prolost

vivere est cogitare

Category: vault 13

we don’t want your kind here

Q: “I don’t trust Obama, I have read [sic] about him. He’s not… He’s not… Errr… He’s an Arab.”
A: “No, ma’am. No, ma’am. He’s a decent, family man, a citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with…”

Colin Powell offers the correct answer to the Muslim/Arab “attacks,” and it is truly a pity that Obama has not yet spoken out about this:

But the really right answer is, what if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer’s no, that’s not America.

We’ve come so far since those bad old days, one could be forgiven for believing that we’ve made some progress. That is, until one has observed that which is the conservative “pro-America” (if by America you mean bigotry) population.

McCarthy would be proud

Michele Bachmann expresses a nonsensical, ideologically inspired and dangerous view that demonstrates a complete lack of understanding about America and its founding ideals. To call those who are critical of government policy and structural inequities that cause suffering (i.e. a failure to realize the ideals of America, whatever that even means) anti-American is not only profoundly idiotic, but smacks of the violently nationalistic attitude that empowered the most terrible regimes the world has ever seen.

hocus focus

arm is moved
hat is different
leaf is missing
foot is moved
skirt is shorter
sleeve is shorter
summer is shorter
temper is shorter
something is different
heart on sleeve is missing
heart fell off shorter sleeve
chest is different
chest is emptier
smile is smaller
hand is missing
john is patrick
hot is colder
time is longer
life is shorter
young is older
you are missing
you are moved
i am not
everything is different

by Rebecca Hoogs (rendered as faithfully as possible from a recording)

this makes no sense

A seagull nearly landed right on me today. I’ve no idea why.

what riders taught me

The other day I was reading a book on the bus, the first chapter of which features the town of Bethel, Alaska. I happened to be reading that particular part when a lady came to be seated next to me. Remarkably, it turned out that she had been a resident of said town, which has a population somewhere in the neighborhood of 5,000. We talked briefly about rural medicine and cultural encounters. They were in Seattle because her young daughter required surgery.

It was amazing.

RCW 46.61.667

People need to stop calling Bluetooth headsets (that is, headsets and similar devices utilizing the Bluetooth wireless communication protocol) “bluetooths.” It makes you sound stupid.

Northwest Profile #76

So make mine a triple venti grande americano chai vanilla minty mochaccino caramel macchiato; half caf, half decaf, one Equal, one Sweet ‘n Low, one raw sugar; skinny organic extra virgin olive oil soy breve with no foam, extra whip extra hot; and oh yes, leave off the top so I can put on my own sprinkles.

maybe i’m just an elitist

For some reason, when I saw the previews for last night’s episode of America’s Got Talent, I thought the American version of the opera singer dude would actually be good. Alas, just like Mr. Potts, he was okay but really not all that good. A decent performance and much better than anything I could muster, but far from any standard that would be applied to a professional tenor.

Of course any such comparison is ludicrous, but the fact is that people have made comparisons between Paul Potts and real opera tenors. I’ve seen remarks about how “emotional” his singing is. That’s nice, but good tenors are emotional and have good technical skills. The technique of Potts and Boyd just really don’t stand up to scrutiny.

And what is it about Nessun dorma? Seriously, can’t you come up with something more technically challenging, that will demonstrate your ability a little better? The only reason that aria is popular is because Pavarotti made it so. Hell, they even repeat his inserted syllable in “vincero” (probably without realizing it). There are plenty of beautiful, challenging arias out there.

in time

After submitting a lengthy question on the internets, and then promptly forgetting about it entirely, it has been broughten to my attention that I have a cameo in a rather prominent publication. Unfortunately nobody will ever care, but it’s kind of awesome.

ohgod

This is why we’re all screwed.

cruel necessity

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Lawrence Brownlee is one of the best singers I’ve ever heard. With his marvelous bel canto as Arturo, he was definitely the most impressive voice in last night’s Seattle Opera production of Bellini’s I puritani, despite only being present in two of the three acts. It’s hard to find a tenor these days with such a beautiful voice.

Also, I have to agree with those who say that the libretto is rather absurd. The ending is a total cop-out, and the story is basically trite nonsense. But the music is beautiful so meh.

This Friday (a very hot one, as was Saturday) I presented a poster at the UW Undergraduate Research Symposium, and was approached by a gentleman with a really curious offer to help with some sort of “new paradigm” in biomedical research. It was extremely thin on details, and a little questionable, but I figured there might be something to it so I gave him my email address.

And while 90°F is pushing it, I really like it when the weather is in the 70s or even hovering around 80. It makes me miss being (however briefly) in Southern California.

long time no see

It’s been a busy month. Presented a talk in lab and at the UW Honors Research Colloquium, and bringing a poster to the UW Undergraduate Research Symposium, had 2 papers and 2 midterms. All in the first 10 days of May.

I Puritani is next week; it will be the last opera of the season, and I don’t yet know for sure whether I will renew my subscription. Opera is a magnificent thing, but it costs a lot of money. It can be a difficult expense to justify.

Art itself, in fact, begs for justification. As long as it remains quiet, unoffensive, cute and trite, art draws no criticism, and indeed hardly any attention at all. Putting aside constraining definitions of art itself, what is its purpose? And more to the point, does expression have limits?

Wafaa Bilal’s minor modification of Night of Bush Capturing, in turn a modification by the Global Islamic Media Front (likely a media arm for Al-Qaeda) of Quest for Saddam, a game created by Jesse Petrilla, a conservative American citizen, drew great ire from conservatives in Troy, NY where Bilal was exhibiting his work (sorry for the complex arrangement of subordinate clauses). The ignorance and failure of reason here is staggering. The original American-made game perpetuates negative stereotypes and ignorant hatred of its targets; the Global Islamic Media Front modification simply turns it on its head, and reflects back upon us how inaccurate and harmful such portrayals can be. And Bilal, in placing his own likeness into the game, is expressing how easily the attitude of those orchestrating and supporting the Iraq War can contribute to the disillusionment and even defection of people who previously had nothing to do with Al-Qaeda. Such perspective ought to be valued, not vilified.

And what of Burma/Myanmar (it doesn’t matter which name is more “correct;” the politics of language is always problematic)? Does coercive humanitarian aid (a rather awkward and loaded construction) constitute a perpetuation of Western Imperialism? Many Colonial and Imperialist endeavors have been attached to ostensibly noble goals.

If nothing else, the hesitation of the United States to even undertake supply airdrops without the permission of the Burmese government highlights the utter hypocrisy and ruthlessness of the Iraq War.

On a lighter note, Nate finished building his computer. But Linux drivers… :effort:

peasants tell tales

The following is an excerpt from Chapter 1 of The Great Cat Massacre by Robert Darnton. It is his rendering of a tale “more or less as it was told around firesides in peasant cottages during long winter evenings in eighteenth-century France.”

Once a little girl was told by her mother to bring some bread and milk to her grandmother. As the girl was walking through the forest, a wolf came up to her and asked where she was going.

“To grandmother’s house,” she replied.
“Which path are you taking, the path of the pins or the path of the needles?”
“The path of the needles.”

So the wolf took the path of the pins and arrived first at the house. He killed grandmother, poured her blood into a bottle, sliced her flesh onto a platter. Then he got into her nightclothes and waited in bed.

“Knock, knock.”
“Come in, my dear.”
“Hello, grandmother. I”ve brought you some bread and milk.”
“Have something yourself, my dear. There is meat and wine in the pantry.”

So the little girl ate what was offered; and as she did, a little cat said, “Slut! To eat the flesh and drink the blood of your grandmother!”

Then the wolf said, “Undress and get into bed with me.”

“Where shall I put my apron?”
“Throw it in the fire; you won’t need it any more.”

For each garment – bodice, skirt, petticoat, stockings – the girl asked the same question; and each time the wolf answered, “Throw it on the fire; you won’t need it any more.”

When the girl got in bed, she said, “Oh, grandmother! How hairy you are!”

“It’s to keep me warmer, my dear.”
“Oh, grandmother! What big shoulders you have!”
“It’s for better carrying firewood, my dear.”
“Oh, grandmother! What long nails you have!”
“It’s for scratching myself better, my dear.”
“Oh, grandmother! What big teeth you have!”
“It’s for eating you better, my dear.”

And he ate her.

I should say that this conveys at least some meaning regarding the condition of peasant life in 18th century France. At any rate, I hereby endorse HIST 395 as a cool class.

requiescat in pace

40 years ago on this day, Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot and killed in Memphis, Tennessee.

Let us not wallow in the valley of despair. I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.” I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slaveowners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood. I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state, sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today.

Even the majority of Americans recognize that his dream has not been realized. Requiescat in pace.

we call them npcs

The continued occupation of Iraq costs this nation at least $16m every hour.

Dayer AG et al. Recruiting new neurons from the subventricular zone to the rat postnatal cortex: an organotypic slice culture model. Eur J Neurosci (2008) vol. 27 pp. 1051-1060

The above is a cool article because it suggests that adult neurogenesis has the potential for clinical application. Not that it hasn’t been suggested elsewhere, but this is one of the more promising approaches.

Curtis et al. Human neuroblasts migrate to the olfactory bulb via a lateral ventricular extension. Science (2007) vol. 315 (5816) pp. 1243-9

It’s kind of surprising that it was only demonstrated in 2007 that humans have an RMS (i.e. we generate new olfactory neurons). Adult neurogenesis in both the SVZ (destined for the olfactory bulb) and the SGZ (destined for the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus), though especially the latter, has been linked in numerous studies to memory and learning.

you are too arrogant

While for the world I lament, some residents of this nation never cease to infuriate me. Theirs is the ignorance which plagues America.

Today the sixth year of the Iraq War begins (it has been five full years). According to Mr. Bush, the threat if the US withdraws is nearly the same as when we began – some fear-mongering about القاعدة. In effect, by his own admission, we have not appreciably reduced the threat to our “national security.”

nineteen days

This is one of my favorite quotations.

Don’t let anybody make you think that God chose America as his divine messianic force to be – a sort of policeman of the whole world. God has a way of standing before the nations with judgment and it seems that I can hear God saying to America, “you are too arrogant! And if you don’t change your ways, I will rise up and break the backbone of your power, and I will place it in the hands of a nation that doesn’t even know my name. Be still and know that I’m God. Men will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks, and nations will not rise up against nations, neither shall they study war anymore. I don’t know about you, I ain’t going to study war no more.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
30 April 1967
Ebenezer Baptist Church

The National Radio Project has the audio of this excerpt.

va, tosca

Two weeks ago I saw Seattle Opera’s production of Tosca. It is quite an amazing opera, and this production was marvelous, if not especially distinct. Greer Grimsley made an amazing Scarpia, and I definitely want that cloak from the Te Deum scene (of which no pictures can be found on the internet, sadly).

The United States House of Representatives has managed to maintain a strong stand against the lies and fear-mongering of the Republican party and the Bush Administration on the issue of retroactive immunity for telecommunications corporations. Of this I am glad, though often it seems as though not enough is being done. In this and many issues, it is exceedingly clear that ignorance plagues Americans. The case against retroactive immunity is so blatantly compelling that no informed citizen with a functional brain should support immunity; yet somehow it does not draw sufficiently widespread and scathing criticism as to kill the idea entirely.

Ich bin ein Berliner

As a matter of principle I believe it is important to evaluate all information from primary sources when making decisions of significance (e.g. the presidential election, the question of whether the event is actually significant notwithstanding, i.e. accepting the assumption that it is). This is the only way to avoid being misled by deliberate or accidental misinformation. Examples of the former include basically anything from Faux News, anything out of the Bush administration regarding FISA/PAA, and so on. Of the latter, a general example would be inaccurate popular science, such as the “Equal Transit theory.”

But a tremendous hindrance exists, making this principle difficult to put into practice: we (as a people) are not well educated. To be sure, many of us will come to be proficient in a particular discipline, while some will never be very knowledgeable about anything at all. But we are called upon to make decisions that would ideally require extensive knowledge in practically every discipline. This makes it incredibly difficult to evaluate all issues with which we will be faced, unless we manage to confine ourselves to a world in which all we have to decide is whether Britney Spears should ever have more children.

For instance, who actually understands global warming? In attempting to weigh the consensus view against dissenting ones, I realized that I don’t know the first thing about how to analyze or approach the data. And I would be highly skeptical of anyone who claims to understand the scientific bases of the global warming issue, unless they are able to support such a claim by explaining the mathematics behind the models.

gaydolf titler

Work finally begins on the Tbr2 project, focusing for now on the SVZ. Since this is really no longer my project it’s become considerably less exciting, but the pursuit of knowledge and other vague concepts remain intact.

Today’s youth in America suffer from a tremendous lack of proper education in history and the arts. I think this is not only a sign of the epic failure of our education system, but more significantly a reflection of the undervaluation of history and knowledge itself in our society. Ignorance is why so many Americans are fooled by the half-truths and outright lies fed to us by the institutions of power and repeated by the media ad nauseam. It is impossible to make an informed decision (e.g. when deciding who will best govern us at all levels) without having a thorough knowledge and understanding of the facts and the consequences of proposed actions.

A better understanding and awareness of history (and particularly the ability to think critically about such things) on the part of Americans would all but eliminate the possibility of a tragedy like the Bush Administration ever recurring. But that is nothing but a distant fantasy that will likely never be realized in this world.

Yet another area in which the United States of America leads the world. Americans sure do like being #1. I would write a paragraph or two on how terrible the system of “justice” is in the United States but I feel that this subject would more appropriately fall under Nate‘s “jurisdiction,” if you will.

In closing, I would appreciate any insight as to why the water in Drumheller Fountain was brown today.