Friday, June 27, 2008


from "Man's Greatest Achievement" - would could I have but known this man...

There manifests itself in the fully developed being - Man - a desire mysterious, inscrutable and irresistible: to imitate nature, to create, to work himself the wonders he perceives. Inspired to this task he searches, discovers and invents, designs and constructs, and covers with monuments of beauty, grandeur and awe, the star of his birth. He descends into the bowels of he globe to bring forth its hidden treasures and to unlock its immense imprisoned energies for his use. He invades the dark depths of the ocean and the azure regions of the sky. He peers into the innermost nooks and recesses of molecular structure and lays bare to his gaze worlds infinitely remote. He subdues and puts to his serves the fierce, devastating spark of Prometheus, the titanic forces of the waterfall, the wind and the tide. He tames the thundering bolt of Jove and annihilates time and space. He makes the great Sun itself his obedient toiling slave. Such is his power and might that the heavens reverberate and the whole earth trembles by the mere sound of his voice.

What has the future in store for this strange being, born of a breath, of perishable tissue, yet immortal, with his powers fearful and divine? What magic will be wrought by him in the end? What is to be his greatest deed, his crowning achievement?

Long ago he recognized that all perceptible matter comes from a primary substance, or a tenuity beyond conception, filling all space, the Akasa or luminiferous ether, which is acted upon by the life-giving Prana or creative force, calling into existence, in never ending cycles, all things and phenomena. The primary substance, thrown into infinitesimal whirls of prodigious velocity, becomes gross matter; the force subsiding, the motion creases and matter disappears, reverting to the primary substance.

Can Man control this grandest, most awe-inspiring of all processes in nature? Can he harness her inexhaustible energies to perform all their functions at his bidding, more still cause them to operate simply by the force of his will?

If he could do this, he would have powers almost unlimited and supernatural. At his command, with but a slight effort on his part, old worlds would disappear and new ones of his planning would spring into being. he could fix, solidify and preserve the ethereal shapes of his imagining, the fleeting visions of his dreams. He could express all the creations of his mind on any scale, in forms concrete and imperishable. he could alter the size of this planet, control its seasons, guide it along any path he might choose through the depths of the Universe he could cause planets to collide and produce his suns and stars, his heat and light. He could originate and develop life in all its infinite forms.

To create and to annihilate material substance, cause it to aggregate in forms according to his desire, would be the supreme manifestation of the power of Man's mind, his most complete triumph over the physical world, his crowning achievement, which would place him beside his Creator, make him fulfill his ultimate destiny.

Thursday, June 26, 2008


[disclaimer: incoherent thoughts brought on by benadryl and prednisone.. may or may not be refined at a later date]

this is my biff with amphetamines.

if the role of the 7R variation in the DRD4 allele is significant enough to be the primary candidate for insatiable novelty-seeking behavior characteristic of ADHD... why was Ritalin a good idea?

the idea is this. 7R variation in this particular dopamine receptor changes the metabotropic receptor's ability to control intracellular cAMP levels (cyclic adenosine monophosphate, which activates the membrane protein PKC (protein kinase C) releasing it from the membrane and allowing it to open potassium channels which then alter the electric potential of the cell which is what allows for DA release....for those who care). this means that cAMP is turned on constitutively, and as a result its cascade which eventually leads to the release of the cell's neurotransmitter (DA, in this case) is also kept running. so we've got the 7R mutation which is mostly responsible for overload of DA in several reward pathways. okay, so this addresses hyperactivity and abrupt and aberrant mood changes. why are we controlling this by introducing more amphetamine? this is not a neurotransmitter that is known to have a strong compensatory mechanism! introducing a consistent exogenous dose of amphetamine to try to control the amount of DA pumped into synapses does not work the same way as it does with steroids. your body takes longer to respond (namely, by reducing the amount of DA it is producing itself thereby reducing signal frequency)... and while it's trying to do so, the side effects of amphetamine take their toll. if the problem is the metabotropic DRD4 receptor, and the incessant activity of cAMP and its subsequent protein kinase cascade, altering DA levels exogenously is not going to cut it. right?

but here's my other objection. why do we need to cut it? why can't we accept it as a mutation and change our behavior to accommodate? step outside of the meme of conventional education and manipulate the outcome of this condition from the outside. this was, once upon a time, a beneficial characteristic, this insatiable novelty-seeking. can we look over our culture (particularly multi-nationally) and observe what its evolution has done to the minds of children and their capacity to explore? what were we meant to do if not explore? how does growth of any kind occur without exploration? how do we survive? okay enough with the annihilation of what are otherwise perfectly decent thoughts...

Monday, June 23, 2008


David Bohm is a deity.

i am completely and utterly overwhelmed by this tidal wave of a theory into which i've recently dove.

Bohm's premise for the ideology of a new order of physics is that we - as humanity and as scientists - define the universe in terms of the Cartesian definitions of matter. that is to say, our perceived reality exists as a one-to-one correlation between the space/time coordinates of all matter. what Bohm suggests (and this is from 1980 so it's by no means a hot new thing) is that our reality is skewed by the fact that we perceive it in terms of fragments, or individual chunks of matter. namely, individual objects are the primary products of existence, and their continuity is secondary if regarded as important at all. to remove this fragmentation - which is implicated as paramount to reality being an illusion instead of, well, a reality - Bohm introduces the idea of Implicate and Explicate order.

1. quantum particles are amplifiers of information contained in the quantum wave
2. two subatomic particles once interacted can respond to each others' motions thousands of years later, light years apart
3. space and time are derived from the Implicate Order; everything is connected such that any individual element can reveal information about any other element in the universe

The Holomovement:
a hologram is created when two interfering wavelengths collide, id est, information about the entire holograph is revealed by a single frequency of the film because every point is completely determined by the overall configuration of the interference patterns. the whole is implicit in each part. the holomovement, then, is essentially the feedback mechanisms between implicate and explicate orders.

one moment gives rise to another in which the context that was previously implicate is now explicate, and explicate context has reverted to being implicate. is consciousness an interchanging feedback where implicate information forms the explicate world which then reverts to the implicate world and portrays to it new information? can we accumulate perception in such a way as to develop a self in this kind of fashion? what explains the exchange of information between implicate and explicate worlds? well, subalgebra. the superposition of series such that one enfolds into a transformation of the former. so an element undergoes a set of Euclidean metamorphic operations which can be used to describe the quantum content of an object. if two elements are similar in a set of operations, then there are a superimposed set of elements that describe the metamorphoses in a similar way. namely, Euclidean systems exercise superposition such that there will always be a system, E', enfolded relative to a previous system E. how the subsequent unfolding occurs such that E is mapped back onto E'... i have no idea. i'm getting there. for now i'm just blown away. phoosh.

But as an introduction to what i'm sure will be a series of flabbergasted nonsense regarding, i feel that i should state that my primary interest at this point relative to the Implicate Order is that each individual participates in the content of the explicate world as points in a holograph... without one, the explicate world is incomplete. we are fragmented by individual avoidance of dissonance and cultural memes. and we are whole as the exchange of implicit and perceived waveforms and interference patterns.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

the longevity meme

Calling aging research the quest for immortality trivializes so much of what's actually being speculated. Yes, there is a disturbing chunk of aging and longevity labs that is attempting to reorganize the biochemical processes of living, and not even necessarily the ones that disrupt living. They are fuckers. And because they get all the media's attention for being radical, many of them are excruciatingly misrepresented for what they're really up to... as is usually the case.

[Before I begin ranting, my disclaimer is to clarify that I am about to talk about longevity research as it pertains to the systemic processes of the body and not the decline of cognitive function. My opinion concerning cognition is that there is a disconnect between neural function and the ability of consciousness to hold its baring when that function is impaired, and that everything within reach should continue to be done to bridge that gap to prevent cognitive decline during aging. However it is also my biggest fear that bridging that gap will allow robotics to ascend to a new level which obliterates what it means to have a human mind... I'll shimmy across that bridge when it comes down to it. Lose a bit of physical functionality, fine - be slightly less active for the final decade of your life. Take on dementia in that decade... well to come to a point, it's the one thing in life I am determined to avoid.]

Aubrey de Grey is one of those particular fuckers who seems like he's in it with the right direction, and then he goes and says something like, "this is bona fide rejuvenation therapy for the sake of prolonging life-span." [but then he'll also go and say shit like, "I don't blame the journalists in question, you understand - they're just doing what they're paid to do. Ultimately, the reason why calling my goal 'immortality' sells papers is because it trivializes it - it confuses my work with something that we all know is impossible; the technological elimination of any risk of death."] Damn him and his perfectly directed Strategies for Engineering Negligible Senescence... which is probably the hottest title he could have given to his little proposal. He's essentially promoting modified gerontology to combat those biochemical mechanisms that accelerate the physical aging process, and to manipulate the nature of those mechanisms which are otherwise meant to be senescent. So here's what we're looking at. Geriatrics aims to stop biochemical damage from progressing into pathology, whereas it is gerontology's goal to stop metabolism from causing damage in the first place. were de Grey to base his SENS protocol off of gerontological approaches, he would immediately be dismissed as trying to override natural progression of biological processes. However, since he has disguised his proposal as more similar to the practice of geriatrics, he is facing controversy instead of socioeconomic heresy. The idea of SENS is to keep maintenance of damage that occurs as a byproduct of living/aging to prevent its exacerbation into pathology. Making only enough adjustment of systems to prevent transition of damage into pathology is where aging research should be directed. The objective to not inevitably die pathologically doesn't seem too unreasonable to me.
Sounds perfect, right? Don't stop life from happening, just keep the damage under control. I like the ideology because stopping damage entirely fights senescence on every level which, in turn, prevents the growth/development that occurs as a byproduct of living/aging. Ultimately, this screws with the natural progression of an organism's energy efficiency. I'm not a fan. Probably because I am more resistant to invasively altering energy fluctuation on a metabolic and molecular level. I'm partial to energy flux by non-invasive means, which allow only for changes in metabolism as can be controlled by organisms' behavior... on a quantum level [follow-up note to Buettner and blue zones]. Invasive techniques tend to have less catastrophic results if they don't venture beyond changes in the observable activity on a cytological level. Particularly in the name of intervening on the functionality of systems. Help them do their job correctly to improve the time we have and side-step pathological decline, don't make them do things they have never been known to do in order to extend life-span. Use RNAi to silence a genetic mutation in the mitochondria so that it more efficiently pumps electrons and doesn't leak quite so many extra protons and cause free radical formation... or combat the mutation by consuming fewer calories, eh? Increase expression of apolipoprotein E. But don't fucking stop the electron transport chain from producing a proton gradient... old people need to be able to keep themselves warm too. The goal of aging medicine should be to stave off diseases fostered by age, and let people die healthily exhausted from living, not from fighting death.

Here's the general problem. It's one thing to prolong health and quite another to prolong life-span. The idea of prolonging health is to allow people more time to do things with their existence (like redefine the pompously blind greed of government and societal consumption...ahem). Prolonging life-span increases the problem of overpopulation... why on Earth would you want to exacerbate that particular problem when it's already putting so much weight on the world that the sociological controversy isn't about whether we can, but whether we should give medical/financial support to AIDS/poverty stricken places whose governments are too dysfunctional to address the problem? Overpopulation, of course, is also controversial in terms of consumption. It just seems so insatiably and unforgivably greedy to me that people actually want to take away from the lives that their offspring might have by staying alive for so long that they're consuming resources that should be given to those who haven't already had 100 years to pursue what the world has to offer. What can you possibly have achieved in your natural lifetime to deserve the luxury of stealing from someone else's basic sustenance? [Besides curing AIDS, cancer and restructuring the American government?] But I'm getting off-topic...

So here's my wish. The romantic pragmatic approach: don't fucking delay or reverse aging, just guide it.

Eat fewer calories or take caloric restriction mimetics to decrease free radical production and stave off oxidative stress which is the staple of almost every age-related pathology.

Get enough sun to produce vitamin D but not so much as to cause DNA double strand breaks and cancer. Human skin is lighter in the North because when our ancestors migrated it was detrimental to have too much melanin blocking absorption of solar radiation to which we are exposed... and strong eumelanin with less intense exposure leads to deficits in vit. D synthesis. ["Why do we still have black people in the north?" Soo many reasons... including... thanks to human exacerbated climate change and particularly altered levels of ozone in the stratosphere we experience higher levels of exposure than thousands of years ago... it's also why there's a higher rate of skin cancer in "white folks"...]

Use stem cells to contribute to immune response to cytological damage so the white blood cells don't have to do quite so much work under otherwise catastrophic conditions... like multiple sclerosis.

Support decrepit and declining bone mineral density with nanotube structure to colonize and foster growth of new cartilage, just don't give people symptoms of asbestos...

Don't fuck with the cytokines. Development is development - aid its function, don't prevent it. [although if we must press forward with this commonsense idiocy of allowing people to live indefinitely, it wouldn't be so terrible if their offspring happened to be infertile...]

Buettner says he has identified four things people can do that can potentially increase a healthy life, and specifically, live healthier into your late years: create an environment that encourages physical activity, set up your kitchen in a way that you're not overeating, cultivate a sense of purpose... and surround yourself with the right people. This is the dude who defined "blue zones," those regions on earth where particular groups of people have mastered healthy longevity. Not immortality. Not reversing the biochemistry of aging. Living.

that's my wrap.

Monday, June 9, 2008

nuclear energy

there's too much talk about the controversy of stashing nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain in Nevada, and not nearly enough talk about the reason that the government is leaning toward storage and accumulation as opposed to development of nuclear waste reprocessing. so i needed to mull over this one for a bit.

until 1976, there was a reprocessing plant in West Valley, New York, which extracted various elements of nuclear waste and recirculated them into reactors. plutonium as well as other actinide components (essentially, radioactive rare earth elements) were separated/burned off by nuclear fission and recycled as fuel to generate electricity. the reprocessing plant was closed by Pres. Ford, not because it was detrimental to the economy, but because of paranoia regarding nuclear weapons proliferation. but. during the time it was active, the nuclear fuel service plant (nfs) recovered 1926 kg of plutonium, shipping ~80% to the atomic energy commission (aec). the other remaining 20% was re-sold to industry for use in plutonium recycling []. as i understand it, nfs blended their recovered plutonium with other metal oxides, precluding its use in weapons production. which seems to me like it addresses the issue of safety at least adequately. so then why was Ford so bent on closing the reprocessing plant? recycling nuclear waste into its more-or-less innocuous components for recirculation seems like the better alternative to shoving the still-reactive mixture under Yucca, eh? this is where i become garbled...

1) how is nuclear waste less dangerous than blended plutonium? 2) what was Ford's other incentive? 3) and why does the Bush administration actually sound like they know what's going on here?

"the United States should also consider technologies... that are cleaner, more efficient, less waste intensive and more proliferation-resistant" [Report of the National Energy Policy Development Group, May 2001]

1) ok. well, nuclear waste is typically blended with cementitious material (20/80) supposedly shielding against radioactive awakening/travesty. there's also the mixed oxide fuel burning method, mixing plutonium with uranium to burn off the plutonium by nuclear fission. and the other is vitrification; the storage of actinide components in borosilicate glass logs and - you got it - burying them deep, deep underground [Bullen and McCormick 1998]. is this less dangerous though? not really. the difference is making a somewhat neutralizing mixture which you then stuff into the ground to accumulate and wait for something to possibly wake it up. or. making a somewhat neutralizing mixture which you then recycle, keeping new highly reactive mixtures from being created in the first place, lessening the threat to the earth's safe-keeping. i may just be a hippie (and i like to think i'm not...), but i'm quite partial to the latter. reusing what we've already procured as opposed to incessantly taking more and more. one of the arguments against nuclear waste reprocessing is that it only recaptures plutonium (which really isn't entirely true either, but for the sake of argument...). plutonium is ~1% of actinides in nuclear waste, the rest would still need to be stored in a repository. so why is it worth it to spend the extra money on reprocessing in the first place? because it makes use of what we already have, and prevents us from accumulating so many tons of nuclear waste (GNEP estimates 96,000 metric tons by 2050 when Yucca will only be able to hold 77,000). if we have to stash our garbage at Yucca, we might as well do our best to reuse what we've already got planned to put there instead of accumulating more. eh? here comes the notion of Yucca and nuclear energy being a transitional tool from coal to entirely clean renewable energy [see section post numbers].

2) Ford. it actually turns out that proliferation was his main concern. as it was through Carter until Reagan lifted the ban in '81. so where are we now? we're paranoid about the crashing state of the economy. fair enough. Yucca Mt is terrorist-resistant (as much as any place can be), and inexpensive. i don't think this gives it substantial theoretical leverage over reprocessing. an accident or infiltrative attack of Yucca would be just as expensive as a few decades of reprocessing. and what's more, burning off plutonium that otherwise has a 10,000 year half-life just seems the safer bet. but we're not talking safe, we're talking money (go figure...).

3) because i ordinarily default into staunch disagreement with Bush, and not being able to instantly do so leaves me monstrously befuddled.

which leads me to wonder... why now, especially because we are even considering nuclear energy as an alternative to coal, are we shying away from nuclear waste reprocessing? fine, i understand the economy is chaotic of late whose rescue has become a fiasco all its own. so stash some more waste at Yucca Mt for a few more years. but at least show some signs of interest in pursuing funding for development of efficient nuclear waste reprocessing. fighting climate change is all about baby steps. minor transitions that are concretely progressive in their direction away from dirty energy. endorse Yucca for a few more years while the economy climbs out of Bush's toilet... use that time to begin endorsing nuclear reprocessing plants that produce non-proliferative blended components... meanwhile, don't produce such massive amounts of fresh actinides, but use the recycled components... then relieve Yucca. but don't fucking fall backward.

i have a problem accepting the idea that the government's idea of combating climate chaos is to ignore the problems we've already created and begin, instead, by thinking about possibly addressing the issues regarding our current production on our future. which is also extremely important, but you cannot ignore the mess we've already made. especially in this particular case, where the mess is a perfectly transition-renewable energy fuel until we are able to invest in enough wind turbines and solar panels to take over. all part of the baby steps.

Friday, June 6, 2008


i run on water and thought, but only as it consumes me and not because i am human.

an overwhelming subpopulous of humanity pursues thought as if it were food. not as if it were a delicacy, and not in the way we sought after food when food was/is scarce, but in the same greedy insatiable way that is characteristic of fast food nations... dare i say "brain obesity"... actually no... i'm not going to go there... because then i'd have to talk about omega six and placental malleability and the origins of intelligence and i don't have it in me at the moment. but. why are we so hungry for thought? and not just thought for the sake of wonder; we have conglomerated on this idea that thought is worthless if it doesn't lead to concrete ends. answers. explanations. and this... is extremism. and this... is what intraspecies competition has come to (and you... can think about that one because i'm not going to follow it up just now).

i do not fit in well in the world of medicine for two reasons: patients, and the government.

patients - unless they are of the mindset that i am about to indulge - expect medicine to perform miracles. to be god in a 400 mg tablet of compressed powder. the thing is that medicine doesn't work that way... because your body's biochemistry doesn't work that way. nobody has the same performance of metabolism, digestion or cellular transduction mechanisms. ergo, exogenous chemicals do not affect everyone in the same way (to the same end that diets don't work the same way for everyone and people give up on them because their body didn't respond optimally, which is why being conscious of your active health is the better alternative). for the most part, we're built to perform the same biological functions and a high enough concentration of a drug will do similar things in us all: alleviate the system malfunction it was designed to target. however. because we are not built like appliances, we respond differently. tylenol works for the most part with innocuous residue because its target is so well understood, and happens to be fairly well behaviorally conserved across humans. most biochemical mechanisms are not so simple. yes, there are myriad side effects for every drug. that is because almost any patient who takes that drug will have at least one of those side effects. almost nobody will have all of them, because your reaction depends on the particular idiosyncrasies of your system. to bring about a point, i do not fit in well in the world of medicine because patients do not understand or accept this, and i am totally okay with it. because i understand that if you're going to endogenously assault the body, you had better damn well cater to the specific nature of that body in the best way you can. or, if you're going to take a drug that's on the market but not quite yet understood in its entirety, you had better damn well not expect it to work perfectly in your very particular system. because i think that there is no single answer to any question, and that more often than not the answers end up making the questions more mysterious and any concrete answer more elusive (for the same reason, i could never be a politician, lawyer or historian). point: if we did not so vehemently lust after thought as a provider of perfect answers, we would not have unfathomable expectations of medicine, would not be so disappointed, would not lose confidence in science, and i would fit perfectly in the world of medicine.

the government - on whom i will not get started because the rant is unending - protects the patient, and is not only unyielding to the nature of medicine as a science, but is the propago mater that defines the patient's expectations of medicine... fucking conservative tyrannical government... screwing up what i want to do with my life...


i really don't think this is scheherazade's fault. yes, intelligence is attractive, and helps propagate the species and all that junk (not that we're prized machines to be replicated anymore, but that's another problem). but really, intrigue is always in the invigorating mystery, and being able to speculate without needing to arrive at an end, but enough to shape our tendancies... that should be what our species runs on. r o m a n t i c p r a g m a t i s m.

and so i am a catfish. benthic, beneath the chaos created by the noise of humanity's greedy hunger for this particular kind of knowledge. detritivorous, feeding on the development of thoughts that people discard because they are unrefined and inconclusive. and running on water. i could carry this one even further and say that like the male catfish, i house and nurture eggs of thought with my mouth until they are ready to hatch... but i'm not going to...

really? with the metaphor and the disgusting cliche? yes, yes i did.

Sunday, June 1, 2008


in this state that i can’t stand being, yet that i can’t help but approach no matter from or en-route-to where, i am sitting again.

there are two ways that i know of to perceive the direction of your life. either. you are working toward that plateau where everything you have reached for or done is acquired or accomplished, and all is settled. or. you are of the insight that there is no plateau but a mountain, and for each step you take to climb it the next is its own accomplishment. i prefer the latter. yet in spite of this here i am sitting and waiting in limbo again for the next thing to come along. it’s not time yet to move into my own home because i have to wait for funds to accumulate. it’s not time yet to make the most of the season because it is still gray outside and i am still trying to shiver off this fat suit. it’s not time yet reach out into the new circumstances of my social scene because i do not have my own home. it’s not time yet to dive head long into the NICE because i’m waiting to know exactly what it is i’m going to be doing. and it’s not time yet to begin my summer projects at the lab because i’m in training, and we’re still figuring out how to finish my training and at the same time prepare me to train the PhD rotation student and the summer undergrad student, both of whom have to come before i begin any of my projects.

i feel like despite these conditions limbo is the last place i should be. i hate the waiting. i hate wanting to be doing so many things right now and not being able to because i’m waiting. and yet. people keep reminding me that this is exactly where i should be. transition sometimes requires waiting before the next climb begins. i should just be thinking about this as my time to remove my day pack and sit on the tree stump with some trail mix before the next push. pacing? isn’t the purpose of pacing to be able to constantly keep going? at a particular pace? so that limbo is stealthily and entirely debarred?

is it time yet?