Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Four Figures of Ars Generalis Ultima


There are a large number of systems that single-celled organisms use to move or swim. Those systems that work by sticking something large out of the cell and moving it are often called "flagella." The word flagellum

was originally the latin word for whip.

Although the same term is used, there are three (known) kinds of "flagella" that are very different in detail. They are often confused because terminology is often used inconsistently.

  • Bacteria have flagella. The motor is at the base and they rotate. They are always called "flagella" or "bacterial flagella".
  • Archaea (also known as archaebacteria) have flagella. The motor is at the base and they rotate. But, despite early assumptions of relatedness to bacterial flagella based on these similarities, they are very different in detail. They are always called "flagella" or "archaeal flagella".
  • Eukaryotes have a tubulin-based organelle that does not rotate. Instead, this organelle bends all along its length, powered by hundreds of dynein motor proteins. This organelle is called variously a flagellum, cilium, or undulipodium, or sometimes other names. This leads to a great deal of confusion for people new to the topic. Usage typically works like this:
Most microbiologists call it a "flagellum" if the eukaryotic cell has one or a few long appendages (such as sperm cells), and call it a "cilium" if the cell has many shorter appendages (such as a paramecium)

Some people point out that eukaryotic flagella and cilia have fundamentally the same 9+2 tubulin structure (usually), dyneins, etc., and are really essentially the same thing. They propose that the word "cilium" be used for both kinds of structures, and that "flagellum" be reserved for the prokaryote organelles.

This is the position and usage of Cavalier-Smith, and this usage is followed by Behe in Darwin's Black Box - Lynn Margulis and her followers (relatively few but published widely) call the eukaryotic structure a "undulipodium", both in order to distinguish it from the prokaryote organelles and to emphasize their symbiotic theory for the origin of the organelle.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Neuroeconomics - Dopaminergy in the Individual Brain

A couple months ago, I introduced the concept of neuroeconomics in the context of collective psychology. It's time to take that a step further - a la the philosopher Daniel Dennett, channeling the late ATL Gurdjieffian prankster Jan Cox.
Several people have sent me notes about their problems and apparent failures, and have attempted to attribute a psychological basis to them. This is one of the great cutoff points. It is an immediate slap in the intellectual face: to a Revolutionist there is no such thing as "psychological." It is a flawed piece of data. It is as outmoded to a Revolutionist alive today as is the idea of a "capital-g" god. What is called "psychological" is serving, and has served, a purpose with some people. But you must see that any apparent psychological pressures arising from influences apparently "out there" -- your boss, your mother, your mate -- have to enter in through the five senses. Always stop and remind yourself of that even if you can't do anything else. If one or all of your senses were knocked out, you would not be suffering this "psychological pressure." You have to face up to that. Whatever is going on in you is chemical. There are really no such things as drunks; it is people with an alcohol deficiency. Absolutely religious people have a chemical deficiency. The same with people who have phobias, as they are called. It is a chemical imbalance outside the normal bell curve of the populace at their time and place. Jan Cox
From that earlier article I stated that "For decades it has been known that these neurons and the dopamine they release play a critical role in brain mechanisms of reinforcement. Many of the drugs currently abused in our society mimic the actions of dopamine in the brain. This led many researchers to believe that dopamine neurons directly encoded the rewarding value of events in the outside world."

Today's post is one of those hidden in plain sight elaborations on that theme, this time addressing the rewarding value of events in the INSIDE WORLD, the world comprised of the neurons making up your brain. Think about it. That's all I ever ask you to do, and in the process, you will inevitably be led to draw your own validating conclusions. Here's Dennett;
brain cells — I now think — must compete vigorously in a marketplace. For what?

What could a neuron "want"? The energy and raw materials it needs to thrive–just like its unicellular eukaryote ancestors and more distant cousins, the bacteria and archaea. Neurons are robots; they are certainly not conscious in any rich sense–remember, they are eukaryotic cells, akin to yeast cells or fungi. If individual neurons are conscious then so is athlete’s foot. But neurons are, like these mindless but intentional cousins, highly competent agents in a life-or-death struggle, not in the environment between your toes, but in the demanding environment of the brain, where the victories go to those cells that can network more effectively, contribute to more influential trends at the virtual machine levels where large-scale human purposes and urges are discernible.

I now think, then, that the opponent-process dynamics of emotions, and the roles they play in controlling our minds, is underpinned by an "economy" of neurochemistry that harnesses the competitive talents of individual neurons. (Note that the idea is that neurons are still good team players within the larger economy, unlike the more radically selfish cancer cells. Recalling Francois Jacob’s dictum that the dream of every cell is to become two cells, neurons vie to stay active and to be influential, but do not dream of multiplying.)

Intelligent control of an animal’s behavior is still a computational process, but the neurons are "selfish neurons," as Sebastian Seung has said, striving to maximize their intake of the different currencies of reward we have found in the brain. And what do neurons "buy" with their dopamine, their serotonin or oxytocin, etc.? Greater influence in the networks in which they participate.
So simple, elegant, and obvious. Selective governance via the natural tendency of the brain's neuronal circuits to Do What They Do..., what could be easier, more powerful, and more durable than that. The lengths to which some folks will go to furnish elaborate post hoc rationalizations of What It Do - and how that basic fact is exploited by those with the wherewithal to "engineer" values in the outside world - just crack me up.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Why Cognitive Activism?

It is clearly evident that some ‘ways of knowing’ actively abhor the biosphere, and all forms or assemblies of organism in general. Perhaps more surprising is that a vast portion of the ways of knowing we commonly credential actively abhor human beings, and hate or attack all human children — merely by the nature of their character and function in the imaginal and real worlds. Why would we select or empower such modes, when an infinite garden of choices are immediately at hand?

Quoth Bro. Makheru;
As far as these Power Structure Apocalyptic’s are concerned, they have this world on a collision course with barbarism and ecological disaster. Whatever their underpinnings are, they have to be neutralized right now.
The Cognitive Activist response;
We will gain no advantage from any activism that creates dogmas and bureaucracies of itself — and must instead assemble new ways of learning and knowing together. Ways which by their changing and playful nature empower us to lift each other into a place of direct experiential access to new experiences and expression of mutual uplift, exploration, and the celebration of the real potentials of our anciently conserved and miraculously elaborated organismal sentience.

We are cognitive animals, in a hypercognitive environment. Our human activisms will fail, unless they can address the sources of our ancient confusions and failures to discover the clearly present ways and means of mutual prosperity inherent in the problems our broken access magnifies into our experience and history.

Perhaps we might thus agree that we desire an activism so general, that it’s different from anything we’ve ever considered or been exposed to. Possibly even something that doesn’t have or require a name. A game of activism so like what we are and become that rather than fashioning us into the likeness of some model it proposes — it empowers us to choose and celebrate together that which we actually are and may become.


All of human activism has arisen primarily in opposition to broken ways of knowing — employed and empowered by people who agree to believe ideas. But these ideas are ‘cached tokens’ of the experience of distant others. If circumstance is even moderately different according to the moment and the place — this ‘belief’ is too often far more logically false than what literalists might refer to as ‘the false position of faith’.

We’re about to assemble a form of activism with the potential to overwhelm the source of human atrocity — because rather than wasting time in opposing anything — it empowers us to become more than models of some idea. I am also certain we will experience this together, learning in ways beyond the possibilities of our wildest and most hopeful imaginings. When we have unity, access to our birthrights, and the protection of our unique human, personal and cultural diversity we accrue the power to openly oppose atrocity without reference to or memory of combat. We can now explore and become something together that there is no modern model even vaguely alike with — an experience of unity so liberating that its momentum gains speed and effect at unopposable velocities.

Most of our confusion and suffering at the hands of our foibles is the result of an accident. It’s the kind of an accident we’ve never heard a decent story about — and hearing a few radically altars our potential to notice and interact together with novel domains of co-operative play. Since no one had any way to speak of this accident, or the time before it, the best thing we have are badly mistranslated analogs. When we get to play with toys of knowing that are more like what we are and represent, the way our minds arrange and experience knowledge changes dramatically.

My personal sense is this comprises an entirely unexplored universe of human potential, primarily in the domain of an incredible new way of learning — and of human unity in mutual exploration — that will lead us to terrains of knowledge so vast an unexpected that they could entirely re-write most of what we consider to be fact within the next 5 years. Science, religion, and philosophies — are about to face an insurmountable opponent to their primacy and credentialing-power: pure organismal sentience, in liberated coemergence.

And this is what ‘Life’ is actually about. All of organismal reality is ‘attempting to recapitulate something’ in the same way our own genesis and experience as an embryo was recapitulating all of the terrestrial genesis of life. Something is being assembled by and with(in) physical organismal expression and activity...that is not physical at all in the way we would match with this idea. It is hyperconnective, self-elaborative, and it plays a unityGame that binds all participants ever more closely into something we have no metaphor of: Our world is a distributed organism...

[a multiply atemporal psybiocognitive hyperstructure]

And all of this has a lot to do with how we know, what we know, and what we can do with and about these a radically new way: a way that makes new ways, instead of trying to preserve itself and children of itself at all costs.

This is why I support local, nuclear centres of activity free of the thanaturgic taint. It is also why any and everything short of that achievable objective, I discount as idle conversation, or worse still, a doctrinal recapitulation of the thanaturgic ethos that I detest. Those death-loving parasites are contagious and their modus operandi is addictive, repetitive and plainly discernable in operation...,

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Most Amazing Thing...

“...of course the term relates to a luminous disc hovering over a scalarly transdimensional tree with its arms upraised... in the gesture of sentient communion...” — overheard at velocities exceeding c to the third.

Contrary to our activity, the discovery and production of more interesting or useful machines is not the penultimate goal of our species. Whatever it was we came to be and experience together definitely has more to do with animals than it does machines — in every possible way. It probably has a lot more to do with trees than machines, too. It defintely has to do with each other.

There are certainly hidden potentials in our human theory and technology we have not yet guessed the shapes or opportunities of — but there are also potentials in other domains we commonly ignore that far outweigh the power of those we are generally habituated to pursue, defend, value and emulate. This ‘library’ of opportunities is vast beyond our wildest imaginings, however our access is blocked by our insistance on mechanical approaches and technological ‘advancement’. The very ways of knowing we look to for enlightenment are consuming us (and our world) while systematically pretending to a heroism their enactions consistently deliver the opposite of.

I believe that the most incredible discovery our species will make will grant us new and complexly evolving experiences of personal, social and cultural liberty. It will be something we do together, for and with each other — all the time — a very general thing. Having found such a new way of experiencing ourselves and our world we will remember our earlier selves as ‘having nearly perished in the attempt to conserve heartful intentions in heartless vehicles and transports of relation’.

That liberty looks like unity. Not an formalized unity, but one that grows in waves of explosive abundance and regeneration — beyond all definition — any time it is experienced and elaborated by any interaction at all. It looks like impossible movement, that grows more impossible and amazing with each motion.

In assembly and form — this movement would be much more akin to an explosively positive game — than a religion, theory, law, philosophy, government, or formal way of knowing.

Formal vehicles resist change and are far too interested in their own reproduction and conservation to deserve our undivided attention. Informal vehicles are made to dissolve themselves, in order to provide access to a transport.

What sort of ‘thing’ could relate to knowledge the way that E=mc2 has come to relate to physics? A discovery of this magnitude would awaken the sleeping potential for the opposite of an atomic bomb: a sort of star exploding in the domain of human sentience, instead of a way of unfolding matter to create horror. We might expect to have direct experience, for the first time in modern history, of a way of being together that would encourage and empower us to share, grow and receive real understanding and access to our potentials — instead of predatory copies of these things masquerading as heroes, while copying themselves endlessly into every possible terrain.

I realize that I repeat myself. In part because I am at pains to solidly convey that I am not referring to a theory, religion or dogma — I am speaking of a transport — an ‘ever-growing set of ways’, to which we will at last have clear and common access, and the powers of mutual uplift, rescue and celebration that will arise in the wake of such a ‘disc over y’.

Am I speculating? No. I speak as though I am for the sake of achieving agreement to explore. What I am speaking about is accessible now, and it has the power to end war, and to allow us to transcend some broken toys that have kept us trapped in games of mutual annihilation, in general.

Something got broken in our species, a long time ago. And we can repair this something, together, now.

A long time ago an expanding ramp of barriers got set up between us and our inherent potentials with knowledge and relation. The time has arrived when we can surpass those barriers together, rapidly, and even turn some of them to the advantage not only of our peoples, but of the delicate nursery in and with which we proceed toward our hidden purposes, potentials, and powers.


Phase Two of the Project is Now Complete...,

There go my boy again....,

Working with only the four basic nucleotides that make up all DNA—adenine, cytosine, guanine and thymine—he has assembled an entirely new chromosome for an entirely new one-celled creature. Insert that genome into a cell—like inserting a disc into a computer—and a new species of living thing will be booted up. Venter hasn't done that yet, which is why even he won't say that he has technically invented life. He has, however, already shown that a genome transplanted from an existing cell to another will shut down the host's genetic programming and bring its own online. If that cellular body-snatching works with an ordinary chromosome, there's little reason to think it won't with a manufactured one. "The fact that this is even possible is mind-boggling to most people," Venter says.

That's not an overstatement. The genome in Venter's lab in Rockville, Md., could revolutionize genetics, introducing a new world order in which the alchemy of life is broken down into the ultimate engineering project. Man-made genomes could lead to new species that churn out drugs to treat disease, finely tuned vaccines that target just the right lethal bug, even cells that convert sunlight into a biofuel.

"Dangerous" Idea Indeed.....?

Why is the concept that our sensitivities evolved directly from swimming bacterial ancestors of the sensory cilia so dangerous?

Several reasons:

1. We would be forced to admit that bacteria are conscious
2. That they are sensitive to stimuli in their environment and behave accordingly.
3. We would have to accept that bacteria, touted to be our enemies, are not merely neutral or friendly but that they are us.
4. They are direct ancestors of our most sensitive body parts.

Our culture's terminology about bacteria is that of warfare: they are germs to be destroyed and forever vanquished, bacterial enemies make toxins that poison us. We load our soaps with antibacterials that kill on contact, stomach ulcers are now agreed to be caused by bacterial infection. Even if some admit the existence of "good" bacteria in soil or probiotic food like yogurt few of us tolerate the dangerous notion that human sperm tails and sensitive cells of nasal passages lined with waving cilia, are former bacteria. If this dangerous idea becomes widespread it follows that we humans must agree that even before our evolution as animals we have hated and tried to kill our own ancestors. Again, we have seen the enemy, indeed, and, as usual, it is us.

Social interactions of sensitive bacteria, then, not God, made us who were are today.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Origins of Cognition?

Bacteria are not the solitary, simple organisms as they are usually depicted. Under natural growth conditions, certain bacterial species self-organize into hierarchically complex structured colonies containing from a billion to over a trillion organisms. To coordinate such cooperative ventures, these bacteria have developed and utilized various methods of biochemical communication, by using a variety of mediators, which range from simple molecules to polymers, peptides, complex proteins, genetic material, and even "cassettes of genetic information" such as plasmids and viruses. The resulting colony patterns reflect cooperative survival strategies. The colony behaves much like a multi-cellular community. It has been proposed that these fundamental cognitive functions, the colony can perform collective sensing, distributed information processing collective gene-regulations of the individual bacteria. And consequently it can change its spatio-temporal organization (engineered self-organization) for better adaptability to changes in the environment. In addition colonial internal sensing is crucial since the complex patterns emerge through the communication-based interplay between individual bacteria (the micro-level), as well as sensing characteristics of the collective, i.e., the colony (the macro-level).

What is the difference between the meaning-based natural intelligence of organisms vs. information-based artificial intelligence?

Are the two essentially different?

If so, what are the special features of organisms that afford them capabilities beyond current man-made machines?

Wht information-based or meaning-based capabilities exist at the level of very small, very, very, ancient genomic organisms?

Ultimate Reality

"Life did not take over the globe by combat, but by networking" (i.e., by cooperation), and Darwin's notion of evolution driven by natural selection is incomplete" Prof. Lynn Margulis; Margulis, Lynn and Sagan (2001). "Marvellous microbes". Resurgence 206: 10–12.

"I greatly admire Lynn Margulis's sheer courage and stamina in sticking by the endosymbiosis theory, and carrying it through from being an unorthodoxy to an orthodoxy. I'm referring to the theory that the eukaryotic cell is a symbiotic union of primitive prokaryotic cells. This is one of the great achievements of twentieth-century evolutionary biology, and I greatly admire her for it." Richard Dawkins
Lynn Margulis: At any fine museum of natural history — say, in New York, Cleveland, or Paris — the visitor will find a hall of ancient life, a display of evolution that begins with the trilobite fossils and passes by giant nautiloids, dinosaurs, cave bears, and other extinct animals fascinating to children. Evolutionists have been preoccupied with the history of animal life in the last five hundred million years. But we now know that life itself evolved much earlier than that. The fossil record begins nearly four thousand million years ago! Until the 1960s, scientists ignored fossil evidence for the evolution of life, because it was uninterpretable.

I work in evolutionary biology, but with cells and microorganisms. Richard Dawkins, John Maynard Smith, George Williams, Richard Lewontin, Niles Eldredge, and Stephen Jay Gould all come out of the zoological tradition, which suggests to me that, in the words of our colleague Simon Robson, they deal with a data set some three billion years out of date. Eldredge and Gould and their many colleagues tend to codify an incredible ignorance of where the real action is in evolution, as they limit the domain of interest to animals — including, of course, people. All very interesting, but animals are very tardy on the evolutionary scene, and they give us little real insight into the major sources of evolution's creativity. It's as if you wrote a four-volume tome supposedly on world history but beginning in the year 1800 at Fort Dearborn and the founding of Chicago. You might be entirely correct about the nineteenth-century transformation of Fort Dearborn into a thriving lakeside metropolis, but it would hardly be world history.

By "codifying ignorance" I refer in part to the fact that they miss four out of the five kingdoms of life. Animals are only one of these kingdoms. They miss bacteria, protoctista, fungi, and plants. They take a small and interesting chapter in the book of evolution and extrapolate it into the entire encyclopedia of life. Skewed and limited in their perspective, they are not wrong so much as grossly uninformed.
GAIA is a Tough Bitch...,


Emotional contagion is the tendency to express and feel emotions that are similar to and influenced by those of others. One view of the underlying mechanism is that it represents a tendency to automatically mimic and synchronize facial expressions, vocalizations, postures, and movements with those of another person and, consequently, to converge emotionally. A broader definition of the phenomenon was suggested by Sigal G. Barsade- "a process in which a person or group influences the emotions or behavior of another person or group through the conscious or unconscious induction of emotion states and behavioral attitudes"

Social contagion is imitative behavior based on the power of suggestion and imitative influence.

Social contagion operates on four levels - emotional, behavioral, ideational, and hysterical - and depending on which level appears to be predominant, psychologists categorize social contagion accordingly:
  • emotional contagion - infectious moods and sentiment (aggression, depression)
  • behavioral contagion - infectious behavior (ranging from yawning and laughing to crime)
  • ideational contagion - infectious ideas spread by suggestion (rumor, urban legends, irrational belief)
  • hysterical contagion - somatic illness spread by the power of suggestion (depression/anorexia)
But is that really all there is to it? Do we err fundamentally by ascribing "psychological" rather than "physiological" causes to these modalities of contagious mass behaviour? Where exactly does agency reside within our composite organism? What again, is the optimal unit of selection driving our "species" behaviour?

Monday, January 21, 2008

Bacteria are Us

What is my dangerous idea? Although arcane, evidence for this dangerous concept is overwhelming; I have collected clues from many sources. Reminiscent of Oscar Wilde's claim that "even true things can be proved" I predict that the scientific gatekeepers in academia eventually will be forced to permit this dangerous idea to become widely accepted. What is it?

Our sensibilities, our perceptions that register through our sense organ cells evolved directly from our bacterial ancestors. Signals in the environment: light impinging on the eye's retina, taste on the buds of the tongue, odor through the nose, sound in the ear are translated to nervous impulses by extensions of sensory cells called cilia. We, like all other mammals, including our apish brothers, have taste-bud cilia, inner ear cilia, nasal passage cilia that detect odors. We distinguish savory from sweet, birdsong from whalesong, drumbeats from thunder. With our eyes closed, we detect the light of the rising sun and and feel the vibrations of the drums. These abilities to sense our surroundings, a heritage that preceded the evolution of all primates, indeed, all animals, by use of specialized cilia at the tips of sensory cells, and the existence of the cilia in the tails of sperm, come from one kind of our bacterial ancestors. Which? Those of our bacterial ancestors that became cilia. We owe our sensitivity to a loving touch, the scent of lavender , the taste of a salted nut or vinaigrette, a police-cruiser siren, or glimpse of brilliant starlight to our sensory cells. We owe the chemical attraction of the sperm as its tail impels it to swim toward the egg, even the moss plant sperm, to its cilia. The dangerous idea is that the cilia evolved from hyperactive bacteria. Bacterial ancestors swam toward food and away from noxious gases, they moved up to the well-lit waters at the surface of the pond. They were startled when, in a crowd, some relative bumped them. These bacterial ancestors that never slept, avoided water too hot or too salty. They still do.

Why is the concept that our sensitivities evolved directly from swimming bacterial ancestors of the sensory cilia so dangerous?

Several reasons: we would be forced to admit that bacteria are conscious, that they are sensitive to stimuli in their environment and behave accordingly. We would have to accept that bacteria, touted to be our enemies, are not merely neutral or friendly but that they are us. They are direct ancestors of our most sensitive body parts. Our culture's terminology about bacteria is that of warfare: they are germs to be destroyed and forever vanquished, bacterial enemies make toxins that poison us. We load our soaps with antibacterials that kill on contact, stomach ulcers are now agreed to be caused by bacterial infection. Even if some admit the existence of "good" bacteria in soil or probiotic food like yogurt few of us tolerate the dangerous notion that human sperm tails and sensitive cells of nasal passages lined with waving cilia, are former bacteria. If this dangerous idea becomes widespread it follows that we humans must agree that even before our evolution as animals we have hated and tried to kill our own ancestors. Again, we have seen the enemy, indeed, and, as usual, it is us. Social interactions of sensitive bacteria, then, not God, made us who were are today.


My favorite line from Proverbs is the one about fear of the Lord as the beginning of wisdom. Does our reptilian brain with its copious reservoir of fear combined with a forebrain coveting order require God to have a sense of security in [a] world fraught with instability? Is the belief in the supernatural the basis for social control? And because of their special connection with God, do some people (Moses, Jesus, Mohammed) and their derivatives come to constitute a ruling class?

My brother asks a series of the most interesting kwestins. I suspect you already know the traditional answers encapsulated in the combined Abrahamic world views? Whether matrilineage, succession, or grace - there is a significant component of that embodied in the "anointed" rulers.

The question this begs for me, is whether there is a significant kernal of truth or implicate order embodied in these long-standing traditions?

Galatians 5:7-10 You were running well; who hindered you from following (the) truth? That enticement does not come from the one who called you. A little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough. I am confident of you in the Lord that you will not take a different view, and that the one who is troubling you will bear the condemnation, whoever he may be.

Matthew 13:33 He proposed another parable to them. "The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a person took and sowed in a field. It is the smallest of all the seeds, yet when full-grown it is the largest of plants. It becomes a large bush, and the 'birds of the sky come and dwell in its branches.'" He spoke to them another parable. "The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed with three measures of wheat flour until the whole batch was leavened."

Luke 13:20-21Then he said, "What is the kingdom of God like? To what can I compare it? It is like a mustard seed that a person took and planted in the garden. When it was fully grown, it became a large bush and 'the birds of the sky dwelt in its branches.'" Again he said, "To what shall I compare the kingdom of God? It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed (in) with three measures of wheat flour until the whole batch of dough was leavened."

Thomas 96. Yeshua [says:] The Sovereignty of the Father is like [a] woman,¹ she has taken a little yeast,¹ she [has hidden] it in dough,¹ she produced large loaves of it. Whoever has ears, let him hear! (¹asyndeta; =Mt 13:33)

97. Yeshua says: The Sovereignty of the [Father] is like a woman who was carrying a jar full of grain. While she was walking [on a] distant road, the handle of the jar broke, the grain streamed out behind her onto the road. She did not know it, she had noticed no accident. When she arrived in her house, she set the jar down— she found it empty. (multiple asyndeta)

98. Yeshua says: The Sovereignty of the Father is like someone who wishes to slay a prominent person. He drew forth his sword in his house,¹ he thrust it into the wall in order to ascertain whether his hand would prevail. Then he slew the prominent person. (¹asyndeton; ‘the sword of one's mouth’: Isa 49:2, Rev/Ap 1:16)

Matthew 16:6-12 In coming to the other side of the sea, the disciples had forgotten to bring bread. Jesus said to them, "Look out, and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees." They concluded among themselves, saying, "It is because we have brought no bread." When Jesus became aware of this he said, "You of little faith, why do you conclude among yourselves that it is because you have no bread? Do you not yet understand, and do you not remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many wicker baskets you took up? Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many baskets you took up? How do you not comprehend that I was not speaking to you about bread? Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees." Then they understood that he was not telling them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

A Time to Break Silence - By Martin Luther King

"A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death."


In his latest post, my man Submariner asks;

What's in a Name?

Every good kwestin deserves favor. At the risk of making the good brother's Baraka induced enthusiasm even worse than it already is, I'll answer the kwestin directly.

Baraka is also the origin of U.S. politician Barack Obama's first name via Swahili which has been heavily influenced by Arabic.

Baraka is an Arabic term meaning spiritual wisdom and blessing transmitted from God (Arabic: Allah) to any creature that God wishes to bestow it upon. It is also described as "the greater good" derived from any act. In order to bring as much Baraka as possible into one's life, a Muslim should try to come closer to God by doing good deeds, praying/worshipping, helping others, and trying to follow God's commandments. He should also try to develop a close and personal relationship with God by remembering Him, knowing Him, and calling upon Him in his everyday life in the way that was taught by Muhammad through the many prayers and invocations.

Muslims believe that through "sincere invocation of God," and trying to sincerely please Him through good deeds, repentance, and prayer, Baraka can be brought into their lives by God. This is supposed to make things easier, happier, and more blessed in this life, and by God's mercy, in the Hereafter. For Muslims,

Baraka is what God uses to make the impossible possible.

Baraka also refers to the favorable result of any action with the blessing of Allah. It is also a Sufi term referring to a sense of "divine presence" or "charisma."

Baraka is used in contemporary French as a synonym of "luck". A person who has "baraka" is said to be able to emerge unscathed from dangerous situations. This use of the term derives from the time of French colonization in Algeria (1830-1962).

The Sufi practitioners of Islamic interior science are clearest on this subject;
In accordance with the rules of Islam, the true educator of souls (murrabi) is a master authorized (mu’dhun) to lead and orientate all those who commit themselves to this way, which is purification from the faults of the soul, embellishment of noble qualities and arrival at the station of excellence (maqam al-ihsan).

This authorization (idhn) is indispensable for transmitting spiritual education (tarbiyya), just as it was imperative in the past for those who taught religious sciences to have received the permission (ijaza) from the scientists with whom they had studied exoteric sciences.

According to Sufi masters, spiritual authority not only bears witness to the aptitude for guidance, (irshad), and the qualities (akhlaq) on which the capacity to guide is based, but above all, it is thanks to the virtue of this authorization that spiritual influx (baraka) and spiritual practices bear their fruits and awaken the hearts of those who aspire. Also, all those who receive the authorization to preach to men remembrance of God (dhikr) and are the revivers of this religion “receive clear signs from their Lord….” (Qur’an, 6, 57).
Of crucial importance and definite relatedness to the Sufistic term baraka is the Christic metaphor of leaven. I will argue over the next several days and weeks that these are not figurative, but rather, quite literal teachings conveyed to us in the plainest and simplest possible terms.

Sunday, January 20, 2008


"EGREGORE: An engergized astral form produced consciously or unconsciously by human agency. In particular, (a) a strongly characterized form, usually an archetypal image, produced by the imaginative and emotional energies of a religious or magical group collectively, or (b) an astral shape of any kind, deliberately formulated by a magician to carry a specific force.
The Aurum Solis

"The Kabbalah names 72...national angelic regents, which the Hebrews call Elohim; the metaphysical technical term Egregors is also used for them. Derived from the Greek word egreoros, it means "watcher" or "guardian." The office of a Watcher is to protect from outside pressures a region or ethnic group assigned to its care. The region is always measured off from another posing a threat of some sort to it. A given group of persons (the group of those being protected) is "tied" to a certain area of jurisdiction....Here, too, we meet the "riddle of the founding of cities and states...." What is more, both the ancient Romans, and quite recently the Chinese, have recognized the existence of guardian spirits set over cities. Indeed, one author reports as follows on the occult was wages on enemy cities by ancient Rome: "The Romans, when besieging a city, made a habit of carefullly enquiring the name of the city and of its guardian spirit. When they knew these, they would summon the guardian spirit of the city and its inhabitants, and conquer it.

" Willy Schrodter, from: Commentaries on The Occult Philosophy of Agrippa

"Originally, it was human beings who, in union with certain spiritual powers, generated the egregors of science, of medicine, and of Canada or any other country. But, then, they lost control of them; and these egregors directed them in such a way as to make them become unconscious and passive. As soon as an egregor causes blood to flow in any manner whatsoever it soils its inner light with an instinctive power and becomes a negative force of domination."

"The egregors that are created unconsciously, and in fits of passion, live only to destroy, giving birth to instincts of power and domination inside their members. They are the true cause of war and of the conflicts pitting everyone against everyone else."

Olivier Manitara, from: "The Egregor of the Dove and the Triumph of Free Peace"

What is an egregore?

Corporate Metabolism

How much did the 14th Amendment actually get used to benefit African Americans?

Writing fifty years later in 1938, US Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black echoed Lincoln's eleventh-hour realization: "...of the cases in this Court in which the Fourteenth Amendment was applied during the first fifty years after its adoption, less than one-half of one percent invoked it in protection of the negro race, and more than fifty per cent asked that its benefits be extended to corporations... "

The notion that corporations self-organize, self-reproduce, self-maintain, self-perpetuate, etc., should not be a huge conceptual hurdle. Consequently, theory about the phenomenological description of an organism based on ideas about linguistic domain — well, that's a mouthful, but it comes in handy for analyzing the corporate form.

On a related track, a former UCLA professor and noted economic theorist named Kenichi Ohmae specializes in the analysis of emerging globalism. He also predicted (some say "encouraged") at least two recent world financial market crashes. Dr Ohmae has proposed a theory about how corporations operate. Namely, to participate in the global economy circa 2000, a transnational must operate simultaneously in four "dimensions". Dr Ohmae articulates these as the visible dimension, the borderless dimension, the cyber dimension, and the dimension of multiples. These translate, respectively, to the arena of "bricks and mortar" business and social contract, the global markets enjoyed by transnationals, the area of computers and media, and the arbitrage of financial instruments (e.g., currencies, stocks, pensions, etc.) in general.

I propose reframing Ohmae's four "dimensions", stated in terms of linguistic domain along the lines of how I just described where a corporation "lives". In that sense, we find a basis of four domains: social contract, law, media, and arbitrage. We may also borrow a fine set of modeling tools from biology for describing the phenomena of corporate form. Recalling the historical opinion stated earlier, the representation of sublation as a corporate belief structure, and the observed rate of sublation as a reflex mechanism, it is no stretch to talk about corporations in terms of phenomenology and metabolism. Armed with 21st century tools, one can trace the autopoiesis of corporate metabolism quite readily. In particular, they behave in some ways (organization) like sponges, in other ways (reproduction) like bacteria, and in other ways (adaptation) like slime molds.

Again, if you use that notion, cite me. This represents original work here, folks, slime molds and all, unveiled in print for the first time. Paco Xander Nathan - Corporate Metabolism

Bacteria - Masters of the Biosphere

Bacteria have been perceived by most people as disease-causing microbes since the germ theory of contagion caught on. Otherwise they have been largely ignored. Yet had bacteria been discovered on Mars, their description would have been much more dramatic and the bizarre quality of their natural history, which often seems like science fiction, would not have been missed.

The greatest division in the kingdom of the living is NOT between plants and animals, but between “bacteria” and “organisms made of nucleated cells”. (1) Bacteria are called “prokaryotes” and “organisms made of nucleated cells” are named “eukaryotes”.

A third category of tough bacteria living still today are called “archaebacteria”. They are considered to be the direct descendants of the earliest life on earth. Archaebacteria include salt-loving “halophiles”, heat-loving “thermophiles”, and methane-producing “methanogens”. The most important thing to remember about archaebacteria is that they despise oxygen. They prefer to live in anaerobic (oxygen-less) environments, such as on the bottom of the ocean, in sewer water, in the hot springs of Yellowstone National Park, and even in the stomachs of cows. (2) It is easy to understand how these ancient bacteria thrived on earth when there was no or very little oxygen, but a lot of carbon dioxide.

So, how did oxygen get into the atmosphere? Oxygen was only released into the atmosphere when “blue-green bacteria” evolved a way to use energy from sunlight to break apart water molecules to grab their precious hydrogen, explains Margulis. (2) “Combining the hydrogen with carbon atoms drawn from then-abundant carbon dioxide, blue-green bacteria were able to manufacture DNA, proteins, sugars, and all their other cell components. These light-needy bacteria quickly expanded to sunny waters everywhere on the Archean Earth. In so doing, they released vast amounts of molecular oxygen left over from their hydrogen mining of water.” (2) These earliest of bacteria were true innovators! They are the predecessors of plastids in plants, which remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, using carbon for their bodies and eliminating as waste the oxygen we breathe in fresh air.

Bacteria, to repeat, do NOT have a nucleus, which is why they are prokaryotes (which means “before nuclei”) and NOT eukaryotes. Instead, their DNA is loose within their bodies. As a result of this situation, bacteria NEVER reproduce by mitosis, which evolved AFTER the Archean time (in the Proterozoic). “A parent bacterium simply elongates its DNA, dragged by growing membrane to which it is attached, until the full-grown cell splits to form two offspring identical to it,” explains Margulis (p. 94)

Bacteria may not reproduce by mitosis, but they DO trade their DNA very easily. Margulis imagines the Archean Earth as a “promiscuous place of prodigious growth and rapid genetic transfer that led, by and by, to the genetic restrictions of the Proterozoic descendants known as “protists”. (p. 93) Bacteria will sometimes trade naked pieces of DNA called “plasmids” or as protein-coated pieces called “viruses”. [Hmmmm] The way that bacteria trade their DNA is to grow a cell bridge through which the genes pass. This is called “conjugation”. The offspring is a unique genetic recombinant. Bacterial recombination is the rage among biotechnologists who force the colon bacterium Escherichia coli to produce, for example, human insulin by getting the bacteria to take up a particular human gene.

Prokaryotic bacterial cells NEVER fuse (like an egg and sperm). Their genes instead FLOW. Margulis paints a compelling picture of a world in which human genes behaved like prokaryotes: “Imagine you are a blue-eyed person (perhaps with newly acquired green hair) who, in a swimming pool, gulps the more common gene for brown eyes. Toweling off, you pick up genes from sunflowers and pigeons. Soon the brown-eyed you is sprouting petals and flying—eventually reproducing into gliding brown-eyed, green-haired quintuplets. This fantasy is mundane reality in the world of bacteria, except that most genes traded there are for metabolic and subvisible traits.” (p. 96)

1. Lynn Margulis, Dorion Sagan: “What Is Life?” University of California Press, 1995, p. 113.

2. Ibid, p. 89.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Dopamine and Fight Club

New research from Vanderbilt University shows for the first time that the brain processes aggression as a reward – much like sex, food and drugs – offering insights into our propensity to fight and our fascination with violent sports like boxing and football.

The research will be published online the week of Jan. 14 by the journal Psychopharmacology.

“Aggression occurs among virtually all vertebrates and is necessary to get and keep important resources such as mates, territory and food,” Craig Kennedy, professor of special education and pediatrics, said. “We have found that the ‘reward pathway’ in the brain becomes engaged in response to an aggressive event and that dopamine is involved.”

“It is well known that dopamine is produced in response to rewarding stimuli such as food, sex and drugs of abuse,” Maria Couppis, who conducted the study as her doctoral thesis at Vanderbilt, said.

“What we have now found is that it also serves as positive reinforcement for aggression.” The Vanderbilt experiments are the first to demonstrate a link between behavior and the activity of dopamine receptors in response to an aggressive event.

“We learned from these experiments that an individual will intentionally seek out an aggressive encounter solely because they experience a rewarding sensation from it,” Kennedy said. “This shows for the first time that aggression, on its own, is motivating, and that the well-known positive reinforcer dopamine plays a critical role.”

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Wizardology 102 - What is Life?

In 1943, a decade before English biophysicist and crystallographer Rosalind Franklin discerned the fine structure of DNA via X-ray diffraction imaging which formed the framework of Watson and Crick's hypothesis of the double helical structure of DNA in their 1953 publication, one of the original quantum mechanics, Erwin Schrödinger posited an ontogenetic dilemma and offered a novel speculation about the fundamental character of life processes.

In a series of lectures What is Life? – The Physical Aspects of Living Cells (1945), Schrödinger postulated that the answer to this most fundamental question requires a new approach.
A scientist is supposed to have a complete and thorough knowledge, at first hand, of some subjects and, therefore, is usually expected not to write on any topic of which he is not a life master. This is regarded as a matter of noblesse oblige. For the present purpose I beg to renounce the noblesse, if any, and to be the freed of the ensuing obligation. …some of us should venture to embark on a synthesis of facts and theories, albeit with second-hand and incomplete knowledge of some of them -and at the risk of making fools of ourselves. So much for my apology. (Schrödinger 1945, p. vii).....

....Today, thanks to the ingenious work of biologists, mainly of geneticists, during the last 30 or 40 years, enough is known about the actual material structure of organisms and about their functioning to state that, and to tell precisely why present-day physics and chemistry could not possibly account for what happens in space and time within a living organism. (ibid. p. 2).....

What is the characteristic feature of life? When is a piece of matter said to be alive? When it goes on 'doing something', moving, exchanging material with its environment, and so forth, and that for a much longer period than we would expect of an inanimate piece of matter to 'keep going' under similar circumstances. (ibid. p. 70).....

Every process, event, happening – call it what you will; in a word, everything that is going on in Nature means an increase of the entropy of the part of the world where it is going on. Thus a living organism continually increases its entropy – or, as you may say, produces positive entropy – and thus tends to approach the dangerous state of maximum entropy, which is death. It can only keep aloof from it, i.e., alive, by continually drawing from its environment negative entropy...(ibid. p. 72).....

How would we express in terms of the statistical theory the marvelous faculty of a living organism, by which it delays the decay into thermodynamic equilibrium (death)? We said before: 'It feeds upon negative entropy', attracting, as it was a stream of negative entropy upon itself, to compensate the entropy increase it produces by living and thus to maintain itself on a stationary and fairly low entropy level…. Indeed, in the case of higher animals we know the kind of orderliness they feed upon well enough, viz. the extremely well-ordered state of matter in more or less complicated organic compounds, which serve them as foodstuffs. After utilizing it they return it in a very much degraded form -not entirely degraded, however, for plants can still make use of it. (ibid. pp. 74-5)

Focusing on energy, matter and thermodynamic imbalances provided by the environment, Schrödinger proposed the consumption of negative entropy as the fundamental requirement for life, i.e., i.e., the use of thermodynamic imbalances in the environment. Presently, Schrodinger's ontogenetic dilemma is generally considered solved, and his original postulate attributed to the status of knowledge in the pre-DNA era of molecular biology. But the fact of the matter is that the genome-centered paradigm does not satisfactorily address Schrodinger's original intuitions about the nature of life, at all. Despite profound advances in human knowledge of genetic structure, we fundamentally lack a satisfactory framework of explanation for living systems.

Units of Selection and Zero-Sum Games

My man Prof. Lester Spence has set out a smorgasbord of thought for food on the zero-sum psycho-political warfare raging in the American mediaspheres;

What's striking in all of the controversy is that it centers on racial symbols, rather than substance. I believe Clyburn missed a prime opportunity to move the country's focus beyond symbolic slights toward real democratic change -- and this says a great deal about the practice of black politics at the elite level. And the fact that the mainstream media is paying such close attention to the debate over words and symbols says even more about what America thinks of black politics -- that it is more about reducing racial offense and fights over "black leaders" than it is about reducing the real impact of racism on the lives of black citizens, using government to do so.
Not content to leave us sated with the his gourmand's political analysis published at - Spence then wheels out the desert cart so that we can hear a spicy and delectable exchange between his colleague Melissa Harris Lacewell and Gloria Steinem - partisan combatants representing distinct units of selection in the war for American hearts and minds.

For those interested in the rigorous hardline on what's happening in the primaries, there is only one destination.

Accept no substitutes......,

Human Microbiome Project

Now I know that before I even get started here, nobody read the Oxygen Wars, nobody read Gould's Planet of the Bacteria - and nobody read Wizardology 101 so the noodle-baking I really want to put on you - is only going to come out half-baked - if it gets baked any at all.

Be that as it may, I will continue scattering bread crumbs in hopes that somebody attending to this peculiar web log will connect them all up and go AHHH!!!!!

At the end of the day - all it is - is a different angle of approach or perspective from which to view and consider the affairs in which it is broadly and uncritically believed and accepted that we are the agents. What pipsqueak arrogance leads us to conclude, believe, and act as if it were natural and theological law that we are the fundamental units of selection, the sine qua non and center of the implicate order of creation?

Gut Reaction;
For the first time, scientists have defined the collective genome of the human gut, or colon. Up to 100 trillion microbes, representing more than 1,000 species, make up a motley "microbiome" that allows humans to digest much of what we eat, including some vitamins, sugars, and fiber.

In a study published in the June 2 issue of Science, scientists at The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR) and their colleagues describe and analyze the colon microbiome, which includes more than 60,000 genes--twice as many as found in the human genome. Some of these microbial genes code for enzymes that humans need to digest food, suggesting that bacteria in the colon co-evolved with their human host, to mutual benefit.

"The GI tract has the most abundant, diverse population of bacteria in the human body," remarks lead author Steven Gill, a molecular biologist formerly at TIGR and now at the State University of New York in Buffalo. "We're entirely dependent on this microbial population for our well-being. A shift within this population, often leading to the absence or presence of beneficial microbes, can trigger defects in metabolism and development of diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease."
The Human Microbiome Project;
Within the body of a healthy adult, microbial cells are estimated to outnumber human cells by a factor of ten to one. These communities, however, remain largely unstudied, leaving almost entirely unknown their influence upon human development, physiology, immunity, and nutrition. To take advantage of recent technological advances and to develop new ones, the NIH Roadmap has initiated the Human Microbiome Project (HMP) with the mission of generating resources enabling comprehensive characterization of the human microbiota and analysis of its role in human health and disease.

Traditional microbiology has focused on the study of individual species as isolated units. However many, if not most, have never been successfully isolated as viable specimens for analysis, presumably because their growth is dependant upon a specific microenvironment that has not been, or cannot be, reproduced experimentally. Among those species that have been isolated, analyses of genetic makeup, gene expression patterns, and metabolic physiologies have rarely extended to inter-species interactions or microbe-host interactions. Advances in DNA sequencing technologies have created a new field of research, called metagenomics, allowing comprehensive examination of microbial communities, even those comprised of uncultivable organisms. Instead of examining the genome of an individual bacterial strain that has been grown in a laboratory, the metagenomic approach allows analysis of genetic material derived from complete microbial communities harvested from natural environments. In the HMP, this method will complement genetic analyses of known isolated strains, providing unprecedented information about the complexity of human microbial communities.

By leveraging both the metagenomic and traditional approach to genomic DNA sequencing, the Human Microbiome Project will lay the foundation for further studies of human-associated microbial communities.
Just a little food for thought...., are you thinking about it yet? (the picture accompanying this post is of a polished stromatolite in the shape of an egg)

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Dopamine, Dopamine.......,

A dopamine agonist is a compound that activates dopamine receptors, mimicking the effect of the neurotransmitter dopamine.

Tell your doctor if you experience new or increased gambling, sexual, or other intense urges while you take requip.....,

The choice is yours, restless legs or intense urges and impulsivity.....,

Planet of the Bacteria

Planet of the Bacteria;
Not only does the Earth contain more bacterial organisms than all others combined (scarcely surprising, given their minimal size and mass); not only do bacteria live in more places and work in a greater variety of metabolic ways; not only did bacteria alone constitute the first half of life's history, with no slackening in diversity thereafter; but also, and most surprisingly, total bacterial biomass (even at such minimal weight per cell) may exceed all the rest of life combined, even forest trees, once we include the subterranean populations as well. Need any more be said in making a case for the modal bacter as life's constant center of maximal influence and importance?
See also;

One of My Favorite Short Stories

"You have a severe oxygen deficiency, like most people in this time period. Due to pollution and deforestation, right now your atmospheric oxygen levels are at an all-time low, so the oxygen pressure in your blood is insufficient to guard you against oxygen-hating microbes. You become slightly stagnant, and serve as a growth medium for anaerobic parasites. But all pathogens are inherently much weaker than your own cells, which are a lot more highly evolved than viruses, bacteria, fungus and such. So you can always get rid of them by just raising your intemal oxygen concentration above what they can stand."

Bob and the Oxygen Wars Part I

Bob and the Oxygen Wars Part II - Enjoy!!!

Be sure to peep the reference list at the end of Part II. Twenty plus years ago, this reference list pointed me toward fascinating rabbit-holes around the fringe...,

Transgenerational Transgenics

A cloned pig whose genes were altered to make it glow fluorescent green has passed on the trait to its young, a development that could lead to the future breeding of pigs for human transplant organs, a Chinese university reported. The glowing piglets' birth proves transgenic pigs are fertile and able to pass on their engineered traits to their offspring, according to Liu Zhonghua, a professor overseeing the breeding program at Northeast Agricultural University.

"Continued development of this technology can be applied to ... the production of special pigs for the production of human organs for transplant," Liu said in a news release posted Tuesday on the university's Web site.

Calls to the university seeking comment Wednesday were not answered.

The piglets' mother was one of three pigs born with the trait in December 2006 after pig embryos were injected with fluorescent green protein. Two of the 11 piglets glow fluorescent green from their snout, trotters, and tongue under ultraviolet light, the university said.

Robin Lovell-Badge, a genetics expert at Britain's National Institute for Medical Research, said the technology "to genetically manipulate pigs in this way would be very valuable."

Lovell-Badge had not seen the research from China's cloned pigs and could not comment on its credibility. He said, however, that organs from genetically altered pigs would potentially solve some of the problems of rejected organs in transplant operations. He said the presence of the green protein would allow genetically modified cells to be tracked if they were transplanted into a human. The fact that the pig's offspring also appeared to have the green genes would indicate that the genetic modification had successfully penetrated every cell, Lovell-Badge added.

But he said much more research and further trials — both in animals and in humans — would be necessary before the benefits of the technology could be seen.

Other genetically modified pigs have been created before, including by Scotland's Roslin Institute, but few results have been published. Tokyo's Meiji University last year successfully cloned a transgenic pig that carries the genes for human diabetes, while South Korean scientists cloned cats that glow red when exposed to ultraviolet rays.

Remember this article from last week? China offers unproven medical treatments;
Savage spent 2 1/2 months in late 2006 and early 2007 at a hospital in the southern China city of Shenzhen to get what he was told were stem cell injections in his spine from umbilical cord blood. He made the arrangements through Beike Biotechnology Co., which offers the treatments at a number of hospitals in China.
Afterward, Savage said he was able to move his right arm for the first time since his diving accident; a video made at the hospital appears to show slight movement. He also said he noticed greater strength in his abdomen and more sensation on his skin.
Just how many foreigners like Savage are coming to China for treatment isn't known; and China is only one of several countries where such techniques are being offered.
Many Chinese doctors don't wait for results of rigorous testing before treating patients and they offer what they say are stem cell or other cell treatments to those willing to pay.
What is known about the procedures being performed comes from material on their Web sites or from patients who give detailed accounts of their visits. Little has been published in scientific journals for other doctors to scrutinize.
William Gibson was/is the Nostradamus of our time....,