Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Asians Like White!

Asians spend an estimated $18 billion a year to appear pale.

According to a 2004 study by global marketing firm Synovate, nearly 40 percent of women in Taiwan, Hong Kong, South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines used skin whitening and lightening products that year.

“Asians like white skin," said Dr. Hsieh Ya Ju, dermatologist at MacKay Memorial Hospital in Hsingchu

Asian skin whitening has a tradition that stretches back centuries. "The feminine ideal during the Han period for women of the court was almost unearthly white, white skin. Moon-like roundish faces, long black hair. You can see how a culture that maintained that as an early ideal might continue with an ideal that light skin equals beauty," said Anne Rose Kitagawa, assistant curator of Japanese art at Harvard’s Sackler Museum.

Asia’s obsession with whiteness is also a reflection of economic status. "Those who had skin burnt by the sun were working in the fields, therefore, the whitening of the skin was a reflection of labor status,” said University of Houston historian Gerald Horne.

Horne also points to a political angle, shaped by the Allies' victory in World War II. “An aspiration of many in Asia toward whiteness is a reflection of the idea that the North Atlantic Powers were the quote — winners — unquote, and therefore they need to be imitated.”

But Chao-uan Tsen, of the Taipei womens' rights organization Awakening Foundation, said the whitening trend is a form of self hatred. “The beauty industries in Taiwan emphasize different skin tones and say that if you can be as white as Japanese women you can be as beautiful as a cherry blossom. This kind of image which they create doesn’t make women any happier. It actually creates more anxiety.”

Moreover, there are medical downsides to seeking lighter skin. That's especially true for those who can't afford expensive treatments, such as poor women using illegal bleaches and creams containing mercuric chloride that have left them disfigured.

Skin whitening can be dangerous for other reasons too, including the loss of melanin. “The whiter they become the more chances they will be subjected to skin damage and skin cancer," said Dr. Ernesto Gonzalez, director of international dermatology training at Boston’s Massachusetts General Hospital.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Large Hadron Collider Operational: And Yeah, We're Still Alive


Engineers operating the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) have smashed together proton beams in the machine for the very first time.

The low-energy collisions came after researchers circulated two beams simultaneously in the LHC's 27km-long tunnel earlier on Monday.

The LHC is smashing together beams of protons to shed light on the cosmos. Operated by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (Cern), the LHC is the world's largest machine and will create similar conditions to those present moments after the Big Bang.

Scientists will search for signs of the Higgs boson, a sub-atomic particle that is crucial to our current understanding of physics. Although it is predicted to exist, scientists have not yet detected it.

"This is great news, the start of a fantastic era of physics and hopefully discoveries after 20 years' work by the international community."
-Fabiola Gianotti
, spokesman for the Atlas scientific team

Housed in a tunnel 100m beneath the Franco-Swiss border, the LHC uses some 1,200 "superconducting" magnets to bend proton beams in opposite directions around the tunnel at close to the speed of light.

At allotted points around the "ring", the proton beams cross, smashing into one another with enormous energy.

Large "detector" machines located at these crossing points will scour the wreckage of the collisions for discoveries that could roll back the frontiers of knowledge.

Engineers restarted the LHC on Friday evening after a 14-month hiatus while the machine was being repaired.

It had to be shut down shortly after its inauguration when an electrical fault led to magnets being damaged and to one tonne of liquid helium leaking into the tunnel.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Ryan Williams: The Record-Breaker

Ryan Williams is a 5'10", 206-lb. running back from Stonewall High School in Manassas, VA. This dude was rated the No. 26 player overall and the No. 4 running back in the country by, Inc. He ran for over 3,000 total yards over four years in high school, despite being injured in his sophomore and senior seasons. And now, he's rippin' up the ACC. If you don't believe me, check it out:

Williams currently ranks fifth in the FBS for single-season rushing yards at 1,355, seventh nationally in yards/game at 123.18 and 10th in rushing touchdowns at 15.

Virginia Tech Records
1. Tech and ACC rookie record holder with 1,355 yards.
2. Second Tech freshman to reach 1,000 yards behind Darren Evans.
3. Most 100-yard games by a freshman RB with eight through 11 games. The record among all Tech backs was set by Kevin Jones in 2003 with nine.
4. Most freshman rushing TDs with 15 (Evans had 11).
5. Tied a freshman single-game record with 4 TDs against N.C. State.
6. Currently ranks third all-time for single-season rushing yards:

VT's Best Single Season Rushing Marks
Player Year Yards
Kevin Jones 2003 1,647
Cyrus Lawrence 1981 1,403
Ryan Williams 2009 1,355
Lee Suggs 2002 1,325
Darren Evans 2008 1,265
Cyrus Lawrence 1980 1,221
Lee Suggs 2000 1,207
Branden Ore 2006 1,137
Dwayne Thomas 1993 1,130
Roscoe Coles 1976 1,119
Shyrone Stith 1999 1,119

Ryan Williams finished the season rushing for 1,655 yards and 21 touchdowns to earn first-team All-ACC accolades and ACC Rookie of the Year honors. He capped off the season with 117 rushing yards in the Chick-fil-A Bowl win over Tennessee to earn the game's Offensive MVP award.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Prisoner Returns

The Prisoner is a 17-episode British television series broadcast in the UK from 29 September 1967 to 1 February 1968. Starring and co-created by Patrick McGoohan, it combined spy fiction with elements of science fiction, allegory, and psychological drama.

The series follows a British former secret agent who is held prisoner in a mysterious seaside village where his captors try to find out why he abruptly resigned from his job. Although sold as a thriller in the mold of McGoohan's previous series, Danger Man (called Secret Agent in its U.S. release), the show's combination of 1960s countercultural themes and surreal setting had a far-reaching effect on science fiction/fantasy programming, and on popular culture in general.

The series features striking and often surreal storylines, and themes include hypnosis, hallucinogenic drug experiences, identity theft, mind control, dream manipulation, and various forms of social indoctrination. A major theme is individualism versus collectivism.

Awards and Honors

  • The final episode, "Fall Out", received a Hugo Award nomination for Best Dramatic Presentation in 1969, but lost out to 2001: A Space Odyssey.
  • In 2002, the series won the Prometheus Hall of Fame Award.
  • In the 30 May – 5 June 2004 issue of TV Guide magazine, The Prisoner was voted #7 of the 25 top cult shows ever.
  • In 2005, readers of SFX magazine awarded the series fifth place in a poll of British fantasy and science fiction television programs.
  • A 2006 survey of leading rock and film stars by Uncut magazine ranking films, books, music or TV shows that changed the world, placed The Prisoner at #10, the highest for a TV show.

Check it: The Prisoner in Popular Culture (wikipedia)

A TV miniseries "reinterpretation" aired on the U.S. cable channel AMC from November 15-17, 2009. It is written by Bill Gallagher and stars Jim Caviezel as 6 and Ian McKellan as 2. While the original series was filmed in North Wales, the filming location of "The Village" for the remake was in Swakopmund, Namibia.

Additionally, Christopher Nolan has been widely reported to be considering a film version.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

WTF: New Mexico vs. BYU

My first big "WTF of the Week" goes to this player on the University of New Mexico women's soccer team. Julie Foudy makes a good point when saying you shouldn't try to snap someone's head off during a game... you'll see what I mean.

Monday, November 9, 2009

World's Best MMA Fighter?

"With Fedor Emelianenko's knowledge of Sambo, a Russian commando style of fighting, and his uncanny combination of strength and speed, he’s blitzed through American competition throughout his career.

Some people even call him inhuman.

'I'm a human being,' said Emelianenko during a telephone press conference on Monday."

Tuesday, November 3, 2009