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Comment Re:Remember when? (Score 1) 169

Well, it looks like security was a systemic failure at Equifax, so perhaps it's actually time to suggest that someone with a music degree wasn't qualified for the job?

Jaron Lanier

Knuth Discusses Bach, Pipe Organs, And CS

You: I'm not sure about this hire. Are we really, really, really sure he hasn't got a music degree? I smell a rat.

Now go back to your mother's cave, little boy.

Because the music degree itself is not the problem.

Comment Re:Social Engineering (Score 1) 162

Wow, congratulations on discovering social engineering!

Yeah, no. Whoosh. What we're debating here is social engineering engineering, the kind of engineering a responsible corporation engages in if they're up to speed with the former.

I'm pretty sure this is why Apple wants to include a living retina eye scanner in every phone.

Personally, if I had the option (and an iPhone), I'd set things up so my smart watch's accelerometer first had to detect my left hand performing a sinister Catholic cross before the official password dialog accepted any secure input.

Comment COBOL-grade regoliths of Jericho (Score 1) 223

I don't even get the question. Microsoft is already—to a first and second approximation—Lotus Notes 2.0.

Their primary lock on the enterprise is their proprietary document format, and its extensive integration ecosystem—the many of COBOL-grade regoliths of Jericho—extending from BASIC to Visual Basic to Visual Studio to .NET to SharePoint and beyond.

Windows 10 these days is barely more than a cash register on a busy toll bridge (with a special, express lane for native DirectX 12).

Aside from a legacy investment lock-in (self-inflicted), the four surviving reasons to run Windows 10: you don't care (it came with the damn machine), you play immersive games, you work for a tired corporation, or you exchange documents with a tired corporation.

Make no mistake, this giant pile of dusty rock is built to last. But Microsoft's active relevance is already 80% in the rear-view mirror.

The one thing I will say, though it pains me, is that I've heard it said on more than one machine learning podcast that Microsoft Research is considered among the very best and most progressive of all giant, cutting-edge research labs.

MS Office Helper Not Dead Yet — April 2001

The company has one of the leading centers for research into computational Bayesian systems at its Redmond, Washington, campus. It is also launching a Bayesian research group at its new Cambridge research center.

The company employs three of the leading researchers in the field: Jack Breese, David Heckerman and Eric Horvitz.

"They are three of the best of their generation," D'Ambrosio said. "They are clearly right at the top. They are all world-class people, not only in their theoretical capabilities but in how to inject technology into real-world products."

So we've seen this movie before.

In the mid-90s, the lab built a sophisticated Bayesian prototype called Lumiere that included a "deep" model of user confusion. Microsoft is using the software to help build a smart-help system that knows when to jump in and offer people assistance.
...
But thanks to time constraints, this unfinished component hasn't made its way into any version of Microsoft Office, including the soon-to-be-released Office XP.
...
Horvitz recommended that users should be able to control when Clippy comes forward —advice that was also ignored by the decision makers at Microsoft.

How much of this generation's cutting-edge work coming out of Microsoft Research will also be Clippified?

Stay tune for the next soul-crushing chapter.

Or perhaps their new embrace of the Linux ecosystem portends that they've finally learned from their past mistakes (someone remind me to check back again in another five years).

Comment Swear, fucking Cortana, swear. (Score 1) 180

It's ridiculous to even debate this.

If a person (or a machine) overhears a private conversation, and then later—in a completely different context—betrays any understanding of such—name one animated, 3D-chessboard villain who can't sniff betrayal off a single, misplaced syllable—what you've got is a side channel that needs to sleep with the fishes.

The only reason Cortana snoops is to later betray its gleanings though autocorrelated "suggestions".

How strange or odd soe'er I bear myself,
As I perchance hereafter shall think meet
To put an antic disposition on,
That you, at such times seeing me, never shall,
With arms encumber'd thus, or this headshake,
Or by pronouncing of some doubtful phrase,
As 'Well, well, we know,' or 'We could, an if we would,'
Or 'If we list to speak,' or 'There be, an if they might,'
Or such ambiguous giving out, to note
That you know aught of me: this not to do,
So grace and mercy at your most need help you, Swear.

Swear, fucking Cortana, swear.

Comment Who's on top? (Score 1) 219

22" widescreen 1080p here

Same for me. It's perched on an small, wooden stereo cabinet with a DVD player I deliberated purchased with no BluRay support.

[*] As soon as they sell a feature to you, they count you as a user—see Google+—and then that statistic is rolled out to the studios to pressure them into dropping the format you actually use.

Our minimal yet adequate television resides in the corner of the room. Once a week we roll the stand very close to the couch, and pogo both of the speaker stands up close, as well. Then, when we're done watching (one or two movies which I procured on DVD days ahead of time) we send the court jester back to the corner where it belongs.
_____

Hitchens was fond of repeating the line that "alcohol is a good servant and a bad master".

Lustig, in his new book The Hacking of the American Mind, pretty much lays out the case that every dopaminic daemon needs to be kept on a short leash. To run this through the not-so-brainy left/right cheese greater: dopamine is the neurotransmitter of reward, and serotonin is the neurotransmitter of accomplishment.
_____

I basically read the whole of Chaos Monkeys straight through the other day. The Wolf of Wall Street strand is the usual dopamine, dopamine, dopamine narrative. Antonio goes so far as to moot with a faint toot Facebook's binge-drinking IPO as a vestage of moderation because he didn't notice many dishevelled revellers in unusually close consultation doing lines of coke off the nearest conference-room table.
_____

Convenience. More than half the time it means: won't get between your and your next dopamine hit. Back in serotonin world, I consider my television "convenient" because it stays in the corner when I put it there, and demands little to no attention when I'm better occupied by other life pursuits. Dopamine is a high-maintenance hobby. And now we've essentially proved that this is no accident: its core biological function: to keep you going back to the well for high-maintenance things.

Chasing the dragon

In modern parlance the original meaning has morphed somewhat, and it has come to be used as a metaphor for an addict's constant pursuit of the feelings of their first high. The "dragon" being mythical represents a goal that can never be achieved, because it does not exist.

Compared to heroine, video resolution is a relatively cute dragon, the Draco vulgaris that Pratchett mocks in Guards! Guards!.

Nowadays, there is a trend among nobles and other rich people to keep swamp dragons as pets.

Yeah, in their living rooms and bedrooms. Unlike the household squealer from the European middle ages, dragons whisper ever so slyly.

Those who did not wish to be compromised by a dragon's speech did never give directly information, but talked vaguely and in riddles, since denying an answer, would anger it to violence.

The dragon dictates, and, lately, it also listens.

Samsung Warns Customers To Think Twice About What They Say Near Smart TVs

Ever this seductive dragon whispers "come closer, little girl" and "moar pixels!"

Comment Re:You don't want a natural language (Score 1, Insightful) 106

Having dialects, semantic ambiguity, or whatever a 'phonology' of a programming language could be is bad, because a programming language is created to speak to a computer/compiler, not to a human.

You're probably not as aware of the ambiguities of the C language at the machine level as you ought to be.

Logic is underappreciated and overvalued. Few programmers are really good at logic (the underappreciated part), and it isn't the whole story, either (the overvalued part). I assure you, Larry understands that permissible ambiguities in programming languages are orders of magnitude smaller than for human language.

To quote Moneyball: it's a metaphor.

I'll be happy if Perl 6 is someday redeemed as an important, if eccentric, stepping stone on the path forward. At my age, though, I'm less optimistic about still being alive to see this happen.

And I'm not even that old.

Comment Re:Bluetooth audio is great (Score 1) 380

While this is an interesting argument, I'd like to point out, as someone who has been using BT headphones for the last 3 years, that I have to replace headphones way more often than cellular devices. I think I'm on my 3rd set with this phone, and the right bud on this one has a short, so the third is not long for this world either.

Seriously, your inability to identify a quality vendor after three long years is germane to this discussion?

What you actually mean is that the replacement cycle for the bud is by no means guaranteed to be any longer than for the phone if you're too lazy to do proper homework.

Of course, proper homework is also a cost, and it might (in some cases) be rational not to bother with this, except for that little phrase "high end DAC", because I've never bought a "high end" anything where I didn't do proper research beforehand.

So you argument boils down to: assume you're already trapped in the disposable technology mindset, then this too is not a free lunch.

For the rest of us, much of the debate here concerns our resentment about being nickel and dimed into the disposable technology mindset against our established preferences.

I also own a Sony voice recorder, very high quality microphones, good enough for the highest certification of speech recognition, since before speech recognition was worth shit. I could dictate on my phone, but I prefer this. It also has rock solid pitch and playback speed adjustments, using buttons that always stay put.

However, it doesn't have Bluetooth and never will.

Great, now I get to carry both kinds.

Whatever happened to tools that were good for one thing only with convenient, baseline interoperability?

Comment factory firmware forever (Score 1) 380

Older used smartphones will be on the market for a very, very long time. There's a store 500 yards away from me right now that does nothing but sell such phones.

Complete with the latest and greatest vendor-supported security patches?

Don't you mean flip phones? Because many of those are just fine running factory firmware forever and ever.

Comment Re:I'm a bit of an AMD Fanboi, but... (Score 2) 137

It's Intel's R&D investment; they can sell it or sit on it as they see fit. They are a for-profit corporation, not a public service, and are under no obligation to anyone to sell their technology on any set schedule.

If we replace "Intel R&D" with "Mylan", does your comment still stand? If not, why not?

I'm almost libertarian enough to agree with you if the company in question operates on trade secrets and claims no patent protection.

Patent protection, however, is a two-way street: you're granted a right to call upon the government's power of coercion to prevent other people from pursuing ideas—ideas they might very well have come up with independently—with the purpose of fostering competition for the public good.

At that point, being an ass with your business methods intersects with the public interest, too, because you swallowed the patent pill and traded your pure and independent "for profit" status in exchange for public-interest coercive power-ups.

Comment one tomographic megaphone, hold the wool (Score 2, Interesting) 726

Nostalgia? Pass the Gravol.

The only large parameter I've ever cared about here is whether sharp story submissions encourage sharp dialogue.

Why so often—during various epochs—story submissions tapering off into a woolly final sentence? Is it an actually goal here (by some) to unleash an obligatory pocket-protector Olympics of beat-the-buzzer geek stereotypy?

Trolls, consider yourself trolled—for the extremely predictable lolz.

No, true nerd-hood is about going through life in the spirit that no consequential detail is ever too small to hold up to the tomographic megaphone—for as long as it takes. Wool is what other people like to pull over the fine technical fine print. I continue to celebrate every wool-free story submission that /. has ever run.

Blessed be the pinprick lightsaber that shears sheep.

Comment Re:In all fairness.... (Score 0) 223

I'm no more productive with 8 hours of sleep than I am with 6.

You're so underslept that you didn't even notice (or feel the need to respond to) the first claim:

Underslept employees tend to create fewer novel solutions to problems, they're less productive in their work and they take on easier challenges at work ...

Any of these would be a blow to the economy of shuteye short shrift.

Another possibility, which you probably didn't consider in your blind drift, is that you actually need nine hours.

Comment idiocy milestone (Score 1) 398

The IEA expects about 1,000 gigawatts of renewables will be installed in the next five years, a milestone that coal only accomplished after 80 years.

Perhaps people don't realize this, but a sentence like this actively kills brain cells. Stupidity, you're soaking in it.

To be fair, it doesn't outfight kill brain cells, but it does actively repurpose them away from gainful employment (which might, in fact, be worse).

First off, you'd want to be comparing per capita growth rates, and confine yourself to developed countries. Exponential population growth, it's a thing.

Then you might consider that coal was mainly used for generation only where hydro wasn't convenient, because hydro was the big story of the day for electrical generation, while coal's glory was steam and steel production.

What an incredibly stupid sentence, precisely sculpted to serve as yet another nail in the ignorance coffin.

Comment Re:Maybe now they can find out why I'm an alien (Score 2) 36

I'm writing this for Kjella, who can skip to the bottom if TL;DR concerning his entire future life.

It's long, detailed, and lucid for a good cause.

I free ran with a 25.5 hour period not so long ago—for three years straight, like a metronome. During the year I recorded most assiduously, I didn't deviate from my period by more than +/- 4 hours.

Note that my cycle was somewhat elliptical. I advanced more slowly during the day portion of my cycle, and more quickly during the night portion of my cycle, but over any 16.5 day interval (calendar days), my daily period averaged out to 25h25m. I couldn't even detect seasonal drift with a Canadian change in solar day length.

Before I free-ran, I had partially treated my condition with a small dose of melatonin taken mid-afternoon. This reduced my period to around 24h10m, which means I was drifting over an hour a week. Every fourth or fifth week I would cease taking the melatonin, put in a week of night mode, and in so doing, reset myself to a very early rise time, which would then inexorably advance until it became too much to bear (if I started the cycle rising at 0500, a month later I'm rising at 0900, and I'm rolling into the office at 09:45, which was as far as I could reasonably push things).

I guess I was a bit in denial about the 10 minute/day drift residue. I tinkering with every variable over a two year period: dose, time of day, coffee consumption, light exposure level, bedtime strategy (fixed or adaptive), etc. Mostly I kept my dose time in a fairly narrow window around 15:30. I suspect, in retrospect, that as my internal clock drifted my melatonin became less effective, because the dosing time became less optimal, and so there was an acceleration effect near the end of each three- or four-week compliance interval, because it was usually a day when I woke up around noon where I finally said "oh, fuck it" and suspended melatonin for a week.

This lifestyle gradually became unbearable because of a second straw: the three zombie hours every day an hour or two after taking the melatonin. Work—putting in longer hours than anyone else, because I seriously needed the social credit, return home—vegetate on couch, regain mind for one good hour before bedtime, then head punctually to bed (this period of my life was highly compliance oriented), to battle with ever-ramping insomnia, until it all fell apart again.

I put up with it while I retained hope that I was maybe one inspiring fiddle away from breaking either of the two straws. But I never did.

The free-running period was not gainfully employed, but by this point, my quality of life was near zero, so what the hell? I didn't really expect it to last more than six months and my theory was that I would be productive free-running, and that the whole thing would be massively inconvenient, but I'd finally have time for both a working life and a personal life. All I needed was some kind of work I could do during my long nights in the night phase of my cycle, and then pack my social life into the other half.

It didn't work out that way, because N24 was only half the diagnosis. This was the most important thing I've learned about my condition in thirty years.

My "formal" personal diagnosis now has the august title: disordered circadian rhythm—induced split-cognitive-modality syndrome.

What I learned was that I was in full possession of my mental apparatus for three or four days out of every sixteen, the days when I was best aligned with day mode. This shocked the hell out of me, because over thirty years, I'd never observed my period having any connection to the solar day. This included a three-week bicycle trip in my twenties through Washington and Oregon—in the month of June, during which we never once saw a cloud after rising at the crack of dawn every day—yet we finally had to cancel the California leg, because I simply couldn't get up before noon under any coercion for even one more day. I was probably a week into Tokyo time already, and unlike a normal person whose jet lag declines, mine continues to escalate, until I finally capitulate.

But there I was free-running, and clearly the elliptical component of my gyre was synchronised—by some unknown zeitgeber (not necessarily sunlight)—to the solar day.

The two drugs I had in my arsenal during this time were modafinil and nortriptyline. Certain circuits in my brain would go on hiatus during night mode, and was never able to work productively on any kind of STEM task. What I could do was read at a high retention level (though I couldn't deeply contemplate the material), and sometimes write (when you write, you just use what you've got, in some ways it's a forgiving medium).

The weirdest effect of all was that having read three to five books over the worst of night mode, when I finally swung around to day mode, all my suppressed subconscious thinking about the material would burst to the surface in a near-to manic crush. I recorded many of these days with my voice recorder, practically tripping over words, as the ideas surfaced faster than I could spool them out. This happened with great regularity at the beginning of each new cycle.

It was pretty clear that it was actually some manner of brain interconnection that was going haywire as my sleep became offset from the solar day. Mental functions that are still taking place, but which you can not access are still highly effective at suppressing remunerative activities that pay better than supervising a gas bar at 04:00.

What I began to suspect is that the amplitude of my sleep-wake cycle diminished when my phase was misaligned with the solar day. I'm not going to review my notes on this, but there's some kind of linear sleep pressure ramp for as long as you stay awake, then there's another ramp of something that makes your body ignore this mounting sleep pressure (so you don't potato right after dinner), and I think the DLMO response in the late evening (if you manage to avoid blue light) clears away this inhibitor, so that suddenly you feel the full force of all that built up sleep pressure, and down you go (modulo caffeine, which I think directly alleviates this). And then over night this sleep pressure chemical is cleared away, and there's some signal early in the morning that insists "hey, buddy, you might still feel tired, but forget about it—you're very awake now".

There's lots of ways to fuck this picture up, but when it's running in good trim, that's basically how it goes: a strong oscillation between "you are feeling sleepy" and "you are not feeling sleepy".

I suspect that I was experiencing 100% of this oscillation in my four good days, maybe 70% of this amplitude in my shoulder days, and perhaps 40% of the full amplitude at the worst of my cycle.

I always got eight hours of consolidated sleep (that part of my sleep architecture is rock solid), but depending on my phase, it didn't necessarily accomplish much.

What I discovered was that modafinil could boost the awake side of this signal to 100%, but then the sleep side of this signal was boosted so high, I actually couldn't sleep properly at all. A small dose of nortriptyline an hour before bedtime usually secured two hours of deep dream sleep right before waking (which was often later than normal), and then I would feel wonderfully rested, but nevertheless, my eyelids would never quite make it above half mast for the whole waking day.

Great, on day mode my sleep signal oscillates 0 to 100; in night mode on modafinil, my sleep signal oscillates between 60 and 100; in night mode on nortriptyline, it oscillates between 0 and 40. That's how it felt.

I actually found a tiny mitigation. I would alternate the modafinil and the nortriptyline, having one period where my sleep signal oscillated 0—40 following by another period where my sleep signal oscillated 60—100. Over fifty-two hours (night mode had 26 hour periods), I would experience something close to deep sleep on one side, and experience something close to be completely awake on the other side. While this decreased my misery substantially, it only increased my function modestly. It was also the closest I came to confirming my diminishing amplitude theory.

I was getting pretty sick of the free-running ordeal after three years, and was starting to contemplate my next desperate lunge into the void, when one day I wandered into a supplement store and saw sustained release melatonin on the shelf for the first time. I new that melatonin researchers used SR mel in their sleep studies all the time, but had never seen it in retail before, so I snatched it up.

I figured it would probably not be any worse than regular melatonin, and possibly better. I waited until my sleep cycle had me waking at 0030 and started taking these new pills at about a +9 hour offset after waking. Sure enough, it tracked my anticipated path for several weeks, until one day I woke up at 10:00 and I went to myself "oh, oh, same old, same old".

But then the next day I woke up at 10:00 again. And the day after that at 09:45. And an amazing week later—with steadily mounting amazing—at 09:00. And wow, for the first time in thirty years I was fully locked onto the 24-hour day.

Now these were 3 mg doses in tiny #4 capsules and I was manually shaking out approximately 2/3rds of the drug to get something closer to 1 mg, and this was by no means precise. After a few months I came up with a better way to trim the dose by mixing in a 1:5 ratio with another powder and repacking the capsules, but it still wasn't precise. The net result is that for the first year there was a lot of wobble, but it was mostly steady.

Then I ran out of my own supply of empty #4 capsules. When I tried to buy more (you get some severe looks) I was asked "why don't you get a compounding pharmacy to do this for you?"

Here's the thing. I hadn't ever had any useful advice from a sleep doctor and I had become so lone wolf in my hamster regime that I ceased to think that the medical establishment had anything to offer me. So my response was "oh, yeah, medical technology, I've heard of this, it might even work." I had custom SR mel capsules ordered to my own specifications from the most reputable compounding pharmacy in town within two hours.

I didn't know this, but the pharmacist was feeling generous, and gave me a very low price per pill for the first order of $0.20 per pill, plus a flat $30 order fee. They thought I was ask for 150 pills at most. But I thought to myself, "well I really don't know the dose, and it would be good to experiment in a scientific way, so maybe I should get small pills so I can try some doses that are closely spaced". Pretty soon I had mentally worked my way up from 200 to 400 to 600 and finally "you know what, just make it an even 1000". This was good, because he never again quoted a price of less than $0.60 per pill, and I've heard about that "whole day" filling my first order more than once since (he did once mention his rate of production afterwards and I think it was just a very tedious four hours).

My new pills were a tiny 100 ug each. I started this new regime at 300 ug (three at a time) and it sort of worked, but within a few weeks I wiped out. Back through a week of night mode, next stop 400 ug. A little more stable, but soon wiped out again. Back through a week of night mode, next stop 600 ug. Magic!

Seemed to be working 100%. For a couple of months. Then, to my surprise, I wiped out again. Damn! Back through night mode, next stop 800 ug (I had by then procured a year's supply to 600 ug pills, so I wasn't taking eight at a time of my precious quantums). Then I managed day mode for 18 straight modes, with a little scare in the month of June.

June. If only I had known. Because now my notes show that I've had a scare every June for three straight years, and I hazily recall very bad Junes long ago when I was on less effective melatonin formulations. Probably an interaction with my antihistamine, which I take in copious quantities for exactly five weeks every year, usually starting in the last week of May.

This year, in June, I blew up completely for the first time since forever. So I decided, maybe another 10% for safety, so I bumped 750 ug up to 825 ug (I had by now some 75 ug capsules in hand to experiment with taking a small extra dose at bedtime, but it didn't seem to help, and I had refilled at 750 ug instead of 600+100+100, figuring that was a safe decrement). I crashed and burned almost immediately. Okay, I thought, if 875 ug managed to blow me up, maybe I'm dangerously close already to the high end of the effective window. So I dropped back down to 600 ug, and now I'm feeling better than I have in years.

The only reason I left 600 ug (which had felt great at the time) was because of another June catastrophe. Man. That moment where I went "wait a minute, it was Mrs June, in the tomato garden, with the knife—all along!". Fooey. There went another year of my life with my condition less than optimally controlled because I failed to play enough Clue as a teenager.

I'm joking. This stuff is really hard. Self-observation, no matter how obsessive, is not a clean signal, and the clock rate on making any adjustment is one to three months (one month if something blows up spectacularly, or three months to decide it hasn't, and you feel stable again against a known baseline).

Most of my adjustments were made to control side effects, random midday sleep events between noon at 20:00 which I used to call "naps" but which I now refer to as "close encounters with comatose". In English, the metaphor is that we "fall" asleep. You feel sleep draping down heavily upon you. Coma doesn't arrive like that. Coma feels like you're in a tall building, and the lights go out on the ground floor, then the second floor, then the third floor, etc. So you're on the 14th floor, and nominally you still have consciousness, but floors 1-10 are all black (these parts of the brain did not wait for a coordinately "sleep" state to come along, they just shut off regardless), and you certainly can't do anything worthwhile feeling like this, it's taking a painful amount of energy just to stay vertical, and you know that two or three hours on a pillow getting sleep you don't need will fix the problem. This is why I stopped calling these events "unwelcome naps", because they arrive as a black hand reaching up from below. This is not like resisting normal sleep. It's like that old television trope where someone has a concussion and everyone is panicking and pleading and wheedling to prevent the consussed person from drifting off to the land of Old Yeller by falling into a final, permanent sleep before the paramedics finally arrive (if you're concussed so badly that there's also a cranial haemorrhage the coma was probably on it's way, regardless, and it never had much to do with a simple concussion in the first place). I add this just in case some first year college student presumes that their own sleep management has resulted in the One True Way to Suffer, and if you can do it, so can everyone else (news flash: there are more things in heaven and earth, Snowflake, than are dreamed of in your philosophy).

I've only had one of these coma rising-from-below events since returning to 600 ug. I'm exuberantly ecstatic about this. Pity about the two years I lost after I failed the Clue stick.

Concerning the SCN, my understanding is that there are two separate clocks (with all the same genetic mechanisms, but different entrainment factors), one that tends to track dawn and another that tends to track dusk. In mammals with seasonal mating cycles, mating season is triggered by a specific change in phase relationship between these similar, coupled oscillators (due to changing day length).

My best guess is that I have a genetic defect in one of these two oscillators, and that when I'm untreated, the crazy oscillator runs the show (mostly). However, the non-crazy oscillator does try to stick to the day/night cycle, causing the two oscillators to have a changing phase relationship throughout my 16 day gyre, which contributes to the flattening of my sleep-wake cycle during the portion of my cycle (night mode) when the two oscillators are maximally at dogs and cats.

This theory potentially explains everything, especially the four hour jump forward I usually experience coming out of night mode.

Imagine you have two axle pendulums such they can go around a full 360 degrees if you really hammer them. They are side by side, and have some kind of magnetic coupling between them, where they want to be 120Âdegrees out of phase. But the gravitational normal (weird planet) of one of the two pendulums starts to rotate around. Suppose the the afflicted pendulum begins to tug the unafflicted pendulum forward due to their magnetic coupling, which gets worse and worse as their gravitational normals further diverge (but never quite causes the unafflicted pendulum to break free from it's primary gravitational normal).

Then the afflicted pendulum passes through maximal divergence (gravitational normals 180 degrees apart). Suddenly the coupling between the pendulums is pulling the unafflicted pendulum back to where it wanted to go in the first place rather than further away, so now it jumps backward fast.

That would explain all the elliptical phenomenology I've observed in my free-running sleep cycle. But of course, it's hard to corroborate this theory beyond napkin speculation, even with thirty years of accrued data. Life is never a clean data stream.

These Nobel prizes are well deserved, but man is there ever a lot more to fill in, yet.

Exhibit A: the melatonin PRC.

This is a curve that purports to tell you whether melatonin will advance or retard your circadian rhythm based on when you take it. If you're thinking about the SCN, maybe you think this curve informs you about which hours of the day (measured relative to body temperature minimum, usually experienced about three hours before waking) that melatonin accelerates or retards the appropriate clock genes. Wrong! It's a trap!

Every melatonin PRC I've ever seen is a dose-response curve, where the effective on the circadian clock is measured relative to one specific formulation of exogenous melatonin.

One dose doesn't work right, and you want to math your way to a better answer? Fuggedaboutit. That information is not present in these curves. You can do this math, but only after you make a bunch of shit up about how you think maybe the larger family of curves might behave.

There is not curve I've ever seen relating blood melatonin concentration and the net transcription rate of your genetic clock (from such a curve, one would stand a far better chance of mathing out a good solution from several poor solutions).

It might not even be this simple, where melatonin levels behave like a predictable transcription gas pedal. (The simple model is actually rate=f(m,p) where m is melatonin concentration, and p is circadian phase, with p divided into two twelve-hour blocks, one block where df/dm has positive slope and the other block where df/dm has negative slope. Oh come on, you didn't think the marble would settle in the middle without a hill on either side, did you? The polarity flips at body temperature minimum, or close to it, and then again 12 hours later, in the late afternoon.)

This is why I haven't pursued my personal half-broken SCN hypothesis much further. Because the first thing you have to do is start guessing, as so much is still not known. The PRC you have (dose response) is not the PRC you want (blood concentration response). Or at least, not the last time I looked.

This field changes rapidly these days. Chronobiology is a going concern.

Maybe if I'm lucky, I'll live half my adult life on the right side of the moon yet. I'm recently at my highest point of optimism about this possibility in thirty years.

One final note for Kjella. In my twenties I experienced some abnormal "modes" where I would have a week with 24 hour waking periods followed by deep 12-16 hour sleeps. In my thirties I would often reset my circadian oscillator by pulling 28 hour waking days (with no fatigue experienced until the last hour). That stopped working in my forties (or maybe I just wasn't tough enough any longer). From my own long experience, I would suggest that these are probably abnormal overtones, rather than defining parameters. The younger you are, the more you can fuck up your self-observation with adrenaline. As that aspect of your physiology subsides with age, the true circadian component becomes a larger and more reliable part of the signal.

You can't possibly make melatonin therapy work until you figure out for yourself how to determine either your body temperature minimum or your dim-light melatonin onset (because you dose needs to be timed, every day, relative to one of these correlated reference points).

The reliable signal for me was waking with the feeling that I had just had an hour of deep, satisfying dream sleep. This happens for me about once every three days, on average, but it's enough to track the underlying curve. Wake time is about 300% more reliable for assessing true sleep phase than time of falling asleep. For me, the reliable indicator was waking naturally, after dream sleep, feeling refreshed. Yours could be completely different.

It could take you two years just to figure this one thing out. But I would stick with it because, trust me on this one, thirty years from now, you'll be glad you did.

Or maybe you have a better sleep clinic available than I had, and they'll give you a daily saliva test kit every day for a month, or something else that measures this key parameter directly.

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