Sunday, March 24, 2013

MySpace repost: "Treating depression"

Sep 30, 2008
Best Kept Secret for Treating Depression

Best Kept Secret for Treating Depression (3 Simple Things)


This is a copy/pasted article from Dr. Mercola's website,'

I thought it was worth repeating.

Dr. Mercola's Comments:

Every year, 230 million prescriptions for antidepressants are filled, making them one of the most-prescribed drugs in the United States. Despite all of these prescription drugs being taken, more than one in 20 Americans are depressed, according to statistics that came out from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) earlier this month.

Of them, 80 percent said they have some level of functional impairment, and 27 percent said it is extremely difficult to do everyday tasks like work, getting things done at home or getting along with others because of the condition.

Why are so many people feeling so low, even though antidepressants -- the supposed "cure" for depression -- are so widely available? Because antidepressants are barely effective, and they increase your risk of many serious side effects.

The Antidepressant Illusion

These drugs, which are typically recommended as the first-line treatment for moderate or severe depression, have been found to provide no meaningful benefit.

One investigator from the UK even said she is "not convinced there is such a thing as a drug that will specifically relieve depression and that so-called antidepressants are merely drugs that do other things, such as sedating or stimulating people."

The reason that antidepressants have received so much fanfare to begin with is that their makers did an excellent job of publicizing the things they wanted you to know, while keeping very quiet about the rest.

As Dr. Gordon said:

"The problem is that the drug companies did not publish the unfavorable studies about antidepressants, especially the newest class, the SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) like Prozac or Paxil.

And so what you have is drug companies only publishing positive studies, doctors only reading about positive studies, patients believing the drug companies and, of course, their doctors -- and it's kind of like the Emperor's New Clothes. Everybody's been kind of wrapped up in an illusion when in fact over the last couple of years people have been taking a new look at all the unpublished studies.

And when you put together the unpublished studies and the published studies, what you find out is that antidepressant drugs are little, if any better, than placebos (that is, sugar pills) in relieving symptoms of depression."

For a drug that only works as well as a sugar pill, antidepressants have steep risks. Among them:

• An increased risk of diabetes
• A negative effect on your immune system
• An increased risk of suicide and violent behavior

Now, the purpose of the interview with Dr. Gordon, and of my newsletter and Web site as a whole, is to get the word out that there are ways to overcome depression that have nothing to do with padding the pockets of the drug companies, and putting yourself at risk of serious side effects while you're at it.

There are safe, natural ways to overcome depression, and they are all well within your reach.

Exercise is One of the BEST Treatments for Depression

Sometimes the solution to what ails you is so obvious that you can't see it until it hits you right on the head. Well, consider yourself hit. If you have depression, or even if you just feel down from time to time, exercise is a MUST (it's a must for everyone, really).

"What we're finding in the research on physical exercise is, the physical exercise is at least as good as antidepressants for helping people who are depressed. And that's even better for older people, very interesting, even more important for older people," Dr. Gordon says.

"And physical exercise changes the level of serotonin in your brain. It changes, increases their levels of "feel good" hormones, the endorphins. And also -- and these are amazing studies -- it can increase the number of cells in your brain, in the region of the brain, called the hippocampus," he continues.

"These studies have been first done on animals, and it's very important because sometimes in depression, there are fewer of those cells in the hippocampus, but you can actually change your brain with exercise. So it's got to be part of everybody's treatment, everybody's plan."

If you're not sure how to use exercise like a drug, including the correct variety, intensity, and frequency, this past article will help you get started.

And please don't delay. Many Americans have an exercise deficiency, but this problem is easily remedied if you look at exercise as a crucial part of getting healthier and happier.

The Other Key Factors to Overcoming Depression

Depression is a very serious condition, but there's an important point I want to make: depression is not a "disease." Instead, it's a sign that your body and your life are out of balance.

This is so important to remember, because as soon as you start to view depression as an "illness," you think you need to take a drug to fix it. In reality, all you need to do is return the balance to your life, and one of the key ways to doing this is addressing stress.

"Most of the research that I've been reading recently indicates that stress is the most important common factor in producing depression of all kinds and in turn affecting neurotransmitters," Dr. Gordon says.

So, along with exercise, you need to have a method of stress relief that works for you. You may like meditation, yoga or going for a hike in nature, and all of these are great to use, but I also suggest using a system that can help you address emotional issues that you may not even realize are there. For this, my favorite is Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT). However, if you have depression or serious stress, I believe it would be best to consult with a mental health professional who is also an EFT practitioner to guide you.

So, we have stress relief and exercise, but there is still another factor: your diet. Foods have an immense impact on your mood and ability to be happy, and eating whole foods as described in my nutrition plan will best support your mental health.

At the same time, you need to supplement with a high-quality, animal-based omega-3 fat, like krill oil, and also make sure you're getting enough sunlight exposure to have healthy vitamin D levels (also crucial for treating depression).

These three primary things -- exercise, addressing emotional stress, and eating right -- will make you feel at the top of your game. Whether you want to overcome depression, feel happier, or just want to stay healthy, these are the lifestyle changes that will get you there.

MySpace repost x2: "Books Dante's Inferno & Moby Dick"

Aug 31, 2009
The Pleasure Gardens of Hell (reading Dante's Inferno)

Although Dante's Inferno doesn't quite use the exact words pleasure garden, that's definately the idea that comes across. It talks about "sweet brooks" bubbling along, and "green meadows" in a certain part of Hell. A level reserved for the "virtuous pagans" especially the great thinkers and heros of the Roman world (and assumedly others of a similar nature). Despite all their comforts, these damned are indeed officially listed as suffering "piteously" but none of that anguish was in evidence to this reader. They lived in a dome (my word) of light and warmth and pleasantness. A Citadel in the book. The commentaries say that the bright garden represents the power of Human Reason, even within Hell.

To me, this is very disagreeable. Even accepting that this is fiction, it's a very strange concept. In part, I guess Dante couldn't bear to assign his personal ideal personages from the ancient world (Virgil and Aeneis) to a suffering eternity. Moreover, he ascribes far too much power to Human Reason, and/or God's respect thereof. I am personally confused about how God will ultimately treat so-called "virtuous pagans," but I have no doubt in my mind that the power of Human Reason doesn't have that kind of influence.

On the other hand, why am I taking this so seriously? Who was Dante to speak for the whole of Catholicism in the 1300s? Today, many many novels and movies have their protagonist somehow encounter the afterlife. I certainly wouldn't want contemporary theology judged according to "Bruce Almighty".

I would definately like to seek out some good commetaries on Dante, especially Catholic reaction near that time. Maybe I can find a friendly college student with access to JSTOR....

I'm only about a fourth into the Inferno, which is only the first third of Dante's Comedia (Divine Comedy). I will have to keep eveyone updated.

If you've noticed, my reading record closely coresponds to the various upsets in my life. This is less due to stress releif than the extra time on my hands.

Aug 26, 2009
currently just finished 'Moby Dick'

Wow, I've been very busy lately. I clearly haven't blogged in a very long time. And I STILL haven't read Ashenden!

Since my last blog, quite a few things have happened, professionally and literarily (is that even a word?)

I will make a further blog about my hurried exodus from Tulsa, and other life changed events, but in the meantime, I've learned....

The Borg are now planning annihilation, not just assimilation. (ST:Destiny)

The White Whale is better left alone; and Pip jumped again (I finished 'Moby Dick', and learned that to Melville, the whale is a fish, albeit a very strange one. I, for one, do not have the presumption to argue with Melville about whales)

The mighty sirrush is a mystery of natural history worth my attention (I happened upon the wonderful author Willy Ley, a most amazing amatuer naturalist and [I kid you not] rocket scientist)

A P2C2E solves all problems [so does rubbing your eye with your elbow]. (currently reading Salman Rushdie's children's book Haroun and the Sea of Stories)

Onward! I am on the heavy lookout for Willy Ley's Salamanders and Other Wonders, and I'm eager to find ST: Soul Key.

MySpace repost: "Ashenden by Maugham"

Oct 24, 2009
Ashenden by W. Somerset Maugham

I am told the author's last name is pronounced as a single syllable, "Maum." If anyone knows better, please let me know.

I feel a measure of satisfaction over completing this book, not because it was arduous, or especially hard to come by, or historically revealing, but because I had procrastinated over a year by simply being otherwise occupied. Either work or other activities or other reading got in the way. And I have been looking forward to reading Ashenden since I first read about it. Maugham is a good author. I like his writing style and cadence and word choice(s). Another point of attraction is that my used copy off eBay is from the 1950s! Antique yellowed musty hardbacks carry a certain respectable aire to them, especially when in good condition.

I found Maugham in a collection of critically acclaimed English-language short stories, and looked him up at my local library, finding The Razor's Edge, one of his better known books.

Ashenden isn't too effective as a novel, despite my enthusiastic opinion of his writing style. It has a weak beginning, no climax, and no end. It reads like a collection of short stories, which may or may not have a normal story flow. Unlike 'stream of consciousness' or disjointed rambling books like Max Havelaar, I don't really see a method to the madness. Perhaps that's just my own limitation as a reader, but I am disinclined to think so.

I am currently reading The Horror and Fantasy Tales of Rudyard Kipling, a book I was excited to find at my local library, and which is the subject of my next blog (I am planning to write today).

I recently finished the newest-ish DS9 Relaunch Star Trek book, Soul Key by SD Perry. Star Trek is my light reading to relax between more taxing tomes (hey, that rhymed! Wait, that wasn't a rhyme, that was alliteration: oh, fooey; does it really matter?). I just ordered off Amazon Star Trek: Destiny: Book 1: Gods of Night and Salamanders and Other Wonders by Willy Ley. Their arrival and criticism is forthcoming.

MySpace repost: "SciFi/Horror of Rudyard Kiping"

Oct 24, 2009
currently reading Horror and Fantasy of Kipling

Well, to give the full title of the collection, The Horror and Fantasy Tales of Rudyard Kipling, including, "The Phantom Rickshaw", "With The Night Mail", "At the End of the Passage", "The Strange Ride of Morrowbia Jukes", and "Mark of the Beast".

Yes, this is the same Kipling who wrote the Jungle Book, which is quite different from the Disney animated film.

And yes, Kipling is well-renowned as a rascist and an imperialist ( I haven't made an informed opinion myself, and poor Kipling can't defend himself. Attacking the character of the deceased seems cowardly to me). I agree with other critics that that alone should not be held against his writing. His stories should be weighed according to their own merit.

Anyway, I was most interested in a single story, "With the Night Mail", subtitled "A Story of 2000 AD". I was rather suprised to learn that Rudyard Kipling wrote some sci-fi.

I have read it, although I have yet to read the other "tales" and it was an interesting read. Speculative as expected, rather than science-based, it nonetheless earns the title science fiction. Instead of a 'space opera' though it was a 'stratosphere opera'.

I will follow with further analyses of the more straight-forward psychological and suspense stories at my next blogging. I've never really read horror at all and I'm distinctly repulsed by horror movies, so we'll have to see.

Until next time...

MySpace repost x2: "Star Trek Destiny"

Nov 18, 2009
dissatisfied with my Destiny

Well, the Destiny trilogy is turning out to be rather disappointing. The first two books were better, I think, or rather they are all equally good but are ... disappointing in hindsight. That's all just my personal opinion, by the way.


I am sick of the Caeliar. Sick of Erika Hernandez. Sick of the Borg being blown away too quickly. Sick of nobody significant dying. Sick of the way the author seems to have read waaaay to many comic books. Maybe that's one of the downsides of a trilogy: if there is a weak point it starts to seem intermidable. Or when something is fun and interesting, it's like ice cream, too much of a good thing gives you a belly ache.

I will grant the author, David Mack, a few bravos. His rendering has been pretty lively overall, and the confluence of the various story threads is quite complex. He brought in a few Zaldans, and mentioned Rhandaar, all of which is good. (Where are my Betelguisians?) His interplay of Federation President Bacco's politics was a lot of fun for me.

On to some of my gripes:
1) I don't think the Hirogen should have blood. I didn't see it in Voyager (that I recall) and that was even when they were hacked up and shot by bullets.
2)Why give his new race, the Takarans, such powers, and such a lengthy treatment? I personally think all those regenerative and anatomical traits properly belong to the Hirogen. Such time was spent on the treatment that could have been better spent on further developing one of the other many races. (okay, I partially rescind my gripe: I just googled Memory Alpha and learned Jo'Bril from TNG was our first intro to this species. Mack was indeed fleshing out a known species whose regenerative hardiness had been established, although I still think he overdid it. And his downplay of the Hirogen still irks me terribly)
3) When Mack uses an Andorian female as a main character, leading a stike team against the Borg, IN THE DARK, he doesn't play up their special senses, which are very well established within the post-Nemesis books. Specifically, Andorians should be able to sense a body presence even within the dark and energy dampening feild.

Okay, I have plenty of others, but let me get on with this.

Just for curiosity sake, let me list the major superpowers recognized by Bacco's Presidency: Klingons, Romulan Star Empire, Imperial Romulan State, Gorn, Breen, Tholian, Ferengi, Talarians, [Tzenkethi], and Cardassians. (The reason I list Tzenkethi in brackets is because, in the book, they never actually showed up. To someone not familiar with the books, the dual representation of the Romulans may present a suprise, as well as the Gorn. IN THE BOOKS, the Gorn Hegemony gained a bit of recognition starting with an ally during the Dominion War. I still prefer the term Gorn Star Kingdom, as used is the Starfleet Academy video game, but that's neither here nor there. The double Romulans come in after a lot of chaos and civil war and rebellion following the whole Shinzon insurgency, which is more from the books than the canon, but is rather implied by Nemesis.) The Talarians are a suprise to me (other than their single appearance in TNG, I know of no other entries).

I encourage speculation: what other species were worthy of inclusion, in your opinion, in a simple imaginary "dream team" of sorts (well, team is a stretch, considering the hostilitiy of the various superpowers). I vote for the Jarada, myself.

Let me just say, in my opinion, I hate using the word "nation" to descibe these, as is current in most if not all recent books. Calling them all empires is innaccurate, and calling the states sounds a bit diminutitve. I would prefer the term "sovereignities" although that is rather clumsy.

P.S. I just checked Memory Beta (11/18/09), a wiki site for non-canon Trek, and it says: "At present the TrekLit universe has entered a period of major upheaval with the aftermath of Star Trek: Destiny and the alternate reality of the new Star Trek movie." Yup, that pretty much sums up the current state of affairs.

P.P.S. Oh, I updated the Memory Alpha wiki site for Zaldans, Rhaandarites, and I think there was something else. What can I say, I'm a bit obsessive.

10:43 AMLike •


Nov 8, 2009
AMBASSADOR Garak? The ways of Destiny are mysterious

I am currently in the middle of reading Star Trek: Destiny: Book 2: Mere Mortals (what kind of laughable ostentation for a title!). This is a novel set approximately 16 months after the last Star Trek movie, Nemesis.

I am enjoying this trilogy immensely. I finished Book 1: Gods of Night just last week, and I have Book 3: Lost Souls on order from Amazon. I should be a bit clearer; it is a little more than just a trilogy. The arch starts with the book by Christopher L Bennett entitled Greater Than the Sum (or perhaps even father back to Before Dishonor, which I haven't read). Then, from what I've read, the arch continues with KRAD's A Singular Destiny which I may decline reading. Maybe not, if I hear good things. And with KRAD (Keith R.A. DeCandido), it's hard to imagine him not writing a book worth reading.

I have my comments, but I would refrain from too many spoilers. I apoligize for my lapse in protocol concerning Garak, but my grim amusement at the prospect of that unexpected development deserved an immediate response.

Oh, for anyone reading this series, I strongly recommend that you don't read the flashbacks until after you conclude the series. Although I can understand the publisher's reasons for putting it all together, in retrospect the narrative would flow faster AND be more interesting/mysterious if the flashbacks (only in the Destiny trilogy proper) are not explained until afterward, rather than unfolding as they do. If a prospective reader does this, please please let me know how this works out for you. The flashbacks are easily identified by year headings (such as 2381, etc. BTW, the 2300s are non-flashback years, to be read first)

I was really pleased to read a passage where parallax was casually mentioned without any definition to insult my intelligence. That was cool. They are definitely continuing their programme to beef up the Trek novels from their popular conception as "teen novels."

Oh, on the Cardassian novel, Never Ending Sacrifice: I'm not making any plans on reading it. I didn't like the author's previous contribution to the Relaunch, and it sounds like a perifery subject and I won't miss too much to...erm, sacrifice. How about you?

9:36 AMLike •

MySpace repost: "Discovered Science Writer Willy Ley"

My Willy Ley "Discovery" - Dec 2, 2009

I have to tell you about an author I have found recently. Willy Ley was a science writer in the '50s and '60s and thereabouts, and very well known in his day as a "rocket man".
He wrote on quite a few other nonfiction subjects, including zoology, archeology, and chemisty. Zoology is how I originally fell upon him, but I am enjoying Dr. Ley's writing so much that I have followed him into realms of science I never would have thought of a pleasure reading.
Currently, I am reading his book titled "The Discovery of the Elements." That's what I was refereing to. The origins of chemisty never occured to me as something I would be reading for fun. This is a book for the novice reader.
Yes, I'm sure a lot of his work is dated, but much of it is the history of science and/or biographical, and that isn't as susceptible to ephemerality (haha, I don't think I've ever had cause to use that word before!).
If you've never read Willy Ley (which I suspect) please consider looking up his "Discovery of the Elements" book. It was at my tiny local library. I realize you may be too busy to read every random book that friends recommend (most people are and I know I am). So, just leaf though and read one page out of the middle. I think you'll see what I mean.
He has a quality that I really, really admire in a scientist. He isn't so "puffed up" about his own surety. I don't see the self-righteous ego that I have almost come to expect. He has a cross European-American background, and that makes his writing the more informative and entertaining. He has a talent for branching into anecdote and tangent without making it so lengthy it seems like the subject has changed. This book, and indeed all his books I've seen, are written in a way that the novice can understand.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Science: Who Mendel really was

As you might know, I am taking a science class thruough from MIT Biology professor and acclaimed geneticist E. Lander.

This week, after looking at proteins and enyzmes and molecules, we came to genetics, which is a perfect time to discuss Mendel. It was a really great lecture, and I loved hearing all these biographical tidbits I had not run across before.

I really, really hope I am not in violation of either the academic code nor copyright anything.

"So people knew somehow there was something very important about the
information that was transmitted, and you couldn't help but notice familial
So for thousands of years, people wondered about familial resemblance.
Folks being folks would make up explanations for it.
The ancient Greeks were very big on philosophizing, not so much on doing
And so they had all sorts of philosophical explanations for this,
that particles from all over the body would come together
into the seminal fluid.
Sort of some kind of pulling operation and collecting information from the
body that would somehow go into the seminal fluid.
Most of the Greek theories were relatively sexist because it was the
male that was transmitting the information, and the female was
permissive to all of that.
Indeed at some point, people could later, many hundreds of years later,
looked at microscopes and even thought they could see little people in the
head of the sperm, little homunculi.
It's amazing what you can convince yourself you can see.
Broadly speaking, since heredity didn't follow incredibly simple laws,
the general view was somehow information was
combined from both parents.
Eventually the female parent ends up getting involved in this too, even if
not in the early Greek theories.
Information was combined from both parents and blended in some way, and
it was kind of mushy beyond that, exactly what that meant, by blending
So today, what we're going to do is talk about the origins of a real
understanding of heredity.
But it's important to know that for 2,000 or more years, people were just
completely confused about this thing.
And to understand that, we need to know the origins of Mendel.
Now, in biochemistry, we started by meeting Buchner.
Buchner, I bet most of you have never heard of before.
Amazing biochemist, you haven't heard of him before.
So my job with Buchner was to teach you about him and
what his problem was.
With Mendel I have exactly the opposite problem.
You've all heard of Mendel.
You learned about Mendel in high school, and probably kindergarten, and
things like that with the peas and the big As and the little As.
And everybody's been exposed to Mendel.
And I have to unteach you about Mendel first.
Mendel, I've got to say, I'm a geneticist.
Mendel is one of my real heroes.
Mendel is not who you think he is.
You think, it's always told that Mendel is this lone monk off in a
monastery in Brno in what is today the present Czech Republic.
And you're wondering, what is a monk doing performing scientific
experiments in the city of Brno in the middle of the Habsburg Empire?
And like, what's going on, cooking these peas for his fellow monks for
long periods of time?
You have to understand the origins of Mendel.
The origins of Mendel go back to the age of exploration.
They go back to the 1500s, when Europe sends out ships across the world.
And people come back with all sorts of strange new plants and animals.
And people begin cultivating them, and breeding them, and people get very
interested in breeding experiments, in part because of all these new
varieties, new species that are coming in from the new world.
Then there's another incredibly powerful reason why people care about
breeding at this time, and that is economics.
Europe goes from being lots of isolated little villages, not really
communicating much with each other, to building road networks.
To building commerce across cities and villages, and countries.
And it becomes more and more economically viable, economically
rewarding to make a better apple.
If you made a better apple in your own little village, you might sell it to a
few other people.
But in fact, if you could make better plants and better animals, and you had
an economic distribution system, you could get returns on investment for
improving agriculture.
So there was a powerful positive force of economics at work there as well.
So people begin to start thinking about these things.
In England, there's a lot of work on breeding better and better fruit trees
and better sheep.
A guy called Blakewell produces the Dishley sheep, which
produces great meat.
And he becomes very famous for his sheep breeding skills.
Now, on the continent of Europe, sheep were not about meat.
That wasn't what you really wanted the sheep for.
What the European continent wanted sheep for was wool.
Everybody knew that the Spanish had the best wool sheep.
Spanish sheep produced the best wool.
But of course people who are growing sheep for wool across Europe, they
wanted Spanish sheep.
And so they imported Spanish sheep, but the Spanish sheep didn't do so
well in some of these other environments.
And so people began crossing the Spanish sheep with the local sheep to
make sheep that still had good wool, but somehow survived better in the
local environments.
And there was breeding going on in France, and going on in Germany.
But the place that perhaps cared most about wool, you might imagine, was the
center of the textile industry, which was Moravia in the Habsburg Empire.
And the capital of Moravia then was Brno.
They cared a lot about wool.
And so people in this area, in the city of Brno, began to organize
scientific societies and discussion groups to talk about, how could we
make breeding better?
More scientific?
There was a guy called Andre, Carl Andre in 1806, organized the Moravian
Society for the Improvement of Agriculture, Natural Science, and the
Knowledge of the Country.
And he drew up a whole program of scientific development, emphasizing
the importance of basic and applied research in the natural sciences.
And in one of these kind of over the top civic booster kind of speeches, he
writes in his program that the significance of this kind of work on
better breeding may someday be as important as the work of Copernicus
and Newton.
And that some day the world may be as grateful to some son of Brno as they
are to Newton and to Copernicus.
Pretty kind of florid, over the top kind of prose.
But Andre lays out this whole program there, and he gets other people
interested in it.
And this guy, Hempel, five years later, begins writing about these
things and making programs.
And he says, look, we've got to understand the laws of hybridization
and how they really work.
And we're going to have--
he says we're going to need really scientific people to do it.
He says--
he even tries to characterize the kind of folk we're going to need.
He says, "we're going to need a researcher with a profound knowledge
of botany and sharply defined powers of observation who might with untiring
and stubborn patience grasp the subtleties of the experiments, take a
firm command with them and provide a clear explanation," he writes in 1820.
Well, around this time, Andre had organized a group called the
Enological and Pomological Society.
The Enological and Pomological Society, right around this time there,
very interested in plant breeding.
It has its first president, who's the president of it for about the first
seven years.
When he dies, a new person takes over, CF Napp takes over the Enological and
Pomological Society.
Now, that's not a full time job, doing this.
He has a full time job.
His full time job is he's the abbot of the Augustinian Monastery in Brno.
And he begins to decide to have his monastery work on breeding.
So he goes off looking for scientifically trained monks.
Looking for months with backgrounds in math and physics.
He's looking for MIT kind of monks.
And so he's off looking for these people, and who does he find?
STUDENT: Mendel.
Mendel is no accident.
Mendel is the result of economic forces and scientific forces, and
civic planning and an understanding of scientific research that culminates in
this monk that you think is this isolated guy standing in his garden in
the monastery.
He's the product of a biotech incubator.
This was a biotech incubator going on in the middle of Moravia.
That's Mendel."

Link to an English translation of Mendel's original paper!

Good science - 1908 early geneticist

I am really enjoying hearing about the history of science in my EdX class I am taking.
My grades and performance isn't too impressive, but I am taking the class for fun, not credit. Although if I pass I will value the certificate they offer.

But today's lecture on early genetics had a passage that really impressed me, and I love hearing scientists speak about good science.

I'm not sure this is approved for me to post (off a YouTube video lecture), but I am going to anyway, and hope I don't receive consequences.

PROFESSOR: Section 2.
Fruit Flies and the Linkage.
To explain what resolves this, I have to tell you about one more person.
There's another really interesting person, a guy called Thomas Hunt
Morgan, who spends decades as a naturalist and an embryologist.
And he studies all sorts of different kinds of critters.
And he's fascinated by everything in the natural world.
And he has one of these labs where he kind of works on everything.
All sorts of crazy things are going on.
And when this whole Mendelism stuff comes back, he's interested in the
Mendelism stuff too.
But he is really an experimentalist.
He doesn't go in for this high-faluting theory.
Morgan is not a theory guy.
He's a data guy.
He's very suspicious of all this talk of factors and things like that.
In fact, Morgan begins to do genetics work in his lab, not to study
Mendelism, but to study evolution.
He starts crossing fruit flies together.
He starts about 1908, crossing fruit flies together in the hope that he's
going to discover evolution happening in the lab, new forms coming up.
We know it's going to be new mutants.
But that's not what he was looking for originally.
He's looking for these kinds of new forms.
And I know that in 1908, when he was beginning to do this work, he was no
believer in this whole chromosome business.
I actually found an article he wrote in 1909 that tells you what kind of a
skeptic he was.
He says "In the modern tradition of Mendelism, facts are being transformed
into factors at a rapid rate.
If one factor will not explain the facts, then two factors are invoked.
If two factors prove insufficient, now three will sometimes work.
The superior juggling sometimes necessary to account for the result
may blind us, if taken too naively, to the commonplace that the results are
so excellently explained, because the explanation was invented to explain
them." Just like what we talked about.
That was exactly what was bothering him.
"We work backward from the facts to the factors and then presto, explain
the facts by the very factors that we invented to explain them." That is a
good skeptical scientist.
He says I love your high-faluting theory over there, but
I'm not buying it.
And he's off making fruit flies.

Here a great link provided by the class. This is an excerpt of a Nobel speech in 1907 by Eduard Buchner.

Monday, March 18, 2013

JHW: HR Blacklisting: The Future

In my Job Hunt Woes series, I saw this and just had to share:

The future is here, and it's really dark, and probably getting darker. Legal protection is no protection at all when it comes to things like this.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

having fun: Intro to Biology, Dinosaurs, and more

These last few days are being fun, including an MIT Biology class I signed up for FREE online (, a book on dinosaurs that has proven to be suprisingly stimulating, and a discovery in cooking.

The MIT Bio class just started this week, and so nothing heavy yet. I signed up just for kicks. It has already proven kick-worthy. It has taken a lesson from the history of science, the discovery and description of enzymes (via study of the yeast fermentation puzzle of the 1890s) and climaxing in the scientist Buchner's Nobel lecture in 1907, available online.

For many people, I suppose that isn't much of a climax. For me, it's pretty cool. I love these sorts of "history of science" stories.

Next, I have been reading "Ultimate Dinosaur" edited by Byron Preiss and Robert Silverberg, and written by several respectable authors. I was suprised and pleased to find that this book is both fiction and non-fiction, written by several respectable authors, and well-crafted in a manner that is clear which is which. It is a collection of essays and short stories, alternating genres in a manner easy on the reader. I was also pleased it had subject matter for a more mature reflection. You see, the cover seemed to suggest a kid's book. The fiction writers write fiction, and the scientists write science. What a refreshing book.

Okay, in my cooking, I love it when I find a quick recipe that actually is quick and easy and cheap. A cheap box of mac 'n cheese, cooked in 12 minutes, using the butter it calls for, with or without milk, and the Stove Top stuffing stirred in right before serving. Easy, but very good!