Sunday, November 29, 2009

A Call to Herp Breeders!

Have you ever seen the Gecko gecko? The common name is Tokay Gecko. I used to own one a long time ago. It has long since died, but that gecko has traumatized me for life. It was nasty, and always snapping at me when I was trying to clean it's tank. In truth, it has bitten me more than once.

I originally brought it because it was beautiful and big. I figured that as long as I kept it well fed, it would be happy. This is not the way things have turned out. The more I fed it, the bigger it got, and the more unhappy it was!

For those of you who have no idea of what I am talking about, here is a picture of a Tokay Gecko:

While it does look beautiful and elegant, I have to admit, it was meaner than a picked on pit bull with a thorn in his ass and a score to settle. Many other animals seem to be domesticated just fine. Tokay Geckos are not in this category.

However I am not losing hope. I know that recently, the silver fox has been bred to be domesticated. You can read about it on wiki here. On the bottom of the wiki article, there are also links to the primary literature dealing with this issue. It is amazing that the fox was domesticated! I really want one, not only because they look cute, but because the implications of "wildness" seem to be directly correlated with genetics. In other words, a domesticated fox, with a differing genome than the foxes in the wild is a direct test of the evolutionary theory. Without evolution, this would have never happened. Of course, natural selection played little role in the domestication of the fox, but selection from a human hand, or from nature, go hand in hand. Here is a page from Cornells website about fox domestication, with more primary literature as references.

So now for the challenge. I am asking for herpetologists to undergo a similar experiment. Tame the wild beast! Gecko gecko with it's current aggressive phenotype is not suitable as a pet. While it may be a voracious eater, it needs to be tame to be in the homes of human beings! If it can be done with a dog, it most certainly can be done with geckos. It may be difficult at first, because so many individuals seem to display an aggressive phenotype. However, if a "not so aggressive" phenotype does exist, it needs to be exploited! These are the individuals that we need to mate with others, so that we can select amongst the most tame.

Of course an experiment of this nature will be difficult at first. For example, choosing non aggressive adults does not necessarily mean that their tameness is due to genetics. It can be that those individuals have acclimated to being handled by people. For these reasons, the offspring of these experiments need to be handled as little as possible so the true genotype can be determined. On a side note, it might do breeders well to select for individuals who are not only tame genotypically, but contain the right genetic code so that they have the ability to "learn" to be tamed easily. This second point is important also. We need geckos which can learn the way in which their handlers handle them. People treat their animals differently, so this ability will make Tokays more acceptable as pets for more people.

As for me, if I ever get a gecko, it will be a species that is calm and docile. Like those Ptychozoon Kuhli:

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Working Woes

On Tuesday, I am going to Atlantic City, with other people in my job. I was invited by my boss, who decided to take everyone who wasn't working to Atlantic City. I have no money, but since he is paying the travelling expenses, I figured I would go. There is also an indoor pool (or so I am told by Cynthia), but I am in no position to wear swimming trunks. My body type is not the type to be flaunted. I desperately need to work out.

I also work Wednesday morning in the cafe, so I hope our little Jersey trip does not take too long. Working the morning shift usually means I need to get up at 4:30 in the morning, to leave at 5:30 to be at work by 7. I also plan on bringing my book. I am not into gambling at all, or Atlantic City, but for the job I will go. I suppose there will be many photo ops, and cool places to be. But I think in reality, I will mostly be reading The Greatest Show On Earth by Richard Dawkins. I just hope I don't get persecuted (as I have been before), by my religious coworkers. I might just need to let out my militant atheism on them.

But I guess the big story this week is Thanksgiving on Thursday. I had invited my friends, Anja, Morgane, and some other people over to my house. My mom always cooks the most amazing dinner, and I know my friends are far away from home. I figured I would give them a home away from home on Thanksgiving. Also, I haven't worked on Thursday for about 4 weeks. So I was sure I had Thanksgiving day off. Unfortunately, I didn't I am working from 4p.m. to 12 at night on Thursday. As a result I had to cancel on all of my friends. Hopefully the hostel does something, because I know I will be hungry. We should have a Thanksgiving here, especially since I won't be able to eat when I get home, which most likely would be between 1:30 and 2 a.m.

I actually feel really bad for cancelling on my friends. They are going back home soon, and I really wish I had more time to spend with them. Perhaps I may find time on Thursday to attend the parade in the morning. I also have Friday off, but I have to come to work to pick up my all important check. The reason this check is important is because this will be a very important weekend.

The Reptile Expo is this Sunday. I plan on going with my good friend Ernie DeMarie. It will be awesome to see him again. I feel Like I haven't seen him in forever. In all honesty, I haven't seen him since before this school year started. I may also go as far as to buy a carnivorous plant or two. Perhaps some Drosera, or a Sarracenia. The Jewel Orchids are also very pretty. They are sold mostly by the Black Jungle, but there are other vendors there as well.

Ernie still has the gecko I gave him to take care of a long time ago. He now has it as a class pet. It is always interesting to see the gecko eat. I have been told, that even after all this time, he is still a voracious eater. My current landlord does not allow me to have pets, but pretty soon I will be able to move out. If I ever find another job. My current job is really cool, but I really don't make a  lot of money. I pay rent, but I think nobody seems to care. My expenses are starting to pile up now that I have a credit card. I don't worry. I will pay it off when I can. When I can...

It is late at night, and I am feeling very chill, looking at music videos on the television. There is no one to check in, and when the bagels come in, I will wrap them. But for now, it is only me and John Mayer:

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Long Walk

As many of you know, I am not the fittest person around. I have tried many times to change this to no avail. I love food too much. Case in point a 1650 calorie ice cream with caramel and bananas, consumes on Friday, while I was out with Donna and Anya. It was ice cream/dairy!

In all honesty, I really need to work out more, but I find myself without time or resources to do so. I was looking online, and I also found that walking is a great way to loose weight. I love walking. I walk all the time. So tomorrow (Sunday the 22nd), I will personally walk from 118th Street and 7th Avenue to Grand Street, while tweeting major landmarks along the way. This walk alone will be legendary!

I plan to first walk down to 110th Street on 7th avenue, then down to 5th ave, then down 5th to Washington Square Park, on 7th Street. From there to Broadway. from Broadway to Grand, and that will be my spectacular walk. I plan to start it as soon as I finish work, at about 8 a.m. in the morning. If you want to join me, call me! I would love some company on this long walk. If you are not in NYC, but would still enjoy following me, then you can join me on twitter at

I am not sure how long the walk will take me, but I do plan on walking briskly, to get more of a workout. Depending on how well it goes, this may be a common routine for me. I hope it does go well. I often wonder if such a walk would do anything to improve my overall health. Of course it can't do anything to make my health worse. Unless there is an iHop on the way. That would be bad...

If you have any comments questions or concerns about my long journey, feel free to email me at

You can also follow me on facebook, and on the left hand panel of this blog!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Intellectual Road is a Lonely Road

I just started reading Richard Dawkins Greatest show on Earth, and I must say it is one of the best books I have read on the subject of evolution. It is clear, concise, straightforward, and unquestionable, as facts go. However, there are some people in my job who choose not to believe in evolution. This makes me wonder if they also deny the holocaust, and the fact that the world is round.

I am not trying to insult their intelligence, or say that they are worth less than me because I believe in evolution, but I do feel like I am cast as an outsider because of my atheistic beliefs. Just because I believe I am normal because I stand perpendicular to the surface of the earth. I also consider myself average, because in most things I fall within one standard deviation of the mean. But still I am an outsider. Atheists are the least trusted group in america, below homosexuals, and trans people. I still fight for all of our rights, but I hate being cast as an outsider.
And the solution is not as easy as just waking up one day and believing in god. It is not as easy as just waking up one day and saying that Intelligent Design may be possible. Intelligent Design is impossible. Given the assumptions of intelligent design, there should not be so many breeds of dogs. The dog breeds evolved by macroevolution caused by artificial selection. And this has occurred within the time frame of recorded history. Dachshunds and Great Danes are reproductively isolated, and given the Biological species concept, should be considered different species. And they did evolve from a common ancestor, what we know to be the wolf.
And what about the German who domesticated foxes? This is important because it shows that wild animals can evolve to look and behave differently than their predecessors.
But this again does not disprove Intelligent Design. The fossil record disproves it alone. NEVER have we found dinosaur bones with the bones of modern man. And rarely do we find fossils of contemporary species deep within the history of the fossil record (like Ginko). If humans lived during the same times as the dinosaurs, why don't we see their fossils together in the fossil record? And why don't we see chicken fossils with mastodons? And why don't we see orchid fossils with Stegocephalia? It is because these species did not coexist!
What makes evolution elegant as a fact is that evolution can be proved without going into supernatural explanations. Science needs theories based on facts. Not on assumptions which cannot be proved! The existence of God is an assumption of ID which cannot be proved. So ID breaks down as a scientific explanation. Also ID does not leave us with many hypotheses which can be tested. And all the hypotheses which ID does come up with are quickly falsified. Here are a few examples.
Example 1- Fossil Record
Evolution hypothesis:
Since species are constantly evolving, we should be able to see different fossils at different periods in time.
ID hypothesis:
Since species have existed in their current form, since the beginning of life, the fossil record should contain species currently living at any given point in the fossil record.
In example 1, if we look at the data, we can quickly REJECT THE HYPOTHESIS from ID.
Example 2- New Diseases
Evolutionary Hypothesis:
Since evolution is at play, new diseases should evolve over time, from bacteria which were previously harmless, or from diseases which were not that deadly.
All diseases that occur today have always occurred, and no new diseases can ever come about, because all species that exist have always existed in their current form.
In example 2, ID fails as a hypothesis again. SARS, H1N1, and many other new diseases have come about within a human lifetime. Not to mention that Aids is a fairly new disease. Also diseases like tuberculoses can not get stronger in ID, because they would have to evolve into stronger diseases.
People who don't believe in evolution don't have a grasp on any explanation for life. Nothing in Biology makes sense except in the light of evolution. I guess that is why so few americans choose science majors. They don't understand basic concepts in life. This is sad, because they live life.
The staff where I work don't believe in evolution. I am alone. Ignorance has seperated them from me and from the true human condition. How sad.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Platonic Cuddling

I was hanging out in the Pace University library today, and the question came up as to whether platonic cuddling was possible. Now, before I begin my logical rant, I want to define what I mean by platonic cuddling. Platonic cuddling is a close and affectionate (and often prolonged) embrace that is not sexual in nature. Earlier today, I learned about another definition of platonic, from Anja, my friend. She explained to me what I now know was one of Plato's philosophical views, whereby a person or relationship is platonic, or free from physical desire. Urban Dictionary also has a definition for platonic cuddling, but it sounds more like a friends with benefits situation. I have also seen platonic cuddling between members of different species, like the tiger and the girl picture in this blog.

But in this blog, I merely want to talk about cuddling in a platonic nature. Is it possible in theory? and, probably more importantly: in what situations will platonic cuddling be acceptable?

Cuddling is a purely physical act that is done for many reasons. Usually it is for comfort but it may be used as a falling action after climax (sex), or before sex as a form of rising action, most commonly known as foreplay. However it doesn't always have to deal directly with sex. Many times people cuddle just to be comfortable, and to feel a certain closeness. That closeness is what most people find non-platonic about cuddling.

However, it is my personal belief that platonic cuddling can be achieved without the closeness usually felt in cuddling. Another friend of mine disagrees. She believes that cuddling that is platonic in nature is not achievable, merely because the closeness, and emotional aspect of cuddling would overcome any friendly aspect of a relationship. Again I disagree. Cuddling is a physical act, while usually associated with emotion, and closeness, it does not necessarily need to be associated with them. If a close embrace, like a hello hug, need not be emotional, then why does cuddling need to be emotional? Especially when it is done merely for the physical comfort and not for any emotional comfort.

Some forms of cuddling are undoubtedly platonic, and include an emotional aspect, that one might call love. I think any type of cuddling between best friends, are platonic. Many times people feel a love for their best friend, that is non sexual, but one that is more reminiscent of love for a family member. A mothers embrace for a child is platonic, as well as embracing a friend to comfort them, such as when they are crying after an emotional day. Embracing a close friend and giving them a shoulder to cry on is an ultimate form of platonic love, and it includes cuddling.

But cuddling can also be done horizontally (like on a bed, floor or couch, where both parties are lying down), which may, to some, seem like something more. Many people might argue that horizontal platonic cuddling does not exist, but in theory, I can think of at least 3 situations in which it does. Accidental, Purposeful, and Group Cuddling can all be considered platonic forms of horizontal cuddling.

Accidental horizontal cuddling can best be explained by example. Lets assume we have two individuals, who happen to be friends without sexual, or physical desire for each other. These two individuals may be doing some mundane task, such as watching a boring movie, fox news, or homework. Lets now imagine that these two individuals fall asleep, and while unconscious move into a position that is comforting for them both. When one of them wakes up, they may find comfort in the other persons warmth. While this is a physical pleasure (much like the pleasure we all feel in the morning hours when we are warm under our blankets), it is very much platonic in nature.

Purposeful cuddling can also be a form of horizontal platonic cuddling. An example of this can be cuddling to prevent cold, cuddling to give a person a shoulder to cry on, or cuddling to fight some sort of political agenda (like cuddling for peace). This type of cuddling is also dangerous, and can easily be cheated by any one of the party. How many times have we not seen a movie or television show where two people are freezing and the male suggests to the female that they both get naked and cuddle since the best heat is body heat. Now you know it can be cheated, and you have been warned.

Cuddling in a group is one of the last ways cuddling can be platonic. Think it does not exhist? Here is proof!

Now, I don't know what you readers think, but these people look extremely comfortable! Peaceful, nonsexual group cuddling between friends, unfortunately, is something not often practiced here in the U.S. I believe this type of cuddling has a very calming effect on the human psyche. I also believe that if people cuddle more often in groups, we may care about each other more. Perhaps it is only when we feel each others warmth, when we look into each others eyes, and when we pay attention to the awareness within our friends, that we can really know the true value of a human life. Platonic cuddling may not be widely practiced, but used in this way, it has the power to prevent wars.

On a slightly different note, the reason this blog entry exists is a statement to the nature of the human condition in 2009. In my opinion nothing could be more beautiful than caring so much for another person that you decide to simply take some time out to pay attention to them. Paying attention to what someone is saying is gratifying to the person talking, but paying attention to a persons inner being, the awareness or presence within the human body is another level of communication in which words cannot describe. This type of comfort may make a person feel vulnerable, which is why so many of my friends object to the idea the platonic cuddling is possible.

In reality the vulnerability they feel is normal. How often do we have someone peer into our true being without having to go through words, race, class, gender, or sexual identity. Cuddling is a form of breaking bearers between people, and, by paying attention to another person (and not just the physical person, but the awareness which is in each of us now), then true closeness and clarity can be achieved.

The fear of vulnerability may not be the only reason my friends are afraid to admit platonic cuddling exists. It may actually be deeper, such as a fear of intimacy. How many times have we actually felt someone else's awareness and presence? How many times have we stopped to acknowledge someones existence, not through words, or showing compassion, but by just lying down and enjoying someone else's ability to share a moment, and a space with you? If this seems too intimate, then it is unfortunate. I firmly believe that acknowledging someones presence can easily be done with cuddling, and the awkward intimacy someone might feel comes from not being payed attention to enough.

People are always on the cell phones, or trying to be funny, or showing a persona that is not them true selves. I am not a word, or a personality, or an emotion. I am a human being. I go through ups and downs, and the only part of my being that is consistent is the being within me that is attentive. The one that is here now aware of my surroundings. The presence of a sentient organism. Perhaps those more spiritual than me may even go as far as to call it a soul. We have lost touch with each other, and perhaps noticing each others soul is the only way to reconnect. It may be the answer to all of our problems.

Platonic cuddling should not be shunned as impossible but should be sought after. Only through love can we end war, even if it is just the love of a friend, or the love of an embrace. It need not be sexual or embarrassing, or awkward. Love is simply this: the ability to notice another persons soul. The sun does it every morning, with it's warmth upon my face. I can honestly say, I have never felt more alive and present than when I am cuddling. Not sex, nor happiness, nor excitement can emulate the emotion of calm, warmth, and attention given to me when I am being embraced by a close friend or girlfriend. Cuddle away. Love each other. And please, for the love of one another, and to show respect, keep it platonic.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Michael Moore's Will They Ever Trust Us Again?

I just finished reading Michael Moore's book, and I must say it is a very compelling pro troop piece of literature. All of the stories were written from troops, or from family and friends of people who have, or are currently serving in the U.S. military.

It is no secret that in the era of GWB, and in the post 9/11 America, U.S. patriotism reached a point where it became muddled with other ideas, such as support for the war. Supporting our troops and supporting the war in Iraq and Afghanistan are two different things. I first want to thank all the troops who are fighting in the war currently, and I also want to thank all the troops who have fought. It is because of you that this country is great. I also want to thank other patriots, such as Michael Moore, who have decided to point out injustice, and to fight for a cause. It is because of you, that Americans have a better understanding of the war, and the issues facing our troops.

The truth of the matter is, to be non supporter of health care reform, to support the war (while americans are dying needlessly, and without reason), to say gay people do not have the right to marry, is the equivalent of not caring about anyone. People who do this are mostly selfish rightwingers. But it is not only the republicans, and conservatives, but also some people who consider themselves liberal! Some people who consider themselves liberal believe they don't need to hear the stories of the people in war, because they know the people in war are suffering. Or they don't want to hear about PTSD, because they say it is too depressing, and they reply "why do you always have to talk about war all the time?"

Here is a clip from Good Asian Drivers. Maybe after listening more people will care:

A Refund!

It seems like just yesterday when I was on purchasing my first copy of Richard Dawkins The Greatest Show on Earth. However, it was a lot longer.

In September I purchased this book. It is supposed to be one of the most compelling arguments, to date, in favor of the theory of Evolution. Of course, the number one most compelling argument ever put forth was Darwins Origin of Species. But I just had to read Dawkins book. I had read Dawkins work before, a book many atheists hold as their bible, called, The God Delusion. It puts forth the argument for atheism. But after a long waiting period, it became apparent that I wasn't going to receive the book. The seller wrote to me telling me she sent it, but after the standard waiting period no book came. She promptly refunded me my money and shipping and handling. $18.99.

This worked out in my favor, since I found a new copy of the book on for less than $18. My only hope is that this copy arrives in my hands soon.

I finished reading the dangerous world of butterflies, and the diamond of darkhold.

I am currently reading Will They Ever Trust Us Again by Michael Moore. It is a compelling argument against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, straight from the soldiers and their families. This book is really an accumulation of letters sent to Michael Moore from soldiers who are against the war.

What surprised me was the right wing propaganda that is so rampant in todays armed forces. The way it is described, it sounds like a breeding ground for republicans. It is also pretty sad, since the armed forces attracts so many underprivileged young people looking for opportunity, but unaware that they are signing their life away.

Overall, it is one of those books that should be read, while seeing movies like Bowling for Columbine, Fahrenheit 9/11, and Zeitgeist.

But until The greatest story on earth comes, I will have to find something else to read.