Keeping Cool:

Women’s Brains Better at Handling Anger: “In a nutshell, the research indicates that men are more aggressive than women because the part of the brain that modulates aggression is smaller in men than it is in women. Both genders have about the same ability to produce emotions, but when it comes to keeping those emotions in check, men have been shortchanged.” ABC

Delete the workers

Sun’s covert nerd-reduction programme: “Help is at hand for anybody who fears that their office is about to be swamped by Playstation addicts. It comes in the form of N1, a new sort of über-operating system unveiled on September 19th by Sun Microsystems, a computer maker. N1 will make it much easier to run corporate data centres—thus eliminating much of the work now done by armies of systems administrators.” The Economist

Linguists Decipher Warning Message in Genome

(February 1, 2039, BOSTON): “A group of researchers at MIT’s Chomsky Institute announced yesterday independent confirmation of their discovery of a series of messages encoded in apparently dormant or unused sections of the human genome. “We’re able to report replication of our results by at least three independent teams,” explained the team’s project director Klara Tulip. “We hence feel quite confident about the results and felt that they were significant enough to warrant preliminary public release.”

Exploiting evolved, mathematical models derived from iterative analyses of network-available audio, video and text files in more than 200 languages, the team scanned files in the Human Genome Library for patterns consistent with the presence of a “semantic system.” “We were actually using the Genome Library as a control data-set to be sure that our model wasn’t producing false positives,” explains Tulip. “We’d developed a mathematical and algorithmic formulation of a meta-language descriptive of all known human linguistic systems and needed to test it against some non-random data that we assumed had no semantic content. We we’re stunned to find that the genome contains sequences consistent with an implied linguistic system.” futurefeedforward

None of the Above

Electoral Yawns: Here’s an interesting idea, also from Dennis Fox. Although Green Party candidates debate whether they deserve the ‘spoiler’ moniker (would those who go to the polls to vote Green have otherwise held their nose and cast a ballot for the liberal Deomcrat, as the Dems suggest, or boycotted endorsing ‘more of the same’ entirely?), Fox suggests the Green Party candidate for governor of Massachusetts, who does seem positioned to help elect Republican Hugh Romney over Democratic machine candidate Shannon O’Brien, should offer to withdraw if the Dems pledge to support instant runoff voting in the future. I agree with Fox that this system (in which voters rank their preferences and, if no candidate gets a majority, the candidate who came in last is eliminated and her/his votes distributed among the voters’ second choices; the process continues until someone gets a majority) would better capture voter preferences and at least stand a chance of, occasionally, enticing me to vote for someone other than “none of the above”.

New Software Quietly Diverts Sales Commissions

New Software Quietly Diverts Sales Commissions:

“Some popular online services are using a new kind of software to divert sales commissions that would otherwise be paid to small online merchants by big sites like Amazon and eToys.


Critics call the software parasite-ware and stealware. But the sites that use the software, which is made by nearly 20 companies and used by dozens, say that it is perfectly legal, because their users agree to the diversion.

The amounts involved are estimated by those in the industry to have mounted into the hundreds of thousands of dollars and are likely to continue to grow — in part because most users are unaware that the software is operating on their computers.” NY Times [via Richard Homonoff]