It's been over a year.
Maybe Facebook takes care of all my 'posting' needs.
|BLOG | about | research | kalimpong.info | Photos:Flickr or Gallery | contact|
Summer days and the summer nights are gone
I know a place where there's still somethin' going on
Teen transvestite gets Bhutan thinking about sex
Tue May 13, 2008 3:02am EDT
THIMPHU (Reuters Life!) - In Bhutan, the men wear gowns and often carry women's names, but this has not stopped a teenage transvestite from causing a stir by publicly coming out in this tiny, secluded Himalayan kingdom. Names in Bhutan are often androgynous and all men wear a knee-length dress called the gho while women wear the "kira", an ankle-length gown.
But society's attitudes towards sex remain very conservative, which is why 16-year-old Dechen Seldon's decision to publicize his desire to become a woman has set the nation talking.
Seldon walked out of his school a month ago because he did not want to wear the gho as required, the weekly Bhutan Observer reported recently.
"It makes me feel awkward. If they let me wear the kira, I will continue my studies," he said.
Seldon resumed his education in another school last week after the education department intervened and allowed him to wear a girl's uniform. He also dances in a local club and spends his spare time weaving clothes for this friends.
He told the newspaper that he hoped to save enough money for a sex-change operation.
Officials told the Bhutan Times that Seldon was undergoing counseling to ensure he was comfortable with is new sexuality.
"We are counseling him so that he can decide what he wants and know what is important for him," an education ministry official told the newspaper.
Some in Bhutan said Seldon's case was yet another sign that the conservative nation was tentatively opening up.
Bhutan held its first ever parliamentary elections in March, to end a century of royal rule. Internet came to the country along with television just nine years ago.
(Editing by Miral Fahmy)
Labels: news stuff
January 25, 2008
A lab as lifesaver? UMass simulator helps drivers see what to look for
BY KRISTIN PALPINI
AMHERST - New drivers run a high risk of being involved in fatal automobile crashes, but the usual suspects - alcohol and speeding - aren't typically the cause, according to research at the University of Massachusetts.
New drivers are 11 times more likely than veteran drivers to die in a car crash during their first six months solo behind the wheel because they don't know how to spot potential hazards, said Donald L. Fisher, director of the UMass Human Performance Laboratory.
Checking to see if a car will pull out from behind a large hedge at an intersection, keeping an eye on people who may step into a crosswalk or slowing down before making a turn around a parked 18-wheeler aren't things the typical teenage driver will do, said Fisher.
"They're not trained for this," he explained, "and it's not the driving schools' fault. You can tell someone a hundred times to check before making a turn, but until they realize or see that they have to do it, they won't."
To rectify this skill deficiency, Fisher, along with doctoral student Anuj K. Pradhan and psychology professor Alexander Pollatsek, created a free downloadable computer program, RAPT, for Risk Awareness and Perception Training. It teaches drivers how to anticipate road hazards.
"I strongly believe, and we have the evidence, that young drivers will most definitely benefit from taking this program," said Pradhan, who has been working on RAPT for four years. "Of course, the disclaimer is that this is not a replacement for a driver's ed course or something like that. It is another piece."
Key: anticipating hazards
This inability to consistently anticipate possible road risks does not belong solely to new drivers. Many drivers under 30 and over 60 have less than stellar rates of hazard anticipation, according to UMass research.
For example, Fisher said, a driver looking to take a right turn around a large truck parked at an intersection is likely to slow down and proceed cautiously only 10 percent of the time. People ages 19-29 are likely to proceed with caution 29 percent of the time; for people 60 and older the rate increases to 56 percent.
People reach their optimal safe driving ability at age 50-55, Fisher said.
"This means that parents need to be trained as well as kids," he said.
RAPT, which can be downloaded from the UMass Web site www.ecs.umass.edu/hpl/RAPT.htm, works in three stages to teach a driver how to spot places where unexpected risks could emerge. The program has been picked up by insurance provider State Farm, which is working on a "snazzier" version of the program, said Fisher.
"I focused on making a free teaching tool," said Fisher, who agrees the program's graphics could be more fetching. "State Farm is interested in making it more appealing to newly licensed drivers."
To develop RAPT, Fisher and Pradhan harvested data from hundreds of driver tests conducted in the UMass lab. The Human Perception Lab features a $750,000 driving simulator - a 1995 Saturn sedan that has been refurbished to measure the reactions of drivers on the road. The Saturn is stable (it has no engine) and is set before three theater screens that display prerecorded driving scenarios.
In addition to chronicling the driver's actions behind the wheel, the driver's eye movements are tracked through specially made glasses. The glasses, which look like shop glasses, monitor the motion of a person's pupils with infrared beams and mirrors.
Using scenes from the Valley, the program shows a participant various scenarios where road risks could occur, such as driving through a four-way intersection. The program then asks the participant to click a mouse pointer where she or he would be looking if they were driving.
In the second stage, participants work through an interactive tutorial on how to spot danger zones. In the third stage the participant goes over real-life scenarios and again plots where she or he should be looking for danger.
Fisher said a person's ability to spot potentially dangerous areas increases from accurately identifying 44 percent of trouble spots to identifying 70 percent of them after completing the program.
"This works in the lab, but does it work in the field?" asked Fisher, describing his next stage of RAPT research.
"We'd like to test whether this reduces crashes."
Fisher and Pradhan are now also working on training programs that aim to show the importance of paying consistent attention to the road and how to temper speed in various driving conditions - two other common factors in teen accidents, Fisher said.
"Younger drivers are not necessarily driving fast, but they are not at the correct speed for the condition," said Pradhan. "If it's icy ... they don't really know how to handle that.
"We're a long ways to go on these," said Pradhan of the lab's next two projects. "But we're working on it."
RAPT research was funded by the Massachusetts Highway Department, the National Science Foundation and private companies.
U.S. visas for Bhutanese upgraded
22 December, 2007 - Bhutanese students, exchange visitors, and their spouses and children travelling to the U.S. will now get a two-year visa from U.S. embassies and consulates anywhere in the world, says a press release from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The two-year visas of the two categories have also been upgraded to “multiple entries,” which means Bhutanese students in the U.S. can come home for holidays and go back without having to apply for another visa, so long as it is within the two-year period.
Before, U.S. visas for the two categories were “single entry” and could only be availed from the U.S. embassy in New Delhi, India.
The press release from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs says that the revised visa rule was made by the U.S. State Department and came into effect from December 3, 2007.
“This collaboration is a reflection of the existing friendly relations between Bhutan and the United States and the growing cooperation between the two countries,” according to the press release
© Anuj Kumar Pradhan
viewed best if your monitor resolution is at least 1024 X 768