Thursday, October 28, 2010

Superman Gets a Vampire Look Makeover?

Superman has a new look, and the redrawn Man of Steel now more closely resembles a a vampiric Robert Pattinson or a sulky member of My Chemical Romance than a hunky matinee idol.

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The new Superman will appear in "Superman: Earth One," a graphic novel by writer J. Michael Straczynski and artist Shane Davis that retells the superhero's origin story. While the iconic superhero retains his dark mane and defined six pack, he now has a decidedly more emo vibe -- pale, leaner, and brooding. (No need to get too worked up, Superman loyalists: This new graphic novel series doesn't replace the original comics, but rather will serve as a "reinterpretation" of his younger years.)

The Superhero Universe seems to have been increasingly influenced by what could be termed the "Twilight Effect," as Wonder Woman was given a similarly "edgy" makeover in June when her "bustier and hotpants" were traded out for a blue biker jacket and a trendy new hair style.

In the words of the New York Post, the new Man of Steel "wears hoodies" and "has smoldering eyes"; and as Clark Kent, he wears low-cut pants and skinny ties. So basically Superman has turned into a full-on hipster.

Credits Josh Duboff

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Time Traveler Caught on Film?

A woman appears to be talking on a cell phone or using a gadget that wasn't invented in the 1920's in this black and white footage from the 1928 movie entitled The Circus starring Charlie Chaplin.

A time traveler using a mobile phone? Is it Sony Ericsson or Nokia? hehehe...see and share your thoughts!

Still shot
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History of Halloween and the First Photographs of Ghost

Halloween is coming, and the frightfest has trick-or-treaters checking the Web for the history of the haunted holiday.

Lookups on "what is the history of Halloween" rose 220% on Yahoo!. Spooky searches for "the haunted history of Halloween" and "the true history of Halloween" were also scary-high.

Turns out, the modern-day tradition of outfitting yourself in a costume and going door to door for candy has some really ancient roots.

Originally, the festival came from the Celtic holiday Samhain, which means summer's end, and celebrated the end of fall and the beginning of winter. This day also marked the Celts' version of the new year — and the time, they believed, when the dead came back to roam the earth. (Insert spooky music here.)

Ancestors were honored, but evil spirits were warded off by lighting bonfires and wearing costumes to hide from them. Turnips carved with faces got placed in windows to scare off the unwelcome undead. People would go "a-souling," and in exchange for food and drink, pray for a household's dead relatives. In Scotland, spirits were impersonated by men wearing all white with veiled faces. Sound familiar?

[Be honest: How old is too old for trick or treating?]

The holiday is actually a mash of Catholic and Celtic beliefs. Oh, and Roman. Their version of the Celtic holiday was called Feralia, which honored their dead. The Catholics — who were beginning to influence the area by the 800s — contributed All Saints' Day, also known as All Hallows or Hallowmas. The name "Halloween" comes from the Scottish "All-Hallows-Even," meaning "the night before All Hallows Day."

By the mid-19th century, Irish immigrants brought Halloween to America. By the 1950s, candy makers began promoting their sweet stuff as the currency to give out to trick-or-treaters, and this year it's estimated to be a $2 billion candy bonanza. The religious ideas have been dropped, and the day as we know it — dressing up, carving pumpkins, and getting a good scare ... and goodies — became the holiday it is now.

And to make things more scary for are the archives of the
First photographs of 'ghosts'....

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By Claudine Zap / Damenation on Shine

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Are Texting and Facebook Bad for Teens?

Let's face it: Teenagers spend hours texting, socializing on Facebook and playing video games. And it's driving their parents nuts.

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Sure, there are real dangers associated with all this screen time — everything from cyberbullying to couch-potato obesity. Not to mention driving while texting, shortened attention spans and Internet porn.

But many of today's parents spent hours as kids sitting in front of screens too — only they were TV screens.

Which raises an interesting question: Is Facebook really worse for teenagers' brains than the mindless reruns of "Gilligan's Island" and "The Brady Bunch" that their parents consumed growing up?

Douglas Gentile, a child psychologist and associate professor at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, who studies the effects of media on children, says texting, Facebook and video games are not inherently bad. Nor are they inherently better or worse than watching TV, although they do pose different risks, such as cyberbullying.

But research has shown that the more time kids spend in front of screens — whether it's TV or instant-messaging — the worse their school performance. "That doesn't mean it's true for every kid, but it makes sense, that for every hour a kid is playing video games, it's an hour that they're not doing homework or reading or exploring or creating," he said.

Gentile calls this the "displacement hypothesis. If screen time is displacing doing their homework, that's bad. But if their homework is done, well, so what?"

Gentile, who admits that his own teenager crossed the "9,000 texts in one month barrier" last summer, acknowledged that parents are struggling to adjust to a world in which kids would rather look at words on a cell phone screen than have a conversation.

"The older generation, it's not their culture," he said. "There is a resistance to it."

Watching TV as a family, as mindless as that experience can be, is now regarded with nostalgia by parents. If your kid is sitting in the living room watching "American Idol," you can plop on the sofa with them, and "it's a shared experience," Gentile said. But if they're texting or video-chatting with a friend from school, "it's a private experience. It's like they're whispering secrets. And we find it rude."

Patti Rowlson, a mother of two in Everson, Wash., says this "has been a topic of discussion in our house for years now." She and her husband started out limiting TV time when their kids were little, but "then technology crept in. Cell phones, laptop computers, iPods with Wi-Fi. We, as parents, were no longer in control of screen time because we could not even tell when they were using it."

Recounting a struggle that will sound familiar to many parents, Rowlson said that at first, she and her husband imposed limits on tech use.

"There were battles and even groundings," along with the confiscation of iPods, she said. "We were constantly policing and the kids were constantly getting in trouble. We were trying to fight for the old ways, and it was causing a lot of stress and tension in the family. It was ridiculous. So we loosened up. And it's made everybody happier. We were fighting something that you can't hold back. It's how they communicate with their peers."

What's been the result? Two good kids, she said. "In the end I'm not sure if having boundaries early on helped them or made no difference at all."

Ron Neal, who lives in West L.A., has a teenage daughter who is "tech-driven and passionate about it. ... I don't know how it's going to play out, but I don't have this fear and dread about it."

Neal, who admits to watching a lot of "Gilligan's Island" growing up, added: "We had our minds numbed by TV, and maybe they're looking at useless things on the Internet or YouTube, but I also think they're developing a lot of skills through this technology that we could never comprehend. For my daughter, when she is home, she does have everything going — the TV, the computer, communicating with friends, and doing the homework at the same time."

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He admits, though, that there are some frightening aspects to the dependence today's teenagers have on technology. "They are so emotionally connected to being tied in with their friends 24 hours a day, if they get a text, they feel obligated to respond in seconds," he said. He recalled a group of girls showing up for a birthday party at a restaurant, and "everyone of them had their head down, texting."

The explosion in teen screen time is well-documented. A recent Associated Press-mtvU poll found that one-third of college students use computers, cell phones or gaming consoles for six or more hours daily. A Kaiser Family Foundation study published in January found that total media use among 8- to 18-year-olds, including TV, music, computers, video games, print and movies has increased from six hours, 21 minutes daily in 2004 to seven hours, 38 minutes in 2009.

"Try waking a teenager in the morning and the odds are good that you'll find a cell phone tucked under their pillow," the Kaiser report said.

The Kaiser study also found that the more time kids spend with media, the lower their grades and levels of personal contentment are.

Gentile said the impact of screen time on school work can be mitigated by what he calls "protective factors." Those might include good teachers and a high-performing school, love of reading, coming from a family where education is valued, and exposure to experiences that are culturally and intellectually enriching. "If you had all these protective factors," said Gentile, "then that one little risk factor (screen time), who cares?"

He added that surprisingly, the amount of time kids spend watching TV has not declined precipitously with the popularity of computers and gaming, but "they don't pay nearly the attention (to TV) that they used to." The TV might be on, but "they're also instant-messaging, they're on Facebook, they're texting."

One thing parents should worry about, Gentile said, is the way electronic devices encourage multitasking.

"Multitasking is not really good for anyone," he said. "Your reflexes speed up, you're quicker to look over your shoulder and notice little noises or lights. This is not what they need when they get to the classroom and you're supposed to ignore the kid next to you. Scanning to see when the next message comes, this may not be good for kids. The more distractions you have, the worse your performance is." Getting kids to turn off their phones, iPods, and computers in order to concentrate on homework and reading, he said, "I think that's a fight worth having."

Bottom line: Never mind that your kid is spending two hours on Facebook each night. As long as they do their homework without texting in between math problems, it's probably no better or worse than the hours you spent watching "Star Trek."

By BETH J. HARPAZ, Associated Press

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Friday, October 1, 2010

5 Attention Grabber You Must Control, and Yes! Facebook is included!

Life in the 21st century poses a whole new set of circumstances and challenges that our ancestors never imagined. With the advent and constant innovation of communication and digital media, the way we receive information is constantly changing – and it's no longer passive. Instant cell phone messaging, Skype calls, friends updating online statuses, RSS feeds, radio on-demand … The world is constantly available at our fingertips. While an omnipresent world offers numerous benefits, it also causes us to feel pressured to keep abreast on our updates, resulting in stolen attention and a scattered focus.

In my sixteen years of experience in teaching employees how to work at their peak performance-level, I've come to believe that the secret to productivity is the ability to effectively control your attention. Here are eight of the more tempting "attention thieves" and ways to handle them:

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1. Twitter -- This can be an informative tool or a time sink. If you use it as a business tool to build a brand or product, then perhaps checking in frequently is warranted. If you use it primarily as a social tool, or, worse, a procrastination tool, then allocate time sparingly. Applications can help you stick to a set amount of time, such as FocusBoosterApp, which helps you by setting a timer on your activities, or LeechBlock, a Firefox add-on, which locks you out after your allocated time is up.

2. Facebook/Online Games/Social Apps
: While it's true that there are some businesses that use Facebook in their marketing plan, for most people, it's primarily a social site. If this is true for you, the time-saving tips above will help. Also, tracking the time you spend for one week on social-networking tools and gaming sites can offer a healthy dose of reality that might motivate you to change your habits.

3. E-mail: Don't check your e-mail first thing in the morning. Often people start their day with e-mail for no other reason than to procrastinate on their work. In most industries, there is no such thing as an e-mail emergency. If you start the day by tackling one or two items on your to-do list, then even if the rest of the day gets away from you, you'll still have accomplished some tasks.

4. Hunger:
This "attention thief" obviously wasn't caused by technology; nonetheless, a rumbling belly can steal your attention. The average attention span of an adult may be as short as 20 minutes. However, this can vary with the type of task. If you need to do things that you don't particularly enjoy or don't capture your attention, consider 20 minute intervals with two-minute breaks in between. Use the breaks to nourish yourself with snacks and drinks, and try not to skip meals. It may seem like working through lunch allows you to get more done, but the later affect on your concentration and your energy will likely negate any short-terms gains it may have provided.

5. Physical and or electronic clutter: An e-mail inbox with hundreds or thousands of messages, a computer desktop littered with files, and piles of paper covering your desk; all of these create stress and distract your attention from the task at hand. Most people leave "to-do items" visible simply as a reminder to complete them. A comprehensive, electronic task list, whether in an information-management program like Outlook, or a web-based application such as Todoist, or Remember the Milk, will allow you to put those papers, files, and emails away while still ensuring that you won't forget about them. You can still "see" them on your list, and you can even set reminders if necessary.


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The Science of Love at First Sight

From the moment she set eyes on him, she adored him. Wanting only to be near him, to lavish her affection on him, she followed everywhere he went. The sound of his voice made her bark.

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Bark? Novelist and animal behaviorist Elizabeth Marshall Thomas was describing her pug dog, Violet, who was in love with her other pug, Bingo.

Animals love. Animal literature is full of descriptions of love at first sight, actually. When Tia, a female elephant living in the Amboseli National Park in Kenya, came into heat (or estrus), she was followed by a coterie of young males. Tia would not cooperate. But the moment Bad Bull swaggered into view, head high, chin tucked in, ears intensely waving, trunk aloft, and doing his courtship strut, Tia changed her elephant mind. Holding her ears high in a pose meant to draw his attention, she stared at him with the prolonged “courting gaze,” then turned and began to move slowly away, glancing repeatedly to see if this mature male was following. Tia and Bad Bull remained inseparable for the duration of her estrus.

Instant attraction across the animal kingdom
Scientists and naturalists have recorded this instant attraction phenomenon in hundreds of species. Throatpatch and Priscilla, two orangutans; Alexander and Thalia, two baboons; Skipper and Laurel, two beavers; Misha and Maria, two Huskies; Satan and Miff, two chimps: these and many other creatures have taken an instant liking to one another. As Charles Darwin wrote of two ducks, “it was evidently a case of love at fist sight, for she swam about the newcomer caressingly… with overtures of affection.”

How we came to fall in love fast
You and I have inherited the brain circuitry for this instant attraction, what has become known as “love at first sight.” This spontaneous passion comes from our primordial past when, like other mammals, our female forebears had a monthly period of heat. Like all mammals that have only a few hours, days or weeks to procreate, these ancestors had to become attracted quickly. They couldn’t spend two months or two years discussing their suitor’s career and family plans. They had to meet and produce offspring fast.

Today, first meetings are still crucial. With little or no knowledge of this stranger, we tend to weigh heavily those few traits we first encounter. Based on these morsels of information, we almost instantly form a strong opinion of him or her, generally within the first three minutes. Thomas Jefferson fell in love with Maria Cosway in an afternoon, probably within minutes of meeting.

Who falls faster: the male or the female?

Indeed, men tend to fall in love faster than women do, probably because their brain circuitry for romantic love is more quickly triggered by visual cues. But any of us can walk into a crowded room, talk for only minutes with a someone new, and either feel that “chemistry” — or “know” there could be chemistry down the road.

But is this attraction love or lust? Actually, these feelings involve very different brain networks. You can have physical intimacy with someone you are not “in love” with, and you can be passionately in love with someone you have never kissed. But these brain circuits can trigger one another, leaving you wondering for a moment if your attraction is purely physical.

Can immediate attraction last?
You will know if your passion is love or lust with your answer to just one simple question: “What percentage of the day and night do you think about him or her?” Romantic love is an obsession. It can happen in a moment, but when it strikes, you can’t get your new beloved off your mind. And this instant passion can last — sometimes for many years.

“The loving are the daring,” wrote poet Bayard Taylor. We are all daring; we can’t help ourselves. Millions of years ago humanity evolved three powerful brain systems for courtship and reproduction: the libido, romantic attraction, and feelings of deep attachment. The libido evolved to drive us to reproduce with a range of partners, but romantic love evolved to enable us to focus our energy on just one, The One. This passion is intricately orchestrated, at least in part, by the activity of a powerful chemical, dopamine. And this potent brain circuit lies dormant in each of us, sleeping like a cat with one eye open, waiting for the right moment to erupt.

Indeed, feelings of intense romantic passion can awaken the first moment you see someone who fits within your mental concept of the perfect partner — love at first sight.

( By By Helen Fisher, Ph.D. )

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