Something’s not good

Nearly a quarter of people surveyed said they had “zero” close friends.

Americans are more socially isolated than they were 20 years ago, separated by work, commuting and the single life, Duke University Professor Lynn Smith-Lovin reported on Friday.

More than 50 percent named two or fewer confidants, most often immediate family members.

[story at Reuters]

Perceived and imagined information

In over a fifth of cases, people wrongly remembered whether they actually witnessed an event or just imagined it…

“In our tests volunteers either thought they had imagined words which they had actually been shown or said they had seen words which in fact they had just imagined – in over 20 per cent of cases. That is quite a lot of mistakes to be making, and shows how fallible our memory is – or perhaps, how slim our grip on reality is!

“Our work has implications for the validity of witness statements and agrees with other studies that show that our mind sometimes fills in memory gaps for us, and we confuse what we imagined occurred in a situation – which is related to what we expect to happen or what usually happens – with what actually happened.

“Most of us, though, have a critical reality monitoring function so that we are able to distinguish well enough between what is real and what is imagined and our imagination does not have too great an impact on our lives – unless the reality check system breaks down such as after stroke or in cases of schizophrenia.”

The study found that the areas that were activated while remembering whether an event really happened or was imagined in healthy subjects are the very same areas that are dysfunctional in people who experience hallucinations.

Dr Jon Simons and Dr Paul Burgess led the study at the University College London Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience via Science Blog

Bill Moyers: faith and reason

Bill Moyers is back.

“…what is it about religion that’s got America hooked?

It’s an old debate between absolutes, the contrasting viewpoints of belief and disbelief that stirs the passions.

From the popular to the public square—79% of self-identified evangelical Christians cast ballots for President Bush in 2004—the tug of war between reason and faith is the undercurrent of our society in what some see as a fundamentalist era.

On one end of the spectrum people say, “Only religion counts.” On the other end, “Only reason counts.

‘How do we keep the public space between reason and faith, where most of us spend our lives, from becoming a no-man’s land of constant warfare?’
— Bill Moyers (Read the full essay.)

Resources for further investigation of the topics:

  • Faith & Doubt — Atheism to — absolute belief — about the many ways of faith and doubt
  • Faith & Politics — Founding fathers to faith-based initiatives — faith & politics around the globe
  • Freedom & Tolerance — School prayer to banned books — about freedom & tolerance
  • Faith & Science — From the First Cause to the Big Bang — about belief and science
  • Gender & Religion — The Goddess to St. Joan — about gender and religion
  • Myth & Sacred Texts — Global gates to mythology plus collections of sacred texts
  • Watch the full interview with Salman Rushdie
    or read the transcript

    Not Ready to Make Nice

    “I’d rather have a smaller following of really cool people who get it,” says Dixie Chick Martie Maguire, “who will grow with us as we grow and are fans for life, than people that have us in their five-disc changer with Reba McEntire and Toby Keith. We don’t want those kinds of fans. They limit what you can do.”

    Full story at TIME,
    via Huffington Post

    The space inside an atom

    Wasn’t it Einstein who said there was more empty space in an atom than in the solar system?

    Proportionately, there is more empty space between an atom’s nucleus and its first electron than between the Sun and Pluto!

    When you figure out how to scroll this page at Phrenopolis, you’ll see an atom from the inside.

    You’ll get an elementary sense of the space inside an atom.

    The author says,

    “I used to think that things like rocks and buildings and my own skeleton were fairly solid.

    But they’re made up of atoms, and atoms, as you can see here, contain so little actual material that they can barely be said to exist.

    We are all phantoms.

    Link found at the Inveterate Observer

    Most cosmic particles as well as radiation from the earth travel right through us. But some can strike molecules in our body. In the early 70s I spent much of a year crafting trim and furnishings at the home of Dr. John Gofman, a pioneer at Lawrence Berkeley Labs, a pioneer on the health effects of radiation, a co-discoverer of uranium-233, and an articulate and effective critic of the safety aspects of the U.S. atomic energy programs. Dr. Gofman traveled the world with this warning,

    “Most particles go right through our body. But we truly need to worry about the occasional ‘bowling ball’ that can wreak havoc as it collides with one of the molecules in our body.”

    See this post on how easy it is for the sun’s rays to damage our DNA.

    Dr. Gofman passed away in August 2007 at the age of 88. The LATimes reports,

    Often called the father of the antinuclear movement, Gofman and his colleague at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Arthur R. Tamplin, developed data in 1969 showing that the risk from low doses of radiation was 20 times higher than stated by the government.

    A new post is here.

    How Bacteria Talk

    A professor at Princeton University and a MacArthur Foundation fellow, Bonnie Bassler, is credited with discovering the ability bacteria have to communicate across species using a small molecule called autoinducer-2 (AI-2).

    This simple sugar, produced by scores of microbes including Escherichia coli, Salmonella, Vibrio cholera, and several species of bioluminescent marine bacteria, allows bugs to assess the density of the local population and to adjust their behavior accordingly: throwing off light, spewing out toxins, or forming slimy biofilms.

    The idea that bacteria use chemical signals to convey information about population density – a phenomenon called quorum sensing – has been around for decades. In the early 1970s, microbiologist Woody Hastings noticed that V. fischeri, an organism that resides inside the light organs of squid and other marine life, glows only when its ranks swell.

    But few scientists appreciated how widespread quorum sensing would turn out to be.

    I instantly thought of human quorum and wondered if humans utilized similar stimuli. Frankly, it’s likely.

    When we flock to fads, wear certain brands to bicycle or other brands at the hotel, are we cueing signals?

    Is Web 2.0 merely a biofilm in the internet?

    Gee whiz. It’s late. I should be asleep.

    Quorum sensing? Multiple stuff going on here methinks.

    Be alert everybody

    Lyme disease is caused by a bacterial organism that is transmitted to humans via the bite of an infected tick. Some people bitten by an infected tick develop a characteristic skin rash around the area of the bite. The rash may feel hot to the touch, and vary in size, shape, and color, but it will often have a “bull’s eye” appearance (a red ring with a clear center). However, many will not develop the rash, which makes Lyme disease hard to diagnose because its symptoms and signs mimic those of many other diseases.

    Seven to 10 days following an infected tick’s bite, the first stage of Lyme disease begins with flu-like symptoms such as fever, chills, swollen lymph nodes, headaches, fatigue, muscle aches, and joint pain.

    Neurological complications most often occur in the second stage of Lyme disease, with numbness, pain, weakness, Bell’s palsy (paralysis of the facial muscles), visual disturbances, and meningitis symptoms such as fever, stiff neck, and severe headache. Other problems, which may not appear until weeks, months, or years after a tick bite, include decreased concentration, irritability, memory and sleep disorders, and nerve damage in the arms and legs.

    N.I.H. link site
    Lyme Disease Foundation

    All in a day’s .gif

    Superb .gif animation! Superb! Excellent! Wow! Learn the evolution of the alphabet in a few short minutes. Gain new insight. Ponder.

    Linkadelic Magazine points out, “Good examples are Y that turned into V and then made a comeback. and an entire set of characters that switched direction and turned into E, F and K in a short 150 year period.”

    Up from collapse

    deconsumption sez, “I’d encourage you to read Jacob Needleman’s The American Soul: Rediscovering the Wisdom of the Founders, which argues in very much the same vein, and with immanent grace, (psst: imminent means happening really soon; immanent means top level.) about the possibility of our reuniting in a new way with that essentially spiritual idealism which drove and guided America’s great founders. And don’t just take my word for it, read the reader reviews…”

    The theme at Deconsumption is
    “our culture is collapsing…”

    Brain Penitentiaries

    Do we jail behavior or condition?

    Fewer than 55,000 Americans receive treatment in psychiatric hospitals.

    Meanwhile, almost 10 times that number — nearly 500,000 — mentally ill men and women are serving time in U.S. jails and prisons.

    Link to PBS show The New Asylums.
    via ‘Mind Hacks‘, the blog of the O’Reilly book.

    Rich legislate rich

    With no Congressional action on raising the minimum wage since 1997, inflation has eroded wages. The minimum wage in the 21st century is $2 lower in real dollars than it was four decades ago and now stands at its lowest level since 1955…

    …the national minimum wage of $5.15 is not enough for a family to live above the poverty line. The annual salary for workers earning the national minimum wage still leaves a family of three about $6,000 short of the poverty threshold.

    …the House of Representatives last week voted to give members of Congress yet another pay raise, as it has done almost every year for nearly a decade.

    CNN’s Lou Dobbs continues,
    “For some reason, our elected officials decided against holding a news conference. Maybe that’s because they didn’t want to draw attention to the fact that they raise their own salaries almost every year while refusing to raise the pay of our lowest-paid workers.

    “This administration, our Republican-led Congress and the dominant corporate interests in this country want cheap labor. And to achieve that goal they’re outsourcing middle-class jobs, importing illegal labor and cutting retirement and health-care benefits.

    Old Soul

    Vandweller Eagle SoulIf I should die before we have a chance
    To say goodbye…
    Remember me
    Remember me.

    I followed my heart instead of the pack
    Set out on this trail and never looked back
    When my final sunset fades to black…
    Remember me
    Remember me.

    For I didn’t really die; just changed;
    One more adventure though it seems strange.
    It wasn’t my choice but the will of The Creator
    All beings be blessed and I’ll catch you all later

    In the cold tingle of the fresh fallen snow;
    On the hot summer nights where the South winds blow
    In the will towards the light of the seeds as they grow
    If you’re ever wondering about where the birds go…
    Remember me
    Remember me.

    I didn’t last long but don’t mourn for me;
    Be sad for the ones who never live free.

    Better a season in freedom than a lifetime in chains
    So when that last ripple is all that remains…
    Remember me
    Remember me.

    VanDweller – still here on May 25, 2004, hopefully for as long as my skin holds out, I can still hear the music in the song of the birds, and I finish all my book & recording projects!

    Reliable cars

    The 100 most reliable cars of the last decade.

    Warranty Direct, though operating in Britain, collects lots of data about warranty issues – something you’ll never find out from the only other people who have access to the information (the manufacturers). In a very clever move, it has taken this secondary data and produced a reliability index – an independent comparison of frequency of failure across the 55,000 vehicles it insures.

    Article at Gizmag

    The Value of Privacy

    “If you aren’t doing anything wrong, what do you have to hide?”

    Some clever answers:

    “If I’m not doing anything wrong,
    then you have no cause to watch me.”

    “Because the government gets to define what’s wrong,
    and they keep changing the definition.”

    “Because you might do something wrong with my information.”

    At the Crypto-Gram Newsletter, Bruce Schneier continues, “My problem with quips like these — as right as they are — is that they accept the premise that privacy is about hiding a wrong. It’s not.

    Privacy is an inherent human right, and a requirement for maintaining the human condition with dignity and respect.

    Privacy protects us from abuses by those in power, even if we’re doing nothing wrong at the time of surveillance.

    …we should champion privacy even when we have nothing to hide.”

    An article on wholesale surveillance measures originally appeared on

    Water, indeed, comes from rock

    deepest hole Kola PenninsulaData had long shown that seismic waves travel significantly faster below that depth, and geologists had believed that this was due to a “basement” of basalt. Instead, the difference was discovered to be a change in the rock brought on my intense heat pressure, or metamorphic rock. …

    …this deep rock was found to be saturated in water.

    Because free water should not be found at those depths, scientists theorize that the water is comprised of hydrogen and oxygen atoms which were squeezed out of the surrounding rocks due to the incredible pressure. The water was then prevented from rising to the surface because of the layer of impermeable rocks above it.

    Another unexpected find was a menagerie of microscopic fossils as deep as 6.7 kilometers (4.2 miles) below the surface.

    More at Damn Interesting.
    An overview from the Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska
    Eight North American locations have emerged as potential candidate sites for a Deep Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory.

    About 20 years ago I bought a report written by the institutes and scientists in the USSR about the drilling at Kola Penninsula. The high pressures and crystalline formations truly open new horizons and challenge our theories.

    Water, water, everywhere, and..


    Learning is addictive

    Eureka! I’m high!
    “Neuroscientists have proposed a simple explanation for the pleasure of grasping a new concept: The brain is getting its fix.

    The “click” of comprehension triggers a biochemical cascade that rewards the brain with a shot of natural opium-like substances, said Irving Biederman of the University of Southern California. He presents his theory in an invited article in the latest issue of American Scientist.”

    read more

    Don’t let this slip by

    IBM has built a transistor that runs about 100 times faster than current chips. The advances will show up in real products within a couple years, probably in chips to power super-fast wireless networks capable of moving a DVD-quality movie in as little as 5 seconds.

    “What we’ve done in demonstrating this is that we’re nowhere near having tapped the limits of silicon performance, and that’s very encouraging…” Meyerson said.

    The transistor achieved a speed of 500 gigahertz, which is more than 100 times speedier than the fastest PC chips sold today, and about 250 times faster than the typical mobile telephone chip.

    Story at Yahoo Tech News

    The next computer boom

    While the fragmented robotics market is now in its infancy, forecasts call for the industry to grow into a multibillion-dollar market in the next five to 10 years.

    “We believe this is a key part of the future of computing,” said Microsoft Robotics Group general manager Tandy Trower, who called robots the next evolution of the personal computer.

    Microsoft Robotics Studio is new software is meant to bootstrap the robotics industry much in the way that Microsoft’s operating system helped get the personal computer industry going.

    Poland’s Holocaust: 6 Million

    The best-kept secret in the U.S. about the Holocaust is that Poland lost six million citizens or about one-fifth of its population: three million of the dead were Polish Christians, predominantly Catholic, and the other three million were Polish Jews.

    The second best-kept secret of the Holocaust is the greatest number of Gentile rescuers of Jews were Poles, despite the fact that only in Poland were people (and their loved ones) immediately executed if caught trying to save Jews.

    via ShoutWire

    I didn’t know this.

    Rating Craving

    PET scans show a boost in brain activity when addicts see images of drug usage.

    “To make the drug-cues video, we worked with addicts who advised us on how to make it as realistic as possible while simulating scenes involving smoking or snorting cocaine,” said Wang. The scientists also asked the subjects to rate their level of craving while watching both videos, and assessed the severity of their addiction using a standard cocaine craving scale.

    Dopamine levels were measured indirectly using positron emission tomography (PET) scanning at Brookhaven’s Center for Translational Neuroimaging. Each subject was injected with a radiotracer designed to bind to dopamine receptors in the brain. During scanning, the PET camera picks up the signal from any bound radiotracer so that levels of tracer bound to receptors can be compared with levels in the blood. As the body’s natural dopamine levels rise, this “endogenous” dopamine competes with the tracer for binding sites, so less radiotracer can bind to the receptors. Therefore, the lower the bound tracer signal, the higher the concentration of endogenous dopamine.

    Compared with the neutral video, the cocaine-cues video triggered a significant increase in dopamine in the dorsal striatum, a part of the brain involved in experiencing desire or motivation. The changes in dopamine were associated with the level of craving reported by the subjects and were largest in the most severely addicted subjects.

    This finding is consistent with previous animal studies that have suggested a role for the dorsal striatum in cue-induced craving. In those studies, neutral stimuli such as a particular cage environment that had been paired with a drug during “training” sessions later triggered a dopamine increase in both the nucleus accumbens and the dorsal striatum, a response that was correlated with drug-seeking behaviors in the animals.

    Frustrated desires for food also cause a rise in brain dorsal striatum dopamine levels.

    The finding is also consistent with earlier Brookhaven research documenting dopamine increases in the dorsal striatum induced by exposure to food (see this release). In that study, healthy subjects were allowed to observe and smell their favorite foods, but not eat them; the more the subjects desired the foods, the higher their dopamine levels went.

    “Finding this same association between dorsal striatum dopamine levels and cravings for food and drugs suggests that, in the human brain, drug addiction engages the same neurobiological processes that motivate food-seeking behaviors triggered by food-conditioned cues,” Volkow said. This research suggests that compounds that could inhibit cue-induced striatal dopamine increases would be logical targets for medication development to treat cocaine addiction.

    At FuturePundit’s Brain Addiction:

    “These findings suggest to me that compounds which inhibit or reduce desire for cocaine might also reduce cracvings for food. A drug developed to treat coke addicts might also help people to lose weight.

    “Also, since the vast bulk of us experience food cravings we non-drug addicts probably understand the cravings that drive drug addicts better than many of us realize. Obese people who look down their noses with disapproval at drug addicts ought to go look in the mirror and look at the signs that they have their own very similarly caused cravings which they can not control.

    “Some day we will gain the ability to tune our desires to better align our daily behavior with our longer term goals. Research into drug addiction, obesity, and other problems with human minds will produce much more than just treatments to suppress desires for food and drugs. We will also gain the ability to mold what causes our minds to feel satisfied, frustrated, impatient, happy, and sad. People will adjust their emotional reactions to make them better able to do tedious work and to pursue longer term goals.”

    Community is

    Community is a knitwork network.

    Community is billions of rapidities, mobilizing point to place, place to point.

    Community is an intermodal multinodal template of comprehension.

    Community is the modelling of mind to mechanism.

    Carry tape

    Peephole Reverse Viewer

    The Tactical Door Viewer (about $90) was developed with the help of the law enforcement industry to help them assess potential hazards behind dwelling doors.

    This peephole reverse viewer is simple to use and can be carried in your pocket for use anytime.

    The officer places the reverse viewer over the peephole in the door and can look into the dwelling without alerting anyone inside.

    Found at bookofjoe.