Saturday, August 09, 2008

18-year-old Canadian prodigy builds gyro-stabilized electric UnoMoto

Accelerate, brake, turn by leaning.

Improper vegan diet results in father's child abuse conviction

Blair Parker's trial began in late May, and Parker himself took the witness stand to defend his dietary beliefs, which he had gained through his university studies of nutrition.

He described a daily regimen with the children that included prayer, study, chores, exercise and rigid adherence to diet, right down to what liquids they could drink and when.

Parker claimed that he could not find a doctor of his own religious faith or dietary beliefs that he trusted. Instead, he consulted with a naturopath who lived in Washington state and who could not actually see or examine the children.

Parker still claims that the children suffered from "malabsorption," an inability to absorb vital nutrients.

The prosecutor said that Parker obsessed about the children's bowel movements and gave them enemas that further impeded absorbing any nutrients of the food they ate.

Challenges of $600-a-session patients

Dr. Karasu, known as an expert in treating the wealthy and powerful, recognized a common pitfall among his peers: Rich people can be seductive. “The therapist wants to identify with the patients and comes to see it as his role to help them get more wealthy,” he said. In the process, the doctor risks becoming the patient’s “alter-id.”

The diffierence between Yogachara and Nagarjuna's Madhyamaka

Of Nagarjuna’s postion, there is no real basis for the world we perceive. Such a basis is vastu-shunya, i.e., substantially absent. By comparison, for Yogachara appearance depends on pure reality, i.e., vastu-matra. In fact, there is nothing except vastu-matra in the analogy of a clay pot, that despite its form—and its destruction into fragments—the clay-ness remains unaffected. The pot, in other words, is an appearance of clay of which it could be said, hides the clay-ness.

The state of behavioral economics on happiness

Includes a review of Frey and Ariely.

Deprogramming with meditation

Some meditative practices purport to reverse automatization of thought and behavior, such as transcendental or mindfulness meditation, and indeed there is some evidence that these techniques can reduce interference on the Stroop task.
Some good news for hypnosis too.

Vonnegut's letter from his PoW days in 1945 Germany

On Christmas eve the Royal Air Force bombed and strafed our unmarked train. They killed about one-hundred-and-fifty of us. We got a little water Christmas Day and moved slowly across Germany to a large P.O.W. Camp in Muhlburg, South of Berlin. We were released from the box cars on New Year's Day. The Germans herded us through scalding delousing showers. Many men died from shock in the showers after ten days of starvation, thirst and exposure. But I didn't.

Brian Greene on superstring theory and other dimensions

Michael Gazzaniga and split brains

Link to transcript of interview. Some free will stuff.

Texas man who shot and killed two unarmed men believed to be burglarizing neighbors is not going to trial.

Then Horn sounding angrier by the moment cited the new Texas law.

"OK, but I have a right to protect myself too, sir," he said. "And you understand that. And the laws have been changed in this country since September the first, and you know it and I know it."

But the burglars were unarmed and shot in the back. Not exactly self-defense.

Extremophile microbes

The Berkeley Pit [an abandoned open pit mine] had become one of the deadliest places on earth, too toxic even for microorganisms. Or so it was thought.
In 1995, an analytic chemist named William Chatham saw something unusual in the allegedly lifeless lake: a small clump of green slime floating on the water's surface. He snagged a sample and brought it to biologist Grant Mitman at the nearby Montana Tech campus of the University of Montana, where Mitman found to his amazement that the goop was a mass of single-celled algae...
For reasons that are not entirely clear, many compounds which attack cancer cells are also harmful to brine shrimp, therefore most modern assay tests include the brine shrimp lethality test as a standard procedure. The Stierles exposed swarms of tiny crustacean volunteers to the Berkeley Pit chemicals, and to their delight, five of the chemicals showed anti-cancer properties.

Cancer cells become normal with a bit of tweaking

What they did realize, though, was that when they tweaked the Myc molecule and just lowered the levels below the threshold that caused tumor growth, the cells actually returned to normal size.

Where is inequality greater? U.S. or France/Germany?

Bryan Caplan comes to the conclusion that regulation makes things more pleasant. Tyler Cowen responds that is so for the rich, and that the class stratification makes things less pleasant.

Untold stories of D-Day

First published in June '02.

Snap Clutch -- eye gaze interaction in MMOs

Video demo of interfacing with World of Warcraft through eye gaze tracking only. You can change to and engage in modes of locomotion, combat, object manipulation without using your hands.

Kids make parents less happy

In Daniel Gilbert's 2006 book "Stumbling on Happiness," the Harvard professor of psychology looks at several studies and concludes that marital satisfaction decreases dramatically after the birth of the first child—and increases only when the last child has left home. He also ascertains that parents are happier grocery shopping and even sleeping than spending time with their kids.

Pay-as-you-drive insurance: MyRate drive monitoring device goes national

With Progressive Insurance:

The little blue box plugs into your car's ODB II diagnostic port (all cars made after 1996 have one), and studiously records your driving habits, wirelessly sending the data back to Progressive HQ (it's not clear exactly how). Every six months, Progressive will crunch the numbers and issue a new rate for you based on how you drive -- savings of up to 40 percent are possible.

People with real superpowers

Choi Yeong-eui, later changed to Masutatsu Oyama... was born in Korea in 1927 and later moved to Japan, where he studied karate...
He used to have live public demonstrations where he would fight and kill a bull with his bare hands... All in all, Oyama fought and killed 52 bulls, three of which were killed instantly with one blow. Forty-nine had their horns chopped off with karate blows. He gained the nickname of The Godhand and was considered the living manifestation of the Japanese warrior's maxim "One strike, certain death."
If you're thinking his skills only worked against livestock, you should know that Oyama once tested himself in a kumite, a series of two-minute fights against different opponents, each of which you must win to continue. Oyama took on 300 men over the course of three days.

KeyScrambler Personal -- protect against keylogging

In all parts of your Web browser. There's a premium version for other software, like productivity and such.

The quality of medical advice in low-income countries

...doctors in Tanzania complete less than a quarter of the essential checklist for patients with classic symptoms of malaria, a disease that kills 63,000-96,000 Tanzanians each year. The public-sector doctor in India asks one (and only one) question in the average interaction: "What's wrong with you?". In Paraguay, the amount of time a doctor spends with a patient has nothing to do with the severity of the patient's illness...these isolated facts represent common patterns...three years of medical school in Tanzania result in only a 1 percentage point increase in the probability of a correct diagnosis...One concern with measuring doctor effort through direct observation is that the doctor may work harder in the presence of the research team.

The original American cannibal

Alferd G. Packer holds a unique spot in American jurisprudence. He is the only U.S. citizen ever charged, tried, and convicted for the crime of murder and cannibalism.
The crime was committed in 1873, but the trial began in 1884.

Monday, August 04, 2008

By 2012, Canadian ISPs to charge extra beyond commercial set of websites

Maybe by 2010. Bell Canada and Telus looking to rid of net neutrality in Canada.

Subtle racial slurs still shock, humiliate targets; federal officials see increase in complaints

Tomeika Broussard thought it was so absurd when she overheard her supervisor refer to her as a "reggin" that she just laughed. Then she realized it was the n-word spelled backward.

The only African-American in the small medical clinic in Los Gatos, Calif., Broussard said she was subjected to racial slurs almost daily. They were not the overt ones that most people would immediately recognize, but rather subtle, surreptitious code words that sometimes take a while to figure out.

Predicting the weather with clouds

Clouds can easily be broken into four categories. These categories are high clouds, middle clouds, low clouds and clouds with vertical growth.

Clouds are also identified by shape. Cumulus refers to a "heap" of clouds. Stratus refers to clouds that are long and streaky. And nimbus refers to the shape of "rain" because we all know what rain looks like.

Tricks to manage multiple accounts in Gmail

Various ways.

Meditation can alter brain structure

MRI scans of long-term meditators have shown greater activity in brain circuits involved in paying attention. When disturbing noises were played to a group of meditators undergoing an MRI scan, they had relatively little effect on the brain areas involved in emotion and decision-making among those with the most experience of meditation...
Long-term meditation seems not only to alter brain-wave patterns: early research suggests that it may also result in changes in the actual structure of the cortex, the outer parts of our brains. “We have found that brain regions associated with attention and sensory processing were thicker in meditators than in the controls,” says Dr Sara Lazar, an assistant in psychology at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Is it Africa's turn?

Links to analysts' status reports. Not all confident, but...

Ken Banks: "African entrepreneurs are discovering that the current technological environment enables them to remove those shackles for themselves. They need not rely on a donor agency or international trade agreement to hand them the key."

Researchers pushing their own bodies for science

In 1929, Werner Forssmann was a surgical trainee who wanted to learn about the heart. Unlike other wimpy doctors at the time, instead of learning about it from books or dead animals, he went for the more classic investigatory approach of "poke it with something."
Without any supervision, advice, or regard for that concept you call "survival," he cut a hole in his arm and pushed a catheter all the way up the limb and jammed it into his still-living heart.