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Scientists at Stanford discovered something I don't understand. Then a writer simplified it for the Internet, making it worse. Then I read about it and my brain added a few misconceptions, as usual. That's how I roll. Anyway, now I am left with this question: Is this a big deal or a little deal?

http://io9.com/5083673/princeton-scientists-discover-proteins-that-control-evolution


This story didn't exactly set the media on fire, which leads me to believe it is a small matter, potentially adding a detail to the Theory of Evolution.

But perhaps it is the first solid evidence of my theory that spacetime is like a huge donut, or Mobious strip if you like, and future scientists will find a way for humanity to survive the black hole that devours the universe. They create the physical equivalent of a computer program that is so small it is unaffected by the forces that crush the universe. Over a few billion years, the program chugs along, guiding evolution to produce humans once again, thus we are all reborn. And since the universe is deterministic, it happens the same way every time.

Or not.

My only question today is whether this discovery might lead to a big change in the generally accepted Theory of Evolution. 

 
I wonder how many people got the joke in the last panel of this comic. Do you know what the "lucky guess" refers to?



On a totally unrelated note, which I add because this blog post would be otherwise inadequately sized, here's an update on  my voice, in case anyone is curious. Thanks to surgery in July to correct my exotic voice problem (Spasmodic Dysphonia), I now have a virtually normal voice. It started coming back strong in the past few weeks.

This is a life changing event for me. I lived for 3.5 years without the ability to speak in most situations, and with the knowledge that the condition was considered incurable. However unpleasant you imagine it is to be unable to speak, I can assure you it was worse. But thanks to one surgeon, Dr. Berke at UCLA, apparently my problem is solved.

And so I am reborn, in a sense. Every day since the rewired nerves in my neck regenerated, and speech returned, life has been terrific.


 
Please take a sneak peek at my new service for sending files that are so large your e-mail can't handle them. It's called dilbertfiles.com. I'd like your opinion before I do a general launch.

http://www.dilbertfiles.com/


First, some background. I often used a service called sendyourfiles.com to move my own large art files to United Media (my syndicator), to my publisher (Andrews McMeel Publishing), and other business associates. I also used the service to send large photos and videos that e-mail couldn't handle. Every person who received a large file from me in this convenient way said some version of "Hey, I could use this myself."

So I contacted the owners of sendyourfiles.com and worked out a deal for a branded version of their service that we call dilbertfiles.com. They do the business end, and I help spread the word. It's a great tool, so I enjoy letting people know about it.

As the more technical among you know, there are a number of options for sending large files. Some of them are even free, although without the features or convenience of dilbertfiles.com. For example, with Dilbertfiles.com you can download a plug-in for Outlook and send large files without even going through a web page. And if you do use the browser interface instead, you get to watch some free Dilbert comics while your file is transmitted. You also get to watch Dogbert vigorously whip the progress bar, which feels better than you'd imagine.

As the number of traditional newspapers continues to shrink, this is the sort of thing that will help keep Dilbert free online. If you know anyone who moves large files around for work, or for fun, please do them and me a favor by forwarding the link.

[Update: The link was broken when I first posted. Now corrected.]

 
I don't know about you, but I have totally stopped worrying about terrorist attacks. Now I'm only afraid of bankers with new ideas. I'm not joking about either point.

Gas is a lot cheaper lately. That doesn't help you much if you're unemployed and can't afford a car, but for the lucky people with jobs, it helps a lot. No one saw that coming a year ago.

America is feeling a lot less arrogant and a lot more humble lately. If you believe the experts, that should go a long way toward helping International relations.

Traffic isn't so bad, bargains abound, and even the lines seem shorter.

For the half of the country who wanted Obama as President, the economic woes sealed his victory. If he's half the savior his supporters believe, something good will happen soon. I just hope it isn't the Rapture.

As painful as this recession is likely to become, everyone agrees that sometimes you have to shake the rug to get all the crap out of it. Economies don't grow in straight lines.

It's expensive to travel anywhere, but on the other hand, the new season of 24 is almost here. I don't need to go to faraway places and meet people when I can sit on my couch and watch Jack Bauer shoot those people.

I remember driving home in 1989 and thinking I had a flat tire because the car went all wobbly. I pulled over and discovered that my tires were fine; the earth was moving. It was the Loma Prieta Earthquake, and I soon discovered my apartment in shambles. But a funny thing happened. All of my neighbors were outside, stunned. We talked. We shared stories. We bonded. It was a strangely good time. And I felt connected to people at a deeper level than ever before. Shared disaster does that.

No one wants the economy to crumble. But having a reason to love your neighbor a litter better doesn't suck. If we can feed everyone - and I think we can - things will be fine. And as I have said here before, some kid in a garage has already figured a way out of this.
 
I know a woman who "feels" words. To her, some words are ugly to the point of discomfort. Others are beautiful. Not coincidentally, she is verbally gifted. It made me wonder if genius can be defined by the degree to which something intellectual can be felt as a physical experience.

For example, most people feel something when they listen to music. But I suspect gifted musicians feel it in an entirely different way than I do. I could never memorize all the notes in a song because for me it would be an exercise in rote memorization. For someone gifted in music, memorizing a song is easier because such a person would remember how each part felt. Feelings create memories more easily than intellectual experiences. The stronger the feeling, the easier the memory.

Most of the people reading this blog are gifted in one way or another. Think about the field in which you excel the most, then ask yourself if you operate by feel more in that area than in others.

I was thinking of this the other day when I heard a new song by Kanye West, called Love Lockdown. I have never been a big fan of his music. I thought he was a bit of a manufactured celebrity. That changed when I heard this song, after I confirmed that he wrote it. The performance itself is brilliant in about five different ways. I especially like the heartbeat-beat. Perhaps he had help with the music and performance parts of the song. But the words: Genius.

Now I realize I am going to get lots of howls about this post. If you don't like this genre of music, fine. But try to suspend that for a minute to listen to the song then look at the lyrics, in that order. (Links below.)

The genius of the lyrics is how they feel as words themselves, second as a flow, and third for their meaning. In my opinion, this is the work of genius.

Song


http://au.youtube.com/watch?v=ZcjkkBtXgIc


Lyrics


http://www.metrolyrics.com/love-lockdown-lyrics-kanye-west.html


 
A biomedical startup down the road from me was developing something called HDL Selective Delipidation. It's a process that passed the FDA safety tests, and effectively reduced coronary plaque in a small test group. It might never get to wider trials because their sources of funding dried up, thanks to our crippled economy, and they had to close their doors. This is after putting about $60 million into the business.

Since you are probably not a doctor, allow me to explain the importance of "reduced coronary plaque." Doctors prescribe drugs called statins for people who are predisposed to cardiovascular events. Statins slow the progression of atherosclerosis (plaque in the coronary arteries). Slowing it down is good enough to substantially reduce the rate of cardiovascular problems in this country. But even with statins, people who are predisposed to cardiovascular problems are still more likely than not to have a problem down the road.

Unlike statins, HDL Selective Delipidation actually reversed the progression of coronary plaque, in just seven weeks, at least with the small test group. If the company had funding for larger trials, the process might someday be combined with statins to be a powerful one-two punch.

How many lives could it save?  Coronary heart disease is the leading cause of death in America, killing about 450,000 people per year. There are about 1.2 million new and recurrent cases of coronary attacks per year, of which 38% will die.  If this new treatment could reduce the mortality rate by 10% (which I'm told is conservative), it would save 46,000 people a year.  It could also significantly reduce healthcare expenditures and improve patients' quality of life.

As it stands now, perhaps 46,000 people will die per year because the company just entered bankruptcy. The key employees are still available and eager to make this process work. If you know anyone who invests in this sort of company (at a ridiculously low cost), such as venture capitalists or biotech companies, pass them a link to this post and see if you can save some lives, including maybe your own.

The company's website is still live at http://www.lipidsciences.com/ .  For more information about the product or investing in it, contact Tim Perlman at tperlman@lipidsciences.com.


[Disclaimer: I have no financial interest in the company. When I asked my friend Tim how many people might die because the company couldn't get funding, I felt it was important to blog about it.]

 
I was expecting stocks to rally sharply ahead of the election, and pull back when the results were announced. It looks like that prediction came true.

I based my prediction on the conspiracy theory that the market is controlled by a relatively small group of ultra rich people who preferred McCain for president. A phony surge in stocks ahead of the election might have convinced some people that the economic downturn was already on the mend, so no need for a change.

I have long suspected that all major movements in the markets are manipulated by billionaires who would like to become trillionaires. They know in advance which way the market will move, because they cause the movement, so they sell high and buy low while the unwashed masses are doing the opposite.

If you based your investing on the conspiracy theory that markets are manipulated by the rich, you would do very well, even if that theory is wrong. For example, you would have bought stocks every time the media told you the economy was doomed, and sold stocks whenever the market was testing new bubble highs, because you cynically believed all financial news was intentionally misleading.

Unfortunately it's psychologically hard to buy stocks when the economy is circling the drain (according to the media) and even harder to avoid investing when things look bubble-iscous. The way to get past that is to convince yourself the billionaires are manipulating all information about the economy in order to fool you. When the media says sell, it's time to buy. (Disclaimer: Do not get your investment advice from cartoonists.)
 
Signs
Nov 4, 2008 | General Nonsense | Permalink
There are many election-related signs in my town. Some signs are in lawns, or along public roads. Others are waved by small groups of enthusiasts at major intersections. These signs make me a little bit sad, because there are only two explanations for their existence:

1. Voters are so dumb they can be swayed by signs.

Or

2. Signs make no difference whatsoever but the people running for office and supporting various ballot propositions are too dumb to realize it.

Either way, it's not a good thing.

Down the road from my house a guy has been spending hours a day standing at an intersection vigorously waving an Obama sign. I don't mean to be unkind, but my story demands that you know this fellow looks like a bit of a douche bag. The only information he is conveying is that if you vote for Obama you can belong to a group that includes at least one douche bag, guaranteed. (I have not ruled out the possibility that he secretly supports McCain and this is some sort of dirty trick.)

If you are a registered voter in the United States, today you must choose between the Antichrist and the only guy that scares the piss out of the Antichrist. My strategy involves buying a wheelbarrow and waiting for the rapture. I understand there will be a lot of gold fillings and diamond earrings left for me and my homeys.
 
I wonder if today will be remembered as the last day of the Republic. If Obama gets elected, lots of McCain supporters will be displeased, but I would expect an orderly transition of power. That's one possibility.

The other possibility is that McCain is elected and there is widespread suspicion, founded or not, that the election was rigged. That, for all practical purposes, will be end of the Republic. Citizens will take to the streets, the lame duck administration will declare martial law, half the country will stop paying taxes, and we will begin the long slide toward a Mad Max economy.

That means we still have all of today and a good part of tomorrow to enjoy ourselves before all Hell breaks loose. So send me links to photos of any good Halloween costumes you saw this weekend. Those are always good for a laugh.

On Friday I found myself without a costume just two hours before a party at my restaurant. So I put on a pair of pajamas that were a foot too long, hiked them up to my nipples, donned my free Motley Fool hat that simply says "FOOL" on the front, and I was good to go.

How about you?
 
 Yesterday I was talking to some McCain supporters about how they arrived at their preference. We don't see many McCain supporters in my neighborhood, so I always take time to hear their views. Admittedly my sample is not large, but of the dozen or so McCain supporters I have spoken with, there is a common thread: Obama gives them a vague feeling of discomfort that they can't quite identify.

When I ask about this vague feeling of discomfort, the answer has something to do with how his views got formed, his past associations, how quickly he rose to prominence, and how charismatic (slick) he is.

The risk, as I understand it, is that once in office Obama would start sporting a turban and begin each speech with WAHLALALALALALAL!!!! He would appoint Supreme Court justices who favor a redistribution of wealth to unborn gay babies, and he'd legalize crack. It would all be part of his master plan to destroy America. I might have the details wrong, but it goes something like that.

It's hard to argue against someone's vague feeling of discomfort. After all, studies have shown that people are actually quite good at determining character and intelligence from nothing more than photographs. I just found it interesting that the people I spoke with described a vague feeling of discomfort in forming their preference. That is not something I ever heard in other elections.
 
 
 
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