Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Jesca Hoop: Tom Waits' Babysitter

Amazing voice, interesting melodies, incredible harmonies- website here.

Soil & Pimp Sessions: Japanese Jazz on Crystal Meth

These guys ("Soil and Pimp Sessions") are amazing- frenetic, kooky inspired Jazz. They've got the same manic energy as the old " Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra "from a decade ago- loved their version of "Hit the Road jack". Their lead singer was a flamboyant bald dude know appropriately enough as "Cleanhead Gimura" (RIP).

Monday, October 29, 2007

All Access: Middle Ages - funniest thing i have ever seen.

"Prepare to catapult back to a time when the knight-life was the right life- and the serf was never up!"

"Sometimes i think your brain's full of chowder Martin Luther!" has become a catch-phrase in our household. (from the most indulgent church ever episode).

Click here for all the episodes.


Emergence: the whole is greater than the sum of it's parts. Very interesting RadioLab episode on this subject.

When considering the 'organism' should one look at the individual ant or the entire ant hill? Ants themselves are pretty simple- but ant colonies domesticated livestock (aphids- they milk them!) millions of years before we did. Also, they can solve geometric problems- routinely finding the maximum distance from all colony entrances to dispose of dead bodies. (wow).

There are obviously no genes in the ant genome that code for "An Anthill" - and yet somehow anthills are generated by millions of genetically programmed ants. Like neurons, they've got no idea they belong to something greater than themselves.

Reminds me of a fantastic essay i read years ago by Douglas Hofstaedter in Godel Escher & Bach- republished in "The Mind's I" entitled "Ant Fugue".. the pdf of the entire book is here.. start reading from p151 of the pdf... although the whole book is amazing.

Should we think of each of our neurons as analagous to an ant? Or should we think of each individual human as an ant- with the 'colony' being our civilization/culture? Probably both- and there are probably many more levels of "nested emergence" in both directions.

quantum physics -> classical physics -> chemistry -> organic chemistry ->biochemical cycles-> symbiotic organelles -> individual cells -> origins of multicellularity->tissues -> brains -> minds -> culture -> planetisms???

Imagine a human baby, abducted at birth by Aliens and stuck in isolation in a zoo. How much useful information would an isolated mute specimen be able to provide them with? We are nothing much without each other.

Interesting that a neuron is less complicated than an ant, but an ant colony is less intelligent than a human. The largest ant colonies (argentine ants) can have up to 300-1000 million ants. The human brain has over 100-1000 times as many neurons- each of which is connected to roughly 10,000 others. But EACH ant has between 10-100,000 neurons! Thus by my calculations- there are more neurons in an ant hill than a human.

In addition, the individual ant is more than just a lump of neurons- and it's interactions with other ants and it's environment must be orders of magnitude greater that what a neuron can 'experience'.

pbs/nova videos on emergence here.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Mr Tibbles is Concerned

Stripgenerator allows you to generate cool cartoons... this one commemorates the death of our goldfish a few months ago.

101 secret ways to boost your web traffic- AND your sex life!

nothing here- just thought that title will boost my web traffic. Maybe mention a few 'hot topics' in a big long list like: eztv, .torrent , daylight savings time, joy ride, the black hole, the hollow, world series game 3, stephen king, nittany lion, linda blair, elizabeth bathory, Official Site Web 2.0 Viagra Britney Spears Quantum Superposition Naked Sex Romp Nude Bald Recessive Genes Bush Iraq Bomb Amazing Wrinkle Cream Easy Weightloss Non-newtonian Fluid World Hunger Polonium Sex Sex Sex Nipples.

Let's see what happens.

Genetics of Homosexuality


Homosexuality is not a disease, not evil, not morally wrong etc etc. What between 2 - 5 buffed people do in the comfort of their designer bedrooms (or in a public cubicle) is their own business. 'All power to them' i say.

On this point, i think the Catholic church has been 'barking up the wrong tree' for quite a while.

The practise of 'sodomy' is considered evil- and that would mean the Church should be targeting heterosexual couples to encourage them to have sex that is:

a) strictly peno-vaginal
b) non-contraceptified
c) done with the lights off

The church should, however, get their own house in order before criticising others. A few years ago the Portland diocese in Oregon decided to cure 'moral bankruptcy' with 'financial bankruptcy'- to avoid paying out too much in damages to victims of institutionalized paedophillia. Does anyone think this is not going on elsewhere? (saw a short for this film recently: "Deliver Us from Evil"- but don't think i'll be rushing to the megaplex to see it soon).

2. The scientific evidence overwhelmingly suggests human sexual orientation is 'given', rather than chosen. Among identical twin boys, if one is gay, the other has a 50 percent chance of also being gay. Among fraternal twins, who do not share the same DNA, there is only a 20 percent chance. The lack of 100% concordance between identical twins is probably the result of methylation of stretches of DNA.

3. There is almost certainly not a single gene that causes homosexuality- but like height or musical ability it is probably polygenic. It is also possible that it is related to fetal exposure to maternal hormonal changes etc- i.e. congenital but not truly 'genetic'.. (unless you consider the genes of the mother).

Homosexuality, however, does require an explanation. How could a series of genes that cause attraction to the same sex (and therefore be unlikely to be passed on) survive thousands/ millions of years of human evolution?

One idea is to compare it to cystic fibrosis- this disease is one of the most common recessive disorders (both carrier parents must have a copy of the gene for heir kids to have a 1:4 chance of the disease). This disease blocks a chloride channel, causing lung secretions to become sticky. The carriers of this gene are, however, perfectly healthy... AND may be protected against severe cases of cholera induced diarrhoea/dehydration.

As the saying goes: "Too much of a good thing..." is .. not a good ..thing. (Strange how that phrase seems to be just the front end and just sort of peters out .... )

So- what sort of advantage (in terms of getting laid) do a few gay genes give you? One idea is that they make males more communicative, flirty and attractive to women. Witness the rise of the metrosexual.. but really.. do women really go for guys with lip liner and eye shadow? Maybe EMO-chicks.

Another idea (New Scientist) is that the mothers of gay boys have a higher fecundity than other mothers (2.7 babies vs 2.4 babies on average in italy). So maybe the genes code for horniness in women (or heightened attraction to men)- and that a gay son who won't give you any grand-bambino's is worth the effort from the genetic point of view. I can't really understand this conclusion ... as i would have thought the number of children would have to be >3.4 to even the odds.

This same research found increased fertility rates ONLY ON THE MATERNAL SIDE. This suggests either a) genes on the X chromosome are at least partly responsible, or b) it's inherited thru mitochondrial DNA. Some researchers claim to have pinpointed a locus on the X chromosome Xq28 - though others have refuted this.

Perhaps the association is 'causative' in the other direction- i.e. families with lots of boys are more likely to have a gay son. This is known as the ominously labelled "Big Brother Effect"- and it has been shown that this is a biological effect- not an environmental one. In other words, it doesn't matter how many brothers you were brought up with (e.g. if you were adopted), but home many older male siblings you have.

None of the research seems to look at the genetics of Lesbianism... although i'm wondering if lesbian cave-women really had much of a choice anyway before being 'knucked' on the head.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Louis Prima + Benny Goodman: why don't they make music like this anymore?

I discovered Louis Prima only recently and have downloaded (ahm.. bought) everything i can find. He still isn't regarded as a serious jazz singer / composer- but more of a lounge act along with his "straight-man" wife Keeley Smith- whose breasts appear to defy the laws of physics in this video. Cute nose-wiping shtick.

Louis' tune "Sing Sing Sing" was nicked 1 year later by Benny Goodman to become his signature tune. Benny i discovered decades ago - my grandfather had a thick double LP of his concert at Carnegie hall- this was the VERY first jazz i had ever heard...

Better a Bottle in Front of Me than a ...

Congrats to Ed for a magnificent year or two of blogging on winosapien.

Although the fluid made from rotting grapes always tastes well .. "grapey" to me, i now know there are MANY other adjectives one can use. Now i punctaute my dinner party conversation with the phrases "cat's piss" and "chocoberries".

Non-Newtonian Liquid

This is the only blog where you'll find "Non-Newtonian Liquid" next to a Christina Aguilera music video. Viva La Shlog!

This stuff's viscosity increases with pressure- so you can roll it up into a doughy ball, then let it drip through your fingers. Paint does the opposite- it's designed not to drip from the brush, but to come off easily onto the wall.

Not as Sexy as Ms Aguilera: The Original!

Swing is Back! Hooray. Ms Auguilera is a good looking young woman.

Amazing Walking Sculptures

Friday, October 26, 2007

The Sleeper Awakes- from apnoeic REM

Wow! Just like the HG Wells novel- i've woken up from a beautiful blog-free 2 year snooze to find the war in Iraq going surprisingly badly and an extra child (a falsetto one at that!) in the house.

Blogger seems better - but not by that much!

I remember reading this novel about 10yrs ago- i liked the horizontal walkways that get faster the closer to the middle you get.. coool. Apparently HG Wells was a raving antisemite who felt inadequate sexually- he said "I want a beautiful body so i can make love with it". (note he didn't say "TO it" which to me would have made a lot more sense.).

George Orwell wrote this: There has been a perceptible antisemitic strain in English literature from Chaucer onwards, and without even getting up from this table to consult a book I can think of passages which IF WRITTEN NOW would be stigmatised as antisemitism, in the works of Shakespeare, Smollett, Thackeray, Bernard Shaw, H. G. Wells, T। S. Eliot, Aldous Huxley and various others. Offhand, the only English writers I can think of who, before the days of Hitler, made a definite effort to stick up for Jews are Dickens and Charles Reade.


Shit - it's hard enough NOT buying volkswagens or BMWs ... now i've got to ditch Huxley and i'd better throw out mine copy of Mine Kampf too!