Dolphin’s are Non-Human Persons

June 24, 2014 at 2:30 pm | Posted in Economoney, Media, Movies, Nature, Science | Leave a comment

An interesting article on news that India has declared dolphin’s to be non-human persons. They’re banning the “import, capture of cetacean species… for commercial entertainment, private or public exhibition and interaction purposes whatsoever.

Whereas cetaceans [marine mammals] in general are highly intelligent and sensitive, and various scientists who have researched dolphin behavior have suggested that the unusually high intelligence; as compared to other animals means that dolphins should be seen as ‘non-human persons’ and as such should have their own specific rights and is morally unacceptable to keep them captive for entertainment purpose…

This does not mean human rights but rather “Unlike… positive rights, such as the ‘right’ to education or health care, the animal right is, at bottom, a right to be left alone… It only requires us to stop killing them and making them suffer.

This comes out of a 2011 meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science gathering support for the 2010 Declaration of Rights for Cetaceans:

1. Every individual cetacean has the right to life.
2. No cetacean should be held in captivity or servitude; be subject to cruel treatment; or be removed from their natural environment.
3. All cetaceans have the right to freedom of movement and residence within their natural environment.
4. No cetacean is the property of any State, corporation, human group or individual.
5. Cetaceans have the right to the protection of their natural environment.
6. Cetaceans have the right not to be subject to the disruption of their cultures.
7. The rights, freedoms and norms set forth in this Declaration should be protected under international and domestic law.
8. Cetaceans are entitled to an international order in which these rights, freedoms and norms can be fully realized.
9. No State, corporation, human group or individual should engage in any activity that undermines these rights, freedoms and norms.
10. Nothing in this Declaration shall prevent a State from enacting stricter provisions for the protection of cetacean rights.

(the linked article is missing the last 3)

In my local community, Orcas have been removed from the local aquarium but they still have dolphins and belugas, so there is a move to ban all cetaceans from display for entertainment purposes. What makes it messy is they present as a “research aquarium” and consider that work critical. While I certainly agree marine research is very important, tying it to funding by using research subjects for public entertainment is highly questionable and an inherent conflict of interest.

Waterproof IMAX cameras are far less expensive and invasive to use in exposing us to marine life.

The article closes with this question: “Once we give rights to some animals how do we justify our continued exploitation of others?” Another recent local controversy is violent abuse of dairy cows. But as one article commented, the entire treatment of animals as a commodity on factory farms is abuse. Films like Food Inc. have spoken to this.

Hardware Commons

June 10, 2014 at 10:30 am | Posted in Design, Economoney, Hardware, History, Internet, Media, Science, Technology | Leave a comment

Just as software has it’s open source and licensing has Creative Commons, open knowledge of hardware is crucial for us to grow as a society in healthy ways. I recently wrote a similar article on network infrastructure – an open Internet.

Why is this even an issue? Current laws concentrate knowledge into property rights for economic control rather than the common good. Corporate structures, treated legally as a person and thus given the same rights, are concentrating economic activity into monopolies. The result is the concentration of knowledge and wealth in a progressively smaller group, the so-called 1%. (although that’s overstating it now) This has historically destabilized and destroyed civilizations.

If we’re going to learn the lessons of history, we need more balance and a more diversified economy. We need opportunity in the commons and that is best served by accessible knowledge.

This increased access to knowledge is hugely important…it acts as the foundational infrastructure on which we can start to build a whole new economy.”
— Alastair Parvin of WikiHouse

This video outlines how it can be applied to hardware:

And this page lists 10 open hardware projects. If you’ve been around long enough you’ll recognize the Access to Tools theme that was common in the old Whole Earth Catalogue. It was also a theme of R. Buckminster Fuller.

Solar Roadways

May 5, 2014 at 4:21 pm | Posted in Design, Economoney, Hardware, Media, Science, Technology | 1 Comment

What if your new driveway powered your house? And ran your car. And connected you to the Internet, telephone and TV. And kept itself clear of snow. And paid for itself.

It’s a real product.

And they’re doing an IndieGoGo funding round to take it to the next level. It’s already had real-world testing.

It will also optionally process polluted stormwater…

Years of Living Dangerously

April 13, 2014 at 7:34 pm | Posted in Economoney, Media, Science | Leave a comment

What does the Syrian war, destruction of Indonesian parks and Texas have in common?
The premiere of a new Showtime series, Years of Living Dangerously, unexpectedly on global warming.

Its 1 hour. And it’s a surprise.

The TED Controversy Continues

April 12, 2014 at 9:27 pm | Posted in Events, Internet, Media, Science | 2 Comments

A year ago, I summarised some of the events that had occurred as a result of 2 controversial talks at a TEDx event in England.

As the site Science Set Free illustrates, the controversy didn’t die off. (scroll down their page for the background) 251 PhDs and MDs have signed a petition that was recently delivered to TED, expanding on the original 16. There is also a petition still underway. They held a public rebuttal, though it looks  more like a press conference for the petition.

This article also came out, with more details about the West Hollywood event they pulled the plug on, 2 weeks before it was due to go. As the event was largely intact, they decided to go ahead anyway but Livestream inexplicably pulled the plug on them too. TED seems the only explanation. That created a rather large price tag for the shows producer. Reimbursement or support seems dubious at this stage of the game but it’s disturbing the apparent lack of integrity on TED’s part. As Science Set Free notes, TED “has become the central hub of cutting edge social and scientific thought internationally“. That’s disturbing if they’re being driven by radical atheists. Ironically their behaviour reinforces Sheldrake’s points.

The other TEDx event I’m aware of that lost TED support also went ahead, with a little more warning. Hosted by a small university, their original line-up had only one speaker mentioning the word “consciousness” in their talk title but there was a human potential theme. Ironically, that speaker was Kilby-award winning physicist John Hagelin who had spoken at TEDxWomen a few months prior. That talk is still present in the TED channel. The theme of that event? Fact & Faith.

Amusingly, the university conference is now being presented on-line under the banner “Consciousness Talks“. They set up a web site for it and have been gradually posting videos from that event this year. I posted an article on one of them by Dr. Pam Peeke: Hacked by a Cupcake, on Food and Addiction. One that should be on TED. I look forward to others.

Gravity Waves?

March 20, 2014 at 1:35 pm | Posted in Media, Science, Space | 1 Comment

Not sure what all the fuss is about in science circles these days? It’s the first direct proof of the inflationary model of the big bang. Here’s the idea explained – light evidence of gravity waves in a predicted pattern – and stronger than they expected.

The NY Times takes a crack at explaining it here. More detail, and how they kept it a secret, on Wired.


Promotion via Fakery

March 6, 2014 at 5:36 pm | Posted in Events, Hardware, Humor, Internet, Media, Science, Strange, Technology, Transportation | Leave a comment

A weird episode in Internet “marketing” this week. A real company, HUVr Tech, seeking funding  sought buzz. First, they faked up a Promo video for Hoverboards, complete with the famous and Back to the Future references. Note the 0 noise and that the video is named “belief” (on their web site). They apparently used the Back to the Future wire harness.

Second, an “apology” by Christopher Lloyd. He was tricked??   Then, one from Tony Hawk, the famed skateboarder. Wired comments.

Fake promotions and fake apologies? Lame. Pranks are funny only if you include the punchline. Has their home page been updated to reflect this? Nope. This is what they think of their possible customers?

Dark Matter = 0

February 24, 2014 at 3:59 pm | Posted in Science, Space | Leave a comment

I recently commented on Nassim Haramein’s take on Dark Matter. Here is more detail, from a recent comment.

In modern physics, field equations within the “standard model” predict that there is a certain amount of stuff (matter) out there in the universe. However, when looking for the predicted mass with telescopes and other advanced technology, it was realized that most of the mass that was predicted to be there was actually “missing”, not just a little bit of it… 96% of the matter was missing(!)

At this point you might expect a reexamining and consequential adjustment in the predictive model, instead, a new type of matter was invented “out of thin air” in hopes it could make all the equations work out. They needed to come up with a highly technical term for this new type of invented matter and since they couldn’t seem to find it anywhere they decided to call it…. “dark matter” and “dark energy”.

Perhaps the mass is “missing” because of another fundamental error in the standard model, one that that got rid of a rather incredibly large (approaching infinite) number that represents how dense empty space actually is. Most physics students are not even aware of this mathematical trick called “renormalization” where the density of space was effectively ignored despite the scientifically verified through experiment (the Casmir effect) density of space-time itself in peer reviewed and published laboratory experiments.

Perhaps we are getting closer to the point where the standard model realizes there is no such thing as “dark matter” and that the missing mass is in fact the energy within the structure of the space-time manifold itself, something that Nassim Haramein has predicted in his unified field theory model for many years.

more info

Wolves Change Geography

February 15, 2014 at 4:08 pm | Posted in Media, Nature, Science | Leave a comment

A short film about “trophic cascade“- the cascading consequences of changes in individual species populations – especially of top-of-the-pyramid predators.

After 70 years absence, wolves were reintroduced into Yellowstone National Park in the United States. They restored balance to grazing populations. This created a cascading effect that allowed the natural restoration of plant life, improvements in bear and rodent populations, and better river flows. Wolves changed the geography.

Food and Addiction

January 24, 2014 at 11:46 am | Posted in Health, Media, Psychology, Science | 3 Comments

Although Food and Science are technically more applicable to a science blog, due to the psychological nature of our food relationships, I’ve tended to discuss the subject more over on my other blog. But in this case, I wanted to share it on both.

I’ve occasionally explored subjects like craving and food. Several articles have come up recently on the topic I thought interesting.

Firstly, in North America, research lead to an anti-fat movement in the 1960’s. We shifted to margarine and low-fat foods. Unfortunately, low fat meant low taste, so food producers replaced fat with sugar and salt and foods became increasingly processed. (we won’t go into artificial sweeteners)

After millions spent on research, they discovered the “bliss point” – the optimum level of sugar that triggered peoples pleasure centre. Sugar became the #2 ingredient in many foods.

Unfortunately, the high sugar content had several consequences. For one, people became habituated to it and expected it, even in baby food. For another, the body stores excess sugar as fat. High sugar levels lead to a much larger weight problem than the original fat content did. Further, the liver got overloaded and plugged up, leading to a lot of middle fat and a number of heath consequences.

As it turns out, the early research was faulty. Only certain types of fat are an issue. Healthy fats in a natural form are part of a balanced diet. But independent sugar research was not healthy for a food scientists career so there was a major lack of research for some years. The government food guides remain much the same.

A further issue that is less discussed is that sugar is addictive. Once we become habituated, the body craves it and our natural signals for “enough” or for specific nutrients are suppressed. Craving overwrites healthy eating habits. This becomes very clear if you’ve ever gone on a low carb diet or a fast. The first 3-4 days are often accompanied by craving and withdrawal symptoms. And once off a diet, most people easily re-engage their old habits again and step back into their addictions.

Don’t believe foods can be addictive? Scientists now have a scale called the “Yale Food Addiction Scale” from the Yale Rudd Centre for Food Policy and Obesity.

Further complicating the issue is that some people use sugar and carbs as “comfort” foods to soothe stress. Rather than finding healthy release such as in meditation or exercise, we reach for the candy drawer or ice cream.

For many, changing such behaviour becomes a contest of will which increases stress and drives up the craving. Personal failure doesn’t help. Or you play denial mind games with yourself much like an alcoholic.

(and yes, I did a juice fast last month and supported some others in a forum having struggles)

Here’s a Harvard Medical School article “Why stress causes people to overeat

I also noticed mention in the tech rags that Microsoft is experimenting with a bra to monitor stress levels so you can be notified when you may eat badly. But isn’t that like a new Pavlov’s signal? Get ready to eat!

The most immediate thing you can do is find a new outlet for stress. Maybe having a tennis ball in the drawer you can squeeze when a craving hits? Or a bit of fresh air? Change of scene? Just watch the feelings. They’re your flags for triggers.

The idea here is not to get into a fight with it or yourself but to deflect it. This is all about energy. Getting into resistance or a will battle will make it stronger and can add layers to the issue for you.

Also, this is not a long term solution – the motivators are still present. This is to get you started. And make healthy choices here – you don’t want to replace one bad behaviour with another. Shopping can also be addictive, for example.

In the talk below, they recommend introducing meditation. This introduces several benefits. For one, it is a great way to release stress. Secondly, it makes us more settled and peaceful. And thirdly, it makes us more conscious and self-aware. Another term for this is mindful. Then we can make better choices.

I talk here about types of meditation.

As you become a little more conscious, you become more aware of the process that’s taking place within you and you begin to catch your triggers. When the urge comes up, see if you’re settled enough to allow the feeling to arise and feel what it’s coming from.

In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna talks of the impulse to act. When we’re trying to change behaviour, at first we realize after the fact that we’ve done it again. We have a Doh! moment. When we’re less caught, we begin to recognize what we’re doing during the act. We begin to be a bit more conscious about it, maybe enough to make a new choice or to stop. But often then we get into internal battles over it. Finally, we can notice the impulse to act, the feeling, as it is arising. Then we have real choice – do we act or not? Do we let it go or fight?

That is also the point where we can find out what this driver is that’s arising. Instead of getting into a battle over choice, we can investigate the urge itself. What is the feeling or energy behind this urge? Big stuff like food can have layers. Early associations of food with mother, reinforced by sweets as rewards, adapted as a stress coping tool, and so forth. So similarly, we may have to resolve each layer to end it, most recent backwards.

If you can see your own dynamic, you can recognize it no longer serves and let it go. But that takes a little skill and practice. It’s usually easier to start on simpler things than chronic lifetime drivers. Food associations can be the deepest as they’re often programmed in early childhood.

But this is much more effective than deflecting (distracting ourselves) I mentioned above. We want to resolve the energy behind it to heal.

Finally, this 2 part talk by Dr. Pam Peeke: Hacked by a Cupcake. She talks about current science on the subject and solutions.

Part 1: The Science

It’s not just food addiction – it’s toxic lifestyle.
She talks about reward, food as a “science fair project”, and a lot of current research. The dopamine reward cycle and why it’s addictive. It’s not the consumption – it’s the cues. Decreased impulse control. Why the will doesn’t work.

Part 2: The Solutions

“Stress is the Achilles heel of addiction”.
Every choice changes gene expression which changes your destiny. We pass those epigenetic markers on to our children. By our lifestyle, we gift or condemn them.

Mind, Mouth & Muscle:
– eat whole foods
– move your body. Walking dampens the obesity gene.
– meditation, with initial research results.

Part 3: Q&A

Start with the mind, otherwise you fall off.
The importance of sleep. Coffee.

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