Friday, March 24, 2023

Eugenics – 5

Recent articles from the American Society of Human Genetics is raising increasing awareness of these issues. If you are interested in the pros and cons discussions, there are multiple resources on the Internet. 

Here are two examples.

Eugenics: Definition, Movement & Meaning - HISTORY - HISTORY

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Thursday, March 23, 2023

Eugenics – 4

Negative Eugenics included Hitler’s reported “euthanasia” of upwards of a quarter of a million mentally ill individuals in Germany as a way to save money currently being spent on caring for those individuals who were believed inferior and a burden on society. This position expanded as the Nazis adopted and promulgated eugenics to justify their treatment of disabled individuals, the Jews, and other minority groups. Eugenics gradually earned a negative association mainly from Adolf Hitler and his genocide, and master-race theories. In 1933, the Nazis created the Law for the Prevention of Hereditarily Diseased Offspring, which resulted in thousands of forced sterilizations. By 1940, Hitler’s master-race mania took a terrible turn as hundreds of thousands of Germans with mental or physical disabilities were killed by gas or lethal injection. According to Dan Seigman, Eugenics’ reputation never recovered. More tomorrow. 

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Eugenics – 3

In the US, John Harvey Kellogg, of Kellogg’s cereal fame, organized the Race Betterment Foundation in 1911 and established a “pedigree registry.” The foundation hosted national conferences on eugenics in 1914, 1915 and 1928. As the concept of eugenics took hold, prominent citizens, scientists and socialists championed the cause and established the Eugenics Record Office. The office tracked families and their genetic traits, claiming most people considered unfit were immigrants, minorities or poor. The Eugenics Record Office also maintained there was evidence that supposed negative family traits were caused by bad genes, not racism, economics, or the social views of the time. More tomorrow.

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Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Eugenics – 2

In 1883 in England, Darwin’s Cousin, Francis Galton, coined the term "eugenics" to describe the idea of modification of natural selection through selective breeding for the improvement of humankind. Galton came up with the word from a Greek word, Eugenes, meaning “good in birth” or “Good in stock.” Eugenics was said to be a method of promoting reproduction by individuals with ostensibly superior traits—supposedly as a way to improve the human race, and that society should promote the marriage of what he felt were the fittest individuals by providing monetary incentives. Eugenics provided two approaches, one positive and one negative. Positive eugenics promoted the breeding of good stock by careful selection of marriage and breeding partners. Negative eugenics had the goal of prohibiting marriage and breeding between so-called defective stock. More tomorrow. 

Monday, March 20, 2023


Recently in passing I heard someone use the word Eugenics, but I don’t understand what that means. Is it related to Epigenetics?

 Epigenetics and Eugenics are unrelated. Epigenetics describes everything that is not genetics as related to lifestyle and life experiences that impact each human being. According to the dictionary, Eugenics is the practice or advocacy of controlled selective breeding of human populations (as by sterilization) to improve the population's genetic composition. Eugenics encompasses ways in which to arrange reproduction within a human population to increase the occurrence of what are called desirable characteristics. It has been defined as the scientifically erroneous and immoral theory of racial improvement through planned breeding. More tomorrow

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Friday, March 17, 2023

Autism Study

Using electroencephalogram (EEG), researchers recorded the brain waves of children ages 6-16 years of age with and without autism as they watched videos of multiple dots of differing colors that were arranged to look like a person. The movement of the dots represented actions such as funning, kicking, jumping, turning in different directions or jumbled so they no longer moved like a person would move. Researchers asked the study participants to focus on the color of the dots. When they followed this instruction, they failed to process the dots when they moved like a person. A decrease in processing body movements means they might have more difficulty understanding others and need to consciously learn to pay more attention to body language in order to see it. Learning this potentially can help children with autism spectrum disorders.

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Thursday, March 16, 2023

Autism & Distractions

Studies by researchers at the Del Monte Institute for Neuroscience at the University of Rochester in NY, reported that children with autism spectrum disorders may not process body movements as effectively as do those who are not on the spectrum. This is especially true if the child is distracted by something else. According to Emily Knight, M.D., Ph.D., first author of the study that was recently published in Molecular Autism, “Our findings suggest that when children with autism are distracted by something else, their brains process the movements of another person differently” than their peers do who are not on the spectrum. I found the experiment itself quite interesting. More tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Body Language

Is picking up body-language cues really helpful to communication??

What a good question! Being able to pick up on body-language cues is a vital and important part of enhancing human communication and understanding. For example, noticing when another person frowns, leans into a conversation across the table or learns back and crosses their arms, or when a person takes a step back or stiffens up or turns partly away from you when you have extended your arms for a hug, or put out your hand for a handshake can help you moderate or alter your communication. How skilled are you at paying attention to the body language of individuals with whom you are having a conversation? More tomorrow.

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Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Autism & Genetic Contributions


I was told that Autism was genetic. Is it really?

Autism Spectrum Disorders appear to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental contributors. A very recent study found that “Where and when grandparents and parents of children were born could contribute to an increased risk of ASD in their offspring.”An article in Genome Medicine reported, “There is strong evidence that genetic factors make substantial contributions to the etiology of autism, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorders, with heritability estimates being at least 80% for each.” Fairly recent research has identified that some brain conditions—Autism Spectrum, for example—may link to paternal line inheritances from several generations back. You might find it interesting to read about that.

Monday, March 13, 2023

Autism & Generational Links

Is there any reason to do ancestry searches besides just being curious?

 My brain’s opinion is that there may be many reasons to do ancestry searches. In my case, I have been delighted to discover that I have ancestors from multiple countries and that expands my interest in exploring those countries. In addition, I learned about how long some of my ancestors lived, what they did for a living, where music and musical instruments played a part, and on and on. Fairly recent research has identified that some brain conditions—Autism Spectrum, for example—may link to paternal line inheritances from several generations back.

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Friday, March 10, 2023

Laughter Benefits, 4


Studies have shown that employees who laugh together ‘stay together,’ work better as a team, are more creative, and produce more work. Outstanding leaders use humor often to reduce stress, enhance brain function, and positively impact their communication. Business woman who can interact easily with male humor are a step ahead of women who don’t. A vigorous laugh burns as many calories per hour as brisk walking or cycling and shakes up major body organs, providing a form of “internal jogging.” 100 mirthful laughs is said to equal 10 min of hard rowing. 10-15 minutes of laughter a day can burn up to 50 calories (e.g., the amount in a small chocolate bar). That could result in losing 4.4. pounds a year

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Thursday, March 9, 2023

Laughter Benefits, 3

It is really difficult to remain angry, fearful, or sad, if you can find something humorous to trigger mirthful laughter.

 1)    It costs nothing.

       2)     It requires no prescription.

        3)     It burns calories but is calorie free itself

4)     It is cholesterol, fat, sugar, and gluten free.

5)     It is convenient

6)    It is easily accessible triggered by humor or by choice

7)    It can be used anytime with very few or no negative side effects. 

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Did Confucius Really Say this?

Those who want a pretty nurse, must be patient.

Passionate kiss, like spider web, leads to undoing of fly.

Lady who goes camping must beware of evil intent.

Squirrel who runs up woman’s leg will not find nuts.

One who leaps off cliff jumps to conclusion.

One who runs in front of car gets tired,

One who runs behind car gets exhausted.

One who eats many prunes get good run for money.

War does not determine who is right, only who is left.

One who fights with wife all day get no piece at night.

It takes many nails to build a crib, but only one screw to fill it.

One who drives like hell is bound to get there.

Those who stand on toilet are high on pot.

All who live in a glass house should change clothes in basement.

A lion would not cheat on his wife, but a tiger would.


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Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Bumper Stickers


1)    Warning: Dates in Calendar are closer than they initially appear

      2)    A bartender is just a pharmacist with a limited inventory

      3)    He who laughs last thinks slowest

      4)    Time is what keeps everything from happening at once

5)  there's a will, I want to be in it

6) Time is the best teacher, unfortunately it kills all of its students

7) Dain bramaged                                     

8) Consciousness: That annoying time between naps

9) Why is 'abbreviation' such a long word?

10) If you try to fail, and succeed, which have you done?

Monday, March 6, 2023

Bulletin Bloopers

Most bulletins I’ve seen have read conained some type of blooper. Try these. 

      1)    If you choose to heave during the Postlude, please do so quietly

      2)    Today’s sermon outline: Delineate your fear, Disown your fear, Displace your rear.

      3)    Don't let worry kill you—let this church help!

 4)    Thank you to our Head Deacon and Dead Deaconess for preparing this month’s Communion.

5)    Low Self Esteem Support Group will meet next Thursday at 7 pm - please enter by the back door.

6)    The peacemaking meeting scheduled for today has been canceled due to a conflict.

7)    Please place your donation in the envelope along with the deceased person you want remembered.

8)    Last Sunday the Associate Minister unveiled the church's new tithing campaign slogan: "I Upped My Pledge - Up Yours."

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Friday, March 3, 2023

Laughter Benefits, 2

 Mirthful laughter triggers the brain to release endorphins, the brain’s natural morphine. Endorphins can decrease aches and pains and increase your tolerance to pain in general. Mirthful laughter also increases the activity of Natural Killer cells. According to Philipp Eissmann, Imperial College in London, United Kingdom, Natural Killer Cells were first noticed for their ability to kill tumor cells without any priming or prior activation. Natural Killer Cells continually patrol the body—if the immune system is working properly. When a cell that doesn’t belong in the body is identified, Natural Killer Cells can “take them out. Literally. In additional to targeting tumor cells, they also help to fight viruses that cause colds and the flu.

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Thursday, March 2, 2023

Learned Humor

My mother liked limericks and taught me to like them. Here are two of my favorites. “There once was a farmer named Hall, who fell in the spring in the fall. ‘Twould have been a sad thing had he died in the spring. He didn’t, he died in the fall.” “There once was a guy named Hyde who fell in the outhouse and died. Unfortunately, his brother fell in the other, and now they’re interred side-by-side.” She also taught me to like daffynitions. You know, word sounds that can have more than one definition. 

·       Coffee, someone who is coughed upon

·       Crackerjack, a device for lifting biscuits

·       Ignorant, to totally disregard an insect

·       Melancholy, a strangely shaped dog

·       Pasteurize, too far to see

·       Reincarnation, to be born again as a tin of condensed milk

·       Relief, what trees do in spring

·       Kindred, fear of one's own family

·       Scandal, footwear you should be ashamed of

·       Testicle, an amusing exam question

·       Zebra, the largest size of an important support garment

·       Vigilante, a very observant aunt.

Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Airline Announcements

Humor abounds on or above planet earth. For example, I have taken a great many airline flights and pay attention to the announcements.

1) There may be 50 ways to leave your lover but there are only 4 ways out of this plane.

2) Shortly we will begin our food service. s
erve refreshments. Please remember that we are in the airline business, not the food business.

3) Please make sure you take all your belonging with you. Anything left behind will be distributed evenly among the flight attendants. Under no circumstances leave children or spouses behind—take them with you!

4) Please notice that we are 10 minutes early. So, the next time we are 60 minutes late, we’ll just call it even.

5) Sorry about the bumpy landing. It’s not the captain’s fault. It’s not the co-pilot’s fault. It’s the asphalt.

6) We’ll be landing as soon as we get closer to the ground.

7) Welcome aboard this Southwest flight to Denver. We will be taking off just as soon I get through page 10 of this flight manual.

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Tuesday, February 28, 2023

More Laughter Benefits

Alters the flavor of your brain’s chemical stew, which is a form of “positive self-medication. It is really difficult to remain angry, fearful, or sad, if you can find something—anything—to trigger mirthful laughter. 1) It costs nothing. 2) It requires no prescription. 3) It burns calories but contains none. 4) It is cholesterol, fat, sugar, and gluten free. 5) It is convenient and easily accessible. 6) You can use it anywhere, anytime. 7) It has very few negative side effects.

 With all those benefits, what are you waiting for?

Monday, February 27, 2023

Laughter Benefits

Studies have identified a great many benefits from mirthful laugher. 1) It triggers the release of endorphins, the brain’s natural morphine. 2) It increases tolerance to pain. 3) It increases the activity of natural killer cells that help to fight viruses. 4) It liberates inerleukin-2, immune system messengers. 5) It decreases cortisol levels. 6) It relieves psychological stress. 7) It lowers muscle tension. 8) It keeps the brain alert. 8) It improves creativity and problem-solving. 9) It enhances learning and promotes retention of information. 10) It stimulates and reconnects the cerebral hemispheres that tend to become somewhat disconnected by stressors.

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Friday, February 24, 2023

Humor-Laughter Connection

A sense of humor can be honed and developed. Personally, I think that is a good idea seeing that humor can be used to trigger laughter. It is very subjective, however. What your  brain perceives as “funny,” results from a mismatch between what your brain expected and what actually happened—which triggers laughter if you are open to it. For example, you see someone walking down the street and suddenly slipping on a banana peel. Part of your brain hopes there was no injury; the other part laughs because it was so unexpected. I enjoy oxymorons. “Soft rock, good grief, sweet sorrow, jumbo shrimp, exact estimate, original copy, head butt.”

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Thursday, February 23, 2023

Laughter - Left Hemisphere

The left hemisphere is quite literal in its interpretations of humor. This means it rarely gets a joke. It is, however, drawn to wordplay. No surprise, as the left hemisphere is where reading, writing, audible speech, and heard speech centers are located. For example: “The bigger the summer vacation, the harder the fall.” Interestingly, the left hemisphere creates a sense of amusement. It is quite happy to laugh at more or less anything when prompted to do so. All things being equal it can laugh mirthfully almost on demand. The right hemisphere is alert to subtleties and nuances. It quickly grasps the meaning by pulling together threads of a joke, including context, assumptions, knowledge of personal bias or prejudice. It “gets” the joke by registering the dislocation in logic that is a hallmark of most formal humor. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Laughter Triggers

Laughter originates from Broca’s area in the left frontal lobe that produces audible speech. Laughter is a sound, a form of speech. It can be triggered by a sense of humor, the laughter of others (it is catching!), surprise, fright, emotion, and personal choice to laugh. There are many types of laughter: angry, sad, fearful, happy, sarcastic, rueful, and mirthful. Studies have shown that mirthful laughter provides the most benefits to the brain and immune system. As with a sense of humor, when and where it is appropriate to laugh is learned, starting in childhood. Lord Byron reportedly put it this way: Always laugh when you can; it is cheap medicine.

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Tuesday, February 21, 2023


Gelotology is the study of the effect of laughter on the brain and immune system. Studies show that it takes a whole brain, both right and left cerebral hemispheres to appreciate humor and to laugh. The brain function of humor is located in your right frontal lobe. Humor is the capacity to perceive or express what is funny. A sense of humor is learned in your family-of-origin—or not. It is very subjective based on each individual brain because every brain is different. An ability to understand and express humor can be suppressed in cultures or belief systems that think humor has no place in a serious lifestyle. Humor may be appreciated with or without laughter. It can also be used to trigger laughter, which provides most of the benefits.

Monday, February 20, 2023

Norman Cousins

 While I was in nursing school, I heard about Norman Cousins who had been diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis and had a 1/500 chance of recovery. Did laughter really help him sleep?

Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is a chronic, inflammatory disease of the spine and connective tissue, which apparently causes a great deal of pain. Cousins reported that 10 minutes of genuine belly laughter resulted in 2 hours of pain-free sleep. Reportedly, his story motivated Dr. Madan Kataria of India to form his first laughter club in 1995. Estimates are that there are 20,000 laughter clubs in 120 countries on Planet earth, helping people understand the importance that laughter can play in health and longevity. Is there something to this? As a certified laughter instructor of Dr. Kataria’s program, I am biased in favor of laughter. One of my childhood friends, Dr. Lee S. Burk, an internationally known laughter researcher, has identified myriad benefits of mirthful laughter to one’s health. Actually, I think I’ll list some researched benefits next week. Meanwhile, how many times a day do you laugh mirthfully?

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Friday, February 17, 2023

Stiff Person Syndrome, 2

The actual main cause of Stiff person syndrome remains a medical mystery although research indicates that it is the result of an autoimmune response gone awry in the brain and spinal cord. It may be associated with diabetes, as well as other autoimmune diseases such as thyroiditis, vitiligo, and pernicious anemia. It may be misdiagnosed as Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, psychosomatic illness, or anxiety and phobia. Over time there may be an abnormal, hunched-over posture. Some individuals may be too disabled to walk or move. Many fall frequently because they do not have the normal reflexes to catch themselves, which can lead to serious injuries. People with SPS may be afraid to leave the house because street noises, such as the sound of a car horn, can trigger spasms and falls. The good news is that with accurate diagnosis and proper treatment, the symptoms of SPS may be controlled.

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Thursday, February 16, 2023

Stiff Person Syndrome

I just read that famous singer Celine Dion has been diagnosed with Stiff person disease. Whatever is that? I have never even heard of it before.

Likely you never heard about Stiff Person Syndrome (SPS) before, because it is a very rare neurological syndrome that attacks the central nervous system (CNS), specifically the brain and spinal cord. Fewer than 5,000 individuals in the USA are believed to have this diagnosis. Twice as many females are affected by the syndrome as compared with males. It results in increased muscle activity due to decreased inhibition or dysregulation of muscle activity by the central nervous system. Symptoms may include extreme muscle stiffness and rigidity severely impairing mobility. It can affect muscles involved with singing. Painful spasms in the trunk and limbs can generate enough force to fracture bones. Symptoms may also include a greater sensitivity to noise, touch, anxiety, and emotional distress that can trigger muscle spasms. For example, the sound of a car horn can trigger spasms and falls. More tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Aluminum & Preventive Choices

According to some studies, the onset and progression of Alzheimer’s may be delayed by physical exercise. Apparently, perspiration is a major route of excretion of aluminum from the body—which I only learned recently. In the absence of physical exercise, females produce only half the volume of perspiration as males. This may predispose them to retain aluminum in their tissues. It is possible that this gender difference may contribute to the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease being higher in females than in males. I tend to avoid being fanatical about much of anything. I also choose to be prudent and take protective action when possible. For example, I use only aluminum-free deodorants. I still use tinfoil, but only when I am sure it does actually touch the food. I love baked potatoes of almost any type and scrub them well but do not wrap them in tinfoil. Personally, I choose to use cookware, which although it may have an aluminum core, has a protective ceramic lining. I used to bake in aluminum foil pans at holidays. Now I use Pyrex glass or protectively coated baking pans. Cumulatively, even small choices can have an effect, negative or positive. 

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Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Aluminum-Alzheimer’s Link

I was told that aluminum is now linked with dementia, specifically Alzheimer's disease. Have you heard about this?

Although I know of no studies that identify aluminum as the major cause of Alzheimer’s disease, aluminum has now been identified as a contributing factor in all forms of Alzheimer’s. (That may be true for other dementias as well, although the studies I know about relate to Alzheimer’s disease.) Aluminum is toxic to the brain and is said to increase the progression of the disease in people who already have Alzheimer’s. Reportedly, elevated levels of aluminum can contribute to the early onset of Alzheimer’s, especially when there is a history of major exposure to aluminum—as in those who worked in factories that produced aluminum products. More tomorrow.

Monday, February 13, 2023

Strong Emotions

What causes strong emotions?

 Emotions are fast acting chemical messengers that are designed to do several things: 1) Get your attention 2) Connect the conscious with subconscious 3) Provide you with valuable information 4) Give you energy to take appropriate action 5) Help you make moral and ethical decisions 6) Bind your perceptions to your conscious beliefs, making whatever you are thinking about seem more real at the time. If an internal or external stimulus triggered an emotion, it’s strength can depend upon whether the emotional motivator of surprise is present. Surprise increases the strength of emotions. Its strength is also impacted by your response to the emotion and the weight you give to it or to the reason the emotion was triggered.

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Friday, February 10, 2023

Whistling & Work

Some people whistle while they work. You may remember seeing the 1937 version of the animated Disney film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and its song: whistle while you work. It suggested that whistling provided a pace for cleaning up the place. In the original Broadway production of The King and I, Gertrude Lawrence and I Whistle A Happy Tune as a way to deal with feeling afraid.  a way to cover up being afraid. In Universal Pictures, Les Misérables, the Song of Angry Men was about people who will not be slaves again. Bottom line? People whistle or sing for many different reasons, each likely as unique as each person’s brain. If you can’t whistle (and sometimes dental repairs mean that the mouth can no longer whistle), then hum. Humming can express emotion, as well, and the sounds are good for the brain.

A new AUDIO podcast is posted every Saturday morning

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Thursday, February 9, 2023

Singing or Whistling

Do humans whistle or sing only when they are happy?

This is a very interesting question. Music Scholars refer to whistling as ‘momentary musical performing.’ Other types of this form includes drumming a beat on the desk, humming while doing housework, and singing in the shower—which was found to have a calming and refreshing effect, soothing the nerves and elevating the spirits. I used to enjoy whistling. Then the dentist talked me into getting my wisdom teeth pulled and the rest of my teeth straightened. Whistling disappeared along with my wisdom teeth. The choice of tune appears to reflect the person’s whistler’s mood, or it is chosen to enhance their mood. Whistling has been found to be something humans tend to do as a way to break up the silence, the humdrum, the normal and boring, or in self-entertainment. More tomorrow. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Brain & Sounds

The brain learns fastest with stories—which have existed since the dawn of time. Music tells stories. Every life is a 3-D story, each unique. In a way, this story is about your brain, because everything begins in the brain, including music. It has enormous potential to change the brain and the way it functions (Mannes). Sound impacts the brain like no other art, penetrating deeply through ear structures. Multiple brain areas are activated by listening to music. Even more are stimulated by playing a musical instrument. It is impossible to listen to music and consciously override its effects on the brain and nervous system. You do not want to see something? Close your eyes. You do not like a sound? Good luck. Hard to close your ears in any natural way. Even if you succeed in blocking out the sound, you may still feel or sense the pulses of soundwaves against your skin. No central hub devoted strictly to music cognition has been identified in the brain. All brain structures that participate in the musical experience are also involved in other forms of cognition. For example, math and science. The brain functions best and most efficiently when it does one thing at a time and sticks to that task. Paying attention to music practice and performance means you are no longer paying attention to something else. Remember, attention is a limited-capacity resource in the brain.

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Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Understanding Music

Historically, people in many diverse cultures made independent discoveries about the ordered collections of pitches or scales used in songs. Some scales gradually stopped being used, while others became common standards. Naturally, people living in each part of the world became accustomed to the scale(s) used in their region. The scale(s) used by one culture often sounded exotic to another culture—or grated on the nerves, to put it kindly. When Westerners first heard Chinese music, including the whole-tone scale, they often found it unfamiliar and even disturbing. The complex musical rhythms from many island cultures sounded chaotic to Westerners, too, whose brains were unaccustomed to decoding differing scales and complicated rhythms. Early missionaries to Africa wrote letters home saying that, when the nationals played on their drums, it sounded like they were “not beating in time.” Later it was discovered that African rhythms involved extraordinarily complex polyrhythmic beats (e.g., two beats against three, three against four, and two against three and five). The brains of the missionaries, having never been exposed to such complex rhythms, found the beats too advanced even to follow much less understand and appreciate. The saying that you only know what you know applies to many genres in life—especially to cultural musical forms. When confronted with an unfamiliar style of music, what you dislike or fail to understand might simply be something yet unlearned by your brain.