This is so wrong. Celebrated reactionary British curmudgeon physician Theodore Dalrymple argues that, because universal healthcare in the UK has such grievous faults, we should abandon the project. He does nothing to make his case, although he is articulate. (WSJ)
“There are many ways to cope with death, but founding an online book club is a pretty unique approach. “When I heard that David Foster Wallace had died, it was like remembering an assignment that had been due the day before,” said Matthew Baldwin. A blogger who regretted never having finished “Infinite Jest,” Baldwin founded InfiniteSummer.org, a Web site and collaborative reading experiment that creates a vast literary support group for completing the late author's 1,079-page tome over the course of this summer.” (Salon)
“Oxford scientists have created a transparent form of aluminium by bombarding the metal with the world’s most powerful soft X-ray laser. 'Transparent aluminium' previously only existed in science fiction, featuring in the movie Star Trek IV, but the real material is an exotic new state of matter with implications for planetary science and nuclear fusion.” (physorg.com)
The only thing not to appreciate about this analysis is the gratuitous digs at Van Morrison.
Can anyone think of a construction similar to this use of “…the fuck…” other than “…the hell…”?
Adam Pash: “Apple just rejected the Google Voice iPhone application from App Store distribution, the most recent in a long line of questionable moves, and the message is clear: If you want a device that won't lock you out of innovation, skip the iPhone“. (Lifehacker)
Robert Krulwich: “Here’s a surprise: Wild crows can recognize individual people. They can pick a person out of a crowd, follow them, and remember them — apparently for years. But people — even people who love crows — usually can’t tell them apart. So what we have for you are two experiments that tell this story.” via NPR (listen).
“As government agencies and corporations scramble to cut expenses, one idea gaining widespread attention involves cutting something most employees wouldn't mind losing: work on Fridays. Regular three-day weekends, without a decrease in the actual hours worked per week, could not only save money, but also ease pressures on the environment and public health, advocates say. In fact, several states, cities and companies across the country are considering, or have already implemented on a trial basis, the condensed schedule for their employees.” (Scientific American)
Cocksure: did overconfidence bring down Wall Street? — Malcolm Gladwell (The New Yorker)
Monoamine Oxidase A and Catechol-O-Methyltransferase Functional Polymorphisms and the Placebo Response in Major Depressive Disorder: “The placebo response shows pronounced interindividual variability. Placebos are postulated to act through central reward pathways that are modulated by monoamines. Because monoaminergic signaling is under strong genetic control, we hypothesized that common functional polymorphisms modulating monoaminergic tone would be related to degree of improvement during placebo treatment of subjects with major depressive disorder. We examined polymorphisms in genes encoding the catabolic enzymes catechol-O-methyltransferase and monoamine oxidase A. Subjects with monoamine oxidase A G/T polymorphisms (rs6323) coding for the highest activity form of the enzyme (G or G/G) had a significantly lower magnitude of placebo response than those with other genotypes. Subjects with Val158Met catechol-O-methyltransferase polymorphisms coding for a lower-activity form of the enzyme (2 Met alleles) showed a statistical trend toward a lower magnitude of placebo response. These findings support the hypothesis that genetic polymorphisms modulating monoaminergic tone are related to degree of placebo responsiveness in major depressive disorder.” (Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology)
Some behavioral scientists consider the placebo response to be a nuisance that confounds psychopharmacological research; patients get better even when they do not get the active drug. Some of us, however, feel that the placebo response is a good friend of clinical psychiatry. Some meta-analyses of antidepressant efficacy studies suggest that the medications may not be that effective and that much of the therapeutic response to antidepressants may in fact be ascribable to the placebo response. (The psychiatrist’s role, as a corollary, may be not the art of picking a drug to prescribe but enlisting the individual into a mindset that mobilizes their self-healing capacities.) We already know that depression is related to the reward circuitry in the brain and that genetic susceptibility to depressive disorders relates to polymorphism in the catecholamine system. If the placebo response as well varies with differences in that circuitry, could it be that those patients with lower capacity for the placebo response could also be those patients prone to become depressed int he first place? If we cannot as effectively mobilize their placebo response when they are in the placebo wing of a drug study, perhaps they cannot as effectively bring self-suggestion, affirmation and other coping strategies to bear on the distressing situations in their lives?
“In recent years, we have seen a number of countries disappear, along with their flags. The Soviet Union came to an end, to be replaced by a multitude of new or revived republics, all with their own flags. Czechoslovakia split into its two component parts, while Yugoslavia splintered, as the individual nationalities all asserted their independence. All this happened very recently, but many states have vanished from the map before over the centuries. Here’s a look at some flags of those long gone – and in many cases forgotten – kingdoms and countries.” (Dark Roasted Blend )
Is there something about having a mythical creature on your flag that makes your nation-state go defunct? Check it out.
“Millions may have experienced the Apollo 11 moon landing on TV—and now, 40 years later, online. But a few facts aren't exactly common knowledge, including…” (National Geographic )
The interesting one, from my perspective, is that because well-known atheist Madelyn Murray O’Hair was in the midst of suing the government at the time over the issue of public officials praying, Buzz Aldrin celebrated communion before departing the moon’s surface but kept it a secret.
“Death doesn’t lie, so death masks – a cast of the face in wax or plaster, taken just hours after breath has gone – promise truthful representations of the departed. In an era before photography, these masks give us each beauty and blemish, a living presence in unchanging material. But how were they made? And what is their uncanny allure?” (Obit Magazine)
“Cricket and Psychoanalysis: “Both test cricket and psychoanalysis are out of tune with a world that demands quick results. That’s our loss, argues former England cricket captain Mike Brearley, now Britain’s leading psychoanalyst.” (Prospect Magazine)
“A Navy F/A-18F Super Hornet crew got permission for a low-level demonstration flight, as part of the opening ceremony for a speedboat race on the Detroit River, last weekend. This is what it looked like, for Motor City residents.” (Danger Room @ Wired.com)
‘Kids these days! [A reader] writes, “My lectures about financial responsibility appear to have failed: yesterday [my teenaged daughter] charged $23,148,855,308,184,500.00 at the drug store.” You would think Visa would have caught the error and addressed it, if you were high. What Visa actually did was slap a $20 “negative balance” fee on it, of course.’
And this, from the comments to the post:
“Maybe the bank mistakenly converted the charge into Zimbabwe dollars?”
“Remember when you could buy barbiturates for the baby? Cover your house with asbestos? Or get heroin from the doctor? Okay, probably not, but thanks to the immortal beauty of advertising, you can take a trip back in time. Here's our pick of some of the most ironic ads in American history.” (Consumerist )
This six-minute short by Neill Blomkamp appears to be the basis for his much-awaited feature-length film District 9. Set in South Africa, the gritty faux-verite sci-fi film seems to be a recapitulation of apartheid with ghettoized aliens as the oppressed but powerful race.
District 9 opens August 14; here is the theatrical trailer.
Blomkamp is also directing the Halo flick.
Rafe Coburn: “James Fallows said the following in 1995 when Robert McNamara wrote his memoir expressing his regrets about the Vietnam War:
In the cycles of life, the desire to square accounts is natural, but Robert McNamara has forfeited his right to do so in public. You missed your chance, Mr. Secretary. It would have been better to go out silently, if you could not find the courage to speak when it would have done your country any good.
And today Fallows adds:
My tone then was harsher than I would be now. Perhaps that’s just because I’m older; perhaps because McNamara has now died; perhaps because he had fifteen more years to be involved in worthy causes, mainly containing the risk of nuclear war or accident. But mainly I think it is because of Errol Morris’ remarkable 2003 film The Fog of War, which portrayed McNamara as a combative and hyper-competitive man (in his 80s, he was still pointing out that he had been top of his elementary-school class) but as a person of moral seriousness who agonized not just about Vietnam but also the fire-bombing of Tokyo during World War II, which he had helped plans as a young defense analyst.
I think that there’s another reason for Fallows to leaven his tone, which is that it was not too late for McNamara to help his country. Had the Bush administration taken McNamara’s memoir to heart, the war in Iraq could have been avoided. Had President Obama done so, maybe we would be taking a different course in Afghanistan. Rarely does a week go by where we don’t hear about unarmed drones blowing up dozens of Afghans or Pakistanis. We are still failing to take the lessons McNamara learned too late to heart. But because he did eventually talk about the mistakes he made, we do have the opportunity to learn.”
What do you think? Were McNamara’s mistakes unforgiveable? Is there any sense yet that we learn from history?
Rules for elegant writing from David Smith, expanding upon an idea by William Safire.
Tomorrow we have a moment that can be described as: 12:34:56 7/8/9. [via abby]
“Weapons inspector David Kelly was writing a book exposing highly damaging government secrets before his mysterious death.He was intending to reveal that he warned Prime Minister Tony Blair there were no weapons of mass destruction anywhere in Iraq weeks before the British and American invasion.He had several discussions with a publisher in Oxford and was seeking advice on how far he could go without breaking the law on secrets.Following his death, his computers were seized and it is still not known if any rough draft was discovered by investigators and, if so, what happened to the material.Dr Kelly was also intending to lift the lid on a potentially bigger scandal, his own secret dealings in germ warfare with the apartheid regime in South Africa.US television investigators have spent four years preparing a 90-minute documentary, Anthrax War, suggesting there is a global black market in anthrax and exposing the mystery “suicides” of five government germ warfare scientists from around the world.” (Daily Express UK)
A torrent download of Anthrax War is available at this link.
“So much for Al Franken’s 60th vote. A coalition of renegade Democrats stands ready to defy the president, writes Matthew Yglesias, and could damage his legislative agenda.” (The Daily Beast)