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Big Texan




"Nothing in our experience suggests that energy could comprehend and write the equation of intellect." - R. Buckminster Fuller

August 2009

The location of memory is a bone of contention. Most academics believe some kind of synaptic ping pong takes place every time we think about something. If that's the case, I must be having an amateur tournament.

Toshiyuki Nakagaki of Hokkaido University and his colleagues says it doesn't look quite like ping pong. But, he's at a loss to offer a different metaphor.

His homies start by running a series of experiments testing the memory of a single celled slime mold. They put Physarum on an agar plate and subject it to cold dry conditions for the first 10 minutes of each hour. The cells slow down their activity during the cold spells, return to normal when things warm up.

Three hours later, they stop screwing with the thing and watch for changes in behavior. Curiously enough, at the top of the hour many of the cells behave as though they encounter a cold snap. The "cold response" behavior tapers off over time and immediately returns with the next cold setting - at the correct time intervals. Toshi and his buds repeat the experiment with the same results for intervals ranging from 30 to 90 minutes.

Physarum cells apparently show the ability to memorize and anticipate repeated events. For those of us whose memory is worse for wear: slime molds don't have a brain.

Wed, 5 Aug 2009 15:19:17


July, 2009

Police officers in cities and larger communities have written policies about how to approach a crime in progress.

These policies keep injury to a minimum and reduce media attention. Officers deviate from it to some extent because no two incidents are exactly the same. But if the shit hits the fan, that officer better come up with some good reasons why he didn't abide by the written word and brought in all the media heat.

Some things are fairly universal. On a burglary in progress, officers need quick control of the crime scene and everyone in it. Since too many officers have been shot in the back by distraught wives and unlikely thieves, they start by putting each citizen in the scene into a controlled setting. That may include temporary cuffing or placement in a vehicle. Most often officers simply tell them to go outside with another officer.

Control of the scene at this point is of vital importance. If they need to arrest the occupants to get that control, that's what'll happen.

Once the site is searched for all the suspects and control of evidence, the officers begin to sort out everyones story. As the pieces come together, people are told they're free to go about their business. Some officers might apologize to people who've been caught up in conflicting accounts of what happened.

This is routine. It happens literally thousands of times every day in America. It works well until somebody thinks they know more about police work than the cops.

Or, somebody has a hair up their ass about "perceived issues".

Who might that be? White supremacists, paranoid conspiracists and black professors who've spent their entire lives obsessing on racism.

It doesn't help when the President has spent the past twenty years listening to "God damn America!" sermons by Reverend Wright. It gets worse when the President doesn't know when to keep his mouth shut and disses thoughtful policies of police departments across the country. Yah, this is a teachable moment.

Mon, 27 Jul 2009 23:28:12


July, 2009

Just a friendly reminder as we're listening to economic reports. Before we get a chance to recover from the first wave of mortgage defaults, a second wave will hit.

Making charts like this is what banks and investors do. This same information was available to the long range prognosticators at Wall Street before they sold these mortgages.

Their good business sense was replaced by the size of the profits. These charts told them when to get out and escape the retribution.

Sat, 11 Jul 2009 16:59:07


June , 2009

Put some batteries into a clunker. Take it to the strip and beat a corvette.

Wed, 24 Jun 2009 10:50:33


May, 2009

The following words of wisdom were copied from Aleroy:

Let Go of Your Banana

In India there are a lot of monkeys. When the locals want to catch one, they anchor a bottle to the ground. The neck of the bottle is just large enough for a monkey's hand to fit through. Then, they put a small banana in the bottle, sit back and wait.

The monkey trap

Before long a monkey comes by, sees the banana, reaches his hand into the bottle, and grabs it. But then, the monkey discovers that he can't get his hand out of the bottle while holding onto the banana. There is loud chattering and squealing as the person who set the trap walks up to the monkey and places a burlap sack over him. In the darkness the monkey releases the banana and is captured.

The monkey could, of course, let go of the banana and run before getting caught. Some do. But most of the monkeys hang on to the banana until the sack goes over their head. Why? Because the banana has value to the monkey and the monkey is unwilling to let go of that value. So unwilling that he gives up his life for it. People do the same thing.

The people trap

People get trapped by their thoughts in the same way monkeys get trapped by bananas.

The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche wrote: "I get through many a bad night with the thought of suicide." Suicidal thoughts had value for him; comforting him when he felt down and depressed, easing the pain of his sadness. Unfortunately, these thoughts that seemed to help, also trapped him in the depression, like the monkey was trapped by the banana. He, and the monkey, could have let go and gained their personal freedom.

The religious person has thoughts of "heaven" to get through troubled times. The business man has thoughts of "making more money" to keep him going. The gambler has thoughts of "hitting the jackpot" to comfort him; the drug addict thinks about the "next fix;" the alcoholic, the "next bottle," etc, etc. We are all, to some extent, trapped by our own thoughts.

Thoughts color all our decisions. A suicidal person seldom makes good life choices because they dislike themselves and feel they have no future. The religious person may endure much abuse and discrimination because they feel resolved in the future, and the business man may actually cheat, lie and hurt others in his pursuit of money because he is trapped by intense thoughts of wealth. etc, etc.

You are not your thoughts

Thoughts arise from beliefs. If we believe life to be bad, we will expect bad things to happen. Beliefs are like filters, allowing what we expect to experience, and diminishing, or eliminating, things we don't expect to experience. That is why understanding ourselves is so important. We are not our thoughts. We are in control of our thoughts and our destiny at all times whether we know it or not. We create our own reality with our thoughts and beliefs.

Diogenes refused to bow before Alexander. As solders moved to kill Diogenes, Alexander stopped them and asked: "I am Alexander the Great, I have conquered the world, why do you not bow to me?" Diogenes replied: "because I am Diogenes the Cynic, and I have conquered myself." After a moment's thought Alexander stated: "were I not Alexander, be I Diogenes, go in peace." Being in control of your thoughts is very powerful, it means freedom and peace of mind. If you can't be Alexander, be Diogenes.

Changing your world

To change your world, change yourself, the world will follow you. It has no meaning until you give it meaning. What you believe about the world is reflected back to you as reality. You can change it any time you wish. Is the world bad because you see no good in it? Yes! Is the world good because you see no bad in it? Yes, again! What you see is what you get!

Now, it is possible to see beyond good and bad; happy and sad; real and fad. There you will find peace of mind. There you will find the self knowledge you seek. There you will find freedom. But you have to let go of your banana to get there.

Sat, 9 May 2009 01:03:18


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