The Most Effective Stimulus

Body: I don’t feel good.
Brain: We’re hungry (among other things.) Get out of bed and feed us.
Body: I’m dizzy.
Brain: We’re dehydrated. We broke into a cold sweat last night as our fever broke. Get out of bed. Drink. Eat.
Body: I feel weak.
Brain: You aren’t listening. We need food and water. Get out of bed! You’ll feel better. Trust me!
Body: ACK! Cold, wet cat nose touching me!
(Body sits bolt upright and performs complex gymnastics getting out of bed. Meanwhile, the purring cat who merely wanted attention, stares on in confusion.)
Brain: Good kitty.

Vancouver to remove mysterious unicycle markings on bike lanes

Owen:

I’m saddened that this is considered graffiti and will be removed.

Originally posted on Metro News:

A series of mysterious unicycle markings are appearing on Vancouver bike lanes, turning heads and causing a stir on social media.

The freshly spray-painted one-wheel symbols recently popped up along sections of the Adanac Bikeway, a popular cycling route that extends from downtown Vancouver to Boundary Road, including the separated bike lane of the Dunsmuir Viaduct.

Tynan Rollo, a member of the Vancouver Unicycle Club, said the city’s unicycle community is buzzing with theories about who could be behind the stenciled symbols.

“We’ve been asking around the unicycle and circus community to see if anyone knows who is responsible, but have yet to turn anything up,” he told Metro in an email interview.

At first, Rollo said he believed the markings might be a guerrilla marketing campaign for the upcoming CircusFest event, which takes place in November, but organizers told him they are equally curious about who is responsible.

Unicycling is becoming…

View original 226 more words

Unicycle graffiti appears on Vancouver bike routes – British Columbia – CBC News

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/unicycle-graffiti-appears-on-vancouver-bike-routes-1.2789667

Unicycle graffiti appears on Vancouver bike routes – British Columbia – CBC News

Oh, Vancouver! I already loved you because of TRIUMF and for being the home of some of my friends. But this is just nifty! http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/unicycle-graffiti-appears-on-vancouver-bike-routes-1.2789667

Multiple Choice

I do not know how many times in my life I have been asked “what are you?” Even when I was a kid, my answers rarely satisfied the questioner. I might say that I was “me.” Or “human.” As I got older, I tended to say “a carbon based, bipedal, terrestrial lifeform.” Other answers have included (but are certainly not limited to,) “overeducated,” “exhausted,” “I’m Batman,” “I yam what I yam,” and “the One and Owenly.”

But these events were all just the surface tension over a deeper pond. It all relates to the idea that a person can, and in fact should, be categorized. That without sorting a person into boxes, identity cannot be ascertained.

I do not automatically agree.

I do not see anything inherently wrong with the idea. Many people identify strongly with particular groups. I suspect that most do. I do not.

I suppose, that like many of the things I have been told are weird about it, this all stems from my childhood. I did not grow up in any particular state. I did not grow up with any particular community of people. The only constant was my nuclear family. None of us fit any of the types in the media. We were just who were were.

OK, yes. My father is very obviously black. But he does not use slang. He always dresses for success. He is an electrical engineer and a businessman. He was nothing like the black men I would see on TV or in the movies.

My mother? My mother looks like she could have been sisters with Maria from Sesame Street or Claire Huxtable from the Cosby Show. She does occasionally slip into Spanish and does cook delicious Mexican food, but she has no accent (beyond a slight South-eastern Ohio/South-western Indiana one) and she does not seem to self-identify with any group other than african american – despite the fact that we know for a fact that her side of the family is also Irish, Cherokee, and Mexican. But in her case, societal pressure in her childhood told her that none of the other things matter. She was just Black.

That has always annoyed and disturbed me. It seems so disrespectful to the rest of our heritage. I love the fact that on my mother’s side Grandma was Black, Irish, Welsh, Scot, and Breton. I am proud of the fact that Grampa (mom’s father) was Black, Cherokee, and (possibly) Mexican.

Sadly, I do not know much about my father’s side of the family. There does seem to be some Irish there as well. And possibly some Lakota. More research must be done.

But the pressure to simplify is strong. And lest there be any confusion, it is not merely from white people, whatever that term means. It is not as if white were universally defined … but I digress.  More than once, I have heard “light skinned blacks” who either do not self identify as black, or who add in other qualifications confronted as if they were putting on airs or denying their own blackness.  The feeling seems to be that any skin tone beyond some hypothetical “whiteness” and with any sort of dark, curly hair is automatically black. It automatically overpowers any other genetic trait, heritage, or social group.

So, let me state for the record what is known (and/or strongly suspected in some cases) from my makeup. My family contains:

  • Breton
  • Cherokee
  • Irish
  • Lakota (possibly)
  • Malian
  • Mexican (or possibly Puerto Rican)
  • Scottish
  • Welsh

I have seen, talked to, grown up with relatives who lean more towards some parts of that than others. Images from old photographs which show the patchwork of family history. And yet, I am supposed to ignore them? Forget them? Pretend that they are not a part of me?

At different times in my life, I would have self identified differently between the various parts of my family. But I have never felt that I was of any one group other than American.

The moving has especially helped with that. I remember living in an area without many “black” people, but with lots of people from Mexico. The few black people around were much darker than I and we just didn’t click. There was no enmity; we just were not tight. So I was basically considered one of the Latinos.

In another state, maybe I was with a group of mostly white kids. Or perhaps I was with the nerds (who were of every race.) Or the theater geeks. Or the marching band. It varied. I hung out with people who accepted me.

So when someone makes generalizing statements about a group and I chime in with my perspective, it gets frustrating when I am told, “you are not of that group. You get no say” when I have had experience as part of that group, both genetically and socially. I do identify with them.

I can see people’s point. Really. But, it feels so simplistic.

I guess that I will stick with what I was saying before. I’m just me. Do not try to box me in to anything else.

Should I Fill the Gaps?

There is a chance, a small chance, that I am not as much of a fool as I think I am. In fact, I might not be a complete fool; there is a possibility that my folly is incomplete.

Let me go back a bit.

This summer, I took a class for work at Particle Accelerator School. I was to learn Accelerator Physics using the mathematical program – Maple. It was not easy by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, it pretty much shattered any self confidence that I used to possess.

But, because I am me, after class was over I decided to keep trying. I knew that I had not learned what I had set out to learn, so I kept at it.

One of the things we learned in class was to figure out the chromaticities induced by thin quadrupole magnets arranged in a FODO lattice. (If you do not understand that, do not worry. Just smile and nod for now. I can explain later if you wish.)

Anyway, I figured that the best way for me to learn would be for me to extrapolate from that and see whether it could be used to figure out the chromaticities induced by said magnets arranged in a FOFDOOD lattice. You see, we do have a synchrotron accelerator arranged with FODO (the Main Injector or MI), but we also have one arranged in a FOFDOOD (Booster). I was curious how that would change things.

Class let out at the beginning of July. It has taken me until now (about two and a half months) to come up with something that seems right. Today I talked to the man in charge of the Booster accelerator and asked him for some data so that I could compare my findings with reality.

We talked for a while and he seemed interested in my findings. He told me that what I had done had not been done before and that although my current setup would not be accurate, he gave me advice to help make it better. Furthermore, he would like to see what I come up with since it might be useful later!

Whoa! I was just trying to see if I understood things. I had no idea that I was trailblazing! Suddenly, I felt a small surge of …dare I say it? Pride!

Still, I probably should not have walked into the Main Control Room saying, “there are gaps in my foolishness!”

Be Good To Each Other, Folks. Because This Could Happen.

You don’t really need another reason to be good to one another, but this is pretty funny.

http://io9.com/be-good-to-each-other-folks-because-this-could-happen-1628599212?utm_campaign=socialflow_io9_facebook&utm_source=io9_facebook&utm_medium=socialflow

Appropriate

Since we have finally meet up with the comet, I think this comic is appropriate.

Harpoons http://feedly.com/e/CaMPsbY7

Confession

I hate H. P. Lovecraft.

I know. I know. Talented tortured writer. Inspiration for some of my favorite authors, artists, friends, RPGs, etc.

I have read his Cthulu stories and his dream cycle. I have enjoyed them both for the most part. But through them, there was an undercurrent, a twisting strand that I loathed. Two, actually.

His stories have two ideas that are consistent. Both are completely antithetical to the weft of my very being.

First, that the Anglo Saxons are superior to every other race on Earth. Everyone else is deformed, ill intentioned, and/or foolish. His descriptions would have been enough, but biographies, personal letters, and countless scholarly works have been written about it. His Anglophilia came at the expense of everyone else. And it grates upon me.

Even so, it does not appear in every work. And he is usually subtle. It is possible to read without noticing for some people. But the second idea is larger and far more explicit.

If you were to search for one unifying idea throughout every one of his stories, it would be that humanity is best off not exploring, not researching, not learning about the universe. Because if humans learned more, if we saw what was truly out there, we would either go mad or be destroyed (sometimes both.)

I cannot even begin to describe how much that idea infuriates me.

Yes, the universe is big, scary, and filled with things beyond our comprehension. But we should not let fear keep us from learning. Our curiosity is one of our greatest attributes. And I stand with G. K. Chesterton who said, “[f]airy tales do not give the child his first idea of bogey. What fairy tales give the child is his first clear idea of the possible defeat of bogey.”

That is the place where I stand. That is what I believe.

And I find some comfort in the fact that Lovecraft would have hated me, too.

The Secret Of The Banjo’s Twang Revealed By Nobel Prize-Winning Physicist — The Physics arXiv Blog — Medium

Niftiness!

I have suspected as much. I tried to tell my father about it. It is nice to see what research shows.

https://medium.com/the-physics-arxiv-blog/the-secret-of-the-banjos-sound-revealed-d45f811ddf3d