Wednesday, November 25, 2015


The American Chemistry Society has been recently quoted that the brain has a surge of activity, like consciousness, after one dies.

Even after clinical death, your brain probably keeps ticking on for a while. According to recent studies, the brain appears to undergo a final surge — in a way that would normally be associated with consciousness, says a story in The Independent (UK).

It may be that the surge might be responsible for near death experiences. Studies have supported that hypothesis — though scientists are still entirely unsure why the surge happens, or what it signifies.

Then comes biological death. And it’s not clear what happens next.

There’s little way of knowing what happens after all that is over, because people tend not to come back.

In some near death experiences, patients have various recollections of what happened to them.

“"Pure, perfect, uninterrupted sleep, no dreams,” wrote one.

But others described more vivid experiences that apparently hinted at an afterlife.

"I was standing in front of a giant wall of light,” wrote another. “It stretched up, down, left and right as far as I could see. Kind of like putting your eyes 6" from a fluorescent light bulb.

“The next memory I have is waking up in the hospital."

Every culture has its origin stories and its view of a human life cycle. Many believe that the human body is merely a vessel which contains a hidden soul, a non-organic, invisible component that makes life possible. One could speculate that the final brain activity is the soul launching itself from the human body into the next level of existence.

It is a mystery why the brain would have a final surge after the moment of death. Logically, one could understand a brain and person having one last gasp for life before death. But the human body has many redundant systems that we do not fully understand. For example, the human heart beat is both controlled by electro-nerve stimulation and chemical stimulation. If a person's heart nerves are severed (such as in a heart transplant), the new heart will beat because of the body's chemical signals to it. Perhaps the brain has the same redundancy - - - nerve endings may cease before the chemical reactions that cause neuron stimulation.

But this finding is still another mystery of life which we cannot fully comprehend. 

Monday, November 23, 2015


The question of life is never ending.

Even in our modern culture, in stories like Star Wars, there is a belief in a "life force." recently reported that archeologists have found evidence of an ancient Mayan ritual which focused on a belief in human life force and the requirement to feed their gods.
  An ancient arrowhead with human blood on it points to a Maya bloodletting ceremony in which a person's "life force" fed the gods, two researchers say.

The ceremony took place around 500 years ago in a temple in Guatemala. During the ceremony someone was cut open — possibly through the earlobes, tongue or genitals — with an arrowhead made of obsidian (a volcanic glass), and their blood was spilled.

The Mayans believed that each person had a "life force" and that bloodletting allowed this life force to nourish the gods. "The general consensus (among scholars) is that bloodletting was 'feeding' the gods with the human essential life force," said Prudence Rice, a professor emeritus at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale.

"We know Mayas also participated in bloodletting as a part of birth or coming-of-age ceremonies," said Nathan Meissner, a researcher at the Center for Archaeological Investigations at Southern Illinois University. "This practice served to endow with a soul future generations and connect their life force to those of past ancestors."
Whoever gave their blood may have done so voluntarily and probably survived the ceremony, Rice said.

This life force ceremony was one of many discoveries made in a study published recently by Meissner and Rice in the Journal of Archaeological Science. For the study, they examined 108 arrowheads from five sites in the central Petén region of Guatemala. All the sites had been excavated within the last 20 years and all the arrowheads date to between A.D. 1400 and A.D. 1700.
Using a technique called counter-immunoelectrophoresis they were able to detect the remains of ancient blood on 25 of the arrowheads and identify the types of species they came from. Two of the arrowheads had human blood, while the others held blood from a mix of animals, including rodents, birds, rabbits and large cats.

During the lab procedure, proteins are removed from the arrowheads and tests are conducted to see if the proteins react to serums containing the antibodies of different animals. If a reaction occurs, then it means the proteins from the arrowhead may be from the animal whose antibodies are being tested. 
This technique "has been used occasionally in the last decade, but has some limitations because of cost, its potential for contamination, and its success rate," Meissner said. 

Quite often, ancient proteins don't survive the passage of time and the reactions don't always allow scientists to identify the precise species. For instance, while the researchers were able to tell that four of the arrowheads were coated with the blood of rodents, they couldn't identify what type of rodents were killed.

In the study, the researchers found that two arrowheads had human blood on them. The second arrowhead with human blood was discovered inside an old house near a fortification wall at Zacpetén. Impact damage on the arrowhead suggests it hit a person.

The researchers aren't clear on the story behind this arrowhead. A wounded individual (perhaps someone who was defending the site) may have been carried into the house, where the arrowhead was removed. "There are multiple accounts of Mayas surviving arrow injuries, which could mean they were brought back embedded in living individuals," Meissner said.

Another possibility is that the arrowhead hit someone in a skirmish and the arrow itself was then recycled. "The arrow could have been retrieved from a skirmish and brought back to the residence to reuse the arrow shaft, thus discarding the tip," Meissner said.

Modern man has the arrogance to view ancient civilizations as primitive cultures. However, these cultures had very sophisticated belief systems on par with most modern religions. Their viewpoint of the human spirit and the afterlife has not been determined to be false by modern science. A "life force" or soul is the center piece for trying to understand what happens to us when our mortal time ceases to exist. It remains the ultimate question of what is life?

Thursday, November 19, 2015


Women struggle to find a man who will be the man of her dreams; but as a child the man who made her young dreams come true was her father.

The one man in their life that's holding women back from other men in your life is the shadow of your father.

Growing up is not easy. Parent-child dynamic is complex.

Parents have the greatest influence on how you will grow up. They will form the values, principles and morals that will be the center of your adult core. During childhood,  parents have absolute power over you, and they're the defining influence in your life (and love life) during your formative years.
Fathers often are seen as the disciplinary, the voice of reason and punishment.

If one grows up with relationship issues with one's parents, it can leak into other parts of life.

LOST was filled with women with "daddy issues," which describes a woman's intimacy problems with men as a result of conflict with her father.

It's a concept that makes sense intuitively, but is difficult to explain in words but instinctively generalize.

Sociologists have concluded that many young women come into greater-than-normal conflict with  their fathers growing up, and those issues are transformed in how they deal with other men in the future. Most people can overcome it, depending on the severity of the situation. Others struggle.

Here are some signs a woman might be the latter.

1. You don't trust men.

It's not easy to truth others when the first, most important man to enter your life breaks that trust. Think about how hard it is to trust a partner after you've been cheated on. Broken trust causes people to guard themselves more closely in the future, lest you be hurt again.

2. You generalize men.

Look at your Facebook or Twitter feed and count how many times you see a variation of the phrase "All men are jerks." Most everyone would agree that all people are different. You have to take each person on a case-by-case basis. But if you spent most of your early life dealing with a "jerk," every time you encounter another one it reinforces a bias viewpoint toward all men. 

The problem is, your experience is heavily weighted in your mind toward the jerk example, and it would take tons and tons of great guys to tip the scales in the other direction ... an amount that will likely never happen if everybody is a coin-flip.

3. You need constant attention — positive and negative.

People who miss out on attention from one parent early in life tend to seek it out in others. It can be destructive because you'll take attention however you can get it. Like a child who acts out to get their parents to notice, you can hurt yourself and others.

If your father was aloof or otherwise ignored you growing up, you might be overly needy in a relationship. You can lash out to get your partner's attention when you feel you aren't getting enough of the conventional kind. You may seek out love from strangers in the hope of finding happiness. But this may be another form of negative reinforcement since you cannot find a suitable replacement for the void of your father in your adult life.

4. You're overly defensive.

A common response to pain is to recede into a shell. You can't be hurt if you never put your heart out there. Having a poor relationship with your father may lead you to not let other men get close to you emotionally.

The consequences of this on your love life are far-reaching. Do you never take the "next step" in a relationship? Do you bail at the first sign of trouble? Do you go cold when he wants to get closer?

5. You have trouble committing.

You've seen the fallout of bad relationships and you want no part of it. Whether it's the way your father treated your mother, or your personal relationship with him, you just know what happens when things go badly.

The truth is, it's hard to remember that everybody and every situation is different. Just because your parents got divorced and hated each other doesn't mean that you'll suffer the same fate.

6. You tend to prefer much older men.

In a subconscious effort to reconcile your relationship with your father, you may have a habit of pursuing much older men. You see someone reminiscent of your father showering you with love and attention, and it compensates for that deficit in your relationship with your father in some way.

Monday, November 16, 2015


One of the themes and problems in LOST was how it treated relationships. Many viewers were confused by the choices the writers gave to the final couples in the sideways church. Some people were meant to be with each other, others were not.

A huge amount of social and scientific resources have been spent on trying to figure out the complexities of social relationships. Why people connect. Why people are attracted to each other. Why people fall in and out of love.

It does seem our modern experience does center around attraction. But attraction is a nebulous concept. It is hard to define. It is part emotional bond and instinctive reaction. It may be more superficial than deeply lasting affection.

One way to define ATTRACTION  is:

A: Acceptance

T: Time

T: Trust

R: Respect

A: Admiration

C: Counsel

T: Touch

I: Intelligence

O: Overtness

N: Nurturing

No one can really argue that these ten relationship traits are the foundation for strong bonds between couples. If one adds the modifier "mutual" to each one of these traits, then there is no question there is an unbreakable bond of love.

Sometimes it is easier to accept someone else than to accept yourself. Every individual wants to be accepted for who they are - - - because trying to "fake" it through life is too time consuming and emotionally draining. Everyone has faults, flaws and quirks. Accepting the whole person instead one or two minor issues is the first step on the path to happiness.

Time is an extremely limited and precious commodity that most people take for granted in their lives until it is too late. Spending time with some one you care about is more valuable than working to exhaustion for a couple extra bucks. Time together, even in the dark silence of movie theater, is an expression of commitment.

People are born with instincts to fear the unknown, and to distrust "new" things that could hurt them. Trust must be earned. Trust must be respected. Trust is that the person you care about will be there for you; stand by your side; have your back; fight for you and trust you to make the right decisions.

Respect is also earned. It is important to respect  the person your partner is, what they believe in, being non-judgmental and being kind are all moons orbiting the space of Trust. Do not regrade the other; treat people like you want to be treated.

Admiration is the pleasurable assurance that your partner is doing well. Any supportive gesture goes a long way in smoothing out the highs and lows in any relationship. The effort put into a relationship is just as important as the end result.

Counsel is related to the openness and honesty in a good relationship. You should not have to hesitate in asking the other person questions. You should be able to ask or tell the other person anything that is on your mind without fear of anger or reprisal. You should look to your partner as a best friend and confidant, who can help you make decisions which are in your best interests.

Touch is important because science has shown that in human behavior, non-verbal cues are more important than words. A kiss, a stroke of hair, holding hands speak volumes about the state of the bonds in a relationship. The transformation to the  physical aspect of love make two individuals into one being has been discussed for thousands of years. Compatibility, fun and pleasure are the benefits of a full and healthy relationship.

Overtness is openness and honesty in a relationship. Hiding secrets or feelings are destructive hidden landmines that couples can set which can suddenly destroy what is good between them.

Nurturing is the care for and encouragement  the growth or development of another person, physically, mentally, emotionally, professionally and personally. It is the unconditional support of another person who is trying to find their way, expand their horizons, seeking their dreams or yearning to accomplish goals. This is the glue that will cement any solid relationship.

Thursday, November 12, 2015


It's something everyone suspected, but now it's official: The under-30 crowd is addicted to their cell phones.

Those are the findings of a new survey, which showed that as millennials spend more time engaged on social media platforms, it's causing them to be less social in real life. The study, conducted by Flashgap, a photo-sharing application with more than 150,000 users, found that 87 percent of millennials admitted to missing out on a conversation because they were distracted by their phone.

Meanwhile, 54 percent said they experience a fear of missing out if not checking social networks.

Nearly 3,000 participants were asked about how they felt about social media in social settings, and found that the guiltiest culprits are often females. The study found 76 percent of females check social media platforms at least 10 times when out with friends, compared with 54 percent of males.

The most commonly used apps mentioned in social settings among millennials were Snapchat, Tinder, Facebook, Messenger and Instagram.

Julian Kabab, co-founder of FlashGap said that people are too focused on looking at social media when they're out at events, and it may be costing them in social interaction. "People miss out on parties because they want to see what's going on, on social networks, take beautiful selfies and add filters to their pictures," he told CNBC.

It especially becomes a problem when there is alcohol involved and regrets the next morning. The survey found that 71 percent of users regret posting a picture on a social network after more than three drinks.

FlashGap's findings echo a similar study conducted in 2014, where research suggested that cell phones were increasingly undermining personal interactions.  A West Virginia University report said that "the presence of mobile technologies has the potential to divert individuals from face-to-face exchanges, thereby undermining the character and depth of these connections." 

Concerns are growing that the practical impact of mobile device use is making humans more interested in their online lives, and less interested in each other. Yet Kebab told CNBC his intent for FlashGap was to help millenials make their experiences more relevant in real life.

One of the reasons so many young people are drawn into social media circles is that they have less and less real interaction with their peers. If they are on a school sports team, they practice and play everyday so there is little to no time to interact with other kids. If they are study demons, they have little time to interact with anyone except their study group. The ease of quick instant messaging has eased the vacuum of forced scheduling of student lives has on their socialization.

One LOST fan theory was that the entire premise of the show was that it was really a fantasy, social media exchange between lonely, distant, strangers. The elements of this premise were part of the overall fabric of the show. The hook ups were cold and not meaningful like sexting. The friendships were at times impersonal to rude like commentators to trolls commenting on a personal blog. Opinion was more important than actual, verified facts which is a common complaint of the internet.

Another recent report shows that teenagers now spend approximately 9 hours each day using electronic devices. That is a staggering amount of small screen time away from doing normal things like going outside, riding a bicycle, going to a movie, hanging out at the park with friends, etc. They spend more time on their smart technology than in school or sleeping. So this technology is soaking up much of their conscious time it has to affect their dream time - - - or supplants it.

And that could be the engine for the LOST story lines, haphazard, changing, conflicting and fantasy dream constructs that led to a quick turn happy ending that most individuals want in their own stories.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015


"I love the Internet because every piece of true pain I've experienced as an adult — with the exception of death in the family and breakups — has come from it." - - - actress Lena Dunham

When a public figure acknowledges that the world around her is a painful place, but then accepts the pain as being part of her public life, there is some profound truth that rises to the surface of our collective intelligence.

The Internet is a vast, open world. But it really is a tool, a utility, to help people communicate thoughts and ideas. However, it has turned into a dark space where trolls, haters, criminals and weak-minded prey on the lives of more fortunate people. High school bullying has gone from the playground to the global stage. 

Since the Internet is an all-consuming place, people can get lost in this world just as an intense gamer can get lost for days or weeks in a open world multi-player epic console game.

Then the lines of reality and virtual reality blur.

People need connections to other people. People need real connections to other people, and not virtual, cliche or fake connections. Friends are different than acquaintances, but on the web more and more people fall into the latter category because they don't do anything else together expect exchange messages or photo tags.

Since the daily interaction with the network and the people who you friend becomes more important, the ability to hurt one another grows exponentially.  People can be meaner because you don't have to be face-to-face to hurt someone. There is a growing segment of people out on the net with the sole purpose to hurt other people (most people they don't even know.)

There was a recent line from Dr. Who which is applicable here. "Hate is such a strong emotion that it should not be wasted on people you dislike." 

Think about that.

If someone or something causes you pain, why continue to interact with it? Because someone or something (like the internet) has woven itself into your core principles, it occupies the center of your mind and thoughts, it makes you a complete being and it defines who you are as a person.

Life is filled with ups and downs, pain and pleasure. The management of those emotional highs and lows is what separates the good from the bad, from those who can cope and those in despair, those who hide from the world from those who live life to the fullest despite the painful pitfalls that the future may hold.

Saturday, November 7, 2015


 Image Credit: Stocco et. al in PLOS One

Mental Floss had an interesting article on brain thought transfer research.

Imagine a future where you could transmit a unique feeling, a hard-to-translate thought process, or precise motor movements via a neural pattern from your brain to someone else’s brain, sharing what can’t otherwise be easily communicated. This is the goal of new research conducted at the University of Washington (UW).

In the UW experiment, test subjects played a 20 Questions–style game through a direct brain-to-brain connection, and accurately guessed what object was on the other person’s mind 72 percent of the time.

“We wanted to show that this brain-to-brain interface can be used to do something highly interactive and collaborative,” says lead author Andrea Stocco, an assistant professor of psychology and researcher at UW’s Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences.

"The function of the experiment is conceptually simple, Stocco says. Two people sit apart in different buildings. One, the respondent, is wearing a cap connected to electroencephalography machine (EEG) that records electrical brain activity. A magnetic coil is placed behind the head of the other participant, the inquirer. The coil delivers “transcranial magnetic stimulation.” The respondent is given an object to think of, much like in the game Twenty Questions. Then the inquirer chooses questions to send to the respondent via the Internet. The respondent answers the questions using only their brainwaves, by thinking the answer “yes” or “no.”

“Yes and no buttons are designed with lights around them to generate different visual signals, which we can pick up by analyzing brain waves in the visual part of the brain,” Stocco says.

These yes and no answers send a signal to the inquirer and activate the magnetic coil connected to the inquirer’s cap. Only a “yes” answer generates enough stimuli to activate the visual cortex, thus allowing the inquirer to see a subtle flash of light, or “phosphene.”

"We have a lot of control conditions to limit chance and use complicated math to measure the results," Stocco says. “After, we measured performance and found the rate of success was much higher than what would happen by chance."

Participants were able to guess the correct object 72 percent of the time, compared with just 18 percent in the control rounds.

Stocco hopes that this technology could one day be used to “transfer more complicated things” between brains, like emotions but also brain states, such as signals from an alert person to a sleepy one, and other forms of nonverbal communication. “There is an entire realm of things we have a hard time communicating,” Stocco says. He gives the example of one day taking an ADHD student who struggles to focus, and linking them up to the brain of a "neurotypical"person who has good focus. In theory, the calm neural pattern of the neurotypical student could perhaps be transmitted to the ADHD student to help him focus.

“Person-to-person transfer is a long way off, but you would be amazed by the progress,” he says, pointing out that wireless EEG headsets are already available for use in gaming. “We can record brain activity, but no one has been able to transfer it until now. In all kinds of different experiences, the neurosignals recorded could become a shortcut.”

This research has points associated with science fiction stories, such as Ghost in the Shell, where the human mind was linked to the world wide web to communicate directly with other minds.

In LOST, one theory had a "collective consciousness" between all of the main characters. The idea that the characters were not actually experiencing the island adventure but their minds were put into a virtual experiment was a viable explanation of why everyone survived a mid-plane crash and the unexplainable mysteries of the island as being made-up fictional thoughts, nightmares and fantasies.

A direct mental gateway from your mind to your friend's mind would eliminate the need for verbal and nonverbal communication. In some ways, our society is moving toward that direction as more and more young adults rely upon texting messages than actually talking to their friends. If you take away the the requirement of physical activity of texting, and place everyone in their own imaginations, the specter of LOST could come to life.