Gay NBA Player Comes Out

I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay.

I didn’t set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport. But since I am, I’m happy to start the conversation. I wish I wasn’t the kid in the classroom raising his hand and saying, “I’m different.” If I had my way, someone else would have already done this. Nobody has, which is why I’m raising my hand.

My journey of self-discovery and self-acknowledgement began in my hometown of Los Angeles and has taken me through two state high school championships, the NCAA Final Four and the Elite Eight, and nine playoffs in 12 NBA seasons

The rest of Jason Collins’ moving statement:

Brain-Computer Interfaces Inch Closer to Mainstream

New York Times
April 28, 2013, 11:00 am

Last week, engineers sniffing around the programming code for Google Glass found hidden examples of ways that people might interact with the wearable computers without having to say a word. Among them, a user could nod to turn the glasses on or off. A single wink might tell the glasses to take a picture.

But don’t expect these gestures to be necessary for long. Soon, we might interact with our smartphones and computers simply by using our minds. In a couple of years, we could be turning on the lights at home just by thinking about it, or sending an e-mail from our smartphone without even pulling the device from our pocket. Farther into the future, your robot assistant will appear by your side with a glass of lemonade simply because it knows you are thirsty.

Researchers in Samsung’s Emerging Technology Lab are testing tablets that can be controlled by your brain, using a cap that resembles a ski hat studded with monitoring electrodes, the MIT Technology Review, the science and technology journal of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, reported this month.

The technology, often called a brain computer interface, was conceived to enable people with paralysis and other disabilities to interact with computers or control robotic arms, all by simply thinking about such actions. Before long, these technologies could well be in consumer electronics, too.

Some crude brain-reading products already exist, letting people play easy games or move a mouse around a screen.

NeuroSky, a company based in San Jose, Calif., recently released a Bluetooth-enabled headset that can monitor slight changes in brain waves and allow people to play concentration-based games on computers and smartphones. These include a zombie-chasing game, archery and a game where you dodge bullets — all these apps use your mind as the joystick. Another company, Emotiv, sells a headset that looks like a large alien hand and can read brain waves associated with thoughts, feelings and expressions. The device can be used to play Tetris-like games or search through Flickr photos by thinking about an emotion the person is feeling — like happy, or excited — rather than searching by keywords. Muse, a lightweight, wireless headband, can engage with an app that “exercises the brain” by forcing people to concentrate on aspects of a screen, almost like taking your mind to the gym.

Car manufacturers are exploring technologies packed into the back of the seat that detect when people fall asleep while driving and rattle the steering wheel to awaken them.

But the products commercially available today will soon look archaic. “The current brain technologies are like trying to listen to a conversation in a football stadium from a blimp,” said John Donoghue, a neuroscientist and director of the Brown Institute for Brain Science. “To really be able to understand what is going on with the brain today you need to surgically implant an array of sensors into the brain.” In other words, to gain access to the brain, for now you still need a chip in your head.

Last year, a project called BrainGate pioneered by Dr. Donoghue, enabled two people with full paralysis to use a robotic arm with a computer responding to their brain activity. One woman, who had not used her arms in 15 years, could grasp a bottle of coffee, serve herself a drink and then return the bottle to a table. All done by imagining the robotic arm’s movements.

But that chip inside the head could soon vanish as scientists say we are poised to gain a much greater understanding of the brain, and, in turn, technologies that empower brain computer interfaces. An initiative by the Obama administration this year called the Brain Activity Map project, a decade-long research project, aims to build a comprehensive map of the brain.

Miyoung Chun, a molecular biologist and vice president for science programs at the Kavli Foundation, is working on the project and although she said it would take a decade to completely map the brain, companies would be able to build new kinds of brain computer interface products within two years.

“The Brain Activity Map will give hardware companies a lot of new tools that will change how we use smartphones and tablets,” Dr. Chun said. “It will revolutionize everything from robotic implants and neural prosthetics, to remote controls, which could be history in the foreseeable future when you can change your television channel by thinking about it.”

There are some fears to be addressed. On the Muse Web site, an F.A.Q. is devoted to convincing customers that the device cannot siphon thoughts from people’s minds.

These brain-reading technologies have been the stuff of science fiction for decades.

In the 1982 movie “Firefox,” Clint Eastwood plays a fighter pilot on a mission to the Soviet Union to steal a prototype fighter jet that can be controlled by a brain neurolink. But Mr. Eastwood has to think in Russian for the plane to work, and he almost dies when he cannot get the missiles to fire during a dogfight. (Don’t worry, he survives.)

Although we won’t be flying planes with our minds anytime soon, surfing the Web on our smartphones might be closer.

Dr. Donoghue of Brown said one of the current techniques used to read people’s brains is called P300, in which a computer can determine which letter of the alphabet someone is thinking about based on the area of the brain that is activated when she sees a screen full of letters. But even when advances in brain-reading technologies speed up, there will be new challenges, as scientists will have to determine if the person wants to search the Web for something in particular, or if he is just thinking about a random topic.

“Just because I’m thinking about a steak medium-rare at a restaurant doesn’t mean I actually want that for dinner,” Dr. Donoghue said. “Just like Google glasses, which will have to know if you’re blinking because there is something in your eye or if you actually want to take a picture,” brain computer interfaces will need to know if you’re just thinking about that steak or really want to order it.

Copyright 2013 The New York Times Company

Family news

Congratulations to two men and the partners and families who supported them!

My nephew Jefferey Nugent has graduated with honors from University of Maryland.
Jeff has done an army tour in Iraq and served as a police officer.  He’s looking forward now to working in federal law enforcement.
My grandson Ben Thompson last weekend received his Master of Social Work at University of Cincinnati. He and Heather will now move to Pittsburgh where Heather will do a graduate social work program at University of Pittsburgh. Ben will look for a job as a school social worker there.
Both guys overcame challenges to get where they are.  Jeff credits army experience for his success.

Please send family news to

In Vermont

From Rachel Brodie on the hill:

Here are some pictures of our four little ducklings. (I regret missing photos–we’re working on restoring them. rjn)
The black one is a black Indian Runner duck.
The smallest of the 3 blondies is a “fawn and white” Indian Runner duck.  (Very difficult to see the size difference, especially in photos).
The larger 2 blondies are Buff Orpington ducks.  They do not have names yet.

They were hatched at Metzer Farms on Earth day, April 22, and then shipped to Vermont.  I received a call from the post office at 6:45 am on April 24th letting me know they had arrived.

They will be egg producers (duck eggs are great for baking and omelettes), helpers in the garden (they eat slugs, beetles and other pests) and, most importantly, pets.

sleeping ducksducklings on day 1




Old Folks

At the movies last week, Alice gave me my ticket which I lost while I was buying popcorn. A bit annoyed, she spoke to the usher who let me in without it. When we reached our seats, she realized she didn’t have her bag of candy, so I went out to the lobby to look for it. Failing to find the bag, I bought her some Reese’s Pieces and something else. Back at our seats, I gave her the candy, and then she found her missing bag of candy on the floor!

This kitchen I spend time a lot in,
but just now I’m feeling quite rotten.
I came in assume
for some thing in this room—
what it is I have surely forgotten



Recent snow reminded of this

verse written in the 1960’s:


Starkly jonquils in the snow
on April 21st
assert the spring
despite the facts:
The null sky skulks behind the trees and
sprays the lilacs, hedge, and all the grass with …

Jennie:       Frosted Flakes
Laura:        God makes snow.
Dick:          isn’t sure—can’t see
up where God makes snow.
Susan:       I hate snow.
I:                like jonquils—
I don’t know who
makes them. World’s Craziest Elevators (photos)

Although elevators are typically located indoors, some of these unique elevators are located in the middle of some of the world’s most beautiful landscapes, providing breathtaking views of the natural world, from the Alps to the coast of Lisbon. The elevators in this collection are meant to be experienced—as architectural marvels that can stand the forces of nature.




Camille Mann Published: Apr 22, 2013, 7:23 AM EDT

Earth Day


The Earth Day Flag, the latest proposal of John McConnell for a flag of Earth

Earth Day is an annual day on which events are held worldwide to demonstrate support for environmental protection.

Earth Day is observed on April 22 each year. The April 22 date was designated as International Mother Earth Day by a consensus resolution adopted by the United Nations in 2009.[1] Earth Day is now coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network,[2] and is celebrated in more than 192 countries every year.

Today's Article For Improvement star.svg MORE:

How Exercise And Other Activities Beat Back Dementia

My sister Carol recently told me she had been out to lunch with a friend and her daughter Mary Ruth and found she had asked the same question 3 times.  At 83, she has lost memory to the point where she can’t carry on a coherent conversation and feels very bad about it.  It’s been a couple of years since she could take her medicines on schedule.  In mid-eighties, my mother became confused and short-tempered.  My Aunt Helen went really looney.   Maybe it’s not too soon for middle-aged people to prevent having a goofy old age.

“What’s good for the heart is good for the brain,” one neuroscientist says. In addition to physical exercise, researchers say that mental exercise, socializing and a good diet can also help preserve memory in older brains.                           Story at: NATION PUBLIC RADIO                                                         

Love, Grandad