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Newlywed Man, 95, Dies After Wife, 96, Taken Away....

Posted by Jeevan ॐ Mirthu Gupt on December 31, 2014 at 7:20 PM Comments comments (0)

A 95-year-old newlywed Virginia man has died just weeks after his 96-year-old wife was taken away by family members to Florida.

Eddie Harrison died Tuesday in a hospital after suffering from influenza, said Rebecca Wright, who was caring for the couple in their Alexandria, Virginia, home. Harrison became distressed after his wife and longtime companion, 96-year-old Edith Hill, was taken away, Wright said. Wright is Hill's daughter.

"He lived for her, and she lived for him. It's the love story of the century," Wright said, recalling how they would dance, take walks and care for each other.

Harrison and Hill's marriage this year after 10 years of companionship was disputed in court. Their wedding was problematic because Hill has been declared legally incapacitated for several years. Another of Hill's daughters, Patricia Barber, contested the marriage, saying it would complicate the eventual distribution of Hill's estate. But Hill and Harrison said they wanted to stay together.

A judge appointed a new guardian for Hill to protect her interests, removing Barber and Wright as guardians, but left the marriage intact.

The interracial aspect of the marriage also was unique because the two longtime Virginians would not have been allowed to marry if they had met in their 20s, 30s or 40s under state law at the time.

On Dec. 6, Hill's guardian arrived to take Hill away to Barber's home in Florida for what was supposed to be a two-week vacation. Police were called to the home during a traumatic 40-minute negotiation to convince Hill to leave, Wright said.

When Hill did not return home as planned after two weeks, Harrison began to realize she was not coming back, Wright said. Daisy Birch, a family friend, said Harrison was heartbroken. He also became ill with the flu and checked himself into a hospital.

A dispute continues between the two sisters, Barber and Wright, over Hill's affairs and place of residence.

By : Brett Zongker

A Series Of Tremors Has Florence Concerned For Its 'David...'

Posted by Jeevan ॐ Mirthu Gupt on December 21, 2014 at 10:25 AM Comments comments (0)

Rome (AFP) - More than 250 minor tremors have rattled the Florence region over the past three days, sparking alarm in Italy over the safety of Michelangelo's "David" statue.


According to the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology, the two strongest shocks in the Chianti region between Florence and Siena Friday measured 3.8. and 4.1 on the Richter scale, though many others recorded early Saturday reached three to 3.5.


No one was hurt in the quakes, and fire fighters reported only minor structural damage near the epicentre about 30 kilometres (18.6 miles) south of Florence.


Still, media reports said some 200 residents of the area preferred sleeping in campers, cars or tents in neighbouring areas Friday night rather than shaking at home.


The multitude of shocks has raised concerns for Florence's invaluable architectural and cultural patrimony.


On Saturday, Italian Culture Minister Dario Franceschini announced the state is investing 200,000 euros ($245,000) for an anti-seismic plinth for Michelangelo's "David", a tourist magnet in Florence.


Last spring a study revealed that the renaissance masterpiece -- which was sculpted from a five tonne marble bloc that was already fissured -- was at risk of collapsing if "micro-fractures" within the legs expanded.


A platform to protect the statue from vibrations was ordered to address the problem but the recent quakes "make this project even more urgent," Franceschini said in a statement.


"A masterpiece like 'David' must not be left to any risk," he said.


Angelo Tartuferi, director of Florence's Accademia Gallery that houses the statue, told Italian news agency ANSA that with the financing provided, the platform should be ready for use within the year.


The last major earthquake in Italy was a 6.3-magnitude jolt that killed 309 people in the central town of L'Aquila in April 2009, and was preceded by several weeks of minor tremors.


The biggest seismic event in recent history in the Florence region dates back to 1895, when a quake with an estimated magnitude of 5.4 provoked considerable damage in the hills to the north of the city.


Halloween : Good Girls Go Bad, For A Day....

Posted by Jeevan ॐ Mirthu Gupt on October 31, 2014 at 9:50 AM Comments comments (0)

IN her thigh-highs and ruby miniskirt, Little Red Riding Hood does not appear to be en route to her grandmother’s house. And Goldilocks, in a snug bodice and platform heels, gives the impression she has been sleeping in everyone’s bed. There is a witch wearing little more than a Laker Girl uniform, a fairy who appears to shop at Victoria’s Secret and a cowgirl with a skirt the size of a tea towel.

Anyone who has watched the evolution of women’s Halloween costumes in the last several years will not be surprised that these images — culled from the Web sites of some of the largest Halloween costume retailers — are more strip club than storybook. Or that these and other costumes of questionable taste will be barely covering thousands of women who consider them escapist, harmless fun on Halloween.


“It’s a night when even a nice girl can dress like a dominatrix and still hold her head up the next morning,” said Linda M. Scott, the author of “Fresh Lipstick: Redressing Fashion and Feminism” (Palgrave Macmillan) and a professor of marketing at the University of Oxford in England.


The trend is so pervasive it has been written about by college students in campus newspapers, and Carlos Mencia, the comedian, jokes that Halloween should now be called Dress-Like-a-Whore Day.


But the abundance of risqué costumes that will be shrink-wrapped around legions of women come Oct. 31 prompts a larger question: Why have so many girls grown up to trade in Wonder Woman costumes for little more than Wonderbras?


“Decades after the second wave of the women’s movement, you would expect more of a gender-neutral range of costumes,” said Adie Nelson, the author of “The Pink Dragon Is Female: Halloween Costumes and Gender Markers,” an analysis of 469 children’s costumes and how they reinforce traditional gender messages that was published in The Psychology of Women Quarterly in 2000.


Dr. Nelson, a professor of sociology at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, said the trend toward overtly sexualized costumes actually begins with little girls. “Heroic figures for women or considered icons of femininity are very much anchored in the femme fatale imagery,” she said, adding that those include an assortment of Disney heroines, witches, cocktail waitresses, French maids and an “interchangeable variety of beauty queens.”


While researching “Pink Dragon,” Dr. Nelson found that even costumes for little girls were gendered. Boys got to be computers while the girls were cupcakes. Today, there are bride costumes for little girls but one is hard pressed to find groom costumes for little boys. Additionally, Dr. Nelson said, the girls’ costumes are designed in ways that create the semblance of a bust where there is none. “Once they’re older women it’s just a continuation of that same gender trend,” she said.


Men’s costumes are generally goofy or grotesque ensembles with “Animal House”-inspired names like Atomic Wedgie and Chug-A-Lug Beer Can. And when they dress up as police officers, firefighters and soldiers, they actually look like people in those professions. The same costumes for women are so tight and low-cut they are better suited for popping out of a cake than outlasting an emergency.


Obviously, however, many women see nothing wrong with making Halloween less about Snickers bars and SweeTarts and more about eye candy.


Rebecca Colby, 28, a library clerk in Milwaukee, said the appeal of sexy costumes lies in escaping the workaday, ho-hum dress code.


“I’m not normally going to wear a corset to go out,” said Ms. Colby, who has masqueraded as a Gothic witch with a low-cut bodice, a minidress-wearing bumblebee, a flapper and, this year, most likely, a “vixen pirate.”


“Even though you’re in a costume when you go out to a party in a bar or something, you still want to look cute and sexy and feminine,” she said.


Indeed, many women think that showing off their bodies “is a mark of independence and security and confidence,” said Pat Gill, the interim director of the Institute of Communications Research and a professor of gender and women’s studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.


It is a wonder gyms do not have “get in shape for Halloween” specials.


In her book “Dilemmas of Desire: Teenage Girls Talk About Sexuality” (Harvard University Press), Deborah Tolman, the director of the Center for Research on Gender and Sexuality at San Francisco State University and a professor of human sexuality studies there, found that some 30 teenage girls she studied understood being sexy as “being sexy for someone else, not for themselves,” she said.

When the girls were asked what makes them feel sexy, they had difficulty answering, Dr. Tolman said, adding that they heard the question as “What makes you look sexy?”


Many women’s costumes, with their frilly baby-doll dresses and high-heeled Mary Janes, also evoke male Lolita fantasies and reinforce the larger cultural message that younger is hotter.


“It’s not a good long-term strategy for women,” Dr. Tolman said.


But does that mean women should not use Halloween as an excuse to shed a few inhibitions?


“I think it depends on the spirit in which you’re doing it,” Dr. Tolman said. “I’m not going to go and say this is bad for all women.”


Perhaps, say some scholars, it could even be good. Donning one of the many girlish costumes that sexualize classic characters from books, including “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” “Cinderella” and “The Wizard of Oz,” can be campy, female sartorial humor, said Professor Gill. It can be a way to embrace the fictional characters women loved as children while simultaneously taking a swipe at them, she said. “The humor gives you a sense of power and confidence that just being sexy doesn’t,” she said.


Dr. Tolman added that it is possible some women are using Halloween as a “safe space,” a time to play with sexuality. By taking it over the top, she said, they “make fun of this bill of goods that’s being sold to them.”


“Hey, if we can claim Halloween as a safe space to question these images being sold to us, I think that’s a great idea,” Dr. Tolman said.


But it may be only an idea. Or, more fittingly in this case, a fantasy.


“I love to imagine that there’s some real social message, that it’s sort of the female equivalent of doing drag,” Dr. Nelson said. “But I don’t think it’s necessarily so well thought out.”


Tanda Word, 26, a graduate student at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, who wrote a satirical article about the trend for The Daily Toreador, agreed. “I think it’s damaging because it’s not just one night a year,” she said. “If it’s all the costume manufacturers make, I think it says something bigger about the culture as a whole.”


Salacious costumes — the most visible reminder that Halloween is no longer the sole domain of children — have been around longer than plastic Grim Reaper scythes. But there has been an emergence of “ultrasexy” costumes in the last couple of years, according to Christa Getz, the purchasing director for, which sells outfits with names like Little Bo “Peep Show” and Miss Foul Play.


“Probably over 90 to 95 percent of our female costumes have a flirty edge to them,” Ms. Getz said, adding that sexy costumes are so popular the company had to break its “sexy” category into three subdivisions this year.


Heather Siegel, the vice president of, said her company’s sexy category is among its most popular. (The two best-selling women’s costumes are a low-cut skin-tight referee uniform and a pinup-girl-inspired prisoner outfit called Jail Bait).


“Almost everybody gets dressed up really, really sexy for it,” said Carrie Jean Bodner, a senior at Cornell University in Ithaca who wrote about the abundance of skimpy Halloween garb for The Cornell Daily Sun last year. “Even the girls who wouldn’t dream of going to class without their pearls and pullovers.”


Last year Ms. Bodner, 21, dressed up as a sexy pinch-hitter for an imaginary baseball team. This year she and her friends are considering being va-voom Girl Scouts.


Ms. Getz of said far more women are buying revealing costumes than firing off indignant e-mail messages asking, “Why are all of your costumes so sexy?” (though some do).


Still, women may be buying racy outfits because that is all that is available. Ms. Getz said she wished there were more sexy men’s costumes on the market and that the lack of them is but further evidence of the gender double standard. “It’s just not as socially acceptable,” she said, adding that men feel comfortable expressing themselves with Halloween costumes that are “either crude or outrageous or obnoxious.”


Ms. Siegel of said the costume industry is merely mirroring the fashion industry, where women have more variety in their wardrobes. Besides, she said, men are less interested in accessorizing. “They’re happy grabbing a mask and a robe and being done,” she said.


At least they get a robe. Ms. Bodner of Cornell estimated that it will be about 30 degrees in Ithaca on Oct. 31.


“We’re not just risking our dignity here,” she said. “We’re risking frostbite.”

By: Stephanie Rosenbloom

Twin Peaks: 'Hooters Just Wasn't Racy Enough...'

Posted by Jeevan ॐ Mirthu Gupt on September 29, 2014 at 9:10 AM Comments comments (0)

Before each shift at Twin Peaks, a Hooters-like restaurant with 57 locations across the U.S., managers line up waitresses and grade them on their looks. The women get points for hair, makeup, slenderness, and the cleanliness of their uniforms: fur-lined boots, khaki hot pants, and skimpy plaid tops that accentuate their cleavage. Their job, between serving sports-bar fare with names such as “well-built sandwiches” and “smokin’ hot dishes,” is to beguile the mostly male customers, flirting to get them to empty their wallets. They may also have to fend off patrons who’ve washed down too many of the house beers, including the Dirty Blonde or the Knotty Brunette.

Twin Peaks is the most successful example of a new generation of restaurants, what people in the industry euphemistically refer to as “the attentive service sector” or, as they’re more casually known, “breastaurants.” Twin Peaks Chief Executive Officer Randy DeWitt doesn’t care much for the word, not that he’s complaining. Last year, Twin Peaks was the fastest-growing chain in the U.S., with $165 million in sales.

On a recent Friday at lunchtime, men fill almost every table at the Twin Peaks in Addison, Texas. Most of them are more preoccupied with their servers than the sports programming on the numerous flatscreen TVs. I’m dining here today with DeWitt, a tall, 56-year-old who laments his paunch. Our waitress is Courtney Freeman, a 20-year-old with platinum blond hair parted on the side. “Hell-ooo, how are you?” she greets us. “My name is Courtney. I’m your Twin Peaks girl today.”

We order two Dirty Blondes. Freeman turns to leave.

“Wait, wait. Ask the question,” DeWitt says. He explains to the waitress that I’ve never been to a Twin Peaks before.

Freeman seems confused. “OK. Why have you never been to Twin Peaks before?” she asks.

“No, not that question,” DeWitt interrupts. “So he’s ordering a beer. …”

“Oh!” Freeman says. “Do you want the man size or the girl size?"

I assure her the smaller size is fine, but she isn’t easily dissuaded. “Are you sure?” she asks, leaning in closer. “It’s a little, 10-ounce baby beer.”

DeWitt conceived of Twin Peaks in 2005 as a challenger to Hooters, the original breastaurant, which was founded in 1983 by six buddies in Clearwater, Fla. Today there are 360 Hooters in the U.S., generating $828 million in sales last year, according to data from Technomic, a food industry consultant. But what was salacious three decades ago has now become family-friendly; it’s not unusual to see children at Hooters, doodling in coloring books. And compared with the clothes at some popular teen retailers, Hooters’s white tank tops and orange shorts seem almost demure. Last year, sales at the chain were virtually flat.

That’s created opportunities for smaller competitors willing to exhibit more of the female anatomy. The largest, Tilted Kilt Pub & Eatery, a Tempe (Ariz.)-based chain founded in 2003, did $196 million in sales last year. Tilted Kilt has 91 restaurants across the country. Its waitresses labor in what might be described as provocative Celtic garb. “Our costumes are a short kilt and halter top and a swimsuit-type bra that goes underneath that halter-type top,” explains Ron Lynch, Tilted Kilt’s CEO. The house specialty is the Big Arse Burger.

The average Twin Peaks generates $3.6 million a year—$1 million more than the typical Tilted Kilt or Hooters. DeWitt attributes this to his menu, which is a little more ambitious than those of his rivals. Twin Peaks makes its food from scratch and serves beer at near-freezing temperatures, he says. “If you can deliver a beer in August with ice crystals on it every single time, that’s something special.”

Darren Tristano, executive vice president of Technomic, says the success of Twin Peaks has more to do with the chain’s waitresses than its standard pub food. “The results at Twin Peaks are higher because of the sexual appeal of its servers,” he says. “The customers, who are almost entirely male, make their decision based on that.”

DeWitt grew up in Dallas and, after a stint in the Air Force, moved to Washington, D.C., where he worked at a real estate firm that leased space in shopping malls to chains such as Applebee’s (DIN). When his employer was sold in 1993, he went back to his hometown and started a chain of seafood restaurants called the Rockfish Grill. The eateries prospered, except for one in Lewisville, Texas. “I surveyed the area,” DeWitt says. “I realized, ‘OK, the, Macaroni Grill isn’t doing well, TGI Fridays isn’t doing what it’s used to, Bennigan’s is suffering.’ ” The exception was the local Hooters.

So in 2005, DeWitt decided to transform the Lewisville Rockfish Grill into an upscale version of Hooters. He’d offer a more satisfying menu and a full bar and give his place a trendier, rustic theme. (He’s a fan of the David Lynch television series from the early 1990s but says it had nothing to do with the name of his restaurant.) Perhaps most important, DeWitt felt Twin Peaks waitresses should show more of themselves. “Hooters just wasn’t racy enough,” he says.

The first Twin Peaks did well, so DeWitt converted a few more Rockfish Grills. In 2008 the parent company of the Bennigan’s and Steak and Ale chains filed for bankruptcy. DeWitt bought as many of its outlets as he could and turned them into Twin Peaks.

Then in 2011, he got a voice mail from Coby Brooks: The former Hooters CEO wanted to be a Twin Peaks franchisee. DeWitt ended up signing a deal allowing Brooks and his partners, many of them former top Hooters executives, to open 35 Twin Peaks over the next decade. Hooters responded by suing Brooks’s company, accusing it of stealing trade secrets. (Brooks denied the charges; the lawsuit was eventually settled).

DeWitt, who expects to open 21 more restaurants this year, puts all of his franchisees through a training process at the Addison Twin Peaks. They learn about the chain’s signature chicken wings and burgers and how to serve beer at a brain-numbing temperature. The chain gets the waitresses discounts at gyms, tanning joints, and nail salons. It gives them tips on styling their hair and using makeup and offers them a diet menu to keep them from gaining weight. The best performers are invited to pose, in some cases topless, for the annual Twin Peaks calendar. DeWitt calls his employees “weapons of mass distraction.”

March Compton, 54, a bank loan officer and Twin Peaks regular in San Antonio, says he often ends up spending more money there than he means to. “I’ve fallen for that routine,” he admits. He’s especially vulnerable at Halloween—“the costumes are very easy on the eyes.” Waitresses are paid minimum wage; DeWitt says it’s not unusual for them to make $500 a night in tips, though former employees say the average is more like $150.

Over lunch, DeWitt introduces me to Janie Donnelly, whose title is Twin Peaks girls brand manager. A former Hooters calendar girl, Donnelly is 34, blond, and dressed conservatively in a black shirt and jeans. She’s tasked with making sure the waitresses realize their potential. Does she ever think the Twin Peaks servers are being exploited? “Absolutely not,” she says. “I think it’s a great place for the girls. They can work their way through college and move on.”

Many disagree. Diamond Dampf, who paid her way through Oklahoma State University working as a Twin Peaks waitress and corporate trainer, found the daily evaluations offensive. “The whole thing is degrading,” she says. Her customers, young and old, hit on her constantly. “Unfortunately, the girls are a dime a dozen, and that’s how they’re treated,” says Dampf, now 22 and working as a recruiter at a trucking firm. But she acknowledges the money was great.

Back in Addison, Freeman is clearing our food. She says she used to work at a Chuy’s Mexican Food, serving a lot of kids who barely tipped at all.

“Are you making more here?” DeWitt asks.

“Yeah,” Freeman says hesitantly.

“Why are my servers reluctant to talk about making money?” DeWitt carps. “It’s like they’re Democrats or something.”

“I’m not embarrassed,” Freeman says, hurt. “I’m making quite a bit of money right now.

I’m enjoying it.”

DeWitt finishes his man-size beer and asks for the check. He wants to go across the street to visit Hooters. “We’ll be missing you, Courtney,” he says.

“Yeah, well, I hope so,” Freeman says as we leave.

By : Devin Leonard

Google Patents Contact Lenses That Contain Microcameras....

Posted by Jeevan ॐ Mirthu Gupt on April 15, 2014 at 7:40 AM Comments comments (0)

Add this one to the list of unbelievably cool things Google has in the works: It has filed a patent for a contact lens system that would include built-in cameras. 

The technology could potentially allow Google to shrink its wearable face computer — known as Google Glass — into the size of a single contact lens. Rather than be controlled by voice, those wearing the contacts would command their device through, as Patent Bolt analyzes it, “a sophisticated system” of “unique blinking patterns.” In other words, people wearing these contacts may look even weirder than people in Google Glass.

News of Google’s patent filing comes just a few months after the company revealed a prototype contact lens that monitors glucose levels. The invention, which was developed in the company’s secretive Google X Labs, could be a major aid for the millions of diabetics who must measure their blood sugar by drawing blood from their fingers.

Google’s latest breakthrough in contact lens technology could potentially grant the blind the ability to see certain things, according to Patent Bolt’s close reading of the patent application.

“For example, a blind person wearing Google’s contact lens with a built-in camera may be walking on a sidewalk and approaching an intersection. The analysis component of the contact lens can process the raw image data of the camera to determine … that there is a car approaching the intersection.”

By : Alyssa Berznak
(Tech Columnist)

Male-Pattern Baldness....

Posted by Jeevan ॐ Mirthu Gupt on March 24, 2014 at 11:05 PM Comments comments (0)

Male-pattern baldness is the most common type of hair loss, affecting 6.5 million men in the UK.

It generally starts with a little thinning of the hair, followed by wider hair loss, allowing more of the scalp to become visible.

For a few men, this process starts as early as the late teens. By the age of 60, most men have some degree of hair loss.

Some men aren’t troubled by this at all. Others, however, suffer great emotional distress associated with a lack of self-esteem and, in some cases, depression.

“Young men, especially, feel hair loss pretty acutely,” says Dr Susan McDonald-Hull, a consultant dermatologist at Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust.

Male-pattern baldness is usually inherited and also affects women. It's caused by oversensitive hair follicles. Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is produced by the male hormone testosterone, and it causes the follicles to shrink and eventually stop functioning. 

The involvement of testosterone in balding has led to the myth that going bald is a sign of virility. But men with male-pattern baldness don’t have more male hormones than other men. Their hair follicles are simply more sensitive to the hormones.

Receding hairline

Male-pattern baldness is so called because it tends to follow a set pattern. The first stage is usually a receding hairline, followed by thinning of the hair on the crown and temples.

When these two areas meet in the middle, it leaves a horseshoe shape of hair around the back and sides of the head. Eventually, some men go completely bald.

Male-pattern baldness is not a disease, so it won’t affect your health. However, if it’s causing you distress, consult your GP to get a diagnosis.

Your GP can refer you to a dermatologist for further analysis and, if necessary, to a psychologist to help with the trauma of hair loss.

If you have inherited the genes responsible for male-pattern or female-pattern baldness there's little you can do to prevent it from happening.

Treatments can slow down the process, but there’s no cure. The two most effective treatments for male-pattern baldness (also called androgenetic alopecia) are minoxidil and finasteride. Other treatments for hair loss include wigs, hair transplants and plastic surgery procedures, such as scalp reduction.

Find out more in Hair loss: treatments in Health A-Z.

As a general rule, it's easier to maintain existing hair than to regrow it, and once the hair follicle has stopped working it cannot be revived.

"Start by talking to your GP, who can then refer you to a specialist NHS consultant," says Dr David Fenton, a consultant dermatologist at St John's Institute of Dermatology at St Thomas' Hospital in London.


Aishwarya Rai Moved To Tears At The UN Programme on HIV/AIDS....

Posted by Jeevan ॐ Mirthu Gupt on March 13, 2014 at 12:20 AM Comments comments (0)

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan was moved to tears at the press conference for The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), country mission on HIV at the Bhabha Municipal Hospital in Mumbai.

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan had been appointed as the Goodwill Ambassador for The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) in the year 2013 and since then she has been spotted regularly attending events of UNAIDS.  Aishwarya was moved into tears on hearing the plight of the women. She stated that it’s very important for all pregnant women to go for an HIV test and to know their status. Accessing HIV services on time will contribute to stopping new HIV infections among children and keeping the mothers healthy.

“I commit to work towards the elimination of new HIV infections among children not only in India, but globally,” she said.

Since last year, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan has helped to raise awareness on issues related to stopping new HIV infections in children and advocated for increased access to anti-retroviral treatment.

Aishwarya said, “It is an honour and privilege to be working with the UN and focusing on the work that needs to be done in the area of AIDS/HIV”.

She said she is exchanging ideas with The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) on what steps need to be taken and how to work with women in educating them and helping them break social barriers and stigmas that are attached with the disease.

“This is a turning point in my life. I wanted to be associated with the UN at a time when I could actually contribute to the work and the causes,” Aishwarya said during her media interaction.

Source:- Business of Cinema

Quick Five: Asin - Qualitative Visibility....

Posted by Jeevan ॐ Mirthu Gupt on February 21, 2014 at 5:20 PM Comments comments (0)

In the Capital recently as cosmetic giant Avon’s first-ever Indian brand ambassador, Asin talks about working in three different Indian film industries, her fascination with languages, being the first Indian actress to have completed a decade with a soft drink endorsement and more!

You have worked in Telugu, Tamil and Hindi films and have done fairly well for yourself in all of them. How has your comparative experience been in all three film fraternities?

My experience in all three industries has been very good, actually. And this is first and foremost because the people whom I’ve worked with have been really good to me. On my part, I’m quite adaptable and flexible. I like Indian cinema as a whole and I like to know about the different kinds of cultures that feed into it. Wherever I shoot, I like to go and explore new places, talk to people and imbibe as many new things from them as possible. And I do think this attitude of mine has always helped me in my work and has enhanced my experience in the three industries regardless of which of them I’m working with at any given point of time.

You dub in your own voice for all your films. Does language never become a cause for hindrance in your work?

I thankfully pick up languages pretty fast, actually. I love learning new languages and I’m always fascinated by language in itself. It is an interest I have always had at a personal level and now it has ended up helping me in my professional space as well. I used to always try and speak to people around me in the respective language of the industry where I was working at any given point of time. This helped me get a conversational feel to whatever I would say when the camera would roll. A good performance is not just about the visual you see on screen, there is also voice modulation and tone that builds a character in totality. My interest in languages and my wanting that the work I do should be complete, has always made me want to give my 200 per cent to any role I take up.

In a majority of the Hindi films you have done so far, you seem to have picked roles that have you fade in the shadow of the star hero. What made you take them up?

A little while ago I’ve taken a conscious decision that I will not do any more roles just for the sake of being part of a big project or for visibility. I’m past that, I think, and am now at a stage where I can afford to be choosy. So now I will only be doing films where there are well written characters and better fleshed out roles. That’s also why you don’t see me as much nowadays. I want to have qualitative visibility now rather than quantitative visibility.

And you have carried your bubbly image to your endorsements as seen in commercials of Mirinda, with whom you have recently renewed your association, making you the only actress to have ever completed ten years with a particular soft drink endorsement.

Oh! It has really been such a pleasure working with them for such a long time. The Mirinda team are like family to me now, honestly. We all come up with these crazy ideas which are so much fun to execute. I get to do something different from my film roles and it is a lot of fun to get creative and then visually be part of what is created. I also feel very happy that a multinational like Pepsi has had enough faith in me to take their brand forward for such a long period of time. I feel very proud and blessed.

You are now also the first brand ambassador in India for US-based beauty care products giant Avon. How did this association come about?

What attracted me the most to signing with them were two things: first, that aside from being an iconic beauty care brand they also do a lot of charitable work for women all over the world which is something I’m really looking forward to. Second, I really like their philosophy which says: ‘You make it beautiful’ and speaks of a woman’s beauty as simply being enhanced by their products rather than being created by them. It’s all about the woman and isn’t superficial. It is about herself, her confidence and Avon enhancing what she already has.

By: Nandini D. Tripathy

Pop Stars Aren't Immune To Cyber Bullying; Just Ask Ariana Grande....

Posted by Jeevan ॐ Mirthu Gupt on January 31, 2014 at 8:15 AM Comments comments (0)

Ariana Grande was driven to tears on the Grammys® red carpet by social media criticism of her dress and hair...That's the short story!

The longer story is that this is a very famous young woman who is also active on social media. In fact, she's apparently subjected to such intense criticism that she just made a post on Instagram solely to address the reason why her hairstyle might be boring to her fans, and to ask their forgiveness.

This gorgeous young lady asked her fans to forgive her for her boring hair. I just keep needing to let that sink in.

"Since people give me such a hard time about my hair I thought I'd take the time to explain the whole situation to everybody. I had to bleach my hair and dye it red every other week for the first 4 years of playing Cat…as one would assume, that completely destroyed my hair."

She explains further that she is now wearing a wig on the show, but her "real hair" is "broken" and "ratchet," so she is wearing extensions and a ponytail as it grows out.

Okay, seems reasonable, and certainly nothing a girl would have to apologize for, right? Wrong.

So as annoying as it is for y'all to have to look at the same hair style all the time, it's the one that works for now. And trust me, it's even more difficult for me to have to wait forever for my natural hair to grow back and to have to wear more fake hair than every drag queen on earth combined. So PLEASE gimme a break about the hair (or just don't look at me lol). IT'S JUST HAIR AFTER ALL.

My first reaction to this, as an adult person, is to think that this is ridiculous. Why should a person - no matter how famous - have to make a statement explaining why they are doing anything they happen to be doing with their hair? Why do they owe anyone an explanation?

Then I remember the flood of adults making critical comments about every single performer and presenter on the Grammys®, with a few nice ones thrown in. I remember that teenagers - the digital natives, the millennials - are forming their social relationships and solidifying self-concepts in a time when their lives are almost obsessively documented in real time, and interactively. I remember my own insecurities - the ones I have now, and a memory of how tough things were as a teenager. I remember that even my most physically beautiful friends, whatever that means, had them then, and have them now.

I thank my stars every day that Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook didn't exist when I was in any of my school years through the end of college. It was difficult enough to become a person without them. I cannot imagine the extra layer of social pressure it puts on kids to have their peers - the ones they know and engage with every day in school and community, plus the countless invisible others who exist all over the world on the other side of a computer screen - able to observe and comment on their every word and image.  I am a college counselor and professor, and my freshmen share stories with me of Twitter, Instagram, SnapChat, and Kik ("Facebook is so done, Professor White. We aren't there anymore, but our moms are.") and what goes on there. Some of what I hear isn't pretty - so much that I have added "digital identity" discussions to my first-year seminar course, where we talk about what the opinions of peers mean and how to communicate effectively in words and pictures online. Hint: I discourage popularity ratings with numbers on Instagram pictures and the sending of questionable photos to anyone, whether they're rumored to disappear in ten seconds or not.

I've scrolled through Ariana's Instagram comments, or tried to. It's tough to do because there are thousands and the "load more comments" option doesn't always cooperate. One picture has more than 16,000 comments, another has more than 17,000. It's impossible to keep up with the stream and easy to be amazed by the level and velocity of engagement with her. I didn't see a lot of negative comments, but I did see many from young girls and boys telling her that she's beautiful and to "ignore the haters:"

I love your hair and I'm not just saying that! People need to Remember that your human too and you have feelings too! People on twitter and Instagram who comment negatively about your hair or anything they need to get a reality check and grow up. Don't let these people phase you. Damaged or not HAIR IS HAIR and everyone needs to remember it's not important. And at the Grammys you looked beautiful and I'm super proud that you decided to keep your head up high and walk down the red carpet. Your a unbelievable kind of beauty and don't ever forget that.

So there. It's healthy and smart to focus on those nice things, but I know how easy it is to focus on the negative instead. I think of how 16,000 people could say positive things to me, and how one person could say a critical thing and that is the one I would remember.  This was especially true when I was an awkward adolescent with very little confidence. I still remember particular slights and insults from those days, even thought they no longer directly affect my self-concept. I can't say they never did, though.

So PLEASE gimme a break about the hair (or just don't look at me lol). IT'S JUST HAIR AFTER ALL.

Right? It's just hair. I have to admit that I appreciate Ariana's approach to her "haters." It's straightforward. It's personal. It directly addresses the issue. It puts a very human touch on a famous person's struggle with external appearance, which is very real in her industry. But it still hurts my heart that any young girl has to make any kind of excuse for what she looks like, and I do pay close attention to what young people are experiencing now in our very public, highly interactive, not-always-in-person public sphere. If Hollywood stories tell us anything, it's that the beautiful and famous are not immune to pain from criticism, and sometimes, the younger they are, the harder they fall. I like seeing the many, many teenagers in her feeds popping up with support, for her and for each other. It's my hope for her that she'll hear the positive voices as well as the negative, and that maybe at some point those will get even louder.

--By Laurie White

Nelson Mandela : A Revolutionary's Life...

Posted by Jeevan ॐ Mirthu Gupt on December 6, 2013 at 11:30 AM Comments comments (0)

Springbok captain Francois Pienaar receives the Rugby World Cup from South African President Nelson Mandela at Ellis Park in Johannesburg on June 24, 1995.

Nelson Mandela, the revered South African anti-apartheid icon who spent 27 years in prison, led his country to democracy and became its first black president, died Thursday at home. He was 95.

"He is now resting," said South African President Jacob Zuma. "He is now at peace."

"Our nation has lost his greatest son," he continued. "Our people have lost their father."

A state funeral will be held, and Zuma called for mourners to conduct themselves with "the dignity and respect" that Mandela personified.

"Wherever we are in the country, wherever we are in the world, let us reaffirm his vision of a society… in which none is exploited, oppressed or dispossessed by another," he said as tributes began pouring in from across the world.

Though he was in power for only five years, Mandela was a figure of enormous moral influence the world over – a symbol of revolution, resistance and triumph over racial segregation.

He inspired a generation of activists, left celebrities and world leaders star-struck, won the Nobel Peace Prize and raised millions for humanitarian causes.

South Africa is still bedeviled by challenges, from class inequality to political corruption to AIDS. And with Mandela’s death, it has lost a beacon of optimism.

In his jailhouse memoirs, Mandela wrote that even after spending so many years in a Spartan cell on Robben Island – with one visitor a year and one letter every six months – he still had faith in human nature.

“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion,” he wrote in “Long Walk to Freedom.”

“People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

Mandela retired from public life in 2004 with the half-joking directive, “Don’t call me, I’ll call you,” and had largely stepped out of the spotlight, spending much of his time with family in his childhood village.

His health had been fragile in recent years. He had spent almost three months in a hospital in Pretoria after being admitted in June for a recurring lung infection. He was released on Sept. 1.

In his later years, Mandela was known to his countrymen simply as Madiba, the name of his tribe and a mark of great honor. But when he was born on July 18, 1918, he was named Rolihlahla, which translated roughly – and prophetically – to “troublemaker.”

Mandela was nine when his father died, and he was sent from his rural village to the provincial capital to be raised by a fellow chief. The first member of his family to get a formal education, he went to boarding school and then enrolled in South Africa’s elite Fort Hare University, where his activism unfurled with a student boycott.

As a young law scholar, he joined the resurgent African National Congress just a few years before the National Party – controlled by the Afrikaners, the descendants of Dutch and French settlers – came to power on a platform of apartheid, in which the government enforced racial segregation and stripped non-whites of economic and political power.

As an ANC leader, Mandela advocated peaceful resistance against government discrimination and oppression – until 1961, when he launched a military wing called Spear of the Nation and a campaign of sabotage.

The next year, he was arrested and soon hit with treason charges. At the opening of his trial in 1964, he said his adoption of armed struggle was a last resort born of bloody crackdowns by the government.

“Fifty years of non-violence had brought the African people nothing but more and more repressive legislation and fewer and few rights,” he said from the dock.

“I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal for which I hope to live for and achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

He was sentenced to life in prison and sent to Robben Island. As inmate No. 466/64, he slept on the floor of a six-foot-wide cell, did hard labor in a quarry, organized fellow prisoners – and earned a law degree by correspondence.

As the years passed, his incarceration drew ever more attention, with intensifying cries for his release as a global anti-apartheid movement gained traction. Songs were dedicated to him and 600 million people watched the Free Mandela concert at London’s Wembley Stadium in 1988.

In 1985, he turned down the government’s offer to free him if he renounced armed struggle against apartheid. It wasn’t until South African President P.W. Botha had a stroke and was replaced by F.W. de Klerk in 1989 that the stage was set for his release.

After a ban on the ANC was repealed, a whiter-haired Mandela walked out prison before a jubilant crowd and told a rally in Cape Town that the fight was far from over.

“Our struggle has reached a decisive moment,” he said. “We have waited too long for our freedom. We can no longer wait.”

Over the next two years, Mandela proved himself a formidable negotiator as he pushed South Africa toward its first multiracial elections amid tension and violence. He and de Klerk were honored with the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts.

When the elections were held in April 1994, the ex-prisoner became the next president and embarked on a mission of racial reconciliation, government rebuilding and economic rehabilitation.

A year into his tenure, with racial tensions threatening to explode into civil war, Mandela orchestrated an iconic, unifying moment: He donned the green jersey of the Springboks rugby team – beloved by whites, despised by blacks – to present the World Cup trophy to the team captain while the stunned crowd erupted in cheers of “Nelson! Nelson!”

He chose to serve only one five-year term – during which he divorced his second wife, Winnie, a controversial activist, and married his third, Graca, the widow of the late president of Mozambique.

After leaving politics, he concentrated on his philanthropic foundation. He began speaking out on AIDS, which had ravaged his country and which some critics said he had not made a priority as president.

When he officially announced he was leaving public life in 2004, it signaled he was slowing down, but he still made his presence known. For his 89th birthday, he launched a “council of elders,” statesmen and women from around the world who would promote peace. For his 90th, he celebrated at a star-studded concert in London’s Hyde Park.

As he noted in 2003, “If there is anything that would kill me it is to wake up in the morning not knowing what to do.”

In April, de Klerk was asked on the BBC if he feared that Mandela’s eventual death would expose fissures in South Africa that his grandfatherly presence had kept knitted together.

De Klerk said that Madiba would be just as unifying a force in death.

“When Mandela goes, it will be a moment when all South Africans put away their political differences, take hands, and will together honor maybe the biggest South African that has ever lived,” he said.

By: Tracy Connor

Cults, Corporate Culture And The Clever Ladies....

Posted by Jeevan ॐ Mirthu Gupt on November 9, 2013 at 10:40 PM Comments comments (0)

It started with an intriguing conversation with a good friend. We were discussing her workplace and she calmly mentioning a few situations that left her feeling slightly unsettled. Being very analytic and observant by nature, my friend suddenly made an interesting comparison between her employer and a cult.

Her comment didn't really shock me. It's not the first time someone has made such a suggestion to me and to be honest, it's a concept that had crossed my mind in the past. Considering we live in a world where large corporations are often more about their image (or rather, the image they want to project) than sincerity, it's not at all surprising that attempting to manipulate encourage employees to play the game.

Come on, we've all seen it - the ambiguous company mantra, the ridiculous corporate cheers that are just plain silly and of course, the 'our way or the highway' mentality that is force fed in the name of 'team player' - in fact, these things have become such a 'normal' part of the corporate culture, that many people mindlessly follow without ever questioning the benefits of such rituals. I mean, should we have to be told to work well together? Didn't we learn that in kindergarten?

In comparison, cults are lead by charismatic individuals who expect their followers to demonstrate obedience, unquestioning commitment and loyalty - oh, and sometimes drink funky Kool-Aid and chant funny mantras. Oh wait, mantras?

Then again, is that really such a rarity? Don't we all know people who mindlessly follow others, never questioning whether they are right or wrong? Let's face it, some people have very strong personalities and can easily persuade others of their beliefs, regardless of how ridiculous or far fetched they may be. We've seen it in powerful people such as politicians and CEOs or even in our everyday lives, in the form of family members and sometimes intimate relationships. As for followers, they tend to have more passive personalities or perhaps they are simply someone who gets swept away by a more energetic personality.

I've always been pretty direct regarding my beliefs, even during times when it wasn't a very popular to do so. I never really understood people who weren't aware of what was going on around them, weren't interested in current events or don't bother to ask questions. In fact, it's actually kind of scary.

On the other hand, I love talking to people who are knowledgeable, are open and optimistic. It just makes for a very invigorating conversation even when I don't agree with them. If I had a business, I would love employees with diverse ideas and opinions. On the other hand, if I was a cult leader, these same things would probably not be so appealing to me.

My friend that compared her workplace to a cult felt that it was best to stay under the radar.  It seemed like a better alternative than to question any of the forced encouraged team building activities, the 'values' that were constantly reaffirmed or any other daily BS. She didn't want to be a leader or a follower, but instead chose to sit back and watch the well orchestrated dance - and giggle at the absurdity of it all.

Perhaps that makes her the most clever person I know.

By: Michelle Arsenault

Maria Kang: Fitness Enthusiast And Mother of Three Defends Herself Against Facebook Haters....

Posted by Jeevan ॐ Mirthu Gupt on October 14, 2013 at 11:00 PM Comments comments (0)

A California fitness enthusiast and mother of three is defending a controversial photo of herself that has prompted a cavalcade of Facebook critics to accuse her of fat shaming women.

In the photo, seen at left, 32-year-old Maria Kang poses in a workout bra and matching micro shorts — revealing an incredibly toned figure with washboard abs — while surrounded by her three young sons, now 1, 3 and 4. Floating above her head is the question, “What’s your excuse?” The picture has gone viral, with more than 16 million views on Facebook, and has generated more than 12,000 comments. And while much of the input has been of the supportive “you go, girl” variety, plenty of it has been made up of angry, offended personal attacks on the photo subject, calling her everything from “obnoxious” and “fake” to a bad mom and a bully.

But Kang, in an exclusive interview with Yahoo Shine, says that making other women feel bad about themselves is the opposite of what she was going for.

“I wanted to inspire people,” she explains, adding that the “What’s your excuse?” part was simply a borrowed, popular phrase that’s been used in various “fitspiration” campaigns. “I wanted to say, ‘I know you think you don’t have time if you have kids. But if I can do it, you can do it, too.’”

Kang, of Sacramento, California, is a former pageant queen and fitness competitor who founded the nonprofit Fitness Without Borders in 2007. She's also a recovering bulimic. Kang says she understands why some people reacted so defensively. “I think people struggle with their weight,” she notes. “When you add on being a mother — and the pressures we face to have it all and be everything, including fit — the expectations are so high. I think some moms saw the picture and just said, ‘This is ridiculous.’” But still, she says, “I felt really frustrated. Being called a bad mother and a bad person definitely hurts.”

Though she first posted the photo to her Facebook page a year ago, Kang noticed it was being shared a lot more recently and that it was generating a swell of negative comments toward her. So she reposted it to her own 72,000-plus followers, tacking on an apology — which, she admits, is really a “non-apology.”

“I'm sorry you took an image and resonated with it in such a negative way. I won't go into details that I struggled with my genetics, had an eating disorder, work full time owning two businesses, have no nanny, am not naturally skinny and do not work as a personal trainer,” she wrote, in part. “What I WILL say is this. What you interpret is not MY fault. It's yours. The first step in owning your life, your body and your destiny is to OWN the thoughts that come out of your own head. I didn't create them. You created them. So if you want to continue ‘hating’ this image, get used to hating many other things for the rest of your life.”   

That post brought a frenzy of negative responses, including, “Those precious little things need their mommy more than they need you to have glamour muscles,” “Not that I *NEED* an excuse for not working out, but here's mine you self-righteous idiot … fibromyalgia,” “You are part of the body shaming problem that is going on in North America and other parts of the world,” and “You are a bully with a super inflated sense of your own self.”

Many others, though, rallied in defense of Kang, with “Never apologize,” “Get a life and leave this woman alone,” and “Well done!” 

Because of the barrage, Kang has put together a FAQ page about her personal life, with responses to many of the criticisms and accusations she’s become accustomed to hearing. For example: “Do you work?” (Yes. She owns two small residential care facilities for the elderly.) “Do you have a nanny?” (No.) “Are those your kids? They all look different.” (“I have to say this is the funniest comment I’ve read. Of course, my children look like both the mother and father,” she writes. “I am half Malaysian Chinese and Filipina. My husband is a Caucasian mix of German, French, Norwegian and Spanish. They are all my kids).”

Kang says she works out five to six days a week, about an hour at a time, doing a half-hour of strength training and a half-hour of cardio — running, the stair climber, or a spin or Zumba class. She adds that, while it might seem amazing that she can fit in regular exercise while raising three kids and working, she structures her time in ways that make it all work. She watches no TV, for example, wakes up at 6 a.m., and, while she’s at the park with her children, “I’m working out. I’m not sitting there on my iPhone.” And she gets plenty of help from her husband, David Casler.

Casler, who suffered a traumatic brain injury during a bomb attack in Iraq, where he worked as a private security contractor, is no longer able to work. He volunteers, though, with the Team Rubicon disaster-relief organization. 

It's not the first time a fitness-oriented mom has caused an online uproar. Just last month, a stay-at-home mom in Los Angeles received a barrage of criticism after posting a photo of herself lifting weights during a CrossFit workout. 

Kang concludes that much in life is mind over matter — whether it’s recovering from an attack like her husband’s or staying in slamming shape while raising a brood of boys. “It’s really where your mind is,” she says, referring to the different ways that people might interpret her photo. “I just hope that the person who feels completely overwhelmed can see they can control their own destiny. To know that there’s no excuse for not making time for yourself.”

By: Beth Greenfield

Red Lobster Waitress Gets $10K Tip After Racist Receipt....

Posted by Jeevan ॐ Mirthu Gupt on October 10, 2013 at 5:35 PM Comments comments (0)

A Red Lobster waitress, who said a customer left her a receipt with a racist slur, has received the tip of a lifetime, thanks to a fundraising from online supporters.

Toni Christina Jenkins of Franklin, Tenn., said she was shocked when she saw a receipt on the table with "none" on the "Tip" line and the N-word on the "Total" line.

"I was just stunned that it happened," Jenkins, 19, said. "It's not something that you think in our generation would actually take place, so I was just blown away by it."

After posting a picture of the receipt to Facebook Sept. 10, her story sparked outrage online, prompting a California man to take action. Matthew Hanson, founder of, heard Jenkins' story and started an online fundraiser called "Tips for Toni" that collected $10,749 in place of Jenkins' non-tip on the bill for $44.53.

"It was about sending a message to racists that Americans aren't going to tolerate that," Hanson said. "We raised $10,000 within seventy-two hours. It was really amazing."

Hanson presented the check Sept 30 to Jenkins, who was unaware of the fundraiser.

"I literally screamed. I was so confused," Jenkins said. "I was just so thankful. I felt so blessed and so honored that so many people came together on my behalf to give this to me."

Citing a company policy that prohibits employees from posting a guest receipt online, Red Lobster suspended Jenkins with pay after the story went public, but she has now resumed work.

"We are disgusted by the language used on this guest check and it has no place in our restaurant or anywhere else," a Red Lobster representative said in a statement to ABC News. "We were in constant communication with [our server] throughout this situation and have extended her a high degree of respect and caring for what happened. No one should have to endure what our employee went through."

Some online commenters have called the authenticity of the receipt into question, but Jenkins stands by her story.

"I was just trying to create awareness that racism is still taking place in this generation," Jenkins said. "For people who think it's fake, my heart goes out to them and I wish them the best."

A rash of receipts left with racist remarks have made headlines recently, from a Papa John's employee who identified a customer as "lady chinky eyes" to a CVS employee referring to an Asian woman as "Ching Chong Lee" on her receipt.

By:Stefanie Tuder

Did LinkedIn Betray Users...?

Posted by Jeevan ॐ Mirthu Gupt on September 23, 2013 at 8:40 AM Comments comments (0)

The well known professional networking site LinkedIn (NYSE:LNKD) is facing a lawsuit from users who claim that their identities were taken by the company and then used for marketing to make a profit. This was done by hacking into their external email addresses and using the contact info, reports Bloomberg.

The complainants have requested the judge bar the site from repeating the same practices as the lawsuit continues. A court filing also requested that any revenue LinkedIn earned from utilizing this information is returned.

The site has more than 238 million members and claims to be the largest networking site of this type in the world. The complaint, which was filed last week, included a quote from the company’s CEO Jeff Weiner who said, “This strong membership growth is due in large part to new growth optimization efforts.”

The idea is that an external email address is the user name for the site, and these are accessed when left open, says the complaint. LinkedIn contests that the company does not access users’ email accounts or take this information.

One user, Deborah Lagutaris, found out that thousands of invitations had been sent in her name. When she contacted the company, they told her they did not know what had happened. Other users reported similar problems.

The complaint sets out that this is a growth strategy from LinkedIn where the company sends multiple emails promoting the company’s services and the brand to new users. It also sends follow up emails if they do not respond to the initial invitation. According to the plaintiffs, the company guarantees that it is not going to email on the behalf of users.

By: Abby Cessna

'Motherese' Important For Children's Language Development...!!!

Posted by Jeevan ॐ Mirthu Gupt on September 16, 2013 at 12:25 AM Comments comments (0)

(Medical Xpress) -- Talking to children has always been fundamental to language development, but new research reveals that the way we talk to children is key to building their ability to understand and create sentences of their own. The exaggerated speech we naturally use with young children is special register – often called ‘motherese’.

“We use changes in pitch and rhythm when we talk to children, and we emphasize important words. This is what children usually learn and produce first.”says Professor Katherine Demuth, Director of the Child Language Laboratory at the Centre for Language Sciences, Linguistics Department.

But it’s not just mothers: fathers, older siblings and virtually anyone who talks to a young child naturally adopts child-directed speech, or ‘motherese.’ Studies suggest that this helps children identify where words begin and end, and provides them with the clues needed to help them develop their own language skills.

“A child learning their first language is like an adult learning a second one: you have no idea what’s going on and it’s just one long speech stream. Child-directed speech helps unpack this for children and gives them the tools to help them identify sounds, syllables and finally words and sentences,” says Demuth.

Demuth recommends a simple method for developing language skills: talking and reading to children. “You aren’t teaching them language, you are just interacting with them, using words that help them develop their vocabulary sooner.”

Source:- Macquarie University

Interracial Couples Increasingly Common...But Many Aren't Marrying; U.S. Census Data Show....

Posted by Jeevan ॐ Mirthu Gupt on September 2, 2013 at 7:05 AM Comments comments (0)

Interracial couples are increasingly common in America, but many are opting not to get married.

That's according to a new analysis of U.S. Census data published by the Los Angeles Times, which found racially and ethnically mixed couples were more than twice as common in 2012 as they were in 2000.

But there were also more than twice of the amount of unmarried interracial couples living together than married ones. In 2012, nine percent of unmarried couples living together came from different races, compared with about four percent of married couples, according to Census Bureau data.

"The same gap exists for Latinos — who are not counted as a race by the Census Bureau — living with or marrying people who aren't Latino," the newspaper added.

Some researchers say the reason for interracial couples not marrying is disapproving family members.

"You don't need to get a blessing from either side of the family [to live together]," Zhenchao Qian, a sociology professor at Ohio State University, told the Times. "Moving to the next stage is sometimes more difficult."

That's because "many older Americans, especially whites, are still uneasy about interracial marriage."

Or there were three ago. According to a 2009 study by the Pew Research Center, just half of white respondents aged 50 to 64 said they would be fine with one of their relatives marrying someone of any other race or ethnicity.

Another reason for the parental uneasiness cited by researchers: fear of a loss of culture.

"That seemed to be the more common concern," Damon Brown, an African American man married to an Indian American woman, told the paper. Their families thought "you can be black, or you can be Hindi," he said.

Whatever the case, it's clear some Americans still are uncomfortable with seeing racially mixed couples.

Earlier this year, a Cheerios commercial featuring an interracial family drew so many prejudiced comments online, General Mills decided to disable commenting on its YouTube account.

By: Dylan Stableford

Hundreds Mourn Tasered Miami Graffiti Artist....

Posted by Jeevan ॐ Mirthu Gupt on August 15, 2013 at 11:00 PM Comments comments (0)

MIAMI BEACH, Florida (Reuters) - Hundreds of friends and supporters of an 18-year-old graffiti artist who died after being shocked by a stun gun during a police chase in Miami Beach gathered on Saturday in a tearful rally at the site where he had been spray-painting.

Colombian-born Israel Hernandez-Llach died on Tuesday after police shocked him with a Taser as he ran away from officers who caught him spray-painting the wall of a shuttered McDonald's.

"He was a genius," said Lucy Rynka, 18, who graduated from Miami Beach Senior High School with Hernandez-Llach last spring. "He showed me how powerful art can be, how you can use color and design to relay a powerful message."

Miami Beach Police Chief Raymond Martinez has said that Hernandez-Llach was confronted by officers after vandalizing private property and ignored their commands to stop running.

Once in custody, Hernandez showed signs of medical distress and was pronounced dead soon after, Martinez said. A formal cause of death has not been established in the case pending toxicology results.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement said on Friday it would conduct an independent review of the Miami Beach Police Department's investigation into the death of Hernandez-Llach, who was known as "Reefa" and whose work had appeared in some Miami art galleries.

Florida's state attorney and the medical examiner for Miami-Dade County are also reviewing the case, officials said.

Miami Beach police has come under scrutiny in recent years for a series of shootings and improper conduct, including the death of a 22-year-old man who was shot 16 times by police two years ago during a Memorial Day weekend hip-hop festival.

During the peaceful rally attended by around 400 people, some in the crowd booed and whistled at police officers standing nearby and shouted, "Whose streets? Our streets!"

The teen's father, Israel Hernandez-Bandera has called his son's death "an act of barbarism" and an "assassination of a young artist and photographer."

Jason W. Kreiss, an attorney representing the family, said Hernandez-Llach would likely not have been prosecuted over the spray-painting and would have probably faced a punishment of community service.

At the Saturday rally, the wall where Hernandez-Llach spray-painted was covered with his nickname and messages.

"The only thing I want everyone to remember is his goal was to have his art around the world," said Vivian Azalia, 18, told the crowd while fighting back tears. "I know he'd be happy with the support that's come from around the world and from the graffiti community."

By: Zachary Fagenson

*(Editing by Kevin Gray and David Brunnstrom)

Actress Vanessa Williams Explains How DNA Powers Her Family Tree....

Posted by Jeevan ॐ Mirthu Gupt on August 5, 2013 at 2:15 PM Comments comments (0)

The world within Vanessa Williams -

Most of us are curious about our family lineage. For Vanessa Williams, who recently took part in the show “Who Do You Think You Are” and explored her family’s history, the task was both surprising and informative. Here, she talks about what she learned and how she plans to use that information.

How did you become interested in finding out about your lineage?

I’ve always been interested, but I was introduced to [one of the websites that help people research their family backgrounds] before I even did a show called “Who Do You Think You Are,” so I signed up as a member to document my own family tree, and my DNA analysis was done as a part of doing the show.

We ended up doing two stories on my father’s side. One of my great-great-grandfathers was a soldier in the Civil War, and the other was born a slave but ended up being an educator and principal, and one of the first black legislators in Tennessee back in 1885. The stories are rich and informative and intriguing, but also as an African American, you don’t always have the luxury to know exactly where your ancestors are from.

What did you find out about your DNA?

My DNA breaks down as follows: I’m 23% from Ghana, 17% from the British Isles, 15% from Cameroon, 12% Finnish, 11% Southern European, 7% Togo, 6% Benin, 5% Senegal and 4% Portuguese.

Now, I can’t wait to go to Ghana and Cameroon and Togo and Senegal — it’s a great opportunity to see why the customs resonate with you. I love to travel and I love to explore, and I have to admit that I was always jealous of people who knew their cultural background. Both my family and myself came out with light eyes, so obviously there is a recessive gene here. Not knowing what that was just made me very curious.

How did it feel to find out about all these different parts of your lineage?

It’s fascinating! The first person I called was my mother, and I sent her my results and copied all my kids so they know where half of their genetic makeup is from. I wish that my father was still alive, because he was a huge history buff and interested in genealogy as well. It allows a greater sense of history for the family and a bit of pride as well.

Why do you think this information is important? Is it just for your own knowledge or to do plan to use it for health purposes as well?

I remember my mother told me that when my brother was a baby, they identified some blood issue with him, and they asked her if she had any relatives from Italy because this particular blood characteristic was consistent with someone from Italy. My mother said, “No, no, nothing like that.” Well, now come to find out 45 years later and obviously we have the same genetic makeup that Southern European is 11% of our makeup.

How did your family react to all this information?

They loved it. They really can’t wait to go on our world tour of where we’re from. The biggest surprise was Finland. How did that happen? Who is Finnish? That is definitely going to be one of my trips coming up. It’s all surprising, really interesting and it’s really incredible.


Comet ISON: Pop or Fizzle?

Posted by Jeevan ॐ Mirthu Gupt on July 31, 2013 at 8:15 AM Comments comments (0)

In this Hubble Space Telescope composite image taken in April 2013, comet ISON floats against a seemingly infinite backdrop of numerous galaxies and a handful of foreground stars. Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team

Will the much talked about comet ISON, discovered by Russian amateur  astronomers last year, turn out to be what some are calling the ‘comet of the century’ ? Not likely, says one researcher who has just concluded a preliminary study using the latest observations of the icy interloper. (Related: “New Comet Discovered.”)

Astronomer Ignacio Ferrin, from the University of Antioquia in Medellin, Colombia, believes that comet C/2012 S1 ISON may possibly  fall apart before even reaching its closest encounter with the sun later this fall.

Stargazers were initially very excited when astronomers calculated the comet’s orbit and they realized it would be skimming the sun’s surface by only 700,000 miles (1.1 million kilometers) on November 28, 2013. But continual observations by both professional and amateur telescopes, including Hubble, have since shown that the comet has not brightened as expected.

“Comet ISON has presented a peculiar behavior,” said Ferrin in a press statement.

“The light curve has exhibited a ‘slowdown event’ characterized by a constant brightness with no indication of a brightness increase tendency. This slowdown took place around January 13, 2013. For 132 days after that date, and up to the last available observation, the brightness has remained constant.”

Ferrin interprets this lackluster behavior as meaning that the comet may not live up to all the hoopla.

That’s because during its closest encounter with the sun, the comet’s three-mile (five-kilometer) wide icy core – in the worst case scenarios- will either be torn apart by intense solar gravitational forces, or simply melted away by the scorching 2,700 degree temperatures, Ferrin says.

The consensus in the astronomical community is that it is especially unlikely that ISON will flare up to be as bright as the full moon, as some media accounts have reported.

For now, however, the comet is still currently out between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, hurtling towards the Sun at 48,000 miles (77,000 kilometers) an hour. The latest infrared views from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope—taken in June—shows ISON’s nucleus spewing out a healthy 186,000-mile-long (299,000-kilometer-long) tail of carbon dioxide and dust as it melts due to the sun’s heat.

Will comet ISON blossom into a naked-eye comet, sporting a long, beautiful tail across the sky? Comets are notoriously unpredictable and can surprise even experts. Unfortunately, it’s now a wait-and-see game since the comet is currently lost in the glare of the sun and will only be visible again in early September.

One thing is for sure, ISON will make an uncomfortably close approach to the sun in just a few months. Thanks to an armada of telescopes on Earth and in space trained on this cosmic event, we will be witness to a rare spectacle no matter what’s in store for this sun-grazer.

By: Andrew Fazekas