Sunday, December 18, 2016

God Spot in the Brain?

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God Spot in the Brain?
Once upon a time Abraham strongly believed that there must be the higher Being, the Almighty, God that governs the universe. The kind of thought that led him to search and seek what "it" should be. Is it the almighty moon, the sun? In primitive era, the flinstone world, the genius of the time had been involved with spiritual curiosity. Hence, spiritualism exists, and will always remain, along with the existence of humankind.

Question: is there a specific God spot kind of thing in human brain? If not, why then human is so obsessed with spirituality?

Well, according to the latest findings which appears in the journal Neuroscience Letters:

Brain scans of nuns have revealed intricate neural circuits that flicker into life when they feel the presence of God. The images suggest that feelings of profound joy and union with a higher being that accompany religious experiences are the culmination of ramped-up electrical activity in parts of the brain.

The scans were taken as nuns relived intense religious experiences. They showed a surge in neural activity in regions of the brain that govern feelings of peace, happiness and self-awareness.

The findings contradict previous suggestions that human brains may have evolved with a "God spot" — a single region that lights up in response to deeply religious thoughts.

Pepsi, Coca-Cola and Pesticides

While in other parts of the world Pepsi and Coca Cola become part of easy and fun life and enjoy lucrative and ever growing fans, in India both most popular soft drink are battling it out for their lives and reputations. the topsy-turvy starts from a finding by an Indian research institution Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) on August 2 which came out with "a fresh study claiming the presence of 'pesticide cocktail' in 11 brands of soft drink giants Coca Cola and PepsiCo."

The Hindustan Times reports:

The new findings, publicised after testing 57 samples of 11 soft drink brands of Coca Cola and PepsiCo collected from 25 manufacturing units across 12 states, claim that all bottles examined were a "cocktail of 3-5 different pesticides", which was 24 times above the standards finalised by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS).

The new finding expectedly becomes a several days hot headlines in Indian media and an outcry among the politicians who understandably dont want to be left behind. As reported by International Herald Tribune:

Several Indian state governments have introduced partial bans on the sale of Pepsi and Coca- Cola soft drinks, after an environmental watchdog said it had found high levels of pesticide in their products.

The western coastal state of Gujarat and the state of Madhya Pradesh, in central India, have banned the sale of the soft drinks in schools and government offices, responding to a report by the New Delhi-based Center for Science and Environment, which said that tests it had conducted on 11 products made by the two companies showed high pesticide levels, up to 24 times the recommended limit.

Similar bans were announced by state governments in the northern states of Rajasthan and Punjab last week.

The loss on the part of both giant soft drink company is unimaginable. And they try hard to put things in place. Several efforts are made to make sure that their products are the darlings of Indians soft-drink lovers and are not spiraling into another country. Fortunately, Indian industries seem to support the ill-fated soft-drinks cos and cautioned the states not to rush into arbitrary action and creating unnecessary panic.

How about Pepsi and Coke and other soft drink companies in Indonesia? Is there any such effort from some research or consumer-safety institution like Lembaga Konsumen?

Happy Blogging, Housing Minister!

Another Indonesian minister has started blogging. Yusuf Ansy’ari, Minister of Housing, just started blogging about the passing of his mother on August 28. His second post is more serious: about urban development. Both posts are written in Bahasa Indonesia.

But according to Budi Putra, from whose blog this news comes from, the Minister plans to blog bilingual. If it's true, it'd be beneficial and accessible for international community and foreign governments who mostly understand English.

Updated: Correction, his blog is indeed written in both English and Bahasa Indonesia. The English version can be read just after the Indonesian version.

Happy blogging, Minister. Hopefully other Indonesian ministers will follow suit sooner rather than later.

Introduce English from Class 1

English teachingIndia's National Knowledge Commission (NKC), a high-level advisory body to the Prime Minister of India, has recommended "teaching English as a compulsory subject along with regional language/mother tongue from Class I across the country."

In its released statement to the press on January 12, NKC explains the rationale behind such recommendation (emphasis is mine):

"... we are convinced that action in this sphere, starting now, would help us build an inclusive society and transform India into a knowledge society. In just 12 years it would provide our school-leavers with far more equal access to higher education and 3-5 years thereafter, much more equal access to employment opportunities."

Well, so far as getting international jobs goes, I could not agree more with that opinion. Indonesia's higher educational institutions have enough capability to produce a good high skill workforce, particularly such institution as ITB Bandung, UGM Yogyakarta, UI Jakarta, ITS Surabaya. But the fact remains Indonesia cannot export those high-skill workers abroad. We are more known around Asia as TKI/TKW* exporting country.

So, had I been an Indonesian president, or an Educational Minister, I would not wait for that kind of recommendation to start with. It's crystal clear that Indonesia in its current context need to introduce English, beside Bahasa Indonesia, as a language from Class I (SD) to enable our youngsters having equal opportunity, in practical or in larger sense, in international arena.

I've been to Saudi Arabia several times for Haj and met with several Indonesian workers there. What saddened me a lot was that many of them are holding a bachelor degree from various Indonesian universities! One of them I met and talked directly was an ITB graduate!

Feedburner Blog Stats

feedburner blog statsI've always been a big fan of feedburner. Feedburner to feed maximization service is what blogger.com is to blog: free services with maximum freedom with creative, dynamic and ever developing technical utility. You need to login to feedburner often to know there's always something new outthere.

Now, it launchs a blog stats which I think similar to that of Google Analytics (formerly, Urchin). Only I presumed, it'd be better, easier and faster.

In it's announcement in feedburner's blog it says,

...our free StandardStats service now enables any of our publishers to track both feed and site audience, all from the comfort of your FeedBurner account.

On how to get started:

If you have already enabled FeedFlare for your site, good news: FeedBurner uses the same JavaScript for both FeedFlare and site stats tracking. All you need to do is go to the Analyze tab and check the "Track metrics for my site" checkbox on your StandardStats service (or TotalStats, our premium paid offering). Voila! You are now tracking site statistics and you should start seeing numbers coming into your site statistics dashboard in the next hour or so.

Men are More intelligent than Women: Study

men smarter than womenDuring my high school days, I taught a crash course of basic Arabic to some high school students, boys and girls, who were interested to learn the language. The course were held almost everyday for one month. I found out that boys understood a bit faster and were able to speak smoother. When I confronted that to the girl, one of the girls replied: boys are smarter than us.

I didn't believe the girl's statement. I believed each individual were born equal. If anything, the difference must be genetical: tall parent, will give birth to tall kids, for example. Or if the fact is such that most girls learn slower than boys in a class, it must be something to do with self-belief: if you strongly believe that you're incapable of doing something, then most definitely you are.

So, I am not particularly impressed with the new finding in UK, although it's worth to talk about here, that yes, men indeed more intelligent than women.

The study - carried out by a man - concluded that men's IQs are almost four points higher than women's.

British-born researcher John Philippe Rushton, who previously created a furore by suggesting intelligence is influenced by race, says the finding could explain why so few women make it to the top in the workplace.

The reason why I post it here is to know from girls and women themselves as to the accuracy of this study.