lunes, 4 de junio de 2012

Plowing the Sea

Under a language storm, I was drifting along,
But clutched to your nets, I’m not lost anymore;
Through a vast ocean of knowledge, you’ve guided me for long.
Oh, goodness! Wiser, further, better, we reach the shore. 

martes, 29 de mayo de 2012

Bob Dylan, Still a Rolling Stone

Only those who stick to their guns and do not hesitate in following their own way, are able to transcend their time and cause an everlasting impression on people. That is the case of Bob Dylan (Duluth, Minnesota, USA) who, in his seventy-first anniversary, still remains as an essential figure in the history of pop music.

His alternative way started soon. Not only did he change his name, but also changed how pop music was perceived. Throughout the 60's he left us some works that are considered as masterpieces, like “Blowin' in the Wind”, “The Times They Are a-Changing”, and
his famous hit “Like a Rolling Stone”, which was a turning point in his career. As if an electrical shock had awakened an inner slept spirit, he became unpredictable, and started reinventing himself and his music.

It is widely agreed that his most remarkable contribution was bringing sophistication and a sense of literature and poetry in lyrics. His songs became authentic anthems to the people, and have maintained a distinctive freshness over time. There is always something unique in his music; an underlying ambiguity that catch your attention, maybe with the aim of unscrambling his meaning, as unknown as his own personal life.

Although you do not know much about him, you can feel that he has something special, which has transcended and make him everlasting. And perhaps it is not a complicated issue. The talent of success is nothing more than doing what you can do, well. And he did it, overcoming obstacles and reluctance. And thus the rock keep on rolling till the endless horizon.

"A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall"

lunes, 30 de abril de 2012

Education: Let's Release Creativity!

In this witty and entertaining speech, Ken Robinson focuses on the drawbacks of the educational system standing in almost all countries, which contemplate education only as a preparation for the labour market. This misguided approach 'kills creativity', since only values job-oriented skills, and as a result, it marginalises many talented students, whose are considered to have failed.

Taking the subject further, Robinson questions the validity of the current educational framework that stigmatizes the failure and maintains a hierarchy of subjects related with academic abilities, but that make it impossible the appropriate development of the intelligence and creativity in its different angles. “This educational system is good just to produce university professors”, he said. Additionally, he points out that this system frustrates talent and innovation capacity, and therefore young people will be less prepared for a fast-changing and unpredictable future.

He invites us to wonder how figures like Shakespeare, Picasso or Einstein would cope with this educational approach. Perhaps they wouldn't have had a chance, and they would have been considered of being wrong, as they didn't have 'useful skills'. Consequently, He argues that it is necessary a new conception of Human Ecology, which favours the three aspects of intelligence -diverse, dynamic, and distinct-, and that considers the gift of human imagination and their creative capacities. “All children born artists”, stated Picasso; thus, let's them grow up as they are.

               TED Talks - Ken Robinson: Schools kill Creativity

sábado, 24 de marzo de 2012

The Science of Love

We call it love. It feels like love. But the most exhilarating of all human emotions is probably nature’s beautiful way of keeping the human species alive and reproducing.

Yes. It doesn’t sound very romantic, but the truth is that all our feelings, as everything else, are just a certain combination of chemicals and reactions in our brain. With an irresistible cocktail of chemicals, our brain entices us to fall in love. We believe we’re choosing a partner. But we may merely be the happy victims of nature’s lovely plan.

Neuroscientists have demonstrated these ideas thought different tests, and conclusions are amazing. For instance, psychologists have shown it takes between 90 seconds and 4 minutes to decide if you fancy someone. Research has shown this has little to do with what is said, rather
- 55% is through body language,
- 38% is the tone and speed of their voice,
- Only 7% is through what they say.

Thus when it comes to love it seems we are at the mercy of our biochemistry. One of the best known researchers in this area is Helen Fisher of Rutgers University in New Jersey. She has proposed that we fall in love in three stages. Each involving a different set of chemicals.

Stage 1: Lust

Lust is driven by the sex hormones testosterone and oestrogen. These hormones as Helen Fisher says "get you out looking for anything".

Stage 2: Attraction

This is the truly love-struck phase. When people fall in love they can think of nothing else. They might even lose their appetite and need less sleep, preferring to spend hours at a time daydreaming about their new lover.
In the attraction stage, a group of neuro-transmitters called 'monoamines' play an important role:
- Dopamine: also activated by cocaine and nicotine.
- Norepinephrine (adrenalin):  starts us sweating and gets the heart racing.
- Serotonin: one of love's most important chemicals and one that may actually send us temporarily insane.

Stage 3: Attachment

This is what takes over after the attraction stage, if a relationship is going to last. People couldn't possibly stay in the attraction stage forever, otherwise they'd never get any work done! Attachment is a longer lasting commitment and is the bond that keeps couples together when they go on to have children. Important in this stage are two hormones released by the nervous system, which are thought to play a role in social attachments: oxytocin and vasopressin.

Love. Emotions. Feelings. So tricky as they seem, and so easy that they really are, at least scientifically speaking. Nevertheless, most people don’t believe that. We need not to believe that. It’s difficult to accept that all our complex feelings, emotions and thoughts are simply biochemistry. That all our hopes, fears, loves, and sorrows are just mere reactions happening in our neurons. That we are just atoms, cells and genes in the pursuit of its perpetuations as live forms. But science, and physical evidence, shows us that it is. Chemistry or Soul, what do you believe?

     Listening: An interestind and emotive speech by Helen Fisher

                        Link (Ted Talk):   Helen Fisher: The brain in love

miércoles, 29 de febrero de 2012

Fine-Tuning a Writing

It was very early in the morning, earlier than usual for the retired Martin. A whole life being stuck in a rut , and he would now choose to relax in bed well until the sun mature. But that day there was a strange feeling in the air, and an inward impulse made him dress up, take a book and star reading by the bedroom window. In the shiny day, he could hear the sweet singing of the sparrows flying around the old oak, in which he still glimpsed the face of his great grandfather, who planted the tree according to the family record. Suddenly, there was a silence, such a deep silence that Martin was affected. Startled, he stood up and peered into the window. The figure of a little boy appeared under the centennial tree, not older than ten, dressed in tattered clothing, reading a book. It seemed a scene drawn from other time, so odd that he rubbed his eyes in surprise. He set eyes on the boy, who was deeply concentrated in his book, as if he had been belonged to the place forever. Impelled by an irresistible attraction, we crept downstairs, crossed the glass door, and padded softly across the garden to the oak. Crouching, he asked: It seems a good book, doesn’t it? For the first time, the boy looked away from the pages and, smiling in a shy but charming way, said: “It is the book of my life”.

“You mean that it is your favourite book”, asked Martin in a condescending manner. “Well”, replied the boy, “it might have been better. In fact, I need to look at it again to improve some things”. Martin was unable to understand him. “Hey naughty boy, has you at all written the book?”. “Not exactly, at least not with ink”, stated the boy. Martin felt confused, with a mixture of annoyance and anxiety. Then, he set eyes on the book. It was quite robust, with a fine binding, but old yellowish pages. The lettering was quite strange, and although he stared at it, he couldn’t make out anything. “What weird language is it?”, asked Martin, full of curiosity. “It is the language of the dreams”, the child pronounced firmly. “What a nonsense!”, sniggered Martin, and started shouting angrily at the boy. Drop dead! Get out from here, immediately!

Then the boy stood up, gazed at Martin, and said: “This is a book not to be read, but to be lived. Only those with a heart full of love, and empty of regrets, are able to read it. Dare you?”. Martin didn’t feel like going on with that game. He wandered through the garden, and  beheld lilies, roses, jasmines, chrysanthemums, daffodils. All the flowers had strangely bloomed, and filled the atmosphere with soft nuances and coloured fragrances. And there, with a tender stroke the boy touched his back, and said: “You should have listened to Grandpa Charles when he said that you deserved the best. Things would have been very different”. Martin was petrified of listening his grandfathers’ name. At that moment, he recognized that the boy he was talking to resembled himself when he was ten years old. “Nevertheless, you might fix it up”, said the little boy offering Martin the book,  Would you like to look back?”…

miércoles, 22 de febrero de 2012

My Shakespearian Sonnet

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) is one of the greatest figure of universal literature of all times, and is considered the world’s pre-eminent dramatist. He embodies the golden age of English letters, and the dawn of a cultural renaissance during the Queen Elisabeth rule. A great deal of his works are masterpieces, a legacy of lasting impression and influence from its time until now. Tragicomedies as Hamlet, King Lear, Othello, Macbeth, and his poems, are considered some of the finest works in the English language.

A vast amount of resources are available about this genius on Internet. If you feel like digging into this brilliant figure, here you have two interesting links:

     Link: Shakespeare Online

And why not trying to emulate the genius? I dared to make an attempt of a Shakespearian  sonnet:

'Hopeless Love'

Since ethereal mist you shadow my senses.
You are the air I breath, breeze stroking my skin,
Darkness in the daylight, in the warm summer, coldness;
No escape; triumphant knots chained us within.
Oh love, my true love! How shall I take the heat?
My sweet perdition, painful as the untouchable beauty of a rose,
Beneath every joyous moment, makes spurt the grief.
Just as you gave me everything, so love stole my soul.
Oh hopeless love! I am dreaming awake, I am living a dream;
How so much love can bring back such a thing?
Long time ago you set off to an unknown station.
I did beg your forgiveness, with yelps of despair,
But crawling on lead-shod, I could not change my destination.
Aimless, alone. If you are not here, I don't want this world any more.

lunes, 13 de febrero de 2012

My Dickensian Paragraph

A Tale of Two Cities

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness,it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity,it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness,it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair,we had everything before us, we had nothing before us,we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way-in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

My paragraph:

And in these two cities, people of all condition faced their lives as they best could, with their joys and sorrows, with their loves and their aversions, with their hopes and their failures. As it was, is and ever will be. Some gentlemen were full of material things, but with a grieving soul; and the destitute, the vast majority, enduring the lack of goods with an excess of joie de vivre. In that state of things, little could  the authorities do to vary the course of events; only big noise and obscene parades. And one city tried to be the mirror of the other, establishing an insane competition leading only to counter their penuries. But behind that merrymaking, waters kept running, infants cried, beggars pleaded, lovers loved, moribund died, rats gnawed, ogres loathed, and an invisible but real web was drawn between citizens of both sides...

The original paragraph:

There were a king with a large jaw and a queen with a plain face,on the throne of England; there were a king with a large jaw and a queen with a fair face, on the throne of France. In both countries it was clearer than crystal to the lords of the State preserves of loaves and fishes, that things in general were settled for ever.

It was the year of Our Lord one thousand seven hundred and seventy-five. Spiritual revelations were conceded to England at that favoured period, as at this. Mrs. South cott had recently attained her five-and-twentieth blessed birthday, of whom a prophetic private in the Life Guards had heralded the sublime appearance by announcing that arrangements were made for the swallowing up of London and Westminster. Even the Cock-lane ghost had been laid only a round dozen of years, after rapping out its messages, as the spirits of this very year last past(supernaturally deficient in originality) rapped out theirs. Mere messages in the earthly order of events had lately come to the English Crown and People, from a congress of British subjects in America: which, strange to relate, have proved more important to the human race than any communications yet received through any of the chickens of the Cock-lane brood.