Rant


It’s that dreaded time of the year again; the time when the edacious, mind-thirsty final exams lurk in the dark corner commonly called the end of the semester. Starting from tomorrow, I will have a total of 6 exams left to cruise through study tirelessly for before my long overdue freedom finally arrives. Well, that is until summer classes sprout their evil, little heads. Without a doubt, I deserve a relaxing break in the foreseeable future.

Before I’m left with no more than 5 brain cells due to neural overload, however, let me first invest some of my quickly depleting neurons in this entry — or rather, complaint.

Fifty-two dollars for a tank of gasoline?! Much to my dismay, my bank account balance just shrank from an opera singer of ample proportions to a thin model that sways with a gust of light breeze. I kid not. What with the horrible Austin traffic, unfailing barrage of red traffic lights, and ghastly summer Texas weather that makes you feel like you’re living at the core of the sun, 16 gallons of gas doesn’t translate to much — especially if you drive a full-size sedan and constantly need to go buy groceries because you have a daily appetite equivalent to that of 10 grown men. Alas.

It appears as though my music repertoire has grown immensely in the last month or so, causing much distress with my dieting iPod. Imagine a mother trying to stuff Gerber’s baby food into a implacable child who refuses to eat because he/she has just satisfied himself/herself with the discovery of the hidden chocolate chip cookies location. I knew I should have gotten a fatter baby… I mean, an iPod with a bigger capacity. I’m now left with a mere 13.3MG of free space, which equates to one copy of Bolero by Maurice Ravel. I feel too attached to my current iPod to purchase a new one with more storage; however, I can’t keep playing an endless game of mancala with my old and new songs as pebbles either, displacing one in order to accommodate another. Alas.

I’m done with the pseudo complaints for now. Onwards.

I’ve decided on a few selfish goals I hope to accomplish before I wrinkle up and die — selfish being objectives that are unrelated to saving the world, of course.

1) I want to master all 8 major languages, apart from maybe Russian (I know my limits). It hasn’t quite been decided on when this endeavor is to take place as of yet but hopefully it’s achieved before old age dementia sets in.

2) I want to learn to play the violin and to play it well. Since early childhood, I’ve dreamt of owning my own violin and creating breathtaking music from it, but (as many friends already know) my mother pulverized that dream. I believe the beautiful words that escaped her skeptical lips sounded like this: “To play a violin, you need both intellect and skill. You have neither.” (Except in Mandarin.) So, I turned to piano and flute instead — the former because my mother said I have hands fit to play the piano and the latter because… I can’t recall why.

3) I want to be pampered at a spa from head to toe. I want my mom at my left and my sister at my right. I want us to get massages, pedicures, manicures, facials, everything. I want to giggle at how ridiculous we all look with cucumbers on our faces and cotton balls between our toes.

4) I want to write a book filled with stories from my parents’ childhood to early adulthood and contrast that to that of my sister and my own.

5) I want a set of gorgeously decorated tea cups made solely of milk and white chocolate. (Don’t judge!)

6) I want to be the architect of my final house. To this, my mother responded: “Who’s going to want to buy a house you designed?” And with a smirk, I told her — ‘Everyone.’

Thus far, that’s where the list ends. Perhaps as time progresses I’ll hold more selfish tendencies and desires.

Recently, I obtained a handful of sheet music for the flute and piano; all of which are classical pieces. I’m quite ecstatic about returning to Houston after finals are over and freeing my flute from its dusty confines. Did I mention my sister signed up for the 6th grade beginner band as a flautist for the following academic year? I must say I can’t help but feel sparks of merriment from within — I can make her my little pupil! Whips, angry glares, and all! Ah, young minds ready to be molded.

If time permits, I will add another page to this site titled “Musique” right under the pages “Révélé,” “Le contrat,” and “Nouvelles” listed in the upper right corner. It will contain a select few pieces of (mostly classical) compositions in my possession of which I believe those who lack can take advantage. I must warn, however, that most of the pieces are flute solos or flute with piano accompaniment, but individuals adequate in the area should easily be able to translate the notes into their desired format. Although I have a wide collection of compositions, most of them are hidden somewhere in the jungle back in Houston, i.e. my closet, piano bench, attic, bookshelf… However, there are a few currently with me in Austin worthy of noting:

(In arbitrary order)
1. La Chanson de l’adieu from Étude No.3 (Opus 10-3) — by Frédéric Chopin [Flute with piano accompaniment]
2. Ave Maria — by Franz Schubert [Flute with guitar accompaniment]
3. Concerto in C Major for Flute and Harp (I. Allegro) — by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart [Flute solo]
4. Concerto in C Major for Flute and Harp (II. Andantino) — by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart [Flute solo]
5. Concerto in C Major for Flute and Harp (III. Rondeu) — by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart [Flute solo]
6. Thaïs (Meditation) — by Jules Massenet [Flute solo]
7. Morning Mood (Op. 46) — by Edvard Hagerup Grieg [Flute solo]
8. Salut d’Amour (Op.12) — by Edward Elgar [Piano solo]

I forgot to mention — I bought a pair of Ultimate Ears Super.fi 3 earphones. I must say they work exceptionally well and are exceedingly more comfortable than those silly earphones that came with my iPod. Especially worthy of note is the noise isolation property, which translates to a clear sound devoid of all the excess, extraneous sound contaminants I would otherwise hear with regular earphones. There’s a distinctly strange feeling I have when I listen to music using my UE earphones — the music appears to be in my head, for lack of a better explanation. When using other earphones/headphones, I both feel and hear the music coming from an external source. However, using my new UE’s, music appears to be a product of my own nerve impulses rather than a product of an inferior product’s electrical circuitry, thus, producing sounds directly in my brain as opposed to indirectly through a middle mechanism. I can’t describe it any better than that. Suffice to say, instead of simply listening to music, I become the music. The comfort is also astonishing. With the in-my-head feeling and the comfortable and malleable behind-the-ear wires, I tend to forget I even have the earphones in. I’ve fallen asleep with them in 4 times already since purchasing them two weeks ago.

Alas, seeing as how I have an exam tomorrow, I ought to go to bed now.
Au revoir, my little munchkins.

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It’s definitely going to take awhile for me to accustom myself to this new WordPress layout. In all honesty, though, I think the original looked better — the current one seems too “internet-y,” for lack of better wording. Random colors that don’t quite complement each other are strewn wherever, e.g. the vermilion over the light blue background next to the dark blue text. The combination of red and light blue just doesn’t quite work to my eyes’ liking.

I shall keep today’s entry short, since I was recently reprimanded by my Genetics Lab peers for being too verbose in my “edible vaccines” report. Pardon my indignation but I believe my essay was rather “kick-ass” in comparison to theirs, which mostly consisted of sentence fragments, incorrect syntax, missing verbs, and omitted punctuations. What’s worse, they advised me to commit the same errors for the sake of shortening my sentences, for example:

Original sentence —
Albeit the research involving the creation of edible vaccines is not at a point where it can be placed at the forefront of methods used to protect individuals from infectious disease outbreaks, understanding of the science behind the development of plant-based vaccines, recognition of the development of edible vaccines’ values to society as a whole, evaluation of the safety concerns associated with it, legislative support and approval of further experimentation, and allocation of current expenditures from traditional vaccination research to that of edible vaccination will all help bring the creation of plant-derived biopharmaceuticals to the forefront of methods in the very near future.

Suggested correction —
Albeit the research involving the creation of edible vaccines is not at a point where it can be placed at the forefront of methods used to protect individuals from infectious disease outbreaks[.] Understanding of the science behind the development of plant-derived vaccines[.] Recognition of the development of edible vaccines’ values to society as a whole[.] Evaluation of the safety concerns associated with it[.] Legislative support and approval of further experimentation[.] Allocation of current expenditures from traditional vaccination research to that of edible vaccination will all help bring the creation of plant-derived biopharmaceuticals to the forefront of methods in the very near future.

Yes, I realize that that gigantic paragraph is one unbelievably long sentence, but dissecting it into fragments that bear no meaning is a horrific recommendation. “Albeit the research involving the creation of edible vaccines is not at a point where it can be placed at the forefront of methods used to protect individuals from infectious disease outbreaks” is the dependent clause of the sentence; I can’t just detach it on a whim to appease less-than-brilliant readers. If they offered some other suggestion that didn’t involve producing nonsensical sentence fragments, then I would definitely feel more humble and less self-righteous. However, that simply isn’t the case; hence, I’m left wide-eyed at how absolutely ridiculous their advice is and how ignorant they are of proper English sentence structures. You’re in a distinguished university, dears, not still in some elementary school learning about subordinating conjunctions.

There… I just needed to get that rant out of my system.

Now for some pictures I had taken of the Betsey Johnson dresses I purchased. That’s right, dressES — I recently bought another one of her wonderful creations. This second one is a brown, chiffon, size M dress smothered in miniature bows.

Dress 1: Burgundy and mauve colored velvet dress.
I adore the details she adds to the lacing.

Dress 2: Brown colored chiffon dress with miniature bows.
Once again, the details amaze me.

Although originally intended for my use, I’m contemplating giving the second dress to my sister, since the bust area is a little smaller than I had previously suspected. There was originally a yellow silk dress by Betsey Johnson I was planning on buying for her, but after much thought, I concluded that my wallet isn’t hefty enough to afford a $150 dress, yet. This chiffon dress will complement her skin tone perfectly.

Hm, I hope she’s not reading this entry… the dress is supposed to be a surprise.

I seem to be on a spending spree as of late. The earphones that came with my iPod Nano have been irritating my ears for the past 2 years, and not only my ears but also my head, leading to a skull-splitting headache if I leave them in for too long. Hence, I’ve been ogling the Ultimate Ears Super.fi 3 Studio earphones for the past 3 months. At a whopping $129.99 for a pair of earphones, I feel as if I’m buying gold from the devil with my soul as currency.

I just want comfortable earphones that are also capable of delivering impeccable sound — is that too much to ask?

The 21-year old: “Daddy looks like a woman…”
The 11-year old: “Where? I want to see!”
The 55-year old: “See! I told you this is a woman’s jacket! I’m not wearing it!” (Attempts to march back into the house.)
The 52-year old: “It is not a woman’s jacket! Don’t you dare take it off! You are not wearing the same jacket you wore all week to the restaurant!”
The 21-year old: (Aside to The 11-year old) “Daddy still looks like a woman…”

Do you ever feel that you ought to change a certain aspect of yourself and, yet, are reluctant to do so because it stands at the core of your identity complex? Let alone, you’ve grown emotionally and mentally attached to the trait such that dismissing it is equivalent to shattering a fragment of one’s soul. Alright, perhaps that was a bit melodramatic. The combination of an overactive cerebrum and the unhampered time provided by Spring Break tends to result in over-over-analyses of anything and everything. It’s a good thing Spring Break is over in this respect.

I’ve concluded that I may be a bit overly kind and am a mental masochist — there’s a tendency to feel guilty in situations where I am actually not at (what the general public would define as) fault, e.g. –
Bought lunch (chicken), saw famished homeless whilst driving back to condo, gave him small piece of my chicken, got back to condo, couldn’t eat lunch because I felt miserable for not having given him bigger piece. Why didn’t I? He obviously needed the food more than I.
Went shopping at grocery store, saw elderly man 4 customers ahead in the check-out line, his welfare card must not have allowed certain items to be purchased so cashier, deaf and mute, took them (3/5) away. I felt every moral fiber in my body screaming for action and wanted to push the 4 customers in front of me aside to buy those 3 items for him…but I didn’t do anything, just stood idly watching the somber expression on the poor man’s face. When I finally made my way back to my car with the question “Why didn’t I help him?” flowing incessantly through my mind, I just sat in front of my steering wheel and cried.
– …and the list goes on.

Reverting to the original question, it’s as though I am governed by two distinct and, perhaps, mutually exclusive perspectives.
On the one hand, the savior archetype seems to be prevalent. Being cynical of the moral direction in which society as a whole is heading, I feel the need to act as constant Sherpa to civilization’s problems in hopes that 1) my tiny efforts will in some way “make the world a better place” for everyone else and 2) people will learn vicariously and do personally. Plus, I get a happy, fuzzy feeling when I am of assistance to someone.
On the other hand, my faltering hope in the general public has left me questioning the plausibility of the aforementioned proceeds of my actions. Additionally, failure to perform my self-proclaimed duty has led to consequential and unnecessary guilt.

Is it time to recalibrate my current mindset or keep on keeping on? Whilst the former will lead to less, if any, guilt (+), less kindness (+/-), and less altruism (-), the latter will lead to little to no change in guilt (-), same level of kindness (+/-), and more self-fulfillment (+) — i.e. Protect oneself or protect everyone else? That, perhaps, is the fundamental dilemma individuals face on a day-to-day basis. With the “right” formula, an egocentric, opportunist pitted in a laissez-faire society would become the perfect modern Machiavelli. I don’t think I’m mentally prepared to see little Niccolo, Jr.’s running around.

Maybe the best decision involves not scrutinizing the situation with such a black-and-white demeanor. Maybe I simply shouldn’t think so much. Maybe I should start learning to forgive myself. Maybe…
I bore thee. Such self-indulgent and dizzying musings should be done solely in my head, anyway.

So, on another note — I finally bought one of Betsey Johnson’s wonderful dresses. It’s burgundy and mauve colored, velvet, with spaghetti straps. Her dresses tend to run in abnormally small sizes (relatively speaking) so I had to buy a large, otherwise my bust wouldn’t fit, and I certainly don’t want to look like Dolly Parton – blegh. I’ll take a picture of it when I stop feeling lazy – Ha!

I’m convinced that listing my predominate personal vexations will help me clear this fuliginous air. So for the sake of my sanity, please bear with me.

Pet peeves:

1) Park and re-park! It takes no more than 3 minutes to re-park your car from its confounded anfractuous position to one that’s actually safe for humanity — you’re posing a hazard to everyone, including yourself… and I’m tired of discovering new indentations on my beautiful car.
2) Shopping carts go where? Certainly not behind, next to, or in front of my vehicle (nor anyone else’s for that matter). The “Return Shopping Carts Here” signs are placed in various locations for a reason. Goodness knows your rotund behind needs those few extra steps of movement anyway.
3) ~Open door, sit, flush, open door~ What’s missing? Wash your hands after you use the restroom! With soap! Although I’m sure you’ve invested your heart and soul into creating this wonderful gift, I cannot and will not accept your 5-week old germs.
4) Scantily clad, corpulent individuals — enough said.

I’m actually quite surprised I’ve only managed to list 4. Alas, though not a bete noire, I have recently discovered that I simply no longer possess the mentality to successfully relate to acutely dramatic individuals, especially ones who exude a perfect state of contentment one day with bursts of vivacity ricocheting off on all tangents and, then, out-of-the blue, become infested with despair. To such individuals, I only have one plea — Please, find help and resolve your issues for the good of your own mental health and that of humanity.

*Note: The “About” (Révélé) page has been reconstructed to be more user-friendly, instead of the former, contrived approach that resembled more of an application essay for a nanny position than its original intendment.

I don’t know how else to put it — Life is different outside of the jail-like dormitory. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the company of my hall-mates; the atmosphere per se just felt suffocating. My new condo, however, is absolutely magnificent. We have a small garden in the front and a patio and creek in the back. There are even fireflies outside the front door at night!

Since I cannot fully describe the house in words, I decided to take some pictures of a few of the main rooms:

Living room   Upstairs to the bedrooms   Bar table

Breakfast/Dining room       Kitchen

There’s even a guest bedroom; hence, if anyone ever wants to visit, there’s a place (a very nicely furnished place) for you to stay!

Guest room

And here is my exceedingly eccentric roommate, “Krebs,” fashioning a beautiful white gown, i.e. her bed-sheet. It took some severe schmoozing on my part to convince her to wear it.

Krebs in her bed-gown

I think that’s enough pictures for one entry… Onwards to more pressing matters.

My societal perspective (up until recently) seemed to have never surpassed the bubble I had been residing in, my reality obscured by the suburban life I led whereby the only real homeless and severely deprived individuals I saw were from the passenger seat of my mother’s Benz ML350. All along, I believed I was commendable for merely feeling sympathetic for their situation and giving them a couple of dollars or buying them a meal; all along, I regarded them as nonentities who roamed the streets desperate for a cigarette or beer; all along, I cared for the wrong reasons.

Their lives truly are pitiful — so fixated on materials they abuse to escape the deplorable reality in which they’ve managed to land themselves and with no normal human being to share their tale because all the fast-paced, self-absorbed individuals walking through them are too obsessed with leading their sybaritic life and sustaining their haute monde facade to be seen engaging in a conversation with a filthy hobo.

Now that I live so far off campus, riding the Capitol Metro has become a daily wont. As such, I’ve seen my fair share of derelicts. I’ve seen them digging through the wastebin in hopes for a bus ticket that has not already expired. I’ve seen one individual who was so famished, every vein and every muscle could be clearly distinguished under his sun-scathed skin. Somehow, though, I have more respect for these people than most of the self-professed “accomplished” personages who occupy the same bus. There were the bus drivers who made snide remarks to the less well-dressed occupants of the cart (or oftentimes simply ignored them) but remained unbearably friendly with the soignee females. Then, there were the selfish glitterati in their refined suits who shamelessly placed their leather suitcases on the empty seat beside them, fully aware of the fact that an elderly couple just boarded the bus. Ironically, who always did give up their seats for others? The foul-smelling, rag-wearing individuals.

Last week, I came across another such incredulous scenario. A woman of about 35 began having a one-sided verbal contention with the bus driver for no apparent reason that went on for at least 10 minutes. When the hobo sitting next to me asked the woman to please stop fighting, the woman screamed back, “Don’t you dare talk to me! You’re a bum. I ain’t listening to you. I’m smarter than you and all your grandsons. At least I got a job, you dumb-ass bum.” As if that was not enough, 4 more started criticizing the “bum,” forcing him to ran off the bus at the next stop. Can these fools’ minds be any more distorted than they already are?

I am appalled by the current state of “elite” society. What makes you any better than the homeless man who can’t withdraw himself from his alcohol addiction? His lack of self-control is no worse than your lack of respect for others you deem to be unworthy, and your self-proclaimed superiority is equally as detestable.

If you want to know what a man’s like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.

And on that note, I must now depart for a quick breakfast and then onwards to the bus. Au revoir!

Many elements of our universe function in algorithmic patterns, such as philosophy — The Turing Test; mathematics — The Sieve of Eratosthenes; pastimes — Chess (MTD-f, specifically, in reference to computer programs); economics — Algorithmic trading; psychology — The Thurstone Scale. These are only a few examples. What if, say, each individual’s degree of generosity could be characterized based on a formula, or a graph?

Bacteria multiply by binary fission after reaching a certain size. Their maximum growth rate in a given medium at a certain temperature is consistent from trial to trial. In other words, if you put the same bacteria into the same conditions, they will always take the same amount of time to double in number. A growth curve can be constructed to denote the “doubling time” or “generation time.”

Typically, three stages are observed. “Lag” phase, the first, represents a period of adjustment for the bacteria after they are introduced into the new medium. It takes them some time to “gear up” their own enzyme levels, metabolic precursors, etc. to make full use of the newly available nutrients. The growth is low but increases steadily. When the growth rate hits its maximum, the bacteria are said to be in “log” or “exponential” phase. Bacteria will stay in log phase until nutrients begin to run out and, thus, enter “stationary” phase, a time of declining growth rate. Sometimes a fourth stage is observed, “death” phase, where the number of bacteria decreases dramatically as cells begin to die off due to crowding, lack of resources, etc.

Because the growth of the bacterial culture is exponential in nature, semi-log paper is utilized in order to represent this trend.

Note: Different species of bacteria have different doubling times; however, the general trend of “lag,” “log,” “stationary,” and “death” phases are similar for all.

Growth Curve

As observed in the graph above, there are two curves present — The absorbance curve corresponds to the amount of turbidity present in the samples of bacteria taken at each consecutive time interval whilst the cell number, i.e. titer, illustrates the actual number of living bacterial cells present at each consecutive time interval. The concept is that as growth progresses, the sample would become more turbid due to the opacity of cells, as would the cell number; thus, the absorbance and titer curves are parallel to each other under normal circumstances. Additionally, the actual number of cells can never surpass the amount of turbidity.

This general “growth curve” idea can, thus, be adopted to depict human opportunity and willingness for generosity.

Each individual’s degree of generosity varies depending on their personality and the presence of extraneous variables much like a bacterium’s doubling time is dependent on its species and other factors, which will be discussed shortly. Using bacterial growth curve as reference, the absorbance curve symbolizes one’s opportunity for altruism whilst the titer exemplifies one’s willingness for altruism. One’s willingness will never surpass one’s opportunity to contribute. You may argue that in a circumstance where a certain person is someway impaired, hindering his/her opportunity to succor, but wills to help, that person’s willingness surpasses his/her opportunity. That, however, is not the case. If said person were truly willing to contribute, he/she would devise a way to overcome the obstacle(s), even if s/he would be helping indirectly. Willingness, which indicates desire and completion of task, would equal opportunity in such a situation.

Let’s now adjust the graph to fit the new conditions, shall we?

AofB2

Lag Phase: Recognition*

During the lag phase, the individual becomes aware of his/her new environment and will slowly adjust to his/her surroundings. The term “environment” may denote any atmosphere — A small group gathering, a city, a library, etc. Once the entity becomes comfortable, s/he will begin to acknowledge his/her potential to assist those whom occupy the same environment. The duration of the lag phase is dependent on which individual is being observed, but the same individual will always take the same amount of time to adapt to each new environment, extrinsic factors aside.

Log Phase: Progression*

Increasing opportunities for charity will be thrust upon the individual as time progresses. Initially, the individual may feel reluctant to succor but a gradual escalation in willingness will be observed as more resources and contingencies for selectivity are offered. This phenomenon resembles a ball cycling downhill — Once it [the rolling] starts, conscious effort must be exerted in order to stop it.

Stationary Phase: Deliberation*

There comes a point when one realizes how much effort has already been invested into a subject(s) and begins to evaluate whether future sacrifice ought to be proffered. During this time, one may feel compelled to finish his/her current beneficences but remains ambivalent towards further benefactions.

Death Phase: Declension**

If the individual decides to remain philanthropic, then a downward curve representing that environment [the environment the individual is currently occupying] will not be observed. However, if the alternative decision is made, the death phase will be observed on the graph.

* Under the null hypothesis that no extraneous variables are present.
** Not always observed. Presence of death phase is dependent on outcome of stationary phase and extraneous variables.

The scenario below summarizes the aforementioned stages of generosity in a more comprehensible manner. (Please excuse the names — The author was having a little fun.)

Mary Anne Lou attends a party in celebration for Bobby Joe’s twenty-first birthday. Unaccustomed to the drinking atmosphere, she feels remotely aloof at first but soon finds the company enjoyable. Billy Bob, Jr. (one of the guests) manages to consume so much alcohol he is physically and mentally incapable of driving his tractor home. Mary Anne Lou, the only sober invitee, volunteers to drive Billy Bob.

Upon returning to the party, Mary Anne Lou is bombarded with a myriad of requests for transportation back to their [the intoxicated guests] homes as well. Realizing that the party has, thus, ended and that these dipsomaniacs are a hazard to themselves, others on the road, and the unsuspecting cows, she escorts each of them to their home. Much to Mary Anne Lou’s dismay, the last passenger has an esophagogastric dysfunction, leading to all sorts of different aromatic souvenirs in her truck. Guess who gets to clean up the mess?

The subsequent morning, the exhausted Mary Anne Lou receives a call from Betty Sue and Earlene — They had left their purses at Bobby Joe’s house and request she fetch and deliver the purses to them. What will Mary Anne Lou do?

Up till now, we’ve only delved into the variable-independent aspects of human generosity. However, the outcome of everyday occurrences is, indubitably, governed by a myriad of extrinsic factors. Hence, let’s now examine bacterial growth taking these extrinsic factors into account.

Many people have heard of ampicillin, chlorine dioxide (bleach), and/or chloramphenicol, but few understand their significance other than “they’re antibiotics/disinfectants that… help people stay healthy?”

Bacteriostatic agents stop the growth of bacteria but do not kill them, e.g. chloramphenicol. In the event a bacteriostatic antibiotic is added to microorganism sensitive to it, both turbidity and titer would level off and stay constant. For bactericidal non-bacteriolytic agents, e.g. bleach, which simply kill the bacteria, a drastic decrease in cell number would result whilst the turbidity would level off and stay constant. Finally, bactericidal bacteriolytic agents such as ampicillin kill bacteria by lysing their cell envelope; thus, both turbidity and titer would drop drastically.

The amount of turbidity and the number of cells observed within an allotted time is dependent on (1) the type of antibiotic and (2) when the antibiotic was administered. A variety of different growth curves can, thus, be obtained through altered combinations of agents implemented at different time intervals.

Extrinsic variables that act on our original model of generosity work in a similar manner. Take the Mary Anne Lou scenario once again for example, but this time noting extraneous factors.

Case #1:

Mary Anne Lou attends a party in celebration for Bobby Joe’s twenty-first birthday. Unaccustomed to the drinking atmosphere and lacking good company, she wishes Bobby Joe the best, bequeaths to him his presents, and leaves before she has to endure another conversation with a foul-breathed drunkard.

Extrinsic factor: Undesirable atmosphere/company
When factor took effect: Onset of lag phase
Conclusion: Because Mary Anne Lou did not successfully overcome the lag phase, no Progression resulted. Both opportunity and willingness curves flatlined at their initial stage.
Case description: Benefactostatic

AofB3

Case #2:

Mary Anne Lou attends a party in celebration for Bobby Joe’s twenty-first birthday. Unaccustomed to the drinking atmosphere, she feels remotely aloof at first but soon finds the company enjoyable. Billy Bob, Jr. (one of the guests) manages to consume so much alcohol he is physically and mentally incapable of driving his tractor home. Mary Anne Lou, the only sober invitee, volunteers to drive Billy Bob.

Because of the time, Mary Anne Lou decides not to return to the party, instead, selects to drive back home. Half-way home, however, she receives a phone call from Bobby Joe who implores that she takes his plastered friends home for safety purposes. Feeling too exhausted at this point to take care of others, Mary Anne Lou declines the request and suggests they spend the night at Bobby Joe’s house instead.

Extrinsic factor: Time, personal exhaustion
When factor took effect: Log phase
Conclusion: Though Mary Anne Lou surpassed the lag phase, extrinsic factors contributed to her subsequent decline in willingness to continue sacrificing herself for others. The opportunity to assist was still provided to her; hence, incline and later stagnancy are observed for that curve. Note, however, that the curve is not as steep as that of the original. This is due to the fact that the extrinsic variable was dealt before completion of the log phase.
Case description: Benefactocidal non benefactolytic

AofB4

Once again, a variety of outcomes may ensue — These are only a few simple examples. Typically, though, a depressed willingness curve is observed. This can be explained with one of two opposing, yet strikingly similar, perspectives.

As has been implied throughout this entry, humans are inherently good. It is due to the numerous extraneous factors that one becomes selfish and hostile. Those who are obstinately able to overlook these negative, extraneous factors are, then, capable of assisting others ad infinitum. Such individuals, unfortunately, are on the brink of extinction.

The alternative school of thought, which proposes that humans are inherently evil, is likewise justifiable. The aforementioned extraneous factors are good in this case. Those who are persistently able to recognize these seemingly subtle but more often than not blatantly obvious extraneous factors and respond accordingly are, then, capable of assisting others ad infinitum. These individuals are also on the brink of extinction.

Whether you hold the former perspective or the latter, the general idea remains the same — We reside in a macrocosm where the majority of people give little to no thought for others, and even if they do, it would only be a short-term affair. Once they tire of their dependability, previous acts of compassion can no longer provide “warm-and-fuzzy” feelings, or these feelings are no longer worth the effort. Furthermore, few of these short-term affairs are altruistic in nature; most are conceived from ulterior motives.

So, before you go off on a rant about how dismal the world is, how unlucky you are, and/or how rapacious the current society is, ask yourself — What can I change about myself first to make the world a better place before criticizing everyone else? It’s impossible to make others perceive the condition of world in the same manner as you see fit.

You can’t make others see, especially when doing so is against their will.

And on that note, I shall depart for bed. Au revoir until next time, my little munchkins.

Apropos of recent FDA proceedings, I feel a rant is in order.

Although the article can be accessed in the Nouvelles section of this website, I will disclose it again below for easy-reference purposes:

6/22/07: For the first time, manufacturers of vitamins, herbal pills and other dietary supplements will have to test all of their products’ ingredients. The Food and Drug Administration said Friday it is phasing in a new rule that is designed to address concerns that existing regulations allowed supplements onto the market that were contaminated or didn’t contain ingredients claimed on the label.

Obviously, I must have been too ignorant and trusting to believe that the American federal agency in the Department of Health and Human Services was sensible enough to test the products before they are shelved for public use. According to a survey back in 2001, 59% of the population take dietary supplements, which I’m sure has only increased over the past 6 years as people’s concerns for potential risks decreased. Sure, I suppose some people may regard vitamins as inducing a placebo effect, but that doesn’t exculpate the government’s lackadaisical demeanor. Who knows what parsimonious yet greedy companies could be adding into these pills? There have been a plethora of instances where the FDA has not been careful in its regulation of pharmaceutical products whereby people taking such medications began to drop dead in the middle of the streets. If you’re interested in such details, examples are presented as follows (Or you can simply look at the pretty pictures of molecules):

Case 1: Thalidomide

Thalidomide is a hypnotic and anti-nausea drug that was given to many patients, including pregnant women, in the late 1950’s to early 1960’s.

There is one stereocenter in thalidomide. In the rotating animated views of the two thalidomide enantiomers, notice how subtle the differences are in structure between the enantiomers.

Thalidomides

The drug was given as a racemic mixture. Unknown at the time, the (S)-(-) enantiomer (but not the (R)-(+) enantiomer, although this is still controversial) is transformed in patients to two compounds that are embryotoxic and teratogenic. Regardless of whether one or both enantiomers are involved, taking thalidomide by pregnant women caused severe birth defects including abnormal (missing) limbs, as well as ear, eye, heart and gastrointestinal problems in 10,000 babies born. Interestingly, the two thalidomide enantiomers undergo interconversion in animals, so just giving the (R)-(+) isomer would metamorphose into the (S)-(-) enantiomer.

Case 2: Ecstasy

Serotonin, also known as 5-HT (5-hydroxytryptamine), is a neurotransmitter found at the synapses of certain neurons, i.e. it is released by the tip of one stimulated neuron and recognized by a specific serotonin neurotransmitter receptor on an adjacent neuron, causing it to fire. In this way, the nerve impulse is propagated throughout the nervous system. Note: After a nerve fires at a synapse, the neurotransmitter must be taken back up by the original neuron and transported back into a synaptic vesicle so that it is ready to fire again, called “re-uptake.”

Neorons that release different neurotransmitters are found in different parts of the nervous system. Serotonin is found in parts of the brain associated with memory, emotions, and feelings. It is also important for body temperature regulation among other things.

MDMA or ecstasy causes the rapid release of serotonin from neurons, in essence, causing many to fire at once due to the similarities in molecular shape. This can result in an intense feeling of well-being and is found to be pleasurable by some. Recent research reveals that the serotonin is released because the MDMA interacts with the proteins responsible for transporting serotonin around the neuron as it gets ready to fire.

Ecstasy and Serotonin

Every generation, young people have believed they have found the first truly safe recreational drug. First it was LSD in the 60’s, and then it was cocaine. Both have been shown to be harmful in numerous ways. Later, ecstasy had been touted as being safe and were, at one period, sold in stores. This is truly terrifying as ecstasy has recently been found to be extremely dangerous, causing what appears to be permanent brain damage with even a single use. No, this is not overstated propaganda to stop use of a drug. It is a scientific warning that ecstasy users are harming themselves, perhaps permanently.

Through mechanisms that are only now being understood, it turns out that the serotonin containing neurons die in response to exposure to ecstasy. They undergo programmed cell death — apoptosis. The first result of this is that users have to take more ecstasy to get the same effect, causing even more damage with subsequent use. Clinical studies have also established that this is associated with loss of memory function. It is a very long lasting effect, and it is feared to be permanent. A significant number of animals in studies die from hyperthermia when given even one dose of ecstasy, i.e. they lose control of their body temperature and die.

Case 3: Seldane 

Histamine is used as a signal in the body. Duing an allergic response, e.g. in your nose, if a pollen grain is recognized by specific receptors, that triggers release of histamine. (In hayfever, pollen is mistaken for a parasite by allergic individuals.) The histamine, in turn, causes the release of mucous to try and eliminate the invading parasite/pollen.

Seldane (terfendine) was designed to have the same pharmacophore as benadryl and introduced as a next generation antihistamine that did not cause drowsiness. Unfortunately, a few people died of heart failure when they took seldane. It was later determined that the seldane structure (with X = methyl on the uppermost structure) was not actually the antihistamine, instead, seldane was toxic to the heart.

Seldane, Benadryl, and Histamine

In normal people, seldane is circulated through the liver where it is rapidly converted to allegra (fexofenadine), with X = CO2H. The enzyme that carries out this reaction is called P450 and this is the normal mechanism by which molecules are removed from the bloodstream: oxidation. Normally, this conversion happens so fast that there are no ill effects from cardiotoxicity from seldane, and the allegra that is produced acts as an effective antihistamine. However, some patients were taking medications that blocked the action of P450, so these patients could not convert seldane to allegra. They had high levels of seldane in their bloodstream and they died from heart failure. Some common drugs such as anti-fungals and penicillins block P450. Apparently, during initial testing, seldane had never been tested on patients taking these medications.

~Les la fin~

(Why, yes, organic chemistry lecture was extremely useful for me.) If you’ve managed to comprehend all that — Splendid!

In the situations aforementioned, the FDA did implement regulations eventually; backtracking, however, does not resuscitate victims that should not have died in the first place due to the FDA’s imprudent disregard. The point here being the old adage “Once burned, twice shy” doesn’t seem to concern the FDA. Albeit they are enforcing tests now, they should have done so decades before. I’m disgusted with constantly being surrounded by incompetent fools we call “the government.”

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