Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Saturday, April 25, 2009
Friday, April 24, 2009
The table is comfortable. The cord is painful. Oww that hurts. Lungs grow and collapse in exertion. Fuck the system. *Bzzzttttt* “Sorry!!...” Fucking Detector *Bzzzttttt* Ow that’s loud. A cord. Long, White. Stretches from without. shhhhh…it’s ok Velvet. Everything will be alright. You and me, it’s going to be you and me. The five fingered hand, flawless in dimension, removes the cord deftly. Her heart beats fast. Fear settles in. His mind… wavers only slightly. Imperceptible.
“I will now read you the results. Your fetus has failed to meet the requirement for minimum age projection. Your DNA history indicates that your fetus will need knee surgery before her projected death. You are you only fetus’ progenitor around to care for her. Your psych-analytical history indicates that your fetus will fear commitment. Your fetus has failed to meet the requirements for life. Your fetus will be aborted within the hour. Wait here.”
The shield is formed. The door is locked. Her heart beats at an impossible pace. Her mind hangs between oblivion and anger. No. Everything was going to be fine. I passed the test. Velvet should have passed the test. We have a perfect line. Fuck water! *Bzzzttttt* She doesn’t need a fucking father. The buzzing rings on endlessly now “Velvet, everything is going to be fine. It was just a mistake. They made a mistake.” A pause endures her thoughts. Her breathe grows short. “Come on, let’s get out of here.”
She pulls a pin out from her hair. She touches the pin to the door. The door evaporates, and she steps out of her subjective prison. White halls. Stripes line the walls. They appear red to her; her interpretation. Rhythmic beats echo off the walls. The vibrations grow closer to her.
Fuck. I can’t go back. She knows that the door across the hall is unlocked. She enters the room unnoticed. Another woman stares at her, surprised at the chances, but not at the happening. She knows why the intruder is here.
“You have to help me…” Silence, “Please”
“What is wrong?” The woman mocks her. She knows why the woman pleads help.
“My baby has been rejected, but she shouldn’t have been. It was expected she would pass the test.” The woman glances behind her in anticipation. “I passed the test, my line has passed the test, why didn’t my baby pass the test…It was a mistake.” She was shouting now. The sounds don’t reach the halls.
“Ok. That is unfortunate for you. But it is the way it is. It was no mistake. They don’t make mistakes. We don’t make mistakes. Your fetus would make mistakes.”
“Don’t call it a fetus!” She was shouting again. “My baby girl is Velvet. She will be beautiful. She will be strong.”
The silence between them was brief. She was getting impatient.
“Please…” “You have to help me save Velvet.” “What if your baby was rejected? What would you do? What would you think?”
“My baby was not ‘rejected.' She was accepted today.”
“But what if she wasn’t? What if she was rejected like Velvet?”
“She wouldn’t be though. The system doesn’t fail. The system passed my son because we are both qualified and fit to live within…”
A primordial scream. Anger. “Are you kidding me?!” “What right does the system have to decide who lives and dies?”
“Every right; the air you breathe, the land you sleep on, the currency you consume. Everything you have, everything you know is there because the system provides it for you.”
She is attempting logic.
“Is anything wrong with you? Do you have any defects that affect your life?”
“I have asthma, so I can’t run far.”
“Ok, imagine for a second that the defect asthma was enough to reject you before you were born. Would you still believe in the system?”
“But it isn’t enough. I am perfect in nearly every other way. The system is glad to have me. I am a cog in a wheel that lives to perpetuate the society we both live in today.”
“Is there nothing I can say, nothing I can do, that will make you help my daughter survive this day?”
“Leave my room.” Distant. Indifferent.
The woman presses a panel to her left. An echoing sound begins to permeate the walls. They hear the noise and know.
“I hope your son has a good life.”
The stripes have grown a deeper red. She begins to run, to sprint down the halls. Every door she passes is locked. Every hallway is barred. The rhythmic sound of chasing grows closer. Vents are inaccessible. Her heart is reaching its limit. She doesn’t want her daughter to die. She wants to see her daughter grow. She wants to see her grandchildren. Tears begin to stream down her face. She has reached a dead end. There is nowhere to go. Her heartbeat has matched the rhythm of her pursuers.
The pursuers have slowed now. They have reached their destination. The man who tested her earlier approaches. Forearms perpendicular to his body, palms parallel.
The man speaks. “Hey, it’s ok now.” She looks confused. Her eyes burn, refusing to blink, her back pressed tightly against the wall.
“We did the test again. It is system policy. Your fetus has been chosen to live.” She catches his eye. He is lying. He is tricking me.
There air is tense.
He is patient. He is saving me… She doesn’t know what to think. She doesn’t want to believe it.
He is the system. The system doesn’t make mistakes.
The man is speaking “Don’t fret. Your child will be safe. Your daughter will be ok.”
The fire is dying down. Her back begins to sag. Lungs expand. Lungs collapse. A sigh. Relief.
The man reaches out. An offering.
Hands embrace. Warmth. Comfort.
Her other hand goes to her stomach. She whispers. “Everything will be alright. You and me, it’s going to be you and me. “
The stripes turn # 9cc5e5.
Explaining the ending
The #9cc5e5 is a computer hexadecimal color code. It is a light-grey blue. I was indicating that the narrator of the entire story was a computer. The building itself was watching her actions and narrating and describing what was going on. That is why the story was told in present tense.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
an article from Johns Hopkins University http://www.jhsph.edu/
June 24, 2004
Researcher Dispels Myth of Dioxins and Plastic Water Bottles
|Rolf Halden, PhD, PE|
The Internet has been flooded with false email warnings to avoid freezing water in plastic bottles so as not to get exposed to carcinogenic dioxins. One hoax email has been erroneously attributed to Johns Hopkins University since the spring of 2004. The Office of Communications and Public Affairs discussed the issue with Rolf Halden, PhD, PE, assistant professor in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences and the Center for Water and Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Dr. Halden received his masters and doctoral degrees researching dioxin contamination in the environment. We sat down with him to set the record straight on dioxins in the food supply and the risks associated with drinking water from plastic bottles and cooking with plastics.
Question: What are dioxins?
Answer: Dioxins are organic environmental pollutants sometimes referred to as the most toxic compounds made by mankind. They are a group of chemicals, which include 75 different chlorinated molecules of dibenzo-p-dioxin and 135 chlorinated dibenzofurans. Some polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) also are referred to as dioxin-like compounds. Exposure to dioxins can cause chloracne, a severe form of skin disease, as well as reproductive and developmental effects, and more importantly, liver damage and cancer.
Question: Where do dioxins come from?
Answer: We always thought dioxins were man-made compounds produced inadvertently during the bleaching of pulp and manufacturing of pesticides like Agent Orange and other chlorinated aromatics. But dioxins in sediments from lakes and oceans predate these human activities. It is now generally accepted that a principal source of dioxins are various combustion processes, including natural events such as wild fires and even volcanic eruptions.
Today, the critical issue is the incineration of waste, particularly the incineration of hospital waste, which contains a great deal of polyvinyl chloride and aromatic compounds that can serve as dioxin precursors. One study examined the burning of household trash in drums in the backyard. It turns out that these small burnings of debris can put out as much or more dioxins as a full-sized incinerator burning hundreds of tons of refuse per day. The incinerators are equipped with state-of-the-art emission controls that limit dioxin formation and their release into the environment, but the backyard trash burning does not. You set it ablaze and chemistry takes over. What happens next is that the dioxins are sent into the atmosphere where they become attached to particles and fall back to earth. Then they bind to, or are taken up, by fish and other animals, where they get concentrated and stored in fat before eventually ending up on our lunch and dinner plates. People are exposed to them mostly from eating meat and fish rich in fat.
Question: What do you make of this recent email warning that claims dioxins can be released by freezing water in plastic bottles?
Answer: No. This is an urban legend. There are no dioxins in plastics. In addition, freezing actually works against the release of chemicals. Chemicals do not diffuse as readily in cold temperatures, which would limit chemical release if there were dioxins in plastic, and we don’t think there are.
Question: So it’s okay for people to drink out of plastic water bottles?
Answer: First, people should be more concerned about the quality of the water they are drinking rather than the container it’s coming from. Many people do not feel comfortable drinking tap water, so they buy bottled water instead. The truth is that city water is much more highly regulated and monitored for quality. Bottled water is not. It can legally contain many things we would not tolerate in municipal drinking water.
Question: Water bottles aside, are plastics products for daily use a potential concern? What are phthalates?
Answer: Having said this, there is another group of chemicals, called phthalates. Phthalates are sometimes added to plastics to make them flexible and less brittle, although they are not typically found in plastics used for water bottles sold in the United States. Phthalates are environmental contaminants that can exhibit hormone-like behavior by acting as endocrine disruptors in humans and animals. If you heat up plastics, you could increase the leaching of phthalates from the containers into water and food.
Question: What about cooking with plastics?
Answer: In general, whenever you heat something you increase the likelihood of pulling chemicals out. Chemicals can be released from plastic packaging materials like the kinds used in some microwave meals. Some drinking straws say on the label “not for hot beverages.” Most people think the warning is because someone might be burned. If you put that straw into a boiling cup of hot coffee, you basically have a hot water extraction going on, where the chemicals in the straw are being extracted into your nice cup of coffee. We use the same process in the lab to extract chemicals from materials we want to analyze.
If you are cooking with plastics or using plastic utensils, the best thing to do is to follow the directions and only use plastics that are specifically meant for cooking. Inert containers are best, for example heat-resistant glass, ceramics and good old stainless steel.
Question: Is there anything else you want to add?
Answer: Don’t be afraid of drinking water. It is very important to drink adequate amounts of water and, by the way that’s in addition to all the coffee, beer and other diuretics we love to consume. Unless you are drinking really bad water, you are more likely to suffer from the adverse effects of dehydration than from the minuscule amounts of chemical contaminants present in your water supply. Relatively speaking, the risk from exposure to microbial contaminants is much greater than that from chemicals.
And here’s one more uncomfortable fact. Each of us already carries a certain body burden of dioxins regardless of how and what we eat. If you look hard enough, you’ll find traces of dioxins in pretty much every place on earth. Paracelsus the famous medieval alchemist, used to put it straight and simple: it’s the dose that makes the poison.--Tim Parsons
Public Affairs media contact for the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health: Tim Parsons at 410-955-6878 or email@example.com.
Sunday, April 19, 2009
Friday, April 17, 2009
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
"TEXAS GOV. BACKS RESOLUTION AFFIRMING SOVEREIGNTY"
AUSTIN – Gov. Rick Perry joined state Rep. Brandon Creighton and sponsors of House Concurrent Resolution (HCR) 50 in support of states’ rights under the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
“I believe that our federal government has become oppressive in its size, its intrusion into the lives of our citizens, and its interference with the affairs of our state,” Gov. Perry said. “That is why I am here today to express my unwavering support for efforts all across our country to reaffirm the states’ rights affirmed by the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. I believe that returning to the letter and spirit of the U.S. Constitution and its essential 10th Amendment will free our state from undue regulations, and ultimately strengthen our Union.”
Perry continued: "Millions of Texans are tired of Washington, DC trying to come down here to tell us how to run Texas."
A number of recent federal proposals are not within the scope of the federal government’s constitutionally designated powers and impede the states’ right to govern themselves. HCR 50 affirms that Texas claims sovereignty under the 10th Amendment over all powers not otherwise granted to the federal government.
It also designates that all compulsory federal legislation that requires states to comply under threat of civil or criminal penalties, or that requires states to pass legislation or lose federal funding, be prohibited or repealed.
It didn't really turn out at all the way I had intended. But it was good enough I guess, since I submitted it 15 minutes before it was due.
I love ants. The way they move, the way they are organized into small squadrons. Alpha team, apple, Beta team, chocolate. They don’t take “no” for an answer. Their queen is a magnificent beauty, a piece of nature that exudes eloquence, dominance. This world is her world. These ants are her empire.
I played with my friends today at school. I don’t like Tommy, though; he is mean to me, more so than anyone else, even though I didn’t do anything to him. Why are people mean?
Today was a really good day. I talked to Hannah for a while during recess. I really like being around her. She has cute pigtails. I think Tommy maybe likes her too, he doesn’t look happy when I talk to her.
I cried today, Tommy was swinging with Hannah, it really upset me. Why does Hannah even want to swing with Tommy? He just pretends to be nice to her.
I noticed something really cool today. My ants avoid obstacles. I put a rock in front of a squadron and they went right around it. I then made a little maze for them, it took longer for them to get to their colony, but it was fun to watch. It was really fun to see how I could alter their path.
I ate lunch today with Hannah. She doesn’t like ants very much, but that is ok. She said they are creepy. We both enjoy art though, and she likes cats, which is cool.
It rained today like it rarely does. I played in the puddles a little while with Hannah before my dad came and picked me up. Tommy walked with Hannah today to the bus. I wish I rode the bus. I’m going to ask my dad if he’ll let me.
Today was a really good day. Tommy was sick and I spent recess with Hannah. I also took the bus today. Although it was fun, I didn’t get to sit next to Hannah; she sat with her friend Ashley.
Tommy was back at school today. He was being really stupid. He was making fun of the lunch my dad made me. I wanted to say something, but Hannah sat down right when he finished. Tommy makes me really angry, I wish he wasn’t mean, it ruins my day.
Why does Tommy exist? Ashley was sick today so he sat with Hannah today on the way home from school. Why does Hannah like him? She even laughs at his jokes.
I am sick. I didn’t get to see Hannah today. I bet Tommy rode home with her on the bus. I hate thinking about Tommy being with her, he makes me angry.
I skipped school today. I faked being sick so I didn’t have to go. I played with the ants though. I really enjoy making them go through mazes I create for them. Why should nature be the only thing that affects their path?
Today sucked. I didn’t get to hang out with Hannah at all. Instead, she played with Tommy and Ashley. Ashley likes Tommy too now. I wish people would see Tommy the way I do. He doesn’t care about them. He only pretends.
Church was annoying again, but at least I played with my ants today. They follow my path willingly. They don’t ask, “Why should I go around this rock?”
Hannah was being really cute today, she laughed at one of my jokes.
Why does Tommy exist? I asked Hannah if she wanted to come over this weekend, but she said she was going to Tommy’s birthday party. I bet he wants to be alone with her.
I guess most people are going to Tommy’s party. It’s ok, I’ll just play with my ants.
Hannah and Tommy played all day. I was wondering what would happen if Tommy wasn’t around anymore. I would be the only one Hannah would play with.
While playing today during recess, I discovered a really big hole behind the playground. My ants would go into the hole if I desired them to, why shouldn’t anyone else?
Tommy wouldn’t play with me today. I was going to have him play near the hole, but he didn’t want to, he played all recess with Hannah instead.
I discovered today that my ants go into any hole I want them to.
My ants ignored me today. I was seeing if they would go into fire, but they completely avoided it. They knew there was danger. Why didn’t they trust me?
Tommy fell into the hole today. I was playing with Hannah on the monkey bars. I told Tommy that she had dropped her hair thing in the leaves. He went to get it and fell in. Hannah was really upset that he fell into the hole. She went to the nurses with him to see if he was ok.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Monday, April 13, 2009
Exercise and Muscle Type
Have you ever wondered why some people can run a mile at lightning speed (this is code for something like a 4-minute mile) whereas the majority of us would be ecstatic to run a mile in as fast as, say, eight minutes, even after considerable training? Or why some people can bench press twice their body weight whereas most of us would be pleased to be able to bench an amount merely equal to our body weight? There are a great many factors that explain the large variability in people’s ability to excel in different types of athletic events. For example, motivation, eating and sleeping habits, training habits, and body size and shape all contribute to athletic success. As it turns out, however, genetic predisposition likely plays the greatest role in determining potential in athletic events. One of the most important genetic factors determining exercise performance is the type of muscles that predominant in the body. A student recently emailed a couple of questions related to muscle type and exercise performance. To paraphrase, she first wonders whether the muscles of endurance athletes (long-distance runners and triathletes, for example) are different from those of strength athletes (for example, power lifters, body builders, and track sprinters). If so, she wonders whether specific training can change one’s muscle fibers from one type to the other.
Whole muscles are actually composed of thousands upon thousands of individual muscle fibers, or muscle cells. Generally speaking, human muscle fibers come in one of three different types. Type I fibers are predominately used for endurance activities or for activities that do not require a high amount of force output. For example, activities such as walking, jogging, hiking, and sitting up straight rely heavily on type I muscle fibers. Type IIb muscle fibers are at the other end of the extreme; they are designed to generate a whole lot of force and power but have a limited ability to contract repeatedly for extended periods of time. These muscle fibers are used for activities requiring speed, strength, and power. Finally, type IIa muscle fibers are a combination of both type I and type IIb fibers. Thus, they are able to contract for long periods of time but also at a fairly high force output; sort of like the best of both worlds. As it turns out, most of the muscles in the majority of humans are composed of about 50% type I fibers and 50% type II fibers (~25% type IIa and 25% type IIb). Every so often, however, somebody comes into this world with a genetically unbalanced proportion of type I or type II muscle fibers. It is these people who have the greatest ability to excel in either endurance sports or strength sports. The strongest, most muscular person you know probably has more type II fibers than type I. Similarly, the very best distance runner you know likely has a greater percentage of type I fibers compared with type II fibers. As we often say in the exercise world, “the best athletes simply chose the right parents!”
Here is a very important point: even though most people have a nearly equal proportion of type I and type II muscle fibers, the characteristics of the muscle fibers are able to change depending on the stresses placed on them. This means that regular exercise will actually make muscle fibers – all three muscle fiber types – more able to exercise for longer periods of time. Essentially, muscles will adapt and change with training. This is one of the major reasons that regular exercise improves the ability to exercise. The point is that anybody can exercise, and everybody’s muscles will improve through regular exercise.
Ok, but can one muscle fiber type be converted to a different fiber type through training? Perhaps, to a point. There is evidence that both type I and type IIb fibers can become very like type IIa fibers (the intermediate type fibers) with regular exercise training. Endurance training might cause an increase in type IIa fibers with a decrease in type IIb fibers, whereas strength training might cause a decrease in type I fibers along with an increase in type IIa fibers. However, a complete shift of type I muscle fibers to type IIb, or type IIb fibers to type I is less likely. The take home point is that regular exercise DOES cause changes in the muscles used during the exercise, and everybody has the ability to change their muscle with increased activity. Changes in muscle structure and function are one of the most important reasons that your ability to exercise improves when you exercise regularly. So get out there and make your muscles better!
Breathing is Fun
For today’s column, I would like to write a bit about breathing. In fact, breathing is one of my favorite topics to discuss. I enjoy breathing very much, especially during exercise when my muscles not only demand more oxygen but also produce much more carbon dioxide that must be exhaled by the lungs. As a fun experiment, try holding your breath the next time you exercise or even walk up the stairs; you will feel the need to breathe much sooner than you would if you were sitting down and resting.
One of the neatest features of breathing is that we do it automatically without thinking about it; our brainstem sends out a regular neurological signal to the diaphragm instructing it to contract regularly and rhythmically: it does this approximately eight times each minute during resting conditions. Furthermore, during exercise the neural output to the diaphragm increases in frequency; this causes our breathing rate/frequency to increase. Again, though, this occurs without conscious thought and without our consciously “telling” or “willing” our respiratory muscles to contract.
An even neater aspect of breathing is that, unlike virtually all other automatic behaviors in the body, breathing can be consciously controlled. One can either increase or decrease their breathing rate and depth at will. In essence, the automatic and involuntary nature of breathing can be overridden by the voluntary brain.
This automatic vs. controlled aspect of breathing is very germane to exercise. In some cases, controlled breathing is inherent in the type of exercise being performed. Yoga, for example, is a type of physical activity in which manipulating breathing in phase with body movements is inherent to the practice. As another example, swimming necessitates controlled breathing so that inhalation always occurs when the mouth and nose are out of the water. Thus, there are physical activities in which controlling ones breathing is either inherent in the activity being performed or necessary for successful participation in the activity.
How about breathing during most types of aerobic exercise, such as walking, hiking, running, and cycling? The best rule of thumb is to simply allow your brainstem control your breathing on its own, without your conscious manipulation of breathing depth or rate. This advice is sometimes at odds with ideas and views that people have expressed to me in the past. For example, many people have been taught to breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth during exercise. At very low exercise intensities (such as walking on a flat surface), breathing in through the nose will likely not be a problem. As exercise intensity increases to a certain level, however, it becomes difficult, and eventually impossible, to inhale exclusively through the nose at a high enough rate to sustain exercise. As an analogy, imagine trying to force an equal amount of air through a straw – analogous to your nose – and through a garden hose – analogous to your nose and mouth. The larger hose will be able to accommodate far greater airflow rates than the much smaller straw. Also, consciously inhibiting your breathing during exercise will absolutely not allow you to exercise faster or longer. If anything, inhibiting breathing will cause decreased blood oxygen levels and decrease your exercise capability. So, when you exercise, breathe through your nose and mouth, and refrain from inhibiting your breathing.
Finally, how should one breathe during weight-lifting exercise? The rules change a bit here. First, the need for oxygen during resistance exercise (i.e., lifting weights, pushups, pull-ups, etc.) is significantly less than during aerobic exercise, so the necessary increase in breathing is comparatively minimal. When performing resistance exercise, the suggestion is to exhale during the “lifting” phase of the exercise, or the phase during which the muscles are doing more work (e.g., straightening the arms during the bench press). Thus, one should inhale during the “descending” or relaxation phase, although the muscles should absolutely never truly relax during resistance exercise. In this case, then, breathing is controlled during the movement. One more important word on resistance training: concentrate on avoiding valsalva maneuvers, which can lead to increased blood pressure. A valsalva maneuver is technically defined as an expiration against a closed glottis. In layman’s terms, it is essentially a contraction of the abdominal muscles with the upper airway (i.e., throat) closed. In even more layman’s terms, it is what you do when you are on the toilet…Try not to do this during exercise; the increases in blood pressure that a valsalva maneuver causes might be bad for the heart and blood vessels.
So get out there and use your body, and enjoy the feeling of increasing your ventilation and using your lungs while you’re at it.
Sunday, April 12, 2009
Friday, April 10, 2009
Colbert clearly was the way i voted, and apparently others agreed and it did get the most votes. tuesday comes the announcement of the name nasa will choose on the colbert report.
Thursday, April 9, 2009
But while I studied the poem and wrote my essay, I listened to grooveshark, naturally, and probably listened to a few hundred songs. I'm in this whole exploratory phase of music listening because I'm disappointed my most music I come across these days. Some of the bands I listened to included: smashing pumpkins, taken by the trees, talking heads, and sly and the family stone. I also listened to a ton of others that I can't remember. Anyway, in my listening, I ran across a few songs I liked enough to favorite and figured I'd post them here.
"Mother" is one of my absolute favorite songs right now. As is "The Beginning is the End of The Beginning." I discovered this pumpkins song in a trailer for Watchmen. The last three songs on the list I'm definitely a fan of and are about as close to Top 40 that I'll come. Enjoy.
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Monday, April 6, 2009
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
There is a some very crude language and drug references