Monday, July 27, 2009

Whoever said they're just "potential life" is full of baloney

Must we need further proof that the baby in the womb is alive?


Fetal Short-term Memory Found in 30-week-old Fetuses

ScienceDaily (July 15, 2009) — Memory probably begins during the prenatal period, but little is known about the exact timing or for how long memory lasts. Now in a new study from the Netherlands, scientists have found fetal short-term memory in fetuses at 30 weeks.

The study provides insights into fetal development and may help address and prevent abnormalities. Published in the July/August 2009 issue of the journal Child Development, it was conducted by researchers at Maastricht University Medical Centre and the University Medical Centre St. Radboud.

The scientists studied about 100 healthy pregnant Dutch women and their fetuses, measuring changes in how the fetus responds to repeated stimulation. After receiving a number of stimuli, the fetus no longer responds to the stimulus as observed by ultrasonography and the stimulus is then accepted as "safe." This change in response is called "habituation." In a second session, the fetus "remembers" the stimulus and the number of stimuli needed for the fetus to habituate is then much smaller.

Based on their research, the scientists found the presence of fetal short-term memory of 10 minutes at 30 weeks. They determined this because a significantly lower number of stimuli was needed to reach habituation in a second session, which was performed 10 minutes after the first session. They also found that 34-week-old fetuses can store information and retrieve it four weeks later. Fetuses were tested at 30, 32, 34, and 36 weeks, and again at 38 weeks. The 34- and 36-week-old fetuses habituated much faster than the 38-week-old fetuses that had not been tested before. This implies that these fetuses have a memory of at least 4 weeks—the interval between the test at 34 weeks and that at 38 weeks.

"A better understanding of the normal development of the fetal central nervous system will lead to more insight into abnormalities, allowing prevention or extra care in the first years of life and, as a consequence, fewer problems in later life," according to the study's authors.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Old tech is...charming

For more than three years now I've been lugging around an old cassette recorder, which was the recorder of the staff writer before me and whoever else before her. I don't know how old the recorder is but it's probably younger than I think, and yet everytime I bring it out during an interview I can't help feeling those "Did you come from the 80s?" thought bubbles flying my way.

I find nothing wrong with this recorder--it has actually done a good job for me, except for those times when I accidentally tape over a bit I have yet to transcribe or goof up with the pause switch so that I leave the interview having recorded nothing at all. Old tech it may be, but apparently I am stoneage enough to still be confounded by such a simple "featureless" contraption.

It's so funny how fast technology updates itself--imagine, that gadget you just bought last year is suddenly an antique this year! I really noticed this when, just some weeks ago, a friend of mine borrowed my point and shoot and brushed her finger over the screen several times. Finally, in exasperation, she asked, "It's not touch screen?"

Updating technology is good--actually, just today I finally replaced that apparition from the 80s; I now have a nifty little recording device I can use in interviews, although I have yet to find out if it's up to par with its old-tech counterpart--but to be so obsessed with the new that "coolness" trumps "usefulness," perhaps one could afford to slow down a bit to figure out what is really essential.

In time, recorders like my old one shall be called "charming" and people will hunt them down in shelves stacked with turntables and TVs with knobs. But until then (that is to say, while it still works and while they still sell batteries for it) anyone caught holding such a charming little object may just as well enjoy looking like she lives under a rock (and really, my techie motto is "as long as it works")--at least no one will expect you to know how to fix office machinery that go berserk.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

On gentlemen (and a bit on ladies)

My Ate asked me once what kind of guy I like and I said I like a gentleman. She asked me what a gentleman was and I gave some concrete examples of what I figured a gentleman did, and she retorted with a “What is this, a slave?”

Okay, so all those chivalrous acts like opening doors for you and carrying some books for you when you’re lugging around too many things, or offering to take you home (and then taking you all the way to your doorstep and saying hi to your family) may be a bit old-fashioned for today’s “lifestyle,” but it doesn’t make anyone a slave. Besides, it’s not all his work—ladies also have a role in helping men be gentlemen, after all.

But I’m not here writing about what a gentleman should be—that’s a topic too vast for this blogger’s short attention span for the time being. (Besides, that would require more than one entry, but I digress.) What I really came here to write about is how all that modern lifestyle PR talk has gotten us all to think that traditional is out of date…it would be at worst, “anti-feminist” (hello, women are not damsels in distress etc.) and at best, a simple inconvenience (because everyone’s in such a hurry!).

Condo-living, for instance, practically rules out the fact that when a gentleman takes a lady out on a date, he should be polite enough to come knocking at the door, say hi to the family, take her out on the date, and then bring her back home, seeing her to the door. Too tedious? It’s only proper; this way, the family knows who their daughter is out with and they get a good impression on the young man too—this is a guy who’ll be responsible, thoughtful… and so forth.

But condominiums offer so little parking spaces for guests—sometimes it’s not inconvenient anymore but rather impossible. How will he see her to the door when he can’t even park the car for five minutes? Condominiums are meant to suit the “modern lifestyle” and it seems the modern-ness of it all doesn’t include these traditional practices.

I suppose when a gentleman really wants to be, er, gentlemanly, there will be a way to do it. (There’s more to being a gentleman than following traditional practices to a T, though it’s always best to follow them when possible.) One, there is doing the simple acts of chivalry: offering his seat, offering a hand when walking down a flight of steps, etc. And then there’s doing more character-building acts like holding back that supposedly uncontrollable male weakness (which is fiction, btw, created by money-motivated culture villains), which, in a great way, shows how much respect he has for that lady he’s pouring all his attention to.

Because no matter how speedy today’s lifestyle suggests us to be, there are still those things we can’t hurry. And sometimes, it’s the waiting—it’s the “inconvenience”—that does us (ladies and gentlemen) a lot of good.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Cinemalaya starts on Friday!

"The Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival is a film competition and festival that aims to encourage the creation of new cinematic works by Filipino filmmakers – works that boldly articulate and freely interpret the Filipino experience with fresh insight and artistic integrity. It also aims to invigorate the Philippine filmmaking by developing a new breed of Filipino filmmakers. Each year, ten fresh talents are given a seed grant in order to create the film of their dreams. These films are then featured in a nine-day long festival at the Cultural Center of the Philippines every July and compete for the coveted Balanghai Award. Awards are also given in twelve other categories, as well for the best efforts in short narrative features. Along with these competition films, are an array of exhibitions that include Tributes to Past Indie Mavericks of Pinoy Cinemal, a Cinemalaya Kids’ Treats, World Premieres of New Digital Works (the Cinemalaya/NETPAC Prize), and other modules."

I have no idea which of the entries this year are good to see, but it would be nice to go and discover for oneself! Click here to see what's going to show in CCP this July. Maybe after all that Hollywood-y Harry Potter 6 hubbub, we'll all need something a little different.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Where is Up???

It was released last May and it's still not being shown here in the Philippines. Maybe in August. Here's a little article about Up that someone shared with me. Perhaps it's the fact that a story about an old man is hardly marketable that it's been put off so much in our cinemas. Nauna pa Harry Potter 6. Sigh.

I'm sharing this not only because of its insights--I pretty much like the way it's written; it may look long, but it doesn't read so long, you'll see!


Why is an animated film from Pixar about a grumpy old man raking it in at the box office?

I think I would make you laugh if I said "Disney" and "artistic integrity" in the same sentence. But for once, at least, there might be a good reason. Disney must have known that a film featuring a lonely old man would not send toy companies scrambling for the licensing that makes successful children's movies so profitable. But they went ahead with Up all the same, and the result is a film more exciting to cinema buffs (it was the first animated feature ever to open the Cannes Film Festival) than to profit machines (Thinkway Toys passed on Up despite their long-standing relationship with Pixar).

Yet, if not quite a franchise, Up looks to be the biggest hit Pixar has produced in years; the weekend grosses for the first three weekends are much closer to Finding Nemo (Pixar's highest-grossing film) than Wall-E or Ratatouille. Why? How did Up shut up the Wall Street demographic analysts? Maybe behind his quality-first positioning, Disney CEO Rober Iger knew something Wall Street didn't. Maybe a positive, heroic vision of aging can ring true in spite of the standard narrative of the increasing uselessness of the elderly as a growing economic burden on the younger generations.

What exactly did T. S. Eliot have in mind when he wrote, "Old men ought to be explorers?" My guess is he wasn't picturing a squat codger towing a floating house and an overweight cub scout from one end of a vast Venezuelan tepui to the other. The plot of Pixar's latest movie might sound like an all too literal dramatization of that line from Eliot, but the beauty of it is that that's just the point of Up: the main theme of this movie is the moral danger of taking things too literally.


I found where this article comes from! (Finally!) Read the rest at MercatorNet. :D

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


I haven't gotten my hands on a real copy of July 2009 issue of Baby Magazine but I have an idea what's in it! And it's all awesome stuff, including the winners for the PBBY children's book competition (Salangga and Alcala prize), lots of articles on brain development, and seeing beauty in your pregnant (and post-pregnancy) body.

And isn't that baby on the cover really cute? Her name is Therese dela Cruz Murrf Trinidad, and someday she'll solve that rubiks cube if she wants to. Photo by Ralph Alejandrino.

Baby magazine is published by Marathon Publishing Co. and is sold at all National Bookstores, Babyland (Robinsons Galleria, Shaw Blvd. near Cherry Foodarama), Baby & Co. (The Podium and Power Plant Mall), Bufini, Procreation Shangri-la mall, Big & Small Co. Shangri-la Mall.