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Monday, March 1, 2010

Abe Lincoln and the spectre of Dracula

There is a reason Lincoln was so good with an Ax.

Just for fun, check out the Time Magazine blog "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Killer." Be sure to use all of the links and have fun in the process. Let your mind and your creative juices go wild!

I am from Illinois, so I was raised with everything Lincoln, and, yes, the thought did cross my mind a few times in idle thought.

Teenage and Middle Age Brains, why we think we know everything

Studies on teenage brains have show that they think different.

I lecture my students learned about how as we grow we use differing portions of our brain, and that in doing so our logic, out way of thinking and our retention ability shifts.

At several points in our lives we think we know everything. Usually these occur in middle school, as our body and mind goes through major changes, mid or late high school (or young adulthood), again in the mid 20's and later a we approach what is known as middle age. There are very real physiological reasons for these shifts, including nerve connections, the parts of the brain we use and shift in body chemistry.

This morning on National Public Radio some key differences, including why students cram instead of take their time, why adult start to lose concentration and possibly why we may find ourselves with memory, physical and emotional changes as we grow older.

The frontal lobe is not fully connected and there are chemical and physiological reasons for the lack of "common sense" and "reasoning" at a time when teenagers think they learn everything. That is the part that thinks of consequences and put results with specific tasks. Access is slow up until you are in your early 20's. This explains why teens often do not think of what driving fast, or being rude, or playing music or tagging can hurt others.  The tendency toward drug or alcahol abuse is higher not just because of a tendency to experiment, but also to ignore the negative consequences, including things that had happened before. Even the tendency to cram for an exam is a teenage tendancy that lives on into adulthood. Results are wanted quickly, with less patience or long term view than adults in their upper 20's or older. The reality is that learning as you go along, reinforcing through frequent review, good nutrition and a good night's rest are far more effective than cramming. But tell that to a typical teenager! More from NPR's Morning Edition at:

Middle age has its effects. Reaction time is lower. It takes longer to learn information. It takes longer to retrieve information. Multitasking is fast, but more errors. Complex reasoning is actually at its best in middle age. It's like going from dial up to DSL. You do tend to take the other persons interests into consideration and are more likely to care about the consequences for others. Physical and mental exercise, vitamins and the correct food does work. Exercise does improve the ability to put ideas together, to remember, to keep the brain functioning at the best it can given age, physiology and previous training or abuse. More from NPR's morning edition at:

Right Brain creative. Left Brain logical. Right Brain emotional. Left Brained reasoned. Not as black and white and true as it is often painted, but there is some truth to the old way of explaining why people are the way we are. We face a battle between the two sides of our brain, with the most effective being a strong use of both halves of the brain. Since women have more physical connections between the lobes of our brain, that may explain why women tend to multitask better and to reason through complex problems while not necessarily mastering each and every step. For more on this go to:

Hands off my health care!

Government will only mess things up.
But what if we do nothing?
Then "my health care" stays the same, right?
Far from it, health policy analysts and economists of nearly every ideological persuasion agree. The unrelenting rise in medical costs is likely to wreak havoc within the system and beyond it, and pretty much everyone will be affected, directly or indirectly.
"People think if we do nothing, we will have what we have now," said Karen Davis, the president of the Commonwealth Fund, a nonprofit health care research group in New York. "In fact, what we will have is a substantial deterioration in what we have."
Nearly every mainstream analysis calls for medical costs to continue to climb over the next decade, outpacing the growth in the overall economy and certainly increasing faster than the average paycheck. Those higher costs will translate into higher premiums, which will mean fewer individuals and businesses will be able to afford insurance coverage. More of everyone's dollar will go to health care, and government programs like Medicare and Medicaid will struggle to find the money to remain operational.

Click here for one of many stories looking at the reality of cost escalation, declining overall health and the high cost of doing nothing to reform our health care system.

Nevada Budget Cuts

Budget compromise reached.

Cuts in education of just under 7% (on top of previous deep cuts)

State workers to work four days a week.

Increases in almost all fees (but they say this is not a tax increase).

But lots "saved" from Governor Gibbons proposed ax...

Full story from Review

Full story from Las Vegas Sun

Previous blog on the compromise to cut 6.9% (call is "just under 10%) from already emasculated education budget.

Photo: Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons, (R), from Las Vegas Sun

BBC to downsize

The BBC is facing deep budget cuts under pressure at home for "competing" with broadcast organizations. Among those heading the "cut the head and balls" off the BBC movement is FOX News CEO, chair of NewCorp, Rupert Murdock.

The worlds finest broadcast news organization may find itself a second rate service thanks to corporate greed.

The BBC has begun, prior to being forced to through legislation, the first ever retrenchment and reduction in its history, as reported in Variety. The focus will increase on local British news, programming and services, reducing online and over the air radio and Internet services intended to overseas audiences. They are quick to point out that the intent is not to abandon their considerable international audience and services, simply to adapt to commercial competition, redundancy in services and the need to justify their set-tax revenue by providing greater service to British and Commonwealth citizens who use the service.

No one is saying this, but the retrenchment (reductions) also represent a shift away from British imperial dominance and England looking at the world as their back yard and their responsibility.

Extrapersonal Communication Model?

What is Extrapersonal Communication?

Trying to explain this term to my students i got some very good questions from them, i answered them but now i want to know the opinions of others too-

I was explaining how extrapersonal communication is done between human and non-human entities... the questions that followed-

Q1. How  about talking to a wall/ deity? Many people say and believe that they actually talk to inanimate objects (wall, mountains). Is it extra-personal communication or intra-personal communication?

Q2. When one touches a touch-me-not plant it shrinks back, similarly carnivorous plants show some changes/ movements when touched, is it a communication, if yes of what type?

Q3. Is praying (to the Divine) also communication? if yes then how to plot it on a communication model?

Q4. When talking with your dog or cat, is that interpersonal, extrapersonal or intrapersonal?

Your answers would validate or contradict my points. Kindly comment.

Sumangal Haldar
Senior Lecturer / Soft Skill Trainer
SRM College of Engineering and Management.

I will pass your comments on to this professor. Plus it is an interesting communication model and theory exercise.