Thursday, June 08, 2017

10% Human by Alanna Cohen

  For every one of your cells there are nine other,
bacteria and fungi. Our physical and mental health is affected
by these residents.
A mouse has 23,000 genes, a worm 20,500. Humans
have less than 21,000. But we have the genes of all the
microbes in us which provide services. These microbes evolve
fast so can adapt much faster than if we waited for evolution
of our genes.
The appendix may be a sanctuary for microbes to help
repopulate after recovery from infection.
Rats would need 30 percent more to eat without
Our digestive tract is an outside too, colonized by
Stools are mostly bacteria, some dead, some alive. 75%
by weight with fiber 17%. Bacterioids are the most common.
Microbes synthesize some vitamins.
Infectious diseases are being controlled by vaccines
and antibiotics but there other ailments like diabetes,
obesity, allergies, and autoimmune problems are much more
prevalent now.
A virus made chickens fat. Obese mice has more
Firmicutes and less Bacteroidetes with the reverse for lean
mice. Obese mice absorbed 2% more calories from food. Leptin
resistance plays a role. Leptin signals fullness. Obesity
could be an infectious disease. Lean people make more fat
cells to store energy. Obese people make bigger fat cells.
Microbes can change behavior. Antibiotics might kill
protective bacteria that allow C, Tetani to infect brain via
gut. Toxoplasma parasite implicated in schizophrenia, OCD and
ADHD. Microbes can produce hormones that increase happiness.
Clostridia species produce propionate which produces autism
symptoms including better memory.
Being too clean may leave immune cells underutilized
so they cause autoimmune problems. They might attack our
helpful microbes. The author sees herself and her microbes as
a team.
Antibiotics make cattle fatter and may do the same to
Many soaps contain antibacterials which kill microbes.
Then allergies are more potent. Regular soap just washes the
bacteria off. Using antibacterials helps bacteria develop
resistance. Strep is more prevalent after washing as it
survives better than other bacteria.  

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Focusing by Eugene Gendlin and The Power of Focusing by Ann Weiser Cornell

Focusing is like the relaxation response where you relax and avoid thoughts for say 20 minutes. The new part in focusing is to contact the feeling, to get the felt sense of what's there in your body--not to jump into it, but to identify it, name it and let it develop. Gendlin gives an example to understand the felt sense. Suppose you've forgotten something and try to remember what it was. Some ideas pop into your head but you know they're wrong. When the right one pops up you feel it's correctness. Those successful in therapy are tentative, letting their bodies get the fell of the problem instead of remaining on a verbal level, talking without taking time to get the felt sense. Both books describe the steps of focusing well.

Friday, February 17, 2017

A Short History of Nearly Everything
Bill Bryson

Many fascinating facts and insights about the universe, the earth, and life. Very well written.

p. 38 "the heavier elements were formed in supernova explosions."

p. 53 If you measured the deflection of a plumb bob from a mountain whose mass you could find the universal gravitational constant G and the mass of the earth.

p.56 Use the transit of Venus to calculate the distance of the earth from the sun.

p. 104 Avogadro's principle is that equal volumes of gas at same pressure and temperature will contain identical number of molecules, This can be used to find the diameter of a typical atom.

p. 109 Radioactive decay could account for most of earth's warmth. Radioactive elements decayed into other elements.

p. 110 It takes the same amount of time for half a radioactive sample to decay. This can be used to work out the age of a substance.

p. 122 Einstein showed that mass converts to energy very efficiently. Lots of energy in a little mass.

p. 129 In 1919 Hubble only knew of one galaxy, the Milky Way. Now there may be 140 billion galaxies.

p. 130 Pulsating stars can be used to determine relative distances.

p. 133 At 32 degrees F and sea level a sugar cube size of air will contain 45 billion billion molecules.

p. 134 An atom is the the width of a millimeter line as the thickness of a sheet of paper is to the Empire State building.

p. 141 Atoms are mostly empty space.

p. 143 THe neutron was discovered in 1932. Had it been in the 1920s the Germans might have developed the atom bomb.

p. 146 In 1997 physicists sent photons seven miles in opposite directions and interfering with one instantly changed the other.

p. 147 The weak nuclear force is 10 billion billion billion times stronger than gravity. The strong nuclear force only reaches about 1/100,000 of the diameter of an atom which is why big atoms are unstable.

p. 157 Using radioactive decay the age of the earth was estimated at 4,55 billion years.

p. 158 Before 1923 and tetraethyl lead ice cores showed no lead in the air, but since it had climbed steadily.

p. 176 1944, the continental drift theory

p. 181 Earth's surface is made of of eight to twelve big plates and about 20 smaller ones.

p. 182 The current configuration of the earth is very recent.

p. 194 Two thousand asteroids big enough to imperil civilization cross our orbit. Many more smaller ones too.

p. 205 Yellowstone is a huge cauldron of magma which erupts every 600,000 years or so.

p. 210 The earth has a core

p. 216 0-25mi crust, 25-250 mi upper mantle, 250-400 mi transition, 400-1700 lower mantle, 1700-1900 D layer, 1900-3200 outer core, 3200-3967 inner core.

p. 297 cyanobacteria, blue-green algae, absorbed water, ate the hydrogen and released the oxygen inventing photosynthesis.

p. 298 about 3.5 billion years ago cyanobacteria became tacky and formed stromatolites with three billion organisms on a square yard of rock.

p. 300 It took 2 billion years for oxygen to reach modern levels. Cells with nuclei arose. Captive bacteria, mitochondria, made complex life possible. They manipulate oxygen to liberate energy. The new cell type is called eukaryote. Old type called prokaryote.

p. 302 One trillion bacteria on your flesh.

p. 303 Every human 10 quadrillion cells, but 100 quadrillion bacterial cells.
           Microbes supply the greater part of the breathable oxygen.

p. 304 A single bacteria could generate 280,00 billion individuals in a single day.
           Bacteria share information, taking genetic code form each other.

p. 311 MOst of life's variety is small, unicellular, and unfamiliar. Microbes account for at least 80% of life.

p.312 One microbe in a thousand is harmful to humans.

p. 316 Many viruses have 10 genes or less. Even the simplest bacteria have several thousand.

p. 327 The Burgess shale showed lots of diversity, strange stuff that didn't make it. Evolutionary success is a lottery.

p. 328. Start evolution over and the chance of anything like human intelligence is vanishingly small.

p. 342 99.99% of all species that have ever lived are extinct. For complex organism,s the average lifespan of a species is 4 million years.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Full House
Stephen Jay Gould

p.4 Previous book Wonderful Life "emphasizes that the origin of Homo sapiens must be viewed as such as an unrepeatable particular, not an expected consequence. Full House presents the general argument for denying that progress defines the history defines the history of life or even exists as a general trend at all. ... Life has always been dominated by its bacterial mode."

Life is mostly bacteria. Because bacteria are relatively simple normal variation has a much higher probability (though small) of developing complex life. These are just minor branches off the main evolutionary tree. In other words, there is a left wall that limits variation toward simplicity but no right wall to limit complexity. Evolution depends on local conditions. There is no notion of progress. One can pick and choose to make it seem like evolution progresses, but that is false. This gave me a whole new understanding of our place in the universe.

Gould also considers the loss of .400 batting in baseball. Batting averages have stayed the same but because of the improvement in ability the variation from the mean of about .260 has narrowed making it much more unlikely that someone will hit .400

Sunday, January 22, 2017

My Stroke of Insight
A Brain Scientist's Personal Journey
Jill Bolte Taylor

See video
She had a stroke which disabled much of her left brain. It's fascinating to see how the right brain is purely the present, losing sense of self and feeling liquid and at not separable. It's what spiritual seekers strive for.

Two -- Simple Science
p. 19 The hippocampus learns and remembers. When the amygdala is triggered by a threat attention is shifted from the hippocampus toward self-preservation.
     The limbic system processes sensory information whcih has a feeling by the time it reaches the cerebral cortex. ".. biologically we are feeling creatures that think."

Three --  Hemispheric Asymmetries
p. 30 "To the right mind, no time exists other than the present moment ... when everything and everyone are connected as one."
p. 33 The left hemisphere places the judgment of good on the things we like and bad on those we dislike.
p. 34 "Without the right hemispheres' ability to evaluate communication in the context of the bigger picture, the left hemisphere tends to interpret everything literally."

Four --Morning of the Stroke
p. 41 "In place of that constant chatter that had attached me to the details of my life, I felt enfolded by a blanket of tranquil euphoria."
     "In this void of higher cognition and details pertaining to my normal life, my consciuosness soared into an all-knowingness. a 'being at one' with the universe."
p. 42 "I could no longer clearly discern the physical boundaries of where I began and where I ended."
p. 45 "It was clear to me that this body functioned like a portal through which the enrgy of who I am can be beamed into three-dimensional external space."
p.46 "I wondered how I could have spenty so many years in this body, in this form of life, and never really understood that I was just visiting here."

Five -- Orchestrating My Rescue
p. 49 "As the hemorrhaging blood interrupted the normal functioning of my left mind, my perception was released from its attachment to categorization and detail ... and my perception was free to shift such that my consciousness could embody the tranquility if my right mind."

Six -- My Return to the Still
p. 61 " consciousness ventured unfettered into the peaceful bliss of my right mind"

Seven -- Bare to the Bone
p. 67 ".. my perception of my physical boundaries was no longer limited to where my skin met air.
          ... I would never be able to squeeze the enormousness of my spirit back inside this tiny cellular matrix.
          .. the 'I' whom I had grown up to be had not survived this neurological catastrophe."
p. 67 "On this special day, I eraned the meaning of simply 'being'."
p. 69 "... with souls as big as the universe, connected to the energy flow of all that is ... my perception of myself returned to tis natural state of fluidity."
p. 70 "It was impossible for me to distinguish the physical boundaries between objects because everything radiated with similar energy."
         ".. there was both freedom and challenge for me in recognizing that our perception of the external world, and our relationship to it, if a product of our neurological circuitry. For all these years of my life, I had really been a figment of my own imagination!"
p. 71 "I was simply a being of light radiating life into the world. .. In the absence of my left hemisphere's negative judgment, I perceive myself as perect, whole, and beautiful just the way I was."

Eight -- Neurological Intensive Care
p.77 "When using pictures to navigate my way back into language, it was impossible to go from a general file to a specific detail."
p. 79 "The essence of your energy expands as it blends with the energy around you, and you sense that you are as big as the universe.  ... Everything, including the life force you are, radiates pure energy."

Nine -- Day Two: The Morning After
p.82 "I liked knowing I was a fluid. I loved knowing my spirit was at one with the universe and in flow with everything around me.   .. I loved the feeling of deep inner peace that flloded the core of my very being."

Eleven -- Healing and Preparing for Surgery
p.99 "Who would have guessed that my left hemisphere needed to be told about color in order for it to register? I found the same to be true to seeing in three dimensions."

Thirteen -- What I Needed the Most
p. 117 "Eventually, I could read one word at a time, attach a meaning to that sound, and then go on to the next word. I think a lot of the problem was that I could not attach one moment to the next or think linearly. As long as every moment existed in isolation, then I could not string ideas or words together."
p. 121 "Paying attention to what emotions feels like in my body has completely shaped my recovery.
             ... I may not be in total control of what happens to my life, but I certainly am in charge of how I choose to perceive my experience."

Fourteen -- Milestones for Recovery
p. 129 "During the eight years of my recovery, my perception of m,y self finally shifted from that of being a fluid back to that of being a solid. ... I really miss perceiving myself as a fluid. I miss the constant reminder that we are all one."

Fifteen -- My Stroke of Insight
p. 132 " most important, could I retain my newfound sense of connection with the universe in the presence of my left hemisphere's individuality?
           "What price would my right hemisphere consciousness have to pay so I could once again be judged as normal?"
p. 133 "The two haves of my brain don't just think and perceive in different ways at a neurological level, but they demonstrate very different values bases upon the types of information they perceive, and thus exhibit very different personalities. My stroke of insight is that at the core of my right hemisphere consciousness is a character that is directly connected to my feeling of deep inner peace.It is completely committed to the expression of peace, love, joy, and compassion in the world."

Sixteen -- My Right and Left Minds
p. 140 "In the consciousness of my right mind, we are laced together as the universal tapestry of human potential, and life is good and we are all beautiful -- just the way we are."
p. 142 "My left mind is the tool I use to communicate with the external world...Through the use of brain chatter, it nor only keeps be abreast of my life, but also manifests my identity. Via my left brain language center's ability to say, 'I am,' I become an independent entity separate from the external flow."
p. 143 "our right mind is biologically designed to readily tune in to our physiology>
             .. our left mind is biologically adept at identifying separate lines between adjacent entities."
p. 144 " the left brain is doing the best it can with the information it has to work with...I need to be very wary of my storyteller's potential for stirring up drama and trauma."
          "The portion of my left mind that I chose not to recover was the part .. that had the potential to be mean, to worry incessantly, or to be verbally abusive to either myself or others."

Seventeen -- Own Your Power
p. 146 "Within  90 seconds .. the chemical component of my anger has completely dissipated. .. if I remain angry it is because I haven chosen to let that circuit continue to run."
p. 147 "I make the choice to either reflect your anger (left brain), or be empathetic and approach you with a compassionate heart (right brain)."
p. 148 "Forgiving others and forgiving myself is always a choice.  Seeing this moment as a perfect moment is always a choice."

Eighteen -- Cells and Multidimensional Circuitry
p. 153 "making the decision that internal verbal abuse is not acceptable behavior, is the first step toward finding deep inner peace."

Nineteen -- Finding Your Deep Inner Peace
p. 169 "Purposely relaxing muscles you routinely hold tense can help you release pent up energy and feel better. I'm constantly checking in with the tension in my forehead..."
          "I find that using repetitive sound patterns such as a mantra .. is very helpful."
p. 171 "If I had to choose one word to describe the feeling I feel at the core of my right mind, I would have to say joy. My right mind is thrilled to be alive!"
      "If you have lost your ability to experience joy, rest assure the circuitry is still there."
      "Our desire for peace must be stronger than our attachment to our misery, our ego, or the need to be right. .. Do you want to be right or do you want to be happy?"
p. 174 "The easiest way I have found to humble myself into a state of peaceful grace is through the act of gratitude. When I am simply grateful, life is simply great!?"

Saturday, January 21, 2017

First Steps to a New Jewish Spirit
    Zalman Schachter-Shalomi

p. 48 "The energy flows everywhere. It is how God 'gods.'  It flow in cycles, in waves, in constant lines of force. ... We can't control this energy; all we can do is recognize it and get in step with it, in synch, so that our very existence is in harmony with what is rather than at cross-purposes with it. This is the great orientation; it puts us in phase with the rest of creation. "

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The Cunning of History
    The Holocaust and the American Future
Richard L. Rubenstein

1. Mass Death and Contemporary Civilization
     The WWI generals let hundreds of thousands die. Stalin disposed of many. Europe had excess population. p. 21 "We are more likely to understand the Holocaust if we regard it as the expression of some of the most profound tendencies of Western civilization in the twentieth century.... Properly executed, extermination is the problem-solving strategy least likely to entail unanticipated feedback hazards for its planners."

2, Bureaucratic Domination
     p. 27 "The same meticulous care that goes into the manufacture of a Leica or a Mercedes was to be applied to the problem of eliminating the Jews.  ... It was only possible to overcome the moral barrier that in the past had prevented the systematic riddance of surplus populations when the project was taken out of the hands of the bullies and delegated to bureaucrats."
     p. 29 "The land of the Reformation was also the land where bureaucracy was able to create its most thoroughly secularized, rationalize, and dehumanized 'achievement,' the death camp."
     p. 31 "The culture that made the death camps possible was not only indigenous to the West but an outcome, albeit unforeseen and unintended, of its fundamental religious traditions."
     p. 33 "They were perfectly consistent in demanding that the deportees be made stateless before being transported to the camps. They also understood that by exterminating stateless men and women, they violated no law because such people were covered by no law."

3. The Modernization of Slavery
     p. 42 "The same tendencies toward rationalization, secularization, and disenchantment that are expressed in both Protestantism and capitalism are also expressed with far less ambiguity and contradiction in the Nazi camps."
     p. 46 "Regrettably, few ethical theorists or religious thinkers have paid attention to the highly significant political fact that the camps were in reality a new form of human society.  Only when the doomed inmates were kept alive for a time did the new society develop.
     p. 47 "Auschwitz was both a slave-labor and an execution center."

4. The Health Professions and Corporate Enterprise at Auschwitz
     p. 61 "As Weber could not have foreseen the ultimate potentialities of systematic domination given twentieth century technology, neither could Marx or Engels have foreseen the extent to which terror could replace all other incentives in human exploitation."
     p. 65 "it was possible for respectable business executives to participate in and profit from a society of total domination and a venture involving the murder of millions of defenseless human beings without losing their elite status in one of the most advanced modern societies."
     p. 67 " ... merely carries to a logical conclusion operational attitudes and procedures that are everywhere predominant in the working of bureaucracy and modern corporate enterprise."

5. The Victims Response" Bureaucratic Self-Destruction
     p. 77 "...tha the best and most selfless Jewish leaders presented no greater obstacle when the Nazis took over their communities than did the most opportunistic raise some terrifying questions about the potentialities of bureaucratic domination."

6. Reflections on A Century of Progress
     p. 79 ".. a society of total domination creates a world of the living dead that can serve as a prototype of a future social order, especially in a world confronted by catastrophic crises and ever-increasing, massive population redundancy."
    p. 90 " .. no theologian has attempted to deal with the problems implicit in the g=fact that the Nazis probably committed no crime at Auschwitz.
     p. 91 " We atr sadly forced to conclude that we live in a world that is functionally godless and that human rights and dignity depend upon the power of one's community to grant or withhold them from its members.
     p. 92 "It is an error to imagine that civilization and savage cruelty are antitheses. ... Both creation and destruction are inseparable parts of what we call civilization."
    p. 97 "Is there not a measure of madness in a system of technological rationality that first produces masses of surplus people and then holds forth extermination as the most 'rational' and pratical solution of the social problems the pose?"