Keep on Trekkin

As I did at the end of 2013 & 2014, so I do again here at the end of 2015 to recount some travel experiences, which I don’t normally write about here. I need not give the whole setup again for the premise of such entries and see my blog from the end of 2013: Travels of Spocklogic. The notables this year (travel blogs I finished or made additions to) include:


Feature - Washington DC-1




That’s the summary for 2015. Some are carry overs from 2014, but I finished the blogs in 2015, after my last post on travels (see: Travels of Spocklogic II) in December 2014 or earlier if I made additions. As I alluded to in recent entries, I will take a break from this Cogito Ergo blog for a while in 2016. I’ve had 20 years of internet exposure and been blogging for 10 years (see: 20 Years of Internet and Mapping the Internet). I hope to return again with a fresh perspective down the line. There’s plenty to explore in the Cogito Ergo blog archives until then (see the link to: Browse Blog Posts). Best wishes for the New Year 2016! See you in the future…




As I did at the end of 2013, so I do again here at the end of 2014 to recount some travel experiences, which I don’t normally write about here. I need not give the whole setup again for the premise of such entries and see my blog from the end of 2013: Travels of Spocklogic. The notables this year are a couple of blogs I finished and some reviews that may be of interest:



That summarizes some travel selections for 2014. I did travel to Italy also in July 2014, and have some links to share for photo collections I put together for a special year in Erice to celebrate a 40th anniversary of the International School of Atomic and Molecular Spectroscopy (ISAMS):

Rino: 40 Year Erice Celebrations (2014) – Erice, Italy
2014 Erice Workshop: 30 July – August 5 – Erice, Italy
People (2014) – Erice, Italy
Places (2014)
– Erice, Italy

In addition, I traveled to China again this year in November 2014, but am still working on my travel blog for that, so it will have to wait until my 2015 account of my travels. I will make this type of entry something traditional at years end to cover where I have been and what I have done in travel ways. It’s all rather like the City on the Edge of Forever perhaps…





I suppose it is a question people abroad ponder, but it is a question pondered in the USA too. There is always some debate on the intent of the Founding Fathers and direction of the nation, but this is generally a fringe topic. Concentration in so-called ‘news’ is usually hyperbole, sensationalism, or something in the day to grab a headline. Sometimes there is good debate that is great. It is appropriate to inquire this time of year what it means to be an American and what American’s think of their own country. The Pew Research Center has done come statistics on this recently, and it is worth looking at:

Most Americans think the U.S. is great, but few say it’s the greatest – Pew Research Center statistics are used in the video below to try to answer what Americans think of their country, but there are always intangibles that enter into an equation and make a difference that way. Anyway, here’s a video summarizing that Pew Research Center study:

For the statistics mentioned in this piece, on the surface it seems alarming, but remember that statistics can be deceptive and used to promote an opinion by selectively sampling the data. In a perfect world the media would present what was a story in analysis from mathematics, but there is bias and in my opinion regarding the media (ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, FOX, CNN, etc…) so the media ‘cherry picks’ to make a point. It is rather base and a simple minded method, but effective for ratings. For me, I find the major players in talk TV as bad as the politicians they critique. Liberal, conservative or middle of the road matters not to me, but what does matter is that something constructive is done over time and perhaps progress made.

I have traveled the world in my time and encountered many a perspective on America in foreign lands. The perception is always different from the reality, but even that reality has multiple pundits with a viewpoint. That is the really great nature of America – Free thought and expression, even against the government. I just wish such thought was not so partisan much of the time – Left vs Right, and it accomplishes what? I find the political system in America a blind following: Republicans to Republicans and Democrats to Democrats. They are equally contemptible for their inaction to achieve anything.

I am an American and I think we should solve problems, not by party lines, but as human beings and what society needs for solutions today and tomorrow. In my opinion I don’t think there has been a good President in America since Franklin Delano Roosevelt, but even his initiatives have seen their day. Yes there has been progress in many ways since then, but not by presidential influence and more from grass roots and movements by the people for man as a whole – that is what makes America great.  What do Americans think? They think freedom is good and support that endeavor, whether implemented well or not, and fight for what is right in ways beyond the ordinary. Americans, in fact, strive for the extraordinary –  a rather unique concept in the world and one that has been in development since 1776.


Postcard from my trip to Sicily in 2004

While in Sicily some years ago (2004), I had this absolutely delicious snack called Panelle (Chick Pea fritters). They are not particularly filling, but sure are tasty. They are made with chickpea flower (also called garbanzo bean flour), which may be hard to find in the supermarket, but perhaps in a gourmet or specialty type store. One can also buy a 5 lb. bag online for $14.50. Check this link –

You can search around for better deals, and may find some cheaper ones, or just check your nearby local markets. The recipe is fairly simple, and translated from the postcard:

Ingredients: 200g chickpea flour, 1/2 liter of water, salt, pepper, parsley, olive oil.
(200 grams = 7 ounces, 1/2 liter = 4.25 cups)

Mix the chickpea flour in a saucepan with water, salt, pepper and chopped parsley. When the flour is well dissolved and no lumps, put the pan on medium heat. Stir continuously until you get a thick paste. Pour on a surface and flatten it to give a layer thickness of 2/3 cm. Let it cool and cut into rectangles of 8×4 cm, then fry in hot oil.
(2/3 cm = 1/4 inch, 8 x 4 cm = 3 x 1.5 inch)

You can find a variety of recipes online in Italian and English. I had a thought this might be a unique Valentine’s Day gift for your significant other. You can make the Panelle in any shape you want (hearts even) and considering it is not something common outside of Sicily, something special to show your love in preparing a tasty Italian treat. A good idea I think – Try it…

Buon San Valentino!

Valentines Day Italian Flag HeartHappy Valentine’s Day!
(Love, Italian Style)

I will take the opportunity here to wish everyone a Happy New Year for the Chinese Calendar – Gong Xi Fa Cai! Luck (福), Prosperity (禄), Longevity (寿) in the days ahead…

A poem seems appropriate here to celebrate the Chinese New Year (Spring Festival / Chunjie):

Spring Dawn

This Spring dawn, not fully awaken from my sleep,
Everywhere I hear the calling of birds,
Last night came the sound of wind and rain,
I don’t know how many blossoms fell.

~ Meng Hao Ran (c. 689-740)





Auspicious Year of the Horse!

Everything is tame!


I don’t often write about my travels in this WordPress blog (Cogito Ergo) as I have another site for that (TravBuddy). In this year of 2013, I completed a number of travel blogs on that site that are worth noting and I give the links to them here. Mind you, I don’t know that any of my travel blogs are ever really completed. Each one is like a child I nurture and raise up, but always needs attention in future ways. Anyway, I suppose I list them here for my own reference and also to offer it to others who may be interested in my travels. There is some connection of the blogs, one to another in embedded personal ways, but are also self-contained. Here they are:




Spocklogic_Switzerland_Travel Blog.

Spocklogic_Germany_Travel Blog.



Some of these blogs have been posted for some years, and I either added to them, made them more complete, and/or formed connections between them. Some of them are entirely new in 2013. They do tell a story in total I suppose and maybe that’s why I decided to make a sort of review of the Travels of Spocklogic here. They were also all the blogs featured on TravBuddy for me this year. My Italy blog (L’Avventura Dell Italia) seems never-ending and I have some more work to do on it, but the majority of important events are there for the most part. The last one in this list, the blog on China, is something I am still working on too, but intend (or hope) to complete it before the end of 2013. I suppose this collection of blogs forms a personal journey of sorts that I tried to form this year regarding my life and relation to travel. When I finish the China blog, maybe I will know what I have been endeavoring to understand and ultimately discover in my life. It’s not a teaser, or cliffhanger, but maybe more a matter of what I will embrace. Sounds enigmatic I suppose, but not really. It’s my personal perspective, the choices I make and what is ultimately best for me in a world of possibilities…



From the April 2012 issue of Scientific American magazine

Neuroscientists: We Don’t Really Know What We Are Talking About, Either

NEW YORK—At a surprise April 1 press conference, a panel of neuroscientists confessed that they and most of their colleagues make up half of what they write in research journals and tell reporters. “We’re always qualifying our conclusions by reminding people that the brain is extremely complex and difficult to understand—and it is,” says Philip Tenyer of Harvard University, “but we’ve also been a little lazy. It is just easier to bluff our way through some of it. That’s one perk of being a respected neuroscientist—you can pretty much say whatever you want about the brain because so few people, including other neuroscientists, understand what you’re talking about in the first place. As long as you throw in enough jargon, it sounds science-y and legit and stuff.”

“It’s not just what we write in our studies,” explains Stephanie Sigma of Stanford University. “It’s a lot of the pretty pictures, too. You know those images with captions claiming that certain brain regions ‘light up’ like the fourth of July? I mean, come on. Most of the participants in these studies are college freshmen who only enrolled in Intro Psychology to satisfy a mandatory academic requirement. There is only one thing they know how to ‘light up’—and it’s not their brains. Frankly, we were just hoping that the colorful images would keep people’s attention. People like pretty pictures—that is something we’ve shown in our studies. Although I can’t quite remember if that was one of the findings we made up or not…”

People who read a lot of neuroscience news have probably noticed several consistent contradictions, says Laura Sulcus of Dartmouth College. “Some studies say that different brain regions work in concert to perform a single complex task, whereas other studies argue that a particular cognitive function—such as recognizing faces—is basically the sole domain of one region. The thing is, just because one part of the brain shows more activity than another, it doesn’t mean that it is the only piece involved. But it is just so easy to pick a neglected area, dress it up with some colorful fMRI studies and present it to the world as a distinct, functional region of the brain. How can we resist? For neuroscientists, the brain is like the world during the Age of Exploration. We have the major continents named but there is plenty of room for new countries. Everyone wants to plant their flag.”

Frederick Pompass of Washington University in St. Louis wondered whether sticking to the facts would make much difference. “We recently realized that even when are sincere, the general public often misunderstands our explanations. Like, apparently, most people think that functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) shows neurons firing in real time. Obviously fMRI measures the level of oxygenated blood in brain tissue, which is correlated with the amount of glucose delivered to different neurons, which is in turn correlated with the activity of those neurons. We honestly thought people knew that. It’s pretty basic.”

Nonsense neuroscience extends beyond the research paper and news conference into everyday life, says David Barbiturate of Duke University. “When people find out that I study the brain I instantly become their pro bono psychiatrist and their personal guru for both everyday predicaments and existential crises. Sometimes I say whatever sounds good to get them to shut up. The other night I was at one of Betty’s dinner parties, right, and her friend Jason finds out that I’m in neuroscience and suddenly it’s like, ‘What is déjà vu? Do we really have free will? What about the nature of consciousness?’ And I’m like, ‘Jason, none of that matters. We’ve established that there is no way to tell the difference between the world as it really exists and the world as we imagine it. Didn’t you see Inception? That was based on neuroscience.’ And Jason’s eyes go wide and he stutters, ‘Oh…I, I thought that was made up.’”

Before the conference came to a close, one reporter asked whether neuroscientists would retract studies in which they made up data and conclusions. The panel said that they were assessing the feasibility of retraction with further studies, but that these studies had not yet yielded conclusive results. The neuroscientists in attendance plan to reconvene in one year, on April 1, 2013.

Disclaimer: This is a parody. None of the quotes are real, nor are the scientists. Happy April Fools’ Day from Scientific American!

I posted a previous April Fools’ Day parody from Scientific American  in 2006 – see the link: Blame the Scientists


.          Don’t Get Fooled

.        On April Fools’ Day!

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