Well, I'm going to *try* to get restarted on a MWF schedule. That's Monday-Wednesday-Friday, not Maybe-Whenever-Fugeddaboudit! Most of the material that I have posted for The Lab Rats' Guide to the Brain is done... written... posted. I would really like to get it compiled into a complete manuscript, but that's difficult to find the time right now.
I want to continue explaining how the brain works, finding news releases and interpreting for my readers, so I am going to go with a slightly shorter format, and go with the following:
Monday FUNNY - The GUIDE Wednesdays - SCIENCE Fridays (News & Comment).Headings:
The GUIDE: Posts from "The Lab Rats' Guide to the Brain"
FUNNY: Science and Lab Humor, etc.
NEWS: Neat stories about Science in the News
COMMENT: Opinion and Science in the News
NEAT STUFF: Interesting science pages and neat links
REVIEWS: Book reviews of fiction and nonfiction
FICTION: Original short and serialized stories
Monday, October 24, 2011
Sorry, but *someone* seems to have broken the blog. I can only log in from home, and not from any of my computers that also do work-related material. I have narrowed the problem down to virus/malware filtering which seems to think the site may have content problems. In the next few days I will be trimming content and comments to see if I can find the problems and get back to regular posting.
Enough of that! This is Monday! It's supposed to be Funny!
Today's lab-related humor comes from Brant Parker Johnny Hart's The Wizard of Id.
I frankly had forgotten the lab-type humor that Parker and Hart (and later Brant Parker's son Jeff) often injected into the strip. The Wizard is cast in the role of scientist, with often bizarre lab subjects, such as Ratso, above.
The Wizard of Id is also the source of one of my favorite explanations of the discrepancy between athlete and academic salaries: "No one ever bought a ticket to see a scientist!"
Go search the comic out, find the books, search through old newspapers and archives. It is worth the effort.
Monday, October 10, 2011
Guest Blogging Courtesy of K. Mata - the Goddess of Lab Rats!
This blog has commented before about medical marijuana and medicinal cannabinoids. Here's an article about what it's creator calls "A Good Drug Gone Bad." The link is to a story in the LA Times about the creator of JWH compounds, major ingredients of 'spice' and other synthetic marijuana products sold until recently in gas stations as incense. It should be stressed that the scientist creator did not distribute this drug. The formula was lifted from the lab and form publications. It is manufactured and sold from China as "plant food."
I've included the first few paragraphs below...
Scientist's research produces a dangerous high
John W. Huffman created synthetic marijuana for tests on lab animals. His formulas ended up in the hands of head shops, which have created substances that can lead to seizures, hallucinations and convulsions.
Relaxing on his back porch in the Nantahala National Forest, watching hummingbirds flit across his rose beds, Huffman looks every bit the wise, venerable academic in repose.
But this courtly scientist unwittingly contributed to the spread of "designer marijuana" so potent that the Drug Enforcement Administration has declared some of what he created illegal.
Huffman's years of scientific research at Clemson University on the interaction between drugs and brain receptors led to so-called fake marijuana with effects far more powerful — and dangerous — than garden-variety marijuana. "Spice," "K-2," "Skunk" and similar products made using the chemical compounds he formulated have surged in popularity in recent years.
That prompted the Drug Enforcement Administration in March to temporarily list "stealth marijuana" products containing three cannabinoid compounds invented by Huffman as Schedule 1 drugs illegal to sell or possess.
Some interviewers and critics have blamed Huffman for turning an entire generation onto "monster weed."
"It's become a royal pain in the rear end," Huffman said the other day, reflecting on the unwelcome attention his research has received. "I had a TV station in Moscow accuse me of trying to poison America's youth."
In that interview, live on Russian radio, he said, his responses seemed slow because of a satellite delay — so slow that the questioner accused him of smoking his own creations.
In a separate conversation, a BBC interviewer "basically asked me when I stopped beating my wife," he said. "They accused me of creating all these horrible drugs."
But Huffman laughs as he describes emails assuming he has created a super form of medical marijuana or has profited by designing lucrative marijuana substitutes. "We were not. It was all just basic science," he said. To counter misinformation, he and Clemson have devised a boilerplate statement describing his research and warning against consuming synthetic marijuana.
That hasn't stopped alert entrepreneurs from using Huffman's formulas, published in scientific journals. Their products, often sold as "herbal incense" and smoked like traditional marijuana, can produce seizures, hallucinations, tremors, paranoia, convulsions, high blood pressure and rapid heart rate, say emergency room doctors.
Poison control centers have received 4,500 calls over the last two years from people using fake marijuana, according to the American Assn. of Poison Control Centers.
Saturday, October 8, 2011
In my guest Blog for Sarah Hoyt last Thursday (Oct. 6 - ) I discussed the value of looking toward the future as a Lab Rat - knowing that as long as conditions remain the same, repeating our past actions is valuable - but the moment conditions change, too much "memory" in the form of repeating past actions, can be detrimental.
"A popular saying among some groups such as the Baen Barflies is that insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results. Likewise, insanity is doing different things and expecting the same results. Yet sometimes we have to change strategies in order to get a better result, as in the transformation from traditional to indie publishing. I’m not an “insider” to this phenomenon, but I certainly recognize the signs and symptoms from behavioral psychology."
There were many good follow-up comments to the blog, and I wish I had been able to engage in the responses and replies. Unfortunately, most took place while I was at work, and it was a particularly busy day. However, one comment merits a response here.
"David" October 6, 2011 at 12:30 pm replied
Thursday, October 6, 2011
My friend Sarah A. Hoyt has been blogging about the craft of writing as well as changes to the traditional models of publishing that are on the horizon. Yesterday she wrote "In the Future we're all Ducks" (http://accordingtohoyt.com/2011/10/05/in-the-future-we%E2%80%99re-all-ducks/) referring to the manner in which Disney's Donald Duck character seems to go from job to job in each episode - one time he's a beautician, next time he's a janitor in Uncle Scrooge's bank. The fact that Donald seems to switch between jobs doesn't seem to matter to him. [By the way, Sarah, my wife reminds me that despite this seeming lack of care, Donald is never truly satisfied!]
Sarah goes on to talk about how we can learn from Donald and improve our skill set by learning things we would not previously consider. For myself, I always thought I'd be a scientist or a surgeon (or a jet pilot, but I was asthmatic and didn't have the eyesight). Computers other than the huge government behemoths didn't exist, but as they were developed, I considered that I might be a programmer. Little did I think I would become all three - I am a scientist who performs surgical procedures in the lab as needed, and I program most of my own analyses. I never really thought that much about being a writer, but here I am working on both nonfiction and fiction for the SF market.
But back to Sarah's post, I argued that we are not Ducks, but Lab Rats. I started to lay out my logic, and Sarah said I should just write it all down and guest-blog it for her. Incidentally it also gives her a bit of a breather since she has been out of town for two weeks and needs to get some things done before getting back to writing.
So head on over at According to Hoyt, and read my guest blog - Not Ducks, but Lab Rats (http://accordingtohoyt.com/2011/10/06/not-ducks-but-lab-rats/). It's a story of behavior and flexibility, and the sad consequences of lacking behavioral flexibility.