Tag Archives: Reads

Rest Day Read 2-23-10

Rest Day Read (SR-11)
Exercise as Medicine?
SR-11a An ADHD Med Without Side Effects by ADDitude Magazine Editors
“Exercise turns on the attention system, the so-called executive functions-sequencing, working memory, prioritizing, inhibiting, and sustaining attention…On a practical level, it causes (ADHD) kids to be less impulsive, which makes them more primed to learn.”
SR-11b Riding is My Ritalin by Bruce Barcott
“For the past 30 years, athletes, coaches, sports psychologists and medical researchers have probed and debated one of the most complex mysteries of the human body: How does exercise affect the brain? Common sense and our own experience tell us it does something. Every parent knows the best way to settle down a hopped up kid is to take him out to the playground and run the bug juice out of him. A generation ago, teachers and coaches frequently use this approach as well.”

Folks, we need more “bug juice” run out of us. In a previous post, the evidence suggests a mutation in the “wandering” gene may play a role in ADHD. Let’s see, we can treat a genetic predisposition to want to move (and go, go, go) by exercising the body/brain or we can overload with medication. Which should we choose? Which would we choose? Which DO we choose?

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Rest Day Read 2-18-10

Rest Day Read (SR-10)
Slow Tuesday Night by R.A. Lafferty
(direct link to Sci-Fi archives, or use this Neil Gaiman’s blog post , if can’t get to it from direct link)
“Freddy rented an office and had it furnished. This took one minute, negotiation, selection, and installation being almost instantaneous. Then he invented the manus module; that took another minute. He then had it manufactured and marketed; in three minutes it was in the hand of key buyers.
It caught on. It was an attractive module. The flow of orders began within thirty seconds. By ten minutes after eight every important person had one of the new manus modules, and the trend had been set. The module began to sell in the millions. It was one of the most interesting fads of the night, or at least the early part of the night.”

I found a link to this short story last week on Neil Gaiman’s blog. He linked it in reference to how fast communication can generate forces, both positive and negative in today’s technological environment. It is the first story I have read by R.A. Lafferty, so being curious, I googled him. Very interesting story about his life and work here. Grumpy, old, Catholic, sci-fi writer from the midwest, who did not start writing until his late 40’s. Now I am intrigued to read more of his work.
On a side note, if you are looking for something good for a quick read, try Neil Gaiman’s Newberry Award winning, The Graveyard Book. Good stuff.

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Alien Dog Attack #4

“Hello, welcome to the Department of Homeland Security Emergency Phone System”

“I need to report……”

“Press 1 if you would like to donate to the DHS Holiday Party Fund”

“…an alien dog attack.  Wha…?”

“Press 2 if you want to report the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden”

“AAARRRRGGHHHH!”

“Press 3 if you think our director’s name sounds like an ice cream flavor.”

“Well, it does, but I need to report an ALIEN DOG ATTACK in my house!”

“Press 4 if you think your neighbor’s gardener has ties to al Queda.”

“Holy Sweet Jesus!”

“Press 5 to vote in the daily DHS poll: Who is the more stylish 1st lady, Michelle Obama or Jackie Kennedy?”

“For real?”

“Press 6 to talk Espanol with DHS maintenance engineer Diego Rodriguez Miguel Juan Vizcano.”

“Por que?”

Press 7 to listen to new DHS theme song by Nashville recording artist Taylor Swift.”

“I think I will pass”

“Press 8 if you have a current extraterrestrial invasion on your domicile”

“8,8,8”

“Hello, Department of Presumed Extraterrestrial Invasions.”

“I need help immediately.  It is a matter of national security.  We are currently under siege from an alien attack dog.”

“I am sorry, sir.  But at this time, we are unable to confirm or deny the existence of extraterrestrial beings”

“Didn’t you hear me? I have an alien attack dog with yellow laser beam eyes in my house and it just destroyed my TV!”

“I am sorry.”

“Aren’t you going to do anything?”

“Yes”

“Thank God!”

” I can give you a name.  Phil’s Alien Extermination and Storage of Roswell, New Mexico.  Phil comes well recommended to the DHS ”

“Your kidding.”

“Have a great day sir.”

We are on our own…

In the house, no one can hear you scream……

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No matter what my wife says, here’s proof I am “evolving”

Rest Day Read
SR-5 (Short Read #5)
Excerpt* from Discover Magazine article:
They Don’t Make Homo Sapiens Like They Used To
by Kathleen McAuliffe
Back a few years ago, I had the pleasure of working with an intelligent young man named A. Catlin in our lab during his undergraduate days at KSU. His mother is a teacher and the Mrs. CoachHays is a teacher (in fact AC was in the very first class Mrs. CoachHays ever taught and he once turned in a report on Richard M. Nixon that brings tears to the eyes, but that is another story for another day) so we occasionally talked of education issues. At that time ADHD was big time issue in the schools, kids were being branded and Ritalin was being dosed out like candy hearts at St. Valentines Day. One day, we looked at an “official” list of symptoms of ADHD and discerned that each of us competently fulfilled the requirements of 90% of the symptoms on the list. AD said once that he and his dad, the hon. M. Catlin, financier, took an ADHD screening test Mrs. Catlin had brought home from school and they both failed it miserably. I have often wondered how different my life and the life of many competent, intelligent, creative people may have been had we been pigeon-holed into a program to deal with “afflictions” we never even realized we had.
I picked this excerpt from the excellent article from Discover Magazine on the continual process of adaptation of the human species because it shows that even a “affliction” such as ADHD appears to have a useful function. Without the DRD4 mutation associated with ADHD forcing us human folk to roam, explore and push the acceptable limits, we would all still be sitting in a very crowded river valley somewhere in the African Savannah.
SIDE NOTE: I think one of the major arguments arising is science is going to be between the groups who think human genetic evolution stopped 50,000 years ago and the groups who believe that human genetic evolution is occurring at an increasingly rapid rate.

*EVOLUTION AND THE BRAIN
Perhaps the most incendiary aspect of the fast-evolution research is evidence that the brain may be evolving just as quickly as the rest of the body. Some genes that appear to have been recently selected, Moyzis and his collaborators suggest, influence the function and development of the brain. Other fast-changing genes—roughly 100—are associated with neurotransmitters, including serotonin (a mood regulator), glutamate (involved in general arousal), and dopamine (which regulates attention). According to estimates, fully 40 percent of these neurotransmitter genes seem to have been selected in the past 50,000 years, with the majority emerging in just the past 10,000 years.

Addressing the hot-potato question—What might these changes signify?—Moyzis and Wang theorize that natural selection probably favored different abilities and dispositions as modern groups adapted to the increasingly complex social order ushered in by the first human settlements.

When people in hunter-gatherer communities have a conflict, Moyzis reports, usually one of them will just walk away. “There is a great deal of fluidity in these societies,” he says, “so it’s easy to join another group.” But with the establishment of the first farming communities, we put down roots figuratively as well as literally. “You can’t just walk away,” Moyzis notes, a fact that would have created selection pressure to revise the mechanisms regulating aggression, such as the glutamate pathways involved in arousal. “When you domesticate animals, you tend to change genes in that system,” he says.

For decades theories about human evolution proliferated in the absence of hard evidence, but now human genetic data banks are large enough to put assumptions to the test.

The rise of settlements also promoted the breakdown of labor into specialized jobs. That, coupled with food surpluses from farming, led to systems of trade and the need to track the flow of resources, which in turn could have selected for individuals with specific cognitive strengths. “Mathematical ability is very important when it comes to keeping track of crops and bartering,” Wang says. “Certainly your working memory has to be better. You have to remember who owes you what.” The researchers point to China’s Mandarin system, a method of screening individuals for positions as tax collectors and other government administrators. For nearly 2,000 years, starting in A.D. 141, the sons of a broad cross section of Chinese society, including peasants and tradesmen, took the equivalent of standardized tests. “Those who did well on them would get a good job in the civil service and oftentimes had multiple wives, while the other sons remained in a rice field,” Moyzis says. “Probably for thousands of years in some cultures, certain kinds of intellectual ability may have been tied to reproductive success.”

Harpending and Cochran had previously—and controversially—marshaled similar evidence to explain why Ashkenazi Jews (those of northern European descent) are overrepresented among world chess masters, Nobel laureates, and those who score above 140 on IQ tests. In a 2005 article in the Journal of Biosocial Science, the scientists attributed Ashkenazis’ intellectual distinction to a religious and cultural environment that blocked them from working as farm laborers in central and northern Europe for almost a millennium, starting around A.D. 800. As a result, these Jews took jobs as moneylenders and financial administrators of estates. To make a profit, Harpending says, “they had to be good at evaluating properties and market risks, all the while dodging persecution.” Those who prospered in these mentally demanding and hostile environments, the researchers posit, would have left behind the most offspring. Critics note that the association between wealth and intelligence in this interpretation is circumstantial, however.

Stronger evidence that natural selection has continued to shape the brain in recent epochs comes from studies of DRD4, a mutation in a neurotransmitter receptor that Moyzis, Wang, and many others have linked to attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Children diagnosed with ADHD are twice as likely to carry the variant gene as those without the diagnosis. DRD4 makes a receptor in the brain less effective in bonding to dopamine, which might explain why Ritalin, which increases the amount of dopamine in the space between neurons, is often helpful in treating the problem.

Sequencing studies suggest that the DRD4 mutation arose 50,000 years ago, just as humans were spreading out of Africa. Its prevalence tends to increase the farther a population is from Africa, leading some investigators to dub it “the migratory gene.” At least one allele (or copy of the gene) is carried by 80 percent of some South American populations. In contrast, the allele is present in 40 percent of indigenous populations living farther north in the Americas and in just 20 percent of Europeans and Africans. Children with the mutation tend to be more restless than other youngsters and to score higher on tests of novelty-seeking and risk-taking, all traits that might have pushed those with the variant to explore new frontiers.

In the context of a modern classroom, it may be hard to understand why kids who appear distractible and disruptive might have a survival advantage. But research shows people with DRD4 do not differ in intelligence from national norms; if anything, they may on average be smarter. Moreover, behavior that may seem like a drawback today may not have been so in ancient environments. When broaching foreign terrain filled with unknown predators, “having the trait of focusing on multiple directions might have been a good thing,” Wang says. “People focused in one direction might get eaten.”

Humans in far-flungdomains encountered starkly different selective forces, adjusting to novel foods, predators, climates, and terrains.

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Alien Dog Attack #3

So the yellow-green tennis ball has worked to keep the AAD busy for the last 30 minutes in the living room.  The AAD is starting to wear down.  It looks like it is getting very drowsy.  We use the remote to remotely turn the TV to some nice relaxing music on CMT.  The AAD climbs on the captain’s chair (my favorite chair!)  and slowly fades into a happy slumber.  Me and Kid2 and Kid3 tiptoe into the living room to capture the AAD while it sleeps.  Things could not be working out any more perfect.  But, just as we get within a first down of the AAD, Taylor Swift comes on the CMT.  You know the song, yeah, that song, the one that sounds like all the other songs, the one that plays somewhere constantly in the Swift Time-Space Continuum.  Well, the AAD jolts out of its sleep, sits up in the captain’s chair and eyeball laser beams Taylor Swift AND my TV into oblivion!   AAAHHHHH!!!!!!!  Run away!  Run away!  We retreat back into the dining room as the AAD reestablishes its position.  I think it is time to call in the big boys, the federales.

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Alien Dog Attack #2

The Hays house is still under siege. I have the door to the dining room cracked slightly, watching the Alien Attack Dog (AAD) with its front paws on the desk watching the computer screen. What is it doing? I open the door a bit more to get a better look. Hey! That dog is on my iTunes account! It’s downloading off my money! It’s downloading Barry Manilow! Barry Manilow? Alien dogs like Barry Manilow?  I feel around the dark floor, find a basket and pull out the first thing I grab, a tennis ball. Jumping into the dining room, screaming like Scarface, I fire the tennis ball at the AAD. I miss, the ball bounces off the wall and rolls harmlessly into the living room. The AAD bounds across the floor after the ball completely mesmerized by the little yellow-green friend. My iTunes is safe. And maybe, just maybe, we are on to something with this tennis ball thing…

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Alien Dog Attack #1


AlienDogAttack

Originally uploaded by mkehays

It’s here! Run and hide! The Hays house was invaded this afternoon. The mom was able to click a quick photo of  the invader before we were forced to take deeper cover. We are currently fighting off the alien attacker from the dining room. We have lost the living room and the office already in the fight. Trying to battle the laser beam ocular weapon of the canine from outer space has proven most difficult. We just don’t have the weapons to hold out much longer…

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