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Thursday, February 9, 2017

Some things were never remembered to be forgotten and that in itself is a tragedy

I walk into the kitchen looking for something I've already forgotten. Again I had forgotten to pin the task tightly to my short, ordered list of operations. I'm getting too old to be this forgetful. It's probably the weed. You were like this before you smoked.

I stare out the window because the Chihuahua next door scampered by the fence and my lizard brain brought me to full alert. Beneath the window I see a few ants, remains from a colony which had mistakenly found it's way in through the garbage disposal switch and was promptly flushed down the sink through the garbage disposal.

The ants go marching two by two hurrah! played in my head. Oh yeah my phone, I needed music for my shower. And another tiny loop closed.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Failure

Failure happens to all of us at some point, no matter how successful we are or how well we prepare for the worst. At some point in life we all fall flat on our faces, metaphorically of course. Unless you are me then it's literal.

What I've come to learn through my failures is to find small successes in those series of events. Even when things are at their worst I try to keep some semblance of positivity about me, because the anxiety and stress that failure carries with it only makes me more prone to failure.

Of course it's important to recognize why I failed and fell on my face, but I have to stand right back up, while the blood off and try again. Nearly nothing great was ever achieved on the first attempt.

Take the moon landing for example. It took several tries, many lost lives and an army of some of the brightest minds on the planet to put Niel Armstrong on our closest celestial bodies.  We could have easily scrapped the program as unfeasible or impractical, but instead we kept working and eventually made that "Giant leap for mankind."

I've failed at most things I've done in the last five years. School, work, women, streaming, writing, you name it I've probably failed doing it. Currently I'm at the lowest point in my life, late on rent and Moving back home to restart. Is it embarrassing? Horribly. It's the type of embarrassment where you don't want to face the day, or your friends and family.

Despite whatever negative emotions I may have, I have to keep going. I have to keep plugging away at my dreams and all of my failures have to be redefined as lessons, because giving in isn't an option. Giving up might be only inexcusable act I can think of. It means I'm weak willed and foolish.

So I'm going to try again, and again and again until I get it right.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Venezuelan Food Crisis Worsens

 Venezuelans face many problems but few are as dangerous as it's food shortages. Long lines and lack of access to basic goods have led to widespread protesting, incidents of looting, and Venezuelans turning on one another. More than 20 out of 100 goods are no longer found on shelves in stores. And the problem only appears to be getting worse.

Much of the problem has to do with an inept and corrupt governing class. Hugo Chavez started a mass appropriation program which has been used to seize much of countries farmlands and to target political opponents. While current President Nicolas Maduro also uses this tactic, often citing that the farm land isn't being used efficiently, food production in the country has been drastically reduced.

The situation has gotten so bad that the Government is now calling for citizens to grow their own food. President Maduro claims he and his family have 60 chickens (which they likely took from someone else) and fails to recognize that 83% of the population lives in cities. After the government seized farms and cut production, telling citizens to grow their own food is patronizing at best. Criminal at worst.

Land appropriations continue with more than 300,000 acres being taken by the government each year. Farmers have also been under strict price setting by the Maduro regime, often being forced to take a loss on their production, which naturally led to farms going under. The farms that remain open lack the essential supplies to increase their production, such as pesticides and seeds.

When times were good and the price of oil was high, the Venezuelan government forced the price of goods down. Some went so far as to betray their people by hoarding goods for future extortion, or just selling them across the border. Maduro instated laws to prevent hoarding and smuggling and uses force to recover contraband goods.


It would be easy to get political, or even start calling names, but the important thing is that he people of Venezuela need our help. It is neither fair nor just for them to suffer by the actions of their leaders. I guess it's just another example of the failed economic practice of a megalomaniac socialist regime which thinks it can out think the free market.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Assimilation

"Why do they get to sit back at the science vessels why we schlep around swamps actively looking for things that can kill us?"
"I'm not sure, private." She said with extra emphasis on his rank. "Our orders are simple, secure and create a perimeter and identify potential threats. The sooner you stop complaining about our orders the faster you can be losing your paycheck to the rest of us in poker."

The major wasn't normally this testy, so her irritated response rippled through her crew, each  interpreting it in their own way. Then again, this was her first time 20 being light years away from home on a planet whose ecology mirrored the everglades.

"Charles how long until that uplink is done?" She asked knowing it was taking longer than usual. Truthfully she didn't want to spend any more time away from the barracks than she had too. The unfamiliar noises of the wildlife gave her the sent shivers down her spine.
"Well I've got bad news and bad news which do you want first." She remained silent waiting for him to continue speaking. "Right well there is something interfering with our equipment. It could be all the vegetation, a local variation in the gravity field or the planets stronger magnetic field, but its probably the same reason we haven't heard from the colonel."

"So what's the other bad news?"

"Well it means our original plan for a perimeter isn't going to work, we need to reduce the diameter by about half if we want reliable readings"

"Shit." She said matter of factly. The sensors they were placing doubled as research tools and ab early warning system for potential threats, halving the size could meant they had less time to react. Less time to react means less chances of successfully defending the mission.

"Do we have any alternatives?" The others began whispering among themselves quietly.

"Well the only way were getting a 5-mile diameter is if we get more sensors, and even then we'd need relays between base and the sensors to get the information we need back. Otherwise, we're in the dark and ---"

A shrill cry, higher pitched and louder than they had ever heard interrupted his thought and made him duck. The major drew her weapon and looked up in time to see a large bird lime creature flying overhead.

"What the hell was that?" The private asked, his shouldered gun shaking in his hands.

"I'm not sure, but we shouldn't stick around to see if it has friends." She said frantically, she wasn't sure the others had seen it, but it could have carried at least one of them away. She hoped most of all it wasn't attracting them unwanted attention.

"Corporal you done with that uplink yet, we need to move." She rewinded her video hud to get a better look at the creature but it moved through frame so fast it was indistinguishable through the fog.

"This one is done but its useless here alone."
"That's fine it's in position and we're following orders, we'll see how the Major wants to solve the problem when we get back."

"Yes Ma'am" the corporal said with a sarcastic salute as he dropped several of his tools as he rushed to pack his things and not be left by the group.

"Let's move."

The team continued setting up the perimeter going from location to location in a nervous rank and file. Perhaps worst of all was knowing that they were doing an incomplete job so they would have to spend even more time in the noxious swamp.

"Remember boys, we are doing this for the betterment of man kind" the major said sarcastically as she swatted a mosquito the size of a small bird. Not that it could bit her through her armored suit, but they are nasty insects.

Before they had made it back to the science vessel it became more clear that something was wrong. Radio silence continued for several hours and as anxiety filled their worried minds, each of them began to feel as though they were being followed.

Even the Major could not get the image of the animal that had swooped past them out of her head. She replayed the image on her hud several times in disbelief. It looked like a harpy, but she though it must have been a large bird.

Only when they were very close to the ship did they regain radio contact. Dr. Rajers explained that the trees were thousands of years old and had absorbed many heavy metals that made them interrupt contact. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief.

"We made it, boys," the Major said with an obvious release of tension that made some of them question if she thought they were going to make it back. This was a half truth, she was also worried about a scenario where giant birds had attacked the ship killing the commander, doctors and scientists on board.

"There is something else you need to know, Major," the Dr said. "I'm speaking directly with you now, no one else can hear us." The major knew something was terribly wrong, she had never heard Rajers take on such a serious and apologetic tone.

"This planet is unlike anything we have ever seen. There appears to be an active microbial defense system that is more advanced than we could have imagined."

"Get to the point," Ramirez said hastily. She redirected her comm systems to play for her men as well.

"You can't get back on the ship. The bacteria is already eating your suits away and the viruses are going to begin redesigning your structure. You will be dissolved and evolved into one of the native ascended beings. Judging from the history on your HUD it looks like you have already seen one." Rajers waited a moment to let what he said sink in.

"How... How is that even possible?" The panicked major said. 

"It appears to be the result of centuries of genetic research, we already lost one of our own. To the process. Your death will be painless and you will be reborn with the full body of knowledge of your new species as an adult. They appear never to age, and be far superior to humans in skeltal design, musculature, brain mass and just about every measurable way."

The major looked at her men, whose suits were already showing obvious signs of corrosion.

"The bacteria on your suits is resistant to all our known antimicrobials, and multiplies as it digests the iron. It appears that there are several kinds of bacteria designed to digest several kinds of suits. We are not the first they have prayed on."

"What about the ship won't it be destroyed?"

"That's exactly why we are going to exit and reenter the atmosphere. We are leaving now but waited long enough to explain your fate. It appears to be a painless process. The first viruses eat away your pain receptors and overload the pleasure centers of the brain. There appear to be hallucinogenic effects as well." 

The major heard the sound of the engines turning on from a short distance away. By now her crew realized their suits were literally being eaten and were screaming for help. Several of them started firing into the air at what they thought and were indeed harpies. She contemplated how she always thought flight was the most liberating feeling and remembered wishing she were a bird as a little girl.

"Listen up, boys" she said pointing at the ship
 "We need to take down that ship, it presents a clear and present danger to the entire human race if it leaves this planet and travels to earth. They are carrying with the m the same bacteria that is corroding our suits and will eventually repurposed our bodies. Do not let that ship leave the atmosphere!"

"Yes, sir." Her men said as they took aim with their anti-aircraft weapons, or whatever they were equipped with. Before each of them had the opportunity to enact revenge for being left behind, the ship started loosing altitude and crashed into the forest. The bacteria had eaten away large portions of the engines.

"Enjoy the trip, boys" the Major said taking off her helmet and suit. The air carried with it thousands of viruses and chemicals. She lied down and let her transformation begin. She urged her men to calmly do the same and die with some decency and price of mind.



Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Something about Terpenes

When most people think about marijuana, they think about the psychoactive effects of 9-delta-Tetrahydrocannabinol and the newly touted health benefits of Cannabidiol. Unfortunately, there are many other chemicals that are overlooked that have medical benefits and give marijuana it's flavor profile.

This class of chemicals is known as terpenes, which are hydrocarbons most often associated with conifers. While cannabinoid research has moved at a sluggish pace, medical research involving terpenes has been moving at a blistering pace. Still it is important to remember that marijuana alone has 200 terpenes, so you can imagine how long it will take to design experiments for each and every known terpene in the floral kingdom.

Pinene

When people talk about “rolling up a heap of pine,” they are referring to marijuana that is rich in Pinene. In many strains of marijuana, the two isomers of pinene (alpha-pinene and beta-pinene) make up more than 50% of all terpene mass. Pinene is the second most abundant terpene in marijuana.

Since this is the most abundant terpene in most conifers, and given that conifers are the main producers of natural terpenes, Pinene makes up the bulk of all terpenes on planet earth. This is far from a bad thing since pinene has several known medical and industrial applications.

In an experiment testing the anti-microbial effects of both Pinene isomers, researchers found that both have anti-bacterial activity. In particular researchers were using these isomers in tandem with other medicines to determine if they improved the effectiveness of killing methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA.) Both chemicals were found to drastically improve results and are seen as broad-spectrum antibiotics [1].

Pinene is not just good at killing bad cells, the laundry list of health benefits includes; bronchodilation, which could be used to aid asthma patients; anti-inflammation; and an increase in memory function due to the inhibition of acetylcholinesterase[2]. Pinene works in concert with other terpenes to effectively reverse some of the negative side effects of THC use.

Myrcene

Myrcene is well understood to be the most common terpene in cannabis but is not always the most dominant terpene. It's fragrance seems to defy description, but comparisons to fruit and cloves are common, which is likely why it is so commonly used in the fragrance industry.

Within the human body, myrcene acts as an analgesic, antibacterial, anti-diabetic, anti-inflammatory, anti-insomnia, anti-proliferative/anti-mutagenic, antipsychotic (tranquilizing effect as opposed regulating dopamine concentrations) and an antispasmodic. Myrcene appears to be in a league of its own in terms of potential uses, but it does beg the question if this is because it has been more thoroughly studied.
Commonly found in Hops, mangoes, lemongrass, thyme, and its namesake Myrcia, myrcene for a long time has been used medicinally. The analgesic effect of lemongrass tea is thought to be a result of this terpene. In higher than normal concentrations this can be used as a tranquilizer which causes a barbiturate-induced sleep [3].

It was more recently found that myrcene interacts with the adrenergic system to create a release of natural opioids[4]. This suggests myrcene is one of the main reasons why marijuana is so good for pain relief. It's important not to forget that these terpenes often work together to achieve their goals. Many studies on essential oils find stronger results in pain relief, or fighting bad bacteria for the oils themselves as opposed to each of their constituents tested alone.

Limonene

Despite its name, Limonene is actually named after the lemon. This cyclic terpene, commonly found in the rinds of citrus fruits, sees wide use industrially. From cosmetics and perfume, to solvents for medical studies, cleaners, 3D printers and a host of other applications, limonene is commonly used.

Since the 1970's it has been known that limonene and other monoterpenes can help in the fight breast cancer. The study of limonene naturally extended to it's metabolites, where it was found that perillyl alcohol is much more effective at fighting cancer. In some strains of cancer perillyl alcohol and other monoterpenes like limonene change the gene expression of carcinomas thereby blocking progression and promotion. In some successful trials, tumors were completely regressed.

Limonene has also been used as an indicator of liver disease since the liver is the first step in metabolizing limonene[5]. A study in the same vein found in cases of alcohol-induced liver disease, limonene can help prevent a build up of damaging, excess iron[6]. A similar study found that limonene causes temporary damage to the liver and a raised number of immune cells in the liver, suggesting some of the metabolites might be toxic to internal cellular structures, but the damage is not permanent.

Linalool

Linalool is most commonly associated with lavender, but also found in mugwort, basil, bay leaves, hops and of course Cannabis sativa. Like the other terpenes, it has been touted for it's therapeutic effects and has its roots buried deep in herbal medicine. It seems increasingly that we find evidence to support the merits of herbal medicine, instead of disproving it as mumbo jumbo.

Classically lavender scents have been seen as relaxing. This is likely because when we inhale the lavender scents, we are also inhaling linalool. This chemical was shown in 2009 to exhibit stress relief, reduce aggressive behavior and enhance social activity. Strains of marijuana with linalool could help reduce stress and promote social activity [7].

In a 2015 study, Linalool and Beta-pinene both produce an anti-depressant effect through their interaction with the monoaminergic system [8]. This is in line with classical methods of fighting depression since most anti-depressants are used to increase the production of Serotonin, norepinephrine or dopamine. All three of these neurotransmitters are considered monoamines.

Further studies will be needed to prove exactly how linalool interacts with the monoaminergic system before any marketable medicines can be produced. Still though the research gives credence to the use of aromatherapy to help with moods. Perhaps those who stop to smell the roses really do see the world differently?

Beta-Caryophyllene

Although beta-caryophyllene is the most abundant sesquiterpene found in marijuana, it is also a known agonist of Cannabinoid Receptor type 2 (CBR2). Since the psychoactive effects are caused by agonism Cannabinoid Receptor Type 1, one cannot get high from smoking beta-caryophyllene. None the less beta-caryophyllene one of the most interesting found in marijuana.

The CBR2 receptor has been linked to neuropathic pain in several different studies. Since beta-caryophyllene is a selective CBR2 agonist, it was seen as a prime candidate for investigation. Of the three types of pain, beta-caryophyllene proved effective at fighting both inflammatory and neuropathic pain [9]. Acute short-term pain seemed unaffected.

Unlike the cannabinoid receptor 1, which is largely localized in the Central Nervous System, Cannabinoid receptor type 2 proteins are mostly found in the immune system, the Gastrointestinal system, and the peripheral nervous system. This means CB2 ligands are attractive in fighting autoimmune diseases and potentially Crohn's disease[10].

One of the most recent revelations was that CBR2 are found within the germ cells of the testes and could potentially be used as a male contraceptive [11]. In mice long-term treatment with beta-caryophyllene, there were no morphological changes to the testes and the total number of sperm created were not effective. The treatment is promising because it only decreased the viability of sperm already available by blocking the final stage of sperm production, spermiogenesis.

1, 8 Cineole aka Eucalyptol

Eucalyptus is a plant whose therapeutic abilities cannot be understated. For centuries, this chemical has been included in medicines that treat everything from the common cold, to pain and ADHD. Unsurprisingly, the main terpene in Eucalyptus is eucalyptol, which is also responsible for many of the therapeutic properties of the plant.

Eucalyptol is primarily found in cannabis Sativa, bringing with it an energetic and focused mood. Likely this is a result of acetylcholinesterase inhibition, which is seen in other cyclic monoterpenes [12].

A 2013 experiment showed that 1,8-Cineole can also limit the amount of fat that infiltrates the liver [13]. The thought is that it might be developed into a drug that helps those suffering from either too much or too little cholesterol. A separate 2015 study found that in mice with a condition called non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) there was also a reduction in liver cell fat accumulation, suggesting it is a candidate for medicinal use [14].

Like other chemicals in this class, eucalyptol has been shown to be an effective cancer treatment option. In 2013, an experiment showed that 1,8-Cineole forced colorectal cancer cells to undergo apoptosis, or programmed cell death [15]. They said it “would be an effective strategy to treat colorectal cancer.”

Pulegone

In the early days of terpene research, Pulegone was among some of the more promising candidates for being used as a medicine. Initial research suggested it could be used as a sedative, and had antipyretic (fever reducing) activity.

Like limonene, and 1, 8 cineole, Pulegone was shown to aid in short-term memory consolidation by inhibiting the enzyme that destroys acetylcholine (ACh.) Reduced levels of ACh in the hippocampus has been linked to memory problems associated with both smoking pot and Alzheimer's [16]. However pulegone was not very good at that, nor were its other potential properties found to be overwhelming.

While it is easy to get caught up in all the positive news continuing to come out of terpene research, it is also important to remember that not all the news is good. In a high dose group, female rats showed the presence of urothelial tumors when regularly administered pulegone [17]. The 2012 study supports the idea that the cytotoxic properties of piperitenone, a secondary metabolite of Pulegone is likely the main culprit.

In a separate study from 2011 it was shown that Pulegone also reduces the strength of L-type calcium ion currents that are most commonly associated with muscle contraction [18]. This is likely part of the cause of immobility in mice and the sedative effect. Unfortunately, this also affects the heart and poses potential health risks. Pulegone is a perfect example of why these chemicals need to be investigated in depth before attempting to use them as medicine.

Borneol

Borneol is one of the lesser terpenes of marijuana in terms of overall mass, but it too has many practical applications. Naturally found in the mugwort plant, this terpene has been used in traditional eastern medicine for a couple thousand years. Called moxibustion or moxa, a maceration of herbs was placed on key meridians of the body to prevent and cure cancer and many other ailments.

Until recently there was little to no evidence to back up this claim. A 2013 study found that in conjunction Borneol significantly increased the absorption of a chemical called Selenocysteine which led to increased success of treatment [19]. Greatly increased success.

To be clear, Selenocysteine (SeC) is not a new medicine developed in a laboratory with diverse adverse effects. SeC is the 21st amino acid that naturally occurs in organisms in all kingdoms of life, including humans. Humans have 20 known proteins that contain SeC, most of which are involved with protecting cells from oxidative damage. Good sources of dietary selenium include Brazil nuts and, and all meats are a good source of selenocysteine.

Perhaps the interaction with borneol in mugwort and naturally occurring selenocysteine helped reduce cancer rates in the east and moxa is no hoax.

Nerolidol

Marijuana is not the only intoxicant known for its terpenes. Many scientists also study the terpenes of wine in order to more accurately identify its flavors and health benefits. Like marijuana, the terpenes of wine vary from batch to batch and plant to plant. For example, Nerolidol has primarily been identified in a few white Italian wines like Grillo, Inzolia and Cataratto [20].

Nerolidol has several medicinal uses, but most recently it is being used to help antimicrobial medicines be absorbed through the skin. Specifically a disorder call leishmaniasis caused by protozoan parasites aptly belonging to the genus leishmania, which cause lesions [21]. Mice treated with Nerolidol showed a reduction in lesions but the disease was not cured but nerolidol alone. Nerolidol also has proven antimalarial properties and a sedative effect.

A 2015 study introduced the gut flora, or the bloom of bacteria in our lower GI tract to an essential oil blend consisting primarily of nerolidol [22]. Certain pathogenic bacteria were specifically suppressed while the commensal or good bacteria were unharmed. The finding will likely lead to further research involving other essential oil blends on the gut flora and give insights into preventing if not curing certain lower GI disorders.

Geraniol

Geraniol smells like lavender, but with sweet fruit and rosey undertones. It is considered safe as a food additive. However, several deaths have been reported from the consumption of Citronella oil, which is 93% geraniol [23]. If it were not already obvious, It is not a good idea to drink the fuel in a citronella candle. The name comes from geranium, which are high in geraniol.

Studies as far back as 1995 show that geraniol fights cancer, but it was not known exactly how this happened. Since then geraniol has shown to be effective against 4 types of cancer, leukemia, hepatoma, melanoma and pancreatic[24].

Early in 2015 however, a study was published that showed that geraniol inhibits cancer cells from receiving blood vessels from the body. This results in less metastasis, smaller tumor sizes and less successful tumors overall [25]. Geraniol will likely find a place in human chemotherapy.

Taken together, the body of cancer research done on terpenes might present us with a broad spectrum cure for cancer that is as simple as adding a little oil to your pasta sauce. Trials with essential oils are often dismissed, including from this piece, when talking about cancer research. Which is appropriate, we need to understand how each of the constituents work within our bodies, but it would be a shame to miss the key point that our food might be the greatest preventative medicine we have.




Thursday, February 12, 2015

Hate Makes Waste

Current song: Goodbyes and Endings by The Dodos off their new LP Individ.

Despite how individualistic we all want to be (myself included,) I cannot help but find endless evidence that I am wrong and we are all alike. Most of us share generally the same experience, at a base level. School, extracurricular, a job, college, summer job or job during college, career or master's degree into a career. This is the model set forth by society with the greatest likelihood of achieving success. A build order if you will.

Now I am the type who believes that all behaviors are part of a greater trend. Take for example my affinity for leaving trails behind, in search of sights few have seen. To most people the trail is the only option, going off the trail is riskier, and in most cases actually interrupts the environment. To the fortune of the environment and my conscience, the fact that 99% of people follow the trail as they are told means that my rare transgression upon protected soil leaves little trace, unlike the well worn and developed path. Does this imply that we can only have a great effect on the world around us if we work together towards the same goal?

There have been many times I regretted leaving the beaten path. As a child I did not like the idea of shoes, I knew that the less I wore them, the stronger my feet would be, like the well-worn leathery pads of a dog's paw. This was all well and good and presented no problems around the neighborhood, but when camping, wandering into the woods barefoot on a quest to collect tinder for a fire, I nearly stepped on a snake. I remember it being black with yellow stripes, and the fear of stepping on it without shoes stayed with me even though it was likely just a king snake. Several years later, on another camping trip a friend of my mothers would get bitten on the ankle by a water moccasin despite the fact that she was wearing shoes.

As children our spirit of exploration seems limitless, precisely because of how little we know. Everywhere we turn as a child is a new experience, a new concept or word, and sometimes new dangers. I suppose mostly that impetus leaves us as we age, as we begin to assess risk in a new light. Free climbing a small cliff over a steep incline seemed like a playground as a child, whereas now I can hardly escape the image of falling. Is the experience of getting to the top first worth a sprained ankle or worse? I would probably still climb it today because beating fear is one of the most exhilarating experiences we can have.



My favorite experience of leaving the beaten path involves encouraging someone else to do the same. I was visiting a park called Hanging Rock with some friends, and knew  where a small waterfall was and which stream fed the waterfall. Instead of following the trail, I took my friend down the stream feeding the waterfall. It was filled with stones-some round and moss covered somewhat like a natural cliche-large enough to essentially walk down the stream without ever stepping in water. The Mountain laurel with its waxy leaves densely crowded around the stream dangling their straw-like roots towards the water, and reaching their arms out over the stream bed so far around the stream that we could hardly see the sky most of the way down the stream.

The waterfall is two stages, with a small rock wall at the top maybe 10 feet high and a second greater fall probably 25 or 35 feet high. The first stage is where the Laurel ends, revealing a massive rock wall overhanging the first smaller, mostly shaded waterfall. Because of the way the trail leads, 99% of people approach the waterfall from the front after climbing through a small rock window through the ominously looming rock. This particular day was warm with blue skies only occasionally interrupted by cumulus clouds. The cool rock in the shade was a relief from the heat and as we climbed down the first waterfall I couldn't help but think about the wet tread on my shoes giving way.




There are nearly infinite ways to go off the beaten path metaphorically as well, and I do so as often as possible in search of fabled originality. As you might have guessed from my adventures in nature, my life has also taken a path few others are willing or even consider a possibility. As a flat broke lazy and unambitious writer who isn't even a fan of his own product, I am somewhat of a cliche product of a misinterpretation of a Robert Frost poem and justification for Nixon's attitudes towards marijuana. I suppose someone has to live the cautionary tale though.

My experience with music is also an example of this wayward trend. As the links suggest, I do not listen to music that can widely be considered popular. Hipster detected. When I was younger I hated popular music and hearing it made me downright sour and angry. It only reminded me that more talented artists were not getting the attention that they deserved and the industry itself was a 1% vs 99% scenario. Obviously since then my opinions have softened.

I recently had a discussion with someone who seemed very similar to myself just a couple of years ago. He was a fan of my taste in music, but in expressing this he also belittled the tastes of others. He called popular music simple and unoriginal, which are words that have come out of my mouth several times in the past. As a younger psuedo-adult I might have agreed with him and encouraged a hateful diatribe against popular music and perpetuate an elitist perspective which considers most people philistines. Yet when I read his words, it seemed entirely wrong-- a signal of my own personal evolution.

I do a lot of thinking about how our perspective shapes the course that we take and how we feel. If we are constantly looking for negative arguments against things that we don't like and are foreign to us, we can never be happy and never grow outside of our comfort zone. Music should never be used to drive wedges between us, especially given that it is one of the only universal languages we have. While I encourage exploring music in a very in-depth way, this doesn't give us a licence to hate what we do not like, or the people that create and digest this music.

The more we open up to new things, the happier we will be. I think the happiest man on Earth is the one who loves all things, even those contradictory to each other. Whether this be music, science, religion, death, or birth, that man can probably find the good in a situation and help those around him do the same. I suppose though there are those who don't realize that they are being negative and bringing other people down, and the more nefarious lot who legitimately don't give a shit about the lives of other. Let that Anti-social freak flag fly boys. Please don't.

I think that music as an art form and music as a vessel for revenue are not necessarily mutually exclusive, but they are opposing ideals. Perhaps if making money is your art, then they are one and the same, but that still leaves the music vapid. I'm not knowledgeable enough to rate music objectively, so I am left with my subjective tastes as my guide through the musical landscape. While I think that the intention of the artists is the most important (what they want the consumer to feel and experience, what widom do they wish to impart, who are they making the art for and why?) it would be preposterous to assume the average person looks that far into the music. Which seems fitting since there is little to be gained from assuming the mind of the artist other than familiarity and eventual contempt.

I am most excited when I find something that has barely been listened to but that I know is awesome. The cause of this joy is quite complicated. Firstly my love for good music offers the base, but as I stated that's subjective. While music sounds the same to all of us, we don't all hear music the same way in both an objective and subjective sense.

The negative reactions people have when hearing music they do not like look something like the repulsion of smelling a spoiled milk carton. Not all music is for all of us, but i don't think the point (if there is one) of music is to enjoy one microcosm of sound and shun the rest as inferior. That's an easy way top walk around pissed off all the time, and a waste of energy. We should take the energy to dissolve walls between those dissimilar to us instead of creating new barriers while justifying the ones already present.

Life is what we look for, so if we are constantly looking for ways of belittling other people's interests, we adopt an Us vs Them perspective, which has proven time and again to be deadly and destructive. It takes a lot of work to be open and accepting of all people and no matter how hard one tries he or she will never truly live up to this ideal, but even one falls short its on the right side of the line. Hate, my friends, makes waste.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

iMuse

What do you suppose the science fiction genre was like 900 years ago? Trick question: All science was fiction! Seriously though, if you think about the scientific dreamers of the Renaissance , like da vinci, then think about where we are today, one has to wonder what things we'll dream in 100 years when modern science fiction becomes fact. Will there still be room for imaginings, or will hard fact dispel all wonder from the universe? There will always be wonder and enchantment standing next to cynical irony, like angels and devils on our shoulders. The sheer scope of the universe guarantees this.

I'm wondering what purpose the imagination serves. Clearly it helps us be creative, think abstractly, prepare for discussions we are about to have and even play chess. If we can't see where their pieces are going to be in several moves, how can we react appropriately. Where would we be today if we preconceived nothing? still poking sticks into holes and eating ants? We probably wouldn't have made it that far.

We obviously aren't the only species who imagines. Other animals clearly have dreams and problem solving skills which are evidence of imaginations. Think about your cat, poised for a jump, taking aim and launching. They imagine the act before they do it, or they would just walk up to the couch and leap. The imagination serves many purposes that people don't often consider, which begs the question: why do people so often have a flippant attitude in reference to the imagination. Every one of the worlds greatest inventions, ideas, thoughts and pieces of art were first locked in someones imagination.

Throughout time the imagination has been disparaged and persecuted. Dreamers have seen a world of peace and fellowship and been called fools. Scientists, for hundreds of years have dreamed of standing on the surface of other celestial bodies and within our life times we will have landed on another planet. I think it's critical to say that in order to dream, we must also know. How can we dream of a world free of Racial inequality if we first do not know that it's wrong to prejudge a person, or exclude them based on their melanin concentration.

On a side note about racism. There have been studies that show that race is just a biological response to ones environment. A family of African immigrants will slowly become more and more fair skinned over generations and within their lifetime when living in northern latitudes. Think also of pale, cave dwelling creatures, who have no need for protection from the sun. Gollum, for example. Knowledge dispels race as a construct. What even is a race? Well it's a classification system that we use to categorize people based on various characteristics, whose use is so often limited to skin color (by people without the ability to imagine the person standing in front of them as being on equal footing,) that it has started to loose it's meaning.

There is the English speaking race, the myspace race, the gothic race, the loner race, the hot girl race, the racer race, the nerd race, the christian race, the baptist race, the cheating race, the disfigured race, the cancer survivor race, the beautiful race, the professional race, the adventurer race and races of all other nominalized verbs (i get bonus points for that one right?), the addict race, a million other races including, most importantly, the human race. Will there still be racism in the future, even after we have so vastly expanded the meaning of race?

I imagine the future sometimes as being so bright it blinds. There is just so much optimism, intrigue, hope and wonder pinned to the future that it is sometimes unfathomable. Eleanor Roosevelt said that "the future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams," so think about what you imagine will soon happen, which of your dreams do you want to see a reality and ask yourself if you are doing anything to make them a reality. Will you be a cause, or an effect?