Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Walk the line

It comes as no surprise (to me, at least) that humans can’t walk in a straight line unless we have an external guide. We just end up walking in circles.

It turns out, no one is really sure why this happens but experiments on walkers, drivers and swimmers have all found the tendency to circle back on ourselves despite us thinking that we’re maintaining a steady course ahead.

Which makes one inevitably think: who is my guide?

Source: NPR


I have been woken in the night recently by things crawling into my nose. Upon inspection, I realise I have a nest of spiders in the apex of my mosquito net.

On the inside.

Monday, November 22, 2010


W working hard during his suspension from school

Friday, November 19, 2010

I’m not the guy you kill. I’m the guy you buy.

I shook hands with a man who's killed over thirty people today. He appeared normal, with all the qualities of a loner: sitting alone by the lake and not keeping eye contact for more than a few seconds. Otherwise, quite personable.

My friend Fernando has known him since they were both kids, growing up in a favela close by. I sat, wide-eyed as he explained that the man is a paid assassin for a drug gang and goes to work when the small time dealers refuse to pay. One time he watched as the guy - upon running out of bullets - finished his target off by smashing his head in with a rock.

After a brief introduction we withdrew and sat at a distance, staring out across the water.

"He wants to get out" Fernando tells me. "He lives a paranoid existence."
"I thought this stuff only existed in movies" I say, lost for meaningful words.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Too tired to be useful

"Productivity...is sluggish. That may not seem the end of the world, but it reflects realities such as the two-hour bus journey into work endured by people living on the periphery of São Paulo...during which they often risk assault before arriving too tired to be useful."

The Economist
, 14 November, 2009

Good Grief

So, the computer died and I've been spending the best part of the week trying to rescue photos and other important stuff from the frizzled hard drive. Hence the lack of postings of late. Apologies.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Have you seen the rabbit?

Scars on the Brain

"Words do hurt. Ridicule, distain, humiliation, taunting, all cause injury, and when it is delivered in childhood from a child’s peers, verbal abuse causes more than emotional trauma. It inflicts lasting physical effects on brain structure.

The remarkable thing about the human brain is that it develops after birth. Unlike most animals whose brains are cast at birth, the human brain is so underdeveloped at birth that we cannot even walk for months. Self awareness does not develop for years. Personality, cognitive abilities, and skills, take decades to develop, and these attributes develop differently in every person. This is because development and wiring of the human brain are guided by our experiences during childhood and adolescence.

When that environment is hostile or socially unhealthy, development of the brain is affected, and often it is impaired. Early childhood sexual abuse, physical abuse, or even witnessing domestic violence, have been shown to cause abnormal physical changes in the brain of children, with lasting effects that predisposes the child to developing psychological disorders. This type of brain scarring is well established now by human brain imaging studies, but prior to the recent study by Martin Teicher and colleagues at Harvard Medical School, taunting and other verbal abuse experienced by middle school children from their peers was not thought to leave a structural imprint on the developing brain. But it does, according to their new study published on-line in advance of print in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

Young adults, ages 18-25, with no history of exposure to domestic violence, sexual abuse, or parental physical abuse, were asked to rate their childhood exposure to parental and peer verbal abuse when they were children, and then they were given a brain scan.

The results revealed that those individuals who reported experiencing verbal abuse from their peers during middle school years had underdeveloped connections between the left and right sides of their brain through the massive bundle of connecting fibers called the corpus callosum. Psychological tests given to all subjects in the study showed that this same group of individuals had higher levels of anxiety, depression, anger, hostility, dissociation, and drug abuse than others in the study."

Psychology Today, October 30, 2010

Signs of Adolescence #2

A rare treat (a visit to the cinema):

L: Are you going to wear those clothes?
Me: Er, yes.