Unlike other basic bodily functions, such as eating and breathing, we still do not fully understand why people need to sleep.
Sleep deprivation is nearly as misunderstood as sleep itself, but it can physically and mentally harm people in myriad ways. Losing sleep can cause hallucinations, psychosis, and long-term memory impairment. Some studies have linked sleep deprivation to chronic conditions like hypertension, diabetes, and bipolar disorder. In 2003, neurologists at the University of Pennsylvania found that sleep deprivation over three consecutive nights (in the study, staying awake for 88 hours) as well as chronic sleep loss (in the study, four to six hours of sleep each night for 14 nights) seriously impaired cognitive functions in healthy adults. Also in 2003, Japanese researchers found that total sleep deprivation can cause high blood pressure and has “profound” effects on the immune system.”
— Fascinating read on how sleep deprivation decays the mind and body. Pair with this equally fascinating read on what we do know about the science of sleep, why we have dreams and nightmares, and how our internal clocks produce “social jet lag.” (via explore-blog)
In November, Mischa Fisher took to this space to criticize the notion that Republicans are the anti-science party. Plenty of Democrats hold views that contradict empirically established facts, and Republican skepticism is overblown, he wrote.
And yet …
The Pew Research Center released new numbers Monday on how Americans view evolution. (The question was asked in a way to include those who believe God or a supreme being guided the process.) About six in 10 accept it, the poll found, but the partisan divide is wide
Read more. [Image: Steve Pope/Associated Press]
Fight or flight, or sleep.
Read more. [Image: Carianoff/Flickr]
Girls’ Generation - Gee
It’s way too humid out in Mie Prefecture on this early-August Tuesday, so I’m sprawled out on my couch watching Japanese TV. School’s out for the month…because the air-conditioning bills would make the local government wince…and my supervisor has told me I don’t have to come to city hall today. So I’m staring at a mid-day news-feature show, one I can barely understand.
I am able to mentally translate a little about the next segment – “this is one of the most popular trends in 2010!” For the next 20 minutes, I’ll watch a report about Korean pop music, which was just starting to make a coordinated marketing push into Japan that season. I knew nothing about K-Pop…well, until they showed a clip from a music video for a song called “Oh!” I had seen that one before, on the sports blog Deadspin, because an Iowa Hawkeyes helmet featured prominently in it.
At some point during this K-Pop report, though, I would hear words that would lead me to falling down an incredibly deep K-hole – “gee gee gee baby baby.”
K-Pop wants to be a global phenomenon, and as 2013 comes to a close, it has a long way to go. In America…the market K-Pop labels crave the most…it remains a niche interest, albeit one that has done far better than most “international scenes” before it. Save for the fluke success of “Gangnam Style” (now brushed off as joke), K-Pop in the United States has been a series of false starts: bad Teen Nick movies, one-off appearances on late-night talk shows and team-ups with Diplo. K-Pop is still waiting to evolve into the continent-hopping craze so many features trumped it to become.
Yet there was one place where, for about a year at least, the full potential of K-Pop was realized. From August 2010 to about Fall 2011, Japan was obsessed with Korean pop music. Korean pop groups appeared regularly on Japanese TV shows and in commercials. An entire video board in downtown Tokyo showed ads for K-Pop videos. The Japanese music charts – one of the most insular in the world – were being topped by foreign artists. Right-wing groups held protests over K-Pop.
At the center of it were two girl groups – KARA and Girls’ Generation (also known as SNSD). And the latter were responsible for “Gee.”
“Gee” is overproduced, but in the same way an airplane could be “overproduced” – every detail has been labored over, coming together to make the entire thing hum along perfectly. After a sparkly intro and a “listen boy/this is my first love story,” “Gee” blasts forward, every synth precisely placed. Even the split-second of silence during the chorus are factory perfect, making what follows burst even more clearly. “Gee” thumbs it nose as the concept of “tempo,” practically going into bullet-time speed at the bridge before seamlessly zipping off again. Every utterance of “gee” in the verse sounds like a malfunctioning robot.
Yet, even if scientists spent hours laboring over each sound here, “Gee” is one of the most human songs I’ve ever heard. Girls’ Generation sing mostly in Korean, with a little English sprinkled about. When I first heard this, I had no idea what was going on. Even having access to an English translation doesn’t really add much…this isn’t a lyrical blockbuster. But those first words uttered are all you need to understand – this is the sound of new love in all its dizzying, frantic, head-turning wonder. “Gee” isn’t even really a proper word, more of a sudden exclamation. Which sums up the feeling of blossoming romance perfectly – it leaves you surprised and excited, and coherent thoughts really aren’t important. You just keep barreling forward.
The video for “Gee” isn’t anything special. It reimagines the film Mannequin as designed for MTV, all bright colors and tight choreography. Whenever a publication introduces “the trend” of K-Pop to a Western audience, “Gee” gets trotted out like a history textbook bullet point, but never appears in the inevitable “best K-Pop videos” list. K-Pop has been celebrated in America primarily as a visual feast, with an emphasis always placed on music videos. “Gangnam Style’s” success is a little less shocking when you realize K-Pop music was being sold as secondary to the visuals.
When K-Pop broke through in Japan, there was a lot of speculation about why one of the hardest music markets for non-Japanese artists to enter was suddenly watching Korean groups break records. Some pointed towards clever marketing, others towards the more “mature” image projected by the women in Girls’ Generation. I think it was simpler than that – after I first heard “Gee” on that humid August day, I started meeting more people who loved “Gee.” They were other English teachers hailing from outside Japan. They were my teenage students, who were showing off new Girls’ Generation folders and pencil cases when the vacation ended. They were even 68-year-old men. This all happened before the Japanese version of “Gee” officially came out in October.
“Gee” is sung in Korean, but ultimately universal. Everything falls perfectly into place, resulting in a song that’s an absolute delight to be carried away by. Nothing in Japan sounded like this in 2010. Nothing anywhere sounded like this in 2010. Nothing still sounds like it.