The Ancillary Benefits of Basses

A musician must write, or be only a player.
And navigate straits of both rhyme and palaver.
So to avoid keeping footmen named Borange and Chilver
I’ve acquired two basses, rock Orange and Silver.

Slouching in bassman’s affected rock posture,
I will pound them with Dub King, or bling them with Houser.
Both shall boom out with panache and groove swing.
Cuz it ain’t got no thing, unless you stomp, mwah, and zing.

Who knows how hot thunder will roll once I’ve started.
When I’m holding the bottom it’s sufficiently sorted.
Who knows where I’ll play, where I’ll wake once I’ve landed.
I just wish for a Reverend to boom that’s left-handed.

note: a Reverend is an amazing musical instrument.

towards a positivity bias

Sid observed that we are of types.
delusional, aversive, greedy.

never one to exclusion, or to define you.
not that there is such a thing.

but we live and play with habits of want.
wanting more. wanting less. wanting solipsism.
these roiling currents of craving.

we move through moments, in reaction and action.
shift happens.

but just have a private moment, with that moment, for a moment.
apart from any nonmoments clamoring.

they don’t exist anyway.

sail as Theseus. shift happens.
weather all weather, all storms of wanting.
the nots, be others, and mores.

simply have a moment, with your moment, for a moment.
or the nonmoments will have you.

but good news – you don’t have a moment to lose.

Kill Your (my) Television (and similar).

I don’t believe anyone really holds television watching as a noble pastime, rich with empirical or moral value. It doesn’t often fill bellies or pockets, my town (Los Angeles) notwithstanding. It holds our attention, but.. does it do much else? Are we even using our imagination, watching it? Or our we being used by it?

Regardless of it’s lack of tangible benefits, we do a LOT of it. The average American watches around 3 hours a day. Heavy watchers trend above 8 hours a day.

This has a huge impact on our culture and us as individuals. First consider the marketing/socialization angle. As a nation, TV has defined our culture with increasing impact over the past 50 years. From products to politicians, it’s invented what matters to us as a nation. In today’s shift to things like TiVo and bittorrents, the overt marketing is stripped out, though of course, the non-overt comes through full strength as we watch the stories, the “information”, the values and experiences on the screen.

Unfortunately, it appears that we are pretty much built to be compelled by the television watching experience. Our brains respond preferentially to multi-modal integrated stimulus stream of a visual/auditory media. Arguably this is because a rich stream is closest to what we experience and interpret in real life. Because of this, functional brain nodes used to process reality and learn about it are activated by tv-watching. It’s not a complete activation, though, the way “reality” is – there is little action on the viewer’s part. TV watching is passive – it is difficult to do unless you are watching passively, and you immediately miss stuff when you start talking or attending to much else.
Continue reading “Kill Your (my) Television (and similar).”

Gear Acquisition Syndrome

It’s a guilty pleasure, habit, joy, and probably sickness, but I buy, play, occasionally sell Reverend Guitars, basses, and amps. I’ve got various photos scattered around my hard drive, of various Reverends, and more than a few ways of posting them online. Time for that to end – from now on the majority of my Reverend collection photos will end up on a new section of Paradigm Pusher, so I’m announcing: Reverend Love

 Stage Al Fish

Let me know what you think 🙂 I’m also trying to figure out a Ruby on Rails application framework to adopt into a Reverend Guitar Gallery, and that will be open to the public at large. Stay tuned for more details.

Hacking brain health, without drugs.

This post is NOT intended to serve as any form of medical advice, but simply be informational on the practice of Neurofeedback for the informed individual. It is recommended you consult your doctor before trying, and If you do you try it at your own risk.

The dream, and the nightmare:

Peak performance enhancement, remediation of damage, and resilience in learning and aging have always seemed to me to be promised by the advances we are making in understanding how the mind and the brain work. Medical “technology” has indeed made vast strides against the landscape of pathology and imbalance in the mind and brain, and techniques exist to change most symptoms, from surgical to pharmacological. Indeed, drugs exist for most presenting complaints.

Problems exists, however, in drug oriented models of disease. They often ignore prevention, since the treatments were developed by evaluating symptom change, and second, there is this gross assumption that if we have “too little” or “too much” of something in the brain/body then just give a drug to make more, or suppress something. Most psychostimulants, antidepressants, anxiolytics, etc, work this way. Push one neurotransmitter production up/down, or allow it to accumulate more/less in the synapse, etc. But you can never make “one” thing happen in an interconnected system, and often produce non-intuitive behavior in the system.

Nonlinearity and chaos:

The central problem here with most drugs is an assumption of linearity. The brain – especially in cortex where higher cognitive functions occur – is a massively interconnected feedback system of positive and (mostly) negative feedback loops, systems, and subsystems. Some examples are the thalamocortical – corticothalamic loops. Tied in with brainstem arousal (reticular) areas. And acting as a switchboard for all our senses (except smell) as well as providing feedback to the systems that handle our emotional (limbic), memory and learning (medial temporal), movement (basal ganglia) and basic drive (hypothalamic) systems. And each of these somewhat modular systems have an astonishingly large number of inputs from each other and cortical regions. And let’s not even get started on the somewhat decoupled machine of posture and movement that is the cerebellum, or “little brain”. The cerebellum receives 19 of the 20 million descending motor command fibers, by the way, and only 1 million actually leaves the brain and heads down to drive things. And it’s got over half the neurons in the brain packed into 10% of the total brain space. So.. wiring aside, it’s safe to assume that a lot of brain function is in state transitions, and that gets us into the realm of dynamics. Dynamical Systems are ones that have thresholds, tipping points, and states. They revolve and oscillate and trip wildly through chaotic conditions.
Continue reading “Hacking brain health, without drugs.”

Introducing Nootropics: Piracetam

Several months ago, I began to experiment with nootropic substances.

That’s not as scary as it sounds, I promise. In fact, you may be so suitably impressed by the info in this blog post that you want to try them yourselves. Go right ahead; it’s a free country. But these series of posts on nootropics should not be interpreted or used as medical advice, and are simply intended to be informational. Any actions you take are your own responsibility, and I suggest consulting with your physician first. This becomes a very strong suggestion if you are taking any prescription meds. Also, this is a blog entry, so it’s a work in progress. I’ll be adding citations, editing content, and maybe even adding pictures as I have time, so your mileage may vary.

So exactly what are these “nootropics”? From the greek, we have noos (mind) and tropein (turn/bend). More plainly speaking, nootropics are “smart drugs” – brain-enhancing substances that improve cognition through various nutritive and/or drug-like effects.

Within peak performance, anti-senscence, medicine and psychology circles the term generally refers to substances that have few to no side effects and improve how the brain (typically the cortex) functions. Caffeine might be considered a nootropic, although it probably has too many side effects to truly be called one. Omega-3 fatty acids are probably a good example of a subtle nootropic. Substances like modafinil (Provigil) and either Adderal or methylphenidate (Ritalin) and it’s friends should probably not be termed nootropic. The psychostimulants carry some of the same cognitive, attentional, and learning and memory benefits as nootropics but often come with steep side effects, ranging from blood pressure and heart problems to maturational retardation or even sudden death. Various b-vitamin derivatives, plant substances, hormone/neurotransmitter-modifiers and some designer substances probably are. In contrast, these nootropics tend to increase oxygen absorption, support cellular metabolism, and/or increase and resupply specific neurotransmitters.
Continue reading “Introducing Nootropics: Piracetam”

souping up

i’ve been a Mac guy for a while. we had an Apple IIe when i was in 5th grade or something, and i took a Mac Classic to college.

i remained a Mac guy even through years of working in the software industry, and worked with every system under the sun. for a while i maintained a cross platform porting farm for a database & middleware company, and worked with everything from Solaris and NT on Alpha chips to A/IX. every type of chip, and every platform, and still whichever mac i was on made me happiest.

it wasn’t so much about the fact that my Macs didn’t get viruses.
or that they were really fast. or incredibly stable (at least as of Mac OS X).

i’ve been a Mac guy for a while. even before it made sense. i bought them when they cost 2X as much as a PC and gave you only a marginally better experience. and then OS X happened, and the value of “the computer” started growing exponentially. now it was UNIX. whoa nelly.

i also used to be the guy that would take my Mac apart into it’s constituent components. yeah, no surprise there. so i’ve upgraded (almost always without dire consequences) every Mac i’ve had, even when the effort it took was decidedly un-user-friendly.

and i’ve bought Macs even when they weren’t more stylish than anything else.
i mean, come on. a beige box? ya, that’s better than a grey box.

but then came the Intel Macs.
Continue reading “souping up”

procr

one part, the quiet part.
the small, still part. that knows.
said, “you have many things to do, that you will find joy in doing!”

then another part.
in an act of rampant ventriloquism
added, “tomorrow.”