Senate race and Supreme Court:

Another Bush v. Gore? ‘Is it conceivable that not even two years after the U.S. Supreme Court brought the presidential election to a close with its 5-4 decision in Bush v. Gore, the justices would put themselves on the line again in a state election case that this time could determine control of the Senate? “…Bush v. Gore can rear its head in lots of ways that we can’t anticipate. It’s out there for everyone to use for their different purposes.” ‘ International Herald Tribune news analysis

Crime gene ‘should mean lighter sentence’

Judges should consider reducing the sentences of convicted offenders if scientists prove that their crimes were influenced by their genes, Britain’s most respected biological ethics group said yesterday.

As soon as there is reliable scientific evidence linking genes to aggression or violence, this should be weighed in mitigation, just as a criminal’s social or family background already can be, the Nuffield Council on Bioethics said yesterday.

While a genetic predisposition to antisocial behaviour should not be a defence, such information could “assist in determining degrees of blame”, according to a report by a panel of scientists, philosophers, ethicists and lawyers. Times of London

World’s funniest joke revealed

“A year-long online search for the world’s funniest joke is over. The winning rib-tickler emerged from two million ratings of 40,000 entries, submitted by people from more than 70 countries.

The LaughLab experiment was run by psychologist Richard Wiseman and colleagues at the University of Hertfordshire, UK. The data showed clear national differences in humour, Wiseman says.” New Scientist

"…the truly alien planet is earth…"

Review: Evolving the Alien: The science of extraterrestrial life by

Jack Cohen and Ian Stewart: “…Cohen and …Stewart are scientists – a reproductive biologist and a mathematician respectively – who love science fiction, despite its frequently flawed depictions of alien biology. This lively work of popular science uses real and science-fictional examples of strange creatures to fuel speculation about life inhabiting other planets… or even suns.” New Scientist

Smart and Racy?

Review: Dr Tatiana’s Sex Advice to All Creation by

Olivia Judson: “Anthropomorphism – ascribing human thoughts and motivations to the actions of other species – used to be the dirtiest word in the animal behaviourist’s dictionary. Not any more. Dr Tatiana brings us a catalogue of vices that would bring a blush to the cheeks of even the most depraved Homo sapiens.

There is nothing in the kaleidoscope of human sexual behaviour that other creatures great and small haven’t tried out before, she says.” New Scientist

An RFID Bill of Rights

Simson Garfinkel: “We need a manifesto! Tiny wireless identification tags are soon going to start showing up throughout your daily life. If you have an E-ZPass transponder in your car or one of several Swatch watches on your wrist, you’re already carrying a wireless tag. Your house, your food and even your clothes might someday be permeated with such tags, which can be read without your permission or knowledge.” MIT Technology Review