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Rhythm, Sound & Beat: Our Genetic Cadences

For all of you music enthusiasts. Certainly for any of you drummers, you maestros of rhythm, or Lords of the Skins!

Here is the mystery:  If the rhythm is right, if the translation between inner mood and the drum membrane are perfect, then you know it instantly. “Ah, this goes with my body tempo, this connects how I feel today, how fast my heart is beating, what my thoughts are, what my hands feel like.” Drumming on the Edge of Magic: A Journey Into the Spirit of Percussion, by Micky Hart, Fredric Lieberman and Jay Stevens (1990)

I was inspired yesterday by a fellow blogger and musician (Ark)—if he considers drummers “musicians” (wink)—to write this post about how natural, how biologically embedded rhythm, patterns in sound vibrations, and beats or pulse are to the human neurology. Maybe it is different for percussionists and maybe it isn’t, the mathematics of rhythm that is, and how almost endlessly it can be shifted, divided, multiplied, or derived from previous… well, derivatives. The patterns, rhythms, and beats often have a common denominator, a baseline if you will. Yet, it is wonderfully and by no means permanent.

When the rhythm is right you feel it with all your senses, every corner of your soul and being. You don’t fight it, but instead allow yourself to be propelled and consumed by its insistent yet familiar feeling. All sense of the present moment disappears, the normal categories of time become meaningless. — Ibid

There are 12 distinct components or moods and pulses in this following 9-minute instrumental entitled La Villa Strangiato (An Exercise in Self-Indulgence). It is a human journey in sleep by a man with a lucid imagination coupled with a propensity for some extreme anxiety and/or tranquility. The epic song by Rush is from the very apropos cerebral album HemispheresOne of the tranquil components:  To Sleep, Perchance to Dream… and anxious components:  Monsters! and Monsters! (Reprise) both adaptations of a 1937 Raymond Scott jazz instrumental. I cannot fully express how masterful this piece is in complex mathematical drumming and syncopation by one Lord of the Skins that should give any percussion aficionado goose-bumps, Neil Peart!

We live on a planet of rhythm and time. A planet that completes its cycle around the sun every 365 days, with a moon that cycles around us every 28 days, and we rotate around our own axis every 24 hours. These cosmic cycles and our bodily ones, all connected to the circadian dance of day and night. The mystery of rhythm and time found for a moment in the soul’s drum. When it is right, you feel it with all your senses, every thread of your being. It is the ‘sweet spot’ of connection [to this cyclical planet and the celestial heavens in which it and we revolves]. — Ibid

Medical studies repeatedly show that getting your heart-rate up drumming or dancing, or both, for just 30 minutes a day is equal to one anti-depressant pill. My own studies have shown that dueling and complimenting another drummer on her/his kit (below) is equivalent to two pills of euphoria… similar to ecstasy, but better! And naturally legal! Can you imagine how healthy it is participating in a drum-circle with dancing!? Exercise! Get down and hard, get steamy sweaty!

Or if you prefer something more indigenous, reflective of our evolutionary roots, more primal, more Latin, then I give you Evening Samba by Mickey Hart and his indigenous percussion ensemble:

How about something highly erotic that reaches deep inside to the twisted Sorcerer/Sorceress unleashing a beast inside? And then hits your natural release, the endorphins to help carry us away, floating while time stands still, A Different Drum:

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Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Drum & Dance Always

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Boy Erased

I typically do not publish blog-posts so quickly after a previous post, for several different reasons, but this is just too important, too good, and necessary to raise awareness of a crisis that is in reality more common than most people around the world realize. What is it? It is twofold. One, the frequency of inter-sexed births around the world and how often it has been occurring throughout human history and its implications on societal (not religious or moral) norms! But this is not the real “Breaking News” story that’s going to shatter life as we know it. Second, and what IS shattering and inhumane is how Conservative, close-minded (religious?) hypocrites treat other humans (intersexed humans or LGBTQ humans) who have simply been born — from prenatal genetic developments and design — the way they were meant to be born. The abuse or mistreatment needs to be illegal and their safety and rights monitored/policed by all of society.

I have written a few posts in the past about the genetic prenatal designs for a person’s eventual gender and sexual orientation, e.g. Sexual & Gender Ambiguity: My Once Gross Ignorance. The science is overwhelming:  there are little options for a person to “choose” what they will be and how they will behave when most of their neurology, hormones, and neural-programming in the brain has simply manifested in a way it was DESIGNED to be in the first place, not only in the womb from conception, but also from genomes from many, many ancestors! Is anyone familiar with just how immeasurably these gender-sexual systems vary within populations around the world? These births happen today in at LEAST four or five different regions on Earth annually. If you are not aware, get educated; get informed and updated about just how unimaginably diverse this Earth and all her species truly are by reading this. But just as immeasurable are the vast, never-ending spectrums of gender/sexual orientations within endocrinology and neurology. In other words, just as there are obvious physical differences, there are exponentially more differences that are not physical, but internal that began early inside the mother’s womb and was finished before her third trimester. Think about that people!

And yet, for far too many decades and centuries we still have a cognitive dysfunctional sector of the human population that are grossly naive, ignorant, or in severe denial of the actual facts. And worse, those dysfunctional people want to treat these different individuals with such insensitive, inhumane, dehumanizing methods like this new 2018 film Boy Erased truthfully portrays.

Yes, these Conversion Therapy camps actually exist and ignorant religious zealots ship their kids and teenagers — who cannot help what their prenatal genetic design has made them into — off to these psychologically damaging internment camps! These “clinics” or facilities are not medically or psychologically based, much less legally licensed to perform such “therapy”! Just like bloodletting was a bogus remedy to infection, conversion therapy has no moral, medical, or scientific ground to stand on. It is child abuse. Period.

This must stop! Do everything you can to stop these abuses to children and teenagers by parents and churches that still live in the Medieval Dark Ages. How can you help and spread the awareness and higher intelligence? Go watch the movie for starters! Next, vote and campaign for the permanent closures of these (il)legal camps of child-abuse! These people (if you can call them that) simply do not understand the overwhelming science behind embryology, genetics, endocrinology, and neurology backed up by the actual, very tangible inter-sexed stats. Period. The religious-minded are horribly ignorant and misguided in this regard and many others! Educate them, save them from themselves… if possible. But do not NOT do anything. Speak out against them, stand up to them.

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For more important information on how to help and how much work/action needs to take place and continue, go here:  LGTBmap.org and get active against child-abuse!

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Returning to Mars

In October 2016 and again in October 2017 I wrote two blog-posts about our exploration and eventual colonization of the red planet Mars. To date the Soviet Union, Great Britain, and NASA have delivered a total of seven unmanned rovers to Mars. Currently there are proposals and plans for satellite orbits, landers, rovers, and eventually crews onto Mars by the U.S., the European Space Agency, China, and Russia between the mid-2030’s and 2060. The lone private enterprise so far is SpaceX. Telling and imagining these Martian efforts on television will return again this coming Monday evening, November 12th on the National Geographic Channel’s second season of “Mars.” Getting there after around 7-months of spaceflight and surviving the first SOLs/days (or seasons of the Martian calendar) are not the only serious challenges. Coexisting with each other will be another on a long, long list of challenges that never really end.

If you think coexisting is sometimes difficult here on Earth, even with family, where we have so many benefits and luxuries we take for granted daily, then talk to Gerald Carr, Edward Gibson, and William Pogue about how in 1973 just 84-days together inside Skylab 4 turned out! The biggest major problem for those three astronauts? Workaholism. Excessive workaholism to be more accurate. But to be safe and survive way out there is workaholism what will be required of Martian travelers and colonists?

There are a number of plans from various governmental, scientific, and commercial entities already in progress to gradually move humans from “Earth-reliant” stations (currently the ISS), to “Cislunar space”  that is still Earth-reliant, and then beyond our Moon into deep space travel to another planned Mars orbiting habitat/station (a transfer station, if you will), and finally onto the surface of Mars. Many supplies, equipment, and some raw materials will be waiting, shipped there for them months, years earlier. However, before the latter stages of these plans can unfold, we must first confirm that some basic elements, like water, microbes, and geothermal hot-spots underneath Martian soil, are still present in light of those components having existed in higher amounts on Mars 3.8 – 3.5 billion years ago. Dr. Dava Newman, former Deputy Administrator of NASA, explains that so far the news of necessary life-building resources on Mars are very encouraging, however:

For such a voyage [of boots on Mars], measured in years, astronauts will have to become Earth-independent, devising ways to make fuel, water, oxygen and building materials with whatever resources the Red Planet offers. If that seems as fantastical as Matt Damon growing potatoes in The Martian, Newman shrugs: Astronauts have dined on lettuce and peppers grown aboard the space station.

All the same, these are nonhuman concerns. What are the serious and pressing psychosocial challenges for space and Mars habitation? Making it to the red planet requires obvious, daunting, precise space and extra-planetary science, preparation, and training, but it requires just as much human science. Given how deterred and unfavorably psychology, neurology, biology, philosophy, and sociology (to name only five areas) have battled in the U.S. for widespread legitimacy the last century, the Human sciences are perhaps less prepared to face a life far away from our perfectly suited green and blue planet.

Here’s another influencing factor: because expeditions to Mars will likely be international collaborations, those astronauts and Martian colonists must overcome cultural differences to survive and thrive while on Mars. Communication between Earth and Martian expeditionary craft take 20-minutes to be received — which means 40-mins could pass before an answer is received on a spacecraft or Mars colony. Are these factors insurmountable? No, but they do compound the mental and behavioral health of astronauts and Martian colonists.

Earth from Mars photo

Your home from 127-million miles from Mars; taken by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter camera in Nov 2016

ISS crew-members have always praised the emotional, inspirational, and transcendental effect staring back down at Earth gives to them. But that is nothing like the possible effect of barely seeing your home as a tiny dot 35 – 37 million miles away (see MRC photo). Living in micro-gravity and zero-gravity pose several challenges on the human physiology. Space radiation has significant threats to human DNA, tissue, and cells which impact our central nervous system altering the structure and functions of the brain. Kidney stones become more common in altered gravity environments, which also leads to urinary track infections, which undetected can lead to confusion or delirium, which can be mistaken for a psychiatric disorder. And then there are the social difficulties of prolonged weightlessness and confinement of a group or crew.

In 2010-2011 the Mars-500 project, directed by the Institute of Biomedical Problems of the Russian Academy of Sciences, tested and studied six male participants from several countries for 520-days in a small Mars-like module. The results of the project revealed some encouraging as well as potentially significant psychosocial concerns. These ranged from friendly constructive interactions to errors in experiments and daily routines caused by sleep deprivation and exhaustion. Some crew-members became more sedentary after just 2-3 months. Their activities continued to decline for the next year. Due to the stress and exhaustion of two participants and simulated problem-events, 85% of the perceived conflicts among crew members and with mission control involved these two crew-members. For a better informed understanding of these psychosocial challenges in epic space-travel, read Mission to Mars by the American Psychological Association.

mars500

All of these concerns, however, do have some solutions. Surprisingly, cultural differences and language difficulties did not bear any significant influence. This is likely due to the fact that crew-members were so involved in each other’s daily routines and such intimacy is conducive to quicker collaboration and problem-resolution as opposed to those who are complete strangers and continents apart.

We are certainly prepared and capable of manned spacecraft to Mars and its colonization from a scientific nonhuman perspective, but are we as ready and prepared for the journey and life in deep space and on the red planet from a human sciences perspective? Maybe National Geographic Channel’s season 2 of Mars will help determine that… at least in the public’s mind, maybe. Come this Monday I will be watching and learning.

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Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always

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