Cigarettes May Lead To Alcoholism

Smoking is a well-known risk factor for subsequent alcohol abuse, but the mechanisms underlying this link are unknown. Now researchers reporting in the Cell Press journal Neuron on July 18 show in a study conducted in rats that even a single exposure to nicotine temporarily changes how the brain’s reward system responds to alcohol and increases the reinforcing properties of alcohol via stress hormones.

Dr. Dani and his team found that rats exposed to nicotine subsequently sought to drink alcohol more often than other rats. Also, signaling in the brain’s reward system was dampened when the nicotine-exposed animals consumed alcohol. This decreased reward response to alcohol arose via two mechanisms: an initial activation of stress hormone receptors and a subsequent increase in inhibitory signaling in the brain. These processes were responsible for causing the rats to self-administer more alcohol after nicotine exposure.
(Source: ScienceNewsline)

This makes for a pretty devastating tag-team beating on the average person *if* there is a similar process taking place in human physiology.

Cigarettes, alcohol, marijuana are the most commonly used reality-avoiding / de-stressing soma used in contemporary society. The likelihood of there being some kind of biologically-based synergy in their usage is chilling.

Why Capitalism Is A Lie: Energy Is Free

*

Another reason why capitalism is insanity: energy *is* free and *is* limitless.

Of course, while oil companies run the world the ridiculous invention that is profit will continue to warp our reality.

*Though I must point out that our sun doesn’t represent *inifinte* power, just power for the next 5-10 thousand million years. After that, we’ll have to look elsewhere

Traktor On The iPhone ~ Gotta Have Noisia!

As part of Apple’s celebrations of a millennium as a successful hegemonising swarm, they’ve been giving away apps free. One of these is Native Instruments’ Traktor iOS app. Traktor on the Mac and PC is a fully-fledged, pro-DJ app. I don’t use it when I’m DJing for reasons which I explain at length here.

But, whatevs, it’s pretty nifty if you like that kind of thing. I was never into it as the UI always seemed clunky and got in the way of the music. But Traktor on my iPhone is the opposite. Just being able to touch the waveforms and scroll backwards and forwards, no mousey-mousey, takes me back to my vinyl DJing years.

Within ten minutes of installing it, I’d knocked out this little mashup:

Bear in mind, what you’re hearing is just two tracks mixed on an iPhone. Traktor handles the sync and it does it faultlessly, as you can hear. I’m doing nothing apart from starting in the right place and the occasional bit of crossfader stupidness.

For me, this experience has been revelatory. I’ve got the demo of Traktor on my Mac: never made a thing with it. Five minutes with the iPhone app and, BOOM, mashup done.

Of course, it isn’t flash and my mashup is hardly genre-breaking but it’s quick and easy and, unlike the desktop Traktor, FUN! This is patently the element of the touch screen interface. Even with controllers for Traktor, it’s not as satisfying as grabbing the waveform yourself with your own little fat fingers.

Traktor iOS is light years ahead of the “pro” app. And I think it’s a sign of how the future will see a proliferation of what I call appropriate computing. Rather than assume bigger is always better, sometimes a low-powered, niche computer (which is what an iPhone is compared to my Mac Pro) will serve the task in hand better, particularly if it presents a UI more suited to that task.

Now, if you would excuse me, I’m off to try to mash Doris Day with As I Lay Dying. Byeeee!

I’m Still Waiting For The First Social DSLR

Above is a discussion I had with my mate Dan Foy about connectedness and photography. A few months ago, I’d had a rant at him saying, basically, that we were undergoing the biggest explosion in photography since the Box Brownie. His job often involves selling phone tech and I pointed out the first question most people want to know about their prospective purchase is how good the camera is. Everyone assumes that call quality and texting utility are givens, therefore phones compete on imaging.

The Gizmodo post Dan linked to agrees with my wide-eyed, utopian perspective and backs it up with actual data. DSLR sales have actually increased as people move from smartphones to more versatile (not better!) tools. It’s the middle ground, the bleahhh £300 point-and-shoots that have suffered. Why bother when modern cameraphones will do all that *and* offer instant upload to everywhere social?

However, I stand by my last point in the above screengrab: I am amazed that Nikon and Canon haven’t brought out a truly social DSLR yet. By which I mean a camera with a a one-button 3 or 4G upload to the net. In the absence of ubiquitous, free wi-fi, phone networks are still the best option for the social photographer. Tethering is too many steps, stick a SIM slot in your camera, please, manufacturers. Better still, have the foresight that Amazon did with their 3G Kindles and make it always on, always free at point of purchase and worldwide. The money you pay for pics (which you can limit to being lower-res) will be offset by the free promotion your product will get as great pics swamp the picture hubs.

Whichever one of you negotiates a deal with Instagram or Facebook first, you’ll kill it.

Oh! And while I’m here, another rant: any nightclub / cafe / restaurant / pub or other social site that doesn’t have free, non-registration wi-fi in 2013 is an idiot. You’re missing out on *free promotion* as people check-in, take selfies, take pics of your food / dancefloor / pints and otherwise create ad-hoc, organic advertising for your business.

But, no, you save that fifty quid a month and stay happy living in the 20th century.