Altering the Mind Parasitically

I read about this a while back.  A large portion of the world population has a parasite contracted from domestic cats.  The article says it may be as  high as 45% in France.  “May”, “possibly”, “could” are great words for getting people who read quickly and indiscriminately to state it absolutely at social gatherings.  “Forty five percent of the French have a creepy brain parasite”.  Obviously they don’t know one way or the other but stating the uncertainty will not get you to read the article.  In the end, this is just bad science reporting.  Most of the false things I learned about science were the result of newspapers.  As I stated once before, once you become an expert in a field, any field you quickly discover how bad the reporting really is.


Attention and Time

The most precious commodity on earth is your time and the length of that time is limited.  None of us know when but we all know we are going to die.  Within our numbered days we sleep for part of the time.  During our waking hours our attention is limited.  How we choose to direct our attention is important.

When I first started this blog it was because I had lots of interests and opinions on various subjects.  I also enjoyed writing poetry and started looking for other poets in the blogosphere.  I had a suspicion that there was a lot of talent and I was correct.   50 years ago, a lot of talented writers simply went to the grave unread and unnoticed because they could not get past the gatekeepers in publishing.   With self-publishing, people are bypassing the gatekeepers.  It’s net positive.

We all have a lot of choices.  It’s wonderful.  Now if people stop by and either genuinely “Like” or disingenuously “Like” your work you will get a nice dopamine kick to the head.  Some people do it because they really like your work.  Some do it because they are whoring for more followers themselves.  Your brain doesn’t care.  It will give you the dopamine either way unless you are bitterly cynical and paranoid.  “Oh, sure they ‘like” my work, the liars!”

But the mere fact they stopped by and gave you a slice of their attention, something which finite, is a compliment.  So if you stopped by here, irrespective of your reasons, thank you.

Evolutionary Psychology on Hard Times

The New York Times editorial casts doubts on evo-psych as applied to male female relationships.  The body shots go back to 1998 after it took a pummeling from the philospher Jerry Fodor.  The odd thing about it is just how tiresome evo-psych explanations get particularly by amateurs on the web.  They use it to explain everything from why you were stood up for a lunch date to why you hate your co-worker.  Anything with that much explanatory power, explains nothing.

Genetically Modified Salmon

They have cleared the FDA and will be headed to market. I am not a Luddite but this makes me raise an eyebrow.

In its assessment, the FDA said the likelihood that the altered fish could escape containment and reproduce in the wild is “extremely remote.”

What could go wrong?  It’s a fairly safe prediction that in a few short years they will be intermingling with wild stocks.  At a minimum, they should be labeled.  That way people can decide for themselves whether they want to accept the risk.  I am sure they will push back against labeling because, well, it might hurt sales.  Much of nature is optimized to survive in an unstable environment.  Species restricted to highly specialized ecosystems risk extinction under an insult to that ecosystem.  As they modify the wild species via engineering the impact on public health cannot be easily known.  Modern whole grain wheat has a glycemic index exceeding some candy bars and may be contributing factor to excess weight gain some believe. I remain skeptical since the evidence is not overwhelming.  “Moderation in all things” the Victorians preached and it still applies.


A Spider’s Deception

No not politicians but real spiders,  If you find this kind of thing amazing and wonderful, why do you suppose you do?  Don’t forget the mind boggling complexity of producing silk to begin with (from another Wired article).

Part of the reason it’s so hard to generate spider silk in the lab is that it starts out as a liquid protein that’s produced by a special gland in the spider’s abdomen. Using their spinnerets, spiders apply a physical force to rearrange the protein’s molecular structure and turn it into solid silk.


I saw this picture of the great think Kurt Gödel and you can see how uncomfortable he is being photographed.  He lived in the world of reflection and introspection.  Compare this photograph with former President Bill Clinton or any popular politician and you see even in this picture where he is annoyed, the world of connection and projection.  Everybody wants to be on the extrovert’s team even if they won’t admit it.  Few seek the company of the introvert and yet both are equal in their contributions.