Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Daleks bid to make world record

Row of daleks (Pic: John Ryan)
The daleks were all home-made by fans of the show (Pic: John Ryan)
A bid to create a new world record and have the biggest number of people dressed up as daleks in one location has taken place in Manchester.

The Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester brought together 67 home-made Daleks on Sunday afternoon.

Their original creator, Raymond Cusick, who was there to judge the world record attempt said the initial design 40 years ago was very basic.

The museum is currently featuring an exhibition on Dr Who and the Daleks.

An official decision is yet to be announced as to whether the daleks succeeded in the world record bid.

Viewpoint: Turkey's soul unveiled

Internationally acclaimed writer Elif Shafak says women's bodies have become a battlefield for competing views of modern Turkey.

Here she comments on the impact of Abdullah Gul's election as president. Mr Gul is a former Islamist whose wife controversially wears the headscarf.

Ms Shafak was tried last year - and acquitted - on charges of "insulting Turkishness" in her novel, The Bastard of Istanbul.

In the history of every country, there are certain periods when time flows more quickly and perhaps more painfully.

The year 2007 has been one of the most turbulent years in recent Turkish history.

Turkish Eurovision winner, Sertab Erener
Turkey's pop music reveals its close identification with the West

And yet, Turkey has an amazing capacity to rapidly normalise things and generate stability out of commotion.

Now, after months of mass demonstrations and rising political tension, Turkey has finally chosen its president.

Much to the dismay of the conventional secular elite, the former foreign minister, Abdullah Gul, has become the new president.

In fact, very few people have a problem with Mr Gul's personality. He has been a successful, pro-EU diplomat and a mild and moderate voice within his party.

His public support for journalists and writers on trial has also brought him close to intellectuals.

Today, in addition to his own electorate, he has the empathy and support of many in the intelligentsia and business circles.

Interestingly, it was less Mr Gul himself than his wife who has been discussed and challenged - if not rejected - by the country's mainstream elite.

Idealised image

In Turkey today any debate on gender or women is almost instantly overshadowed by politics.

Elif Shafak
Turkish... society and culture is a harmonious fusion of seemingly opposite forces
Elif Shafak

Women's bodies and images have become ideological battlegrounds.

It is around the symbols of femininity that bleak political dilemmas revolve.

And among all the symbols of femininity none has been as problematic as the headscarf.

Gender issues have always been vital in the consolidation of the modern Turkish nation, founded by Kemal Ataturk after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.

His reformist movement was unique among those emerging from the Muslim world in that it ventured and managed to transform not only the public sphere but also the private sphere - the domain of mothers, wives and daughters.

Eighty years on, today's trouble with women with headscarves is that they do not fit into this picture of the idealised "modern Turkish woman".

Women in spotlight

With the Gul presidency now in progress, the modern Turkish nation state will for the first time have a First Lady wearing a headscarf.

Abdullah Gul and his wife
Mrs Gul's headscarf has divided opinion among Turks

And here lies the crux of the problem. That headscarf has been interpreted as the symbol of darker and deeper changes.

If the First Lady wears a headscarf, maintain the secularist elite, the whole secular system could be undermined.

There is a lot of talk on the theme "how should an ideal Turkish woman look?"

Newspapers, TV channels, radios, workshops, panels and conferences centre on this question.

Interestingly, Turkish women have been at the forefront of this debate.

It seems some of Turkey's Westernised, modern, secularist women are determined to show their opposition to the "other" Turkish women.

Family traditions

As a novelist, the linguistic jam in this whole debate is of great interest to me. I can find more than eight different words in Turkish, each of which stand for some form of headscarf.

Yemeni, turbaan, esharp, charshaf - every one is different. But this complexity is completely lost when they are all lumped together under the category of "the veil".

Fashion designer and model
Turkish society, like its fashions, seeks to reconcile opposites

When we talk about the headscarf now, words explain less and confuse more.

Women wear the headscarf for different reasons. Most wear it out of habit or for utterly traditional reasons rather than political motives.

Not all covered women are giving a political message. Similarly, not all covered women are "ignorant" or "repressed".

More significantly, the structure of the Turkish family constantly brings together covered and uncovered women.

Sometimes the mother-in-law is covered but the daughter-in-law is not. One sister is covered but not another.

Even taking a stroll along a crowded street in Istanbul will show us how covered and uncovered women live together all the time.

Muslim and secular

Turkish politics might thrive upon dualities but Turkish society does not. The society and culture is a harmonious fusion of seemingly opposite forces.

Secularists demonstrate in Turkey
Kemal Ataturk is revered as the father of modern, secular Turkey
When Western media cover the situation in Turkey they frequently use terms such as "Islamist" for the ruling AK Party. That, however, is misleading.

In order to understand the AKP's internal dynamics and continuing political success we need to abandon the term "Islamist" or "fundamentalist" altogether.

We can call them "Muslim democrats" for instance. Or find another concept that works.

Within the amazing diversity of the Muslim world, Turkey occupies a unique place.

In an age when the number of people who believe in a clash of civilisations escalates every day, here is a country that is predominantly Muslim and staunchly secular at the same time.

And here is a country that started its modernisation more than 150 years ago and today wants to join the EU.

The discussion on the president's wife and the position of women in Turkey lies at the centre of all these massive political debates.

New study finds married men do less housework than live-in boyfriends

Public release date: 27-Aug-2007

Contact: Tara Laskowski
George Mason University

The age-old stereotype that women do more housework than men has gotten more credibility with a George Mason University study co-written by sociologist Shannon Davis.

The study of more than 17,000 people in 28 countries found that married men report doing less housework than men who are live-in boyfriends.

This study was recently published in the Journal of Family Issues by Davis and co-authors Theodore Greenstein and Jennifer Gerteisen Marks of North Carolina State University.

According to Davis, the key finding of the study is that it suggests the institution of marriage changes the division of labor. Couples with an egalitarian view on gender—seeing men and women as equal—are more likely to divide the household chores equally. However, in married relationships, even if an egalitarian viewpoint is present, men still report doing less housework than their wives.

“Marriage as an institution seems to have a traditionalizing effect on couples—even couples who see men and women as equal,” says Davis.

While the researchers did not follow cohabitating couples over time to see if their division of housework changed after marriage, their study provides a “snapshot” in time of couples all over the world.

“Our research suggests that couples across many countries are influenced by similar factors when deciding how to divide the housework,” she says. “It’s the way the society has defined what being married means, the institution itself, that affects behavior.”

The Fatal Dangers of Job Stress

Job stress poses threats to your brain and cardiovascular health. According to the Workers Accident Medical Corporation, the number of cardiovascular patients was 3,441 or 19.4 percent of 17,730 workers who suffered work-related illness between January 2005 and December 2006. As the link between their sickness and job stress was recognized, most of them were compensated for industrial accident.

Many surveys show the impact of stress on workers’ health. According to the health and nutrition examination survey in the U.S. in 1988, the applied occupational and environmental hygiene survey in Japan in 1966 and a survey by Institute of Occupational Medicine at Yonsei Wonju College of Medicine in Korea in 2005, job stress directly increases the risk of brain and cardiovascular disease by raising blood pressure, slowing down the heartbeat and increasing bad cholesterol and blood clots.

Job stress is the physical and emotional response workers feel when they cannot meet the demands of their job. The first reaction is alarm -- pounding heart and shortness of breath -- triggered in the sympathetic nervous system. Next comes the reaction stage, where stress victims try to adjust to the stress or resist. At this stage, the human body secretes stress hormones like adrenal cortical hormone as a protection.

But if stress continues for a long time or occurs repeatedly, the immune system collapses and the body becomes exhausted. At this point, sufferers can fall victim to diseases of specific organs or mental illness. Brain and cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack and stroke can occur at this stage.

Prof. Kim Won at Department of Neuropsychiatry and Stress Research Institute at Inje University Seoul Paik Hospital said, “Job stress also causes damages to the organization by reducing productivity, degrading the organization’s image and increasing workforce turnover.” He urged Korean companies to regard job stress as a risk factor and introduce professional programs to deal with job stress, like many businesses in advanced countries.

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Penis museum in manhunt

The world's only penis museum has appealed for a human specimen.

Curator Sigurdur Hjartarson opened the museum in 1974 in Husavik, Iceland, and has collected 195 penises from various animals.

His collection includes penises from hamsters, horses and whales.

But now he is appealing again for a human organ.

He said people from the UK, Germany and the US had contacted him offering their penises in the past but that none of the offers had ever been serious.

Review and Trailer of Hong Kong Movie 'Blood Brothers'

After more than a dozen years in Hollywood, Hong Kong director John Woo has returned to Chinese-language film — and the gangster thriller genre he's best known for — with "Blood Brothers." It will be the closing movie at this year's Venice Film Festival, which starts Wednesday.

The character Mark in the Woo-produced movie is named after the gun-toting, trench-coat wearing gangster icon portrayed by Chow Yun-fat in the classic 1986 film "A Better Tomorrow."

'Blood Brothers' trailer with English subtitles

But the similarities end there. Woo's protege, first-time director Alexi Tan, makes a solid movie, but fails to convey the emotional intensity and brotherly loyalty captured in "A Better Tomorrow."

In 1930s China, three good friends — Feng, Gang and his younger brother Xiao Hu — leave their small village to pursue riches in cosmopolitan Shanghai. Led by Gang, they befriend a ruthless local gangster who runs a nightclub. Caught up in a life of crime, the trio's friendship breaks down, ending in bloodshed.

Perhaps that is Tan's first mistake: choosing such a generic gangster-themed plot line. The choice of old Shanghai as a setting is also a cliche.

The production design is exquisite, thanks in part to the meticulous work of Oscar-winning art director Tim Yip. The dapper double-breasted men's suits and bowler hats give the movie a Dick Tracy-like aesthetic. The women wear snug-fitting, Chinese-style qi pao dresses with long slits.

But the East-meets-West look of pre-communist Shanghai is also one of the most overused motifs in modern Chinese film.

Tan's ultimate failure, however, isn't wardrobe-related.

He doesn't sufficiently justify the bloodbath that the movie degenerates into, with the final massacre resembling the ultra-violent ending to Al Pacino's "Scarface."

In "A Better Tomorrow," Woo justified the violence unleashed by Chow's character, a disgraced, handicapped gangster who's motivated by pride, honor and the desire for revenge.
None of Tan's characters in "Blood Brothers" have that emotional edge. He also does not cultivate the brotherhood of Feng, Gang and Xiao Hu enough.

That's why the apocalyptic ending of the movie rings slightly hollow. Tan reaches for an epic, tragic conclusion, but falls short.

Chinese actors Sun Honglei and Liu Ye (seen in "Dark Matter" with Meryl Streep) deliver strong individual performances as gangsters overcome by evil, but they cannot carry the whole movie.

Source: Iht

Hong Kong Movie Close Up: Blood Brothers

Cool movie info on ‘Blood Brothers’, including pictures, movie reviews, videos, news, wallpapers, trailers, posters, and pics.

Chinese Title: 天堂口, Tian Tang Kou
Director: Alexi Tan (Chen Yili)
Executive Producers: John Woo, Terence Chang
Release Date: 16 August 2007
Cast: Daniel Wu, Shu Qi, Liu Ye, Tony Yang, Lulu Li (Li Xiaolu), Sun Honglei, Chang Chen

Appeal for biker's stolen hand

A disabled biker has appealed for the return of his prosthetic hand which was stolen after he left it gripped on the handlebars.

Jack Baker, 19, lost his right arm after a head-on crash with a bus in Bristol in May, reports the Daily Telegraph.

Jack Baker, 19, who had his prosthetic hand, worth £450, stolen after he left it gripped on the handlebar of his motorcycle in Bristol /PA pics.

But Jack refused to be beaten and had a prosthetic hand fitted, which allowed him to continue riding.

But the hand, which costs £450 to replace, was taken when he left it attached to his 400cc Suzuki DR-Z400SM while he was visiting his girlfriend last week.

"It was the first time I had left my hand on the bike," he said. "I thought I was only going to be 10 minutes, but I ended up staying for two hours.

"It's frustrating because my hand's no good to anyone else. I never thought anyone would take it though."

While the mechanic does have a spare hand - designed for racing - he says the stolen appendage is of better quality and does need to be replaced.

Avon and Somerset Police appealed for anyone who had seen the missing hand or knew who had it to contact them on 0845 456 7000.

Hilly Kristal, founder of iconic punk rock club CBGB, dies

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

NEW YORK: Hilly Kristal, whose rock club CBGB served as the birthplace of the punk rock movement and a launching pad for bands like the Ramones, Blondie and the Talking Heads, has died after a battle with lung cancer, his son said Wednesday. He was 75.

Kristal, who lost a bitter fight last year to stop the club's eviction from its New York home of 33 years, died Tuesday at Cabrini Hospital, said his son, Mark Dana Kristal.

As the club headed toward its final show with Patti Smith in October, Kristal was using a cane to get around and showing the effects of his cancer treatment. He was hoping to open a Las Vegas version of the infamous venue that opened in 1973.

"He created a club that started on a small, out-of-the-way skid row, and saw it go around the world," said Lenny Kaye, a longtime member of the Patti Smith Group. "Everywhere you travel around the world, you saw somebody wearing a CBGB T-shirt."

At the club's boarded-up storefront Wednesday morning, a spray-painted message read, "RIP Hilly, we'll miss you, thank you." There were also a dozen candles, two bunches of flowers and a foam rubber baseball bat — an apparent tribute to the Ramones' classic "Beat on the Brat."

While the club's glory days were long past when it shut down, its name transcended the venue and become synonymous with the three-chord thrash of punk and its influence on generations of musicians worldwide.

The club also became a brand name for a line of clothing and accessories; its store, CBGB Fashions, was moved a few blocks away from the original club, but remained open.

"I'm thinking about tomorrow and the next day and the next day, and going on to do more with CBGB's," Kristal told The Associated Press last October.

Kristal started the club in 1973 with the hope of making it a mecca of country, bluegrass and blues — called CBGB & OMFUG, for "Other Music For Uplifting Gourmandisers" — but found few bands to book. It instead became the epicenter of the mid-1970s punk movement.

"There was never gourmet food, and there was never country bluegrass," Dana Kristal said Wednesday.

Besides the Ramones and the Talking Heads, many of the other bands that found frenzied crowds at CBGB during those years became legendary — including Smith, Blondie and Television.

Smith said at the venue's last show that Kristal "was our champion and in those days, there were very few."

The club hosted hardcore and punk acts throughout the years, becoming a landmark in the Bowery neighborhood that was transformed by late-1990s development.

Throughout the years, CBGB had rented its space from the building's owner, the Bowery Residents' Committee, an agency that houses homeless people.

In the early 2000s, a feud broke out between the two entities when the committee went to court to collect more than $300,000 (€219,600) in back rent from the club, then later successfully sought to evict it. By the time it closed, CBGB had become part museum and part barroom.

Kristal was born in Highstown, New Jersey, where he grew up on a farm. He moved to New York City when he was 18, nurturing dreams of becoming a singer and singing on stage at Radio City Music Hall.

He later became the manager of the Village Vanguard, the legendary jazz club in Greenwich Village, where he booked acts like Miles Davis.

Possibly inspired by his managing of the club, he decided to open his own place featuring bluegrass in 1970, called Hilly's on the Bowery, which became CBGB.

In addition to Mark Dana, Kristal, who continued to live on the Bowery, is survived by a daughter, Lisa Kristal. Their mother, his ex-wife, Karen Kristal, 89, also survives him, and lives in Manhattan.


On the Net:


Sunday, August 26, 2007

Will somebody please....

Aussie former "ex-gay" leaders denounce conversion therapy

Five former leaders of "ex-gay" ministries Down Under have publicly condemned converstion/reparative therapy, according to the Sydney Star Observer.

The Aussie leaders said they were inspired to make their comments by the recent apologies of three former "ex-gay" leaders at an "ex-gay" survivors conference in Los Angeles.

"There was not one person that I met or worked with who, in any genuine way, achieved the fundamental transformation from homosexual to heterosexual," Paul Martin, former leader of Exodus in Melbourne, told the Observer.

According to some of the former "ex-gay" leaders, conversion therapy teachers in Australia believe men become gay because they had emotionally distant fathers. Their therapy included "minders," who would follow the enrollees to make sure they were behaving themselves.

"Some people have suicided," Anthony Venn Brown, who spent 22 years trying to be straight, told the newspaper. "But most people have now come to terms with their sexuality. There is no success rate [with conversion therapy]." (The Advocate)

Takeshi Kitano wins first-ever 'Glory to the Film Maker!' award at Venice Film Fest

Takeshi Kitano

Japanese director Takeshi Kitano will be the first winner of the Venice International Film Festival's new "Glory to the Film Maker!" award, organizers have announced.

"I'm really grateful. I'm glad that the name of my work will remain in the form of an award," said Kitano, who also goes by the stage name of "Beat Takeshi."

Kitano, 60, will receive the award in a ceremony to be held in Venice on Thursday next week. The festival will start on Wednesday. (Mainichi)

August 24, 2007

Children who survive urban warfare suffer from PTSD, too

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Tierra Turner's older brother was shot and killed on a busy Bayview street last summer.

By the time Tierra, 11, arrived at the scene with her mother, a yellow tarp covered 18-year-old Anthony Brooks' body. Nearby, a second tarp covered his friend, Monte Frierson.

Standing outside the police tape, Tierra broke down, her small body heaving with sobs.

Two weeks later, Tierra started the sixth grade.

Along with a Tinker Bell backpack and pink Princess cell phone, she carried the deaths with her to Visitacion Valley Middle School each day, absentmindedly writing "RIP Ant and Monte" on the cover of her notebooks and in sidewalk chalk on the playground. As the months passed, her grades slipped and her temper often flared.

At her school, the principal and staff see the signs and symptoms of trauma-related stress in many of their students - the hostile outbursts, the sliding grades, the poor test scores or the inability to pay attention.

They are among the countless children in San Francisco's toughest neighborhoods who experience murder, violence and trauma - an often unavoidable consequence of living in an urban war zone.

The violence, layers of it overlapping year after year, can eventually take up residence in the children's minds. Like combat veterans, they develop post-traumatic stress disorder - the soldier's sickness.

As many as one-third of children living in our country's violent urban neighborhoods have PTSD, according to recent research and the country's top child trauma experts - nearly twice the rate reported for troops returning from war zones in Iraq.

Los Angeles Unified officials conduct annual surveys, finding similar rates of PTSD within the schools in that city's most violent neighborhoods. Implementing a group treatment program, one developed by the district, has come in fits and starts, however.

In the Bay Area and across the country, meanwhile, PTSD in these urban children is generally undiagnosed, untreated and almost completely off the radar for policymakers and education officials.

A Stanford University researcher, however, believes schools should be on the front lines when it comes to recognizing and treating children with symptoms of PTSD, and has identified Visitacion Valley Middle School as the ideal place to test a therapy involving 17 one-on-one sessions with a trained counselor.

"We have to pay a lot more attention to this," said Dr. Victor Carrion, director of the Stanford Early Life Stress Research Program. "PTSD basically feeds on avoidance. The more you avoid it, the worse it gets."

But Carrion lacks ongoing funding and said the study has stalled despite a waiting list of students at the school.

Nearly a third of the 105 students in Tierra's sixth-grade class at Visitacion Valley said they have seen or knew someone killed with a gun, according to a poll school officials administered last fall.

"The violence permeates the lives of the children," said school Principal James Dierke. "It's something they carry around with them like a coat, all day long."

Yet, these children, while hurt and scared, can be helped.

Tierra's trauma is recognized

The F-word flew smoothly out of Tierra's mouth as if it had been there before, which it had.

The profanity didn't faze Dierke, who sat beside her in his office in June, a day before school let out for the summer.

Tierra continued the rant - something about a boy she wanted to beat up. It wouldn't have been the first fistfight the girl waged, punching larger opponents with the full force of her 110 pounds on her 5-foot, one-inch frame.

Dierke didn't blink at Tierra's language or tough talk. She wasn't in trouble. The two were just chatting.

"Are you going to summer school?" Dierke asked, changing the subject. "You need to."

She didn't look at him when she said yes.

Tierra, now 12, had been a good student in elementary school, both in classwork and behavior. At home, she was outgoing and would tease her brother or laugh as he danced for girlfriends. She called him NuNu. She doesn't remember why - maybe it was just easier to say than Anthony.

But now, his death hangs over Tierra and her family.

Tierra cried and screamed the day he died and then withdrew, said her mother, Marian Hawkins-Turner.

"She just kind of went into a shell," Hawkins-Turner said one afternoon last spring while her daughter was still at school.

Except for one particular day.

That day, Hawkins-Turner sat on the couch across from Tierra's open bedroom door. Her daughter sat on her bed, repeatedly stabbing a teddy bear with the pointed tip of a plastic comb.

"What are you doing?" the mother asked her daughter.

"This is what I want to do to the person who killed my brother," Tierra responded.

At school this year, Tierra's grades slid, she was belligerent in class, mouthy to teachers and at times a troublemaker on the playground. She spent more than her fair share of sixth grade in administrators' offices getting scolded or punished.

One spring afternoon, she ran through the school halls yelling obscenities, chasing a boy who teased her. He hadn't been mean, but she punched him anyway.

"Don't forget I'm going to beat your ass tomorrow," she yelled after him.

She looked like a bad kid with a bad attitude. But Dierke knew different.

Based on Tierra's behavior, Dierke and the school's social worker Chuck Waters identified her earlier this year as eligible for the Stanford PTSD study.

School's students affected

Visitacion Valley Middle School sits on a hilltop, bordered by an open-space park and low-income neighborhoods. Many students live in nearby public housing units, including Sunnydale's decrepit barracks-style row houses.

About 70 percent of the students are considered low income, 25 percent are English learners and 18 percent are in special-education programs.

Every year, there are double-digit homicides in the surrounding communities of Visitacion Valley, Bayview and Hunters Point, as well as countless nonlethal shootings.

In Dierke's office, a television screen rotates through security images of the school's hallways and parking lots. On his desk is a folder with daily crime statistics from the area. He stays in frequent contact with police officials and social services agencies.

He knows before Monday morning whether he'll need grief counselors on hand because of a weekend tragedy.

"We have kids who are literally stepping over criminal activity to get here to school," Dierke said. "We have a lot of kids who have seen a tremendous amount of violence."

There was the former student who watched a man hold a gun to his mother's head and rape her.

There was the girl who nearly tripped over a dead body lying next to the path as she ran to school.

There were the three boys who watched a gunfight while they waited for their school bus, bullets flying before 8 a.m.

And there have been many like Tierra - their sibling, father, mother or close friend slain.

They seem numb to the violence, even as its emotional aftermath festers inside.

Dierke always knew the trauma stayed with the children. He also knew they couldn't function in class or on the playground because of something that had happened to them sometime in years past or as recently as over the weekend.

Until a couple of years ago, he just didn't know what to call it.

Now he knows. But doing something about it is something else entirely.

Staff, teachers trained

The teachers and staff at Visitacion Valley say they see PTSD symptoms play out in the students on a daily basis.

They see it in the playground fistfights and in subpar schoolwork. They see it in seemingly unprovoked emotional outbursts - sometimes taking the form of tears streaming down students' faces and other times uncontrolled rage and clenched fists.

"It's really responsible for not having kids reach their academic, social and emotional milestones," said Stanford's Carrion, an associate professor of adolescent and child psychiatry. "The symptoms really cause impairment."

Carrion is testing the school-based therapy, with counselor interns or the school's social worker trained to provide the 17 one-hour sessions. He also trained the school's entire staff to recognize the signs and symptoms of PTSD.

His treatment is designed to be used by school counselors to help children who have multiple symptoms related to trauma. The treatment is prescribed on the basis of the symptoms rather than an official diagnosis by a psychologist or psychiatrist - which would cost additional time and money that the schools don't have.

About six students over the last two years have participated in Carrion's study, which requires parental approval and cooperation - at times a difficult hurdle depending on the stability of a student's home life.

During the sessions, students talk with a trained mental health professional, describing in detail the trauma they've experienced. They also identify the triggers that remind them of the trauma, cues that set off outbursts, anxiety or even panic - loud voices maybe, seeing the color of blood, or someone touching them. And they find ways to react differently.

The treatment helps children understand that what they are going through - the fear, the outbursts and the lack of concentration - is completely normal given what they have experienced or witnessed.

"When students understand that, their self-esteem goes up and they become a survivor rather than a victim," Carrion said. "What happens if they don't get treated, they become violent themselves."

Therapist intern Laura Strom, who helped Carrion conduct the research, recalled one of the first Visitacion Valley students who participated in the study.

The girl's life had been a living hell.

When she was 5, her father set her closet on fire as she huddled on her bed. He had hoped to kill everyone inside the house. Firefighters rescued her. Two years earlier, she had been removed from her home and health workers found cockroaches in her ear. At age 9, she saw her brother stabbed in the back. At 14, she had PTSD.

Cockroaches, police cars and the sight of syringes triggered symptoms: withdrawal, fear, anxiety.

After the treatment, the girl's self-esteem improved, Strom said. The girl's grades went up. Her PTSD symptoms decreased.

School officials would like to see Tierra enrolled in the treatment this year. But that might not be possible. Carrion's research grant from the American Academy of Child Adolescent Psychiatry ran out. He is looking for more funding, perhaps hundreds of thousands of dollars to hire full-time therapists for the study.

With school starting Monday, he doesn't know how many - if any- students will get to participate.

PTSD symptoms like ADD

Social worker Chuck Waters often saw several students each day in his closet-size office in Visitacion Valley's counseling office.

Some were there with average symptoms of teenage angst; for others, it was about so much more. They were his regulars.

The school has a few dozen programs that aim to help them - golf, Girl Power lunches, group sessions for students with incarcerated parents, tutoring, flag football, music classes, a garden, violence-prevention programs, anger management and schoolwide sessions on the power of positive thinking.

But Waters knows many of the students need more help than the school can now give.

PTSD can look a lot like attention-deficit disorder, he said, with the lack of concentration, poor grades and inability to sit still.

"It's so hard to diagnose," he said. "It's one kid at a time."

Yet it almost guarantees that these students - often African American or Latino and low income - won't do as well on standardized tests as their wealthier, whiter and safer peers.

"Post-traumatic stress is rampant," said Meredith Rolfe, administrator for the California Department of Education's Safe and Healthy Kids Program Office. "There doesn't seem to be the realization of the relationship to academic achievement."

"It explains the achievement gap," said Trish Bascom, executive director of San Francisco Unified School District's Health Programs.

Providing mental health services - and PTSD treatment - in schools is ideal because that's where the children are, and it's often the one place they feel safe, both Rolfe and Bascom said.

Dierke is frustrated by the lack of attention to the issue.

"If we can do it for the asthma kids or if we can do it for the fat kids, we ought to be able to figure out what to do about this," he said.

Tierra's life goes on

Tierra was in the kitchen, fixing a ham, mustard and white bread sandwich for herself and her 4-year-old cousin. Her mom sat on the couch a few feet away, her face drawn. "I didn't sleep much last night," Marian Hawkins-Turner said.

She had gone to play bingo the night before, a regular game at a parlor up the street. Hawkins-Turner said she was scanning her bingo cards when four men with guns drawn burst into the building. She didn't realize what was happening at first.

Across the room, one of the four men eyed the crowd, waving a gun at chest level, its muzzle scanning for victims. The men took money and fled.

"I flashed on my son," she said the next day. "I was a nervous wreck. I'm just tired of people dying."

Tierra carried the two sandwiches to the living room, knelt on the floor and took a bite.

She said nothing about her mother's story. Her face showed no emotion.

A few months later, and a mile from where her brother died, Tierra was baptized at Calvary Hill Community Church, her body cloaked in a white robe as she was immersed in the water, her sins removed and her soul cleansed.

She said she wanted to get baptized because when she dies, she wants to go to heaven. There, Tierra believes, she will see her brother again.

The symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder

A diagnosis of PTSD requires meeting specific criteria outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Those include exposure to a traumatic event that caused a response involving intense fear, helplessness or horror; in children that might include disorganized or agitated behavior.

Subsequent symptoms, lasting longer than a month, include:

-- Re-experiencing trauma through dreams or thought

-- Acting or feeling as if the traumatic event were recurring

-- Avoidance of feelings or activities

-- Sense of foreshortened future

-- Feeling of detachment or estrangement from others

-- Irritability or outbursts of anger

-- Difficulty concentrating or sleeping

-- An exaggerated startle response

-- Intense distress from cues that symbolize or resemble an aspect of the traumatic event

Source: National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Online resources

National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder - The federal Department of Veterans Affairs site devoted to PTSD:

National Child Traumatic Stress Network - The site includes information about PTSD in children as well as resources for finding help:

Los Angeles Unified School District Trauma Services Adaptation Center for Schools - This site includes resources for parents, teachers and students:

E-mail Jill Tucker at

This article appeared on page A - 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle

Siouxsie Sioux is back in bloom

August 26, 2007

‘I didn’t get permission – I just went ahead and did it.’ That was then, but Siouxsie Sioux is still as punk as she ever was

Don’t get Siouxsie Sioux started on the subject of the internet. Before we meet, the video for her new single, Into a Swan, has been leaked online. “YouTube,” spits the high priestess of punk, “technology – I hate it. Everybody has downloaded it. You try to stop it, but it’s pointless. Someone from [the gay club] Trannyshack in San Francisco is already miming their act to the song. Even my brother hasn’t heard it yet. Mind you, he’s only just got an answerphone.”

If you were going to meet Siouxsie, what would you expect? That she’d be as spiky as her hair still is, frosty, magisterial, aloof? She’s none of those things. In an adenoidal voice with a twang that recalls her fellow Bromleyite David Bowie, Siouxsie in the flesh is candid, approachable, emotional, her pale-blue eyes often swelling with tears of laughter or distress. The woman once labelled the queen of goth is as far removed from her image of severe, slightly threatening “artiste” as it is possible to be.

“I’ve never been able to categorise what I do,” she muses at one point, “but I know others try. Though there has always been that undercurrent of, ‘Don’t get too comfortable.’” The labels we plaster her with are, she thinks, for the most part wrong. As just one example, the blogs are agog with speculation about Into a Swan, on which she intones: “I feel a force I’ve never felt before/ I don’t want to fight it any more.” Bingo, they tap-tap-tap: she’s come out as a lesbian. Or not, as the case may be.

When I ask her how long it took for the inner her to catch up with the outer one – confident, defiant, a mask of industrial mascara and punked-up hairdo – who stared out of early photographs, she says: “I think maybe it’s still trying to catch up, in total honesty.” We’re in a London hotel bar, patrolled by a clipboard Nazi whose pernickety perambulations Siouxsie delights in monitoring. Mantaray is her first solo record, after 11 studio albums with the Banshees and six with the Creatures, the side project she formed with her husband, the Banshees’ drummer, Budgie.

Her home for the past 15 years has been a farmhouse near Toulouse, packed with cats and books, and she briefly considered making the album there. “But you have to have a workplace to go to,” she says. “You think, ‘Oh, how perfect: when I get an idea, I can just walk into that room and do it.’ But there’s no urgency, it’s always domani, mañana, demain. Yet the idea is still there, lurking, like a reminder that you haven’t done anything today.”

Discussing the logistics of travelling from France to the studio in Bath where the album was recorded, she says, matter-of-factly: “I’ve just gotten into driving again. I hadn’t been driving long while I was in London, I didn’t enjoy it, so I quite happily gave up and allowed my husband to be my chauffeur. And so, in the last ...”

She pauses. “I’ve actually gone through a big upheaval. I’m divorced now. This is the first time I’ve publicly told anyone.” Another, longer pause. “So, in the past two or three years, there have been major changes – practical, emotional, all kinds. I knew I needed to get to the airport. So I got a car, a little secondhand Renault. It’s been like a real journey – literally.”

Then she adds, in a much smaller voice: “And, you know, there’s tons of other stuff as well. It’s not just about getting myself to the airport.”

Siouxsie fans will be able to enjoy many a “eureka” moment sifting Mantaray’s lyrics for postdivorce fall-out. “I want the record to stand up on its own,” she says, aware of this possibility, “and not be, ‘Oh, it’s about all that stuff.’” Lines such as “If it doesn’t kill you/It will shape you” and “Sweetness covered falseness” may mean she is denied this wish. But it’s clear the album deals as much with history as with recent events. She mentions, again, the disparity between the up-yours 1976 photos and the person behind the disguise – back when Susan Ballion became Siouxsie Sioux and was part of the so-called Bromley contingent, alongside Billy Idol and the Banshees’ bassist, Steve Severin, caterwauling through a punk version of the Lord’s Prayer at the 100 Club and getting chatted up by Bill Grundy during his infamous television interview with the Sex Pistols.

“The confidence youth projects isn’t very deep,” she says. “When you’re very young, you desperately want to blend in. I remember feeling aware that my family background wasn’t akin to everyone else’s, that our home was at odds with what was around us in suburbia. And there was a point, round about 13 or 14, when I thought, ‘You know what? F*** it.’” This metamorphosis wasn’t, then, an act of rebellion against her upbringing, but against the suburban conformity she saw around her. Home life was, though, pretty complex, by all accounts. Her mother, a bilingual secretary, was, she says admiringly, “someone who went out to work at a time when I didn’t know anyone else’s mum who wasn’t at home. I had a great teacher there, and I’ve had to remember that again now – you know, I used to do all this shit before, I lived on my own, I was the boss. She was the odd-job man, too, changing fuses, painting, doing the gardening. My dad was there, but not functioning”.

Siouxsie’s father, a scientist, was an alcoholic, and died from complications caused by drink when she was 14. She has, she says, spent years telling herself that isn’t the whole picture. “You’re angry at the disease. It’s like you’ve been robbed of this person. But it’s not the person, it’s the disease you hate.” Thinking back, she associates music with happiness, albeit in a complicated way. “It was like the classic Tom and Jerry cartoon, where they’re getting on fine when the music’s playing, and the second it stops, they’re at it again. I remember, when I was young, feeling really dismissive, but later I knew there was this other side: he read to me, things like the Just So Stories. He was educated; he had all these ideas, a great sense of humour. Apparently, he invented a tropical-disease cure – I’ve only just found that out. I wanted to know, ‘Why is this so?’ And it was always, ‘Don’t ask so many questions.’ But I’m still of the opinion: shine the light on it, get it out of the darkness and let’s look at it.”

On her wonderful new album, Siouxsie does just that: raging against adversity one minute, calming herself down the next, drifting off into fantasy on Sea of Tranquillity (a song she describes as a “sci-fi murder mystery”), bathing in Bernard Hermann-like strings on Loveless. Here Comes That Day is so brassy, it sounds as if it’s auditioning for the next Bond film, while fans of the early, Metal Postcard-era Banshees will welcome the motorik austerity of About to Happen and They Follow You. The endlessly inventive soundscaping of her producers, the Robert Plant collaborators Steve Evans and Charlie Jones, means those jittery drives to Toulouse airport were not in vain.

Siouxsie turned 50 in May. Her influence – on the likes of Björk, PJ Harvey, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Bat for Lashes – has never been more apparent, though she reckons she wouldn’t last long if she was emerging now. Innovators, these days, “get assimilated”, she says, “eaten up and spat out. Something becomes fashionable and, like all fashion, it’s destined for the heap”. Not that her memory is rose-tinted. The moment punk was commercialised, she says, “it lost its teeth. People forget it was an attitude, a mindset, reacting to what was going on in the world, in music, at that time. You can’t take that and place it now: that would just be mimicry. It’s weird when you hear things like, ‘This is the new punk rock.’ They’re so obsessed with looking back. I mean, after Bill Grundy, forget it. Once it hit the tabloids, it became a cartoon. People doing their own thing – that’s punk.

“I did that. I didn’t get a degree that told me I could do it. I didn’t get permission. I just went ahead and did it, gatecrashed the party and took it over.” She throws back her head and laughs in delight at her bombast. There is, she admits, “a bit too much of Beryl the Peril in me sometimes. But I think I’ve always had the ability to channel my anger or frustrations or longings through music. And, without vulnerability, there is no daring. If you’re thick-skinned, if people say stuff and it doesn’t hurt you, well, what’s so strong about that?”.

A move back to London is being considered, though Siouxsie says she’s wary of the noise, of “all those straight lines and grid-like routines”. Any new home in the city would have to be central. “I’m not going to the suburbs,” she cackles edgily. “I’d rather commute from France than from Bromley. To me, that’s a much more painful journey – in every way.”

Mantaray is released on Sept 10 on W14

Friday, August 24, 2007

'Laundry Warrior' on Hold Due to Jang Dong-gun's Injury

An English-language Western starring China's Ziyi Zhang and South Korea's Jang Dong-gun has been put on hold because Jang has been injured, Zhang's manager said Thursday.

"Jang Dong-gun suffered some injuries several months ago, which meant the movie 'Laundry Warrior' had to be put on hold," the manager, Ling Lucas, told The Associated Press in an e-mail.

Jang Dong-gun

She didn't say how Jang injured himself and what type of injuries he suffered.

"Laundry Warrior" is a U.S.-South Korea-China joint production that marks Jang's Hollywood debut, the South Korean news agency Yonhap had reported.

Lucas said it is unclear when the movie will resume shooting. She said Zhang is now shooting Chinese director Chen Kaige's biopic of late Peking Opera star Mei Lanfang and that filming on that movie will last until the end of the year.

"We have not yet been able to work out a schedule with 'Laundry Warrior' producers," she said. Zhang was originally scheduled to start shooting for the movie in May.

Jang starred in the Korean gangster movie "Friend" in 2000, and in 2004's "Taegukgi," a blockbuster about two brothers who end up fighting on opposite sides in the 1950-53 Korean War. He also appeared in Chen Kaige's mythological epic "The Promise."

Contact information for Jang's manager wasn't immediately available.

Zhang made her name with the martial arts hit "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon." She now juggles both Chinese and Hollywood productions, with credits including "Memoirs of a Geisha" and the upcoming crime thriller "The Horsemen," which also stars Dennis Quaid.

Source: Iht

Asian-American Movie Close Up: Laundry Warrior

Cool movie info on ‘Laundry Warrior’, including pictures, movie reviews, videos, news, wallpapers, trailers, posters, and pics.

Director: Sng-moo Lee
Release Date: 2008 (USA)
Cast: Ziyi Zhang, Don-Gun Jang

Jang Dong-gun, Rain, Jung Ryu Won Giordano commercial
Jang Dong-gun Max Beer commercial

Korean Actor Joo Ji Hoon Drops Out of 'Hong Gil-dong'

Joo Ji Hoon, the model turned actor, decided to leave the drama ‘Hong Gil-dong’ only a week before production because Olive Nine, local drama production house and Joo couldn’t agree on the financial terms of the contract. Olive Nine offered him a financial package similar to his latest drama, ‘The Devil’, but Joo wanted what Yun Eunhye was getting in ‘Coffee Prince’, estimated at US $20,000 per episode.

After Joo Ji Hoon’s announcement, Jo Hyun Jae also left the drama. Jo accepted the supporting role in ‘Hong Gil-dong’ because of Joo’s “star power,” but as Joo left the drama, that supporting role became meaningless to him.

Joo Ji Hoon

Joo & Jo are actively seeking out new drama roles while producers of ‘Hong Gil-dong’ are hastily trying to cast these roles before the camera starts rolling. ‘Hong Gil-dong’ is expected to air sometime in November on KBS2.

Source: Popseoul

Korean Actor Close Up: Joo Ji-hoon

Cool info on Joo Ji-hoon, including pictures, videos, news, biography, photos, stats, and pics.

Name: 주지훈 / Ju Ji Hoon / Ju Ji hun
Real Name: Ju Young-Hoon
Birthdate: 1982-May-16
Birthplace: South Korea
Height: 189cm
Weight: 65kg
Profession: Model, Actor


The Devil (KBS, 2007)
Goong 궁 (MBC, 2006)
Old Love 옛사랑 (MBC, 2004)

Recipe for disaster

Contrary to popular misconception, MacArthur Park is not the worst song ever written. It is, however, one of the most baffling hits in the history of pop music, writes Joe Queenan

Thursday August 23, 2007
Guardian Unlimited

Even by the standards of the late 60s, when goofy songs were a dime a dozen, MacArthur Park is one of the strangest Top 40 hits ever. More than seven minutes long, sung by a man who couldn't really sing, written by a prolific tunesmith famous for churning out harmless ditties like The Wichita Lineman, By the Time I Get to Phoenix, and Up, Up and Away, MacArthur Park is among the most baffling hits in the history of pop music. It has no antecedent, and it has no sequel.

To this day, no one can say for sure what the song is about; nor can anyone say for sure whether Webb was making a bid to be taken seriously - a difficult assignment after writing songs with names like Everyone Gets to Go to the Moon - or whether the song was always intended as a big joke. One thing's for sure: As soon as a 45 containing the lyrics,"Someone left the cake out in the rain, I don't think that I can make it, cause it took so long to bake it, and I'll never find that recipe again" made it all the way to No 2 on the charts, Richard Nixon's triumph in the 1968 presidential election was assured. In the eyes of Middle America, far too many drugs were being consumed out there; it was time to try another goddamn recipe.

When Richard Harris recorded MacArthur Park in 1968, he had already appeared in This Sporting Life, the greatest rugby film ever, and Sam Peckinpaugh's Major Dundee, during whose filming the normally mild-mannered Charlton Heston reputedly chased the director off the set with a saber. To the great unwashed, however, Harris was best known for his performance as the wistful, disappointed King Arthur in the dire 1967 film Camelot. A fixture of late-night talk shows, where guests had a habit of showing up soused, Harris, like Oliver Reed and Richard Burton, had a reputation as a carouser; unlike postmodern bad boys who get themselves banned from bars and restaurants, these roisterers got themselves banned from entire countries.

One of the very few mature actors who was not despised by young people, Harris played the role of the gin-soaked, ex-pat lout with a heart of gold to the hilt, and thereby possessed the chutzpah, impishness and panache needed to put over a goofball number like MacArthur Park. Unlike Star Trek's William Shatner, whose contemporaneous recording of Mr Tambourine Man was dismissed as arrant tomfoolery, Harris was not hooted offstage when the song was released; people actually sat around talking about what the song meant, in the same way they would ponder the hidden meaning of I Am the Walrus and A Whiter Shade of Pale. This was another reason Nixon got elected.

On a purely aesthetic level, MacArthur Park is one of the most complicated songs in the history of pop music. However, given the relative sophistication of the genre, being one of the most complicated songs in the history of pop music is like being the zaniest stand-up comic in Estonia. The song is broken up into four sections, but nobody cares, as the instrumental break is generic late-Sixties faux-classical bloviating, and only the lyrics matter. Ostensibly, the title refers to a Los Angeles park favored by middle-class picnickers, but realistically the song evokes a MacArthur Park of the mind. Because it was released the same year Bobby Kennedy died, because Bobby Kennedy was gunned down in LA, because Bobby Kennedy served in an administration referred to in the public imagination as Camelot - this because of the 1962 Broadway musical that the Kennedys adored - and because Harris starred in the film version of that musical, there was some speculation - at least in my neighborhood - that the song referred to Bobby's assassination, or JFK's assassination, or both their assassinations, though probably nor Archduke Ferdinand's. But the song was written before Bobby Kennedy died, so this cannot be true, unless Jimmy Webb was in league with Nostradamus, which was certainly possible. The sad truth is an awful lot of drugs were being consumed in that neighborhood that summer, which voted heavily for Nixon in November.

Webb, born on the same date the Blessed Virgin Mary was assumed into Paradise, initially offered the song to a preppy sextet called The Association. The Association, whose snappy hits included Windy, Cherish and Along Comes Mary, consisted of six nattily attired musicians who liked to preface their performances with a cute little routine in which they pretended to be the interlocking robotic units of a well-oiled machine that only functioned cohesively when everyone was doing his part. Now, that's entertainment! Given its arcane imagery, and bitter remorse over a long-lost recipe, and the fact that it was more than seven minutes and 20 seconds long and may have elliptically referred to both drugs and assassinations, MacArthur Park probably wasn't right for them.

The song has resurfaced in many entirely unnecessary recordings down through the years, including a husky, non-ironic effort by the Four Tops and a bouncy cover by disco diva Donna Summers. Most recently, the Wu-Tang Clan adapted Webb's verses for a song that would also not have been right for The Association or any other sextet of that era. In their version, the Clan omitted the stuff about vanished recipes. Tragically, AC/DC never recorded MacArthur Park, nor did the Pogues, Nana Maskouri or Yanni.

In a 1997 book, the beloved American humorist Dave Barry rated MacArthur Park the worst song ever written. This is an untenable assertion, not only because the song has a wonderful back story, and impressive key changes, and four separate sections, and horns, and enigmatic lyrics, but because Ebony and Ivory exists, as do You Don't Bring Me Flowers, Baby, I'm-a Want You, Feelings, Benny and the Jets, Witchy Woman and Sussudio. People simply have to stop saying that this is the worst song ever, or this is the worst band ever, or this is the worst album ever. MacArthur Park, which Harris insisted on pronouncing "MacArthur's Park" throughout the recording, may, by some people's standards, be the worst song ever written. But even if it is, it only narrowly edged out 25,000 others. On a planet where somebody thought it would be a good idea to write Scenes from an Italian Restaurant, the best MacArthur Park is ever going to earn in the sucky-song sweepstakes is a tie.

Zhang Ziyi and Takeshi Kaneshiro to Collaborate in Peter Chan's New Movie

Zhang Ziyi and Takeshi Kaneshiro will collaborate again on ‘Deng Dai’ (literally means wait or waiting) after ‘House of Flying Daggers’. The love story, based on a novel with the same title, will be directed by Peter Chan.

The story happens between a doctor and a nurse who have been waiting for each other for 18 years because of their love. The movie will begin shooting at the beginning of next year.

Zhang Ziyi Takeshi Kaneshiro

Zhang Ziyi and Takeshi Kaneshiro

Translated from 163

Hong Kong Movie Close Up: Deng Dai

Cool movie info on ‘Deng Dai’, including pictures, movie reviews, videos, news, wallpapers, trailers, posters, and pics.

Director: Peter Chan
Release Date: 2009
Cast: Zhang Ziyi, Takeshi Kaneshiro

Russia dig finds 'tsar's family'

Tsar Nicholas II and his family
13-year-old Prince Alexei would have been the heir to the throne
Russian archaeologists believe they may have found the remains of two children of Russia's last tsar, executed by the Bolsheviks in 1918.

DNA tests will be carried out on the bones, thought to be those of Prince Alexei and his elder sister Maria.

Archaeologists excavated ground close to the site in Yekaterinburg where the tsar, his wife and their three other daughters were found in 1991.

The prosecutor-general is reopening an investigation into the case.

Archaeologist Sergei Pogorelov says bullets found at the burial site indicate the children had been shot.

He told Russian television the newly unearthed bones belonged to two young people: a young male aged roughly 10-13 and a young woman about 18-23.

Ceramic vessels found nearby appear to have contained sulphuric acid, consistent with an account by one of the Bolshevik firing squad, who said that after shooting the family they doused the bodies in acid to destroy the flesh and prevent them becoming objects of veneration.

Haemophilia clue

The regional forensic bureau chief, Nikolai Nevolin, told Itar-Tass news agency that 44 bone fragments had been handed over, and would be subjected to detailed analysis.

"We know that Prince Alexei suffered from haemophilia, so we'll have to detect the genome of this disease," he said.

The bullets found at the burial site would also be tested, he said.

Nicholas abdicated in 1917, and he and his family were detained. The following year, they were sent to Yekaterinburg in the Ural Mountains, where a Bolshevik firing squad executed them on July 17, 1918.

In 1998, experts exhumed and ceremonially reburied what were widely considered to be the remains of Nicholas, Alexandra, and the three daughters.

Actor Back One Year after Car Accident

Hu Ge came back to the limelight this June. [File photo:]

Martial arts TV drama "Legend of the Condor Heroes", which has been suspended for one year due to injuries of Hu Ge, its lead actor, will resume shooting on August 31.

Cai Yinong, agent of Hu Ge, said on Thursday that the accident had left a scar on Hu's eyelid, but there has been no plan to change the screenplay of the TV drama for that.

Hu Ge now is doing exercises for the drama, including horse riding and kung fu practice.

Hu Ge was in a car accident last August on the highway from Hengdian to Shanghai after finishing the day's shooting of the TV drama. His assistant died in the accident, and he himself suffered from severe injuries.

In the past year, he received many stitches for wounds on his forehead and also had surgery to his face.

The actor came back to the limelight this June.

"Legend of the Condor Heroes" was adopted from the works of the famous martial arts writer Jin Yong, or Louis Cha. Hu Ge takes the role of the lead character, Guo Jing, in the remake of this drama.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

States putting bullying bosses on notice

Act like a jerk and you risk a costly suit

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Either bosses are really mean these days, or employees are really thin-skinned.

Lawmakers across the United States are considering legislation that would give workers grounds to sue their superiors for being, basically, jerks. Bookstores are stocking bad-boss advice tomes, including "Snakes in Suits" and "Was Your Boss Raised by Wolves?" The AFL-CIO even has an online contest that takes entries for the worst boss in the country.

Are relations between workers and management really in such an awful state?

Maybe. The ranks of bullying bosses are growing, some experts contend, as short-staffed companies tap managers with lousy people skills. Others point out that though mean and dimwitted supervisors have been around since work was invented, Baby Boomers on the cusp of retirement and restless younger employees are more likely to complain or quit than suffer in silence. It's easy to decide against taking the latter tack, thanks to the proliferation of venting Web sites, among them eBossWatch (

The AFL-CIO, not surprisingly, puts the blame on management's shoulders. Sure, there have always been bullying bosses, said Karen Nussbaum, executive director of the union's Working America lobbying arm, but today some of them "don't even have good manners anymore."

If that doesn't sound like grounds for a lawsuit, at least four state legislatures are thinking about making it so.

A bill in New Jersey would give an individual the right to seek as much as $25,000 in damages if an employer created "an abusive work environment." Similar measures are pending in New York state, Vermont and Washington state. In California, a group called California Healthy Workplace Advocates is working to revive a sue-the-boss bill that died in committee in 2003.

The bills are short on specifics, such as what exactly would constitute an abusive work environment, and their prospects are far from certain. The wisdom of giving employees new grounds to sue is debatable, considering the threat of frivolous court-clogging suits and laws at the federal level and in many states that already protect people against, among other things, sexual harassment and discrimination based on gender, race, pregnancy, physical disability and religion.

But New Jersey Assemblywoman Linda Greenstein, a Democrat, said she was committed to seeing the Healthy Workplace Act, which she's sponsoring, become law. People need protection, she said, if they can't afford to quit and therefore "have to stay and put up with poor treatment."

Jumping on the bandwagon, the AFL-CIO started the My Bad Boss contest, now in it second year, to "expose what is a growing problem," Nussbaum said, and to give workers an opportunity to get their bad-boss experiences "off their chests."

Last year's winning entry was "Dr. X," a dentist who took $100 out of each employee's paycheck for every canceled appointment.

The contestants, all anonymous, tell many horror stories.

One of the hundreds posted is about a lawyer who called the office every morning to give instructions as he brushed his teeth and conducted other business in his bathroom; another is about a manager who refused to let an employee whose husband had a brain tumor take a day off unless she provided a note from a doctor.

The contestant "Momtimesfour" recounts the day her boss offered to buy everyone in the office lunch and took them to a discount warehouse, where he instructed them to dine on free samples in the grocery section.

"Melanie" from Alabama, a cancer patient who lost her hair as a result of chemotherapy, says she overheard her boss making fun of how she looked with a bald pate. And a pregnant pizzeria worker says her manager ordered her to complete her shift after she had gone into labor. "I stayed and waited on customers," she says, "and made pizzas between contractions."

A bad-boss contest may be fun for workers, but management and employee specialists around the country are serious about the boss problem.

This year the Employment Law Alliance, a San Francisco clearinghouse for employment and labor lawyers, conducted a survey of employees across the country, and 44 percent said they had worked for an abusive supervisor. Another poll this year, conducted by Wayne Hochwarter, a business professor at Florida State University, discovered that workers who thought their bosses were abusive reported higher rates of depression, migraines and sleep disorders than those who judged their supervisors reasonable.

So, what's reasonable?

Lars Dalgaard has an idea. The chief executive of SuccessFactors, a San Mateo software company, had an awakening a few years ago at another company when he reduced a staffer to tears with his abrasive manner. Thus was born the Rules of Engagement, posted throughout the office. "I will not BCC (blind copy) anyone and never talk negatively and destructively behind someone's back," goes one rule.

The rules are a "terrific recruiting tool," said Stacy Epstein, spokeswoman for SuccessFactors. "It's amazing how in an interview so many people will say, 'Gosh, I really want to work in this environment.' "

In most cases, there are no posted rules, and job seekers are on their own. Asher Adelman, who earned his master's in business administration at UC Irvine, thought he had it made when he went to work for an Israeli software company. As it turned out, his boss was prone to cursing and throwing things. So Adelman, 33, launched eBossWatch "to level the playing field."

Its motto: "Nobody should have to work with a jerk."

This article appeared on page C - 4 of the San Francisco Chronicle

Monday, August 20, 2007

Asian-American Movie 'Laundry Warrior' to Start Shooting This October

The film, Laundry Warrior, will star leading Chinese actress Ziyi Zhang, best known for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Hero, House of Flying Daggers and Memoirs of a Geisha, and Don-Gun Jang from Korea. The two are regarded as Asian cinema's Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. The producers include American Barrie Osborne, best known for producing Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings. The film mixes fantasy and martial arts and is set in the pioneer days of the American West.

An e-mail from Auckland agency Kam Talent Management said the actors and extras of all nationalities would be needed between October and December for the film.

Zhang Ziyi Jang Dong Gun

Zhang Ziyi (L) and Jang Dong Gun

The agency was also seeking unusual looking people, jugglers, fire-eaters, dwarfs and stilt walkers for circus scenes.

The film is likely to be shot in Auckland at Henderson Valley Studios, which has New Zealand's largest sound stage.

Source: Stuff

Asian-American Movie Close Up: Laundry Warrior

Cool movie info on ‘Laundry Warrior’, including pictures, movie reviews, videos, news, wallpapers, trailers, posters, and pics.

Director: Sng-moo Lee
Release Date: 2008 (USA)
Cast: Ziyi Zhang, Don-Gun Jang

Student dig unearths ancient gum

A 5,000-year-old piece of chewing gum
Birch bark tar has antiseptic properties, scientists say
A 5,000-year-old piece of chewing gum has been discovered by an archaeology student from the University of Derby.

Sarah Pickin, 23, found the lump of birch bark tar while on a dig in western Finland.

Neolithic people used the material as an antiseptic to treat gum infections, as well as a glue for repairing pots.

Ms Pickin's tutor, Professor Trevor Brown, said: "It's particularly significant because well defined tooth imprints were found on the gum."

He explained: "Birch bark tar contains phenols, which are antiseptic compounds."

Ms Pickin, who was one of five UK students on a volunteer programme at the Kierikki Centre on the west coast of Finland, said: "I was delighted to find the gum and was very excited to learn more about the history."

She added: "I am keen to work in this area in the future so the experience has stood me in good stead."

The archaeology student also found part of an amber ring and a slate arrow head which will be on display at the centre following laboratory analysis.

While Neolithic people chewed gum to treat infection, a spokesman for the British Dental Association said chewing sugar free gum after meals stimulates saliva which offers protection against tooth decay.

Takuya Kimura and Lee Byung Hun to Co-star in Movie 'I Come with the Rain'

After their collaboration in film ‘Hero’, Japanese actor Kimura Takuya, the 35-year-old former member of Japanese boy band SMAP, and Korean actor Lee Byeong-heon will co-star in a movie titled ‘I Come with the Rain’ directed by Vietnamese director Anh Hung Tran. The movie is set to release in 2008.

Lee Byung Hun will play a Hong Kong gangster. Thai actress Tran Nu Yen-Khe will play Lee Byung Hun’s girlfriend. Takuya Kimura’s role in the movie is unknown now.

Takuya Kimura Lee Byung Hun
Takuya Kimura (L) and Lee Byung Hun

Translated from Sohu

Asian-American Movie Close Up: I Come with the Rain

Cool movie info on ‘I Come with the Rain’, including pictures, movie reviews, videos, news, wallpapers, trailers, posters, and pics.

Director: Anh Hung Tran
Cast: Josh Hartnett, Elias Koteas, Byung-hun Lee, Tran Nu Yên-Khê, Takuya Kimura
Release Date: 2008

Jerry Garcia's Ghost!

7:50ish this morning.
So! I just ran up the stairs & I hear someone shaking the front doors. I look down & I see Jerry Garcia trying to get into the building. I go back to my ice getting mission then run through the Lawberry to avoid Mr. Garcia. I get back to my cubical & a coworker walks in & I say "guess what I just saw"!! He said - "Jerry Garcia trying to get into the building" We tried telling our other coworkers we were traumatized by Mr. Garcia's ghost but no one would let us go home. At least one of the coworkers even had the nerve to say it was just some dude visiting the Lawyers upstairs - I don't think so!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Hundreds of naked volunteers brave cold for glacier photo

Last updated at 16:05pm on 19th August 2007

Hundreds of people braved goosepimples and frostbite when they posed naked on Switzerland's shrinking Aletsch glacier for U.S. photographer Spencer Tunick.

The photoshoot is part of a Greenpeace campaign to raise awareness of global warming.

Tunick, perched on a ladder and using a megaphone, directed nearly 600 volunteers from all over Europe and photographed them on a rocky outcrop overlooking the glacier, which is the largest in the Alps.

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The volunteers are stripped naked against a background of ice and snow

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Later he took pictures of them standing in groups on the mass of ice and lying down. Camera crews were staged at five different points on the glacier to take photographs.

Glaciers are sensitive to climate change and have been receding since the start of the industrial age but the pace of shrinkage has accelerated in recent years.

The environmental group Greenpeace, which organised the shoot, said the aim was to "establish a symbolic relationship between the vulnerability of the melting glacier and the human body."

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Chilly volunteers stood still for the photographer's latest 'artwork'

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The Aletsch descends around the south side of the Jungfrau mountain in the Upper Rhone Valley. Alpine glaciers have lost about one-third of their length and half their volume over the past 150 years.

The Aletsch ice mass has retreated by 115 metres in the last two years alone, said Greenpeace.

Tunick has staged mass nude photo shoots in cities across the world, from Newcastle, Britain, to Mexico City, where a record 18,000 people took off their clothes in the Mexican capital's Zocalo square in May.

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naked glacier

The hardy volunteers even lay down on the ice for one of the photos

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Speaking to Geneva's Le Temps newspaper in an interview published before the shoot on Saturday, Tunick said his photographs were both works of art and political statements.

"I will try to treat the body on two levels. On an abstract level, as if they were flowers or stones. And on a more social level, to represent their vulnerability and humanity with regard to nature and the city and to remind people where we come from."

Switzerland has about 1,800 glaciers and almost all of them are shrinking rapidly.

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