J.D. Moyer

sci-fi writer, beat maker, self-experimenter

Month: March 2013

Sci-Fi Level Medical Advances, Part II (grow new teeth, cure baldness, take a vaccine to prevent heart attacks)

I'm a blogger, Jim, not a doctor!

I’m a blogger, Jim, not a doctor!

I like Rob Lowe’s character Chris Traeger on Parks and Recreation. “Medical science has predicted that the first man to live to be 150 years old has already been born,” he says. “I believe I am that man.” Or something to that effect.

In honor of supplement-popping longevity seekers everywhere, here’s my latest collection of recent medical advances that seem to come from the realm of science fiction. Part I is right here.

‘Master switch’ drug kills cancers

Gene Therapy Increase Mouse Lifespan by 24%

Liquid-Plumr for the circulatory system

Male Birth Control, 100% Effective and Reversible

Nanotech Dental Fillers Kill Bacteria and Regenerate Decayed Teeth

Grow New Teeth

Baldness cure could be on shelves in two years

Nanoparticle Completely Eradicates Hepatitis C Virus

New antibiotic cures disease by disarming pathogens, not killing them

New Drug Kills Cancer Cells Without Toxic Effects

Scientists Identify Gene Required for Nerve Regeneration

Vaccine to stop heart attacks could be here in 10 years

and this one just in, from reddit …

World’s smallest blood monitoring implant tells your smartphone when you’re about to have a heart attack

What do you think? Obviously not all of these will pan out and become effective treatments for human beings. But some probably will. We live in exciting times.

Steve Pavlina Doesn't Get Income Inequality

Sometimes I read a blog post that makes me so mad, I need to write a blog post.

Such was my reaction to Steve Pavlina’s post “Data Has No Power Over You” re: the youtube video about income inequality (above).

You’ve probably already seen the video. If not, it’s worth watching. The main point, that most of us aren’t aware of just how extreme income inequality is in the United States, is an important one.

So why did Steve’s post piss me off? I’ve linked to many of Steve Pavlina’s posts, and I enjoy his writing. He is both practical and spiritual. His writing tends to emphasize changes in attitude and framing; he uses phrases like “aligning yourself with abundance.” Phrases like this make my B.S. meter go off, but I tolerate them from Pavlina because he doesn’t discount the need for action, hard work, and changing habits.

What irritates me about Steve’s post (which includes phrases like “Don’t fuss over what strangers are doing or not doing with their assets.”) is that it ignores the fact that extreme income inequality hurts all of us. We don’t need to be passive and accept income inequality. We can vote for more progressive taxation, and government spending that preserves wealth (a real national health care system, for example, would prevent millions of bankruptcies among middle-class and poor families).

I completely believe in personal responsibility, but I also believe that we should strive for a more equal, more fair, more compassionate society. So many people seem to think that these views are opposed, but they’re not.

To be clear, I’m not swallowing the message of the video whole; there are some inaccuracies worth pointing out:

  1. Perfect wealth equality doesn’t happen under socialism, or communism, or any other system. Wealth equality has never happened in any nation, ever.
  2. The video refers only to wealth distribution and ignores wealth creation. The size of the pie is just as important, or more so. Equal wealth distribution, where everyone is poor, is not a desirable condition.
  3. The video is presented as if by an individual citizen. To my eye, the video looks professionally produced (high-end motion graphics, narration, sound quality, and music), and is posted with a throwaway account on youtube (user “politizane”, with only one video). This post on Mother Jones claims that “politizane” is a freelance filmmaker, proficient in After Effects, staying anonymous in order to “avoid losing clients.” Could be true … but I remain skeptical regarding the source and agenda behind all anonymously posted content.

New Jondi & Spesh Release — Cycle Three

I’ve got a new release out today on Beatport with my longtime music collaborator and business partner DJ Spesh. I don’t ask for donations or have a “tip jar” on this blog, but I always appreciate track purchases. Many thanks!

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Why Money Is Bad For Art

How do you measure the value of your time?

How do you measure the value of your time?

As usual, I’ve been juggling things I need to do, things I want to do, and things I end up doing that are neither, and feeling like there isn’t enough time for all of it.

You might think that the “answer” to this “problem” would be to increase my efficiency (maybe using the Pareto principle, or David Allen’s GTD system). Or, I could reduce the number of commitments and activities in my life. I’m a dad, husband, database developer, blogger, music producer, label runner, event promoter, radio show host, and aspiring novelist — mostly by choice. Nobody is making me pack my dance card that full.

An alternate solution — one that occurred to me after reading Elizabeth Dunn’s essay “Why We Feel Pressed For Time” — is to instead consider and evaluate the conditions and assumptions that lead me to feel pressed for time in the first place.

One of these conditions in affluence.

Dunn hypothesizes that we feel pressed for time because of our high hourly rates (and/or high salaries). People who don’t make as much money feel less pressed for time, because they actually don’t perceive their time as “precious” like high earners do. They’re a bit more casual in the way they spend their time, and they don’t worry about “wasting it” so much.

In Western culture, the more affluent you are, the busier you get. This is a self-imposed psychological trap. Quoting Dunn, “simply perceiving oneself as affluent might be sufficient to generate feelings of time pressure.” (Dunn cites research by DeVoe and Pfeffer that backs up this claim — it’s worth reading her essay).

So why is this bad for art, as my title asserts?

Art takes time. Time where you walk in circles, explore blind alleys, and spend entire mornings working hard only to throw your results into a literal or digital wastebasket.

In my own experience, making art only feels productive about one session in three. In fact you are usually making progress (exploring blind alleys counts), but it doesn’t feel like it.

This feeling was easier to tolerate when I was young and broke. My time didn’t feel as valuable. What else would I be doing? Delivering pizzas? In college, when my part time work earned me about $12/hour at most, I would often spend six to ten hour stretches studying synthesizer manuals and plugging MIDI notes into the sequencer on my MacPlus computer. Now, as a professional freelance consultant and business owner, I find it much harder to dedicate large chunks of time to meandering creative work.

The way to escape this trap is to define my purpose in life explicitly. My chosen life purpose centers around creating artistic works, and I remind myself of this daily. It’s always “worth it” to pursue my life’s work, even if my efforts don’t lead to any kind of obvious gains (piles of gold coins, fancy cheese and wine, the respect and admiration of my peers, and beautiful women wanting me).

If you don’t define your life purpose, mainstream cultural values will seep in and define “value” for you. In today’s environment that means money. Valuing your time only in terms of money will paralyze you as an artist.

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