Friday, January 02, 2009

Thursday, January 01, 2009

People in some countries can't form neat, orderly lines

Though seemingly chaotic and unnecessary to those of us in the "West", the truth might be that these "mobs" actually work. Their structure-- or lack of it-- rewards those who want the ticket or item the most, and only displeases those who weren't industrious (or ruthless) enough to work their way up to the front. This is a form of price discrimination in which those who were willing to "pay" the most, in this case with time and effort, are rewarded, while those who weren't, aren't.

Barack Obama on evil

Because a lot of evil has been perpetrated based on the claim that we were trying to confront evil, in the name of good. And I think one thing that’s very important is having some humility in recognizing that just because we think our intentions are good doesn’t mean we are going to be doing good.

Lifesaver water bottle purifies in seconds

In 20 seconds, actually, and reduces heavy metals too.

... but the Lifesaver uses microscopic pores a mere 15 nanometers across — about one-hundredth the width of a spider’s silk — narrow enough to stop the tiniest threats. That means virtually nothing — not even bacteria and viruses — can get through.

Believing we have no free will leads to less moral behavior

Well, facilitated cheating on some arithmetic problems for a psych test, but just extrapolate...

Getmooh -- receive a ring and a message on your phone

Need to get a phone prompt to possibly get out of a situation?

Being on the Pill could make women choose the wrong mate

Smelling genetic similarity when difference called for while courting:

"Not only could MHC[major histocompatibility complex]-similarity in couples lead to fertility problems," said lead researcher Stewart Craig Roberts, an evolutionary psychologist at the University of Newcastle in England, "but it could ultimately lead to the breakdown of relationships when women stop using the contraceptive pill, as odor perception plays a significant role in maintaining attraction to partners."

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The "website" is down: moronic sales guy vs. tech support

IT Guy Vs Dumb Employees - Watch more Entertainment

Beef tongue flavor seems to have done well at Yokohama ice cream festival

More than 125 varieties of ice cream have been available in the two week festival, including cheese, octopus, prawn and a garlic variety called Dracula Premium Ice.

Preventing drug-associated memory reconsolidation

By blocking NMDA receptors. The mice did not frantically search for drugs upon a stimulus light.

Some wisdom from Maya Angelou

I've learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.

PC Magazine's top 100 undiscovered websites

Thirteen categories.

A son's diary of Mieneke Weide-Boelkes' final days to euthanasia

Mum's sisters and their husbands are there for a last family dinner, together with Dad, Maarten and me - wearing my expensive new pair of shoes. Mum, even more energetic than the week before, decorates the table lavishly.

My uncles shake their heads with incomprehension. As Mum shows off her china plates, my aunts have distracted looks on their faces.

Whispering to Dad and me in the hallway, they struggle to understand why Mum is choosing to die the next day when she is bouncing around like a 40-year-old instead of a terminally ill 65-year-old. But there is also shock at her fixation on material objects and the little interest she shows in how the people around her actually feel.

For some kids, genes ruling behavior

After years of ignoring those children [environmentally resistant outliers], a few scientists now realize that they are telling us something that promises to revolutionize our understanding of child development. In an echo of "personalized medicine" (matching drugs to people's DNA), scientists are finding that how parents treat their children is filtered through the prism of DNA. Parents may intuit that, as they notice that what worked with one child is failing abysmally with another, but now science is pinpointing exactly what combinations of nature and nurture spell gridlock. It is finally dawning on experts that "individual genetic differences are the 800-pound gorilla of child development," says Jack Shonkoff, director of the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University. "The promise of genomics is that you will be able to tailor experiences as we tailor drugs."

Greatest black superheroes

The comic universe sure is much larger than just the movies that come out. This is Bishop from the X-men storyline.

Differently mapped brains

Post-stroke in this case; once language began being reacquired, a different accent emerged:

'Slowly I started to talk more. It felt different physically in my mouth to the way it did before the stroke and my accent turned from Italian to French. When I bumped into old friends and started speaking, they thought I was taking the mickey.

'When I went back to work six months later, I visited each client face to face as they wouldn't have believed it was me on the phone.

'Now I can hold a steady, fluent conversation, but I still sound French. The doctors aren't sure if my English accent will ever return. But I really don't mind - having thought I would never speak again, I am grateful just to be able to talk.'

Child labor in Africa's gold mines

One-fifth of the world's gold from such labor.

Many are girls who begin as apprentice panners as young as 4 and become full-time workers by age 10. Teenage boys work the shafts, descending with flashlights tied around their necks to hack ore from the rock. Lancei Conde, the regional administrator of Kankan, said children work at all the bush mines in Guinea.

The matriarchal Mosuo of southwestern China

Women own property and determine family relationships. But this so-called free-love society is under threat from modernization.
Short National Geographic video shows a guy who is permitted to see his son.

Marks of a con willing to overlook inconsistencies

Once trust has been established:

Indeed, what's notable from the facts that have emerged about Gerhartsreiter [in implying a Rockefeller lineage] is how much he was able to get away with despite playing his roles, in certain ways, rather poorly. People who knew him in his various incarnations have remarked on how his perpetually unwashed clothes and junky cars didn't match up with the story he told about himself. He struck others as plainly ignorant about mores and business matters that someone of his background would know, and he seemed at times to go out of his way to antagonize co-workers and neighbors.

Stopping the overproduction of white blood cells in leukaemia

Work on a drug to attach to the protein has begun:

The GM-CSF hormone - which controls the production of blood cells in the body - works by attaching itself to the receptor proteins, which then send a message into white blood cells telling them to multiply.

When damaged, the protein's messages cause an over-production of cells or cells which persist too long, resulting in diseases such as leukaemia as well as some inflammatory conditions.

The major breakthrough came when the researchers realised the proteins linked together to form networks on the surface of white blood cells after being activated by the hormone, and that by stopping the networks forming they could also stop the growth.

Degree of of disease diversity varies with religious diversity

So, xenophobia generally a healthy response?

Their hypothesis is that in places where disease is rampant, it behoves groups not to mix with one another more than is strictly necessary, in order to reduce the risk of contagion. They therefore predict that patterns of behaviour which promote group exclusivity will be stronger in disease-ridden areas. Since religious differences are certainly in that category, they specifically predict that the number of different religions in a place will vary with the disease load. Which is, as they report in the Proceedings of the Royal Society, the case.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Growth of elder porn in Japan

Geniuses who were just insane

Lord Byron, English poet, 1788-1824:

It began when Byron arrived at Cambridge, where he was ordered to send his dog back home as keeping one was against school rules. Desperate for a pet, Byron scoured college policies for an animal not expressly forbidden. He found no reference to bears.
The bear stayed with Byron in his dorm room. Being a responsible pet owner, Byron took it on regular leashed walks through the university, terrifying fellow students and lecturers. When asked by administration what purpose the bear served on campus, the poet tried in vain to get his beast a fellowship.
More here (including Newton).

Paul Krugman on the possible decline of globalization

Shortly before World War I, Norman Angell... argued [in "The Great Illusion"] that war had become obsolete, that in the modern industrial era even military victors lose far more than they gain. He was right — but wars kept happening anyway.

Film failures that killed studios

United Artists with Heaven's Gate:

But what if that "war" the film is based on is the Johnson County War, a dispute between land barons and European immigrants in Wyoming. Are you kidding me? I almost fell asleep during that sentence alone, let alone sitting through the movie.