April 29, 2009

From Joyce Peterson:

Re: New “longevity gene” spurs hopes of long life (May 2, 2007): In Canada, some provinces have a number of centenarians. Nova Scotia is one of these provinces. (Some of my relatives lived to be 100 or more, i.e.age 107. I am of Irish, Scottish and English heritage Some of those who were originally born and lived in Nova Scotia, moved to Alberta and Saskatchewan and Ontario for example.

Also in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia are a number of those from German decent.

Nova Scotia is not a large province and has a lot of history.

The Parrsborough Shore Historial Society, Box 98, Parrsboro, Nova Scotia, B0M 1S0 has a lot of heritage information, and might be able to help you, should you be interested in investigating this more.

Joyce Peterson
Scarborough, Ontario

From Vance Hawkins:

Re: Vindictiveness doesn’t pay, study finds (March 30): When ever people write articles like this, and on other topics such as whether the glass is half full or half empty, or about how important “attitude” is -- eg -- how much better a good attitude is thtn a bad one -- I always cringe.

How do you know which came first -- the chicken or the egg? Perhaps the “positive attitude” came AFTER acceptance. Perhaps the “poor attitude” came after denial of desire, and NOT before.

From a scientific perspective -- “half empty” is EQUAL to “half full”. One is NOT better than the other as they are idensitcal! ATTITUDE of the researcher alone skews and enhances the result in favor of the “half full” container.

Now I do NOT hold a grudge, I do NOT believe in “vengeance”. I move on... But the belief that vengeance holds a person back sounds a lot like “karma” and the “half full” argument. I wonder how the researcher decided that the people bent on vengeance “learned” to be vengeful -- perhaps it DID succeed for them, at some point earlier in their lives? Perhaps those who “just let it pass” learned that attitude earlier in their lives from Christian values of “turn the othr cheek” -- a strategy often used by “losers” to fail to fight back. But you say they win in the end... hmmm...

So many variables come into play I wonder how your conclusions can be drawn without controlling all the many variables that might have first come into play generations ago, that affect the attitudes of the people today who participated in that test.

From Linda Weir:

Re: Bird can “read” human gaze (April 2): I am an artist who habitually notices birdlife on rooftops as I draw from upper floor windows aand highspots around the harbour.

Jackdaws have started flourishing here in st. ives cornwall, they are adorable creatures, gentle and reserved, they hop daintily. when I feed the birds here in my high garden, the seagulls descend in a shocking crush, the jackdaws come down quite late in the spree, pay a lot of attention, pick up the bits, are unhurried, unagressive and together in pairs.

They like the guttering of rooftops and find little things, maybe seeds or hatching insects. They are like ‘the child who has his own’ blessed and unhurried by the ministrations of people. A city girl, I was shocked by their beautiful blue eyes and good looking appearance, neat feathers, and reserved and elegant behaviour.

From Meredith Liben:

Re: Bird can “read” human gaze (April 2): In my experience, my dogs use eye contact in a savvy and deliberate way to communicate desires - toward the door to go out, toward the drinking pail when they are thirsty and it is out, toward the cabinet where biscuits are stored. I’ve read other research in your articles about dogs’ ability to influence human decision-making. I find I can do the same in reverse and get them to look at my object if I glance at them and quickly glance to an object and then back to make eye contact.

I got the idea from reading research gathered by Stanley Cohen (How to Speak Dog).

From Michael Elson:

Re: Crabs suffer, remember pain, study finds (March 27): Now that article is right up my street. I’ve long held the belief that all creatures feel pain, which is in direct contradiction to what we were taught in school. Mainly, “all cold blooded creatures do not feel pain.” Ever since I first heard that - 65 years ago - I didn’t believe it. In consequence of that I have always without exception, treated all living creatures with care, especially the smaller little animals, right down to insects - my favourite little creatures.

I am nauseated when I see on TV, those fishing boats off Alaska catching thousands of huge crabs. The men just throw them in the air into a metal container 20 feet away. I am positive that many legs and eyes get smashed, as well as the shells being cracked too. Proportionately, I’d just love to hurl one of those men into the air, to land in a steel box 100 yards away. I strongly doubt that he would survive. Pity - I’d like him to feel the pain.

Science isn’t as smart as they would have us believe, and very many people think scientists are REAL smart people. That kind of person represents those who don’t have opinions themselves, and are quick to spout science quotes to their friends without a single thought about the veracity of the subject or statement, purporting to be ‘well informed’. They must be very dull people, not to mention thoroughly ignorant.

Pain surely is of universal survival importance.

So what’s so valuable about warm blooded creatures feeling pain and reacting to it, versus the ‘expendable’ cold blooded creatures who supposedly do not? I think the problem is that we don’t have instruments powerful enough to register pain in little creatures - very especially those poor frogs who give their very lives in the most horrible fashion in those vivisection classes at schools and colleges, but more so in my favourite little animals - the insects. I’ve seen insects handled extremely cruelly on TV where legs and wings are pulled off a living fly or other unfortunate little creature, and it horrifies me that grown adults can do such a thing. If you are a scientist, please let me rip off one of your arms whislt you are being held captive strapped on a dissecting table.

From Dr. S. M. Sapatnekar:

Re: Vindictiveness doesn’t pay, study finds (March 30): While the observations in the study are interesting, interpretation is difficult to generalize. While negative tit-for-tat may looked down in lower and middle level, what about the top brass? In the Power game, it is the unpredictabilty and potential to cause harm stand out as qualities to acquire and sustain power. Unprovoked assaults and retaliation disproportionatly larger than provocation inspires awe.common man hates it initially, yet surrenders.

Dr. S. M. Sapatnekar
Mumbai, India

From Satya:

Re: Bird can “read” human gaze (April 2): Lots of birds can read the human eye to some extent. Butterfies and house flies can also read human eye. Red robins and swallows have been my most recent experience.

I have noticed that most animals can detect when you are looking at them. This happens particularly when they feed. This is because they are most vulnerable at feeding time.

Other animals read the eye so they can defend their food while eating. You might notice a dog snarling at another dog at feeding time. This is very interesting if you get a wild dog and give it food. The dog will snarl at you as you look at it feeding but calm down when you look away.

From Rick A Harris:

Re: Astronomers catch a “shooting star” (March 25): “Hitting such a fragile asteroid with an atomic bomb, as Bruce Willis did in the 1998 movie Armageddon, would merely turn it in to a deadly swarm of shot gun pellets.” ... is incorrect. Shotgun pellet sized objects hitting our atmosphere at any speed would be harmless. At high speeds, they would burn up quickly. At low speeds they would drop to the surface at a terminal velocity that would harm virtually nothing. A “rain” of shotgun pellet sized stone would be no more harmful than hail, except for planes in flight and the cleanup afterwards!

From Kenneth Saxe :

Re: Schizophrenia reassessed as fixation on self (Jan. 23): I enjoyed reading the article “Schizophrenia reassessed as fixation on self”.

I have seen articles indicating that there is some evidence that cigarette smoking is ‘self-medicating’ for Schizophrenia.

It would be cool if this could be further validated by the MRI brain scans. And if indeed smoking give comfort due to suppressing that region of the brains overactivity, what else may have same affect.

Kenneth Saxe
Configuration Management Analyst

From Edward Medalis:

Re: God and science not an easy mix for many (Dec. 15): As a non religious person I am definitely among those that are not able to mix gods and science.

Notice that I said gods and not god. In todays cultures the word god mostly refers to the monotheistic god of Abraham.

However, over our history humans are said to have invented at least 2500 gods. To my mind all are equally supported by facts.

At the end of the article here author Jesse Pres­ton makes the following statement.

“To be com­pat­ible, sci­ence and re­li­gion need to stick to their own ter­ri­to­ries, their own ex­planatory space.” But “re­li­gion and sci­ence have nev­er been able to do that, so to me this sug­gests that the de­bate is go­ing to go on. It’s nev­er go­ing to be set­tled.” My comments are: I do not believe there is a real debate in the hard core camps. This is because the god(s) folks think faith trumps all other thought and the science folks do not. The science people work from evidence, reason and probability. The god folks are incapable of understanding that faith is not evidence, is unreasonable, and has nothing to do with probabilistic thought. Faith on a particular issue either exists or it does not. I fail to see that faith has any “explanatory space”. All it can ultimately say is “because it is written” in one or another unsubstantiated text or it is what “I think”.

Faith is, by definition, independent of evidence, reason, and probability. Faith is an absolute belief regardless of anything that scientific method might offer when looked at in the short term. However, from a long term perspective it is obvious that faith has been forced to concede turf to science. The total turf is all of existence and the percentage that the faithful are bold enough to claim has and will continue to dwindle. The total turf contains all of us and the percentage of educated humans controlled by the delusions of faith also continues to recede. Until the faith folks all become extinct due to natural causes I hope that the human species can avoid being wiped out by their irrational deeds due to their irrational thoughts. Of course, all of those that claim to be religious are not equally afflicted by myth and superstition and whatever debate does exist is within the minds and interactions of this muddled confused group.

The issue can only be resolved by education and this only works with people who have a mind that is open enough and the courage to face probable reality. What we think is real is a moving target that can only be approached by an open mind, scientific method, and courage. I live and swim in a sea of change and probability and am as comfortable as I can possibly be.

For those that cannot be comfortable in that environment and in order to function need to bury their consciousness in the solid unchanging firmament of faith, I can only offer my sympathy for their mental condition.