The last DSM

The National Institute of Mental Health released a statement last week about a change in the way it will be conducting research on mental health. In a statement, the institute said it will start doing research in a way that ignores the categories in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which is commonly known as the DSM.

Instead of diagnosing patients based on symptoms such as depressed mood and fatigue, the institute wants to use more quantitative data, such as genetic or brain-imaging data, in diagnoses. Such a shift would bring mental health diagnoses to par with diagnoses in other health fields, according to the institute’s statement. Most other fields abandoned symptom-based diagnosis after the middle of the last century, but not psychiatry. After all, some of the proposed lab measures for mental health, such as genetics and brain images, weren’t even measurable until recently. It took technology a while to catch up to the kinds of data that may be associated with mental health disorders.

“We are committed to new and better treatments, but we feel this will only happen by developing a more precise diagnostic system,” institute director Thomas Insel said in the statement.

Electrical Usage

As I was doing my bills today I started to look at my electrical usage from each month. Here is a quick graph showing my uses over the last two years. It’s pretty amazing what the A/C dose each summer to my electrical usage.

New research on the demise of the Mayan

Chichen Itza
A new paper published in the journal Science on the demise of the Mayan, shows that the climate changed and they were unable to adapt.  The research shows Maya culture thrived in wet seasons and fell apart when the rains ceased.  By analyzed stalagmites from a Belizan cave, researchers were able to show the Mayan expanded during wet periods, and declined during dry periods.

Researchers wrote:

The role of climate change in the development and demise of Classic Maya civilization (300 to 1000 C.E.) remains controversial because of the absence of well-dated climate and archaeological sequences. We present a precisely dated subannual climate record for the past 2000 years from Yok Balum Cave, Belize. From comparison of this record with historical events compiled from well-dated stone monuments, we propose that anomalously high rainfall favored unprecedented population expansion and the proliferation of political centers between 440 and 660 C.E. This was followed by a drying trend between 660 and 1000 C.E. that triggered the balkanization of polities, increased warfare, and the asynchronous disintegration of polities, followed by population collapse in the context of an extended drought between 1020 and 1100 C.E.

The lack of moisture led to a lack of crops, which led to instability. Between C.E. 800-900, many cities fell. The team analyzed historical records inscribed on well-dated stone monuments to chronicle this collapse. You may read more on Popular Science‘s website.

So that’s what happens to a society that ignores Climate Change.

Front Ended

So today on my way home, I was driving north on Interstate 35w and got off at the 46th Street exit (as I normally do).  Today there was a car stopped on the side of the road, just after the exit.  As I came up to the exit, the car moved on to the exit, I slowed down to let him in since he was moving slower then I was at the time.  Then, the car in front of me slammed on his breaks and came to a complete stop (still on the exit ramp) and threw his car into reverse.  I was able to stop in time (but just barely, as I was going about 65mph at the time), but by the time I had stopped, he was reversing into my car at about ~25 mph (I don’t know, how fast can your car go in reverse).  I had just enough  time to hit the horn before he hit me.  The car backed into me, and took a hard left turn to get back on to Interstate 35w.

Sitting there bewildered of what just happened, I called 911.  After I told the dispatcher that I was on the 46th St exit, she told me they had it on video and she was going to transfer me to the person who was working on the case.

So the Minneapolis police had just pulled this drive over when he ran.  They were watching him on the camera and waiting for him to make his next move, with cops on the ready.   When he stared driving up the exit ramp, he saw the cop at the top waiting for him, so he thought it would be smart to back down the ramp instead.To bad they already have your licensee and know where you live.

The officer said he will arrest the driver late tonight, and they are adding evading the police and hit and run to his charges.

The Proposal

Tonight while we were at the bar, after the show, a guy came up to us and told us that he was proposing to his girlfriend and would like to have a room full of people to watch him, we said sure. So we went into the other room to watch the proposal.

When we went into the other room, he was setting up the stage for something.  He then grabbed his girl, went up to the stage and started reading from the bible.  After reading First Corinthians, he proposed to her, then started talking about being reborn as a black man.  It was interesting to say the least.

Brooklyn Space Program

Here a Son & Father launched a balloon from Newburgh, New York, and it climbed at a rate of 25 feet per second to 19 miles above the surface of the earth, high enough to see the curvature of the earth.  Once at altitude the balloon burst and the craft containing the iPhone and the camera fell back to the ground on a parachute.

They were then able to track the craft via the iPhones on board GPS.

You can see more images of their flight or support their effort on their website

Stephen Hawking on God and the Universe

Excerpts from a column on the Wall Street Journal, which is in turn an excerpt from “The Grand Design,” by Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow, to be published by Bantam Books today.

“…the latest advances in cosmology explain why the laws of the universe seem tailor-made for humans, without the need for a benevolent creator.

Many improbable occurrences conspired to create Earth’s human-friendly design, and they would indeed be puzzling if ours were the only solar system in the universe. But today we know of hundreds of other solar systems, and few doubt that there exist countless more among the billions of stars in our galaxy. Planets of all sorts exist, and obviously, when the beings on a planet that supports life examine the world around them, they are bound to find that their environment satisfies the conditions they require to exist…

Many people would like us to use these coincidences as evidence of the work of God. The idea that the universe was designed to accommodate mankind appears in theologies and mythologies dating from thousands of years ago. In Western culture the Old Testament contains the idea of providential design, but the traditional Christian viewpoint was also greatly influenced by Aristotle, who believed “in an intelligent natural world that functions according to some deliberate design.”

That is not the answer of modern science. As recent advances in cosmology suggest, the laws of gravity and quantum theory allow universes to appear spontaneously from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist. It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going.

Our universe seems to be one of many, each with different laws. That multiverse idea is not a notion invented to account for the miracle of fine tuning. It is a consequence predicted by many theories in modern cosmology. If it is true it reduces the strong anthropic principle to the weak one, putting the fine tunings of physical law on the same footing as the environmental factors, for it means that our cosmic habitat—now the entire observable universe—is just one of many…”

My mind has difficulty wrapping itself around the concept that a “universe” can be one of many.  I don’t disagree with him, but I think I need to defer any ponderings about astrophysics and concentrate on the more prosaic aspects of life.

There Is No “Ground Zero Mosque”

As im sure you all know and are aware. There is currently a controversy started by some very uneducated conservatives about wither Muslims should be allowed to build a community center near the location of the World Trade Center.

What I feel is important to remember is that we are Americans. We are members of a country that was founded not as a Christian country, or a Jewish one, but instead as a place for all to come and be free. Free of this sort of persecution.

Threw out our own history, we have started walking down this path before. The path of forgetting who we are and why we are all here. We destroyed the Native Americans, we enslaved the African people, we even went to war with the Mormons. All in the name of what, Freedom.

What is Freedom when we are not all free. Why should freedom be reserved for some, but not all?

In the famous words of Martin Niemöller[ref]öller[/ref]:

When [they] came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.

When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.

When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.

When they came for the Jews,
I remained silent;
I wasn’t a Jew.

When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.

I feel Keith Olbermann sums it up very nicely, tho I don’t agree with every thing he says. His main point needs to be heard.

So what are WE going to do about it?

Owls at the cabin!

This last weekend my parents made some new Owl friends.

This Memorial weekend we were at the cabin and saw 2 beautiful Barred Owls.  The first evening there was a huge one and a smaller one.  The second evening around 4:30 we saw one of them again. He/she sat in a tree while we took lots of pictures and just stared at us.

Read my Mother’s post on their site.

One day of Snow, Destroyed my Road

Alone with most of the upper Midwest, Christmas this year in Saint Paul, Minnesota was very snowy.  It was a nice white Christmas, assuming you got to where you needed to go.  Thankfully everyone I know and care about made it through the day without any major problems even with the 10″ to 12″ of snow.

I live on a sort of larger road named Ford Parkway.  The road gets its name from the Ford Plant down the road.  This is all fine and good since I live in a nice, quite neighbourhood, but they do drive a far number of semi trucks directly past my place.

Well on Christmas day, the plows were out, but were not out in the number the amount of snow and the rate of snow fall required.  Christmas day was also just warm enough that the salt they dumped on the road melted the snow, but it was still cold enough that slush re-froze once the cars, and semi trucks drove over it.  This ice then stayed on the road for about a week before the City of Saint Paul decided to finely plowed them off.  The problem was the ice was patchy in its placement on the road.

So now my road has hundreds of dents in it, not pot-holes, but dents!  It’s like driving down a really bad dirt road.

What just pisses me off about the whole thing isn’t the harm it’s doing to my car every time I go home, but that now they will need to redo the entire road just to make it drivable again.  As time goes on, the road will only get worse, until it is un-drivable.

The Joy of Owning an iPhone

Last night I installed the update to iTunes (9.0.1).  Everything seemed to go fine.  After the install iTunes asked me to reboot my computer.  I was way to lazy to actually do that, so I just told it would reboot it later, and opened iTunes.  Ya that was a mistake.

When I opened iTunes, it informed me there was a problem with the database and it would rebuild it for me. After about 2 hours of working on it, iTunes  finished.  But it had lost all my music history, all my music was there, but it lost all my play lists and what not.  Not that big a deal I can always recreate those. 

So I spent the next few minuets recreating a few play lists from what my iPhone had on it, when it dawned on me. “I should just sync my phone and it would copy everything back” right?  But that is not what happened.

I synced my phone, and it took nearly no time at all (maybe a full minute). When I looked at my phone after the sync, ya everything was gone.

So today I start the lovely task of rebuilding my phone.

Thank you Apple!!!

The FDA should run the banks

OK so maybe not the FDA but they should be run by someone like them.  Just think about it, the FDA owns labs to test drugs before they are sold to us the customers. The drug industry would love to sell us everything they think up of, but they can’t.  Since we have a check to make sure the drug will not kill us or make our skin turn blue.  Currently there are no tests be made before a financial product is being sold to us.  So here we are as a country relaying on our banks to sell us products that are good for us, but clearly they are only selling us products that are good for them.  With an outside entity running check on our banks and what they do, by testing a product with models to see how it performs over a year or 5 years or even 25 years would give confidence to all of us who are use these products.  If we have confidence in the banks again, we will all do better.

I think the Smurfs moved in last night

So this morning I woke up and there were 3 large mushrooms growing next to my car outside my parents house (I’m dog sitting since their out of town).  Just look at these big guys, I think the Smurfs may have moved in.