Re: Your Brains, or, Obama the zombie?

hungry for change

“change”… that what the kids are calling it these days?

Step one: view:http://youtu.be/Snb_rkKpIFw

If you don’t have time to watch it, it is a song about a zombie who is trying to persuade his next victim to stop resisting and allow him to eat his brains. It’s all about compromise.  While it sounds like it would be a horrible song it’s actually quite pleasant to listen to.

The zombie author of the song is clearly a master of rhetoric and the writing of up-beat poppy 1-4-5 chord progression radio smash hits. If you listen to the song, you will see that the zombie is clearly just an all-around nice and reasonable guy. In my opinion, the song is both better written and more comforting to listen to then anything on the current top 40 chart.

I don’t ever want to have my brains eaten by a zombie, but if I ever did, it would be by this zombie. He just seems like a decent and respectable undead guy; by far more classy then any other zombies I’ve come across! I do consider myself a bit of a connoisseur of zombies having killed literally thousands of them on my Xbox.

While listening to the song, I had a realization: If Barack Obama where to become a zombie, this would be his song.

I, like many Americans, have a sort of love-hate relationship with our current president. That is, when I hear him talk, I love him. However, when I see the actions he’s taking, I almost always hate them. He reminds me of the zombie from the song. An all-around well-meaning, nice guy, who unfortunately wants to eat my brains.

When Obama got reelected, I, like most rational middle-of-the-road Americans really wasn’t too concerned. Within two months, he launched a media – fortified all out blitz campaign to demonize law-abiding gun owners with the ultimate objective, many believe, of the disarmament of America.

I think he may really be a zombie. Think about it, if you wanted to go around eating all the brains in America, wouldn’t disarming your potential victims be the first action you would want to take? Based on personal experience, I know for a fact that an exercise of Second Amendment rights is an absolute necessity when defending yourself from the zombie apocalypse. I never wanted to see a communist zombie in the White House, but if I did, my first choice would be Barack Hussein Obama.

My hypothesis: like the voice in the song “Re: Your Brains”, Barack Obama is a zombie who is also a Jedi of rhetoric.  While I do really want to compromise, I don’t see any room for middle ground with an undead maniac who’s sole purpose in life is to eat brains, specifically, my brains.  (Just when I thought I was being original and clever, I discovered that I am not the first to come up with this hypothesis; for extra credit, do a google image search for “Obama zombie” and see what you find.  While I do sort of love-hate the guy, I respect the office of the president and think that these renditions cross the line.  They are well done and worthy of a gander, just not a place on my blog.)

What is your alternative hypothesis?

A Tide in the Affairs of Men

1 11 13_489Hawaii

What are you currently doing in life and why?

What I wanted to do in life turned out to be not at all what I thought and I turned out to be a bit of a failure.  I worked very hard at failing to achieve my dream and wasted some good years in the process- most of my twenties.  Incidentally, I have recently experienced success that exceeds my efforts in a field which was never my deliberate intention.

I just sort of ended up getting pretty far in a different field by doing my job, going to school, and taking the amazingly good opportunities that fell in my lap at each step of the way.

Someone asked me yesterday if the job I am getting ready to start was my “dream job”. I answered, honestly: “I don’t have any dreams- but this is a good job and I look forward to it.”

There is a funny thing about the nature of success and failure: I don’t feel that I can attribute my success to my own efforts. Equally, I don’t feel fully to blame for my failures. Rather, everything just kind of “happened”.

A certain quote comes to mind for me regarding the nature of our lives (I can’t believe I am willingly quoting Shakespeare, gag, my high school English teacher would be so proud though):
“There is a tide in the affairs of men.
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat,
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.”
Julius Caesar Act 4, scene 3, 218–224

My life seems as if I am being pulled along into treating cancer. I stumbled into healthcare, happened upon Oncology, and, despite my best efforts to expand into other specialties, continue to be pulled back. (I would not suggest using this line in a job interview, but it is the truth!) Caring for people with cancer is highly rewarding and meaningful, but takes its toll on you. If you have ever worked health care, you will relate that there are easier ways a person can make a living.

So, the question I have for you is this: what is the force that drives the tides of our lives? Is it our own free will? This has not been my experience. Is it the product of blind, impersonal, random force? Or, is it the guiding hand of God? My current hypothesis is that the tides of our lives are the outcome of divine intervention.

Consider Proverbs 20:24 :

“A person’s steps are directed by the Lord.
How then can anyone understand their own way?”

I understand not how I got here nor where I am going. I am going to go with it and go for it, confident that there is a rationale which has not yet been revealed to me. I realize the providence of God is easier to accept in times of victory than it is in times of disappointment, but I am currently convinced that it is the providence of God that directs the course of our lives.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not one of those people who seeks God’s direction when choosing what type of toilet paper to buy. I also don’t read spirituality into every mundane aspect of our seemingly largely pointless lives (no offense to you if you do, I don’t pretend to have all the answers). I also recognize the power of the human spirit and I believe in free will. But, the fact is, I cannot deny the presence of the tide in life which propels us forward.

So, how about you? Is life going according to plan, or has it been redirected (for better or worse)? What do you believe is the driver of the tides in your life? Suggest an alternative hypothesis…

I don’t want to be a domestic pig

Do you know what animal is most similar to humans in terms of metabolism, histocompatibility, and physical endurance?  Apparently, it is not apes or dolphins or dogs.

Think cardiac surgery. The animal with cardiac hardware most similar to humans and therefore least likely to be rejected or fail early is the pig. This is because pigs have basically the same cardiovascular capacity as humans (in terms of volume of oxygen consumed, or MVO2), as well as similar histocompatibility (proteins on cellular surfaces that distinguish “self” from “intruder” to the immune system.

This news makes me feel a bit depressed (not the histocompatibility part-that I just find interesting, but the cardiovascular capacity part).  See, I just recently ran my first half marathon, and feel somewhat proud of my physical performance. The unfortunate fact is, that the wild boar can sprint just slightly faster than an Olympic sprinter, and has about the same endurance as well.

Pigs are also highly intelligent by the way. Check out this pig genius video: http://animal.discovery.com/tv-shows/animal-planet-presents/videos/most-outrageous-pig-genius.htm

As it turns out, pigs are also the domestic animal with the best aptitude for returning to the wild state. While the difference in appearance between a wild boar and domestic pig is significant, this transition can be accomplished in the lifespan of a single pig.

“Any pig that gets out can revert back in a matter of months to a state where it can exist in the wild,” said Brown. “It will get hairy, grow tusks and get aggressive. They’re so good at adapting, and with their scavenging nature, they can get by pretty much anywhere.” (http://blog.mlive.com/flintjournal/outdoors/2007/11/domestic_pigs_quickly_revert_t.html)

Specific adaptations occur which include pigmentation and hair growth to adapt to harsher living environment.  The wild boar also has a flatter, thicker nasal bridge to allow him to root out food.  The wild boar is also leaner due to his lifestyle. In contrast, the domestic pig has a thinner, curved nasal bridge since he does not have to root for food.  His body composition is of a higher body fat percentage due to his sedentary lifestyle.  His skin is bald and pink because of he is relatively protected from harsh extremes.

domestic pigwild pigs

domestic humanwild humans

I have noted a similar tendency in the pig’s near relative-the human.  All I can do lately is look at people and think: domestic or wild?  Look at the skin around the face and neck.  Look at the overall body habitus.  Let’s face it: ranchers do not look like bankers.

Sometimes I look at myself in the mirror and ask the same question: domestic or wild?

In conclusion: I would rather be a wild boar than a domestic pig!  Granted, both are pigs, but there is just something really wrong with the way the domestic pig looks in my opinion.

So, what is your alternative hypothesis?

Uncomfortable Athiests

“Atheists may not believe in God, but there still uncomfortable urging a deity to “make someone murder my parents cruelly.” (Wall Street Journal, March 16,17, 2013)

Researchers asked a sample of people to ask God to do horrific things and measured their physiologic signs of emotional arousal and stress while doing so. As it turns out, while believers reported more discomfort than atheists when asked to make such prayers, the physiologic signs of stress were equally present in both believers and atheist. In other words, both believers and nonbelievers were equally stressed by being asked to make such a request of God.

See the full abstract:
“We examined whether atheists exhibit evidence of emotional arousal when they dare God to cause harm to themselves and their intimates. In Study 1, the participants (16 atheists, 13 religious individuals) read aloud 36 statements of three different types: God, offensive, and neutral. In Study 2 (N = 19 atheists), ten new stimulus statements were included in which atheists wished for negative events to occur. The atheists did not think the God statements were as unpleasant as the religious participants did in their verbal reports. However, the skin conductance level showed that asking God to do awful things was equally stressful to atheists as it was to religious people and that atheists were more affected by God statements than by wish or offensive statements. The results imply that atheists’ attitudes towards God are ambivalent in that their explicit beliefs conflict with their affective response.”

These findings beg a consideration of Psalm 14:
1 The fool[a] says in his heart,
“There is no God.”
They are corrupt, their deeds are vile;
there is no one who does good.
2 The LORD looks down from heaven
on all mankind
to see if there are any who understand,
any who seek God.
3 All have turned away, all have become corrupt;
there is no one who does good,
not even one.

Before the Christian readers add this to their armory for the attack of the atheist I think we should consider that Psalm 14 is not a verse that exclusively describes the most obstinate unbelievers. In fact verse 3 makes it plain that no one is as steadfast as they might want to think.

Rather, I think these findings support another biblical concept found in Romans 18 which I believe speaks for itself:
18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

I think that the God’s existence is evident to us, whether or not we choose to accept it in our conscious mind. Fear and the physiologic stress response is a more reflexive reaction and is more ingrained. It involves lower areas of the brain such as the amygdala and thalamus; our higher-level reasoning from the cortex has basically no control over it. I believe that the physiologic signs of activation of the stress response indicate a belief in God that is more primal. The amygdala and thalamus are responsible for things like eating, reproduction, rest, and activation of fight or flight (i.e. the stress response). Therefore, a person’s religious beliefs have no control over their physiologic stress response.

So, what is your null hypothesis?

Welcome to Null

I guess I am a bit of a weird person that likes to think about weird things that may or may not be necessarily mainstream. The focus of this blog will be these weird things.

In my posts I will try to present an idea about the weird thing and then give you my reaction.

There is a human tendency to immediately assign meaning to life experiences. I think this is generally protective, and helps us make sense of our world. However, we are finite, that is, limited in our knowledge and ignorant as to every confounding aspect. We are also biased, that is, full of prejudice. As a result, a purely objective and 100% accurate understanding is a very low probability of occurrence.

The thing is, realizing this doesn’t necessarily prevent one from making thinking errors.

Seriously, try treating your thoughts as theories to be tested instead of facts, and let me know how that works out for you.

My invitation to you, the reader is to suggest a null, or alternative hypothesis to the weird things I post.

In the scientific method, the null hypothesis provides an alternative explanation for an observed relationship. For example, my dog is currently barking. The hypothesis could be that my dog is barking because he hears a motorcycle. A null hypothesis could be my dog is barking because he is a canine psychopath.

So follow, read, and enjoy, and by all means, provide your own null hypothesis.