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Topics - Kai

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The Richard Nixon school of ballet and the arts / Well, I did it.
« on: September 16, 2012, 02:27:20 pm »
I just clicked "mark all posts as read".  :eek:

There's this Mormon I'm friends with. He's an alright sort, even with the occasional rant about how socialized health care will be the death of America, or a perchance for Glen Beck quotes. But not the sort who would push it in your face if you asked him for some quiet. And he has interesting things to say about other subjects, particularly literature. And he's not a misogynist or a racist or even an asshole.

I've been telling myself I keep him around because he broadens my perspective, that the worst thing possible I could do is surround myself with people who all agree with me. Of course that's not true, plenty of my friends disagree with me. But there is usally much more agreement with Discordians than there is with a religious conservative.

Just today I was noticing my tendency to poke at some of the silly things he says. These are things I could leave well enough alone. They are seldom enough that I could ignore them without trouble. But for some reason I feel the need to poke.

And now, I'm wondering if I've got your sickness. I could have dropped this person months ago, or conversely I could ignore the opinions that, while I dislike them, they are otherwise quaint. But I don't. I HAVE to poke. And the more I see it happen, the more I want to poke.

I wonder if I am keeping him around just because I want to poke and poke and poke. Like you when you put yourself out there with your neighbors. It's not just an exercise in civic activism, it's the need to put them on edge. Pull them in calm and then stir them up.

I think it's a Discordian disease, and I think I caught it from all these years watching you. And now I /can't not poke!/

Techmology and Scientism / Derp
« on: July 10, 2012, 08:45:25 pm »
Herp Derp.

Which I post because I love you all so, and since you are so preoccupied with that other 100+ page thread, I might as well get another one going.  :lulz:

David Nutt and his colleagues have studied the relative harm of drugs. In one of Nutt’s studies that were published in the lancet, members of the British Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs was asked to rate 20 drugs on 16 criteria such as drug-specific damage, mortality, dependence and international damage. Drugs were scored on a 100-point scale. Here is a display of the weighted scores:

In the diagram above both individual and societal factors are considered. It may come to a surprise to many readers that LSD and ecstasy are one of the least dangerous drugs. Notice also that Alcohol is the highest rated dangerous drug and that tobacco is on seventh place just below Cocaine (Both alcohol and tobacco are not even considered a drug by many people, including, sadly, politicians). However, heroin, crack and metamfetamine tops the list for the most dangerous drugs when only individual factors are considered, alcohol then dropping down to a fourth place amongst the most dangerous drugs. So, even when the obvious societal effects due to the widespread use of alcohol are not considered (alcohol rates very high, unsurprisingly, on “family adversities” and “environmental damage”) it still is the fourth most dangerous drug. Yes, that’s right. Alcohol nearly receives the bronze-medal for danger to individuals.

The particular type of neurotransmitters that a drug affects in the brain has a huge impact on the harms the drug can contribute to. A major similarity between the drugs that tops the list above is that these drugs, in addition to other areas in the brain (click here for a discussion), directly affect the dopaminergic “reward system” in the midbrain. This area has been shaped and “designed” by millions of years of natural selection in mammals to reward for adaptive behavior such as sex and the intake of nutritious food. When they are artificially stimulated by drugs such as heroin and crack cocaine they have adverse consequences for addiction and health (that is the reason why drugs such as nicotine and heroin have the characteristic addictive effects). Drugs at the bottom of the list, such as MDMA (ecstasy), mushrooms and LSD stimulate mainly serotonergic neurons (several places in the brain), and does not directly stimulate the mesolimbic reward systems (which is why they are not addictive).

The many myths and popular beliefs surrounding psychoactive substances and their harms are perpetuated through the popular media. An empirical observation of this phenomenon was provided by Alasdair Forsyth in 2001. He compared the official statistics on drug deaths in Scotland to the drug-deaths reported in the Scottish newspapers.  His results are somewhat astounding: a huge proportion of deaths caused by recreational drugs were reported, whereas deaths caused by pharmaceutical drugs were vastly underreported. For example, 26 of 28 deaths were MDMA (ecstasy) was a possible contributor to death was reported, whereas just one in every 256 deaths caused by aspirin and one in 50 deaths caused by paracetamol were reported. This clearly gives a biased representation of the relative harm of drugs, particularly ecstasy, which, as is reported in the diagram above, is not at all that dangerous.

The rest is about cannabis and the "gateway drug" hypothesis, as well as pro-cannabis and pro-hallucinogen rhetoric, so use the link if you really want a rehash of that. The research above, on the other hand, is new to me and interesting, ESPECIALLY because it considers more than just mortality and damage.

Again, I love you all so very much. <3 And heres a link to journal article, if you have access [I don't :(].

That's right. Oreos, in addition to being sinfully full of fat, sugar, and other tasty yet deadly things, are actually SINFUL.

Just look at all these wonderful people saying so.

I was just in the Aneristic Illusions, rereading Cain's post about the direction of that subform. I am not much for geopolitics in general, so I have little to contribute to that discussion. However, I agree with the general sentiment: small, local notions about how much American conservatism sucks, for example, are not really useful in discovering and illustrating worldwide geopolitical patterns which matter to the Discordian mindset. We already know that large factions of rural and southern USAdia are racist, bigoted, and religiously fundamentalist, and yet one more story about this is not going to alter our perceptions of the more worldwide problems of neo-conservative authoritarianism backed by economic players such as industry and banking. In fact, I don't even really understand if the that last statement is true, because I'm ill informed about the issues particularly because all I see is local politics.

You may notice that, while I started a "weekly science news" thread in this subforum sometime ago, I have not updated it in almost as long. The same things that hold for geopolitics is true for science. There are a large number of daily "oos and ahhs" which I love to hear about. I in fact have been providing a "Kai's SCIENCE! Facebook edition" for several weeks now. This is not only a free service for my friends, but also a way for me to keep up to date on scientific discovery. Feel free to add me; you'll have science news coming at you daily, Monday through Friday.

But, these stories are largely minor. In isolation, they don't illustrate larger scale trends, not only in scientific discovery and technological progress, but also in the way science is conducted and published. A story about the pendulum motions of cockroaches and geckos allow them to flip under ledges is cool, but it doesn't go into the larger trends of biomimetic robotics. As much as I love waxing on about new species and my own science of taxonomy, this seldom addresses the changing scope of the biodiversity crisis, not to mention the vague idea people have about climate change and what that actually means when you get down to error bars in estimations. The same goes true for individual discoveries in medicine, planetary science, and personal technology. I look at the top stories in Science and Technology on the Newsmap applet every morning, and inevitably they are inconsequential corporate tech news. This is as useless as talking about the latest stateside racist episode.

I don't claim to be an expert on every scientific field, but I do feel like I have a pulse on whats going on day to day, as little or as much as I understand it. What I want to do /here/, is provide you all with, not individual stories, but broader discussions, again, similar to those Cain spoke of. And I would love if you would provide me with those as well.

I unfortunately don't have a bulleted list at the moment. Maybe you could help me with that: What science do you all find to be the most important? What trends do you want to track?

Reposting here from my SCIENCE! Facebook edition, because this is fascinating. The guest is Ed Yong of Not Exactly Rocket Science, the best damn science journalist out there.

Techmology and Scientism / I can haz PhD program.
« on: May 26, 2012, 02:52:50 am »
Looks like I'll be heading back to grad school. All I have to do is apply, and I'll be starting with a research assistantship and program funding in the fall.

Techmology and Scientism / Timeline of the Far Future.
« on: May 06, 2012, 02:10:10 am »
Do not read unless you want to be a in a screwed up headspace. I, personally, made a mistake in clicking.

Only other comment: 600 million years, that's it? ;_;

Discordian Recipes / The "What did I do wrong?" thread.
« on: April 22, 2012, 01:06:45 pm »
Wherein we ask questions about cooking experiments where things did not turn out right, and everyone else guesses what the problem might be.


So, last night I was attempting to make a gluten-free sponge cake as a ladyfinger alternative in tiramisu. My best friend has either a gluten allergy or celiac, I can't remember which, and I was trying to make this for her birthday. I found a recipe that was as follows:

4 eggs

equal amount of sugar to eggs

same amount of gluten free flour to the rest (I used one half potato flour and one half almond flour)

1. I beat the eggs and sugar together till it was light

2. gently folded in the flour

3. and put in the oven for about an hour and a half at 300 F. Mind you, convection oven. Which was maybe the problem.

The "cake" is lighter than my first attempt, but it did not bake fully. It feels like all the liquid settled to the bottom. Not really sure if I can salvage it.


My first thought was WTF. My second thought was, this has got to be confounding variables.


Imagine for a moment that the hurly-burly history of American retail was chronicled not by reporters and academics but by life-long employees of A&P, a largely forgotten supermarket chain that enjoyed a 75 percent market share as recently as the 1950s. How do you suppose an A&P Organization Man might portray the rise of discount super-retailer Wal-Mart, or organic foods-popularizer Whole Foods, let alone such newfangled Internet ventures as Life looks a hell of a lot different from the perspective of a dinosaur slowly leaking power than it does to a fickle consumer happily gobbling up innovation wherever it shoots up.

That is largely where we find ourselves in the journalism conversation of 2012, with a dreary roll call of depressive statistics invariably from the behemoth’s point of view: newspaper job losses, ad-spending cutbacks, shuttered bureaus, plummeting stock prices, major-media bankruptcies. Never has there been more journalism produced or consumed, never has it been easier to find or create or curate news items, and yet this moment is being portrayed by self-interested insiders as a tale of decline and despair.

It is no insult to the hard work and good faith of either newspaper reporters or media-beat writers (and I’ve been both) to acknowledge that their conflict of interest in this story far exceeds that of, say, academic researchers who occasionally take corporate money, or politicians who pocket campaign donations from entities they help regulate, to name two perennial targets of newspaper editorial boards. We should not expect anything like impartial analysis from people whose very livelihoods—and those of their close friends—are directly threatened by their subject matter.

This goes a long way toward explaining a persistent media-criticism dissonance that has been puzzling observers since at least the mid-1990s: Successful, established journalism insiders tend to be the most dour about the future of the craft, while marginalized and even unpaid aspirants are almost giddy about what might come next. More kids than ever go to journalism school; more commencement speeches than ever warn graduates that, sadly, there’s no more gold in them thar hills. Consumers are having palpable fun finding, sharing, packaging, supplementing, and dreaming up pieces of editorial content; newsroom veterans are consistently among the most depressed of all modern professionals.

So, it's like this, chaps.

Imagine that, out of the blue, there was this new technology that allowed the average joe to build a small scale solar energy farm in his backyard. Or wind mill, or something similar. In other words, imagine that there was this new electrical generator tech that was relatively open source in as to how and where people could get the parts to put it together, and it was in all ways equal to the old tech in efficiency, if not better. The details aren't necessary for this little thought experiment.

Now, what do you think the people in coal and gas and nuclear would do? They would bemoan the downfall of energy supply, of course! They would comment on just how many jobs will be lost, how depressing and bleak the future looks, how the government needs to subsidize their industry so they can keep doing business.

Meanwhile, we would be giddy on just how directly we could work with the supply for our electrical power.

Likewise for journalism. When I look at newsprint science journalism, for example, and compare it to the spectacular pieces I find from all over on the Internet, I feel good about the way science reporting is going. I could bemoan the declining science reporting in newspapers, but why bother? Ed Yong supplies me with amazing discoveries every day. I get stories that friends and family send to me, I get news straight from the article authors on their blogs, writing their own press releases. It's EXCITING.

If the traditional journalists can't adapt, I think selection should take its course and slowly drive them to extinction, maybe putting a few in reserves so we can go look at them through the bars now and again.

Just read it. It's an amazingly interesting hypothesis.

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