Monthly Archives: December 2014

Carbohydrates, Glucose, Insulin, and Dopamine

Carbohydrates, Glucose, and Insulin

  • Carbs are consumed from sugar, bread, fruit, or vegetables
    • Carbs are digested and converted to blood glucose
    • When carbs are consumed, glucose in the bloodstream rises rapidly
    • Next, the pancreas produces a large amount of insulin to remove excess glucose
  • Insulin is the hormone responsible for body fat storage
    • Insulin takes glucose out of the bloodstream and converts it to starch called glycogen, which is stored in the liver and in muscles
    • The body can store only a limited amount of glycogen, so the excess glucose is stored as body fat


  • Central to the brain’s sensation of enjoyment is a chemical called dopamine, a neurotransmitter that controls the brain’s reward and pleasure centers
    • Sugar consumption stimulates a dopamine release because it is hyperpalatable, which means that it is a food that stimulates the pleasure centers in the brain
  • As with any dopamine-producing substance, the brain can become desensitized to this pleasure, leading to potential for chronic overconsumption, which enables an individual to develop a tolerance when these reward signals are triggered
    • It becomes necessary to consume more of the pleasure producing substance in pursuit of the original feeling of pleasure
  • When dopamine receptors decrease, there’s a marked decrease in the activity of the prefrontal cortex — the part of the brain responsible for planning, organizing, and making rational decisions

Key Theme:

Dopamine response is a major factor affecting rational decision making and motivation. Understanding this process enables one to understand the motivations that underly societal “norms” which are perceived as facets of culture but rather exist as psycological malladies which function in the form of addiction and irrational – usually subsersive – decsion making.

New Delhi’s Decision to Ban Uber in Response to the Alleged Rape of a Passenger

Recently, New Delhi banned Uber in response to the alleged raping of a passenger by a driver. The UBER model is facing difficulties in India, primarily as a consequence of India’s poorly assembled/enforced justice infrastructure. A prerequisite to the sharing economy is trust. In the United States, it is possible for companies like UBER and AirBnB to succeed because trust exists as a consequence of a (somewhat) successfully constructed infrastructure. In the United States, the infrastructure is assembled such that any violation to a subscribed to code of conduct warrants consequences which can be enforced that deter an individual from committing the action due to the restrictions that may be imposed on the individual if the violation is committed (eg, jail time following a DUI).

This brings to mind a simple idea: the adoption of economic models which are based on sharing are likely correlated with a successfully constructed system of property rights and indicators of other social norms, such as corruption. Perhaps this assertion can be modeled and observed in the future.

Even in countries like the United States, companies like AirBnB and UBER will encounter a rocky road ahead, due to difficulties in adapting regulatory models to effectively address problems raised by these new models. I believe these companies will ultimately prevail. Digital connectivity has enabled individuals to derive value from assets that would otherwise be unused (eg, AirBnB’ing one’s apartment while one is on vacation); decreasing the waste from idleness associated from pure asset ownership and allowing a more effective allocation of general resources. Innovation always precedes regulation. Similar to the irrationality related to blaming Smith and Wesson for the tragic events which occurred at Columbine (and many other schools), the same applies to UBER. The derivative of this problem encompasses a greater scope than blaming new technologies; it is one of adapting innovation to the proper marriage between law, society, and technology within relevant contexts.

The Significance of Transparency

I stumbled across the GNU/Linux Distribution Timeline when I was reading about forking. I’ve considered the importance of transparency of communication for some time now and have identified that a primary attribute of the internet which underscores its value is that it enables people to evaluate and criticize the legitimacy of thoughts/ideas/projects in order to identify weaknesses in thought construction in order to foster the progression of stronger arguments/theses/final products. That information is (virtually) available to any individual, it is possible to learn concepts quickly and work off other projects, such as where people left off.

David Wheeler outlined the four possible outcomes of a fork:

  1. The death of the fork. This is by far the most common case. It is easy to declare a fork, but considerable effort to continue independent development and support.
  2. A re-merging of the fork (e.g., egcs becoming “blessed” as the new version of gcc.)
  3. The death of the original (e.g. the X.Org Server succeeding and XFree86 dying.)
  4. Successful branching, typically with differentiation (e.g., OpenBSD and NetBSD.)

Forking is an interesting framework by which to consider the trajectory of thought processes as well as the trajectory of human relationships, their value, and consequences of investments in different networks. When we consider the distribution of GNU/Linux, individuals developed technology that were beneficial for variable amounts of time allowing new technology to branch from it. When we think of the value of the accumulation of human knowledge, it works in much the same way. Each individual learns and specializes, building upon the effort and achievement of others, utilizing intelligence and charisma to propel the advancements of values/ideas. The velocity of these ideas advance only to the extent that the background behind these ideas are transparent. The internet is a great tool through which to organize one’s intellectual real estate – it allows individuals to analyze and criticize another’s ideas and framework for thinking, enabling a quicker progression of thoughts/ideas/projects.

To digress (slightly), it is possible for one to ask oneself the value of maximizing utility, and the relevance of identifying and constructing terminal valuesto what ends are we working? Why are we working? To maximize utility and efficiency can be dangerous or subservise if one does not define end goals (an interesting read related to this concept is one of paperclip maximization; also related, is a quote by Paul Graham shared here).

Elaborating on the concept of open source distribution timelines; a thought can be made clear: the cumulative sum of human effort enables the effort of individuals in the future to advance further. A quick end I have identified, at least for myself, is that my life is not, and has never been, hard. However, it is for many people in the world. The collective sum of efforts for the privileged can beneficially impact the lives of those who are less fortunate (fortune being defined as the ability to sustain food, clothing, and shelter for oneself or for those dependent on oneself).