Monday, March 9, 2020

So You Want to Study Abroad (6 Things to Consider)

So You Want to Study Abroad (6 Things to Consider) So You Want to Study Abroad (6 Things to Consider) More and more people choose to study abroad these days. And why not? You get to travel, meet new people, learn about a different culture and earn a college degree at the same time! But studying abroad requires a bit of preparation, so make sure you’ve considered the following factors†¦ 1. Length of Placement Different placements are available depending on how long you want to spend studying abroad. This ranges from a few weeks or a single semester, to full degree programs for those who want to really throw themselves into an overseas experience! 2. Where to Go This is the big one! Where should you study? Some of the most common places for U.S. students to study are in Europe, but it’s possible to study almost anywhere in the world, with other popular destinations including Canada, Mexico, Japan, China and Australia. As well as your personal interest in wherever you decide to study, practical factors to consider include your familiarity with the language (both of the country and the language of instruction), the lifestyle and culture of the place where you’ll be studying, and the tuition and living costs involved. If you really cant decide, throw a dart at a world map and see where it sticks. [Image: Mason Vanks Maps/wikimedia] 3. The Program Once you know where you want to study and the length of placement you’d prefer, it’s time to start looking at different programs. If you’re simply studying abroad for part of your degree, your best option will usually be to apply for a program run by your college. If you want to study abroad for your entire degree, you’ll have to research your chosen destination and apply as an international student. 4. Funding If you have the money to pay for your studies already, you can skip this one. But many of us with dreams of studying abroad would appreciate a little financial help, so it’s worth researching whether funding is available. 5. Entry Requirements and Qualifications The application process for studying abroad differs from institution to institution, so make sure you check carefully and understand the requirements. This will include having the academic qualifications necessary to study your chosen course, as well as providing a resume, a letter of recommendation and possibly proof that you can speak the language of instruction. Some colleges and universities also set admissions tests. The most important thing is starting the application early enough, as that will give you enough time to organize everything before you’re due to begin your studies! 6. Travel Arrangements The final step, once you’ve been accepted on a course, is to organize the travel. And there’s lots to do before booking your flights, including sorting out a visa, making sure you have a valid passport and working out your living arrangements for once you arrive. As with the entry requirements, the key here is knowing what you need to do before travelling to the country where you’ll be studying, as well as leaving plenty of time to make the arrangements. And then its just a case of Bon voyage!

Saturday, February 22, 2020

White Privilege and the Myth of Meritocracy-Diversity in Organizations Essay

White Privilege and the Myth of Meritocracy-Diversity in Organizations - Essay Example The discussion is also made in the additional contexts of the questions that are required to be answered relating to white privileges that have relevance with regard to organizational diversity; white privileges from the vantage point of non-white minority groups; how discrimination fosters white privileges and whites’ perception of their own capabilities and merits; the use of the terms qualified minorities, qualified whites, and qualified women; gender-based privileges; the relationship between wealth and privileges (Bell, 2011; pp. 223-256; McIntosh, 1990; McIntosh, 2009; McNamee and Miller, 2004; Unz, 2012). Discussion Whites here refer to the ethnic groups that fall under the umbrella of non-Hispanic white and have roots in Europe, or else are from North Africa or the Middle East. They include those who self-report being white, or else report themselves to be one or other of the following: Arab, Irish, Polish, Lebanese, Italian, German, or from the Near East. This is also the definition espoused by the US Census Bureau, and forms the basis of the definition for the paper (Bell, 2011, p. 225). By white privileges is meant those privileges that accrue to Whites in America by virtue of the social conventions that work on either positively discriminating whites based on their color to confer special work, consumption, and other social privileges, or to negatively discriminate against non-whites to effectively put whites in positions of economic, social and political power, and in other relevant aspects of social and cultural life in the country. The myth of meritocracy, meanwhile, posits that whites earned their privileges and positions of dominance and power, and that conversely other minority groups effectively have not earned power and therefore are unable to rise into similar positions as whites. The myth of meritocracy also exists as divisions in â€Å"earned† power and privileges along gender lines, with white women being in inferior positi ons at work for instance due to white males having earned their positions through the merits of their own work and capabilities. While there are parties that assert that reverse discrimination exist, and documented in the courts, the reality is that white privilege persists as a social force acting in ways that reinforce those privileges at the expense of women and minorities, even as whites themselves in significant numbers have historically worked for more egalitarian social arrangements among races, viewing diversity in organizations as sources of strength and advantage that lift all in turn (Bell, 2011; pp. 223-256). Answering the first question, McIntosh presents many of the subtle ways by which white privilege presents itself in daily life, and it is easy to imagine that in the context of organizational diversity, many of those presentations are relevant, especially with regard to not being racially profiled for a host of activities including participating in race-based discus sions and in discussions on promotions, and with regard to the impact of subtle segregation rules in the choice of housing for employees that may work against drives by organizations to foster greater racial diversity in its employee pools. In promotions discussions, if majority of upper management is white too, then ingrained social forces operating within an organization would work against greater ethnic diversity in the management ranks too, to cite another example (McIntosh, 2009; McIntosh, 1990). To answer question two, If I were a member of a minority ethnic group, the white privileges relating to natural social tendencies to promote and enhance the power of whites over

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Analysis Samsung Electronics Case Study Example | Topics and Well Written Essays - 500 words - 2

Analysis Samsung Electronics - Case Study Example The company became known for its relatively low-cost quality innovative product lines and was able to give stiff competition to electronic majors like Sony, Nokia, Phillips etc. by continuously coming up with ever new features in all its products. There were many factors that contributed towards company’s continued leadership position in the world market. The foremost was its business model that relied on speed based innovative products. The company focused on its strategy of developing research and engineering skills so that it could improve and improvise innovatively on the electrical and digital products of Sony, Phillips, Matsushita, and Nokia. Samsung’s ability to launch its own products with added features with a great speed was a huge success with the target population. Samsung had geared its teams of professionals to keep a strict watch on the people’s pulse and was, therefore, able to anticipate their demands and used to come up with new products and features that were envied by its rivals. Another vital feature of its business strategy was its focused approach towards R&D and utilizing his human resource as capital investment. His team was able to develop huge range within the same product because they were able to customize new products around their core design. He also introduced the concept of competing for product development teams which were located at diverse locations, thus promoting competition with the group for innovation. The merit-based promotion within the group ensured that the best got their dues. High potential employees were encouraged to MBA and Ph.D. in the foreign country on company’s expenses so that expert team could be indigenously developed and fostered for improved business performance.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Responses to Modernism Essay Example for Free

Responses to Modernism Essay a) How does Levin characterize the art of the Modern era? List the various terms and phrases she uses to describe the Modern period. Levin characterizes the art of the Modern era with terms such as: style, form, scientific, experimental, method, logic, technological, purity, clarity, order, idealistic, optimistic, ideological, reductive, austere, puritanical, elitist, dogmatic, brutal, competitive, individualistic, materialistic, formal, abstract, repetitive, flattening, ordering, and literal. Levin characterizes the art of the Modern era with phrases such as: â€Å"style-the invention of sets of forms-was a preoccupation of Modernism, as was originality. The Tradition of the New, Harold Rosenberg called it† â€Å"Modern art was scientific. It was based on faith in the technological future, on belief in progress and objective truth. It was experimental: the creation of new forms was its task† â€Å"It longed for perfection and demanded purity, clarity, order. And it denied everything else, especially the past: idealistic, ideological and optimistic, Modernism was predicated on the glorious future, the new and improved. Like technology, it was based all along on the inventions of man-made forms, or, as Meyer Schapiro has said, â€Å"a thing made rather than a scene represented. † â€Å"Conceptualism came out of the closet; and art became documentation. In a sense, it was the ultimate godlike act of Modernism: creating a work out of nothing. In another sense, it was obvious that something was over,† â€Å"Modernism, toward the end of its reign, came to be seen as reductive and austere. Its purity came to seen puritanical. It was in the terminology in a word, Formalism which implied not only the logical structures of Modernist invention but also the structures of rigid adherence of established forms. â€Å"There is no other democracy than the respect for forms†, one of the new French philosophers, Bernard-Henry Levy, has remarked. Like democracy, Modernist art is now being reinterpreted in terms of its insistence on forms and laws rather than in terms of liberty and freedom. The Modernist vision may have had democratic aims a progressive emancipation of the individual from authority in an age of unlimited possibilities, as Schapiro has notedbut in practice it was elitist: the public never understood abstract art. It was as specialized as modern science. And emphasis on structure rather than substance is what we came to see in it. Like science, Modernist art has begun to seem dogmatic and brutal. † â€Å"competitive and individualistic, it saw everything in terms of risk. Like capitalism, it was materialistic. From its collage scraps and fur-lined teacup to its laden brushstrokes, I-beams, and Campbell’s soupcans, modernist art insisted increasingly on being an object in a world of objects. What started as radical physicality turned into commodity; the desire for newness led to a voracious appetite for novelty. † â€Å"the artist as godlike Creator was the leitmotif of Modernism† b) How does Levin characterize the art of Postmodernism? List the various terms and phrases she uses to describe the Postmodern period. Levin characterizes the art of Postmodernism with terms such as: hybrid impurity, illusionistic theatricality, narrative insinuations, counterrevolutionary contradictions, disillusionment, distrust, survival, natural substances, ongoing processes, photographic images, language, real-time systems, nature, demolition, natural, temporality, psychological, narrational, personal, lifelike contexts, subjective facts, subversive, protesting, impure, quotes, scavenges, ransacks, recycles, synthesis, confession, fiction, irony, whimsy, disbelief, intimate, metamorphosis. Levin characterizes the art of Postmoderism with phrases like: â€Å"Style has become a voluntary option, to be scavenged and recycled, to be quoted, paraphrased, parodied to be used as a language† â€Å"It could be argued that the precise moment of its demise was signaled a few months earlier by the revelation of Duchamp’s Etant Donnes with all its hybrid impurity, illusionistic theatricality, narrative insinuations, and counterrevolutionary contradictions opening a peephole into the magical natural world as if predicting the concerns of postmodern art. † â€Å"Returning materials to their natural stage, subjecting them to natural forces, sending art back to the land or internalizing it within the body, they were evidence that time and/or place were becoming crucial, clearing the way for the psychological and the narrational, for personal content, lifelike contexts, and subjective facts. The feeling against style and objectivity proved more subversive than the antipathy toward objects and form: post-modernism arose out of Conceptualist premises that art is information -while protesting its Modernist aridity. † â€Å"Post-modernism is impure. It knows about shortages. It knows about inflation and devaluation. It is aware of the increased cost of objects. And so it quotes, scavenges, ransacks, recycles the past. Its method is synthesis rather than analysis. It is style-free and free-style. Playful and full of doubt, it denies nothing. Tolerant of ambiguity, contradiction, complexity, incoherence, it is eccentrically inclusive. It mimics life, accepts awkwardness and crudity, takes an amateur stance. Structured by time rather than form, concerned with context instead of style, it uses memory, research, confession, fiction with irony, whimsy, and disbelief. Subjective and intimate, it blurs the boundaries between the world and the self. It is about identity and behavior† â€Å"perhaps we should look to the self-awareness movements that became popular during the ‘70s for a terminology appropriate to the new art: based not on scientific reason and logic and the pretense of objectivity but on presence, subjective experience, behavior, on a weird kind of therapeutic revelation in which it is not necessary to believe or understand it is enough if it works. † c) What are the main points of contrast Levin describes between the art of the two periods? The main points of contrast between modernism and postmodernism that Levin describes are: style as preoccupation vs. style as option, purity vs. hybrid impurity, man-made vs. the natural, adherence to forms vs. the tolerance of ambiguity, godlike vs. lifelike, objective vs. subjective, idealistic vs. realistic, and progressive understanding vs. the cyclical understanding. d) What symbols does Levin suggest would serve as iconic images for the two periods? For modernism, the grid is the suggested iconic image. For post-modernism, the map is the suggested iconic image. e) Now, identify two of the art movements discussed by Levin. Find a representative artist who participated in each movement and has at least one artwork illustrated in your textbook. Write a compare-contrast between the two artworks. One of the art movements and representative artists should be identified by Levin as Modern, the other as Postmodern. Dadism: Rauschenberg-Bed(1955) Pop Art: Andy Warhol-Marilyn Monroe f) Start by identifying the two artists and their artworks as fully as possible. Rauschenberg was an American artist who became famous during the transition from abstract-expressionism to pop-art. He is famous for his white, black and red paintings. With his white paintings, he sought to reduce painting to its essential nature so that the possibility of pure experience could be created and appreciated. With his black paintings, Rauschenberg mixed paper with newspaper to create the effect of appearance and disappearance. With his red paintings, Rauschenberg created what would be fore-runners of his combine series. They used complex materials so that the surface was disturbed from the impression of being flat or two-dimensional. Certainly a transitional painter, he worked within the gap between modernism and post-modernism. Through mistakes he developed his imaginative creativity into meaningful formations that explored new ways and mediums of creating art, by processes like photography, silk-screen, and multimedia juxtaposition. g) Describe both works in detail Rauschenberg’s artwork, Bed(1955) was created with Rauschenberg covered a shallow wooden frame with a worn quilt, that is alternately splashed and splattered with paint. While it uses everyday materials and can be said to celebrate them by transforming them from something disposable to something that is to be preserved, it is also a Dada-esque assertion of anti-art. f) Andrew Warhol was a prominent figure in the pop-art movement who was known for his diverse friends and came up with the concept of â€Å"fifteen-minutes of fame. † A celebrity in his own right, he is characteristically known for his paintings of luminaries like Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor. When he switched to silk-screen, Andrew Warhol minimized his own hand so much as he tried to follow his intention to be â€Å"a machine. † His silk-screen was made serially and mass-produced the mass-produced, including the iconic Campbell’s Soup Can. Shot in 1968, by a fringe member of his Factory Scene ‘clique,’ Warhol barely survived and spent much of his later life as a more subdued â€Å"business-artist. † A man who loved plastic, Warhol also aspired to be plastic, at once superficial and commercial but also in possession of an odd aura of glamour. g) Andy Warhol’s artwork, â€Å"Marilyn,† was created so that it could personify mass-production and the glamorous aura of ‘celebrity. ’ Warhol accomplished this with his stenciling technique where ink and paint was applied to silk-screen images. An effect that was also realized was that of two disparities. In â€Å"Marilyn† the public image and the private image are attached but wrestle against each other so that both have a characteristic of ambiguity and not quite holding very well. h) How are they Similar? They incorporate different mediums, and deal with disparities. They both wrestle with the private and the public. â€Å"Bed† turns a private item into a public presentation and â€Å"Marilyn† deals with the clash between the private person and the public personification. i) How are they Different? â€Å"Bed† deals more with the ordinary and the relatively mundane. â€Å"Marilyn† deals with the exceptional and the aura of celebrity. â€Å"Bed† appears to have been created quite carelessly, â€Å"Marilyn† appears to have been created deliberately. â€Å"Bed† somehow congeals and appears finished although in a more careless kind of way. â€Å"Marilyn† seems somehow undone and there is the feeling that a missing element should be there. It feels unfinished and never quite complete. j) Finally, do they seem to illustrate Levin’s points about Modernism and Postmodernism—or not? Yes, they do seem to. â€Å"Bed† deals with the man-made, the quilt is a man-made object that is also a machine-made object. â€Å"Marilyn† has a strange kind of living existence as it deals with the natural, the organic, as well as, the complex human form in all its frailty. There is a quality of decomposition to it that makes it very odd but makes it portray the organic in a strong way. â€Å"Bed† is godlike because it does create something out of nothing. It turns what is â€Å"nothing,† an old quilt, into something quite extraordinary, so extraordinary that it will be displayed in museums as a monument of sorts. â€Å"Marilyn† is deeply personal and subjective, it is an intimate rendering of someone who lived who cannot really be known except through subjective interpretations. â€Å"Bed† is much more elitist and it takes a lot of erudite clarifications before a lot of people can ‘get it. ’ â€Å"Marilyn† is not incorporative of any great interplay of the theoretical and can be appreciated much more easily because it deals with such popular content matter.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Golden Rule and Environmentalism :: Environment Ecology Ecological Essays

Golden Rule and Environmentalism Intelligence, humor, simplicity, common sense, lack of philosophical jargon, perspective, wit, answer to questions. In the style of a popular scientist, not a philosopher, Stephen Jay Gould announces his view of an appropriate environmental ethic following the simple, but forever elegant, golden rule. "If we all treated others as we wish to be treated ourselves, then decency and stability would have to prevail"(216), he states. In the spirit of Karen Warren, Gould's perspective on environmentalism 'feels right' to me, as I can connect with acts of respect and benevolence towards humans and can easily extend that feeling to the rest of the earth (especially on a personal level where I see the golden rule as the basis for my religious beliefs). However, upon closer examination, I find the suggestion to 'just follow the golden rule' as an environmental ethic problematic when examined in a practical, non-idealized light. Harkening back to the problems encountered in previous discussions of biocentric and ecocentric ethics, I am troubled by the potential outcomes of an environmental ethic such as this. In searching for a practical example with which to apply the golden rule ethic, let's examine Martin Kreiger's example of what to do in the case of Niagara Falls. Kreiger discusses three options for managing the Falls which were devised by the International Joint Commission Fallscape committee: 1) converting the falls into a monument, i.e. spending money and resources to keep the falls the way they are now; 2) making the falls an event, i.e. allowing the falls to continue to evolve, monitoring for rockfalls, and 'selling' their occurrence to the public to watch; 3) treating the falls as a show, i.e. giving a director complete power and discretion over the amount of water flowing at a given time, the size of the pool, and the amount of debris, along with lights and music, of course. Where would the golden rule ethic lead us in deciding the appropriate action for Niagara Falls? The first question in trying to apply this ethic is, who determines how "we" would want to be treated so that it can be determined how Niagara Falls would want to be treated? Should 'the public', as Kreiger thinks, have the say in what happens to Niagara, and therefore, decide its fate? I don't think that the public is in an appropriate position to decide the fate of this, or many other, environmental entities.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

The Host Chapter 18: Bored

I spent the rest of the day, with one brief exception, in total silence. That exception occurred when Jeb brought food for both Jared and me several hours later. As he set the tray inside the entrance to my tiny cave, he smiled at me apologetically. â€Å"Thank you,† I whispered. â€Å"You're welcome,† he told me. I heard Jared grunt, irritated by our small exchange. That was the only sound Jared made all day. I was sure he was out there, but there was never so much as an audible breath to confirm that conviction. It was a very long day-very cramped and very dull. I tried every position I could imagine, but I could never quite manage to get all of me stretched out comfortably at once. The small of my back began a steady throbbing. Melanie and I thought a lot about Jamie. Mostly we worried that we had damaged him by coming here, that we were injuring him now. What was a kept promise in comparison with that? Time lost meaning. It could have been sunset, it could have been dawn-I had no references here, buried in the earth. Melanie and I ran out of topics for discussion. We flipped through our joint memories apathetically, like switching TV channels without stopping to watch anything in particular. I napped once but could not fall soundly asleep because I was so uncomfortable. When Jeb finally came back, I could have kissed his leathery face. He leaned into my cell with a grin stretching his cheeks. â€Å"‘Bout time for another walk?† he asked me. I nodded eagerly. â€Å"I'll do it,† Jared growled. â€Å"Give me the gun.† I hesitated, crouched awkwardly in the mouth of my cave, until Jeb nodded at me. â€Å"Go ahead,† he told me. I climbed out, stiff and unsteady, and took Jeb's offered hand to balance myself. Jared made a sound of revulsion and turned his face away. He was holding the gun tightly, his knuckles white over the barrel. I didn't like to see it in his hands. It bothered me more than it did with Jeb. Jared didn't make allowances for me the way Jeb had. He stalked off into the black tunnel without pausing for me to catch up. It was hard-he didn't make much noise and he didn't guide me, so I had to walk with one hand in front of my face and one hand on the wall, trying not to run into the rock. I fell twice on the uneven floor. Though he did not help me, he did wait till he could hear that I was on my feet again to continue. Once, hurrying through a straighter section of the tube, I got too close and my searching hand touched his back, traced across the shape of his shoulders, before I realized that I hadn't reached another wall. He jumped ahead, jerking out from under my fingers with an angry hiss. â€Å"Sorry,† I whispered, feeling my cheeks turn warm in the darkness. He didn't respond, but sped his pace so that following was even more difficult. I was confused when, finally, some light appeared ahead of me. Had we taken a different route? This was not the white brilliance of the biggest cavern. It was muted, pale and silvery. But the narrow crevice we'd had to pass through seemed the same†¦ It wasn't until I was inside the giant, echoing space that I realized what caused the difference. It was nighttime; the light that shone dimly from above mimicked the light of the moon rather than the sun. I used the less-blinding illumination to examine the ceiling, trying to ferret out its secret. High, so very high above me, a hundred tiny moons shone their diluted light toward the dim, distant floor. The little moons were scattered in patternless clusters, some farther away than others. I shook my head. Even though I could look directly at the light now, I still didn't understand it. â€Å"C'mon,† Jared ordered angrily from several paces ahead. I flinched and hurried to follow. I was sorry I'd let my attention wander. I could see how much it irritated him to have to speak to me. I didn't expect the help of a flashlight when we reached the room with the rivers, and I didn't receive it. It was dimly lit now, too, like the big cave, but with only twenty-odd miniature moons here. Jared clenched his jaw and stared at the ceiling while I walked hesitantly into the room with the inky pool. I guessed that if I stumbled into the fierce underground hot spring and disappeared, Jared would probably see it as a kind intervention of fate. I think he would be sad, Melanie disagreed as I edged my way around the black bathing room, hugging the wall. If we fell. I doubt it. He might be reminded of the pain of losing you the first time, but he would be happy if I disappeared. Because he doesn't know you, Melanie whispered, and then faded away as if she were suddenly exhausted. I stood frozen where I was, surprised. I wasn't sure, but it felt as though Melanie had just given me a compliment. â€Å"Move it,† Jared barked from the other room. I hurried as fast as the darkness and my fear would allow. When we returned, Jeb was waiting by the blue lamp; at his feet were two lumpy cylinders and two uneven rectangles. I hadn't noticed them before. Perhaps he'd gone to get them while we were away. â€Å"Are you sleeping here tonight or am I?† Jeb asked Jared in a casual tone. Jared looked at the shapes by Jeb's feet. â€Å"I am,† he answered curtly. â€Å"And I only need one bedroll.† Jeb raised a thick eyebrow. â€Å"It's not one of us, Jeb. You left this on me-so butt out.† â€Å"She's not an animal, either, kid. And you wouldn't treat a dog this way.† Jared didn't answer. His teeth ground together. â€Å"Never figured you for a cruel man,† Jeb said softly. But he picked up one of the cylinders, put his arm through a strap, and slung it over his shoulder, then stuffed one rectangle-a pillow-under his arm. â€Å"Sorry, honey,† he said as he passed me, patting my shoulder. â€Å"Cut that out!† Jared growled. Jeb shrugged and ambled away. Before he was out of sight, I hurried to disappear into my cell; I hid in its darkest reaches, coiling myself into a tight ball that I hoped was too small to see. Instead of lurking silently and invisibly in the outside tunnel, Jared spread his bedroll directly in front of the mouth of my prison. He plumped his pillow a few times, possibly trying to rub it in that he had one. He lay down on the mat and crossed his arms over his chest. That was the piece of him that I could see through the hole-just his crossed arms and half of his stomach. His skin was that same dark gold tan that had haunted my dreams for the last half year. It was very strange to have that piece of my dream in solid reality not five feet from me. Surreal. â€Å"You won't be able to sneak past me,† he warned. His voice was softer than before-sleepy. â€Å"If you try†¦Ã¢â‚¬  He yawned. â€Å"I will kill you.† I didn't respond. The warning struck me as a bit of an insult. Why would I try to sneak past him? Where would I go? Into the hands of the barbarians out there waiting for me, all of them wishing that I would make exactly that kind of stupid attempt? Or, supposing I could somehow sneak past them, back out into the desert that had nearly baked me to death the last time I'd tried to cross it? I wondered what he thought me capable of. What plan did he think I was hatching to overthrow their little world? Did I really seem so powerful? Wasn't it clear how pathetically defenseless I was? I could tell when he was deeply asleep because he started twitching the way Melanie remembered he occasionally did. He only slept so restlessly when he was upset. I watched his fingers clench and unclench, and I wondered if he was dreaming that they were wrapped around my neck. The days that followed-perhaps a week of them, it was impossible to keep track-were very quiet. Jared was like a silent wall between me and everything else in the world, good or bad. There was no sound but that of my own breathing, my own movements; there were no sights but the black cave around me, the circle of dull light, the familiar tray with the same rations, the brief, stolen glimpses of Jared; there were no touches but the pitted rocks against my skin; there were no tastes but the bitter water, the hard bread, the bland soup, the woody roots, over and over again. It was a very strange combination: constant terror, persistent aching physical discomfort, and excruciating monotony. Of the three, the killer boredom was the hardest to take. My prison was a sensory-deprivation chamber. Together, Melanie and I worried that we were going to go mad. We both hear a voice in our head, she pointed out. That's never a good sign. We're going to forget how to speak, I worried. How long has it been since anyone talked to us? Four days ago you thanked Jeb for bringing us food, and he said you were welcome. Well, I think it was four days ago. Four long sleeps ago, at least. She seemed to sigh. Stop chewing your nails-it took me years to break that habit. But the long, scratchy nails bothered me. I don't really think we need to worry about bad habits in the long term. Jared didn't let Jeb bring food again. Instead, someone brought it to the end of the hall and Jared retrieved it. I got the same thing-bread, soup, and vegetables-twice every day. Sometimes there were extra things for Jared, packaged foods with brand names I recognized-Red Vines, Snickers, Pop-Tarts. I tried to imagine how the humans had gotten their hands on these delicacies. I didn't expect him to share-of course not-but I wondered sometimes if he thought I was hoping he would. One of my few entertainments was hearing him eat his treats, because he always did so ostentatiously, perhaps rubbing it in the way he had with the pillow that first night. Once, Jared slowly ripped open a bag of Cheetos-showy about it as usual-and the rich smell of fake powdered cheese rolled through my cave†¦ delicious, irresistible. He ate one slowly, letting me hear each distinct crunch. My stomach growled loudly, and I laughed at myself. I hadn't laughed in so long; I tried to remember the last time and couldn't-just that strange bout of macabre hysteria in the desert, which really didn't count as laughter. Even before I'd come here, there hadn't been much I'd found funny. But this seemed hilarious to me for some reason-my stomach yearning after that one small Cheeto-and I laughed again. A sign of madness, surely. I didn't know how my reaction offended him, but he got up and disappeared. After a long moment, I could hear him eating the Cheetos again, but from farther away. I peeked out of the hole to see that he was sitting in the shadows at the end of the corridor, his back to me. I pulled my head inside, afraid he might turn and catch me watching. From then on, he stayed down at that end of the hall as much as possible. Only at night did he stretch out in front of my prison. Twice a day-or rather twice a night, as he never took me when the others were about-I got to walk to the room with the rivers; it was a highlight, despite the terror, as it was the only time I was not hunched into the unnatural shapes my small cave forced on me. Each time I had to crawl back inside was harder than the last. Three times that week, always during the sleeping hours, someone came to check on us. The first time it was Kyle. Jared's sudden lunge to his feet woke me. â€Å"Get out of here,† he warned, holding the gun ready. â€Å"Just checking,† Kyle said. His voice was far away but loud and rough enough that I was sure it was not his brother. â€Å"Someday you might not be here. Someday you might sleep too soundly.† Jared's only answer was to cock the gun. I heard Kyle's laughter trailing behind him as he left. The other two times I didn't know who it was. Kyle again, or maybe Ian, or maybe someone whose name I hadn't learned. All I knew was that twice more I was woken by Jared jumping to his feet with the gun pointed at the intruder. No more words were spoken. Whoever was just checking didn't bother to make conversation. When they were gone, Jared went back to sleep quickly. It took me longer to quiet my heart. The fourth time was something new. I was not quite asleep when Jared started awake, rolling to his knees in a swift movement. He came up with the gun in his hands and a curse on his lips. â€Å"Easy,† a voice murmured from the distance. â€Å"I come in peace.† â€Å"Whatever you're selling, I'm not buying,† Jared growled. â€Å"I just want to talk.† The voice came closer. â€Å"You're buried down here, missing the important discussions†¦ We miss your take on things.† â€Å"I'm sure,† Jared said sarcastically. â€Å"Oh, put the gun down. If I was planning to fight you, I would have come with four guys this time.† There was a short silence, and when Jared spoke again, his voice carried a hint of dark humor. â€Å"How's your brother these days?† he asked. Jared seemed to enjoy the question. It relaxed him to tease his visitor. He sat down and slouched against the wall halfway in front of my prison, at ease, but with the gun still ready. My neck ached, seeming to comprehend that the hands that had crushed and bruised it were very close by. â€Å"He's still fuming about his nose,† Ian said. â€Å"Oh, well-it's not the first time it's been broken. I'll tell him you said you were sorry.† â€Å"I'm not.† â€Å"I know. No one is ever sorry for hitting Kyle.† They laughed quietly together; there was a sense of camaraderie in their amusement that seemed wildly out of place while Jared held a gun loosely pointed in Ian's direction. But then, the bonds that were forged in this desperate place must have been very strong. Thicker than blood. Ian sat down on the mat next to Jared. I could see his profile in silhouette, a black shape against the blue light. I noticed that his nose was perfect-straight, aquiline, the kind of nose that I'd seen in pictures of famous sculptures. Did that mean that others found him more bearable than the brother whose nose was often broken? Or that he was better at ducking? â€Å"So what do you want, Ian? Not just an apology for Kyle, I imagine.† â€Å"Did Jeb tell you?† â€Å"I don't know what you're talking about.† â€Å"They've given up the search. Even the Seekers.† Jared didn't comment, but I could feel the sudden tension in the air around him. â€Å"We've been keeping a close watch for some change, but they never seemed overly anxious. The search never strayed from the area where we abandoned the car, and for the past few days they were clearly looking for a body rather than a survivor. Then two nights ago we caught a lucky break-the search party left some trash in the open, and a pack of coyotes raided their base camp. One of them was coming back late and surprised the animals. The coyotes attacked and dragged the Seeker a good hundred yards into the desert before the rest of them heard its screams and came to the rescue. The other Seekers were armed, of course. They scared the coyotes off easily, and the victim wasn't seriously hurt, but the event seems to have answered any questions they might have had about what happened to our guest here.† I wondered how they were able to spy on the Seekers who searched for me-to see so much. I felt strangely exposed by the idea. I didn't like the picture in my head: the humans invisible, watching the souls they hated. The thought made the skin on the back of my neck prickle. â€Å"So they packed up and left. The Seekers gave up the search. All the volunteers went home. No one is looking for it.† His profile turned toward me, and I hunched down, hoping it was too dark to see me in here-that, like his face, I would appear as only a black shape. â€Å"I imagine it's been declared officially dead, if they keep track of those things the way we used to. Jeb's been saying I told you so' to anyone who'll stand still long enough to hear it.† Jared grumbled something incoherent; I could only pick out Jeb's name. Then he inhaled a sharp breath, blew it out, and said, â€Å"All right, then. I guess that's the end of it.† â€Å"That's what it looks like.† Ian hesitated for a moment and then added, â€Å"Except†¦ Well, it's probably nothing at all.† Jared tensed again; he didn't like having his intelligence edited. â€Å"Go on.† â€Å"No one but Kyle thinks much of it, and you know how Kyle is.† Jared grunted his assent to that. â€Å"You've got the best instincts for this kind of thing; I wanted your opinion. That's why I'm here, taking my life into my hands to infiltrate the restricted area,† Ian said dryly, and then his voice was utterly serious again. â€Å"You see, there's this one†¦ a Seeker, no doubt about that-it packs a Glock.† It took me a second to understand the word he used. It wasn't a familiar part of Melanie's vocabulary. When I understood that he was talking about a kind of gun, the wistful, envious tone in his voice made me feel slightly ill. â€Å"Kyle was the first to notice how this one stood out. It didn't seem important to the rest-certainly not part of the decision-making process. Oh, it had suggestions enough, from what we could see, but no one seemed to listen to it. Wish we could've heard what it was saying†¦Ã¢â‚¬  My skin prickled anxiously again. â€Å"Anyway,† Ian continued, â€Å"when they called off the search, this one wasn't happy with the decision. You know how the parasites are always so†¦ very pleasant? This was weird-it's the closest I've ever seen them come to an argument. Not a real argument, because none of the others argued back, but the unhappy one sure looked like it was arguing with them. The core group of Seekers disregarded it-they're all gone.† â€Å"But the unhappy one?† Jared asked. â€Å"It got in a car and drove halfway to Phoenix. Then it drove back to Tucson. Then it drove west again.† â€Å"Still searching.† â€Å"Or very confused. It stopped at that convenience store by the peak. Talked to the parasite that worked there, though that one had already been questioned.† â€Å"Huh,† Jared grunted. He was interested now, concentrating on the puzzle. â€Å"Then it went for a hike up the peak-stupid little thing. Had to be burning alive, wearing black from head to toe.† A spasm rocked through my body; I found myself off the floor, cringing against the back wall of my cell. My hands flew up instinctively to protect my face. I heard a hiss echo through the small space, and only after it faded did I realize it was mine. â€Å"What was that?† Ian asked, his voice shocked. I peeked through my fingers to see both of their faces leaning through the hole toward me. Ian's was black, but part of Jared's was lit, his features hard as stone. I wanted to be still, invisible, but tremors I couldn't control were shaking violently down my spine. Jared leaned away and came back with the lamp in his hands. â€Å"Look at its eyes,† Ian muttered. â€Å"It's frightened.† I could see both their expressions now, but I looked only at Jared. His gaze was tightly focused on me, calculating. I guessed he was thinking through what Ian had said, looking for the trigger to my behavior. My body wouldn't stop shaking. She'll never give up, Melanie moaned. I know, I know, I moaned back. When had our distaste turned to fear? My stomach knotted and heaved. Why couldn't she just let me be dead like the rest of them had? When I was dead, would she hunt me still? â€Å"Who is the Seeker in black?† Jared suddenly barked at me. My lips trembled, but I didn't answer. Silence was safest. â€Å"I know you can talk,† Jared growled. â€Å"You talk to Jeb and Jamie. And now you're going to talk to me.† He climbed into the mouth of the cave, huffing with surprise at how tightly he had to fold himself to manage it. The low ceiling forced him to kneel, and that didn't make him happy. I could see he'd rather stand over me. I had nowhere to run. I was already wedged into the deepest corner. The cave barely had room for the two of us. I could feel his breath on my skin. â€Å"Tell me what you know,† he ordered.