Dreaming

Lightning bolts striking To The Right Right To The Left left. Two images Layered making this 30 sec, 250 ISO – f5.6 – 90mm. (C) 2011 James Bo Insogna


Last night, I had some really realistic dreams. While thinking about dreams from the past, it seems that, depending on a person’s strengths and experiences, a dream might contain different symbols.

For example, an effect of experience: I was really successful at taking tests when I was in school. A consequence of that is that I never have dreams about an unexpected test coming up or the anxiety of getting there late.

An effect of strengths: Often my dreams include text. While I can recognize the words on the page, if I look away and look back again, the words have all changed. I can’t remember the message. Apparently my brain’s system that recognizes words and letters is closer to my core than the semantic part that understands them.

One feature of my sleep is that I often have “hypnogogic hallucinations:” I start dreaming before I’m actually asleep. Past experiences have usually been the face of a single person that appears and then vanishes. Recently, the images include two people instead of one. I wonder what that change signifies?

Last night, my dreams were hyper-realistic. Everything was really detailed and pretty mundane. Nothing was bizarre or mixed up. For example, I saw a rain shower in the distance. I could see the edges of where the rain was falling and the dark clouds that were above them. In the dream, I was picking up some papers because the approaching storm could scatter them. They looked like real pieces of papers and as I piled them together, they didn’t do something strange such as transforming into a bird or a monster.

One aspect of last night’s dream was anxiety about a tornado coming. In the past I’ve had real tornadoes coming near me. Eventually, I had one pass directly over where I was hiding and I never had a tornado dream again. I didn’t see one last night, but I was worried that one might come.

Original image: To The Right Right To The Left left. By Bo Insogna, TheLightningMan.com [Image license]

Hint of a disease prevention treatment

A green thought bubbleI was reading a science news website and found “Global research team cracks bacteria transmission codes to combat drug-resistant strains.” I did some research related to the article and found “Exploiting Quorum Sensing To Confuse Bacterial Pathogens.”

The quorum sensing paper describes a novel way to prevent bacterial disease. It reports that many bacteria grow innocuously until they reach a certain population (quorum). After there are enough, they signal each other to activate. It is only until that activation that the bacteria cause harm.

The idea is: if you could block the signal that causes the activation, you could prevent diseases.

The most clever aspect of this style of treatment is that it doesn’t kill the bacteria. It would give the bacteria no evolutionary advantage to develop resistance to the new drug.

The way resistance normally develops, as I understand it, is that a conventional antibiotic kills bacteria. If a bacteria has a mutation that makes it less likely to be killed, the mutation gives the resistant bacteria an advantage and become more common. This leads, for example, to VRSA and MRSA.

By stopping the bacteria without killing them, there’s no advantage to resist the drug.

LaSarre, B., & Federle, M. J. (2013). Exploiting Quorum Sensing To Confuse Bacterial Pathogens. Microbiology and Molecular Biology Reviews : MMBR, 77(1), 73-111. doi:10.1128/MMBR.00046-12

The price of gas is flat

I keep track of how much I pay for gas. As you can see from the graphic, it’s really variable. However, the past 10 – 12 months, the price has been unusually stable. The red line is a 30 sample moving average.

The numbers for this graph comes from what I’ve actually paid for gas.  Most of the purchases are in the Northeastern Indiana area.

Several online sources blame the great recession on a sharp rise in the cost of energy.   A flat cost probably has the opposite effect of stabilizing the economy. One reason would be that it allows more effective planning by businesses that are dependent on energy prices.

An analysis of the factors leading to this price stability would be interesting to study.

A graph of the prices of gasoline from 2004 to 2017

(The gap between 2009 and 2001 is due to the loss of the file containing that information. I’ve attached a PDF with the same graph.)

GasPrices-2004-2017

1913 Bible

I went to the local antique shop and found this beautiful Bible. It has an engraved wooden cover. I also appreciate it’s using photographs for some of the illustrations inside the book.

Engraved Cover

The title page says that is the Authorised Version from 1913.

The inscription in the back of the title page reads:

“In terms of the Letters Patent granted by Her late Majesty Queen Victoria to Her Printers for Scotland, and of the instructions issued by Her Majesty in Council, dated Eleventh July, Eighteen Hundred and Thirty-nine, I hereby License and Authorise William Collins, Sons and Company, Limited to Print and Publish, as by the Authority of His Majesty King George the Fifth, an Edition of the New Testament, in Brevier Antique Type, decimo-sexto size, to consist of Six Thousand Copies, as proposed in their Declaration, dated the Twentieth day of February, Nineteen Hundred and Thirteen, the terms and conditions of the said Instructions being always and to all points fully complied with and observed by the said William Collins, Sons and Company, Limited. Dated at London, the Eighth day of March, Nineteen Hundred and Thirteen. Alex. Ure.

A couple of the plates include:

“Bethlehem (Ephrath or Ephratah) is 2527 feet above the sea-level, on two hills. The modern town. Beit Lahm lies east of the main road from Jerusalem to Hebron (Ruth 1.2; 1 Sam. 16.11; Matt. 2.1, 8; Luke 2.4 etc.)”

“The supposed tomb of Lazarus (near Bethany), whom Jesus raised from the dead (John 11.3) The picture shows the opening from which the stone was removed.”

Usually in my Bible collection, I collect different translations, but this is a beautiful enough volume, that I intend to keep it as a duplicate.

Imbalanced

The universal model for depression is that it a chemical imbalance in the brain. I have serious reservations about the value of that model.

The core problem with the idea is that it is disempowering. The message is “you can’t help yourself get better.”

What thoughts that follow once a person believes that their depression is due to a chemical imbalance?

  • I’m broken.” Since my brain is what I use for all of my thoughts and memories, I’m basically defective.
  • There isn’t anything I can do.” Chemistry is complicated; I don’t understand it, so how can I do anything to help?
  • It’s not going to go away on its own.” Since my brain is a bunch of microscopic neurons firing, they’re not going to fix something as severe as a chemical imbalance.
  • It’s a medical problem.” Doctors are the ones who treat medical problems, so I need a psychiatrist and medications.

When you cut your hand, you know what is hygienic. Rinse it in water. Keep it clean and cover it with a bandage. Watch for signs of infection or use an antibiotic ointment.

A person can be suffering and depressed. Today, the person learns very few tools for recovery. There isn’t any hygiene to practice; no prevention strategies.

A treatment plan might be little more than not to get worse. The tacit meaning of “chemical imbalance” is that a depressed person needs to look to doctors. Then, people with letters after their name can help make the best of it.

Although this can be an appropriate treatment, the model for a disease needs to be useful.

“Chemical imbalance in the brain” is glib. It rolls of the tongue so easily that it doesn’t get inspection. However, it doesn’t help anyone understand depression nor take action.

Don’t shoot the message

A well-known cliche is “Don’t shoot the messenger.” When someone brings bad news, don’t blame the messengers who brought it.

A related principle is “Don’t shoot the message.” This principle notes that a good idea that comes from an bad source is still a good idea.

A thought experiment:

Some physicians and medical scientists defect to ISIS. They discover a cure for cancer that is extremely inexpensive. In addition, this cure has a 95% 10 year survival rate. The cure is simple to use and very safe. What would you, as a patient, do with a cure that was created by terrorists?

One situation to apply the principle is in religious spheres. The spiritual principles from an incompatible faith community can still deserve a fair hearing.

Perhaps the most obvious way this principle is violated today is in the political arena. If the minority party in the Senate has a good idea, the majority opponents won’t consider it for more than a minute.

If you’re making a decision, don’t shoot the message.

Easter, Passover and refugees

A green thought bubbleThe coming of Passover commemorates God’s deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt.

Easter is intimately tied to Passover. Easter is a celebration of deliverance for Christians.

Exodus 22:21 admonishes “Do not wrong or oppress any outsiders living among you, for there was a time when you lived as outsiders in the land of Egypt.” (The Voice)

The outsiders of Exodus fleeing Pharaoh’s Egypt are no different than the outsiders fleeing wars and oppression today. Uncounted refugees are fleeing their own form of Pharaoh’s Egypt.

America can wrong and oppress them if it chooses. Our elected leaders appear to be at the front of the line….