Monday, October 01, 2007

Is there consciousness in a vegetative state?

An extraordinary brain study concludes that a woman in a vegetative state is aware of herself. It's a dangerous claim that could throw families and physicians into turmoil.

GPS update

Now everyone gets the finer GPS, except in warzones.

Alibi services

They'll vouch for this and that with "restaurant and hotel bills, invitations, requests to speak at a conference, handouts and notes, plane and train reservations, badges, pens and phone calls with a male or female voice."

Too much or too little sleep is deadly

Different distribution of pathologies depending on which side of optimal 7 hours you are.

Danny Kahneman's short course in thinking about thinking

Videos as well as some text at edge. Biases, game theory, etc.

My debt is worth less, so I've made more? More playing with books

From WSJ:

If the market decides a company is a bigger credit risk and starts demanding fatter risk premiums to buy its debt, the value of its existing debt falls. Under a rule being phased in throughout corporate America known as Financial Accounting Statement No. 159, that same logic applies to a company’s own debt. Companies that mark their liabilities to a market price, as Wall Street usually does, thus record as revenue a drop in the value of their own debt obligations.

Languages dying

Every fortnight, another one gone. The map here is of areas with the highest number of endangered languages.

Peer effects in golf and work

Well, none for golf as there is at work. Just an abstract at NBER.

Stealth Windows update prevents XP repair

Excuse me?

Sinus pain during flight

Supposedly happens even with experienced fliers, even if rarely. Only prevention seems possible.

Why demand for teachers to be excellent?

Introduction to Direct Instruction, a scripted program that seems to bring results in the classroom:

DI is scalable. Its success isn't contingent on the personality of some uber-teacher....You don't need to be a genius to be an effective DI teacher. DI can be implemented in dozens upon dozens of classrooms with just ordinary teachers. You just need to be able to follow the script.

Top streaming movie and TV sites of 2007

KaZoop dishes on the results of their explorations. Beyond just streaming here. Older mashable roundup on free online TV here. The couple that Teddy likes here.

Autism has gut-brain connection

The bacteria produce propionic acid, a short chain fatty acid, which in addition to existing in the gut, is commonly found in bread and dairy products, MacFabe said.

To test their hypothesis that diet plays a part in generating autistic behaviour, UWO scientists administered the compound to rats' brains.

Transparent electroluminescent display

They can cut or shape the display.

The tsar's opponent

Some background and thoughts on Putin and Kasparov's take on him. (long NYer piece)

In recent years, Putin has insured that nearly all power in Russia is Presidential. The legislature, the State Duma, is only marginally more independent than the Supreme Soviet was under Leonid Brezhnev. The governors of Russia's more than eighty regions are no longer elected, as they were under Yeltsin; since a Presidential decree in 2004, they have all been appointed by the Kremlin. Putin even appoints the mayors of Moscow and St. Petersburg. The federal television networks, by far the main instrument of news and information in Russia, are neo-Soviet in their absolute obeisance to Kremlin power.

How to Read the Bible: A Guide to Scripture Then and Now

A review of a book on the different mindsets with which one can read the bible.
Excerpts at kottke here.

Ethanol, scmethanol -- the state of biofuels

Coverage of emerging techs of improving on an otherwise dubious alternative.

Is your computer connecting to websites without your knowledge?

Steps you can take to find out.

Art for life's sake

How Hungary's Open School of Art saved Jews during Nazi occupation. In one case, nude art effectively distracted the bad guys from noticing a Jew behind a screen.

Alzheimer's as form of diabetes

They have shown that a toxic protein found in the brains of individuals with Alzheimer’s removes insulin receptors from nerve cells, rendering those neurons insulin resistant. (The protein, known to attack memory-forming synapses, is called an ADDL for “amyloid ß-derived diffusible ligand.”)

Getting imaginative engineers

A commercial espousing faith in the younger generation.

Nice Idea - Watch the top videos of the week here

Investing mistakes

Established advice, but the one that caught my eye was the need to pay attention to expense ratios.

Buying computers preloaded with Linux

Beyond Dell. Fine NYT summary here of the state of the tech.

Brain stem may orchestrate basics of consciousness

From cognews:

Last February, Swedish neuroscientist Bjorn Merker described how the surprising capabilities of children suffering from hydranencephaly spur a provocative proposal: Elementary awareness, which he regards as an ability to integrate sensations from the environment with one's immediate goals and feelings in order to guide behavior, springs from the brain stem. The latter also preserves hearing in someone without a cortex. If he's right, virtually all vertebrates belong to the "primary consciousness" club. Moreover, medical definitions of brain death as a lack of cortical activity would face a serious challenge.

Legal sources for free stock images

Sometimes, you just don't want to have to go out and photograph something yourself.

PBS's The Elegant Universe online

Streaming videos for the three-hour miniseries on present theories on structure of universe.

Healthiness of tart cherries

Apparently they're just named tart, and don't taste that way. Has anti-inflammatory properties as well as antioxidants.

Mencken predicts fruition of people's stupidity

On some great and glorious day, the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.
- H.L. Mencken, 1920

Another teardown of George W.'s administration. Just found the photo on the Web somewhere.

Women's happiness has gone down

What has changed — and what seems to be the most likely explanation for the happiness trends — is that women now have a much longer to-do list than they once did (including helping their aging parents).

Myths about money

Covers background presumptions about personal finance.

Clam Win -- free antivirus for Windows


Living with amnesia

Oliver Sacks on a case of amnesia from encephalitis.

Hydrogen directly from solar energy without any detours involving electrical current

At the start of the reaction, a slight formation of oxide on the titanium disilicide results in the formation of the requisite catalytically active centers. “Our catalyst splits water with a higher efficiency than most of the other semiconductor systems that also operate using visible light,” says Demuth.

Future web trends

Some longer term speculations.

Follow-up on Little Rock integration photo

The story of Elizabeth Eckford, the black student, and Hazel Bryan, her most recognizable tormentor, and their lives after the event.

Free will debate

Two senior scientists, a neurologist and a psychiatrist, debate the meaning of free will and whether brain science can, now or ever, fully explain it. Each scientist first wrote a position statement; they then exchanged statements to write rejoinders.

101 Zen stories

Mostly Japanese.

A few intro paragraphs and videos on the untouchable caste

Well, class is a problem in all societies.

Sun lizard -- using the sun to help cool and heat a house

A single unit is said to heat and cool an area of 100 sqm (~1,000 sq ft) to up to 10 C° cooler in summer and 4-6 C° warmer in winter. Collin reckons a Sun Lizard can cut heating and cooling costs by 60%, when properly installed on a well designed building.

Evolutionary explications of morality

Two systems: the ancient, pre-language one and the later, ideated, articulable one:

[Dr. Jonathan Haidt] likens the mind’s subterranean moral machinery to an elephant, and conscious moral reasoning to a small rider on the elephant’s back. Psychologists and philosophers have long taken a far too narrow view of morality, he believes, because they have focused on the rider and largely ignored the elephant.
He does survey the moralities of the world to find different components to moral preferences.
Some musings at Evolving Thoughts.

Apps2you -- do-it-yourself web-based databases to the masses

Simply sketch the pages of your application and the flow of information across pages using the intuitive, browser-based JustSketch interface. App2you's sophisticated algorithms automatically infer the database design and logic behind the pages.

Cultural idiosyncracies by photo

This one is Hawaii. There are only seven in total.