Out Of The Corner Of My Eye

There are an unbelievable number of illnesses causing an exaggerated startle response. MS, PTSD, autism.

Apparently lack of awareness of your surroundings is tied into startle response to peripheral vision stimuli.

Peripheral Visual Awareness: The Central Issue

“Many cases show that with functional (and therefore reversible) deficits, similar problems arise for individuals who have inefficient peripheral awareness; whenever something enters into their awareness it draws their total attention. It becomes the center of attention because they function primarily within a small central field. There is little or no control over the periphery so that objects and people of certain stimulus parameters that enter this area appear suddenly, as a surprise, and therefore a curiosity or a possible threat.”

I submit that if the majority of your conscious attention is focused on a small area in central vision, you are more prone to distractions from things you see out of the corner of your eye. People walking by, the shuffling of papers at adjoining desks, the flashing of HD lights on rows of computers: getting anything done right is going to be difficult.

There is a reason they went away from open plan to cubicles. Do they really have to learn it all over?


nuclear-mushroom-cloudthis is a test.





You Really Can’t Argue With Them

You really *can’t* argue with them.

—– Original Message —–

To: ‘Leslie’ (not so bright)
Sent: Thursday, September 18, 2008 2:02 AM
Subject: An interesting study, and my comments…

It’s tricky, talking with these poor brain-damaged souls. If it weren’t so normal, I’d call such mental misreasoning a disease.It’s easy to win a debate if someone is scoring based on fact, or the scorer is using reality-based reasoning. To win over a fascist – well, the conservatives are socialists now aren’t they, with the many government takeovers of large business? How do they rationalize that: George Bush, Socialist Reformer?

Anyway, if someone holds a belief very strongly, and uses that belief to reinforce their feeling of superiority – which is extremely normal behavior among all humans – then being told that belief is wrong, and being shown the plain irrefutable proof, isn’t felt as an attempt to inform: it’s felt as a direct attack on the ego, and requires a response of yelling, name-calling, argument, and denial: a counterattack.

Liberals may not react that way because they have ego and pride attachments to fact-based reasoning; they might be proud of their ability to change their views to fit the facts. This may be genetic.  It’s been long observed in psychology that there are two types of people. Each individual of each set would have a construct, or belief. When faced with something that invalidates the construct, one group seeks to change their construct to fit reality; the other group attempts to alter reality to fit their construct. In psychology, the term for that is ‘hostility.’ In politics, it’s ‘conservatism’.

In cognitive therapy, one way to get someone to change is to keep their ego – their sense of superiority – intact. Find out what their goals are. Conservative and liberal goals and actual values are incredibly close.

One can complement a conservatives value of life, or rejection of terror. We agree on those things. The question is, do they want to achieve those goals? Yes? My, what a good person. Good person, goooood person. Sit. Stay. Stay away from the voting booth.

The division is perception of reality, and efficaciousness. Conservatives need to be asked if their values are important enough to them that they’re willing to do what it takes to implement the values. Then, what if doing that it takes involves rejecting a plan that has the opposite effect, and trying something that has a proven track record? Is their conviction strong enough that they would be willing to examine the actual track records, the facts, and reassess what they would do, given the power?

This works on a small or large scale. People’s minds can clearly be changed, by several methods. Karl Rove has demonstrated this, using old-school propaganda methods. The democrats can do the same, and don’t need to resort to lying. Every point can be researched and evidenced. Cognitive dissonance is a fine political tool. The beliefs of Republicans are incredibly contradictory. Awareness of that creates dissonance.

Dissonance can make things explode, like their tiny little heads.

Machine Knitting, Trying A Hobby


I’ve been interested in knitting machines for many years. I recently found an old notebook with my thoughts on industrial knitting and weaving machines and their connection to Jacquard looms, the Hollerith cards used in 1970s computing and early Chinese mechanical ducks. More about this another time, perhaps.

I learned to knit by hand at 6 years old and just never got the hang of it. There some some excellent programmable machines out there including knitting machines that can be controlled by computers or by punch cards similar to those used by Jacquard looms or, by extension, to Hollerith cards. When I first looked into it, programmable machines were prohibitively expensive and I didn’t have the skills to build in the extra features I wanted.

I am finally going to start with a basic machine knitting course at the local high school. I will be renting a Silver Reed LK150 Hobby Knitting Machine for the length of the course. If I like it and if I think I can recoup the cost I’ll buy the machine. Later I can swap up to a programmable knitting machine.

Uyvonne Bigham of A 2 Z Fibers, Feasterville-Trevose, PA is teaching the course. She is truly an expert knitter, both by hand and by machine. She creates and sells professional knitting patterns to major companies. I lucked out on this one.

I’ll post my efforts as I go along. If I decide to buy the machine I’ll definitely donate pwizes to twitter pawties.

A Progessive’s Take on Prepping

There is a huge movement in the US to prepare for the collapse of civilization. There are many reasons an individual “prepper” might believe that they will cut off from the supply chain. Disaster scenarios include:

  • Acts of war such as thermonuclear war or large-scale terrorist attack.
  • Natural disasters such as hurricanes, volcanoes, tornadoes, earthquakes, tsunamis or meteor strikes.
  • Manmade disasters such as a broken dam, trucker’s or other strike, chemical spills, and as mentioned above, acts of war.
  • Government embargo.
  • Alien invasion. The space type, not the Hispanic baby type.
  • Zombie Apocalypse.
Mexican alien baby

Alien baby crossing the border
from Mexico into the US,
artist’s interpretation.

Extreme, yes! But if you’re a sensible person who has been through a natural disaster you know that at least one of these is not only possible, but happen regularly.

“The government will send FEMA to take care of us. The Red Cross will show up with coffee and blankets. Why should I worry?” Well, FEMA and the Red Cross are finite resources. They may take time to get to you. Maybe you won’t be able to travel to the shelter.

We made out just fine after Superstorm Sandy. Fortunately, our house was undamaged. Others weren’t so lucky. More about them in another post.

superstorm Sandy Lessons learned

Spoken as a true girl scout!

This is not a prepper blog. (We used to call them “survivalists.”) It is a blog by a techie who happened to go without power for a week after Superstorm Sandy. If you had moments of panic during Sandy, if you went to a shelter only because you were cold and had no food, or no way to cook food, then this is for you.

We made out just fine after Superstorm Sandy. First off, our house was undamaged. We’re old campers – and I’m an old Girl Scout – with flashlights scattered all over the house. We have a basement full of lanterns, cookstoves (plural, yes) and of course, warm sleeping bags. We happened to have a lot of canned goods on hand and a freezer full of food that needed to be eaten quickly. It was like a big camping trip but with a roof and cats. Spoiled cats who acted as blankets when it got cold in the house.

We quickly learned the ways we weren’t prepared. The next few articles will contain a few steps you can take to help you stay comfortable and safe after a disaster.

The Astrologers Can No Longer Predict The Future

I haven’t looked at a weather report today but last night they were saying possibly a foot of snow. The weather people run a Monte Carlo simulation then incorrectly take an average of the results. This is stupid because the European model is sometimes so far off the American models that the average is wrong, just wrong. Last big storm closely matched the Eu model.

A model is a computer program. You type in past temp, humidity, wind speed and direction. It spits out an answer based on over 50 years of accumulated data. There are lots of possible weather but most of the possibilities are almost identical and so your weather person tells you the most likely. You probably have noticed that weather has been chaotic and extreme lately. Soon the models will no longer work. Yahoo!

A model isn’t really a lookup table, it’s a bunch of equations. The more data points you enter and the better the resolution of the data points, the more accurate the prediction. I invite you to read James Gleick’s Chaos: Making a New Science for a history of weather prediction, among other topics.

Yes, weather patterns have changed due to global warming. The models no longer work very well.

There’s a theory that isn’t widely accepted, in part I think because narrow-minded scientists can’t grasp the fullness of the theory. The theory is that there have been multiple large meteor hits throughout the life of the solar system – which wasn’t accepted at all when the book was written. Velikovsky’s “Worlds in Collision.” They laughed at him because he related Greek Mythology to the planets they named their gods after. Velikovsky’s theory was that in human time there was at least one near miss by a large celestial body that visibly changed the courses of the planets. He specifically talked about the sound made by a large meteor entering the atmosphere of earth. Do you remember the sonic boom from the meteor that hurtled across the sky over Russia in February 2013? Nobody in biblical times would have heard anything that loud before. The loudest thing they might have heard is trumpets. So that’s what they’d call the sound. The Greeks heard or described the sound as “typhooooo” and invented the monster Typhon around it. You recognize the word typhoon as a terrible storm.

I think some brain cells died and are releasing this stuff.

Velikovsky had celestial bodies bouncing around the solar system like billiard balls. That’s why scientists laugh at him. But there’s a possibility that Greek Mythology was based on multiple occurrences of a comet flyby, not one huge cosmic cataclysm.

Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho by Mahalia Jackson on Grooveshark

What are the chances that a large meteor would hit the earth just as Israelites were attacking a fortress. VERY slim except they were pretty much constantly attacking somebody during that time period and most of their attacks weren’t accompanied by trumpets.

While God’s chosen were still wandering goatherds there were actual civilizations. Sumerians, Babylonians, PhoenicianZs… And they had astrologers. Kings consulted the astrologers before making any decision and for some reason it worked pretty well.

Then around the same time as the battle of jericho something happened. The astronomers could no longer predict the future. Velikovsky surmised that there was a cosmic event that was so big it changed the length of the day. Which sounds kind of crazy. BUT experiments putting people in deep caves and allowing them to sleep whenever they want to showed that humans tend to revert to a 25-hour day. Prior to that experiments with mosquitos showed the same thing.

But anyway, I like to say that the astronomers can no longer predict the future. %-P

The mosquitoes, btw, have their internal clock reset every morning at dawn. It can be reset with a flash of light too. These internal clock functions are called “circadian rhythms.”

As an aside, a fellow named Winfree realized that a burst of electricity could be used to restart a fibrillating heart. To test his theory he set up an experiment. He used a burst of current to stop his heart and another to restart it. This led to the invention of the defibrillator used in hospitals today. NOTE: the janitor found him dead on the floor of the lab. Oops!!

One theory in bipolar disorder is that a time gene doesn’t work, so the bipolar’s circadian rhythms aren’t reset every day. There’s also a time center in the hypothalamus that can cause problems.

Recipe: White Turkey Chili

White Turkey Chili

A spritz of cooking spray
1 lb. diced cooked turkey or 1 lb ground turkey
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 tsp. ground cumin
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
1 tomatilla, diced
3 cans (each 7 oz.) whole fire-roasted Anaheim chilies, diced
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth, warmed
2 cans (each 15 oz.) cannellini beans, drained
1 can (15 oz.) pigeon peas, drained
2 Tbs. minced fresh oregano
1/3 cup minced fresh cilantro
1/4 cup cornmeal
Shredded jack cheese, sour cream and lime wedges for serving
Spritz a large sauté pan with cooking spray and cook the ground turkey over medium heat just until pinkness is gone. Set aside.
Add the olive oil to the sauté pan. Add the onion, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 5 to 7 minutes.
Add the cumin, garlic, jalapeño and tomatilla and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Stir in the chilies and 3 1/2 cups of the broth. Stir in the turkey, beans, oregano and cilantro.
Put the cornmeal in a small bowl and slowly whisk in 1/2 cup of the broth. Stir the cornmeal mixture into the turkey mixture. Cover and simmer for 3 hours. Thin the chili with water if needed.
Ladle the chili into warmed bowls. Serve with cheese, sour cream and/or lime wedges. Serves 6 to 8.

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Frightened NRA Members?

“Frightened citizens, sheltered in place, with no means to defend themselves or their families from whatever might come crashing through their door. How many Bostonians wished they had a gun two weeks ago?”
— The National Rifle Association’s Wayne LaPierre, quoted by the Huffington Post.

Mr. LaPierre’s characterization of non-gun owners is so IGNORANT that I wonder why the NRA lets him have a microphone. Trust me, folks who don’t have guns DO have baseball bats and crow bars, and they can tell if some kid is trying to break into their house.

The main thing I get from this is that Mr. LaPierre himself falls apart under stress, then hides somewhere snuggling his gun like a security blanket. Come ON, dude. Make popcorn, turn on the TV, take a FUCKING Ativan. LaPierre is totally wrong to assume that the rest of the world has the amount of fear that he does. And he is not typical of gun owners, who are as likely to own baseball bats and crowbars as everyone else.

More people choke to death on pens every year than the Boston bombers killed.

More people have died of tylenol overdoses than terrorists have killed in the US since (including) 9-11. I’m so sick of a traumatized country jumping at every sound.

“After a shooting spree, they always want to take the guns away from the people who didn’t do it. I sure as hell wouldn’t want to live in a society where the only people allowed guns are the police and the military.”
— William S. Burroughs

Image Credit:
Source Flickr
Author DonkeyHotey

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