Happy Solstice

For me, this is the end of a year, and the beginning of a new one. I recognize the 25th and the 1st as public holidays, but really for me it’s all about now.

At 2:04 AM EST, we reach the solstice — the point at which Sol is at maximum distance from Earth’s equator. Sol is at this point the furthest from the celestial equator: 23.5 degrees from the ecliptic, over the Tropic of Capricorn, and is the lowest in the sky in the Northern Hemisphere or the highest in the sky in the Southern Hemisphere. Here, it’s the official start of Winter; “down below,” it’s the official start of Summer. To me, this will always be a more concrete, measurable, and predictable start of the new year than any other calendar system.

This past year has been all about rediscovery for me: rediscovering myself, my loved ones, my friends, my interests, and my memories – both good and bad. Having my mind “switched on” also means being ready for all of the good and bad that comes from that.

Somehow, I’ve felt more ready these past 12 months than I have all my life. My path may be blindingly fast in some ways, but is excruciatingly slow in others. My only resolution for this new year is to communicate more — both within and without. So look to these pages for more spontaneous speech.

It’s been a great journey so far. Let’s see where this year takes us, shall we?

How are memory and dreams related?

A new theory just published in the international peer-reviewed journal Neuro-Psychoanalysis suggests that a modified version of Freud’s dream theory describes not only how dreams are generated but how they are related to our memory. The strangeness of dreams is hypothesized not to come from a censor being turned on during sleep, but from daily perceptions and thought being forced at the time of storage to conform to a brain structure largely frozen in childhood and then interpreted with the executive function turned off. According to the theory, when turned on, the executive function transforms the memories back from the primitive memory structure into real daily perceptions and thought. The article, authored by Dr. Eugen Tarnow, a researcher in New Jersey, also removes the hitherto rigid boundaries between memory and dream research, and reaffirms the importance of the old Penfield Rasmussen findings (they were looking for memory, and found dreams — because memory is stored in dream format.)

The theory summarized:

Perceptions and thought are conjectured to be stored in the brain according to what is already stored. The brain structure of a human being is largely frozen during childhood. Freud’s dream work, which can be thought of as a list of mnemonic devices, describes how perception and thought is transformed at the time of storage to conform to the childhood brain structure. Dreams are proposed to be focused versions of ever present excitational responses to new perception. It is believed they only become conscious when the executive function ceases. The existence of a consciousness pointer is proposed, to help to explain why dreams are relatively focused to a single storyline rather than consisting of unfocussed masses of parallel storylines.

Irwin Feinberg. Chief of the Sleep Research Laboratory at UC Davis, one of the researchers who discovered that REM sleep is not dream sleep, says of the theory: “It is very interesting. I have no problems with it.”

The author concludes that Freud’s mysterious “unconscious,” previously thought to only be accessible by psychoanalysts via dream interpretation, is really long term memory accessible also by memory researchers. Dreams, previously ignored by memory researchers, become another tool to probe our memory structure.

Now, if they’d just get people like me into a dream study . . . I have all sorts of parallel, unrelated dreams, and also have seen radical changes in how my dreams occur as I’ve healed various psychological and emotional traumas. Interesting stuff!

um

Congress Expands FBI Spying Power

Basically, the FBI can subpoena information about you from any organization without talking to a judge. And they can slap a gag order on the organization supplying the information.

Whereas before they just got this information illegally, they can now legally find out anything they want to about you, anytime they want, and you’ll never be the wiser.

Because the provision was attached to a confidential spending bill, there was no public debate about it either. And you can bet your sweet ass that it’s not being covered in the mass media, either (I don’t consider Wired a mass media source.)

<waits patiently for her Canadian immigration to be approved>

Need a holiday gift idea?

Then check out ‘s own Mystical Dreamweavers, a Canadian owned and operated candle & health and beauty aids company. The scents are sniff-o-riffic, and if you get your order in now, you’ll have it in time for the holidays! I can wholeheartedly recommend the Sencha (Green Tea) and Peaceful Breeze scents in candle, soap and bath salt forms. :)

and you should visit not just because I just finished redesigning the website. ;)

oops.

While knitting, I realized the scarf was going to be too wide, and my stitches were getting WAY too tight. (I could barely pull them along the needle!)

So I’ve ripped the entire thing and will start over tomorrow.

At least I’m enjoying myself! :)

HEY YOU GUYS!!!!!

I am now the official maintainer of The Electric Company MP3 and Video Archive.

That’s right, I’m “movin’ out in a new way.” (mp3, 1066KB)

My personal favorites:

  • Spider Man (mp3, 243 KB) (where are ya comin’ from? Nobody knows who you are!)
  • The Sign Song (mp3, 1962 KB), written by the late, great Joe Raposo. Also partially available in Quicktime video format (2.2MB)
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    Silhouette Syllables: chin, chip, chimp, chill, chick. (with Morgan Freeman) Even Family Guy spoofed this!
  • Video image
    Letterman: Dancing In The Dark (with the voices of Joan Rivers and Gene Wilder)
  • Video image
    and of course, Counting Pinball (one two three FOUR FIVE, six seven eight NINE TEN, ELEVEN TWELVE!)

Monthly political posting

It’s that time again, folks…

  • Last night, inbetween Doctor Who episodes on videotape, my antenna-less VCR managed to pick up Channel 25, the local French-language repeater for the CBC. They had the translated version of this BBC Panorama story about squeezing more dollars out of chicken by pumping it full of water prior to selling by weight. That might be unethical (some of the tested samples were as much as 49% water!), but the clincher is truly disgusting: they use hydrolized protein made from other animals, including pork and beef. One company interviewed found a way to mask this beef and pork protein by removing the DNA from the cells so it couldn’t be tested for by the authorities. This is immoral, unethical, dangerous (and not just because of BSE and CJD). Check your purchased chicken patties and hams, folks. Or better yet, insist on organic, free-range, local produce.
  • I’m hoping most of you have already heard about the Project for a New American Century (if not, give them a read). The underground media in the US has been clamoring about this for a while, but I’ve found that many of my Canadian friends don’t know about their agenda. Read the (clearly biased) reviews of what they do here and here, then make up your own mind. Post about it here; let’s get a discussion going. Postulate 1: The US has been a colonial empire at least since WWI. Discuss.
  • Been following the Diebold scandal yet? Even Wired has an article about it now. Check out the original company memos here (or websearch for them if the site’s been taken down). Rumor has it that “…no fewer than five elections” were lost by “exactly 18181 votes.” That’s a nasty coincidence, but the security of the product is what’s really at question here. Anyone with even a basic understanding of computing can tell that the system is completely insecure. Read more from Bev Harris at Black Box Voting.
  • Torture. Love it when it’s consentual. Decry it when it’s not. But Alan Dershowitz thinks it should be made legal by “torture warrant.” Of course, it’s “just for terrorists.” What happens when they decide you are a terrorist? Think about it.