Reality: The Artificial Womb

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Tokyo researchers and scientists have developed the EUFI technique (extrauterine fetal incubation), where they take a goat fetus and supply it oxygenated blood through a catheter that is inserted in a large vessel in the umbilical cord. They are placed in incubators that are filled with artificial amniotic fluid heated up. Yoshinori Kuwabara, the chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Juntendo University in Tokyo, became interest in artificial placentas after working with premature infants. As of now, he and his associates have been able to keep a goat fetus in the environment described above for up to three weeks. There was however technical difficulties and problems with the fetus. 

Although this idea seems extremely futuristic and perhaps creepy, we are still making unbelievable progress in controlling a pregnancy and making sure a baby comes into this world healthy and safe. Right now we have neonatology which gives infants mainly with health concerns special medical care. We are also able to work surgically on fetuses. There is the technology we have to assist reproduction: “in-vitro fertilization” and
“gamete retrieval-and-transfer”. Overall, its all very new and even more controversial. It’s shocking we have developed the technology to make the artificial womb. Who knows, maybe in a few decades that’s how we will be raising our children…

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http://www.nytimes.com/1996/09/29/magazine/the-artificial-womb-is-born.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm

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The Dreaded “C” Word… College

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Our reality will change as we know it when next fall arrives. We will have different friends, a different bed to sleep in every night, and might even be in a different state other than Connecticut. To some, this sounds like heaven. To others however, this is a scary thought. It’s hard to imagine a life in college. Sure, we have stories from siblings and friends who are in college, but their experiences are completely different than the ones we will have. Television shows and movies that take place in college exaggerate the experience, leaving us with false pretenses and expectations. In all, college seems intimidating and possibly scary at the moment. Below is a summary of an article I found written to possibly comfort some seniors on their way to college.

8 Things First-Year Students Fear About College

1: Am I Smart Enough?

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All we hear about from teachers, peers, our parents, and our siblings is “college is really different–and much harder–than high school”. Comforting, right? As if we haven’t struggled enough with AP classes and tears already, it just gets harder from here! This thought leads many students to question their abilities. College students have observed that in order to survive and be successful you must have three things: time management skills, organizational skills, and a good relationship with your professors. You WILL succeed if you have those three things. Also, some students have suggested making a “semester-long calendar created from syllabi on Day 1 of classes”, learning how to “scan” huge documents and articles that are assigned, and taking early morning classes that interest you. Otherwise, you will “just go back to sleep”. 

2. Will My Roommate be Weird?

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Finding ways to compromise and respect each other’s space in a small dorm room may be difficult depending on your and your roommate’s personality, tenancies, and habits. Remember that nothing is forever, and if it becomes absolutely unbearable to live with this person, you can always request a switch by talking to an RA. If your roommate and you don’t get along, you can always spend more time making friends outside of your dorm. Most importantly, if a roommate is physically or verbally threatening or abusive, you don’t have to “deal” with that. Talk to an RA or the dean about it. You are also not responsible for waking up or taking care of your roommate in any way. If you end up becoming your roommate’s “mom”, or they start overbearingly taking care of you, you should once again request a new roommate.

3. Where’s my New Best Friend?

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Students expect to find their best friend at orientation. Everyone is nervous and freaking out, even the “outgoing students who had a plethora of friend in high school” feel intimidated. No one there knows your back story or anything about you other than the judgments they’ve already made about your appearance. Remember that friends will come in time, and to keep true to yourself. One student observed that if you have a “tool kit” (yes, a tool kit complete with hammers, nails, screw drivers, even duck tape), you will meet tons of people. Also remember why you’re there: to LEARN. 

4. Will I be okay without my folks, my dog and my car?

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Texas Song

There’s no doubt about it–you’re going to feel a little homesick at some point. Whether its the “first three hours or the first three months” you’re going to miss something about home life.  Angela Kinney at Saint Louis University (MO) says “it’s okay to have bad days and miss your family and to want to be home.” It’s natural, it’s normal. Students usually struggle to cope with this, and choose either to “bury themselves in way too many activities” or “hibernate with their books”. Here are things to remember that will help you  deal with homesick thoughts:
1. Not every day is going to be packed with fun and parties

2. Stay active, but don’t overdue it. Yoga or Ultimate Frisbee are good ways to stay out of bed and work off stress

3. Go to an RA if you’re feeling homesick, or go to the counseling center sooner rather than later. They are there to help you and have no problem doing so. 

5. Where’s the Party?

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Parties happen at college all the time. Even though college campuses may ban alcohol, you’ll be able to find it. It’s always around, and it seems like everyone’s doing it. If “partying” isn’t your thing, don’t feel pressured to drink. There are other people like you who find other ways to have fun. If you ever feel like you should go to a party in order to make friends and be social, remember that if things get out of hand and you start to feel uncomfortable, you can leave and go back to your dorm at any time. If you ARE into partying, remember to be responsible. Also, know that “not everyone parties to unconsciousness from Thursday through Sunday”, “Sometimes telling someone you like him/her is facilitated by beer”, and “Amazing people turn into foolish people or worse at alcohol-laden parties”.

6. Peer Pressure for Sex?

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Luke Roth at Loyola University (IL) says “No matter whether you like it, you don’t like it, you haven’t had it, you have had it, you had it and don’t do it that much anymore, you had it and now have it like a bunny—get used to it, because it happens, and it happens a lot.” Stay responsible, and only do it if you’re 100% sure you want to (this does not include being 100% sure while you’re intoxicated). Be polite, don’t do it when your roommate is there, and don’t kick them out unless they’re completely okay with it. Figure out in advance exactly what you want and what you will accept in a relationship, and tell the person this. And of course, you don’t have to have sex at all. 

7. Where’s the Money?

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Every college student is broke. Everyone. You’re not alone, and there are ways to survive with having little to no money. Here are some tips:

1. Buy cheaper books, cheaper meals, and cheaper “fun”

2. Get a job that allows you to study at work and have a flexible schedule

3. Be careful with your credit card if you have one–they have a limit for a reason. 

4. Leave your car at home

8. Is it Safe Here?

ImageThere will be crime on campus, but you can avoid it, and all campuses go to great lengths to keep their students safe. Security information and phone numbers will be given to you, and lectures will be given telling you how you can be safe at parties and on campus. Date rape is a huge thing to look out for. You should never put your drink down at a party, and you should only drink your own stuff. There should be one sober person in your group of friends that can look out for the rest of you as well. Aside from “date rape” safety, you should be careful to keep your possessions safe by putting passwords on them if they are pieces of technology you care about (laptop, cellphone, etc.) or by putting locks on them that have a combination only you know. 

The article by education.com wraps up by stating this:

“despite their fears, college can provide a safety net—within reason—to experiment, make mistakes, learn and move forward intellectually and socially. A Brandeis University (MA) student talked about how during her first semester at college she “made bad choices, hooked up with guys, was messy, drinking too much.” She didn’t much like that person. She decided to change, try new things, and find the person she really wanted to be.”

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http://www.education.com/reference/article/things-first-year-students-fear-college/

Bryan Lewis Saunders: Sacrificing Reality for Art

       Bryan Lewis Saunders is an artist who performs disturbing tragic art performances such as rants, poetry, and “stand up tragedy”. He is most well known for his project where he ingested or inhaled a different drug every day for 50 days. When under the influence of a drug, he created a self portrait. Some portraits came out pretty realistic and well done. Below are some of those that are the least disturbing:

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10mg of Ambien (insomia medication)

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Hash

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Ritilin (used to treat ADD)

   However, the majority of these portraits came out extremely odd and warped. Below are some of his most disturbing portraits. In these, it is still obvious that he is drawing himself.

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cocaine

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morphine

        The rest of the photos here demonstrate how crippling some drugs can be, leaving this extremely talented and experienced artist unable to render anything even close to his appearance (or anything at all). 

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Bath Salts

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Computer Duster

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Dilaudid (hydromorphone; treatment for chronic pain, 6-8x stronger than morphine)

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Heroine (snorted)

       This man ended up in the hospital countless times due to his drug intake. He permanently changed his perspective on reality and the real world both because the drugs chemically changed how his brain worked and because he went through unnatural scarring experiences that he will never be able to forget. When it comes to how artists operate, many seek “experiences that might profoundly effect [their] perception on the self”, but in my opinion I think Bryan took it a step too far. I do respect what he did, giving his audience and viewers a chance to see how drugs effect a human being, but he destroyed himself in the process. Yes, Bryan continues to do art to this day, but he suffers permanent brain damage and will never be the same. Below is the link to his website where the rest of the 50 portraits are posted:

http://bryanlewissaunders.org/drugs/

 

 

Other links used:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zolpidem

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydromorphone

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bryan_Lewis_Saunders

 

Depersonalization: Distanced from Reality

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       Depersonalization disorder is when an individual feels “distanced” or “divorced” from themselves, feeling as if their actions and body do not belong to them. They feel distanced from their own personal physicality by sensing their body sensations, feelings, emotions and behaviors as not belonging to themselves. People can experience depersonalization occasionally, but it becomes a disorder when things around you persistently don’t feel real, or when you have the feeling that you’re observing yourself from outside your body. Feelings of depersonalization can be very disturbing and make those effected feel like they’re losing their grip on reality. It usually goes hand-in-hand with PTSD, anxiety, depression, and panic disorders. However, sleep deprivation and the use of some recreational drugs can make an individual experience symptoms similar to depersonalization. 

Personally I struggled with depersonalization throughout high school, and attempted to describe my experience with it through this project:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/lobst3rphone/sets/72157637124559814/

The Apple Reality Distortion Field

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Ever since Steve Job’s book came out, the public has been trying to decide if he was a manipulative selfish con man, or an amazing leader and genius. One determination about him however, is undeniable: Steve Jobs had mastered the use of a Reality Distortion Field (RDF). This method was used in order to “convince themselves and others to believe almost anything with a mix of charm, charisma, bravado, hyperbole, marketing, appeasement and persistence.” RDF is used in order to make an audience believe that they can accomplish a task. Robert Friedland, a colleague of Steve’s, reflected upon his mastery of RDF, observing that “whatever he was interested in he would generally carry to an irrational extreme.” By having this intense yet overly optimistic outlook on life and goals, Steve Jobs was truly able to accomplish the impossible. He was highly manipulative and persuasive, making the people who worked for him believe they could accomplish their tasks with ease and speed. Steve Job’s co-worker described Steve Job as an individual who had great “charismatic rhetorical style, indomitable will, and eagerness to bend any fact to fit the purpose at hand.” He usually used this method when workers were being told to accomplish that was impossible either because it was too large a project or there was not enough time. Although this may seem like an evil and selfish act, RDF is all about self-control which of course is a very important skill to have in today’s world.

An example of how Steve did this was when he switched out all the soda machines for healthy Odwalla organic carrot and orange juices in offices. He did this in order to make the workers in the office work better and be more alert throughout the day. The workers would blame their newfound motivation on their new diet of juice, but in reality the substances in the juice had nothing to do with their improved work ethic: it was the thought that the juice might increase their ability

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http://www.skeptic.com/eskeptic/13-07-10/

The Climate Reality Project

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       The Climate Reality Project is a non-profit organization focused on educating people about climate change and countering climate change denial campaigns, established in 2010.

HISTORY

Alliance for Climate Protection

       This program was started in 2006 by Al Gore in order to encourage civic action against climate change. The program got money from a number of different sources. First and foremost, the Alliance earned received revenue through The  Climate Protection Action Fund which created advocacy campaigns that let the public know how they can help find a solution to climate change. The program was also funded by the proceeds earned from Gore’s documentary and book “An Inconvenient Truth”, his salary from his work for Kleiner Perkins Cauldfield & Byers, and his prize money from the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. Outside of Gore’s money and his organizations, the distributor of An Inconvenient Truth, Paramount Classics, and Live Earth concerts gave some of their proceeds to the program. The Alliance was successful in encouraging federal policies that supported low carbon power sources and limited greenhouse gas emissions.

       The “We”,“We can Solve it”, and “Repower America” campaigns were hugely successful. The “We can Solve It” campaign featured Nancy Pelosi and Newt Gingrich calling for a response to climate change. Their mission was to inspire others to act against climate change on a national and international level. The “We” campaign included partnerships with the Girl Scouts of America, the United Steelworkers of America and the National Audubon Society. In later 2008, the “Repower America” campaign was established in effort to achieve Gore’s goal of having American homes switch to clean energy in 10 years. The Reality Coalition was created just after the “Repower America” campaign. This program was co-owned and controlled by the National Wildlife Federation, the League of Conservation Voters, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Sierra Club. This organization was mostly advertising-based. They used advertisements on the TV, in print, and online to challenge the idea of clean coal.

The Climate Project

                This organization was founded in the same year as the Alliance for Climate Protection by the same man: Al Gore. It was based in Nashville and supported mainly by the profits earned from Gore’s documentary “An Inconvenient Truth”. The Climate Project, much like the Alliance, was an educational, worldwide grassroots organization. However, this project  trained volunteers to give public talks about climate change, just as Gore did. In just 3 years the project had more than 3,000 volunteers all over the world.

                It was only in 2010 that the two projects combined. This new organization is known as the Climate Reality Project.

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24 Hours of Reality

24 Hours of Reality is a project that will begin at 11 am on October 22 this year. This year, Al Gore and the Climate Reality Project will stop the clock for 24 hours and discuss climate change due to carbon pollution with a number of experts. Each hour focuses on a different part of the world and how carbon pollution and climate change are changing the lives of the humans and habitats around them. During these 24 hours, viewers can go to http://www.thecostofcarbon.org/  to learn how carbon pollution is effecting their lives. These results can be sent to government leaders in order to show these officials they must take action.

Why You Should Watch 24 Hours of Reality: The Cost of Carbon

Reality: What ‘moral boundaries’ will be crossed in the next 100 years?

 

 

 

Choosing Children
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       There was an interesting discussion on Reddit.com about what moral boundaries could be potentially crossed in the future. Our reality will be much different than it is right now in just a few years time. One of the topics that was discussed was about “choosing” your children. Nowadays, parents can choose what color eyes their children will have, even their gender. Although this seems like something out of a sci-fi flick, scientists are already making this happen. Geneticist Lee Silver states that “We already have the ability to isolate genes that affect a lot of the physical traits humans have and the physiological traits.” In the next 20 years or so, more genes will be isolated giving scientists the knowledge of knowing which genes make us tall or short, even which ones determine our personalities. Morally, there is already discussion as to what parents should be able to choose, and if they should be able to choose what their children will be like at all. Risa Goldberg brings up the idea that it would make the world much more “competitive”, and how there would be a lack of diversity. There might be competition between adults creating their “super child”. Of course, environment and surroundings have an impact on a child’s personality and lifestyle, but they may have less of an impact if they are programmed at birth to act and be a certain way. Many parents have opinions about this. One parent who supports “choosing” states “health is the most important part of anything. As long as the kid is healthy that’s all I care about.” We do get those individuals who care about their child’s appearance, saying how for example, they “want my baby to look more like me, not my husband” and would like to have the ability to make that decision. The reddit discussion takes this all a step further, bringing up how the world would change if we could choose the IQ of our children. Some asked the question “wouldn’t raising a child’s IQ be advancing the potential of society as a whole?” Responses consisted of people reminding those asking of the fact that we need “cleaning staff and bricklayers” and that “intelligent people are often not happy in jobs that offer very little intellectual challenge.” Some go as far as to say robots could do those jobs, bringing up another argument: if we do create artificial intelligence, how much choice should they have? Should they have choice at all? The discussion goes on and on. Only time will tell what our reality and lives will be like in the near future.

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Reddit discussion:

http://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/1ow3xm/serious_what_moral_boundaries_will_be_crossed_in/ccw8662

ABC news article: Genetics Will Let Parents Build Their Baby

http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/Technology/story?id=2626668&page=1

Slapped in the face with Reality

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       Wax lips. They looked like those silly wax lips you get at the candy store for no other reason than to make your sister laugh. Except his were cut, and bleeding, and there was a green bruise on his left cheek. His eye looked smashed, as if someone had stepped on it with intentions of popping it right out of the socket. Cuts were scattered all over his right side, a huge raw scabbed sore near his hairline. This is Johnny, my Johnny. The boy I met at camp who kept stealing glances at me during lunch and musical theater. The same boy who helped find my earrings underneath the tree on the last day at camp. The same one I talk to every night until 11:00, sometimes 11:30. And he’s in trouble, miles and miles away from me. There’s nothing I can do to help. He keeps saying he’s fine, but I don’t know how anyone could be fine after being mauled by the police. It was so stupid of him to be there, who on EARTH wants to be in the school building more than necessary? Who wants to aimlessly wander the halls more than they already do during the school day? So stupid. He’s screwed up before, but never this bad. Sure, he’s had his fair share of nights spent in the park sleeping on the bench, even sleeping in the hallway of some apartment building a few blocks away, but never has something like this happened. So many times I lay in bed, eyes red and pillow blackened with wet mascara, while I know on the other side of my computer screen, his eyes are red for a completely different reason. Now he’s suspended and going to court. I’m glad he got slapped in the face with reality.

 

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Reality (Post 1)

Reality

The word “reality” comes from the french word “realite” and directly from the nominative form of realitas in Latin. The meaning “real existence, all that is real” is from the 1640’s, and the definition “the real state of something” is from the 1680’s. Later on it also meant “sincerity”.

Uses in literature:

Edgar Allen Poe’s Poems

“tho’ that long dream were of hopeless sorrow,’Twere better than the dull reality Of waking life to him whose heart shall be, And hath been ever, on the chilly earth, A chaos of deep passion from his birth !”

Jack London’s Michael, Brother of Jerry

“They constituted another world and were as a play of superior beings on an exalted stage where was no reality such as black men might know as reality, where, like the phantoms of a dream, the white men moved and were as shadows cast upon the vast and mysterious curtain of the Cosmos.”
Reality is usually defined as being different from person-to-person, for it is how one perceives the world and life in general.