Tuesday, December 29


यादों का साथ छोड़ भी नहीं सकते
यादों को मिटा भी नहीं सकते
इन यादों का भी क्या कहना,
कम्बक्त पीछा नहीं छोड़ते

Think of all those good and bad memories and just before you leave this year to take on the new one, spend a few quiet moments to learn from them. Learn from them to make yours' and others' lives better.

Wednesday, December 16

Have you watched CNN lately?

I am not a CNN-watcher, in fact I hate them-I think they do a poor job of news reporting. They borrow most of their stuff from you tube anyway so why bother with CNN. Anyway that is not what this post is about- recently on one of rare CNN watching sessions (might I add that such sessions last hardly a minute or two), there was this advert. An advert about "Made in China" products, promoting that Made in China actually means Made with China (don't worry even if they take over the world, they would do it politely, placing adverts first!)
So here it goes, watch the video here (I do think that this advert is well made, if only it were an ad for something else I like)

And yeah you guessed it right, the Chinese Government paid for it, and the ads first came out on CNN-Asia (that was not long ago actually). You can read about it here or here.

Well played Beijing, spending millions to make sure your low-quality products are out of your hands and into the consumers'

Monday, December 7

Do you bond?

Want people to trust you more or want to make an impression on your first date- try this!

This picture is from here

For someone like me who is in love with the subject of social bonding but not have had the time to stay up to date with it, this seminar was perfect.

Larry Young started his seminar with an introduction to monogamy. Did you know that while ~90% of bird species are monogamous, less than 5% of mammals exhibit monogamy? Anyway his talk focused on molecules oxytocin and vasopressin. They are both hormones and neurotransmitters. If you do not already know, oxytocin is a key hormone in stimlating milk ejection when a baby feeds and stimulating uterine contractions during birth. While these aspects of oxytocin have been quite well characterized, recently it has been shown to be involved in establishing maternal instincts and pair bonding nature (Larry Young studies the neurobiology of pair bonding in prairie voles).

I thought he made an interesting evolutionary correlation by suggesting that in females pair bonding is an extension or adaptation of the maternal instincts while in males it is more an adaptation of territorial behaviour that is controlled by vasopressin, a hormone that is very similar to oxytocin. Males have more of vasopressin which is associated with their territorial and aggressive behaviours. If you paid attention in your high school biology class, you would know vasopressin as the antidiuretic hormone (ADH).

He showed data to support his argument- basically in prairie vole females that bond there is more oxytocin and in males there is more vasopressin. There are all correlative confirmations. An interesting conclusion comes from a study where they made mice which lacked oxytocin and showed that these mice suffer from something that is known as "social amnesia". David Adam has this to say about that study in Nature News-

"Love is chemical and so, it seems, is remembering it. Male mice missing certain brain proteins cannot recall which females they have had sex with. The forgetful fellas can blame this unfortunate amnesia on their DNA: a missing gene means their 'social' memory fails them."

Yet another interesting paper by Kosfeld and others, suggests that oxytocin plays a role in trust in humans, I know it just gets better and better. They put their subjects in to two groups- investor and trustee, basically a financial situation. The subjects were either sprayed with oxytocin or a placebo. Below is a part of their abstract (their work was published in Nature, 2005)

"Trust pervades human societies. Trust is indispensable in friendship, love, families and organizations, and plays a key role in economic exchange and politics. In the absence of trust among trading partners, market transactions break down. In the absence of trust in a country's institutions and leaders, political legitimacy breaks down. Much recent evidence indicates that trust contributes to economic, political and social success. Little is known, however, about the biological basis of trust among humans. Here we show that intranasal administration of oxytocin, a neuropeptide that plays a key role in social attachment and affiliation in non-human mammals, causes a substantial increase in trust among humans, thereby greatly increasing the benefits from social interactions."

I liked Young's talk for one more reason- he was FUNNY!

Having commitment issues, trust issues- the be-it-all-have-it-all hormone might be your way to go.
Better yet banking folks should spray us all with it, may be then we would begin to trust the world financial institutions better! Well a few companies (check the link from the first sentence of this post) have already capitalized on it- a typical capitalistic attitude- BEWARE! Remember it definitely is not the know-all-end-all of this issue, if you wait just a few more years there might be a super-enhanced version of "Liquid Trust" for y'all to try!

Wednesday, December 2

Thanksgiving Holiday on I-95

This Thanksgiving holiday was fun in its own way. Thursday night after a party a friend's place, the wise guy and I decided to take a trip down south. We left that night, stayed at West Haven for the night and reached New Jersey the next morning (of course I must say we started with getting lost- the wise guy could not remember his way out of Boston!). We had great food cooked by the friend's wife  in Jew Jersey. We ended with some shopping. Well $100 bucks is all we spent, so we certainly did not become a statistic for black friday shopping! The next morning we left for Delaware to see the little one, we left around 11AM. And this is where our adventure starts with all traffic stopped for about 2 hrs on I-95 about 30 minutes from the Delaware bridge. It was an adventure because I had never before seen people taking a stroll on I-95, not just them- some even took their dogs out for a walk. There was a family playing ball and a couple romancing ahead of us. There were men who could not control their urge and that is definitely a first in this country! I think pictures speak a thousand words, don't they?

Check the north bound route guys, how annoying is it to see others just whiz past you!

I had fun until we started to move and go past the reason for our delay- a completely charred trailer, I think it would be a feat if the driver of that truck managed to survive this crash,...you can read more about the crash here.

Wait, it did not stop there- once we were past the accident, we breezed through to the friend's place. We reached their community and then called them to ask for their house number- guess what neither the husband nor the wife picked up their phones. Okay, so what should we do? we decided to eat (such long delays and empty stomach does not bode well at all with me!)- okay eat where? this place seemed like it was in the middle of nowhere. Thankfully someone actually had their shop open. Believe me when I say a grilled cheese sandwich had not tasted so good ever before. But thankfully once we were done with our sammies, we were able to get hold of the friends and got to see the little ones (friends' son and  the brother's daughter)!

We only stayed for an hour or so, we had to leave for Philadelphia to meet another friend. We reached Philadelphia in an easy-breezy-45minutes. We stayed overnight at her place. A good night's rest made only a slight difference for our what seemed like eternal drive back to Boston!
In the end it was all good because we did get to meet so our friends. Well I am back in Boston and back in action again!
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