Friday, April 15, 2011

What is a Poltergeist?

       Unexplained banging comes from within the walls, belongings disappear for days before returning to their rightful places, and drawers open and slam shut on their own. These happenings are what people consider the work of a poltergeist.
       Poltergeist is a German word that translates to "noisy ghost". What separates poltergeists from regular ghosts is how they can be responsible for physical disturbances; they've been described as troublesome spirits or ghosts in folklore, although no conclusive scientific evidence has been able to explain what people consider the happenings of a poltergeist. The earliest known cases of poltergeist activity date back to the first century, and cases of the mischievous ghosts are still being reported today.
       This supernatural occurrence is usually focused upon a particular person, and often it is an adolescent. This is one fact that supports the theory that telekinetic abilities manifested by a living person in turmoil is what is mistaken as poltergeist activity, because a teenager going through puberty may be in such distress that they are able to develop telekinetic abilities. Another theory that goes along with this is that someone who has been physically abused may be able to develop such abilities to protect themselves or to take revenge.
       Another theory claims that a poltergeist is a person who died but did not have their spirit move on. If they had unfinished business or were in anger when they died, they may have some impact on the physical world even though they are no longer part of it. This can explain why a child or adolescence is targeted, because they are the most vulnerable and easily influenced family member.
      There have been many attempts to explain the phenomenon of poltergeists scientifically, and theories that have been thought up include ball lightning, static electricity, ionized air, electromagnetic fields, ultrasound, and infrasound. Scientists also claim that carbon monoxide poisoning can cause people to suffer from hallucinations.
       So, what is a poltergeist? You tell me.

Friday, April 8, 2011

And the World Watched...

       Friday, March 11th, 2011, disaster struck: Japan was hit by a tsunami that was created by an 8.9 earthquake. And the world watched.
       News channels across the globe featured information, pictures, and videos of the on-going disaster. Channels such as CNN and BBC had live news coverage, and people could see the horror going on in Japan from the comfort of their own homes. We could watch it as it happened: families torn apart, architecture demolished, people fleeing for their lives. This is what technology has progressed to - watching the disaster as it takes place.
       This technology is not necessarily negative, seeing as how search and rescue teams can have a good visual on where people may be trapped or injured, and the amount of damage and its severity can be assessed easily.
       On the other hand, it is horrible to watch another person's death, or the destruction of an entire civilization. For example, the death of Nodar Kumaritashvili is a recent tradegy that many of you are likely to remember. He was going around the final turn of the luge at the Olympic training run in Whistler, BC, during the 2010 Winter Olympics, when he flipped off of his sled and flew into a pole. Millions of people around the world watched this tragic crash, his death, on live television and news channels before the video was pulled from the air at request of the family. Does anything seem wrong with this picture to you? How about the fact that it took for the family to ask to have it removed for it to be so? Shouldn't our society have realized our obvious lack of empathy without having it pointed out to them? Or have we evolved to being a civilization so engrossed with harsh realities that we do not even consider ourselves cold-hearted?
      While live footage of disasters can be useful in discovering what actually happened, it can overstepping the line into other people's privacy. We look at this as our need of staying informed about our world, but is it actually our hunger for entertainment that drives us to videotape, air, and watch such catastrophes?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Four Generations

       Communication, collaboration, and creation. Today, I was instructed to blog about the aspect of these three words. Robert Thompson's video,  "4 Generations", is a prime example of how, when these words are used together, great accomplishments can be the result.
       First came "communication". When Robert Thompson was living China, he came across Philip Greenspun's blog. The blog was discussing how a charity claimed that, for $250, you could give a water buffalo to a poor family in Asia for Christmas. Except, when Philip read the fine print, he discovered that there would not actually be a water buffalo given to a family, and that it was just an example as to how that money could be used. In reality, the charity was just taking in money to use for unspecified causes.
       Robert talked to local farmers, and discovered that being given a water buffalo would be "the best gift ever" for poor Chinese farmers. To buy a water buffalo, it is about a year's salary for the farmers, and if butchered, could feed a family for half of a year. Without a water buffalo, the farmers must turn up the land themselves, and this is very strenuous work. Robert relayed this information to Philip, and Philip asked him if he and his business partner could send Robert money to purchase a water buffalo. Robert agreed; this was "collaboration".
       Once Robert and the other people helping him in his quest found the right buffalo to purchase, he began asking around to find a family to give it to. He was told about the Su family: a four generation family with only four people in it. They had been through tragic, hard times, and a water buffalo would help their situation immensely.
       When Robert and his crew delivered the water buffalo to the family, the grandmother, Supe Lun, was so happy that she cried; she was shocked by the enormity of the gift. Imagine being told that strangers from a different country gave you the best, biggest, most useful present you had ever received - better than anything you had ever gotten from a family member.
      This, giving a family of four generations hope, is the "creation". This true story is an excellent example of how when the concept of "communication, collaberation, creation" is put to use, great achievements can be had.