Idea and Ikea!opendocument

"The umbrellas are huge (3 people can fit underneath), colorful (in IKEA’s signature blue and yellow with a big company logo), and made of good quality materials (strong cloth, steel shaft, large wooden handle). Exactly the kind of umbrella you want to carry when it’s raining. A small sign hangs nearby:
IKEA UMBRELLAS Sunny Day ………….. $ 10.
Rainy Day ………….. $ 3.
I did a double-take, then smiled. Rainy days are when you really need an umbrella. Common sense says a smart retailer could raise the price. But IKEA is even smarter. IKEA wants you to enjoy the convenience of a big umbrella when you need it. They want you to remember the unusually low price. They want you to help promote their stores with a huge IKEA umbrella.
Key Learning Point IKEA wants you coming back. And with treatment like this, you will."

Self-portraits of a dementia patient

William Utermohlen’s self-portraits – (37signals)

Beautiful self-portraits by William Utermohlen depicting his descent into dementia.

The portraits depict not merely the physical deterioration but the gradual reduction in self-perceiving abilities as well.I dont think we have anywhere  else a better documented impact of the Alzhiemer’s disease on the patient’s physical as well mental faculties.

Our kids cannot write in joined letters ,in addition to their poor grammar

Techdirt: Oh For Shame! Our Children Can’t Write Cursive!

 "For all of the many worries people have had over what computers are doing to our children, from making them fat to destroying their grammar to opening them up to cyberbullying, here’s one we never realized was such a big deal.There didn’t seem to be much of a need for cursive writing any more, as most communications was done via typed words. Non-cursive writing was perfectly fine for other situations.  It turns out that fewer and fewer kids are writing in script, even if they learned it in elementary school.  Some people claim that a lack of connecting letters stunts both learning and self-esteem: "Unless children learn to write legibly and at speed, their educational achievements may be reduced and their self-esteem affected."

Brain regions do not communicate efficiently in autists

Brain regions do not communicate efficiently in adults with autism

A novel look at the brains of adults with autism has provided new evidence that various brain regions of people with the developmental disorder may not communicate with each other as efficiently as they do in other people.Over and or under-connectivity between different regions of the brain seems to explain the disjointedness of their communication and impaired language skills .
The findings have certain practical applications .Scientists will now be able to identify the phenotype or the characteristics of autism in a more precise way than now.

Retaining ethnic pride

"Ethnic pride can help teenagers maintain happiness when faced with stress, according to a new study by a Wake Forest University psychologist published in the October issue of "Child Development". Adolescents with positive feelings toward their ethnic group say they are happier on a daily basis than those who have a more negative attitude about their ethnic identity, said Lisa Kiang, assistant professor of psychology at Wake Forest and lead author of the study"
A majority of the Indian Americans tend to retain their ethnic identity through cultural practices and maintaining their religious and cultural ties with their country. This also helps them limit the damaging effects of racial hatred which they  some times face in every day life.

England a nation without music ?;jsessionid=XMOBFT2E2OPM3QFIQMFSFFOAVCBQ0IV0?xml=/opinion/2006/10/19/do1901.xml

“England is the country without music, said Schmitz. In the 1840s, the German poet Heinrich Heine who had been on a tour of England said “These people have no ear either for rhythm or music and their unnatural passion for piano playing and singing is all the more repulsive. Nothing on Earth is more terrible than English music,” said the shell-shocked aesthete, “except English painting.” .  We look at the world’s top composers, the real megastars, and in the first rank we see nothing but Germans or Austrians: Bach, Beethoven, Mozart. And when we get on to the second rank we find Wagner, Haydn, Rachmaninov.

If England were only a nation of shop-keepers and cultural mediocres ,how does she boast of such  a fine body of literature ? Apparently the explanation lies elsewhere .Perhaps they were simply too good at literature and too blessed in their freedom of expression, so that artistic temperaments did not feel the necessity to sublimate their feelings in music or painting.”

An interesting question that arises is : Is there anything in the genetics of the people of  a whole nation which predisposes them to a fine appreciation of music ?

Boris Johnson

Broken mirrors: A theory of Autism

Scientific American: Broken Mirrors: A Theory of Autism

"Perhaps the most ingenious of the psychological theories is that of Uta Frith of University College London and Simon Baron-Cohen of the University of Cambridge, who posit that the main abnormality in autism is a deficit in the ability to construct a "theory of other minds." Frith and Baron-Cohen argue that specialized neural circuitry in the brain allows us to create sophisticated hypotheses about the inner workings of other people’s minds. These hypotheses, in turn, enable us to make useful predictions about others’ behavior .Obviously  this does not explain the why of autistic symptoms but only states those symptoms. A better theory would be to pinpoint the activity that happens in the minds of the autist  child. While studying the anterior cingulate cortex of awake human subjects, investigators found that certain neurons that typically fire in response to pain also fired when the person saw someone else in pain. Mirror neurons may also be involved in imitation, an ability that appears to exist in rudimentary form in the great apes but is most pronounced in humans. The propensity to imitate must be at least partly innate: Andrew Meltzoff of the University of Washington has shown that if you stick your tongue out at a newborn baby, the infant will do the same.
These findings provide compelling evidence that people with autism have dysfunctional mirror neuron systems. Scientists do not yet know which genetic and environmental risk factors can prevent the development of mirror neurons or alter their function, but many research groups are now actively pursuing the hypothesis because it predicts symptoms that are unique to autism."