Good Books

If you are at all interested in anthropology or the lives of your Neanderthal ancestors, this novel will be an enjoyable read.  This reminds me somewhat of the old series called Clan of the Cave Bears, but it is much easier to read (and shorter). The author Claire Cameron acknowledges help from Yuval Harari and Ian Tattersall.

Perhaps this will be the first of a series.  I hope so.  I know I enjoyed it.  Thought provoking.  It is a “fast read” and holds your attention.  But caution is required, this is either adults only or at least older teens.

The book is about two women, separated by 40,000 years.

Happiness Genes Discovered

According to a publication in the Journal Nature Genetics, for the first time in history, researchers have isolated the parts of the human genome that could explain the differences in how humans experience happiness.

Now, before we all run out to get our genes changed via CRISPR, realize these genes do not make you happy. And in fact, epigenetics can influence how genes are expressed. The researchers found three genetic variants for happiness, two variants that can account for differences in symptoms of depression, and eleven locations on the human genome that could account for varying degrees of neuroticism. The genetic variants for happiness are mainly expressed in the central nervous system and the adrenal glands and pancreatic system.

I have not seen the full article yet, it is behind a pay firewall. So be leery of what I say next. A previous study using data from the World Values Survey in 2014 found a correlation between the allele value “A” in the “FAAH” gene rs324420. Nations with the highest prevalence of the “A” allele were also those who perceived themselves happiest.

So just for fun, I decided to look up values for this allele in 23andme data for some of my family members. Here are the results:

  • AA – Sandra
  • AC – Courtney, Debra, Jamie
  • CC – Jim, Rachel

What fun!  I better watch what I eat!   I’m looking forward to finding a copy of the full study to see what the 16 real alleles are.   Meanwhile, Rachel and I had better practice smiling! 🙂  BTW, this is a real tongue in cheek posting.  Nothing said herein should be taken seriously.  My biorhythms are just running high today.

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Write me a movie 3

My wife reads a lot. She is currently on a “time travel” kick. I like to have her tell me about these stories since I too get a kick out of the potential paradoxes involved. I used to read lots of sci-fi but in those days, there was lots of politics involved too.

I have decided that the idea of meeting oneself in the past or future is not far-fetched after all. The accepted opinions say that you can’t have the same thing in the same place at the same time. But hey, that is a religious view, a philosophical opinion. Physically, our cells are always dying and being replaced by new ones. Therefore, at the cellular level, this current me only exists at one time. If a new me shows up, popping in from the future, we could converse quite easily, as person to person. If you think you have a soul that is “the real me” that exists as-is throughout time and beyond time, and that is the cause of the paradox — well suffice it to say that I don’t agree with you. The soul isn’t governed by the laws of physics.
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Write me a movie 2

Sometimes I dream up ideas for stories, books or movies.  Generally they get told to the unlucky grand-kids who happened to be riding in the back seat on a long drive.  No one ever writes them down, of course, and they get forgotten.  I’ve never had the patience to actually write a full blown story.  In this case, I wrote this on my iPad just a few months ago.  Maybe someone else can “make me a movie”.

Marsha was skeptical when she first had the idea about the power of “imagination people”.  In her Comparative Literature class in University, they had talked about how the ideas in science fiction books of the past seemed to be coming true in the present.  But that was just discussion for grades sake, trying to see how many author’s names students could remember.
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Megadrought?

These quotes below are from an article found at Science Advances – 01 Feb 2015, a new journal of the AAAS American Association for the Advancement of Science.

You can also listen to a talk given on NPR’s Science Friday 13 Feb 2015 about this study, with Jason Smerdon, one of the authors. Click here => Science Friday – 13 Feb 2015

There is ≥80% chance of a multidecadal drought during 2050–2099 in the Central Plains and in the Southwest United States. … Ultimately, the consistency of our results suggests an exceptionally high risk of a megadrought occurring over the Central Plains and Southwest regions during the late 21st century.

We have demonstrated that the mean state of drought in the late 21st century over the Central Plains and Southwest will likely exceed even the most severe megadrought periods of the Medieval era in both high and moderate future emissions scenarios, representing an unprecedented fundamental climate shift with respect to the last millennium.

Our results point to a remarkably drier future that falls far outside the contemporary experience of natural and human systems in Western North America, conditions that may present a substantial challenge to adaptation. ….. And, perhaps most importantly for adaptation, recent years have witnessed the widespread depletion of nonrenewable groundwater reservoirs, resources that have allowed people to mitigate the impacts of naturally occurring droughts. In some cases, these losses have even exceeded the capacity of Lake Mead and Lake Powell, the two major surface reservoirs in the region. Combined with the likelihood of a much drier future and increased demand, the loss of groundwater and higher temperatures will likely exacerbate the impacts of future droughts, presenting a major adaptation challenge for managing ecological and anthropogenic water needs in the region.

Do listen to the NPR podcast linked above. It isn’t as technical as reading the article.

Huge water shortages are coming. The probability of a huge megadrought goes above 80%! Should we move? These are personal questions. On-the-ground stake holders have serious question to ask. It is going to become more expensive to live in California! The rains of the AT&T Pro AM may indeed be a thing of the past.

The problem with moving away from these areas is that, as more and more of these studies come out, people all around us will begin to move. This drought is going to be with us no matter what we do. Planning where to move that will give one a “good life” will become more and more difficult. Northern California or perhaps SW Canada is looking more and more inviting! We don’t need to rush, sometime in the next 15 years would be good. We just need to be ahead of the collapsing land values. 🙂

Write me a movie

Sometimes I dream up ideas for stories, books or movies.  Generally they would get told to the unlucky grand-kids who happened to be riding in the back seat on a long drive.  No one ever writes them down, of course, and they get forgotten.  I don’t have the stamina to actually write a full blown story.  In this case, I wrote this much down a few years back.  Maybe someone else can “make me a movie”.

What if, in the future, when time travel is first being developed, we have a descendant of mine who works in the university environment, either as a professor or researcher.  His hobby is genealogy, and he has developed quite a complete and deep family tree.  Of course, there are gaps in his tree, which he continues to work on.

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