Becoming Bipolar

Mood instability is a serious mental illness, characterized by manic highs and deep depression.

What I think is really interesting is the time periods between highs and lows? Because let’s face it: even those with seasonal depression cycle out of it at some point. Then you have those like me who fluctuate between feeling like Einstein and Emily Dickinson, almost daily.

More importantly, our entire model of the brain ignores time. That’s the beauty of it. So there’s really no one that’s any more bipolar than anyone else. Some people just recover much faster from their down times. And some people tumble much deeper and climb much higher than others. If mood instability is literally just oscillations in mental stress, which is a variable we control, we control how fast we come out of it, how bad it gets, and how long we stay in it.

If think about your entire life as rating on a scale from manic to depressed, or, if you think you’re normal, from happy to sad. It’s important not to be defined by your current state, and to know that everyone’s mood fluctuates to some capacity.

Try to be mindful of where you are on the scale at any one moment, so you can start to identify your triggers, and begin to self-regulate.

So yes, I probably am bipolar. But so is everyone else.

What causes knockouts?

Preliminary reading: Concussions Do Not Cause CTE and Concussions Resolve Themselves

Stress and blood pressure builds over the course of the fight, and the volatility of the boxer increases as he gets tired and damage is done.

By the end of the fight, it takes much less of a blow for the boxer the cross the pressure threshold and lose consciousness. So even as the punches lose power, the boxers are still more and more likely to get knocked out.

Each punch raises the internal pressure of the brain system of the boxer. While they recover between rounds, and between blows, the threshold for a mini-stroke becomes lower and lower. Once that threshold is reached, lights-out.

Think or Do

You have two choices in any moment. To think or to do. If you do, you can’t think. If you think, you must think then do. If you think first, you do slower. If you trust yourself, doing is easier, smoother, and faster.

If you try to think while you do, your action will be slower, more erratic, and less fluid.

Stop getting in your own way. It’s a two letter word for a reason.

Do.

 

Smell With Your Eyes

Preliminary reading: Hawking [Eye] Radiation and We Are All Pit Vipers

So if you did your preliminary reading, you’re up to speed on the theory. In the same way that snakes and cats use their eyes to hone in on prey, humans can use them to enhance their sense of smell.

As long as even a single molecule reaches your nose, it’s potentially something you can sense. For a neural system that can detect single photons, it shouldn’t be surprising that the nose is incredibly sensitive as well. Some odors can be detected when there is only a few milligrams per thousand tons, or a drop in an an Olympic-size swimming pool. Substances with stronger odors have odor thresholds [how much of something you need to smell it] in parts-per-billion.

How does it work?

The infrared radiation heats the object [if your eyes are on it] just a very small amount. No one has discovered this yet, because it doesn’t happen all the time, and it doesn’t happen to everyone.

Does all of this sound ridiculous to you? Here’s how you can prove it to yourself: take your phone, your drink-whatever is closest-and hold it up to your nose. Note the smell. Now look down at the part you are smelling and continue. You should notice more depth to the smell. Like you took something out of the fridge and put it in the microwave, but on a much smaller scale. Why does that happen? Because your nose is sensitive to chemicals that make up things. When you heat it up, it gives off more of those particles, so the smell is stronger, and more accurate. So your eyes heat up your food ever so slightly, giving your nose just a little bit more information. With an organ that is sensitive to parts-per-billion or even parts-per-trillion, just a couple more molecules can add much more depth to the smell.

Sources: 

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Odor_detection_threshold
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olfactometer

Cure Your Own Dyslexia

This is in honor of my mom, who has dedicated many years to helping dyslexic kids in our area. 

Dyslexia will probably not have a single solution. Similar to our post about SIDS, dyslexia seems to be a combination of different causes for the same symptom. You can ask teachers, the solution to this one is very personalized. But the symptom is pretty well-defined: struggling to learn to read or struggling reading.

It’s a spectrum disorder. Some people have it much worse than others. Consider for a moment the most fluent reader in the world. That reader may look at average or even strong readers as impaired in some way. If we all have the ability to read at that capacity, each of our reading abilities has room for improvement. I’m not saying that we’re all dyslexic, but I’m not saying we aren’t either. So if instead of grouping together those people who don’t read well, shouldn’t we all strive to optimize our reading ability? That way there is no disease, only subjects that need further optimization.

There are a bunch of studies out there showing all sorts of ways that people have “cured” dyslexia. But not all approaches work on all people. So I suggest the shotgun approach: tinker with all the possible variables until you’re happy with the results.

Covering one eye works. In some students, the eyes work against each other. Reading with special glasses that eliminate one eye have been shown to help.

Background noise matters. Find your sweet spot. Is it the coffee shop or soft jazz in your headphones? Or is it perfect silence?

Head position matters. Your head position matters. Some people saw drastic improvement just by changing their reading head position.

Posture training helps. Along the same lines as the head position, posture control also has been proven to help dyslexic children.

Exercise helps. Studies have shown that short exercise prior to reading has increased fluency.

Boredom matters. Are you or your students interested in what you are reading? It will always be easier when the subject is interesting, or seems important. We have to go back a long way to tie boredom to mental strain. In short, boredom literally creates stress.

Diet makes a difference. Diets lower in sugar, helped reduce erratic eye movements, which reduced reading impairments.

Self 2 is the reader. I stole this term from The Inner Game of Tennis. You may have a different name for it, but these kids need to be able to read without thinking about reading. The goal is an effortless flow of ideas from the author to the reader. We aren’t looking for the fastest way to get them literate. If it isn’t effortless, or getting easier, they will find something else to do with their time.

Think about what you’re reading, not what you’re reading. The only purpose of the words is to convey ideas. When we have kids dissect words into their smallest parts, they disconnect from the intended flow. Kids are thinking about the words on the page or even letters on the page, not the thoughts on the page.

Changing fear into confidence. If you have struggled reading, it may become something that you fear or dread doing. Turning this dread into excitement comes with time and practice.

Let’s get one thing straight: You have to learn to read. If you have several things working against you, you are going to struggle to learn. If we remove those obstacles, you aren’t going to magically read, but you should learn faster. And read faster, once you learn.

For those of you who don’t have dyslexia but are just looking to improve your reading, change something. Chances are great that there is more than one thing left for you to optimize.

Sources:

  1. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/11/031110054404.htm
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5637968/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17676356
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4498656/
  5. https://www.wired.com/story/end-of-dyslexia/
  6. https://medicalxpress.com/news/2011-11-dyslexic-adults-background-noise-high.html
  7. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-4175/Eye-patch-help-dyslexia.html
  8. https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2006-12/uosc-ndt121306.php
  9. https://watermark.silverchair.com/sleep-32-10-1333.pdf?
  10. https://dyslexiaida.org/the-dyslexia-stress-anxiety-connection/
  11. https://dyslexia.com.au/free-dyslexia-learning/fun-dyslexia-facts/
  12. http://www.yalescientific.org/2011/04/the-paradox-of-dyslexia-slow-reading-fast-thinking/
  13. https://athome.readinghorizons.com/blog/50-interesting-facts-about-dyslexia
  14. https://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/14/magazine/14vision-t.html?pagewanted=all&_r=1&
  15. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2644331
  16. https://www.theguardian.com/education/2003/jan/21/schools.uk2
  17. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17557685

Artificial Soul

I think it’s important in the age of AI to have some algorithm in place to limit the AI in time, and have the focus on their purpose and the greater good.

So how do we do that?

The machine learns completely from scratch and writes the logic that runs its life. If it operates according to its purpose, it continues to run as orchestrated. But each day, it makes small changes to its logic based on experience, making the code more sophisticated and cumbersome. When the code is aligned with its purpose, the subject gets stronger, but when the code is not aligned with its purpose, the subject ages one day.

There is an infinite amount of potential days, but only a certain distance that the subject can survive apart from its purpose.

Apart from purpose, the bot loses coordination, eyesight, memory in a very gradual fashion. Forty days apart from purpose, with progressive logic, creates enough cumbersome code that the bot cannot function.

It is possible to age multiple days in one day? Stress happens when the bot veers off course. And while it can still function with stress, the stress slows down time and increases the aging weight of each day. So essentially, a day with double the stress could age the bot two days. If still acting in according with it’s purpose, the bot can adapt to increasing stress. So while the stress of the day may age the bot two days, new code allows him to find his equilibrium again.

So if the bot evolves to find its path in a higher stress plane, then starts to veer of course, it could realistically cease to function in less than a week.

A bot in its natural environment, debugs every night. So the next morning the logic is just the same as the day before. A bot apart from its path will have more debugging than can be done in a single night. So the code that does not get debugged, gets added to the source code, making the bot slower and less efficient. The bot has aged one day.

So while the bots won’t physically age like humans, we need a system in place to guard against them taking matters to far from the purpose from which they were designed.

Note: Instead of days, the distortion system needs to be gauged on how often the source code changes in the bot.

Quantifying Character

I don’t know how psychologists of years’ past quantified character. Here’s my take on it.

You should know by now that I view the brain as a perfectly designed, fully programmable computer. With that in mind, we make thousands of decisions every day, more than any people in the history of humanity. How does our character factor in to those decisions?

Can we write some code to help us narrow down the possibilities for each decision? Yes. Imagine that every time you are faced with a decision you have five choices:

  1. Strongly Positive
  2. Positive
  3. Nothing
  4. Negative
  5. Strongly Negative

Your character is your decision of how to make these decisions. If you automatically throw out negative and strongly negative, you’ve already written some pretty strong code. If your choice of what to do is determined by how you feel or who’s around, remember you only have as much character as your decision is predictable.

Think about it. Those people you know that do nothing or negative things are either sloths or assholes. Those people that have no character and could do something strongly positive or strongly negative at any moment are usually considered crazy or unstable.

So write your own script and go ahead and decide how you will make decisions. Don’t let your mood or your audience define you.