Making a difference

Earlier this week I was thinking that my research has some world wide impact on humanity – and I was feeling pretty good about my realization of “purpose for life”. But then it soon plummeted into the depths of lackluster when I came across CNN’s interview of Sejal Hathi, the protagonist of Girls Helping Girls.
Sejal Hathi started this foundation when she was 15 with a vision to unite all women in the world in the same universal view of self-respect and opportunity. Her foundation has reached far and wide to 5000 girls in countries of North America, Africa and Asia.
Sejal appeared in Nicole Lapin’s Young People Who Rock – focusing on people under the age of 30 who are doing remarkable things.

Sejal is one among hundreds of people in the world who do a lot for the improvement of a billion others. I get inspired by such tales – and feel that the real happiness in life does lie in helping people who need help. Something tells me that if I ever start a social service organization – I will lose hope easily after seeing initial setbacks. On one hand, there are several success stories about non-profit organizations that have left more than a mark in the sand, and more than a noise in the wind. But there are many more that do not see the daylight of success. They are stumped by bureaucracy or by red-tape, by discouraging attitudes of people or by finances.
Which brings me to this. What is the success rate of such ventures of philanthropy? Is it high enough that more people will start doing it?

Smile please!

Guess who this is. Lindsey Evans, Miss Louisana Teen USA 2008.

Guess what this is. Her mugshot when she was arrested recently.

Is she smiling? Yes.
Is she posing for Miss Congeniality? Probably yes.

Who smiles like that when their mugshot is being taken? :-O

What happened? She decided to dine-and-dash at a restaurant with her friends, i.e. leaving the restaurant without paying, over a $46 bill. For one thing, if you are stupid enough to commit a crime, don’t leave your purse behind. Yes, she left without paying, and left her purse behind. DUH.

That’s not even the best part. When the cops were called, they obviously found the purse. Within the purse was some weed! Wow. She got arrested, and thereby came that photo up there. Why on earth did she decide to smile when she was being arrested?

Obviously, the pageant “dethroned” her on 20th October 2008; she lost her crown 11 days before her reign ended. Girl, you could have waited 11 days more.

It COULD NOT have been done in any other way

I was following election day in the US on CNN. All day. Little did I know that CNN will pull of a Star Wars. Remember the way they used to communicate in that movie?

Yeah, so I was thinking, CNN “beamed in” their correspondents and interviewees, for the first time ever on TV (see video). While it is a brilliant technological marvel, what was the point in spending so much infrastructure in doing something that could have been done by:
a. Cutting the scene reporting in the far-away location
b. Showing the reporting on a large screen TV
c. Telephone!
May be it was all about the ratings. But then, hands down, you’ve got to admit it is pretty cool – to see how far technology has reached from the time cell phones used to half the size of briefcases. It’s also a good idea to see this being used in other aspects probably unimaginable right now. Hologram-conferencing is going to be a terrific idea when it comes to education in less privileged areas.
I am interested to see what The Daily Show has to say about this!

Aaah, Google Ads!

Google’s Ad server thinks I am up to something. And that’s why it provided this “non-intrusive text ad” based on the content of my email. What was that email about? I was sending a video link to a friend. Non-intrusive… really? 🙂
Yeah… what about these links, eh… WHAT ABOUT THESE LINKS?

I did not visit the website for these reasons:
1. May be it’s a move by the government to expand their existing list. People who are into such activities would want to see if they are being watched. They type in their name into the website, and bingo, the CTU has a new name. Heh heh… I don’t want to be on that list. As it is, I look like one!
2. It’s a sponsored link? :-O Rac1st bum, that sponsoring dude.

Life. 🙂

Left brain, right brain and optical illusions

I have a question for you. What do you think, is this girl spinning clockwise or counter-clockwise?

If you think it is spinning only one way and not the other, look away and then look at it again. Has it changed since you had first laid eyes on it? Can you change the way you see it at will? 🙂 That’s the beauty of this illusion.

The Spinning Dancer, also known as the silhouette illusion, is a kinetic, bistable optical illusion resembling a pirouetting female dancer. The illusion, created by web designer Nobuyuki Kayahara, (his website) involves the apparent direction of motion of the figure.

There are studies that report that how you see the girl spinning determines which part of your brain you think from. If you see this moving clockwise, you use your right brain. If you see in counterclockwise, you are using your left brain. Why is it important? According to this report in The Sunday Times, the left brain and the right brain control different aspects of the way you think.

Left brain function:
uses logic
detail oriented
facts rule
words and language
present and past
math and science
can comprehend
order/pattern perception
knows object name
reality based
forms strategies

Right brain functions:
uses feeling
“big picture” oriented
imagination rules
symbols and images
present and future
philosophy & religion
can “get it” (i.e. meaning)
spatial perception
knows object function
fantasy based
presents possibilities
risk taking

When I read this, I was confused as to how to categorize myself. Because I see it happening both ways, and can control it as well! Don’t I think from any side at all? (That would surely explain several things!)
I wonder if all this brain hemisphere analysis is true. In my opinion, it is merely an optical illusion. How can an optical illusion determine how your brain thinks? May be it does… may be it doesn’t. Frankly, I do not find any significant differences in the above report of the left brain and right brain. I thought the hemispheres of the brain decide is handedness and language function. May be a neurological explanation can back up all this.
That’s when I came across this post in a blog dedicated to Neuroscience. According to Steven Novella, the author of the post, it’s just an illusion! And it has nothing to do with hemispherical dominance of either side of the brain.

[…] This news article, like many others, ignores the true source of this optical illusion and instead claims it is a quick test to see if you use more of your right brain or left brain. This is utter nonsense, but the “right-brain/left brain” thing is in the public consciousness and won’t be going away anytime soon. Sure, we have two hemispheres that operate fine independently and have different abilities, but they are massively interconnected and work together as a seamless whole (providing you have never had surgery to cut your corpus callosum).
We also do have hemispheric dominance, but that determines mostly your handedness and the probability of language being on the right or the left. There is also often asymmetry for memory, with some being right or left hemisphere dominant. But none of this means that your personality or abilities are more right brain or left brain. That much is nonsense.
Further, how your visual cortex constructs this optical illusion says nothing about your hemispheric dominance, and is absolutely not a quick personality profile. […]

Aside, I found this piece astounding. It replaces my all time favorite illusion: the Lilac Chaser.

Wait… what?!

I like the Mac vs. PC ads by Apple. Mac and PC are two buddies. Mac is cool, but PC is not. In the past year or so, they basically say that Microsoft’s Vista sucks and by releasing Vista, Microsoft has increased the sales of Mac.

Wow. Microsoft employees are going to lose their jobs because of Jobs. Heh.

So… after the really likable ads by Apple, Microsoft made its own ad. Starring Jerry Seinfield and Bill Gates. Shoe shopping. Somehow, this ad is supposed to draw the connection between… er… *nothing* and Microsoft Windows. Will someone shed some light on what this ad means?

Microsoft’s ad

Waah Google Waah

Really really cool – Google’s new browser – Google Chrome. 🙂 Clean and light, and somehow SUPERFAST in loading webpages. It’s almost instant!

Even more cool – Google Picasa 3. Newer features and major overhaul of Picasa Web Albums…

Also, Google’s answer to Microsoft’s Picture Viewer. Comes with Picasa 3. Truly beautiful.

Waah Google Waah!

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