Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Re: Circadian rhythms.



Charles Czeisler of Harvard University established a decade ago that the mean for the intrinsic, or “free-running,” activity rhythm is 24 hours 11 minutes, plus or minus 16 minutes. It is not 24 hours 11 minutes for everyone, of course, as there is considerable variation among individuals and over the course of one’s life.

...

By studying the family relationships, Pt├ícek found that the disorder is inherited, and he has found the genes involved. The genetic implications prompted two senior researchers to comment, “It seems that our parents — through their DNA — continue to influence our bedtimes.”

...

Humans have broken many links with the natural world. Our food comes pre-packed, our drink pre-bottled and we take pills instead of chewing leaves. Electricity turns our nights into days, and central heating our winters into spring. But if we go deep into a dark cave without a watch, after a few days we revert to ancient patterns. Deprived of time cues, our rhythms slowly drift out of alignment with the outside world.

http://judson.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/04/21/guest-column-larks-owls-and-hummingbirds/?ref=opinion&8ty&emc=ty

Polish pianist stands his ground.



Poland's Krystian Zimerman, acclaimed as one of the world's finest pianists, shocked his audience at Disney Hall in Los Angeles Sunday evening by stopping his recital and announcing that this would be his last performance in the U.S.

"Get your hands off my country," Zimerman, who doesn't allow photos to be taken of his performances, told the audience. He denounced American military policies overseas and particularly in Poland, accusing the U.S. of trying to control the world.

...

Others remained but shouted for him to shut up and play the piano, and still others cheered. Then Zimerman launched into Karol Szymanowski's Variations on a Polish Folk Theme with such intensity that the audience gave him multiple ovations.

The Los Angeles Times noted on Tuesday that U.S. military policy has recently been a hot-button issue in Poland. Poles have been upset that the CIA held suspected al-Qaeda militants in secret prisons in Poland, and many objected to the Bush administration's plans to use Poland as part of a European missile defence shield.

...

Zimerman's outburst on Sunday may have been clumsy, Service added in the Guardian's On Classical blog, but it was relevant to the music he was playing.

"From Paderewski, Poland's piano virtuoso prime minister … countless classical composers and performers have been just as vocal and committed in their political beliefs," he noted.

"It's probable Zimerman only made his speech because of the Polish music he was about to play. Playing Bach and Beethoven is one thing, but performing Szymanowski's virtuosic Polish Variations for the exotic East-European delectation of a Los Angeles audience must have stuck in Zimerman's craw. Which is why he exploded in his 'quiet but angry' way."

http://www.cbc.ca/arts/music/story/2009/04/28/zimerman-poland-pianist-protest-america.html

Here's young Zimerman playing Chopin's 3rd Ballad. Apparently I never quite understood what tickling the ivory meant...



Man; Youtube Fight!

Zimerman plays Schubert Impromptu Op. 90 No. 2


vs.

Dong-Min Lim Schubert Impromptus Op.90 No.2



vs... there are tons more.

Artist of the day: Classified



During driving the SUV for the Scots, I had some down time in downtown Steeltown and listened to a Q live in studio appearance with Classified.

Luke Boyd, known professionally as Classified, is an underground Canadian rapper and producer from Enfield, Nova Scotia.

His 2005 album Boy-Cott-In the Industry reached #46 on SoundScan's Canadian R&B charts. His singles "The Maritimes", "5th Element" and "No Mistakes" were all Top 20 hits on MuchMusic and MTV Canada that year. His video for "No Mistakes" won an MMVA for MuchVibe Best Rap Video.

Boy-Cott-In the Industry earned him a Juno Award nomination for Rap Recording of the Year in 2006,[1] and Hitch Hikin' Music resulted in a second one in 2007.


Three good songs from his new good album Self-Explanatory; yes, better than K-Os.

Anybody Listening (a remix-type-thing of a Phil Collins' song)

One Track Mind (ft. Joel Plaskett)


Also, Quit while you're ahead, with Maestro, Choclair and Moka, is awesome.


Download full album here

AND, AND AND! It's a choose your own adventure CD!!! (sort of.. idea is there).
I had this idea back in 2001... at the end of certain tracks you can decide how the mix goes!... (skip to track 24 if you want to continue driving, drop back to track 4 if so and so... ). I remember recording the tracks/radio for an entire 24 hour day... mine was/is based on a single, specific, solid day of work. Anyway, another never released, never revisited album, but Classified does it, alright... ;) He's more into the music recording than I was pho sho.


Now this is some great photoshop work!:


Album highlights?:
Bike references throughout (including the choose your own adventure)
"got the club running like a track meet.. "
"I don't fuck with the facebook cuz I need my space..."

umm... and not one bad track on the album.



Toronto:
15 May 2009 Phoenix Concert Theatre Toronto, Ontario

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Top 50 green power purchasers in the USA and their proportion of total power used.

http://www.epa.gov/greenpower/toplists/top50.htm

Some surprises include several divisions of Pepsi (at 100% green power!), City of Chicago, Dell actually giving back to the grid overall, the State of Pennsylvania, and several banks...

A graph that makes sense... and looks great.



Denser living = less driving... makes sense, but looks great on this graph. One thing to look at is the rapid rise from townhouses to stand alone single family homes; a 50% increase in miles! Via Treehugger.com

Objectified



Got tickets for a few of the HotDocs, including Objectified, second in a planned trilogy by "Helvetica" director Gary Hustwit.

Objectified trailer:


http://www.nytimes.com/indexes/2009/04/19/style/t/index.html?8ur&emc=ur#pageName=19movie

His latest, ‘‘Objectified’’, had its premiere at last month’s South by Southwest festival. This film looks at industrial design, mixing interviews with assembly-line factory shots and B-roll footage of people shopping. Sustainability, consumerism, robots — ‘‘Objectified’’ covers all the bases and catches the design world’s hotshots off guard. There’s Dieter Rams, pruning a bonsai tree in his Japanese garden; the IDEO co-founder Bill Moggridge firing up his 1955 GMC Jimmy; and Jonathan Ive, deep inside Apple’s top-secret facilities, wiping the screen of his iPhone with his T-shirt.

Bedtime inspiration/awe


Timescapes Timelapse: Learning to Fly from Tom @ Timescapes.

Looking for some artificial internet bedtime inspiration? Set to Pink Floyd's Learning to Fly.

I strongly urge you to click on the link and watch it full screen in HD; you know, if you got the time!

Time lapse videos of the earth's rotation with the stars as the allegiant(,) rock.

Profile of the day: New US Secretary of Energy

Nobel Prize winner, and US Secretary of Energy Dr. Steven Chu

Was anyone in your family impressed when you won the Nobel Prize in Physics?

Probably, but who knows? I called my mother up when they announced the Nobel Prize, waiting until 7 in the morning. She said, “That’s nice — and when are you going to see me next?”

Is it true you don’t drive a car?

My wife does, but I no longer own a car. Let me just say that in most of my jobs, I mostly rode my bicycle.

And now?

My security detail didn’t want me to be riding my bicycle or even taking the Metro. I have a security detail that drives me.

How do you feel about adding carbon emissions to the air?

I don’t feel good about it.

I guess the president wants to keep you alive.

My wife is in favor of that as well.


http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/19/magazine/19wwln-q4-t.html?_r=4&ref=energy-environment



Short discussion on fuels:



Wkipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_Chu

Chu: I enrolled in a two-year, introductory physics sequence that used The Feynman Lectures in Physics as the textbook. The Lectures were mesmerizing and inspirational. Feynman made physics seem so beautiful and his love of the subject is shown through each page. Learning to do the problem sets was another matter, and it was only years later that I began to appreciate what a magician he was at getting answers.

http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/physics/laureates/1997/chu-autobio.html

US department of Energy profile: http://www.energy.gov/organization/dr_steven_chu.htm

But Chu told senators nuclear power would be an “essential part of our energy mix.”: http://thehill.com/the-executive/sens.-hear-chus-support-for-role-of-nuclear-power-2009-03-11.html

Steven Chu: ‘Coal is My Worst Nightmare’:http://blogs.wsj.com/environmentalcapital/2008/12/11/steven-chu-coal-is-my-worst-nightmare/

"Another myth is [that] we have all the technologies we need to solve the energy challenge. It's only a matter of political will," he says. "I think political will is absolutely necessary... but we need new technologies to transform the [energy] landscape:
"
http://wonkroom.thinkprogress.org/2008/12/10/steven-chu-new-energy/

TFC = fun!

SO, Sunday was supposed to be all about hanging out in the park, maybe reading a bit, and having a snack or two, but, plans fell through. Then, with a phone call not 5 minutes later, an offer of extra tickets to the TFC game! It was supposed to be a cloudy, rainy affair, but it turned out great!

One thing that kinda sucked, you're allowed to bring camera's into the park, BUT, apparently zooms cannot be over 75mm! WTF?! What a weird rule... Anyway, I brought my D40 along with it's disgustingly damn fine 18-200mm zoom, and had to leave it at the door. Oh well; here are at least some shots outside BMO field. Thanks again Rebecca!







Monday, April 27, 2009

Currently...

So, I'm on the phone with my dad right now... he's trying to hook up a newly wireless capable laptop to a newly purchased wireless router. Apparently 'all the cables are connected'. I am now running him through the set up process over the phone....

Me: "Open Internet Explorer..."
Him: "Open Internet what? Open the internet?"

It's gonna be a few minutes before more gets posted here...



EDIT: resolution? 45 minutes later, just hard reset the router to factory default. No security, but at least access. Good temp solution...

Well written and researched:

Inside the baby mind
It's unfocused, random, and extremely good at what it does. How we can learn from a baby's brain.



While scientists and doctors have traditionally assumed that babies are much less conscious than adults - this is why, until the 1970s, many infants underwent surgery without anesthesia - that view is being overturned. Gopnik argues that, in many respects, babies are more conscious than adults. She compares the experience of being a baby with that of watching a riveting movie, or being a tourist in a foreign city, where even the most mundane activities seem new and exciting. "For a baby, every day is like going to Paris for the first time," Gopnik says. "Just go for a walk with a 2-year-old. You'll quickly realize that they're seeing things you don't even notice."

...

There's something slightly paradoxical about trying to study the inner life of babies. For starters, you can't ask them questions. Young children can't describe their sensations or justify their emotions; they can't articulate the pleasure of a pacifier or explain the comfort of a stuffed animal. And, of course, none of us have any memories of infancy. For a scientist, the baby mind can seem like an impenetrable black box.

In recent years, however, scientists have developed new methods for entering the head of a baby. They've looked at the density of brain tissue, analyzed the development of neural connections, and tracked the eye movements of infants. By comparing the anatomy of the baby brain with the adult brain, scientists can make inferences about infant experience.

...

Consider, for instance, what happens when preschoolers are shown a photograph of someone - let's call her Jane - looking at a picture of a family. When the young children are asked questions about what Jane is paying attention to, the kids quickly agree that Jane is thinking about the people in the picture. But they also insist that she's thinking about the picture frame, and the wall behind the picture, and the chair lurking in her peripheral vision. In other words, they believe that Jane is attending to whatever she can see.

...

A recent brain scanning experiment by researchers at Johns Hopkins University found that jazz musicians in the midst of improvisation - they were playing a specially designed keyboard in a brain scanner - showed dramatically reduced activity in the prefrontal cortex. It was only by "deactivating" this brain area that the musicians were able to spontaneously invent new melodies. The scientists compare this unwound state of mind with that of dreaming during REM sleep, meditation, and other creative pursuits, such as the composition of poetry. But it also resembles the thought process of a young child, albeit one with musical talent. Baudelaire was right: "Genius is nothing more nor less than childhood recovered at will."

http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/ideas/articles/2009/04/26/inside_the_baby_mind/?page=full

uhh... so cool!... such a pleasure to read... so worth the 10 minutes.

The Blind Side




Michael Oher, a graduate from the University of Michigan, was selected by the Baltimore Ravens 23rd overall. Michael, an offensive tackle, was the player featured in Michael Lewis' The Blind Side. He is now the multi-millionaire he was projected to be!





As he did so memorably for baseball in Moneyball, Lewis takes a statistical X-ray of the hidden substructure of football, outlining the invisible doings of unsung players that determine the outcome more than the showy exploits of point scorers. In his sketch of the gridiron arms race, first came the modern, meticulously choreographed passing offense, then the ferocious defensive pass rusher whose bone-crunching quarterback sacks demolished the best-laid passing game, and finally the rise of the left tackle—the offensive lineman tasked with protecting the quarterback from the pass rusher—whose presence is felt only through the game-deciding absence of said sacks.
- From Amazon

Sunday, April 26, 2009

ok.. omg...

Something in Toronto to do with bikes that is actually worth getting involved with!



http://www.cbc.ca/canada/toronto/story/2009/04/27/rental-bicycles.html

http://www.ibiketo.ca/blog/2009/04/23/bikesharing-coming-soon

Yes.

They seem to have carefully studied other systems such as Paris' Velib and Montreal's Bixi. There will be "secure, automated self-serve parking stations" that can be easily moved. Members will use smart cards to get bikes, which they can take out for free for the first half hour. After that members pay. The bikes will be sturdy, with racks, at least three gears, and locked up at the stations located every 200 to 300m in the urban area bounded by Parkside, Broadview, Dupont and Lake Ontario. There will not be any advertising in the "public right of way". After the first year the system may be expanded to other parts of the city.

A cheap fish-eye camera!


170-180 degree pictures!



http://shop.lomography.com/shop/main.php?cat=&pro=few

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000JFJ06G/ref=s9_sims_gw_s1_p114_i1?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=center-2&pf_rd_r=0JMM6QMX33H8H0BYMG6F&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=470938631&pf_rd_i=507846


I saw these on sale at the AGO gift shop, and am thinking about picking one up... just need to read a few reviews first. Pretty cool!

The future is powered by farts.

I know some of you will make a killing!



It works like this: giving small jolts of electricity to single-celled microorganisms known as archea prompts them to remove C02 from the air and turn it into methane, released as tiny "farts." The methane, in turn, can be used to power fuel cells or to store the electrical energy chemically until its needed.

http://dsc.discovery.com/news/2009/04/23/electric-fart-machine.html

Another Jungian quiz...




http://www.bgfl.org/bgfl/custom/resources_ftp/client_ftp/ks3/ict/multiple_int/index.htm

Another day, another meaningless test. I haven't, and don't plan to take this test, but definitely relates to one of the previous books I read of the intertwined Jungian brain.

Bicycle racing in Turkey...

It gets interesting at 3:30...

Friday, April 24, 2009

Best place to launch a canoe to Toronto Island?



... and, I suppose, best landing site? Anyone got any ideas?.. This is what I got so far...

http://www.canoetoronto.com/trip.php

Get into the lagoons? -(ummm... pdf warning - but good detailed maps) http://www.toronto.ca/parks/pdf/TorontoIslandsPermitInfo.pdf
.

http://www.toronto.ca/parks/island/

I want to try to get over there in the next week or two, and maybe even this weekend if anyone is up for it... This would be the first trial run, so the run won't be ideal, but it will give some ideas on what's possible, where you can and can't go (lagoons??), what will and won't fit on the canoes (bikes, picnic equipment, etc), learning what would be good to take, what is not necessary, and if two canoes are possible to portage on the bike trailer (which has arrived!).

Anyway, if you're up for the inaugural run, let me know.

Meat business cards



http://www.boingboing.net/2009/04/23/business-cards-made.html


Goes well with the a new Walrus blog entry by Joel McConvey:

...these ideas give us meat as one of the few things in our culture that signifies both elite status and normalcy, both power and conformity. What I find puzzling is that, when you look at how we eat these days, the notion of meat as manly in the predator/prey sense, or as traditional in the sense of being a great normalizer, falls apart.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Wiretap




http://www.cbc.ca/wiretap/

http://www.supernintendochalmers.net/wiretap/

The above link will allow you to download almost any Wiretap episode, organized by date. I'm downloading them now, and will post a zip with all of them soon!
_________
Also, Goldstein is showing up at This is Not a Reading Series which I'm planning on attending...:

Has any book inspired as many jokes as The Bible? And can you think another bestselling title with such a clumsy ending? To celebrate the launch of Ladies And Gentlemen, The Bible! (Penguin Group Canada) noted author and CBC Radio personality Jonathan Goldstein will share the stage with Canadian Comedy Award-winners Monkey Toast: The Improvised Talk Show. Come, witness all of human history, from The Book Of Genesis to The Apocrypha, told in the form of divinely-inspired improvised comedy. Marc Glassman, Executive Director of This Is Not A Reading Series and Proprietor of Pages Books & Magazines will host the evening. – A This is Not A Reading Series event presented by Pages Books & Magazines, Penguin Group (Canada), NOW Magazine, and Take Five On CIUT.
The Rivoli, 334 Queen St West, Toronto
Wed Apr 29; 8pm (Doors 7:30pm) $5 (Free with Book Purchase)

http://www.facebook.com/home.php?ref=logo#/event.php?eid=81765211463&ref=nf

More bittorrent news.. Judge on the take.


Peter Althin, who represented Pirate Bay spokesman Peter Sunde in the case, said Thursday he would request a retrial after Judge Tomas Norstrom confirmed Swedish Radio reports that he was a member of two copyright-protection organizations.

http://www.cbc.ca/technology/story/2009/04/23/pirate-bay-retrial.html

Super. And he says he's apparently unaffected by that, coming in with no pre-conceived notions. Uh-huh. The music/film industry distribution faculties are really fighting for their obsolete existence.

Morning sickness is great for everyone, especially the baby!



http://www.cbc.ca/health/story/2009/04/23/morning-sickness-iq.html

This is something I didn't realize...

"It's long been known that while hard to endure, nausea is actually a sign of a healthy pregnancy. Women who suffer from morning sickness are less likely to miscarry and less likely to give birth to babies with congenital cardiovascular problems.

The thinking is that some hormones secreted by the placenta — hormones needed for a healthy pregnancy — trigger the nausea..."

And they come out more developed and smarter?! Cool!

Cubism and 4 dimensions...



So, just another thing I've been thinking of lately, especially after an extended discussion during Easter weekend with the family; Picasso's cubism, and the fourth spatial dimension...

I'll post more on it later when it's not so late, but here are a few teasers...

http://www.flickr.com/photos/ebb/3453721734/

http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v410/n6830/full/410743a0.html

It is important to fully realize the importance of cubism. It isn't just "Picasso's style" but marks the real beginning of abstract art. Picasso's predecessors, such as the impressionists, the fauvists and Cezanne were still principally tied to nature as a model to elaborate on. With Les Demoiselles d'Avignon Picasso reached a level of abstraction that was a radical enough break with the classical dominance of content over form, a hierarchy which is reversed in Les Demoiselles d'Avignon and the style which followed from it: Cubism.

http://pablo-picasso.paintings.name/

Cubism as a forth dimension explained quickly... I suppose not really a 4th spacial dimension, but a concept that is carried through the 4D experience; being able to see all sides, and insides of everything, all at once.



Carl Sagan has gone bunkers, and discusses dimensionality. Gets good only after he stops discussing flatland, after about 5 minutes... but still, a nice review of it in classic Sagan speak.

Don't go crazy, with the coffee...



http://uk.reuters.com/article/healthNewsMolt/idUKTRE51244H20090203

Coffee drinkers at mid-life had lower risks of dementia and Alzheimer's later in life compared with those drinking little or no coffee.

http://www.ottawacitizen.com/Life/Coffee+lowers+risk+Alzheimer+study+suggests/1178289/story.html


Just how coffee might protect the brain isn't known, but the researchers have three theories...

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Another Wednesday, another free AGO day...


Pretty busy there today... and no, I wasn't hanging with the 'dude' on the left...


Three dimensional.

Overheard minutes later... "Mam, please don't take any pictures.. ".

"Umm.. I'm not taking any pictures.. ", holding her camera downwards and objectively flipping through some shots on her digital cam.

"Sorry", says the guard. "Our security cameras have picked up someone taking photos around this area... "

Earth-like planet discovered; with high potential for surface water.




http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5g004fh_K-6Q4ebEceKWMDqEAiCagD97N3HMO0 DEAD.

Here~!!: http://www.age-of-the-sage.org/gliese_581_d_e.html

weirder than normal, I agree...

The planet, "e", in the famous system Gliese 581, in the constellation of Libra and 20.5 light years (192 trillion km or 119 trillion miles) away, is only about twice the mass of Earth. The team also refined the orbit of the planet Gliese 581 d, (coloured blue in image) first discovered in 2007, placing it well within the habitable zone, where liquid water oceans could exist.

New Yorker article on focus enhancing drugs...


This is what happens when you look up neuro enhancers on google images...

Eliminating foggy-headedness and improving cognitive control? Staying up, and continuing to be alert? Stay in 'the zone' longer? My father said he used the older style 'aids' back in school when studying for exams. I had a buddy at university that stayed up 3 straight days writing and finishing a term paper while on coke. Here's the new wave... applicable anywhere you need an edge, apparently. They call them neuroenhancers now.

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2009/04/27/090427fa_fact_talbot?currentPage=all

Song of the Day: The National - Lucky You



Lyrics: http://www.songmeanings.net/songs/view/3530822107858530185/

Download song here.

Yeah, just got back from class, and I'm going to unwind a bit (after this 14 hour day - yes, the cross is heavy) and watch the NHL playoffs for a bit... I'm not that into watching sports much, especially on my own, but the NHL playoffs are something every person should experience as much as they can; especially the first round. And thinking that instead of listening to the inane commentary (I get illegal satellite and only US feeds -- when lucky) I'll mute the sound and put on two or three albums and see how they work.

The National is a band I've been impelled to like, so I thought I'd give them a shot. --> Not bad.. maybe takes some more getting used to, and perhaps the right environment... The last song on the album, Lucky You, sounds best, and I like the lyrics a lot, especially for their duel/dual interpretations... Obviously that's my interpretation, but yeah... it made me rethink the whole album a bit.

I honestly still prefer The Constantines at this point (heavy still, but with better production of melody that the National seem to be missing... and messages said a bit more... gracefully?.. with music). They (The Constantines) are more experienced and more 'in it', just more in it... more into the daily... ummm, yeah, but that's another rant altogether which I'm not gonna get into at this point in the night...



btw, the other album was Songs That Tell a Story - Louvin Brothers(torrent).. pretty cool in the way it's recorded; live for sure... recorded for radio, ON RADIO, and man, a harmony (their harmonies) will always have a place for me. Simple, fantastic, camp fire music. I'll post about this again soon (this is how radio used to be.. live!). But I can't resist; here are the only two comments from Amazon:

5.0 out of 5 stars As good as it gets., January 24, 2007
This is an amazing CD. The best duo in history, singing about Salvation and Jesus. I love this CD. Acoustic - no enhancements. They are young, just starting out. Real praise. I've not made it through a Louvin Brother's album yet without crying.

5.0 out of 5 stars One of their best recordings, June 13, 1998
This is a recording from 2 of their Radio Shows on WMPS out of Fort Payne, Alabama...They are all religous songs, but true LOUVIN's with only the mandolin and guitar...They introduce each song, so you get to hear them talk also...Great music..

-------------------------

It really is amazing, and if I listen to this without watching hockey I may not survive... gorgeous. When I post about it in a few days I'll put up a link for download...

Monday, April 20, 2009

Do particles have free will?



"Everything in the universe has some degree of free will. Even quantum particles. An elemental particle "decides" which way to spin. A cosmic ray decides when to decay. Not consciously, but choose they do. A new paper co-authored by mathematician John Conway, inventor of a cellular automata demonstration known as the Game of Life, argues that you can't explain the spin or decay of particles by randomness, nor are they determined, so free will is the only option left. "

The .pdf of the paper. It is pretty numbers-y though...

I've always had a hunch that free will does exist for particles, but not in the sense as we know free will. I have a belief that the free will is enacted in another dimension which we can not see; we only see the resultant spins, break-ups, and collisions. It gets hard to explain, especially since I only know the basics anyway...

More articles, in readable terms, on the topic:
http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/35391/title/Math_Trek__Do_subatomic_particles_have_free_will%3F

http://www.cosmosmagazine.com/news/2641/subatomic-particles-have-free-will

Stephen Hawking is sick?

Mathematician Stephen Hawking rushed to hospital

Famed British mathematician Stephen Hawking has been rushed to a hospital and is very ill, his employer Cambridge University said Monday. Hawking had been expected to travel to Canada this year to act as a Research Chair at the University of Waterloo's Perimeter Institute.

UPDATE: Stephen is expected to recover. His example, and I don't just mean this slight setback, is like so many others that I'm trying hard to follow. It really is fantastic and inspiring. Individuals can make an enormous difference when they decide where and why to make it.

Perimeter tickets!

Remember the Walrus article on the Perimeter Institute in Walterloo? I got lucky and secured two tickets to their next popularized public lecture on physics for May 6th! Here's some more info: http://www.perimeterinstitute.ca/Outreach/Public_Lectures/Public_Lectures/. Looks like a great topic on the randomness of life's choices, perhaps along the lines of the Black Swan?...

In The Drunkard's Walk, acclaimed writer and scientist Leonard Mlodinow shows us how randomness, change, and probability reveal a tremendous amount about our daily lives, and how we misunderstand the significance of everything from a casual conversation to a major financial setback. As a result, successes and failures in life are often attributed to clear and obvious cases, when in actuality they are more profoundly influenced by chance. By showing us the true nature of chance and revealing the psychological illusions that cause us to misjudge the world around us, Mlodinow gives us the tools we need to make more informed decisions.



Leonard Mlodinow received his doctorate in physics from the University of California, Berkeley, was an Alexander von Humboldt fellow at the Max Planck Institute, and now teaches about randomness to future scientists at Caltech. Along the way he also wrote for the television series MacGyver and Star Trek: The Next Generation. His previous books include Euclid's Window: The Story of Geometry from Parallel Lines to Hyperspace, Feynman's Rainbow: A Search for Beauty in Physics and in Life, and, with Stephen Hawking, A Briefer History of Time. He lives in South Pasadena, California.

Synesthesia - counting the colours 'til Friday.



In Greek, mean syn (together) and aisthesis (sensation), feeling together. People with synesthesia have certain senses hooked together. A neurological phenomenon where one sense (let's say hearing) is connected to another (your vision). So for example, imagine that when you see the numbers 1, 7, 3, you taste blackberries, cherries, and strawberries. Or maybe when you hear a cello, you feel/see green. Thursday makes you see blue.

One of my heroes/people I look up to had it; Richard Feynman. Most estimates fall into the 1 in 2000 range. There are probably many people who have the condition but do not realize what it is. Often times it's never diagnosed... those who have it often think it's natural to all people. So really, these are reported numbers.

Women: in the U.S., studies show that three times as many women as men have synesthesia; in the U.K., eight times as many women have been reported to have it.

Left-handed: synesthetes are more likely to be left-handed than the general population.

Genetics: synesthesia appears to be inherited in some fashion; it seems to be a dominant trait and it may be on the X-chromosome.

Children: more likely to have it and lose it; however, there are some examples of synesthesia appearing after seizures and under the influence of drugs.

Daniel Tammet, talked about earlier in this log of a blog has number/colour synesthesia. He memorized Pi to more than 22,000 decimal places, not by memorizing the numbers, but feeling the colour sequence.

I went back and read a bit about it in Oliver Sacks' Musicophilia. Apparently every 'synesthete' has their own colour combinations/correspondences. However, these colours don't seem to change within the individual over their lifetime. Sometimes it goes both ways (see a colour and hear/feel a musical tone in a certain key). These don't seems to be learned associations either, as I suspected/thought... ie. let's say as a child you played a toy piano with coloured keys, or another toy with coloured buttons and musical tones. Also, some synesthetes report seeing colours not actually visible in the real world... they've never seen that colour before ever, except when they hear something in G major.

Brain imaging provides unequivocal evidence to the simultaneous activation of two or more sensory areas in the cerebral cortex.

Common test for synethesia:


Also, I just learned, there seems to be a space-quality to some experiences. A terrain almost. Listening to music can be described spatially, where sounds come from different areas, analogous to pitch changes with the Doppler effect. And, incredibly, it seems some synesthetes can tell, by listening to someone's music, whether the composer also has synesthesia. Simply by the composition; the movement and colour seem to be a tell-tale sign that the artist also has similar abilities. AMAZING! It literally is another form of communication! It is quite literally a 7th sense (with proprioception being the 6th)... Color isn't added to the music, it's integrated in it.

Anyway, it seems like some futuristic communication device/condition that our future human leaders will be able to send secret notes to each other with. A feeling I'll never get to experience, almost to be sure; I'm definitely green with envy!

Apparently it can be overcoming at times. From Musicophilia: "Within weeks of losing his sight, Jacques Lusseyran developed synesthesia so intense as to replace the actual perception of music, thus preventing him from becoming a musician, as he intended." The colours seemed to "invade" his head... I'm one of those people who can't listen to music while doing other work, cuz it invades my head... not sure if this is similar (grasping for some homogeneity!!), but my father feels the same as I do, whereas my mother and sisters often listen to music while working. I strongly believe there is something inheritable/inherited there, but not sure how to explain it just yet... a type of learning pathway of some sorts...

From Musicophilia: "Perhaps, as Baron-Cohen and Harrison write, "We might all be colored-hearing synesthetes until we lose connections between these areas somewhere about three months of age." In normal development, according to this theory, a synesthetic "confusion" gives way in a few months, with cortical maturation, to a clearer distinction and segregation of the senses, and this in turn makes possible the proper cross-matching of perceptions which is needed for the full recognition of an external world and its contents ... In those individuals with synesthesia, it is supposed, a genetic abnormality prevents complete deletion of this early hyperconnectivity, so that a larger or smaller remnant of this persists in adult life. "

Anyway, I'll end this epic post by quoting from Musicophilia for a third time, bringing full circle this overriding feeling/theme: "But for all of them, synesthesia is natural, almost an extra sense - so much so that such questions as "What is it like?" or "What does it mean to you?" are as unanswerable as asking "What is it like to be alive? What is it like to be you?" I think these are answerable questions; one just needs to do some self-searching, and have someone willing to tease it out of them. hahaha... or at least a blog!

From the magic of youtube:

Album and Song of the day: She & Him - Sentimental Heart



Deschanel and Ward first met on the set of the film The Go-Getter, in which the actress had a starring role. The director of the film, Martin Hynes, introduced the two and asked them to sing a duet together to be played at the end credits of the film. They decided to perform a Richard and Linda Thompson song entitled "When I Get to the Border". The two bonded over their shared interest in certain songs and artists. Ward, having heard Deschanel sing previously in the film Elf, was surprised that she wrote songs herself and had many home demos. He asked her to send them to him. Deschanel was shy about music, but sent them to him anyway. Ward called her a short time later, and told her that he would like to record her songs properly, and their band She & Him was formed.

Ward and Deschanel share a mutual affection for the songs they grew up hearing on Los Angeles radio stations - and keep in their hearts the records that most DJ's aren't playing anymore: Les Paul and Mary Ford, The Ronettes, Nina Simone, Chet Atkins, Linda Ronstadt, the Carter Family and about a hundred others.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/She_and_Him
http://www.sheandhim.com/sheandhim.php (warning: music plays on website)

Great album... definitely a slower type album. Highlights are hard to define, but songs 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 8 & 13 are pretty special.

All Music: Deschanel's songs are simple and sad tales of heartbreak and missed connections, with hooky melodies and not a single artless moment to be found.

Metacritic

Here's a sample mp3 if you like; I'll go with the opener... Zooey's voice, her harmonies (with herself), Ward's arrangement, and strings in the background make this really simple song stick. I like it better than their single, but yeah, only barely. Ok, one more.

Do yourself a favour and download the album (Direct download here)

Here's Zooey with Brian Wilson recently. Awkward at first, but gets pretty good.

Artist on Artist: Brian Wilson & Zooey Deschanel

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Speaking of trailers...

Spring is most definitely here... just purchased one of these...



No, not a church on some random river, but a bike canoe cart/trailer. Thought about making one, but just don't have the time, and not sure how much money it would save. I'm at the very least gonna try to adapt this one to carry two canoes, which, with extra straps and a little ingenuity, shouldn't be that hard.

Back from Albany!

Well, that was an interesting trip... Not sure when I'll do it again, as it's made a bit of a mess of my sleeping patterns the last few days... But, in saying that the experience was a lot of fun.

Left the house at 2 am to get to Albany around 8 am. The trick here, and why I left at such a weird time is because I needed to get back to the border before 4 pm. I went to import an engine, and well, specifically a car, for testing and use at our site. Vehicle importation into Canada can be done 24/7; however, vehicle exportation from the States can only be done between 8 am and 4 pm. And, as lovely as Albany is, I'm not sure I could justify staying there a night.

Decided not to take any music with me to sample the stations in up-state NY. Took the I-90 which goes through Buffalo, Syracuse, and Utica on the way to Albany. Driving at 2-3 am, you get to listen to the CBC's international radio service. I remember back in school listening to these brodcasts regularly while working on my thesis... Radio Sweden, Prague radio, Radio Poland... Czech radio was discussing Canada's newly proposed immigration laws.

I listened to the CBC as long as I had a signal... then around Syracuse I lost the signal... Flipping from station to station I hit on some Psycho Killer, Of Montreal, apparently Deep Purple is still popular down there, and some BTO TCB...

In Utica, the early morning stations revert to either new country, top 40 rap and top 40 pop. I enlightened myself with the top 40 rap for the most part (... blame it on the a a a aa a a alcohol... is still stuck in my head) as the others would have most likely made me drive off the road.

All went well... the ride back was not too bad, although my engine was definitely stressed hauling that 05' Chevy Suburban back. Musical highlights on the way back included When Doves Cry, Billie Jean, Fun Fun Fun, some Black Velvet and Sex and Candy.

354. Experience the serenity of traveling alone.


Had no problems crossing the border (American border patrol have been much nicer coming in and going out lately than the Canadians have.. ), and gained an experience that I wouldn't give away lightly. Plus the money saved with us buying American large engine trashed cars is pretty significant. I wish I brought the camera along, and next time I go I will...

Friday, April 17, 2009

Albany!

What's in Albany?! There's only one way to find out...




Well, that's not actually true at all.