. But exactly what kinds of ideas? Almost all films (especially in popular culture) to some extent contain certain assumptions and sets of ideas, which together we call ideology. Even movies we watch for fun like Twilight, Harry Potter and Rambo all have the power to communicate particular cultural values, racial stereotypes; standards of beauty and conceptions of love etc.

There is a very enjoyable—almost addictive—website called tvtropes.org which addresses some of these very issues in especially hilarious ways. A good starting point is their National Stereotypes page. At the bottom they have a list of examples of stereotypes by region (check out the US and Spain!). We can see many of these kinds of stereotypes in their Hollywood Atlas which explains some of the ways in which Hollywood movies tend to give us overly simplified or exaggerated images of different places and cultures around the world: Eagleland, Spexico, Toros y Flamenco.

One of my favorite examples of one culture caricaturing another is in Toy Story 3. Watch this short video clip to see the American version of a “Spanish” Buzz Lightyear. The music helps to emphasize the American image of a Spanish Buzz who is a kind of caballero encantador that dances to flamenco with the obligatory rose in mouth. Interestingly, the Youtube comments mention that in the Spanish version of the film Buzz changes modes and begins speaking with an Andalusian accent. Depending on how this change is portrayed in the film I wonder how you all as andaluces interpret this change of accent in the movie. Is it unimportant, funny or perhaps even offensive?

Even though some these situations may be funny as we can see in the tvtropes articles, what are some of the possible problems that arise from the use of stereotypes in cinema? Is it okay to learn about other cultures from TV and the movies? Can we trust the information we are given by entertainment media? Which Hollywood stereotypes do you agree with and which do you reject (for example, depictions of true love, delivering the bad guy to justice, the damsel in distress vs. the strong macho hero etc.)?  What are some movies or TV shows that you like to watch that give you an image of American culture? What image of the United States do those movies paint for you? Give examples from specific TV and film or link to scenes on Youtube to support your arguments.

Be sure to comment on the films and ideas of your classmates as that always makes for a more interesting blog discussion! Don’t just limit yourself to the questions above. Of course I’d like to see you answer some of them but it’s more important for you to express any and all of your opinions on this topic and of course have fun with it! You have the whole vacation to do this blog topic so take your time with it and post a strong, thoughtful comment.

IMPORTANT!

During the holidays, I would like you all to watch a movie (rent it, watch it on the internet, download it, whatever!) that we can discuss after the vacation together in class. The film is called Boyz n the Hood (1991) and it is about a group of childhood friends growing up in a Los Angeles ghetto. It features Ice Cube, Cuba Gooding Jr. and Laurence Fishburne and the Spanish translation of the title is Los chicos del barrio. If you can get the movie in English with Spanish subtitles that would be ideal but if not hopefully you can put the English subtitles with the Spanish dubbing.

As you watch the movie I would like you to consider the following (you DON’T have to include your answers to these questions in your posts just pay attention to them as you watch the movie so we can discuss later as a class):

  • What are the differences between Tre, Doughboy and Ricky?
  • How are they portrayed as characters (dress, attitude, interests, objectives etc.)?
  • What are some of the stereotypes you notice about the men and women in the film?
  • What role do the female characters play compared to that of the male characters?
  • How are the police or authority figures depicted? What about the young people?
  • How is Furious a role model for Tre and his friends?
  • Think about the presence of these main themes in the film: violence, relationships, drugs, family life, respect, responsibility and education.

Consider these questions as you watch the movie and most of all enjoy it!

p.s. For a funny list of movie clichés, check out this site!

Fortune Cookies

This week I am proud to announce our blog discussion is for Technology class! Since we voted in class, most of you wanted to do the Fortune Cookie video so that’s what we’ll do. You can find the video on the website Mister Roger’s Neighborhood here.

Watch the video and pay special attention to these key vocabulary words: eggs, flour, cookie batter, food coloring, vanilla, conveyor belt, and fortune.  What does the food coloring do? What does “fortune” refer to in the name fortune cookie (hint: it has NOTHING to do with money $$$). After watching the video, if you learned any new words post a definition for the new vocabulary word.  If you aren’t sure of how to say something you saw in the video, ask your classmates if they know what the word means or “what is the word for…the little paper in the cookie? The white powder they use in the beginning of the video?” etc.

If you want to know some more about fortune cookies you can read the Wikipedia page for some general information, or even BETTER check out this history of the fortune cookie. There are some interesting “Legendary” theories about the origins of the fortune cookie.
For your posts, I would like you to look at this Fortune Cookie Generator. Click on the cookie to get a random fortune and a set of lucky numbers. Then, post your fortune and what you think it means (in English and/or a Spanish translation of the fortune). If you aren’t sure, take a guess and see what your classmates think and we can help each other.  What do you think about your fortune? Do you like it? Does it seem true or a bit ridiculous? What other fortunes have you gotten from fortune cookies before? Do you believe in the fortunes? Do you think they often come out to be true? Are you a superstitious or a skeptical person? Do you believe in bad or good luck and why? Lucky charms, Friday the 13th, tarot cards, palm reading, the crystal ball, black cats?! The discussion is completely open to you!

P.S. If you like to bake, here’s a recipe to make your own fortune cookies!

P.P.S. Also, I know some of you wanted to do the guitar video so obviously you can watch the video on your own and if you decide to do so, this website will help you with the terms for the different parts of the guitar. This is of course just for your own personal information—our posts this week are about fortune cookies.