Friday, October 9, 2015

"Mea Tulpa, mea maxima Tulpa", as the young Dalai Lama would respond when his tutors asked him who ate the last Chocolate Hobnob

"Vanishing-twin syndrome," I announced, "is the new Birth Trauma."

"Have you been smoking the dried leeches again?" inquired tigris.

"They are for medicinal purposes only," I said. "I have just been appraised of the fact that embryonic, in-utero experiences are encoded in the epigenome and haunt our post-parturition lives as repressed memories. Specifically, the experience of sharing the womb with a fellow-blastocyte that did not survive the entire pregnancy, or even long enough to be detected. Anyway, vaping leech extract is different, all the cool kids are doing it."
"Fetus papyraceus does not appear to be in use as a band name," Another Kiwi helpfully vouchsafed.

If the Whackweedia is to be trusted (but it is a lying jade), then the Vanishing Twin phenomenon is already deeply entrenched within popular culture, as a plot device in House and Criminal Minds and such as... although the focus there has been on absorption of the weaker twin by the stronger, turning the survivor into a genetic chimæric mosaic.
More recent illustrations of graft
æ in plants are available but
there is no point in owning an 80-year-
old familial copy of Science of Life if
one cannot pillage it for artwork
So it was inevitable that a psychologist [this being a term of art, here used to mean "shameless careerist bullshitter who informs Psychology Today-reading hipsters about the latest developments in self-obsessed neuroses"] would use the phenomenon to create a new psychological syndrome, and to stake out a new clientele for therapy, in which one's sense of dissatisfaction -- and the failure of consumer acquisitions to assuage one's sense of existential incompletion -- all arise from separation from a vanished womb-partner. I am not making this up:
Do you have a nagging intuition about someone in your life who feels vaguely missing? Odds are your intuition is correct. While there are many possible sources that your intuition is giving you fuzzy access to, one possibility is that you have a case of vanishing twin syndrome. As a therapist who specializes in couples therapy, I have found it very helpful for both partners when the reality of an intuition, including if its source is vanishing twin syndrome, is clarified.
The urge to create an immaterial psychic-emanation double of oneself, a Tulpa, stems from the same root. But it is not a proper syndrome until someone is promoting Re-Twinning Therapy. Alas, the Psych Today scamster has only progressed as far as Energy Therapy:
When I need to help my clients to uncover the very-early-in-life experiences that may have left residues of chronic intuitions that something was wrong, I find that energy therapy treatment methods are essential. For these, I ask one of the energy therapists in our office suite of multiple independent therapy professionals to join me for a session in which we work together, combining my conventional therapy techniques with their deeper-access energy methods.
(it is reassuring to know that Psych. Today is the voice of factual, empirical psychology, which has ousted the charlatans and magical thinkers who plagued the discipline in the past and gave it an undeserved reputation as a haunt of grifters).

Birth-trauma belief systems and the fad for parturition-dramaturgy were an entertaining feature of the 70s, apart from the occasional death when rebirthing therapists became over-enthusiastic with their reenactment of a difficult labour. My own invention of De-birthing therapy never caught on.

Re-Twinning Therapy is where you overcome the trauma of separation from the other self by re-enacting the whole inter-uterine experience more successfully, with nine months of close confinement on life-support followed by happy emergence into a wider universe. If nothing else, this will be a boon for recruiting people to migrate to Mars.

Alternative Beckett rebirthing-therapeutic title: 
Astride of a grave and a difficult birth. Down in the hole, lingeringly, the grave digger puts on the forceps.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Sufficiently advanced magical thinking is indistinguishable from technology

At Riddled we rate for half-baked ideas. Like half-baked bread, they keep in the fridge, ready to be popped in the oven for 15 minutes and served up to the family smelling all brown and sentimental and bakery-fresh yeast-estery.

Mathematicians are notorious for looking at a constant and seeing a parameter, so here is I. J. Good to point out that ideas fall along an entire continuum of bakedness:

A partly-baked idea or PBI is either a speculation, a question of some novelty, a suggestion for a novel experiment, a stimulating analogy, or (rarely) a classification. It has a bakedness of p that is less than unity, or even negative. The bakedness of an idea should be judged by its potential value, the chance that it can be completely baked, its originality, interest, stimulation, conciseness, lucidity, and liveliness. It is often better to be stimulating and wrong than boring and right.

A very rough guide to the maximum length that a PBI should have is given by the formula

10(9px/2) words
where x, the importance of the topic, is between 0 and 1. For example, the maximum length for a negatively-baked idea is less than one word. An idea can compensate in importance what it lacks in bakedness, and conversely. The formula is applicable to each sentence and to each paragraph, as well as to the whole of a contribution. For the non-specialist, the formula makes sense even when px = 1, but in this anthology px rarely exceeds 7/9.

It follows that one picture is worth a fully-important PBI with bakedness p = 0.67. Of course Good's guidelines for verbal values are now considered as quaint as the Geneva Conventions, for they predate the explosion of open-access journals soliciting material to fill their virtual pages.

Opinions differ on how many words are warranted for István Bókkon's contention that "biophotons" -- ultraweak bioluminescence -- are not an incidental side-effect of cellular metabolism, but are in fact an integral channel of inter-cellular communication.
In particular, Bókkon sees a central role for biophotons in human visual processing. When nerve impulses from the eyes reach the V1 visual cortex, they trigger the cortical cells to emit photons and form a literal projected image of what is being seen.

This is good news for the little homunculi inside our heads; finally they have a job to do, which is to stare at those "intrinsic biophysical pictures" illuminating the inside of our skulls, and detect those photons with other V1 cortical cells.

This also happens in dreams, visual imagery, phosphenes, after-images, and near-death experience. Because if there is a visual experience, there must be light to produce it somewhere, it stands to reason.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Weird scenes in the gold mine

It goes against the grain to say anything positive about the Omics Publishing academic scamsuckers -- they are an empire of meretricious mendacity who pollute the Intergrid with a firehose torrent of maggot-gagging spam -- but at least their illiteracy sometimes results in an unintentional pun:

Subject: Waiting for your response
From: "Rice Research: Open Access" <>
Date: Mon, October 5, 2015 10:40 pm


Greetings from Rice research: Open access Journal!!

This is a special invitation regarding article submission to our Journal of Rice Research open access.

We know your expertise so, we are glad to invite you to submit Research/Review article for our prestigious journal. Your contribution is of great importance for us and it will help the journal to establish its high standards. Rice Research aims to fill a glaring void in basic and applied plant science journal publishing.

This journal is the world's only high-quality serial publication for reporting current advances in rice genetics, structural and functional genomics, comparative genomics, molecular biology and physiology, molecular breeding and comparative biology. Rice welcomes review articles and original papers in all of the aforementioned areas and serves as the primary source of newly published information for researchers and students in rice and related research.

No Egrets

Despite an inauspicious surname, the first author was able to join in the communal apology:
"All authors concur with this statement and apologise for not having detected these errors. Kamal Bouarab and Olivier Voinnet, as the corresponding authors, take full responsibility for the publication of this erroneous paper and regret deeply the inconvenience caused."
A counterexample to the Law of Nominal Determinism! A refutation! I can have Nobel Prize now?

Monday, October 5, 2015

Leopard-themed Hot Air Balloons

Available now from the Riddled Gifte Shoppe.
[Stoled from P.Z. Myers]
Zwei Pard-Ballons accounted for, only siebenundneunzig to go!

Balloon Pards should not be confused with Jargoon Pards despite the similarity in name.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

How much dead wood could a dead woodchuck chuck?

Deleted a few moribund blogs from the Bloglist. Not all the moribundage, of course, for that would turn the bloglist into a sad and lonely place indeed.

Have finally added "Between the Hammer and the Anvil", from Flying Rodent, who is a scholar and a gentleman, or at least as close to these qualities as a Scotsman can reasonably be expected to reach. FR is not moribund, possibly more of a cummerbund.

What's that about the Anglo-American war machine in Syria?

there is no pile of rubble and corpses so high that it can't be mounted for use as a podium to issue stern lectures upon comparative morality.
Something something 'Dais ex Machina', said Keats.