The Natural History of ADD, part 2

Well, no sooner than I rant about ADD and ADHD not really existing, MSNBC informs me of this:

Long thought to be a condition of childhood that kids grow out of, recent research shows that up to 60 percent of children with ADHD continue having symptoms after they become adults.

It’s a common chronic disorder that affects about eight million grown-ups, or an estimated four to five percent of the U.S. adult population, according to researchers from Harvard Medical School and the World Health Organization. What’s surprising is that only about 20 percent of them realize it, experts say.

That’s just great. Before long we’ll have a diagnosis for every excuse people may have.

The Natural History of ADD?

I have just enough experience in this category to be dangerous. I took a couple of years of abnormal psychology in college. The topic depressed me too much so I switched to astronomy. I didn’t graduate in astronomy either.

I’d like to start this long-winded rant with a poll if you don’t mind. Think carefully about the question if you would.

If I were in school today

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Getting back to the subject, I was listening to Dr. Dean Adell today on our local talk radio station and he hit a topic, and a rant, that made some sense to me. He got cut off and didn’t fully elaborate his particular opinion, but I liked it so much I wanted to explore it here. The following is not Dr. Adell’s opinion, he just laid the very basic concept out, the opinions are purely mine. ( Unless he wants to share credit in this rant. )

Namely, ADD and ADHD are not actually disorders. This struck me as a radical thought, but frankly, a thought I’ve had for a long time. He just put it in a way I had never heard before, but hear me out, it makes sense.

For 99% of the history of mankind, he relied on two abilities only, hunting and farming. The instincts for farming are to be able to concentrate on the task at hand, to be very methodical, and, most importantly, to be very patient. The instincts for the hunter are the exact opposite. You have to be alert, you have to be aggressive, you have to have very quick responses, and, the task at hand had to be very brief. Those hunters that did not have those abilities would have succumbed to those that did. Evolution was not very generous for about 100,000 years. The process of the weak being eliminated eventually bred the fastest, most alert, and most adaptive hunters. This process evolved realistically until the 19th century.

Now, fast forward to the 1990’s. Kids who concentrate, are methodical, and patient are rewarded in school. Kids who are alert, aggressive, and can’t deal with a process that takes very long ( studying ) are punished. Now we’ve even given them titles to identify those traits, ADD and ADHD. We give them drugs hoping they can adapt to concentrate, be methodical, and patient. In other words, hoping the hunters become farmers.

In today’s society, our school systems can’t deal with the hunters. The education system is based on learning rote. We don’t do this in active ways, we do it in passive ways, reading. We expect them to sit quietly in class while information is pumped into their brains like a factory. The hunters are genetically not equipped to do this. And I, in agreement with Dr. Adell, don’t think it’s necessary that our hunters become farmers. The reason mankind overwhelmed the rest of the animal kingdom was because man was more adjustable to all climates and conditions. The reason this was true was because man could either hunt or farm. No other animal has that capability. It bought man enough time to develop his mental skills to develop his own environments and technologies that now separate us completely from the animal kingdom. And, the skills of the hunter and farmer both are equally as important today. The farmer has established his place in today’s society, but the hunter seems to be having a problem.

Not everyone needs to be book smart. In fact, most people don’t need to be. That does not mean they can not contribute to society. The hunters are the ones that build things, protect us, and do the jobs the farmers don’t have the skills to do nearly as well. But, society IMO is doing itself a total injustice by treating the hunters as if they have a mental problem. Rather than diagnosing kids as ADD and ADHD and doping them up so that they can sit in a classroom, let’s put them in vocational schools and treat those schools as respectfully as we do book schools. Today’s mechanics make as much as most lawyers. Hell, we need a lot more mechanics now than we do lawyers.

Think about this for one second. We’re giving amphetamines to kids for a “mental disease” that didn’t exist 20 years ago. We’re teaching these kids that the only way to be normal is to be hooked on drugs.  That’s wrong folks, that’s bad wrong. A lot of people are now finding “reasons” for the sudden blight of ADD and ADHD, blaming it on video games and such. It’s not the kids, all kids are addicted to excitement. It’s the adults. We’ve got too many farmers and not enough hunters in our school system.

ET Calling?

An unexplained radio signal from deep space could — just might be — contact from an alien civilization, New Scientist magazine reported on Thursday.

The potentially extraterrestrial signals were picked up through the SETI+home project, which uses programs running as screensavers on millions of personal computers worldwide to sift through the huge amount of data picked up by the telescope.

I participated in the Seti@home project for about a year. It was a blast but my stuff went nowhere. When I set up an internet server on my PC, SETI had to go.

This would be SO cool if it’s true! I have been advocating spending more money on SETI projects than going to asteroids and Mercury for a reason, radio waves travel a lot faster than man is going to for a long, long time. We can actually possibly contact other intelligent life out there via communications. It is fairly cheap to do, and the results could happen in our lifetime that proves there is life out there instead of spending decades at a time looking for microbes on Mars.

I’m not going to get my hopes up on ET calling, just yet anyway. But if it is what they think it might be, that would be the coolest, most exciting thing to happen to man since he started walking upright. The social ramifications to an Earthcentric religion based belief system would be shattered instantly. And for the sake of man, it needs to be.


Follow-up:

SETI@home Signal Story Sees Much More Than Meets the Eye
By Seth Shostak

Alas, this story is misleading. According to Dan Werthimer, who heads up the UC Berkeley SERENDIP SETI project, this is a case of a reporter failing to understand the workings of their search. He says that misquotes and statements taken out of context give the impression that his team is exceptionally impressed with one of the many candidate signals, SHGb02+14a, uncovered using the popular SETI@home software. They are not.

Pretty much what I expected, but I’m still hanging on.

Sustainable Oil?

This article was brought to my attention by DirtyDingus on The Motley Fool. Before I go any further, please read it. Nothing else makes any sense if you don’t because it’s a fairly radical idea that I hadn’t heard before. The basic synopsis is: Crude oil forms as a natural inorganic process which occurs between the mantle and the crust, somewhere between 5 and 20 miles deep. What this means, in simple terms, is oil is not the by-product of decaying dinosaurs, but a process that is ongoing. Their evidence is stated as such:

– By the late ’80s, the platform’s production had slipped to less than 4,000 barrels per day, and was considered pumped out. Done. Suddenly, in 1990, production soared back to 15,000 barrels a day, and the reserves which had been estimated at 60 million barrels in the ’70s, were recalculated at 400 million barrels. Interestingly, the measured geological age of the new oil was quantifiably different than the oil pumped in the ’70s.

– Similar results were seen at other Gulf of Mexico oil wells.
– Similar results were found in the Cook Inlet oil fields in Alaska.
– Similar results were found in oil fields in Uzbekistan.
– Similarly in the Middle East, where oil exploration and extraction have been underway for at least the last 20 years, known reserves have doubled.

The Cantarell Oil reserve in the Gulf of Mexico has been one of the largest oil producers in the world for years. However, by 1997, its production started declining, the article linked talks of it’s ultimate demise:

Even the largest fields we find offshore in the deepwater today only produce about 250,000 bbl/day. It will take about 4 of them to replace this decline in Cantarell.

And even the heavy oil field they mention won’t replace the loss of Cantarell by the end of the decade. And one must remember that all oil fields which are producing today, are in the process of declining.

The implications of this upcoming decline are tremendous to the world. This field produces half of what Ghawar does and it won’t be doing that much longer. The effect on the energy supply will be felt and there is no way for that not to happen. On Aug. 3, 2004, the OPEC president stated that OPEC has no more spare capacity. They are pumping all out and can’t satisfy the demand for oil. If fields like Cantarell begin declining, the problem of supplying the world with oil will only get worse.

As recently as two weeks ago, we were still reading of Cantarell’s demise. They were having to dig in deeper waters, and dig deeper in those waters. Almost sounding desperate.

We had a discussion of Hubbert’s Peak here, a lot of their assumptions are based on the rapidly declining Mexican oil production. Hubbert’s Peak has become the standard for gloom-and-doom prophecies based on current understandings of oil.

Now, a strange thing is happening at Cantarell, and there’s not a lot of detail yet, but, they are suddenly, according to Pemex, finding huge amounts of oil:

Pemex’ Cantarell offshore discovery confirmed

Mexico sets new Cantarell oil find at 1.4 bn boe

I swear I am starting to believe the “Sustainable Oil” theory. There are some odd things happening with oil production that were not supposed to happen. The Gulf is supposed to be nearly spent, as drilling there has been ongoing for a long time. But, production estimates now are going up after 50 years of drilling. It won’t solve all the world’s problems, but it sure will calm things down a little bit. And, it will push Hubbert’s Peak way back. Back far enough, IMO, to pursue energy alternatives for the future.

Old Getting Older?

A vague headline on CNN grabbed my wife’s attention. Due to their inability to communicate very well, CNN ran the headline “Huge structure dates back 10.8 billion years”. She thought it meant they had found a building or something, which would have been pretty cool. However, I knew that couldn’t be right. The story is actually pretty heavy and goes something like this:

“We are looking back four-fifths of the way to the beginning of the universe and the existence of this galaxy string will send astrophysicists around the world back to the drawing board to re-examine theories of the formation of the universe,” Francis said. “The simulations tell us that you cannot take the matter in the early universe and line it up in strings this large. There simply hasn’t been enough time since the Big Bang for it to form structures this colossal.”

They have found a ( probably ) string of galaxies dating back 10.8 billion years. What’s the big deal? A little more background is needed.  According to the Big Bang Theory, the Big Bang was about 13.7 billion years ago. It then takes about 5 billion years to form a galaxy. This object is about 10.8 billion years away. It’s too young to be this big. AND, it gets even better. It has quasars. What the big deal about that you say? Quasars indicate the presence of black holes. So what, you say? Black holes come from massive dead stars. Don’t follow? Stars usually take at least 5 billion years to collapse into a well formed black hole. Which leads to:

13.7 billion years – 10.8 billion years – 5 billion years = ?

Get the picture now? CNN really didn’t do this headline justice. Either the Big Bang theory is totally wrong if this dating holds up, or there were multiple big bangs, or something is bad wrong with man’s perception of astrophysics.

Life on Europa?

While NASA is busy as heck driving rovers all over Mars trying to find some itsy bitsy evidence of life or history of life, they could be looking in the wrong place.

“Life” seems to thrive more readily in hotter climates than cold. Maybe we should look at Venus a little closer? Also, the turbulent climate of Europa is much more similar to the National Geographic discoveries than Mars. An ice covering with subterranean volcanoes would heat the European underworld enough to sustain life. I imagine it looks more like those National Geographic pics too. We can see the surface of Mars from Earth, we can’t see what’s under the ice of Europa. I wanna look there before spending any more money or effort on Mercury.

Top Sci Fi Films of All Time?

Excellent concept here:

A newspaper survey of top scientists has chosen “Blade Runner” as the world’s best science fiction.

And the paper did a heck of a job doing it, interviewing, among others. Isaac Asimov, probably my second favorite sci-fi writer.

But Blade Runner‘s the best? 2001:A Space Odyssey a close second? GIVE ME A BREAK!

First of all, look at the two user ratings on those links: 8.2 for Blade, 8.3 for 2001. Second, let’s look at the time frame, Blade, 1982, 2001:, 1968.

Now, let’s examine the plots:

Blade Runner, “Deckard, a blade runner, has to track down and terminate 4 replicants who hijacked a ship in space and have returned to earth seeking their maker… ” In other words, yet another shootemup spaghetti western set in spaceships.

2001:A Spade Odyssey: “This movie is concerned with intelligence as the division between animal and human, then asks a question; what is the next division? Technology is treated as irrelevant to the quest – literally serving as mere vehicles for the human crew, and as a shell for the immature HAL entity. Story told as a montage of impressions, music and impressive and careful attention to subliminal detail. ”

Did you get all that? The plot description fails to even mention HAL going bonkers ( why? ), and the transformation to the star child.

Breakthroughs: Blade Runner, none. 2001:, RCA used this film to display the new special effects technologies that would make Blade Runner, Star Wars, and all the new sci-fi movies possible.

Memorable scenes, I can’t remember anything particularly memorable from Blade Runner.

Sheez, where do you even begin?


Among other things, 2001 was possibly the first sci-fi movie where things didn’t go “boom” in space. It also featured a lot of scientific predictions of Arthur Clarke, some of which have already come true.

The only strike against 2001 is that it’s not a fun movie. It’s a thinking movie. Stanley Kubrick often wanted his audience to experience what it was he was filming. Space has a lot of grandeur, so we had classical music. Space also has a lot of dead silence, so we got a lot of that. In regards to the music, 2001 re-introduced us to “The Beautiful Blue Danube“, which became an advertising standard, ( duh-duh. duh-duh ). And, “Thus Spake Zarathustra“, which became a concert intro staple ( Elvis Presley, David Bowie ).

What did Blade Runner give us?

Give me a break!

2001:A Space Odyssey is without any question the greatest sci-fi movie of all time. It may not be the most fun, and it may not have sold the most tickets, but it is still the greatest.

Joy

Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon was on the record charts for nearly 294 weeks. That spanned a period of time from 1973 to 1979. The album lingered in the charts in the US until 1986 due to the introduction of new technology ( the CD ). In that time, it has sold an estimated 23 million copies. It is considered one of the classic rock albums of all time and definitely holds the record for endurance.

Now, let’s put it in another perspective.

Martin Janus wrote the words to “bleib­et meine Freude, mein­es Herz­ens Trost und Saft” in 1661. In 1723 Johann Sebastian Bach put a score to those words as the finale of his “Can­ta­ta 147″. The combination became known as a song called Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring. The score is still played today at countless weddings and other celebrations. Although the rights to the song were lost a long, long, long time ago, and although the “album” is no longer on the charts, it is more popular today than Dark Side of the Moon. If Billboard tracked it’s play time, it would definitely beat out most songs today. The life span of “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” would therefore be about 14,612 weeks. You don’t see MTV or VH1 touting it in the same league. They can’t, they don’t want to reveal exactly how shallow the pop industry is. “Greatest song of all time”? It ain’t Stairway To Heaven. For Stairway to Heaven to even begin to compete, it would have to be popular in the year 2251. And that’s only assuming “Jesu” is forgotten soon, which won’t happen as long as I’m alive.

In 1972, a studio band called Apollo 100 redid “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” into a peppy tech jig they called Joy. That was right about the time I was learning to play piano. My teacher wanted me to learn Bach’s version, I couldn’t keep my mind off the Apollo 100 version. For my recital, I started with the Cantata 147, but when it led into the “Jesu” chorus, I switched to the Apollo 100 version. It was a major hit. I can still play the Apollo 100 version, I doubt I can play the Bach version.

I have loved the Apollo 100 version since 1972. Along with the influence of David Bowie, I consider it probably one of the most influential impressions on my musical youth. What I have done now is take my love of “Joy” to the next level, it’s 21st version now. There was only so much Apollo 100 could do with it in 1972. One person, with a computer and some cheap equipment can do a lot more, more easily. You don’t have to be a professional any more to make songs the way you want to hear it. Here’s my proof.

Enjoy, and remember, I only do this for fun!

When Satan Calls

When I was a little kid, I used to invariably hear a voice very firmly in a man’s voice speak my name. That was it. Just my name. If I answered, it said nothing else. That was it, just my name. Sometimes it would catch me doing something, so when I heard this voice I would answer it. This really upset my mom. So, I learned fairly quickly to ignore it. It was always the same voice, so that was easy to do.

Years go by, the voice infrequently still calls my name on occasion, I still ignore it. It doesn’t bother me, so I never did anything about it or even said anything about to anyone else ( voices in your head sounds kinda loony ). When I was in high school, I had the major hots for a girl named Becky. It was hot-cold kinda thing as I was just a little wild for her. However, going into her senior year, which was my junior year, things started warming up quite a bit. We talked or visited each other almost every night. Then one night, when I was in my house alone, and while I was on the phone with Becky, sure enough, that voice called my name. Per routine, I ignored it. But this time it gets weird. Becky asked me who that was. I assured her I was alone. She didn’t buy it. Since I refused to acknowledge there was anyone at home to answer to, she finally had to believe me that it was indeed a bodiless voice. Well, she then informed me that we couldn’t see each other any more because I had scared her too bad. She was kinda religious and somewhere in that religion ( Southern Baptist ), it talks about Satan calling people to walk with them. Whether or not I chose to walk with Satan was irrelevant, he was just too close to me for her comfort. I tried one more time a few years later in college to get Becky to go out with me. She never could get over that voice.

I never told her, and I’m sure she probably doesn’t want to know, but, I never heard that voice again after that call. It was Joe’s belief ( the guy in the occult ), that when she heard Satan, he left me and went to her. That’s fine by me.

Sleeping

Last night I didn’t sleep too well. Nothing terribly unusual about that. However, during my tossing and turning, I got to thinking how comfortable the couch would be. But, since it was kinda cold, and I didn’t have a blanket available right then, I toughed it out on the bed.

Which got me thinking. Why is it sleeping on the couch is oftentimes much easier than sleeping on a bed? I mean, couches are supposed to be something to sit on, the bed something to sleep on. I had a few thoughts on the matter and finally came to the conclusion it’s based on primal instinct. Man used to live in caves. I don’t think that was any accident. A cave had one entrance, and if man slept against a wall of that cave, his back was covered and he could see what was coming the only way they could enter. In essence, he felt protected and safe. Beds don’t have sides, you’re laying there vulnerable to attack from any direction. That breeds a certain amount of primal anxiety. Any anxiety from normal life just compounds the affect and before too long, you’re a nervous wreck trying to sleep. A couch provides a “wall” on one side. You’re back to facing your attackers the only way they can come in. All that vulnerability is gone. You’re safe, and therefore, you’re relaxed.

Just thought I’d share that with you all. I’m sure you’ll sleep better because of it.