“Increasingly, ideas, images and concepts of the neurosciences are being assimilated into global culture and becoming part of our daily discourses and practices.
Visual and digital technologies of the brain, the widespread dissemination of psychotropic drugs, expanding programs in consciousness studies and other neurotechnologies are having a significant impact on individuals and society.
These ongoing transformations in science and society are deeply pervading popular culture and are appearing in a profusion of media and artistic expanse- from the visual arts to film, theatre, novels and advertisements.
‘Earth is entering a stream of dusty debris from Comet Swift-Tuttle, the source of the annual Perseid meteor shower. Although the shower won't peak until August 11th and 12th, the show is already getting underway.
…Don't get too excited, cautions Bill Cooke of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office. “We're just in the outskirts of the debris stream now. If you go out at night and stare at the sky, you'll probably only see a few Perseids per hour.”
This will change, however, as August unfolds. “Earth passes through the densest part of the debris stream sometime on August 12th. Then, you could see dozens of meteors per hour.”
For sky watchers in North America, the watch begins after nightfall on August 11th and continues until sunrise on the 12th. Veteran observers suggest the following strategy: Unfold a blanket on a flat patch of ground. (Note: The middle of your street is not a good choice.) Lie down and look up. Perseids can appear in any part of the sky, their tails all pointing back to the shower's radiant in the constellation Perseus. Get away from city lights if you can.’ NASA.
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)
Microsoft shuts down Hotmail accounts that haven’t been logged into after nine months. So if you registered for your Gmail account two years ago and used your Hotmail address as your secondary email address and never logged back in, you’ve put your Gmail account at risk.
Here’s how: If your Hotmail account gets shut down due to inactivity, someone else can open a new one using your Hotmail address. Then, if that someone else requests a password reset from Gmail, it goes to that address, and that someone can get into your primary email account. This is how Twitter employees’ Gmail accounts got broken into last week.” (Smarterware )
“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)
I conclude that in colloquial English the NP the fuck (and it does indeed have the form of an NP) can function as a pre-head modifier in a PP, including the light one-word PPs (like up) that are known as particles.” (LanguageLog)
Can anyone think of a construction similar to this use of “…the fuck…” other than “…the hell…”?
Rats injected with BBG not only regained their mobility but temporarily turned blue.
Researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center found that when they injected the compound Brilliant Blue G (BBG) into rats suffering spinal cord injuries, the rodents were able to walk again, albeit with a limp.” (CNN)
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).
“It was built to be impenetrable, from its “super rugged transparent polycarbonate housing” to its intricate double-tabbed lid that would keep campers’ food in and bears’ paws out. The BearVault 500 withstood the ravages of the test bears at the Folsom City Zoo in California. It has stymied mighty grizzlies weighing up to 1,000 pounds in the backcountry of Yellowstone National Park.
But in one corner of the Adirondacks, campers started to notice that the BearVault, a popular canister designed to keep food and other necessities safe, was being compromised. First through circumstantial evidence, then from witness reports, it became clear that in most cases, the conqueror was a relatively tiny, extremely shy middle-aged black bear named Yellow-Yellow.
Some canisters fail in the testing stage when large bears are able to rip off the lid. But wildlife officials say that Yellow-Yellow, a 125-pound bear named for two yellow ear tags that help wildlife officials keep tabs on her, has managed to systematically decipher a complex locking system that confounds even some campers.In the process, she has emerged as a near-mythical creature in the High Peaks region of the northeastern Adirondacks.” (New York Times via abby)
“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)
“Lots of folks are already on this, but I wanted to post about the police report for the arrest of Henry “Skip” Gates in Cambridge the other day. Here’s a copy of the police report… The officer is clearly trying to justify the disorderly conduct arrest, which has to involve other people and a public place and cannot be made inside a person’s own house. Even the officer’s own version of events involve him persuading Gates to walk outside so that he could have an excuse to arrest him. Gates had already provided his identification and the officer makes it clear in his report that while he was still inside Gates’s house he knew he was no longer investigating any kind of crime. Gates’s “crime” in the officer’s own report consists solely of loudly accusing the officer of being a racist and asking for his name and badge number. The report makes it clear that the arrest was meant as a retaliation for being yelled at and called a racist, and he really didn’t care that the charge wasn’t going to stick.
Out on the streets, this kind of interaction happens all the time: objecting to police treatment when you have, in fact, done nothing wrong gets to you arrested for disorderly conduct or resisting an officer. It does happen to Whites, but it happens a heck of a lot more often to people of color. To me the most frightening thing about this incident are the large number of commenters on some sites who are sure the police have the right to retaliate if you object to their mistreatment of you.”(Scatterplot via walker)
Is this the instance of police misconduct to obsess about? “Interesting as it is to speculate about Henry Louis Gates and the Cambridge Police Department, the attention the case is generating reflects an unfortunate feature of American public discourse: you’ve got someone like Radley Balko who spends the bulk of his career documenting the most grave instances of police misconduct imaginable — including cases that involve the incarceration of innocent people for years on end — and most of even the egregious cases he writes about never break into mainstream conversation, whereas a minor altercation involving a Harvard professor who isn’t even being charged with a crime spawns wall-to-wall media coverage.
Isn’t it notable that six months into his presidency, the most prominent advocacy President Obama has done on behalf of minorities mistreated by police is to stand up for his Ivy League buddy? ” — Conor Friedersdorf (The Daily Dish)
Once every year, the Deer catch human beings. They do various things which irresistibly draw men near them; each one selects a certain man. The Deer shoots the man, who is then compelled to skin it and carry its meat home and eat it. Then the deer is inside the man. He waits and hides in there, but the man doesn't know it. When enough Deer have occupied enough men, they will strike all at once. The men who don't have Deer in them will also be taken by surprise, and everything will change some. This is called “takeover from inside”.
Evan Osnos: “Interesting details are emerging in the Chinese press about the case of Sun Danyong, the twenty-five-year-old employee of Foxconn who committed suicide in Shenzhen last week after being interrogated about a missing prototype for a new iPhone.
The case has thrown an uncomfortable spotlight on past accusations of workplace abuse at Foxconn, which manufactures products for Apple, and the culture of secrecy imposed on Apple’s manufacturers abroad.” (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?
John Dawson is dead at 64: “Dawson, a singer and songwriter whose band New Riders of the Purple Sage began as a country-rock offshoot of the Grateful Dead but had a long life of its own, died on Tuesday in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, where he lived. He was 64.
…Mr. Dawson, known as Marmaduke, founded New Riders of the Purple Sage in 1969 with David Nelson and Jerry Garcia, whom Mr. Dawson had known from Mother McCree’s Uptown Jug Band Champions, a Grateful Dead predecessor formed in 1964. Mr. Dawson was looking for a band to perform his country-inflected songs, and Mr. Garcia was eager for a project in which he could indulge his newest musical obsession, pedal-steel guitar.
… Mickey Hart and Phil Lesh of the Grateful Dead were briefly members, and New Riders became one of the Dead’s regular opening acts, its country-leaning sound complementing the older band’s psychedelic folk-rock.
The group’s formal association with the Grateful Dead did not last long: Mr. Hart and Mr. Lesh departed before New Riders’ self-titled debut album was released in 1971, and Mr. Garcia left shortly thereafter. But the band remained closely connected to many of the top psychedelic groups of the era: Mr. Nelson had played guitar in Big Brother and the Holding Company, and Spencer Dryden, formerly of Jefferson Airplane, joined as drummer in late 1970.
New Riders released a dozen albums into the early ’80s. One, “The Adventures of Panama Red,” from 1973, went gold, and a track from that album, “Panama Red” — a novelty song about marijuana, not so thinly veiled — became a staple. With Mr. Garcia and Robert Hunter, the longtime Grateful Dead lyricist, Mr. Dawson also wrote the song “Friend of the Devil,” which appears on the Grateful Dead’s 1970 album “American Beauty.” ” (New York Times obituary)
“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.
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)
The event begins at the crack of dawn on Wednesday, July 22nd, in the Gulf of Khambhat just east of India. Morning fishermen will experience a sunrise like nothing they've ever seen before. Rising out of the waves in place of the usual sun will be an inky-black hole surrounded by pale streamers splayed across the sky. Sea birds will stop squawking, unsure if the day is beginning or not, as a strange shadow pushes back the dawn and stirs up a breeze of unaccustomed chill.
Most solar eclipses produce this sort of surreal experience for a few minutes at most. The eclipse of July 22, 2009, however, will last as long as 6 minutes and 39 seconds in some places, not far short of the 7 and a half minute theoretical maximum. It won't be surpassed in duration until the eclipse of June 13, 2132.” (NASA).
‘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?”
“Loren Coleman defines cryptozoology and says, once and for all, that it is science. On the one hand, Loren Coleman is a skeptic, firmly grounded in scientific principles. On the other hand, his particular branch of science, cryptozoology, gives equal credence to suspected bird species, say, and near-mythical creatures like Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster. Cryptozoology—the search for and study of animals whose existence or survival is disputed or unsubstantiated—is frequently treated as an easily dismissed bastard child of science. If that’s the case, then Coleman is the unrepentant modern father of the field. Besides authoring nine books on the topic, he also owns the International Cryptozoology Museum, which he runs out of his home in Portland, Maine. A former psychiatric social worker and university professor, he now makes his living writing, lecturing, and consulting about cryptozoology, which he’s studied since before the word existed in English. Coleman’s out to show that there’s much more to cryptozoology than chasing down Bigfoot or plumbing the depths of Loch Ness for its most famous resident.” (The New York Review of Ideas)
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.
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.”
“The more who die, the less we care.” That’s the apt title of a forthcoming essay by Paul Slovic, a psychology professor at the University of Oregon who has pioneered this field of research.
Yet it’s not just, as the saying goes, that one death is a tragedy, a million a statistic. More depressing, appeals to our rationality actually seem to impede empathy.
For example, in one study, people donate generously to Rokia, a 7-year-old malnourished African girl. But when Rokia’s plight was explained as part of a larger context of hunger in Africa, people were much less willing to help.
Perhaps this is because, as some research suggests, people give in large part to feel good inside. That works best when you write a check and the problem is solved. If instead you’re reminded of larger problems that you can never solve, the feel-good rewards diminish.” (New York Times op-ed)
“It's a look at the lives of the fans during the trail a few years back,” she says — specifically, trufans out showing support for their idol during the pop star's 2004-05 trial on child molestation charges.
As folks who follow me on Twitter already know, I find the cable news MJ-death-marathon spectacle to be a sad reminder of the state of — well, the pathetic state of American cable news. I mean, what was that? Nine days of wall to wall “Michael Jackson: STILL DEAD”?
But thoughtful works like Dilworth's film, works that examine the lives of the “happy mutants” who are utterly devoted to this pop culture figure, I find fascinating. Do yourself a favor today: turn off the TV, stream this instead.
Bristol's City Museum & Art Gallery presents this unique collaboration between the city's foremost cultural institution and one of the region's most infamous artists, tilted Banksy Versus Bristol Museum. Banksy has gained notoriety in recent years by using stencils to paint images on a diverse array of outdoor locations, always pushing boundaries but somehow managing to remain anonymous. This is the first exhibition in a three storey Edwardian museum.
For this massive show, Banksy worked in tandem with the museum's director. Banksy filled three stories of the building with his art in just 36 hours under tight security, as only a few museum staff were aware of the shows' imminent arrival. In fact, apparently many of the museum guides only discovered that they would be working in a Banksy exhibition on Thursday (two day’s prior to its public opening) after being employed via the Job Centre…” (Juxtapoz)
“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.
“Sarah Palin has largely stayed under the radar since her surprising and rambling press conference Friday announcing that she will resign as Alaska Governor on July 26th, barely halfway through her first term. However, she has resurfaced a couple times in the form of messages: One on her Facebook page, the other a statement released by her lawyer. Both have taken hard shots at the media for what Palin perceives as unfair coverage.
In her Facebook message, Palin slammed the press for their “predictable” coverage of her resignation and for applying “different standards” when covering her…
Understandably, much of the media coverage has focused on Palin's reasons for resigning, as her lengthy goodbye speech did nothing to clear up the confusion. One oft-repeated theory is that there is a new scandal looming; talk of ethical problems has been swirling around in Alaska for weeks. Palin's lawyer released a statement threatening to sue various media, including the Huffington Post, for what he called “defamatory rumors.”
Palin is known for her hostility towards the media. But she has not been so quick to decry tough scrutiny when it is pointed at other female targets: Hillary Clinton, example. In August 2008, Palin lamented Clinton's complaints about unfair media coverage as 'whining' that is bad for female candidates everywhere.” (Huffington Post)
“Dans Le Noir translates to English as “In The Dark.” The restaurant is named this for a very good, if on-the-nose, reason: It’s completely, pitch black on the inside. The entire wait staff is completely sightless, and ushers patrons to their tables in completely darkness. The food and drinks are prepared by sighted staff in separate, lit rooms.
But the entire meal is eaten (and all drinks poured – think about that) with no light whatsoever. If you’ve got an Indiglo watch, they take it. All cell phones are confiscated. And don’t even think about going there with LA Lights.
The idea here is to deprive your body of its visual input in order to heighten all the other senses you use to eat: most notably the senses of touch, smell and taste. This means you pour your wine with a finger down the glass, so that you stop when you feel wetness. It also means you don’t know what you’re eating until you’re eating it (and even then, you might not guess).
Although Swiss culinary innovation may seem like a contradiction in terms, the idea of blind dining originated with a blind clergyman from Switzerland, Jorge Spielmann. He wanted diners to be able to better understand his world.”
“I betcha I’d have more endurance,” she told Runner’s World magazine in an interview published online Tuesday.
“My one claim to fame in my own little internal running circle is a sub-four marathon” in Anchorage, she said, referring to her 2005 sprint in the Humpy’s Marathon in which she beat the four-hour mark by 24 seconds.” (WCVB )