Through The Static

June 15, 2008

Robot Love

Filed under: Culture,Randomness,robots,Science — disciplepete @ 1:53 pm

This one goes out to our resident robot. Yahoo:

MAASTRICHT, Netherlands (AFP) – Romantic human-robot relationships are no longer the stuff of science fiction — researchers expect them to become reality within four decades.

And they do not mean simply, mechanical sex.

“I am talking about loving relationships about 40 years from now,” David Levy, author of the book “Love + sex with robots”, told AFP at an international conference held last week at the University of Maastricht in the south-east of the country.

“… when there are robots that have also emotions, personality, consciousness. They can talk to you, they can make you laugh. They can … say they love you just like a human would say ‘I love you’, and say it as though they mean it …”

…The field of human-computer conversation is crucial to building robots with whom humans could fall in love, but is lagging behind other areas of development, said the author.

“I am sure it will (happen.) In 40 years … perhaps sooner. You will find robots, conversation partners, that will talk to you and you will get as much pleasure from it as talking to another human. I am sure of it.”

I think there really are people out there so desperate for love that they’d buy a robot to give it to them. This reminds me of Rocky IV, that movie made me think we’d all have our personal robots in the 90’s. And then in elementary school they told me we’d be hanging out on Mars by the year 2000. Yes, I’ve been very disappointed by life! Let’s see if this robot thing pans out.

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June 8, 2008

OMGZ! No More Hangovers. It’s SCIENCE. Buy NOW!

Filed under: Activism,Drinking,Education,Science,Technology — bobbleheadedbob @ 8:39 am

Consider this the sequel to my Hungover postage. Without the vomitous pumpkins and red cups, yups.

INFOMERCIAL VOICE: A new product’s on the market, and consider it the EmerGen-C to alcohol. FOR REALS. It’s called Sobrietal and it supposedly cuts down your blood alcohol level by 56% percent. Worried about that Breathalyzer (sp, too lazy) test? Or getting to class post-kegger? Sobrietal can help. And SO CAN YOU!

Here’s some of the breakdown from the product website:

Sobrietol® is the only product that actually reduces blood alcohol levels. It was developed at the University of Georgia under a grant, in part, from the National Institutes of Health.

Sobrietol® was found to decrease the level of blood alcohol by 56% in independent tests as measured by Oregon State Troopers. The next day will be like you didn’t drink at all!

Many products claim to eliminate hangovers. Only Sobrietol® is proven to remove alcohol from the body (and it’s patent precludes other companies from copying the technology). Replenishing vitamins and nutrients is great but ridding your body of excess alcohol is the key when one has over consumed.

The thing is, though, that you have to take it before drinking or during. So if it’s reducing your blood alcohol level WHILE drinking, the perpetual undergrad in me is wondering if it’ll kill my buzz. Cuz I likes to be free, u bizzy bees. Bzzzzzzzzzzz….

::falls off barstool::

Promises:

  • Scientifically Proven to Reduce Blood Alcohol
  • Removes Alcohol up to 3 Times Faster Than Normal
  • Prevents Hangovers

FAQ excerpts:

Q. What is Sobrietol®?

A: Sobrietol® is a dietary supplement developed through advanced biotechnology. It contains special ingredients (enzymes, cofactors, and substrates) which have been proven to remove alcohol from the body. Independent tests measuring blood alcohol levels by breathalyzers operated with Oregon State Police, resulted in an average of 56% lower blood alcohol.

Q: How does Sobrietol® differ from all the products claiming to cure hangovers?

A: Sobrietol® is unique. It is the only patented product (U.S. patent 5,759,539) proven to remove alcohol from the body. All other products attempt to compensate for the damage drinking alcohol has already done to the body by trying to replacing nutrients and vitamins, and fighting dehydration. Sobrietol® is the first, and only product, to actually remove the alcohol, the real source of the problem. Remember the old saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.

Q. Do you mean Sobrietol® will remove alcohol from my system if I drink and then decide I want to be sober?

A. Yes.

But why would someone want to do that? WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYY??? Still doesn’t answer my question about the buzzkill factor. THE MOST IMPORTANT ONE OF THEM ALL.

Okay, well, for $39.95 you can order a pack of 8 and get back to me.

June 5, 2008

Let’s Get Some DRANKs. No, For Reals. Buh…It Comes in Grape Flavor. Buh…

Filed under: Drinking,Food,Gas,Science,Technology,WTF — bobbleheadedbob @ 10:16 am

RED BULL HAS FOUND ITS ARCH NEMESIS. And it tastes better, too. Unless you’re not a fan of Dimetapp Elixer.

drank

Dubbed in the blogosphere as the “Lean In A Can” (someone’s been keeping an eye on Dave Chappelle), this anti-energy drink comes in one flavor only: grape. Because grape + drink = drank. The “purple stuff” of Sunny D commercials.

A product description is as follows: We Have Combined Rose Hips, Melatonin And Valerian Root With A Great Tasting Beverage To Create The Industry’s First “Relaxed Lifestyle Beverage” These Ingredients Have The Ability To Relax Your Body, Mind, And Soul, So When Life Comes At You Fast, Just Remember To “Slow Your Roll” With DRANK.

And so can YOU for $5 a can! (Ouch! Even Red Bull’s not that harsh on the wallet. And it comes in sugar-free, too.)

For more info, here’s the Village Voice article:

Adventures in Press Releases: The Anti-Energy Drink

There are plenty of strange products out there, and they all need a publicist. This morning, I got in to the office and was greeted by a message from a sleepy- sounding woman calling about Drank “the anti-energy drink we’re calling the extreme relaxation beverage.”

Isn’t that already covered by a little thing called wine? No? This was too good to pass up, so I gave a call back.

Turns out, this is a carbonated, grape-flavored beverage spiked with melatonin, valerian root and rose hips. Apparently it is “very, very popular in Houston,” and it’s sold throughout the south in liquor and convenience stores.

So, does it make you sleepy? I asked the publicist. Yes, and she hears it’s good with vodka. Oh, something that makes it more likely I’ll fall asleep while drinking? Excellent.

What, you might wonder, was the creator thinking? I’m glad you asked. He was thinking of the hip hop community. Direct from the press release:

From design to production, every aspect of this calming drink was inspired by today’s popular hip hop artists who embrace the much sought-after hip hop lifestyle that encourages people to capture a stress-free state of mind.The drink’s tagline is “slow your roll.” So if that’s something you need to do, keep your eye out. Drank will be hitting stores in New York soon.

This is like death in a can for the grad student. DEATH. And it comes in purple.

BobbLeBot would recommend it, however, for the jet-lagged, or to use as a mixer for those angry or emotionally-charged drunks. THEY KNOW WHO THEY ARE!!!

June 3, 2008

Are Cell Phones Dangerous?

Filed under: Culture,Grassholes,Health,Science,Technology,Wake Up Call — disciplepete @ 10:36 am

There’s some evidence that a cell phone held to your head might increase your risk of getting a brain tumor. It’s not conclusive, but the evidence they do have is enough to make me take the possibility seriously. Personally, I’m not the type of guy who yaps on the phone for hours, but I know a lot of people out there do talk on their cell phones a lot, so this is important if you are a person who talks on your cell a lot. NYT:

Last week, three prominent neurosurgeons told the CNN interviewer Larry King that they did not hold cellphones next to their ears. “I think the safe practice,” said Dr. Keith Black, a surgeon at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, “is to use an earpiece so you keep the microwave antenna away from your brain.”…

the doctors’ remarks have helped reignite a long-simmering debate about cellphones and cancer.

That supposed link has been largely dismissed by many experts, including the American Cancer Society…

According to the Food and Drug Administration, three large epidemiology studies since 2000 have shown no harmful effects…

No harmful side effects, say these folks…so what do we have to be concerned about?

The F.D.A. notes, however, that the average period of phone use in the studies it cites was about three years, so the research doesn’t answer questions about long-term exposures. Critics say many studies are flawed for that reason, and also because they do not distinguish between casual and heavy use.

But researchers who have raised concerns say that just because science can’t explain the mechanism doesn’t mean one doesn’t exist. Concerns have focused on the heat generated by cellphones and the fact that the radio frequencies are absorbed mostly by the head and neck. In recent studies that suggest a risk, the tumors tend to occur on the same side of the head where the patient typically holds the phone.

The most important of these studies is called Interphone, a vast research effort in 13 countries, including Canada, Israel and several in Europe.

Some of the research suggests a link between cellphone use and three types of tumors: glioma; cancer of the parotid, a salivary gland near the ear; and acoustic neuroma, a tumor that essentially occurs where the ear meets the brain. All these cancers are rare, so even if cellphone use does increase risk, the risk is still very low.

Last year, The American Journal of Epidemiology published data from Israel finding a 58 percent higher risk of parotid gland tumors among heavy cellphone users. Also last year, a Swedish analysis of 16 studies in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine showed a doubling of risk for acoustic neuroma and glioma after 10 years of heavy cellphone use.

Kids are a particular concern:

“More and more kids are using cellphones,” said Dr. Paul J. Rosch, clinical professor of medicine and psychiatry at New York Medical College. “They may be much more affected. Their brains are growing rapidly, and their skulls are thinner.”

So what should you do if you are concerned about this issue?

For people who are concerned about any possible risk, a simple solution is to use a headset. Of course, that option isn’t always convenient, and some critics have raised worries about wireless devices like the Bluetooth that essentially place a transmitter in the ear…

…”We cannot say with any certainty that cellphones are either safe or not safe,” Dr. Black said on CNN. “My concern is that with the widespread use of cellphones, the worst scenario would be that we get the definitive study 10 years from now, and we find out there is a correlation.”

May 24, 2008

Hangovers: When Ur Body Says, “AlcohoL, I am, Like, sooooo OVER You!”

Filed under: Drinking,Food,Health,Randomness,Research,Science,Uncategorized,Wake Up Call — bobbleheadedbob @ 7:09 am

Alcohol does not do your body good. You know this, I know this, we know this. Unless your liver is 19 years old again, chances are that your body and mood will not be all that kickin the day after. Alcohol does not care that you have the body of an Olympic champion (Oh, Bay-JING!) or the mind of Gaius Baltar.

Alcohol will treat you like it does anybody else — seduce you with that woozy, boozy, I-Think-I’m-in-Love-With-Captain-Morgan feeling, build you up, make you feel like you’re somebody special.  That is, until you’ve hit the bottle one too many times and find your head in the toilet by the end of the night.

That’s the good captain’s way of telling you that he needs space. From YOU.

And after that woozy, boozy feeling abandons you, you’re either left with a light case of dehydration and ew-my-stomach-feels-grody or YOU JUST WANNA FRAKKING DIE, DIE, DIE! Alcohol — you are the beverage world’s biggest asshole. There, I’ve said it, and I’ll say it again — but I won’t because I like to avoid redundancy whenever I can.

You show up in that shiny, shiny bottle, over shiny, shiny ice, in a shiny, shiny red cup — beautiful and swimming with the promise of Good Times. And Good Times are had — I’ll give you that much.

But on top of the headaches, the dehydration, the sensitivity to light, the upset stomach, the unsociable feelings, the befriendment of the nearest toilet — on top of all that, you just leave a real bad taste in my mouth. And it will be a good long while before I shall desire to kiss you again.

JERK FACE.

Fellow Gauchos! Josie Cuervo does not love you! He only loves himself!

Is it better to have boozed and losed than to have never boozed at all?

Not a huge fan of the snarky, bourgeois, elitist publication that is known as The New Yorker, but I shall be posting up excerpts for those interested in the science and culture of the hangover. I shall try to avoid posting the more ethnographical and anthropological snippets, but — SIGH — it is, after all, The New Yorker:

A Few Too Many

Is there any hope for the hung over?

A hangover peaks when alcohol that has been poured into the body is finally eliminated from it—that is, when the blood-alcohol level returns to zero. The toxin is now gone, but the damage it has done is not.

Hm… sound familiar??? Oh, Jim Beam, an asshole is an asshole is an asshole.

By fairly common consent, a hangover will involve some combination of headache, upset stomach, thirst, food aversion, nausea, diarrhea, tremulousness, fatigue, and a general feeling of wretchedness. Scientists haven’t yet found all the reasons for this network of woes, but they have proposed various causes. One is withdrawal, which would bring on the tremors and also sweating. A second factor may be dehydration. Alcohol interferes with the secretion of the hormone that inhibits urination. Hence the heavy traffic to the rest rooms at bars and parties.

This is why we don’t break the seal! Gauchos, you know what it is that I am talking about!

The resulting dehydration seems to trigger the thirst and lethargy. While that is going on, the alcohol may also be inducing hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), which converts into light-headedness and muscle weakness, the feeling that one’s bones have turned to jello. Meanwhile, the body, to break down the alcohol, is releasing chemicals that may be more toxic than alcohol itself; these would result in nausea and other symptoms. Finally, the alcohol has produced inflammation, which in turn causes the white blood cells to flood the bloodstream with molecules called cytokines. Apparently, cytokines are the source of the aches and pains and lethargy that, when our bodies are attacked by a flu virus—and likewise, perhaps, by alcohol—encourage us to stay in bed rather than go to work, thereby freeing up the body’s energy for use by the white cells in combatting the invader. In a series of experiments, mice that were given a cytokine inducer underwent dramatic changes. Adult males wouldn’t socialize with young males new to their cage. Mothers displayed “impaired nest-building.” Many people will know how these mice felt.

Yeah, life sucks when you’re hungover.

But hangover symptoms are not just physical; they are cognitive as well. People with hangovers show delayed reaction times and difficulties with attention, concentration, and visual-spatial perception.

Not a mind-blowing revelation, but all the more reason NOT to drink right before finals. It’s all about the timing, peoples! I would also avoid in partaking in activities such as sudoku, puzzles, and Jenga during this period. The A-game just won’t be there, mon amis. Nup.

Hangovers also have an emotional component.

Like ANGER?

Kingsley Amis, who was, in his own words, one of the foremost drunks of his time, and who wrote three books on drinking, described this phenomenon as “the metaphysical hangover”: “When that ineffable compound of depression, sadness (these two are not the same), anxiety, self-hatred, sense of failure and fear for the future begins to steal over you, start telling yourself that what you have is a hangover. . . . You have not suffered a minor brain lesion, you are not all that bad at your job, your family and friends are not leagued in a conspiracy of barely maintained silence about what a shit you are, you have not come at last to see life as it really is.”

Oh, so not like anger. I don’t get the self-hatred part, since I’m more mad at ze bottle than at myself. Like, “How could you DO this to me, when all I’ve ever done was RUV you?!”

The severity of a hangover depends, of course, on how much you drank the night before, but that is not the only determinant. What, besides alcohol, did you consume at that party? If you took other drugs as well, your hangover may be worse. And what kind of alcohol did you drink? In general, darker drinks, such as red wine and whiskey, have higher levels of congeners—impurities produced by the fermentation process, or added to enhance flavor—than do light-colored drinks such as white wine, gin, and vodka. The greater the congener content, the uglier the morning. Then there are your own characteristics—for example, your drinking pattern. Unjustly, habitually heavy drinkers seem to have milder hangovers. Your sex is also important. A woman who matches drinks with a man is going to get drunk faster than he, partly because she has less body water than he does, and less of the enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase, which breaks down alcohol.

Hmmm… interesting…

::takes notes::

So alcoholics have milder hangovers… hmmm… yes… that’s one way to go about fixing that… And as for red, red wiiiiiiine, I won’t have it stay close to meeeee…

Apparently, your genes also have a vote, as does your gene pool. Almost forty per cent of East Asians have a variant, less efficient form of aldehyde dehydrogenase, another enzyme necessary for alcohol processing. Therefore, they start showing signs of trouble after just a few sips—they flush dramatically—and they get drunk fast. This is an inconvenience for some Japanese and Korean businessmen. They feel that they should drink with their Western colleagues. Then they crash to the floor and have to make awkward phone calls in the morning.

Ah ha haaah. hah. Huh. So FUNNY you are, New Yorker. (Yoda voice: “And outdated your jokery it is.”)

But for reals, let’s take a minute here. Aside from the science of it all, “they feel that they should drink with their Western colleagues.” Is this fact or projection of a 1980s White observation? Awkward phone calls to whom? Trying to impress whom?

Oh, look at the funny East Asian businessman who’s trying so, so hard to impress the big, strong, White American Greek-lettered investor. Riiiiiiiiight.

Like prior to Western investment, alcohol or drinking cultures didn’t exist in Japan or Korea.

Oh, White people. Sometimes your egos ASTOUND me!

Such are the projections of self absorption and American exceptionalism.

Okay, back to CURES for the aftermath of the bottle, which, ironically, is MORE ALCOHOL…

As for hangover remedies, they are legion. There are certain unifying themes, however. When you ask people, worldwide, how to deal with a hangover, their first answer is usually the hair of the dog…an English manual, Andrew Irving’s “How to Cure a Hangover” (2004), devotes almost a hundred pages to hair-of-the-dog recipes, including the Suffering Bastard (gin, brandy, lime juice, bitters, and ginger ale); the Corpse Reviver (Pernod, champagne, and lemon juice); and the Thomas Abercrombie (two Alka-Seltzers dropped into a double shot of tequila)Many people, however, simply drink some more of what they had the night before. My Ukrainian informant described his morning-after protocol for a vodka hangover as follows: “two shots of vodka, then a cigarette, then another shot of vodka.” A Japanese source suggested wearing a sake-soaked surgical mask.

…Jones’s theory is that the liver, in processing alcohol, first addresses itself to ethanol, which is the alcohol proper, and then moves on to methanol, a secondary ingredient of many wines and spirits. Because methanol breaks down into formic acid, which is highly toxic, it is during this second stage that the hangover is most crushing. If at that point you pour in more alcohol, the body will switch back to ethanol processing. This will not eliminate the hangover—the methanol (indeed, more of it now) is still waiting for you round the bend—but it delays the worst symptoms.

young

hmmm… they start em young these days…

HAh! So MORE alcohol doesn’t cure hangovers! I knew it, Josie Cuervo — ur a JERKface through and through!

As for the non-alcoholic means of combatting hangover, these fall into three categories: before or while drinking, before bed, and the next morning. Many people advise you to eat a heavy meal, with lots of protein and fats, before or while drinking. If you can’t do that, at least drink a glass of milk. In Africa, the same purpose is served by eating peanut butter. The other most frequent before-and-during recommendation is water, lots of it.

A recently favored antidote, both in Asia and in the West, is sports drinks, taken either the morning after or, more commonly, at the party itself. A fast-moving bar drink these days is Red Bull, an energy drink, mixed with vodka or with the herbal liqueur Jägermeister. (The latter cocktail is a Jag-bomb.) Some people say that the Red Bull holds the hangover at bay, but apparently its primary effect is to blunt the depressive force of alcohol—no surprise, since an eight-ounce serving of Red Bull contains more caffeine than two cans of Coke. According to fans, you can rock all night.

I dunno if I’d consider Red Bull a sports drink, but it does keep the passing-out phase at bay. Wouldn’t Gatorade be more appropriate than Red Bull with all them electrolytes? Mmmm, watery lemon-limeness.

::salty sweetened drool::

Now to the sorrows of the morning. The list-topping recommendation, apart from another go at the water cure, is the greasy-meal cure. (An American philosophy professor: “Have breakfast at Denny’s.” An English teen-ager: “Eat two McDonald’s hamburgers. They have a secret ingredient for hangovers.”) Spicy foods, especially Mexican, are popular, along with eggs, as in the Denny’s breakfast. Another egg-based cure is the prairie oyster, which involves vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, and a raw egg yolk to be consumed whole. Sugar, some say, should be reapplied…

denny's bucket

Many of the cures probably work, she said, on the same distraction principle as the hair of the dog: “Take the spicy foods, for example. They divert the body’s attention away from coping with the alcohol to coping with the spices, which are also a toxin. So you have new problems—with your stomach, with your esophagus, with your respiration—rather than the problem with the headache, or that you are going to the washroom every five minutes.” The high-fat and high-protein meals operate in the same way, she said. The body turns to the food and forgets about the alcohol for the time being, thus delaying the hangover and possibly alleviating it. As for the differences among the many food recommendations, Neuman said that any country’s hangover cure, like the rest of its cultural practices, is an adaptation to the environment. Chilies are readily available in Mexico, peanut butter in Africa. People use what they have.

Ahhhhhhhhhh… hmmm…

ANYWAY, so there’s no REAL cure for the hangover, I suppose. Just techniques of delayal and distraction. Que American!

The most widely used over-the-counter remedy is no doubt aspirin. Advil, or ibuprofen, and Alka-Seltzer—there is a special formula for hangovers, Alka-Seltzer Wake-Up Call—are probably close runners-up. (Tylenol, or acetaminophen, should not be used, because alcohol increases its toxicity to the liver.) Also commonly recommended are Vitamin C and B-complex vitamins. But those are almost home remedies. In recent years, pharmaceutical companies have come up with more specialized formulas: Chaser, NoHang, BoozEase, PartySmart, Sob’r-K HangoverStopper, Hangover Prevention Formula, and so on. In some of these, such as Sob’r-K and Chaser, the primary ingredient is carbon, which, according to the manufacturers, soaks up toxins. Others are herbal compounds, featuring such ingredients as ginseng, milk thistle, borage, and extracts of prickly pear, artichoke, and guava leaf. These and other O.T.C. remedies aim to boost biochemicals that help the body deal with toxins. A few remedies have scientific backing. Manuela Neuman, in lab tests, found that milk-thistle extract, which is an ingredient in NoHang and Hangover Helper, does protect cells from damage by alcohol. A research team headed by Jeffrey Wiese, of Tulane University, tested prickly-pear extract, the key ingredient in Hangover Prevention Formula, on human subjects and found significant improvement with the nausea, dry mouth, and food aversion but not with other, more common symptoms, such as headache.

Well, shucks, that’s what all those painkillers are for!

BobbleBot’s Remedies/Distractions?

* A big bowl o combination pho. Extra limes. (buh… for vitamin C… buh…)

* Two packets of Emergen-C (the kind you get at Trader Joe’s or wherever) into a full liter of water, taken with 2 Vitamin B tablets taken before bed. (this actually softens the blow by a LOT in the morning.)

* Sitting in the shower.  For how long?  Buh… for as long as it takes.

* Staying away from peoples. Beds, ze internets, and DVDs will do just fine. Buh…

* Staying away from alcohol. FOREVER. (And by forever I mean at least a few solid weeks.)

Bobblebot’s Lessons Learned:

* Do not mix alcohol with medication, even if it is “homeopathic” medication. You may find yourself as that girl/boy/boi-without-shame, and not the life of the par-tay. Not that the bobblebot is speaking from personal experience.

* Do not drink alone. That is just sad, sad, SAD.

finding drunk White people on google images is way, wayyyy too easy.

* Do not keep a Cosco-sized bottle of Smirnoff next to your desk. (Oh yes, I have borne witness.)

* Stop after you feel the first blush of love booziness. Greed is a SIN for a REASON — a sin you shall be living out in the morning if you choose to indulge.

* Please refrain from drunk dialing — or worse, drunk texting. Chances are you’ll misspell so many acronyms and bungle up so many emoticons that the recipient will not know that you so desire a night of debauchery, or that you want her to carry your baby, or that you were the one who accidentally-on-purpose hit his dog with your car.

DRINKETH of ME!!!

* Drink when YOU’RE in a good mood. Nobody likes the Angry Drunk, the Sad Drunk, or the Cynical Drunk.

sad drunk

* Drink WITH people who are in a good mood. Nobody likes to partay with the Suicidal Drunk, the Violent Drunk, or the Pretentious Drunk.

* Basically, drink and be merry!

* Just be wary of making out with ze bottle more than what is necessary. An asshole is an asshole!

May 12, 2008

“Science Versus Religion”: What Doth This All MEME?!!

It annoys me when the very idea of spirituality is equated with stuperstition in favor of science’s empirical evidence. This is not to say that we should be ruled solely by myth, legend, or religion — or that science and spirituality cannot be reconciled. Whether or not Religion or Spirituality is accepted as Truth or Reality, it is the human imagination and intellect that created and continues to create and refine these rituals, these codes of human ethics, and I do believe there’s got to be something more than human irrationality that allows for these patterns, practices, and belief systems to persist.

stained glass

But then again, this is all coming from a gal who has a weak spot for, oh, I don’t know, Neon Genesis Evangelion, LOST, Gargoyles (greatest American animated series of my generation), Ayashi no Ceres, Calculating God, Octavia E. Butler stuff, and Death Note. And did I mention that I’ve been particularly enamored with Battlestar Galactica for the past 52 hours? In the midst of FINALS???

gargoyes

Sure, I had a crush on Goliath, like 92% of the audience, but I always had a soft spot for Lexington!  BTW, am I the only one who found Xanatos hot?  ::fans self to cool down circuits::

I am not going to romanticize the unexplained phenomenon ingrained within the very fibers of science or bash the “pseudo-scientific” qualities of established fields such as psychoanalysis. Science is just as rationally irrational and driven by speculation and human imagination as spirituality and the ideological values we are willing to die for. Whether it is the as hokey as The Secret or as moving as those hidden meanings in formation of water crystals, it is important to have seemingly contradictory fields engage in a process of dialectics — having their ideas bounce off one another until alternatives are found and new contradictions are produced. ANYWAY, I’ll get on with the uber cool article I picked up on Truthdig.com.

From Truthdig.com

Render Unto Darwin That Which Is Darwin’s

The German chemist August Kekulé fell asleep in his study after a fruitless struggle to identify the chemical structure of benzene. He dreamed of a snake eating its own tail and awoke instantly. The dream gave him, through the ancient language of symbolism, the circular structure of the benzene ring that had eluded his conscious mind. The dream may have had its basis in Kekulé’s experiments, but it was the nonrational that brought him his discovery…

Science is often as inexact and intuitive as theology, philosophy and every other human endeavor. A mirror demonstrates the randomness of nature. A mirror reflects about 95 percent of light hitting it. The other 5 percent passes through the mirror. Photons, which are invisible, are either reflected or pass through the mirror’s surface. But there is no way of knowing which photons will be reflected and which will be absorbed. Electrons are also subject to these quantum effects. This led Werner Heisenberg to formulate his “uncertainty principle.” This principle states that we cannot know everything about a particle. If we can determine a particle’s position we cannot determine its momentum. We can measure momentum, but in this measurement we lose the particle’s exact position. We can know a particle’s momentum or its position. We cannot know both with definitive accuracy.

Science is not always directly empirical. Science is not governed by absolute, immutable laws. Science, and especially quantum mechanics, far from telling us we can know everything, tells us there will always be things we cannot know. No one ultimately understands. Science affirms the complexity and mystery of the universe. Science, like the religious impulse, opens us up to a world where we face mystery. There are forces in the universe that will always lie beyond the capacity of the human mind.

Another bone of contention: why is it that when we do not know the answer, cannot find the answer, that we go off on a holy grail search for an empirical explanation? AGAIN, I am not saying that for every answer we cannot find, we should ascribe to the holy hands of God(s). I mean, that would be an intellectual cop-out as well. But would it be so horrible to find a rationale, a mode of logic, that lies outside the linearity of empiricism?

water crystals

Dr. Masaru Emoto, a Japanese quantum physicist, performed a series of experiments on water crystals and revealed the fact that water is receptive to external messages. The formation of water crystals is positively correlated to exposure of the water to messages from human language, music, and printed characters.

The New Atheist writers from Richard Dawkins to E.O. Wilson to Sam Harris have become the high priests not of science but the cult of science. Dawkins, Daniel Dennett and Susan Blackmore, for example, call religious beliefs “memes.” Memes are defined as cultural artifacts—prototypical ideas—that invade and restructure minds in order to reproduce themselves. A meme replicates in human minds, they argue, the way genes replicate in human bodies. Memes include a word, belief, thought, religious ritual, dance, poem or any of the myriad of behaviors that are copied and reproduced in human societies. Although memes, unlike genes, are not identifiable physical structures, Dawkins uses the image of a virus to describe them. Religion, for Dawkins, is equated with a disease, and the religiously inclined are disease carriers.

Again, religion, like homosexuality, femininity, and trans fats are pathologized in the Name of Science. No, I belong to no church and believe that religious doctrine is about as problematic as the protective ideologies that lie behind the idea of the nation state — but it’s interesting when it is framed as a disease. A disease erodes health, which therefore implies that without this “disease” human society would be healthy. Without religion, human society would be that much stronger. Just like in the past when science classified homosexuality as a mental illness, or that female brains were that much smaller and limited in intellectual capacity in comparison to male brains (assuming a binary division of gender.)

And yet I don’t want to totally reject the idea of memes. This IDEA (ie, speculation, ie product of irrational logic) holds value. If inherent human behaviors and ideology are things encoded within our very genes, then there must be something in its persistence and survival that contributes to a much larger pattern and design that may lie beyond the capacity of strictly empirical understanding.

tap that WATER

yeeeeah, TAP that water! Tap it, now!

Random question: who OWNS Science, anyway? Who does ScienCe BELONG to? (I ask this question a lot in relation to Culture with a capital C.)

The attempt to equate patterns of human society with the behavior of genes, while it sounds plausible, and may even be instructive in some settings, is part of this cult of science. The genetic coding that permits the transfer of DNA-encoded units of information is fairly precise. But this model fails to work for the transfer of cultural, social, ethical and political behavior. Patterns of morality are easily reversed or erased, especially in ages of revolutionary fervor, war, anarchy, fear, social decline and despotism. Those who are schooled in identical religious texts, even within the same communities, have different views of morality and ethics. It is possible to transfer literal meaning. It is possible to transfer genetic information. It is possible to pass on heritable characteristics mediated by hard-and-fast rules of chemistry and physics. These rules, however, have no counterpart in the dissemination of ideas. Ideas do not replicate like genes. Ideas are snuffed out or forgotten, often for centuries. Ideas that prevail are often not the best ideas but more often ideas backed by power. The rise of Christianity owed more to the brutality of Constantine and the Holy Roman Empire than it did its particular theology. Those who advocate the theory of memes ignore the role of power, repression, persecution and force in human history, as well as the inherent chaos and irrationality of human thought. Human thought cannot be treated like an object in a laboratory. There is no scientific mechanism that explains cultural evolution.

goliath vs

Those who endorse the meme theory speak of memetic engineering. This memetic engineering would involve the conscious manipulation of intellectual evolution by disseminating good memes and curtailing bad ones. The question of who decides which memes are good and which bad is not raised.

CYLON!

Hmmm… looks like “SCIENCE” can be as scary as that oft-talked-about “Hand of GOD.” Still, I am wary of the bashing of an idea because there are holes that which cannot be explained…YET. This is where I disagree with the writer — “Well, you can’t explain THIS, therefore this idea of MEMES is BULLSH*T.” Of course, as delicious as the prospect of mimetic engineering and, from the fragments of our human flaws, the behavioral construction of Cylons sounds, perhaps it would be wise to not ignore these quibbles.

Einstein’s quest for a unified field theory explaining subatomic structure or the Big Bang no more undermined religious contemplation than evolutionary biology. The questions of science are not the questions of religion. Science does not attempt to address, nor is it capable of addressing, the final mystery of existence, our moments of transcendence, the moral life, love, our search for meaning and our mortality. Science, limited to what can be proved and disproved, is a morally neutral discipline. It serves human needs and human ambitions. There are times when it protects and advances life. There are times when it empowers ambitions that are immoral and deadly. Science, like all human endeavors, comes with good and bad, possibilities of hope and possibilities of destruction.

Speak on it, Mister! Science, like spirituality, is a tool and can be utilized in an endless variety of ways. Science has no endeavor, no final aim or goal. But there is a design to it. A pattern that can sometimes be supported by mathematics — but not always. In any case, it is the ulterior motives of those who use science or spirituality that determine its direction and its capacity for destruction/reconstruction. If there is anything that can be described as a potential pathogen, it would probably be human ideology. Hm… let me refine that — ideology that divides the world into 2 categories: Inferior and Superior.

death note ryuk

People interested in the greed behind holding the keys to deciding what is Inferior and Superior, the barometer of human life value, should definitely check out Death Note. (De-su Noo-to.) Are you more of an L or a Yagami Light? I’m quite partial to both.

When Darwin published “On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life” in 1859, he named natural selection as the mechanism that drives and defines life. Evolutionary science, however, swiftly became for many a surrogate religion. It was used to promote racism and pseudo-science, such as eugenics, a theory of biological determinism invented by Francis Galton, Darwin’s cousin. It was turned like a club on religion and used to justify exploitation and neglect of the poor and disadvantaged.

There are unfortunate implications in Darwin’s theory of evolution. Darwin believes in the possibility of compassion and benevolence. He argues that these adaptations give one species advantage over another. He uses compassion to insist that sooner or later the “superior” races—those with compassion—will exterminate the “more savage” races. Compassion, he implies, does not exist, or certainly not in the same abundance, in others as it does in us. But Darwin left the championing of these implications to others such as Herbert Spencer, a utopian and a doctrinaire Malthusian. It was Spencer, not Darwin, who argued that step by step we were progressing as a species and would end with the perfect human being. And it was Spencer who coined the phrase “survival of the fittest.”

neon genesis evangelion

Darwin would sooooooo be a Yagami Rai-tto. (Yagami Light.)

Wilson and Dawkins build their vision of human perfectibility out of the legitimate theory that human beings are shaped by the laws of heredity and natural selection. They depart from this position when they assert that we can leave that determinism behind. There is nothing in science that implies that our genetic makeup allows us to perfect ourselves. Those who, in the name of science, claim that we can overcome our imperfect human nature make a leap of faith. In this leap they leave the realm of science. They operate on a belief system that functions like religion. It gives meaning. It gives purpose and hope. But it is a myth. It is not true. And there is nothing, when you cut through their scientific jargon, which supports their absurd proposition.

dharma initiative

There is value in this assessment. Science and religion aren’t exactly incompatible or mutually exclusive. Both can operate on disturbingly similar wavelengths when it comes to pushing towards an idea of an Ultimate Truth. The idea that there is One Truth, like there is only One God, or One Religion, can be as dangerous as those who work to promote this.

The attempt to impose the methodology of science onto collective and personal relationships also has grave consequences. If a scientific hypothesis does not work it is discarded. Pluralism has no place in science. Neither do competing truths. Science, when set up as a model for our moral and social existence, implicitly banishes compromise and tolerance. Scientific ideas, because they can be demonstrated or disproved, are embraced or rejected on quantifiable evidence. But human relationships and social organizations interact and function effectively when they are not rigid, accept morally ambiguity and take into account the irrational. Politics, for example, is about channeling and managing human drives and desires. It is only fitfully in contact with reason. This profound understanding of the irrational element in politics led Sigmund Freud to write his masterpiece “Civilization and Its Discontents.” The secular fundamentalists, in a gross misuse of Darwin and of science, turn biological evolution into a methodology to champion moral progress for the human race. They seek to give to their arguments the patina of unassailable truth. But what they sell are myths, bizarre utopian visions of a new heaven and a new earth dressed up in the language of scientific rationalism.

ayashi no ceres

Oh, Chris Hedges — you ALMOST had it — ALMOST! For me, at least. Sometimes when trying to counter the argument of one party, we BECOME the other party, or use the very methods we argue against. This is Hedges’ One Truth. He’s not anti-religion and is critical of science that uses the same ideological methods to assail religion — but in the end, Hedges also uses the very same methods to assail some of the nefarious aspects of Science with a capital “S”.

stained glass

Picking sides won’t help propel us beyond the binary or trying to understand new truths and creative practices. When it comes to fields of science and spirituality, sometimes it’s most helpful to follow what’s helped me digest Freud in my gender politics class: “You’ve got to assume that he’s always right and that he’s always wrong.” Sometimes getting stuck on just one inconsistency or contradiction can paralyze us from finding new alternatives, visions, and solutions.

Bottom line: instead of bashing contradictions, maybe we should try diving into them to see what we can come up with.

Bottom line #2: I dunno about y’all but I am craving the first season of Gargoyles. I still get chills every time I hear the opening theme of Gargoyles: <– please click to shiver along with me!

“One thousand years ago, Superstition and the Sword ruled.

It was a time of Darkness, it was a world of Fear.

It was the age of Gargoyles.

Stone by day, warriors by night,

we were Betrayed by the humans we had sworn to protect,

frozen in stone by a magic spell for a thousand years…

Now, here, in Manhattan,

the spell is broken, AND WE LIVE AGAIN!

::THEMATIC INTERLUDE, TRAMP, TRAMP, TRAMP::

We are defenders of the night!

We. Are. GARGOYLES!”

goliath and desdemona

Okay, as much as I was an Elisa Maza/Goliath fan (interracial coupling, anyone?) I still felt quite torn about and secretly rooted for the connection between Desdemona and Goliath. Sometimes politics trumps the irrational mind of RUV, but when one does embrace the heart of the illogicaL (Goliath + Maza = 4EVA!), sometimes one will be pleasantly surprised by the productive forces that proliferate.

Do not be prisoner of history, my friends! We all have the capacity to endlessly create ourselves!!!

::circuitry experiencing sensory overload::

April 30, 2008

The End of Everything

Filed under: Science — disciplepete @ 11:20 am

This article talks about the end of human life, the end of our planet, the sun, the Milky Way, stars, and the universe. It’s based on the projections of scientists. Some of the projections seem more legit than others; the argument about human life ending in 10,000 years isn’t well supported. Also, it seems kinda crazy to place too much faith in predictions of what’s gonna happen in 10 to the 100th power years. But I can roll with some of this, and it’s interesting stuff to consider. Here’s some highlights…from Universe Today:

End of Life – 500 million years – 5 billion years
We thank the Sun for giving us energy. Without it, there’d be no life on Earth. It’s ironic, then, that the Sun will eventually kill all life on Earth.

That’s because the Sun is slowly heating up…In as soon as 500 million years, temperatures on Earth will rise to the point that most of the world will be a desert. The largest creatures won’t be able to survive anywhere but the relatively cooler poles…

…Finally, it’ll be so hot on the surface of the Earth that the oceans will boil away. There’ll be no place to hide from the terrible temperatures. Only the organisms that live deep underground will survive, as they have already for billions of years…

End of the Earth – 7.5 billion years
In approximately 5 billion years from now, the Sun will begin the final stage of its life, consuming the last of its hydrogen fuel supply. At that point, gravity will force the Sun to collapse, and only a small amount of hydrogen will remain in a shell wrapped around the star’s core. It will then expand into a red giant star, consuming each of the inner planets: first Mercury, then Venus, and finally encompassing even the orbit of Earth…

…Whatever the outcome, the Earth will be scorched to a cinder, and effectively destroyed, 5 billion years from now.

You get the picture…check  out the article, it keeps going all the way to describing the “end of everything.” It’s ASTRONUTS!!

April 28, 2008

Mebbe Miss Cleo Wasn’t So Full o Cowpies…MEBBE

Filed under: Miss Cleo,Musings,Randomness,Research,Science,Technology,Uncategorized,World News — bobbleheadedbob @ 9:47 am

Not saying we should use to play the stock market or influence or decisions at the polls, but I found this interesting indeed!

Newsmonster:

Britain’s Biggest Banks Use Astrology to Play the Markets

Christeen is one of a growing, albeit secretive, network of astrologers who work for seemingly conservative British institutions such as high street banks, City investment funds and retailers. Desperate to avoid financial meltdown in the ongoing ‘credit crunch’ and to spot fashions and consumer trends before they start, these institutions have turned to the stars to divine the future.

“Most academics distrust astrology and regard it as mumbo-jumbo,” she says. “The thing is, it works. Nobody’s sure how it works but it does. Most of my clients are businesspeople who are very canny. If it didn’t work for them, then why would they use it?”

One of Christeen’s clients is Judith Levy, chief executive of the High and Mighty retail chain.

“I’m fairly pragmatic,” says Judith. “I will only spend money on an astrologer if the decision I have to take is very important – the kind of decision which will cost me a lot of money if I get it wrong.

“When we launched our Kayak brand a few years ago we used astrology to decide the launch date. Since then, it has gone from strength to strength. It’s one of our best selling brands.”

Mmm hmmm… ::looks up:: Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?  All I said was “Mmm HMMM…”

“It’s just not true,” [ Professor Chris French, a parapsychologist at Goldsmiths, University of London] says. “Hundreds of studies disprove astrology. There are all kinds of reasons why people might want to believe in these things for solid psychological reasons but that does not make astrology true.”

Dr Percy Seymour, an astrophysicist recently retired from Plymouth University, disagrees. He’s spent decades studying astrology and has come up with a theory as to how it might actually work. Crucially, his ideas do not violate any of the laws of physics although they may over-tax some people’s credulity.

Dr Seymour believes that low frequency magnetic fields emanating from the sun interact with those of the Earth, which in turn affects the functioning of the human brain.

“The magnetic field of the sun can be affected by the movement and position of the planets,” he says. “Having said all that, I don’t believe that the cosmos controls us but it can influence us.”

It’s a neat theory but does it stand up to scrutiny?

Jim Porter, chief technical analyst for one of the UK’s largest banks, believes it does. He uses heliocentric magi astrology to predict the direction of the international financial markets. Millions of pounds worth of commodities, shares and currencies are traded on his command. His decisions may affect the value of your pension, your home, and perhaps decide whether or not you have a job tomorrow.

When I spoke to him late last year, he told me that the position of the planets indicated a 3.2 percent fall in the American markets. The following week they duly fell 3.5 percent.

“My attitude is that if you can test it, and it works, then it’s just another tool that you can use to predict the direction of the markets,” he says.

“I have tested it and astrology works. Used with other techniques it can give you confidence, and the more confidence you have, the bigger the risks you can take.”

Jim has recently compiled a report for a major central bank charting the likely economic trends of the coming few years. According to Jim’s forecasts, the economy and the financial and housing markets all face a rocky road and have a dismal short-term future.

Que interesante…

“At the moment,” he says. “Mars in Cancer is in opposition to Pluto in Capricorn. This indicates a polarisation of opposing sentiments – turmoil, in other words. This cycle ends around 6th April.”

“Sentiment will then recover and will turn down in early August. That phase will last for 4-5 weeks. There will be another shake in October.

“In 2012 we’ll be entering the precession of the equinoxes, which is the most important thing that’s happened in the last 26,000 years. That suggests that something mega is going to happen. There will be a huge change in the world’s psychology caused by a huge natural disaster or a massive change in spiritual beliefs.

“We have an interesting four years ahead of us.”

AstroNUTS or not, THIS is something I can, indeed, agree upon.

April 25, 2008

Lying? Your face will give you away: study

Filed under: Research,Science — Tranimal @ 10:15 am

Reuters Life!:

Liars might think they are good at covering up their deceit but a new Canadian study shows there’s one thing they can’t control that will give them away — flashes of emotion in their faces.

Researchers at Dalhousie University’s Forensic Psychology Lab in Halifax conducted the first detailed study on the secrets revealed when people put on a false face or inhibit various emotions, and found their faces told the truth.

But instead of clues like shifty eyes or sweaty brows, their expression would crack briefly, allowing displays of true emotions such as happiness, sadness, disgust and fear to come through.

I just put on the stone-face at all times to conceal all types of emotion. Works great. This is an interesting article… I’m going to be REAL observant now Peter when we talk about your country singing career and how excited you said you were… Lies!

April 23, 2008

Mother’s diet can help determine sex of child: study

Filed under: Gender,Science — disciplepete @ 6:18 am

Yahoo:

PARIS (AFP) – Oysters may excite the libido, but there is nothing like a hearty breakfast laced with sugar to boost a woman’s chances of conceiving a son, according to a study released Wednesday.

Likewise, a low-energy diet that skimps on calories, minerals and nutrients is more likely to yield a female of the human species, says the study, published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, Britain’s de facto academy of sciences…

…While the mechanism is not yet understood, it is known from in vitro fertilisation research that higher levels of glucose, or sugar, encourage the growth and development of male embryos while inhibiting female embryos. (article)

Hmm. If true, it’s interesting that it works like that. If only my parents had known about this…they already had a son and were hoping I was going to be a girl! So they picked out a girl’s name for me, bought all these girl baby clothes, and then I came along. They gave me a boy’s name, but kept the girl clothes, so for the first few months of my life I was a crossdresser.

 

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