Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Topic today: Trans-humanism
Moving towards a society where man plays God. Are we sure this is what we want? Do we know what we are getting into with nanotechnology, GMo foods, computer chips embedded in humans, pharmacology, and the abundance of other technological advances?
Celebrate Non-GMO Month in October
Raise awareness around you. We do not know what goes into GMO foods. These products have not been properly tested. They are not natural. Once introduced into our ecosystem, they cannot be removed. Think about it. We are playing with fire. Let’s get this topic on the table. The dinner table. The public needs to speak out before it’s too late.
Friday, October 15, 2010
Opinion topic tonight. Southern Accents and Southern Belles
The southern states in the US retain a very specific culture. In the 19th century, this region was known for its tobacco plantations and the caste system that grew up around these estates. The “new money” enjoyed a lifestyle of extravagant European imports slowed by the warm southern climate and rural pace of life. Slave labor manned the crops, while young girls went to finishing school to learn proper manners and enter society through débutante balls and cotillions. The archetype of these young girls has somehow managed to live on well after the existence of the Old South. They are known as Southern Bells and are loosely judged to be calm gentile and hospitable, with a simple mind and a charming naiveté. The idea has retained its appeal for young men still today, who frequently call to name the ideal of this almost mythical creature. Now that gigantic dresses are gone, social etiquette out the window, and courting replaced with sex, one of the only remaining traits of a would-be Southern Belle is her accent. Slow and twangy.
The southern accent has withstood chiding and not so tacit disrespect in the intellectual circles of the North and Midwest. A sly comment here and there says that a southern accent cannot sound intelligent. One has to wonder, why? The modern south is characterized by its people: former farm hands, working-class, the brawny Scots-Irish immigrants and their penchant for fighting and rebellion. Even though great minds have come from the south and moved to the south, the reputation has been hard to shake. Perhaps great subcultures like the Nascar racing population have carried the torch.The reputation got a nice sketch in this month’s issue of Harper’s Magazine. With a potpourri of ridiculous quotes, those approached for the story did not give any reason to reconsider the stereotype. Has the southern accent forever been pigeon-holed?
Back to the Southern Belle, with the only thing left to identify her being her accent, what does that mean? Does it say she is less intelligent than other girls? And most importantly is that the appeal?
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
We’ve talked about alternate universe book titles for the past couple of days, but sometimes it’s just the characters who have undergone name changes (and in some cases, sex changes). Here are 10 of them!
1. Scarlett O’Hara was almost named Pansy. In fact, the iconic character didn’t receive her iconic name until just before the story went to print.
3. Bram Stoker’s notes on Dracula reveal that he had been referring to his famous vampire as “Count Wampyr.” During research, Stoker came across Vlad II of Wallachia, who went by the name Vlad Dracul. He was intrigued enough to change his character’s name.
4. Similarly, Arthur Conan Doyle made notes that indicated he had been considering the name “Sherringford” for Detective Holmes.
5. If that doesn’t throw you for enough of a loop, consider this: Holmes’ assistant was originally going to be called “Ormond Sacker.” Arthur Conan Doyle decided the name was a bit too bizarre and changed it to the decidedly duller “John H. Watson.”
6. Batman’s alter ego was named for Mad Anthony Wayne because the creators were looking for sturdy, historical names that suggested gentry and entitlement. Before “Wayne” was determined, Bruce Adams and Bruce Hancock were considered. Bruce, by the way, came from Scottish patriot Robert Bruce.
7. Before “Nancy Drew” was decided upon, names kicked around for the plucky young heroine included Stella Strong, Diana Drew, Diana Dare, Nan Nelson, Helen Hale and Nan Drew.
8. Small Sam, Little Larry and Puny Pete were all in the running before Charles Dickens settled on “Tiny Tim” for the sickly sad sack in A Christmas Carol.
9. Little Orphan Annie was nearly Little Orphan Otto, until Harold Gray’s publisher at the newspaper syndicate suggested his character looked more female than male and told him to stick a skirt on it.
10. It may have been a much different story if George Lucas had gone with his original “Luke Starkiller” name. Although the Skywalker name prevailed, “Starkiller” has since popped up for other characters.
Imagine the painting that you’ve always kept on the mantle above the fireplace is suddenly found to be a rare painting by the most famous painter of all time, worth somewhere between 10 million and 300 million dollars.
This impossibility could be the case for the Kober family in upstate New York.
They called the painting “The Mike.” Rumor of its origin passed between family members as it changed hands with the generations. Finally in 2003 Martin Kober, newly retired and with time on his hands, decided it was high time to solve the mystery. So he set out, contacting Renaissance art scholars, auction houses, archives and even traveling to Italy to meet with museum directors. There he found Antonio Forcellino, an Italian art historian.
Forcellino traveled to Buffalo to view the piece, assuming he would report back to his colleagues about this crazy American who thought he had a Michelangelo.
Forcellino could not believe what he saw. The painting of Mary holding a wounded Jesus is the same moment Michelangelo depicted in the famous Pieta sculpture housed in St. Peter’s Basillica in Rome. Forcellino was dumbfounded. He says, “This painting was even more beautiful than the versions hanging in Rome and Florence.”
The art historian gives several reasons why he believes the painting to be authentic. X-ray examinations revealed that the painting had many alterations, showing that the artist changed his mind. A copy artist, obviously, would not change his mind. Secondly, there is an unfinished portion near the Madonna’s right knee. “The evidence of unfinished portions demonstrate that this painting never, never, never could be a copy of another painting,” Forcellino said. “No patron pays in the Renaissance for an unfinished copy.”
Forcellino has just finished a book about the piece titled, “The Lost Pieta.” He believes the painting was done around 1545 as a gift for Michelangelo’s friend Vittoria Colonna. Additional evidence includes a letter from the Vatican library discussing a Pieta painting for Colonna. Some experts disagree, saying the painting is a masterpiece from the 16th century, but not a Michelangelo.
Forcellino, however, is “absolutely convinced” that the painting was a Michelangelo. His main concern became the conditions that the painting had been living in for the past century - air condition, fireplaces, central heating, and stray tennis balls.
Rest assured, potentially worth millions, the painting is now in a vault and is being prepared for an upcoming exhibit.
A 42-year-old Norfolk, Virginia woman has given birth to a healthy boy from an embryo that had been frozen for almost 20 years, reports the journal Fertility and Sterility. The woman received the embryos from a couple who had also undergone the IVF, in vitro fertilization process and successfully conceived. The distinction came in the fact that these leftover embryos have been frozen for nearly 20-years! This means that this newborn has a sibling out there who was conceived at the same time, but is 20 years old.
Oh, the head spinning that happens when technology is applied to the nuances of life. In a separate procedure, a mother froze embryos for her 7-year-old daughter, who was born with condition that could leave her infertile. If the daughter uses these embryos, she will give birth to a half-brother or sister!
In fact, there are roughly 400,000 frozen embryos in existence today. A doctor at the Infertility Center in St Louis (naming it fertility clinic would have been the half-full option) actually advises women to have eggs and ovarian tissue frozen as a sort of safety net in case cancer, life, or age strikes.
Let us know what you think about these new developments.