Saturday, December 06, 2008

Socialization is the New Totalitarianism

If you are anti-social, it means you are not pleasing others.

The primary way to please others is to ignore whatever useless lives they are leading, treat them as equals and to not interrupt their consciousness -- whether they deserve such treatment or not. They want to be isolated and entirely free to exercise their will, and anyone who interrupts that makes them less solipsistic and thus, is anti-social.

Socialization is the process where we all cut ourselves off from the world into little sandbagged silos of our own neurosis.


A FURIOUS householder last night told how an Asbo team battered down his door — just because his ALARM CLOCK had gone off.

The hit squad — backed by police — also swiped Iain Ryan’s stereo, two TVs and a PlayStation after a neighbour complained about the noise.

Officers summoned a council team who arrived at the flat, in Milngavie, near Glasgow, with an anti-social behaviour warrant for noise nuisance.

The Sun


Clearly this guy is a doofus, but you can see where this type of government leads: the Nanny State and the Total State, together forever, empowered by the irate reactions of those who find the unwillingness of others to submit to social domestication to be worth a tantrum, and every tantrum gets a tyrant to both serve it and gain power from it.

How Much Energy Do We Use?


Once the preserve of mavericks, hippies and survivalists, there are now approximately 200,000 off-grid households in the US, a figure that Perez says has been increasing by a third every year for the past decade. In addition, nearly 30,000 grid-connected US households supplement their supply with renewables, according to the non-profit Interstate Renewable Energy Council. In the UK there are around 40,000 off-grid homes.

The average UK household uses around 4500 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity annually, plus some 18,000 kWh of gas for cooking, hot water and domestic heating. In the US the figure varies considerably from region to region. For example, households in New York City use around 4700 kWh a year, whereas those in Dallas use 16,100 kWh: there are a lot of air conditioners in Texas. In chillier regions where people use gas for heating and cooking, on the other hand, they can burn up an extra 28,000 kWh or so per household.

New Scientist


Interesting to see. Not as bad as we might have thought. The real problem is the land and energy required to run the infrastructure (emergency services, manufacturing, food production, roads, electric, communications) for a first-world economy.

Localization of Finance: One of Many Reasons Localization is Superior


Residents from the Milwaukee neighborhoods of Riverwest and East Side are scheduled to meet Wednesday to discuss printing their own money. The idea is that the local cash could be used at neighborhood stores and businesses, thus encouraging local spending. The result, supporters hope, would be a bustling local economy, even as the rest of the nation deals with a recession.

Incentives could be used to entice consumers into using the new money. For example, perhaps they could trade $100 U.S. for $110 local, essentially netting them a 10 percent discount at participating stores.

It's not a new concept—experts estimate there are at least 2,000 local currencies all over the world—but it is a practice that tends to burgeon during economic downturns. During the Great Depression, scores of communities relied on their own currencies.

And it's completely legal.

Chicago Tribune


Some things you want to centralize, others you don't -- it depends on the scope of the leadership.

Having one ruling party in Washington command a country this big is kind of silly, as is having one group rule over different ethnicities, religions, social classes, etc.

Having a local currency that centralizes discounts and regulates spending in an area, giving locals preferential prices, is a very smart idea. Keep the system closed. If you don't generate wealth or growth, it should regulate itself while the national system -- which is bad centralization because it's too big -- fluctuates out of control, because morons in Florida buying discount ripoff loans can wreck the economy in Chicago and Dallas..

Interesting parable. "And it's completely legal."

Amount of Natural Habitat Needed Is Underestimated

From the "no kidding, Sherlock" files:


At present, most models divide the world into 50-kilometre grid squares, which gives a very coarse resolution.

Changwan Seo of the University of Seoul, South Korea, and his colleagues tested four models at a variety of spatial scales, using existing data for rare plants such as Coulter pine. The larger the grid size, the more the models overestimated the range available, the team found. Within grid sizes of more than 16 by 16 kilometres, in areas like the eastern Sierra Nevada in California, conservationists overestimate the amount of habitat available to a species by two or three times (Biology Letters, DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2008.0476).

Conservationists will have to run models with smaller grid sizes, even though this costs more and consumes more computer time, says Lee Hannah of Conservation International in Santa Barbara, California, who co-authored the paper.

New Scientist


Not surprising. Equally not surprising is that they do not have a mathematical model for how much space is needed for interacting species to support an ecosystem, nor have they taken into account genetic health of each species and how much space it requires for quality breeding.

We have more surprises in the future: we're taking up much more land that we should. And what did we put on it? Idiots, fast food, shopping malls, subdivisions.

America Sodomized by Own Economy, Feels Betrayed

O jealous lover


The rate of one-to-four-unit residential loans at least one payment past due rose to a seasonally adjusted 6.99 percent in the third quarter, up from 6.41 percent in the second quarter and 5.59 percent a year ago.

Unemployment rose to a 15-year high of 6.7 percent.

The share of loans in the foreclosure process rose to a record 2.97 percent from 2.75 percent the prior quarter and 1.69 percent a year earlier, the trade group said.

"California and Florida have about 54 percent and 41 percent of the prime and subprime ARM foreclosure starts respectively," Brinkmann said in the release.

Yahoo


This recession is natural selection.

Live beyond your means -- treat loans as free money -- and mathematics will beat you senseless when it equalizes values.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Pluralism Means Infinite Groups to Please


Gonzales represented a major breakthrough. You see, all Cabinet posts are not created equal and, before Bush broke the barrier, no Latino had ever been nominated for one of the top four jobs -- defense, state, treasury, or attorney general.

{ snip }

This week, President-elect Barack Obama unveiled his national security team and continued the sorry tradition of presidents overlooking Latinos as they fill the top-tier of the Cabinet appointments. The four big posts have been filled, and there is not a Latino anywhere in the mix.

Even liberals who like to think of the Gonzales appointment as a kind of failed social experiment because it lets them off the hook for future stabs at diversity would be hard-pressed to suggest that they couldn't do better and that Obama couldn't find a single Latino to name, oh I don't know, secretary of state.

You would have thought Bill Richardson was a shoo-in for that job, with his gold-plated resume: Seven-term member of Congress; special envoy to North Korea, Iraq, Cuba and Sudan; U.N. ambassador; energy secretary; New Mexico governor and five-time nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize for brokering cease-fires and negotiating the release of hostages.

CNN


It's already bad enough that you can't have a team of people in an American movie without the token Asian, token African, token Hispanic, token women and a wimpy token white guy -- usually the dumbest of the bunch.

Now we're seeing the true fruit of pluralism, and its ethnic counterpart, multiculturalism.

Every group must be represented and if you don't... you're probably a goddamn racist, an epithet which now joins "commie" and "anarchist" in America's dubious history of morally-righteous witch hunts.

Good luck with that one. There's no solution... because there are more groups coming up to be represented. Homosexuals. Asians (South and North). Indians. Inuits. Furries. Atheists. Goths. Who knows.

Pluralism is a stupid idea because it bases society on disunity, not unity, which is necessary for civilization. As a result, it's a long slow road to collapse, as your leaders are aware but unwilling to act upon. So we swim in lies. Great thinking, you voting proles ;)

Emocracy


Emocracy - The illusion of democracy, where the source of general opinion is not a common set of values, but certain emotions that force a strong feeling about towards an election, a military retaliation, or sports event. e.g., In the Netherlands, a typical emocracy was evident in the huge election victory of an unknown party. The charismatic party leader had been assassinated two weeks before the election.

Pseudo-Dictionary


True, indeed. People vote with emotions, self-identification and fear, but not critical thinking, logical analysis and contextual awareness. Emotions means they pick whoever panders to them and appears to be the nicest; self-identification means they pick a political outlook like a sports team and cheer for it; fear means they vote against things more than they vote for them. Reality is far away. That's the unpopular truth.

Hard Numbers on European Immigration


Germany has been named Europe’s principal country of destination for migrants, according to the World Migration Report (WMR) 2008 released on Tuesday.

As host to 10.1 million migrants in 2005, Germany was well ahead of the other top countries in the study by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) on how globalisation is effecting human movement. France came in second with 6.5 million migrants, the United Kingdom had 5.4 million, Spain had 4.8 million, and Italy 2.5 million.

The ten countries reviewed in Europe all showed positive rates of growth in number of migrants from 2000 to 2005, but Spain and Italy recorded a stunning increase of 194.2 percent and 54.1 per cent respectively. Western and Central Europe hosted a total of 44.1 million migrants in 2005, many of whom came from neighbouring countries. That accounted for some 85 percent of the region’s population growth. Migrants make up an average of 15 percent of the population in Western European countries.

The WMR study found that there were more than 200 million international migrants worldwide – 2.5 times more than in 1965.

{ snip }

"The world is on the move, there is no turning away from that,” Gervais Appave, Co-Editor of the WMR 2008 commented.

The Local


That there's no turning away is what Gervais Appave wants you to believe -- how he wants to manipulate your mind -- not scientific reality.

With all these newcomers, Europeans are going to be an endangered species. We can play word games and cutely claim the newcomers are now Europeans -- what a sleight of hand worthy of a six-year-old -- but we all know what's happening: displacement of the indigenous for a generic population of "world people."

The Politicization of Hair


Is short hair a conscious - or unconscious - signal that a woman is not interested in sex?

{ snip }

In ages in which inadequate nutrition played havoc with beauty, resplendent hair was a sign of fruitfulness, its unleashing implying the intimacy of the bedchamber.

Where long hair suggested sex, short hair has been a mark of revolution; of women putting political rather than sexual objectives first.

The Daily Mail


Bloviation gone wild.

It's helpful to distinguish women from men. Long hair, breasts, wide hips. But back in reality land, we know women come in a variety of shapes and sizes.

Cutting your hair man-short -- not short, not intermediate, but extremely short -- means you're ready to get some working done. Whether that's political or in an office, it is a denial of the symbol of femininity -- not femininity itself.

It's sending a signal, but that signal is ambiguous. This article interprets it in honest-to-god middle school fashion, linking it to sex because, hey, that's how women are different -- and how they market themselves, even with boy-short hair, which may simply be a way of saying "if you want me to be a woman, you need to fulfil my political objectives first."

Political meaning the manipulation of others.

No wonder today's men play a lot of video games. Women are just as neurotic as men, and take it out through their sexuality, and then we must suffer through the bloviation of whether a symbol -- male-cut hair -- is the cause, when we all know the cause is too much neurotic lying and dissimulation causing our society to decay.

Let Kids Be Kids


After 12 years and more than 5,000 performances, "Rent" will go down as one of the most popular Broadway plays.

But some parents and church officials in Rowlett are angry, saying they don't want their kids performing the musical on a school stage.

However, it still deals with edgy and controversial subject matter, such as drug use, AIDS and prostitution. The play also has same-sex kissing scenes.

"They told us they were going to use the play as an opportunity to teach diversity, acceptance and tolerance," said Gallops.

CBS


"Teaching tolerance" means, in the biological terms of your instructors, teaching their lifestyles, which are: neurotic. They fear their own lack of function, so they teach tolerance as a moral value so that dysfunction is tolerated; the rights of women, gays, minorities, etc. is the justification, not the goal.

The goal is to justify themselves. My teachers were this way, yours were, and these kids face the same gauntlet. The old school teachers weren't this way: to them it was a job that had better perks than adult jobs, but they never forgot their goal was the welfare of their students.

Independent of the content of this play -- all four of my readers on this blog know that I'm in favor of recognizing the science behind homosexuality and finding a tolerant solution, and that I believe in racial and gender tolerance through parallel multiculturalism, as opposed to the serial variant we have now -- let kids be kids. Leave off the adult issues and the consequent propaganda until they are actually adults (at this late stage in our society, this happens at closer to 30 than 16).

Kids, if you ask them, won't want to stay kids. They want to be adults. They want to take on adult issues. But they have maybe five years of experience as sexual beings, as autonomous beings, and still haven't encountered issues like earning a living and deciding on whether they want families. Give them more time to grow. The message should be: enjoy a long childhood, and learn basic skills before you tackle the complex -- read: insoluble -- issues of adulthood in this time.

Our teachers now are more like child molestors, pushing their adult neurosis onto innocents because the innocents don't know enough to give a qualified NO to the question. On the surface, everything is peachy because they've adopted this popular play to be edgy and teach adult issues; underneath, there's a sick treacle of self-doubt and neurotic casting about for a cause, and they're pushing the whole mess on kids, as if by corrupting others they don't have to be miserable alone.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Futurist Misanthropy

Interview with spokestroll Steve Christ:


I describe myself as half-hippie and half-philosopher. My hippie half likes people and is tolerant, compassionate and loving. My hippie half is forever out wandering in the fields, meeting new people and learning their stories, and thinking about better ways to do nice things for other people. Yeah, it sounds "gay," but it's me and I'm sticking by it. Someone once used the term "masculine empath" and I think it summarizes this side.

My other side is nuts and bolts practical, coupled with a sense of grand design. I like the ancient societies that aspired to rise above all other humans and to do not just adequate, and not just better than mediocre, but great things. To invent anew, to build, to create, to soar... this ties into the pragmatic because I see that people who live according to this principle aren't necessarily "happier" in some idiot survey question style, but they are more fulfilled. They have meaning to their existence, and they never question the reason for their existence. They're not neurotic, like most people.

The pragmatic half often horrifies me with what it discovers. It thinks like Plato, or Nietzsche, or Schopenhauer in terms of social design. This half knows that a world of a half-billion would be optimal, and that we as a species should be breeding to a level of genius coupled with clear untroubled minds, good health and beauty, and higher levels of character. That path is the only one that can inspire a species to overcome its fear of death. I am also aware that over 80% of our abilities and tendencies, if not all, are inherited, and therefore, I'm a eugenicist.

I don't see a reason to keep stupid, criminal, perverse, and mean people around. I think we should act and breed toward a higher level, and if this means extermination of 98% of humanity, well, who cares? The end result will be better, and those people will be happier than the masses of breeding idiots ever will. The lives of the dumb and miserable have been made worse by their own machinations, as they have made all other lives worse, so their future is not a great one anyway. But there's a bigger point here.

A species that keeps moving forward includes individuals who are not obsessed with themselves and are aware of their own small role in the universe. This is realistic. Even more, since it is aiming toward a higher goal, they are never without challenges that present a sense of achievement when even partially fulfilled, and there is a sense to the entire society of purpose. In contrast, a society which worries too much about its lowest members feeling equal has chained itself to an anchor from which no progress in quality can come, although political "progress" is assured and will do nothing but further adulterate its hope of growth. We depress ourselves with this anchor, and the people we use as the anchor do not have a great time of it either. So why do it?

Futurist Misanthropy FAQ


It's a good question. Most people are miserable and going nowhere, and the species is hampered by pandering to their bad judgment. An evolutionary leap to a higher IQ bracket would mean better-behaved people.

Chinese Stop Lending to US Banks

Looks like our financial crisis has not gone unnoticed by our new overlords/next cold war enemies:


China Investment Corporation is to put the brakes on making investments in western banks until governments come up with coherent policies to cope with the global economic downturn.

Lou Jiwei, the chairman of the sovereign wealth fund, said today: "Right now, we do not have the courage to invest in financial institutions. We have to wait for the time when there won't be massive collapses of financial institutions."

The Guardian


In movies, the cavalry rides in and saves your ass. In real life, you have to save your own ass, and the Chinese stop investing when they notice your neurotic lack of plan makes you a profoundly bad bet, no matter how cool your hipsters think you are.

Fat chicks have more sex


In all species in which the female makes greater parental investment into the offspring than the male does (including humans and all mammals), mating is a female choice; it happens when the female wants it to happen and with whom she wants it to happen, not when the male wants it to happen or with whom he wants it to happen.

{ snip }

Their statistical analysis shows that there is no significant difference between normal-weight women, on the one hand, and overweight and obese women, on the other, on their sexual orientation, age at first intercourse, frequency of heterosexual intercourse, and the number of lifetime or current male sexual partners. It means that, contrary to what one might expect, overweight and obese women are not having sex later, less frequently or with fewer partners than normal-weight women. There is a significant difference, however, on whether they have ever had sexual intercourse with men. Overweight (92.5%) and obese (91.5%) women are significantly more likely ever to have had sexual intercourse with men than normal-weight women (87.4%).

Psychology Today


If you give it away, there will be takers, but you may have to lower your expectations. These are the kind of people having that awesome neurotic sex they tell you about in Hollywood and celebrity magazines: bloaters, mental defectives, etc.

Women with options know their value and don't give it away. Same thing is true of men; those who are going somewhere in life aren't going to take some bloater up on her offer of free intercourse. They're going to direct their energy down more productive paths with less of a risk of having a half-walrus offspring.

Russia and India get nuclear-cozy, celebrate Democratic administration


“Now we need to create a multi-polar world, politically and economically,” Medvedev believes.

“I can’t see how the most important world economic issues could be currently solved without Russia or India. In this sense, it’s highly important to intensify our interaction within BRIC – the union of the four most dynamic developing world economies”.

This is President Medvedev's second visit to a BRIC state in as many weeks, and a sign that developing economies may well become the driving force of global finance.

The agenda of this strategic visit also includes the strengthening of nuclear cooperation between Moscow and Delhi. According to the chief of Russia’s state nuclear corporation, Rosatom, Sergey Kirienko, some agreements are ready to be signed on Friday.

“We’ve named them the Agreement on the four blocks of Kudam-Ulam and other platforms. Also, this agreement allows us to cooperate in the areas of mechanical engineering, nuclear fuel cycle, uranium, atomic medicine, isotopes – without any limitations. We have once again confirmed that Russia and India are strategic partners in the nuclear power industry”.

Military ties are also a priority, and despite setbacks caused by price disputes, Russia continues to be India's main military supplier.

Russia Today


Nukes continue to proliferate in unstable regions. The end of the cold war at least kept the Russians internally focused; now they're looking to build partnerships that will make that empire a superpower.


Question: What are your expectations from the new U.S. President Barack Obama?

D. Medvedev: Let the U.S. president-elect get down to his job. Until that happens, it would be guess-work to predict how he will build his work, what achievements will be made and whether they will be able to overcome the financial crisis and resolve a number of critical situations that concern primarily the United States, such as Iraq, Afghanistan, etc.

But, anyway, we expect that the new U.S. administration and the new president of the United States will take a constructive and reasonable approach and demonstrate the will to search for a compromise on the most difficult topics. What we’ve recently heard from Washington makes me feel cautiously optimistic. But, it’s not only words but also deeds that matter in politics. Therefore, we are waiting for the new U.S. administration to be shaped and we wish success to this new administration. I wish personal success to the new president of the United States. All the rest remains to be seen.

Question: Are we heading for a different version of a Cold War?

D. Medvedev: I don’t think that we are moving towards any new version of the “cold war”. Anyway, I wouldn’t like that at all. We really found ourselves in a situation when we heard several tough statements from our partners. They were talking about some restrictive measures, but, in my view, all those discussions didn’t lead them anywhere, in the first place, and they simply couldn’t have because attempts to isolate someone, especially a country like Russia, are doomed to absolute failure. But if it’s so, all talk about any kind of a new war looming or a curtain falling is senseless and unproductive.

Moreover, I would say that there are no ideological grounds for this confrontation. In the past years there were at least ideological reasons, such as the existence of the two worlds and the two systems which competed against each other. Today, we have the same values and our task is to seek a common understanding of these values. And that’s the most complicated task!

Russia Today


Same values? Oh, democracy. But the goal is still the same: superpower status and theater hegemony, isn't it? And economic dominance?

He seems grateful for Obama. A president who isn't going to "isolate" Russia, and force them to limit their power as a result, allows Russia a new path to the power it seeks.

Hate Crimes: Revenge Against the Majority


"Hate crimes," as trumpeted by the likes of the Southern Poverty Law Center, are a questionable legal construct used almost exclusively against whites.

Hateful or not, interracial violent crime is overwhelmingly black on white or black on Asian. The Department of Justice's figures show that between 2001 and 2003, blacks were 39 times more likely to commit violent crimes against whites than the reverse. Of the nearly 770,000 violent interracial crimes committed every year involving blacks and whites, blacks commit 85 percent and whites commit 15 percent.

The Baltimore Sun


Government functions best when it doesn't try to invent a false culture based on institutional morality (be good to everyone, have them all be equal, don't rock the boat, etc). End affirmative action, hate crime laws, anti-discrimination laws and any politics in education now, before the backlash crushes us.

A Good Place for Jihad: Pakistan, Overwhelmed


The number of terrorist attacks against police has gone up from 113 in 2005 to 1,820 last year, according to National Police Bureau. The death toll for policemen in that time has increased from nine to 575. In the northwestern area alone, 127 policemen have died so far this year in suicide bombings and assassinations, and another 260 have been wounded.

The crisis means the police cannot do the nuts-and-bolts work needed to stave off an insurgency fueled by the Taliban and al-Qaida. While the military can pound mountain hideouts, analysts and local officials say it is the police who should hunt down insurgents, win over the people, and restore order.

{ snip }

About 300 policemen have fled the force already.

{ snip }

Most of Pakistan's 383,000 police are poorly paid constables. Malik Naveed Khan, who heads the force of 55,000 in the North West Frontier Province, said he has one policeman for every 364 miles of some of the most dangerous terrain in the world.

{ snip }

A Pakistani constable makes about $80 a month, compared with about $170 for a Taliban foot soldier, Khan said.

AP


Where dysfunction thrives, those who are willing to manipulate the situation can also.

American Elections are Literally Up For Sale


He buried Mr. McCain on TV. Nielsen, the audience measurement firm, reports that between June and Election Day, Mr. Obama had a 3-to-2 advantage over Mr. McCain on network TV buys. And Mr. Obama's edge was likely larger on local cable TV, which Nielsen doesn't monitor.

A state-by-state analysis confirms the Obama advantage. Mr. Obama outspent Mr. McCain in Indiana nearly 7 to 1, in Virginia by more than 4 to 1, in Ohio by almost 2 to 1 and in North Carolina by nearly 3 to 2. Mr. Obama carried all four states.

Mr. Obama also used his money to outmuscle Mr. McCain on the ground, with more staff, headquarters, mail and a larger get-out-the-vote effort. In mid-September the Obama campaign said its budget for Florida was $39 million. The actual number was probably larger. But in any case, Mr. McCain spent a mere $13.1 million in the state. Mr. Obama won Florida by 2.81 percentage points.

{ snip }

OpenSecrets.org tells us a record $2.4 billion was spent on this presidential election. And with Mr. Obama's wide financial advantage, it's clear that money is playing a bigger role than ever and candidates are not competing on equal footing.

{ snip }

Rather than showing the success of a new style of post-partisan politics, Mr. Obama's victory may show the enduring truth of the old Chicago Golden Rule: He who has the gold rules.

WSJ


TV --> viewer --> voting booth.

Sexual Selectivity a Sign of Healthier Kids


1. Adolescents in intact families are less likely to become sexually active compared to peers in non-intact families.

2. Girls who experienced a parental separation during childhood are more likely to engage in early sexual activity.

3. Among girls in intact families, those who report having a close relationship with their fathers are less likely to engage in sexual activity.

4. Adolescents whose mothers were teens when they first gave birth are more likely to initiate sexual activity at an early age.

5. Youths who pledge to protect their virginity until marriage are more likely to delay sexual activity.

6. Youths who receive more adult supervision are less likely to engage in sexual activity.

7. Youths who engage in sexual activity are at an increased risk for depression.

8. Among teenage boys, those from intact families with frequent religious attendance average the fewest sexual partners.

9. Teens in intact families are less likely to become pregnant compared to peers in other family structures.

10. Women who were sexually active in their teens are less likely to form and sustain stable marriages.

SCAA


What makes us think natural selection -- or natural consequences -- is over?

Those who behave like animals end up like animals.

Those who don't are smarter and healthier.

Amazing, this thing called reality, when seen through the lens of realistic analysis.

Supreme Court Considers Obama Citizenship Case


The U.S. Supreme Court will consider Friday whether to take up a lawsuit challenging President-elect Barack Obama's U.S. citizenship, a continuation of a New Jersey case embraced by some opponents of Obama's election.

The meeting of justices will coincide with a vigil by the filer's supporters in Washington on the steps of the nation's highest court.

{ snip }

The Obama campaign has maintained that he was born in Hawaii, has an authentic birth certificate, and is a "natural-born" U.S. citizen. Hawaiian officials agree.

{ snip }

In cases like this, judges sometimes believe the matter is best left to political institutions, such as the Electoral College or Congress, said legal scholar Eugene Volokh of the University of California at Los Angeles.

Chicago Tribune


Well then, I hope the Electoral College or Congress makes a definitive proclamation soon -- clearly one doesn't exist, from the article.

Genes Determine Whether Placebo Effect Works


Ten volunteers responded to the placebo much better than the rest. By the end of the experiment, their anxiety scores had halved, whereas the others' stayed the same. Brain scans also showed that activity in the amygdala, the brain's "fear" centre, had dropped by 3 per cent.

To see if there were genetic differences between responders and non-responders, Furmark screened them for a variant of the gene for tryptophan hydroxylase-2, which makes the brain chemical, serotonin.Previous studies suggested that people with two copies of a particular "G" variant are less anxious in standard "fear" tests. Sure enough 8 of the 10 responders had two copies, while none of the non-responders did.

Furmark believes the effect of the gene may extend to other conditions where the amygdala is involved, such as phobias, pain disorders and even depression.

New Scientist


Wonder if we can make strong-willed, mythic imagination-prone people with this.

Nanophobia


And now comes nanophobia, the fear that tiny components engineered on the nanoscale — that is, 100 nanometers or less — could run amok inside the body. A human hair, for example, is 50,000 to 100,000 nanometers in diameter. A nanoparticle of titanium dioxide in a sunscreen could be as small as 15 nanometers. (One nanometer equals a billionth of a meter.)

“The smaller a particle, the further it can travel through tissue, along airways or in blood vessels,” said Dr. Adnan Nasir, a clinical assistant professor of dermatology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “Especially if the nanoparticles are indestructible and accumulate and are not metabolized, if you accumulate them in the organs, the organs could fail.”

NYT


Our society thinks profit first, consequences later. So we pay, time and again, and now we don't trust -- if nanophobia is crap, it's grounded on past experiences that weren't.


Researchers at North Carolina State University have found that quantum dot nanoparticles can penetrate the skin if there is an abrasion, providing insight into potential workplace concerns for healthcare workers or individuals involved in the manufacturing of quantum dots or doing research on potential biomedical applications of the tiny nanoparticles.

While the study shows that quantum dots of different sizes, shapes and surface coatings do not penetrate rat skin unless there is an abrasion, it shows that even minor cuts or scratches could potentially allow these nanoparticles to penetrate deep into the viable dermal layer - or living part of the skin - and potentially reach the bloodstream.

{ snip }

While the study indicates that acute - or short-term - dermal exposure to quantum dots does not pose a risk of penetration (unless there is an abrasion), Monteiro-Riviere notes "there is still uncertainty on long-term exposure." Monteiro-Riviere explains that the nanoparticles may be able to penetrate skin if there is prolonged, repeated exposure, but so far no studies have been conducted to date to examine that possibility. Quantum dots are fluorescent nanoparticles that may be used to improve biomedical imaging, drug delivery and diagnostic testing.

NCSU


Think before you act, folks.

How History Shapes Genetics


The researchers found a remarkably high level of Sephardic Jewish (19.8%) and North African (10.6%) ancestry in their large sample of Y chromosomes from the modern population. The Iberian Peninsula has a complex recent history that involves the long-term residence of these two diverse populations with distinct geographical origins and unique cultural and religious characteristics.

The large proportion of Sephardic Jewish ancestry does not fit with simple expectations from the historical record. "Despite alternative possible sources for lineages [to which] we ascribe a Sephardic Jewish origin, these proportions attest to a high level of religious conversion, whether voluntary or enforced, driven by historical episodes of social and religious intolerance that ultimately led to the integration of descendants," offers Prof. Jobling.

PhySorg


Everything we do shapes our genetics, as our genetics shape everything we do.

Quality of sperm depends on intelligence of man


THERE are few better ways of upsetting a certain sort of politically correct person than to suggest that intelligence (or, rather, the variation in intelligence between individuals) is under genetic control. That, however, is one implication of a paper about to be published in Intelligence by Rosalind Arden of King’s College, London, and her colleagues. Another is that brainy people are intrinsically healthier than those less intellectually endowed. And the third, a consequence of the second, is that intelligence is sexy. The most surprising thing of all, though, is that these results have emerged from an unrelated study of the quality of men’s sperm.

Ms Arden is one of a group of researchers looking into the connections between intelligence, genetics and health. General intelligence (the extent to which specific, measurable aspects of intelligence, such as linguistic facility, mathematical aptitude and spatial awareness, are correlated in a given individual) is measured by psychologists using a value called Spearman’s g. Recently, it has been discovered that an individual’s g value is correlated with many aspects of his health, up to and including his lifespan. One possible explanation for this is that intelligent people make better choices about how to conduct their lives. They may, for example, be less likely to smoke, more likely to eat healthy foods or to exercise, and so on.

Alternatively (or in addition) it may be that intelligence is one manifestation of an underlying, genetically based healthiness. That is a view held by many evolutionary biologists, and was propounded in its modern form by Geoffrey Miller of the University of New Mexico, who is one of Ms Arden’s co-authors (and, as it happens, her husband). These biologists believe intelligence, as manifested in things like artistic and musical ability, is such a reliable indicator of underlying genetic fitness that it has been chosen by members of the opposite sex over the millennia. In the ensuing arms race to show off and get a mate it has been exaggerated in the way that a peacock’s tail is. This process of sexual selection, Dr Miller and his followers believe, is the reason people have become so brainy.

The Economist


If intelligence is a survival trait, other positive traits will group with it over time. We might replace "intelligence" with "awareness" and see this result more clearly: people able to consciously make analytical decisions force this grouping by valuing traits which adapt well to reality and intelligence.

Lost City of Ancient Civilization Revealed


The local people "armed with machetes opened a path that arrived at the place where they saw a beautiful panorama, full of flowers and fauna, as well as a waterfall, some 500 metres high," said the mayor of Jamalca, Ricardo Cabrera Bravo.

Initial studies have found similarities between the new discovery and the Cloud Peoples' super fortress of Kulep, also in Utcubamba province, which is older and more extensive that the Inca Citadel of Machu Picchu, but has not been fully explored or restored.

{ snip }

Spanish texts from the era describe the Cloud People as ferocious fighters who mummified their dead.

{ snip }

The women of the Chachapoya were much prized by the Incas as they were tall and fair skinned. The Chronicler Pedro Cieza de León offers wrote of the Chachapoyas.

"They are the whitest and most handsome of all the people that I have seen in Indies, and their wives were so beautiful that because of their gentleness, many of them deserved to be the Incas' wives and to also be taken to the Sun Temple."

The Telegraph


Neat discovery. Hope they learn more about this interesting group.

How to Get Yourself Wrongly Convicted


According to Leonard L. Cavise, an expert on criminal law at DePaul University's College of Law, the "big three" causes of wrongful convictions are coerced confession, jailhouse snitch and mistaken identity.

Sun Times


Interesting. The snitches and paid informants seem the least reliable method of all. Coerced confessions pick up the clueless and/or those with nothing to lose.

Master/Slave Morality



It's polar. If you need others to affirm your status as a master, you are beholden to them. This is how the crowd rules you, through the psychic guilt equivalent of blog trackbacks.

Pay Attention to Everything But Context

Context = the sum total of our actions, at once. We can look at each one, but not the whole. Why is that?


Human-made noises are drowning out the sounds whales and dolphins use to communicate and find mates, environmental groups said Wednesday.

Noise pollution, partially caused by commercial shipping, seismic surveys and improved sonar technology, is making it harder for the animals, which use sounds to communicate over thousands of kilometres, to forage and mate.

As a result, the animals are losing touch with each other, environmental experts said at a UN wildlife conference held in Rome.

"Call it a cocktail party effect," said Mark Simmonds, of the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society. "You have to speak louder and louder until no one can hear each other anymore."

CBC


You mean: because we're all thinking of ourselves, we cannot apply our minds to anything that exists in a broader context than I, me, mine, convenience, pleasure and "rights"?

Guess that whole peasant revolution thing around 1789 or so is finally showing its true colors.

Why Are There So Few White People?

Here's a hint -- they're polarized by gender and personal drama:


Here’s Jeff from Middleburg, Florida: “I am not going to hitch my wagon to a woman . . . who is more into her abs, thighs, triceps, and plastic surgery. A woman who seems to have forgotten that she did graduate high school and that it’s time to act accordingly.” Jeff, meet another of my respondents, Alex: “Maybe we turn to video games not because we are trying to run away from the responsibilities of a ‘grown-up life’ but because they are a better companion than some disease-ridden bar tramp who is only after money and a free ride.” Care for one more? This is from Dean in California: “Men are finally waking up to the ever-present fact that traditional marriage, or a committed relationship, with its accompanying socially imposed requirements of being wallets with legs for women, is an empty and meaningless drudgery.” You can find the same themes posted throughout websites like AmericanWomenSuck, NoMarriage, MGTOW (Men Going Their Own Way), and Eternal Bachelor (“Give modern women the husband they deserve. None”).

The reason for all this anger, I submit, is that the dating and mating scene is in chaos. SYMs of the postfeminist era are moving around in a Babel of miscues, cross-purposes, and half-conscious, contradictory female expectations that are alternately proudly egalitarian and coyly traditional. And because middle-class men and women are putting off marriage well into their twenties and thirties as they pursue Ph.D.s, J.D.s, or their first $50,000 salaries, the opportunities for heartbreak and humiliation are legion. Under these harsh conditions, young men are looking for a new framework for understanding what (or, as they might put it, WTF) women want. So far, their answer is unlikely to satisfy anyone—either women or, in the long run, themselves.

{ snip }

By the time men reach their twenties, they have years of experience with women as equal competitors in school, on soccer fields, and even in bed. Small wonder if they initially assume that the women they meet are after the same things they are: financial independence, career success, toned triceps, and sex.

But then, when an SYM walks into a bar and sees an attractive woman, it turns out to be nothing like that. The woman may be hoping for a hookup, but she may also be looking for a husband, a co-parent, a sperm donor, a relationship, a threesome, or a temporary place to live. She may want one thing in November and another by Christmas. “I’ve gone through phases in my life where I bounce between serial monogamy, Very Serious Relationships and extremely casual sex,” writes Megan Carpentier on Jezebel, a popular website for young women. “I’ve slept next to guys on the first date, had sex on the first date, allowed no more than a cheek kiss, dispensed with the date-concept altogether after kissing the guy on the way to his car, fucked a couple of close friends and, more rarely, slept with a guy I didn’t care if I ever saw again.” Okay, wonders the ordinary guy with only middling psychic powers, which is it tonight?

City Journal


Sounds very neurotic and queeny, and guaranteed to produce neurotic parents who don't trust each other to scream out the right name during sex, which will in turn produce hopelessly neurotic, paranoid kids.

The self is a tyrant.

Regarding Those Campaign Promises... Reality Is So Far Away


But as he moves closer to the White House, President-elect Obama is making clearer than ever that tens of thousands of American troops will be left behind in Iraq, even if he can make good on his campaign promise to pull all combat forces out within 16 months.

“I said that I would remove our combat troops from Iraq in 16 months, with the understanding that it might be necessary — likely to be necessary — to maintain a residual force to provide potential training, logistical support, to protect our civilians in Iraq,” Mr. Obama said this week as he introduced his national security team.

Publicly at least, Mr. Obama has not set a firm number for that “residual force,” a phrase certain to become central to the debate on the way ahead in Iraq, though one of his national security advisers, Richard Danzig, said during the campaign that it could amount to 30,000 to 55,000 troops. Nor has Mr. Obama laid out any timetable beyond 16 months for troop drawdowns, or suggested when he believes a time might come for a declaration that the war is over.

NYT


So it was like advertising -- a promise on which he never has to, and thus never intends, to deliver.

The American people will forget this in six days or fewer. "Durrrrr, that's all bad and stuff... what's on cable?"

Grow Up About Sexuality Already

Typical sleight of hand -- they project what they're thinking, imply a negative judgment, but never say it so they can't be criticized:


MALE science students are a university's most likely virgins while females who study arts subjects are the most sexually active, Australian researchers say.

{ snip }

It found arts students were "younger, more likely to be sexually active and to report having little or no knowledge of chlamydia''.

"Males in the study were less likely to have had sex as a group compared to the group of females in the sample,'' said the study, published in the journal Sexual Health.

The Daily Telegraph


Idiots allow sex, money, food, shiny objects, intoxicants to rule their lives. Why: they have no other potential.

The people who make this world fun to live in are the ones who forgo convenience and pleasures in order to achieve things, invent things, make positive change.

These tend to be more intelligent, so they tend to mate for life via marriage or a near-analogue.

Hipsters -- the smarter type of idiot -- tend to use the implication that having sex is the only way to have fun, in order to imply that others are losers. The truth: hipsters create nothing and invent nothing, but help society destroy itself from within, so no wonder they're using cognitive dissonance against those who have a future but -- gasp! -- aren't sexually-obsessed neurotics like hipsters.

Want to know more about hipsters? See How modern society makes you weak.

Want to know more on the link between promiscuity and descending to a third-world state? See Why Britain is failing and Are you first world, or third world, in bed?

A taboo as strong as race: genetic Class differences

We assume social classes and races are imposed on otherwise "blank slate" individuals. The truth is that social classes, races, et al emerge from organic, immanent processes like evolution and social differentiation.


In a study recently accepted for publication in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, scientists at UC Berkeley's Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute and the School of Public Health report that normal 9- and 10-year-olds differing only in socioeconomic status have detectable differences in the response of their prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that is critical for problem solving and creativity.

{ snip }

"Kids from lower socioeconomic levels show brain physiology patterns similar to someone who actually had damage in the frontal lobe as an adult," said Robert Knight, director of the institute and a UC Berkeley professor of psychology. "We found that kids are more likely to have a low response if they have low socioeconomic status, though not everyone who is poor has low frontal lobe response."

{ snip }

"These kids have no neural damage, no prenatal exposure to drugs and alcohol, no neurological damage," Kishiyama said. "Yet, the prefrontal cortex is not functioning as efficiently as it should be. This difference may manifest itself in problem solving and school performance."

PhysOrg


The article spends most of its time apologizing for its conclusions, and suggesting that poorer parents not sitting down to dinner with their kids is the reason why they have lowered cognitive ability. Note that not all poor kids have this; this corresponds to the social darwinist idea that parents who do not value money, or are disorganized and not slower, end up poor as well as those whose brains do not optimize them for any labor, so they default to manual, low-impact jobs.

The taboo-flinging, apologetics, and bad logic will undoubtedly hastily cover this discovery like a mound over a battlefield burial. This topic is as taboo as genetic differences between races -- which exist, but may not be important; whether multiculturalism/pluralism is viable or not is another argument -- because it points out what we loathe to know: we're not in control of our lives, we don't have free will, we can't be anyone we want to be, and in fact, we serve in small and unimportant parts of a social structure. You are born smart or born not, as that pretty much decides the issue.

Are Ghosts Phantom Images of Missed Ones in Our Minds?


Ratings of grief reactions, post-bereavement hallucinations and illusions and quality of life were made during the first year after the death of a spouse among 14 men and 36 women in their early seventies. In both sexes, the reactions were generally moderate or mild and characterized by loneliness, low mood, fatigue, anxiety and cognitive dysfunctioning. Feeling lonely was the most persistent problem during the year. Post-bereavement hallucinations or illusions were very frequent and considered helpful. Half of the subjects felt the presence of the deceased (illusions); about one third reported seeing, hearing and talking to the deceased (hallucinations). Former marital harmony was found to make a person more prone to loneliness, crying and hallucinations or illusions. The quality of life was significantly lower among the bereaved than among married people and those who never married, but equalled that found among divorcees.

Wiley


One third reported hallucinations of an interactive human form. Sounds like mythic imagination gone wrong. One thing's for sure: in a relative universe, we "read" reality by projecting ourselves into it, so it's not surprising these artifacts persist.

Accidental Truthspotting: Computers and Politics


Ah, good. So, Windows = McCain, Apple = Obama?

I'll take that.

/.


There's always the slow, steady, boring, functional. Windows is pretty non-exciting. But it did unify computer hardware and software, gave us a stable platform, and is backwards compatible.

Apple is flashy, full of "new" ideas, hip to entertainment, etc. but without substance. There's a parallel there to politics: McCain was an accurate plodder, while Obama is a flashy but corrupt insider, a hipster.

Wonder if there's more. Classical = McCain, Jazz = Obama; Modernism = McCain, postmodernism = Obama.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Heat Rising Snuffs One Species; Elsewhere, More are Discovered


The white lemuroid possum, a rare creature found only above 1000m in the mountain forests of far north Queensland, has not been seen for three years.

Experts fear climate change is to blame for the disappearance of the highly vulnerable species thanks to a temperature rise of up to 0.8C.

Courier & Mail


Global warming is just the foremost manifestation of our change of planet Earth. More damaging is overall pollution of toxic compounds and our completely occupation of land, dividing it with fences and roads, shattering ecosystems.

On the other hand --


An expedition to a tiny island in the South Pacific's Republic of Vanatu has yielded hundreds of new species, including possibly 1000 new species of crab.

Science Blogs


The above article is worth visiting for pictures of strange and wonderful critters that also have adapted hand-in-glove to a unique estuarial locale.

The Dialectic of Good and Evil Creates Meta-Good


"What was at stake was nothing less than the meaning of existence, the understanding of why things are as they are. The choice was clear: either the universe is ultimately an arbitrary product, the effect of an indifferent will guided by no objective values and subject to no independent canons of reason or goodness; or it is the result of wisdom, intelligible to its core and informed by a rationality and a sense of value that are, in essence, not very different from our own; or (to mention the most terrifying possibility of all) it simply is, necessary through its causes and transparent to the investigations of metaphysics and science but essentially devoid of any meaning or value whatsoever."

The attempt to justify the ways of God to men -- theodicy, a term coined by Leibniz -- lies at the heart of the matter: "Why is there any evil at all in God's creation?" Essentially, Leibniz's answer is: Consider the whole. Explains Nadler, "It is not that everything will turn out for the best for me or for anyone else in particular. Nor is it necessarily the case that any other possible world would have been worse for me or for anyone else. Rather, Leibniz claims that any other possible world is worse overall than this one, regardless of any single person's fortunes in it." What is good for the whole isn't necessarily good for every one of its individual parts or components. As Nadler emphasizes, summarizing Leibniz, "all things are connected and every single aspect of the world makes a contribution to its being the best world."

The Washington Post


Indo-Europeans have been discovering and forgetting transcendental idealism for thousands of years; when their societies are healthy, they know it like the law of gravity, but when they deny it, they become individualistic brats who live in decaying moral slums.

What do Breast Milk and Marijuana Have in Common?

A: They can both help us reach new evolutionary levels, and have done so in the past.


This study of 14,000 children has shown increased breastfeeding in the first few months of life appears to raise a child's verbal IQ. By the time these children were 6 years old, the breastfed children had a verbal IQ 7.5 higher than the non breastfed children.

Orato


Note: mothers likely to have higher IQ children -- that would be higher IQ mothers -- may choose breastfeeding, and thus these results may be vapor. You cannot breastfeed a kid into being smart than its genetics predict it can be; however, you can minimize environmental damage to that potential.


The researchers injected rats with HU210, a synthetic drug that is about one-hundred times as powerful as THC, the high-inducing compound naturally found in marijuana. They then used a chemical tracer to watch new cells growing in the hippocampus.

They found that HU210 seemed to induce new brain cell growth, just as some antidepressant drugs do, they report in the Journal of Clinical Investigation. This suggests that they could potentially be used to reduce anxiety and depression, Zhang says. He adds that the research might help to create new cannabinoid-based treatments.

BioEdOnline


Not only that, by marijuana use by Caucasians is at least 2700 years old. Maybe this was part of our evolution: psychedelic drugs straining brains, forcing growth... to explain all those wacky visions.

UK Freaks Out Over Immigration Data


Green had embarrassed the Home Office -- which oversees police and immigration matters -- by publicizing confidential documents showing that a recession would lead to a rise in crime and that it had cleared 5,000 illegal immigrants to work as private guards and one to work as a Parliament janitor.

Police held Green, the Conservative Party‘s immigration spokesman, for nine hours. They searched his offices and homes in London and Kent in Southeast England, confiscating his mobile phone, Blackberry and computers. A police statement said they were investigating whether Green was conspiring to “commit misconduct in a public office” by encouraging leaks.

Bloomberg


They're terrified of stirring up racial conflict. But they're just putting it off, as it recurs because problems remain. The UK should just admit what every civilized nation knows: pluralism -- in any form -- leads to disintegration.

College Soon Unaffordable by Most Americans


[P]ublished college tuition and fees increased 439 percent from 1982 to 2007, adjusted for inflation, while median family income rose 147 percent. Student borrowing has more than doubled in the last decade, and students from lower-income families, on average, get smaller grants from the colleges they attend than students from more affluent families.

“If we go on this way for another 25 years, we won’t have an affordable system of higher education,” said Patrick M. Callan, president of the center, a nonpartisan organization that promotes access to higher education. "Already, we’re one of the few countries where 25- to 34-year-olds are less educated than older workers."

{ snip }

Last year, the net cost at a four-year public university amounted to 28 percent of the median family income, while a four-year private university cost 76 percent of the median family income.

NYT


We can't blame this on George W, so it probably won't be popular, thus qualifies for this blog.

The article speaks for itself: education costs are skyrocketing. Why? Well, among other things, schools now have higher costs. They have to promote themselves as businesses, so throw money into publishing and PR. They have to deal with affirmative action legislation and a politicized campus that demands new majors -- majors which are unlikely to make affluent students who will donate a lot to the campus. And finally, there's an assload of legal action and lawsuits.

We've been treating education like our auto industry: as something that "just exists" and so we can take from it without worrying it will go away (come to think of it, we treat nature the same way -- a denial of time and thus mortality). Finally, we realize the bills are rising, but now it's too late.

What could corrupt our mentality so, that we'd deny the obvious for four decades and then self-destruct?

We Want The Traditional Order


I think in all of us who have read history, there is a desire to find again a sacred order of life as existed in ancient times.

Part of that is knowing who your tribe are and living among them, people like you, and not others. That tribal definition comprises values, language, customs, and -- uh oh -- heritage.

To a modern people, told that the only morally correct(tm) society is a pluralistic, multicultural, "freedom"-based one, that is blasphemy. Heresy. Ultimate evil.

However, many of us -- especially those who read history, and know science and philosophy -- it's clear that our modern civilization is moribund and even more, isn't a pleasant place to live. It rewards the idiotic and subjects us all to it in the name of equality.

I think it's possible to want a traditional order, including ethnic nationalism, without hating others. It isn't "we're excluding you because you're inferior." It's that we want to live among our own, and that requires we exclude everyone, whether they claim to be superior or inferior.

That's only one part of the social order we'd desire. One of the neat things about feudal societies like those in The Hobbit is that everyone has a place, and there's a clear social order. You don't just plop down a McDonald's anywhere you feel like it, or ignore reality. Society is an organic framework that works together.

I think we all avoid talking about differences between people to keep the peace. We extend that to ethnicity, and endorse multicuturalism, as a result. We think that supporting pluralism, or the coexistence of many different viewpoints at once, is healthy and not chaotic.

My readings of history suggest exactly the opposite: these things are an absence of order and a desacralization of life, and all societies that have adopted them are heading downward into disorder and eventually, third-world status. (This third world status is not related to ethnicity, but the kind of corruption, disorganization, apathy, etc. you find in failed states, always accompanied by third-world poverty and development levels.)

I know my views on this are taboo, but it's important to tell the truth at all times, because otherwise we can easily lie to each other and end up in failure.

/.


Doesn't everyone know that modern society is a one way deathtrip?

They don't... what, are they inattentive?

Why Business Loves Gullible Idiots

You'd think that in a disaster like this, no one saw profits.

Wrong -- they saw they could sell a product to people knowing they'd flake on it. They took advantage of their cluelessness, and disguised their actions as benevolence toward the oppressed:


The filing cites multiple studies that found that African Americans and Latinos received a disproportionate share of subprime loans during the housing boom years. A Federal Reserve study in 2006 estimated that 45% of mortgages extended to Latinos and 55% of loans to African Americans were subprime—a utilization rate “three to four times that of non-Hispanic whites.”

Because the loans themselves often came with terms that increased borrowers’ probability of default—upfront teaser rates followed by unaffordable reset payment adjustments, no required documentation of applicants’ incomes or assets, plus hefty prepayment penalties—African Americans with subprime mortgages are projected to lose $71 billion to $92 billion through foreclosures, while Latinos are projected to lose $75 billion to $98 billion, according to one study cited in the complaint.

“Had subprime loans been distributed equitably,” the complaint estimates, “losses for whites would be 44.5% higher and losses for people of color would be about 24% lower.”

{snip}

The civil rights complaint is the latest in a series of lawsuits, regulatory investigations and congressional criticism of the rating firms’ roles and conduct during the mortgage bond heyday years of 2003-05. In dollar terms, subprime and so-called Alt-A no-documentation loans accounted for 32% of all mortgage originations in 2005. Their share had been 10% two years before. Virtually all of those high-risk loans were sold to Wall Street firms for inclusion in complex bond structures that were resold, often in bits and pieces, to pension funds and financial institutions.

L.A. Times


Anyone who bought one of those loans has so little ability to reason critically, they should probably not be homeowners.

Anyone who thought this was a good idea was a savvy, sick businessperson -- and knuckling under to Bill Clinton's pressure to do good by the oppressed. Hey, two birds/one stone... I win! You idiots pay for the backlash.

Gas is at $1.69 a gallon, and modern nitwits happily go into denial


The IEA's annual forecast has become steadily darker in recent years, but this time the deterioration in its outlook is dramatic. Only a year ago, the agency was predicting that global oil production in 2030 would reach 116m barrels per day, up from around 84mb/d, but now it has slashed that to 106mb/d.

At the same time, the agency has also doubled its oil price forecast. Last year, it said the cost of crude would fall in the long term, but now it predicts an average of $100 per barrel until 2015, despite the deepening recession, and rising to $120 in real terms by 2030. It concludes that the era of cheap oil is over and that the recent extreme price volatility will continue.

The Guardian


Your average voter doesn't understand supply/demand as a ratio.

Recession hits, demand goes down... so do prices.

But we won't be in a recession forever, and then demand will rise to its previous levels and higher -- and there won't be any larger amount of oil out there.

We get better but we never get well

In a neurotic society, discussing your neurosis is a way of bonding with others, but it also reveals the fundamental emptiness behind your experience:


It was safe to enjoy Fisher's novels, to romanticize her neurosis and pretend it was the same as mine, because those books were fiction -- they were fun, they were fresh. But there's no way around the fact that when it's all thrown at you as fact, and often as repetitive, rambling fact, it's distressing. Distressing in large part because it's clear -- as it's always been clear -- that even when she is out of control, even when she's revealing way too much to her readers, even when she's repeating herself and skating in verbal circles that used to be much tighter and more concentric, on some level, Fisher knows how sick she is and wants us to see it ... all of it. There is a line of Paul Simon's that she quotes in the book, written in part about her, "From what I can see of the people like me/ We get better but we never get well."

As Fisher has continued to not get well, the quality of her writing has not gotten any better. When she goes off the rails, the window on Fisher's brain shows us not an inner life that is complicated and frank and funny and all churned up, but instead one that is more than lightly scrambled, by mental illness or drugs or ECT, it is impossible to tell.

Salon


The object should be to get well. Not go to a shrink and talk about it for ten years, reveling in how it makes you the center of attention. Get well. Fix the problem and move on.

But that requires venturing into dangerous, uncharted space...

Stop Making Excuses

Malcolm Gladwell, the genetic freak of nature who brought us the clear and intelligent The Tipping Point, has now brought us excuses:


"People don't rise from nothing," he writes. "They are invariably the beneficiaries of hidden advantages and extraordinary opportunities and cultural legacies that allow them to learn and work hard and make sense of the world in ways others cannot ... It is only by asking where they are from that we can unravel the logic behind who succeeds and who doesn't."

In other words, don't ask how Bill Gates got so smart. Ask what unique set of circumstances allowed him to harness his smarts toward world dominion. "Successful people don't do it alone," the author tells us. "Where they come from matters. They're products of particular places and environments."

{ snip }

Gladwell, in short, is in the hope business. "People are experience rich and theory poor," he told the New York Times. "People who are busy doing things -- as opposed to people who are busy sitting around, like me, reading and having coffee in coffee shops --don't have opportunities to kind of collect and organize their experiences and make sense of them."

Thalon


The best way to lie is to tell part of the truth, and make it seem to represent the whole. The best way to lie to yourself is the same. While it's true that no one makes themselves great alone, it's also true that greats -- and he probably should pick more inspiring figures than business and popcultural successes, here -- make themselves successful.

The formula is this: raw ability + disciplined exploration = potential for success. That then must be marketed correctly... there are undiscovered greats because they never managed to show us a clear product, or have a theory that can be distilled into a sentence.


He says it takes about 10 years, or 10,000 hours, of practice to attain true expertise.

"The people at the very top don't just work harder or even much harder than everyone else," Gladwell writes. "They work much, much harder." Achievement, he says, is talent plus preparation. Preparation seems to play a bigger role.

For example, he describes The Beatles' rise to fame: They had been together seven years before their famous arrival in America. They spent a lot of time playing in strip clubs in Hamburg, Germany, sometimes for as long as eight hours a night. John Lennon said of those years: "We got better and got more confidence. We couldn't help it with all the experience playing all night long."

Overnight sensation? Not exactly. Estimates are that the band performed live 1,200 times before their big success in 1964. By comparison, most bands don't perform 1,200 times in their careers.

Post-Bulletin


He could have picked a better example: The Beatles couldn't write a symphony. I wonder what true greatness takes? After all, rock 'n' roll seems like a learned art for clever people, not geniuses, which is underscored by the number of geniuses active in it: zero.

A better angle:


Researchers in Germany have found that genius is one per cent inspiration and 99 per cent perspiration, and one has to practice just 10,000 hours to reach the top in their chosen discipline, the 'Daily Mail' reported.

And, according to them, talent and luck are important, but it's practice that makes the difference between being good and being brilliant.

The researchers at the Berlin's Academy of Music came to the conclusion after looking at a group of violin students who started playing at around the age of five, practising for two or three hours a week.

As they grew older, the amount of practice increased. And, by the age of 20, the elite performers had each totalled 10,000 hours of practice, while the merely good students had accrued 8,000.

Times of India


So the best practiced for 10,000 hours while everyone else did 8,000.

Did they practice more because they had the talent, and the drive?

Or were they realists: they recognized that a rote mechanical skill plus intelligence plus disciplined hard work equals ability?

I seem to recall Robert Fripp opining something similar, about thirty years ago -- and he was clearly born congenitally able to perceive such things.

In Praise of Creative Food

We all know the stereotype of English food: disgusting. The English are like the scavenging itinerants of Western cuisine; when something runs across their foot, they cut its head off, boil it and add shallots.

However, there's something admirable in that. It's solid adaptation. Even more, it allows you to actually apply creativity, which thrives -- not starves! -- in adversity.

Rhubarb and custard cremes? Pineapple cubes? Mint imperials? Fizzy bombs? Sour candy? Yes, the English make some excellent stuff, amidst the foods that make even possums vomit.

English Candy

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

DNA may contain memories, control sexual orientation


Courtney Miller and David Sweatt of the University of Alabama in Birmingham say that long-term memories may be preserved by a process called DNA methylation - the addition of chemical caps called methyl groups onto our DNA.

Many genes are already coated with methyl groups. When a cell divides, this "cellular memory" is passed on and tells the new cell what type it is - a kidney cell, for example. Miller and Sweatt argue that in neurons, methyl groups also help to control the exact pattern of protein expression needed to maintain the synapses that make up memories.

{ snip }

Because the exact pattern of methylation eventually stabilised and then stayed constant for seven days, when the experiment ended, the researchers say the methyl changes may be anchoring the memory of the shock into long-term memory, not just controlling a process involved in memory formation.

New Scientist


Interesting. I wonder how much of this passes on, and in what form (fear of snakes, distrust of short men, etc).


US researchers are finding common biological traits among gay men, feeding a growing consensus that sexual orientation is an inborn combination of genetic and environmental factors that largely decide a person's sexual attractions before they are born.

Such findings - including a highly anticipated study this winter - would further inform the debate over whether homosexuality is innate or a choice, an undercurrent of California's recent Proposition 8 campaign in which television commercials warned that "schools would begin teaching second-graders that boys could marry boys", suggesting homosexuality would then spread.

{ snip }

Until 2007, CNN polls had found that a majority of Americans believed gay people could change their sexual orientation if they chose to; it was only last year that a majority for the first time said homosexuality was an inborn trait.

Guardian


Conservatives screw this issue up. Homosexuality is genetic; however, you must thwart the liberal agenda of saying that all behaviors are acceptable in all places at all times. You can argue that without being a dunce, but trying to debate obvious science -- and it's been obvious for decades -- is stupid.

Urban Guerillas On Drugs

If the UN is going to call its soldiers by the extremely biased term "peacemaker," I'm going to have fun with what we call "terrorists" in the American media. They're urban guerillas and I'm going to call them that.

No wonder they were smiling:


Meanwhile, it has been revealed that the Mumbai terrorists who battled Indian commandos for 60-hours last week relied on cocaine and other stimulants to stay awake for the duration of the fight.

Officials said drug paraphernalia, including syringes, was recovered from the scene of the attacks, which killed almost 200 people.

{ snip }

"We found injections containing traces of cocaine and LSD left behind by the terrorists and later found drugs in their blood," said one official.

"There was also evidence of steroids, which isn't uncommon in terrorists.

"These men were all toned, suggesting they had been doing some heavy training for the attacks. This explains why they managed to battle the commandos for over 50 hours with no food or sleep."

The Telegraph


Cocaine and LSD? That's a potent combination. My guess is more cocaine than LSD by a long, long shot. Still, it explains why they were smiling as they gunned down people.

How Modern Society Makes You Weak

Modern society isn't just external problems, governments, and institutions. It's what it does to your heart and soul.


Almost one in five young American adults has a personality disorder that interferes with everyday life, and even more abuse alcohol or drugs, researchers reported Monday in the most extensive study of its kind.

The disorders include problems such as obsessive or compulsive tendencies and anti-social behavior that can sometimes lead to violence. The study also found that fewer than 25 percent of college-aged Americans with mental problems get treatment.

{ snip }

Counting substance abuse, the study found that nearly half of young people surveyed have some sort of psychiatric condition, including students and non-students.

{ snip }

The disorders include obsessive, anti-social and paranoid behaviors that are not mere quirks but actually interfere with ordinary functioning.

MSN


Holy mackerel! Are these kids just bad?

Unlikely. Their parents learned bad behavior; their government and the people around them repeat delusional lies to them; and they've got little going on that is positive reward for their internal dimension, which some call the soul.


Spending a lot of time watching TV, playing video games and surfing the Web makes children more prone to a range of health problems including obesity and smoking, U.S. researchers said on Tuesday.

{ snip }

Studies also indicated more media exposure also was linked to drug and alcohol use and poorer school performance, while the evidence was less clear about an association with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, they added.

{ snip }

Experts for decades have worried about the impact on young viewers of the violence and sexual content in some TV programs, movies and video games. Another issue is that kids are spending time sitting on a couch watching TV or playing computer games when they could be running around outside.

Yahoo!


What about the impact on young viewers of seeing delusional information?

Television reduces the world to your external traits. Who you know / what you buy / where you are in the social hierarchy. How to please others by twisting the truth and avoiding controversial topics. How to lie to keep the peace. That's how you succeed in TV-land! Oh, and in modern society.

Why do we make liars of ourselves?

Well:


Some upscale purveyors believe luxurious living, like cigarette smoking, is an unshakeable habit. "It's very difficult to go downward... once you get used to this level of service," says Julian Niccolini, managing partner of New York's Four Seasons restaurant.

Newsweek


There's no social order. It's dog eat dog. Your good traits -- personality, brains, compassion, honesty -- go unrecognized while your ability to pander to others is widely praised, if you exercise it. If you don't... some moron with fewer abilities and less of a soul will get ahead before you. That's how the disease spreads.

Modern society makes us weak by making us look at the external and the symbolic and the social, at the expense of what we know inside -- and the reality to which we connect through that perception.

"Creative" is An Excuse, Not a Reason


Tapscott, author of the best-selling book Wikinomics and a champion of the "net generation", suggests a better approach would be to teach children to think creatively so they could learn to interpret and apply the knowledge available online.

{ snip }

Tapscott dismissed the idea that his approach is anti-learning, instead arguing that the ability to learn new things is more important than ever "in a world where you have to process new information at lightning speed".

{ snip }

Tapscott added the brains of today's youngsters work differently to their parents', and that multi tasking with digital devices, such as using the internet while listening to their MP3 players, can help them to develop critical thinking skills.

The Telegraph


This man is a prime example of the overeducated, specialized idiot.

He needs a topic to write about, and sell books, so he picked this -- consequences? What consequences? -- maybe he has even convinced himself he's doing a good thing.

Creativity is the universal excuse in the West for flakiness. If your apartment is covered in pet droppings and cigarette butts, claim you were too busy being creative. Across the land, every middle-class mother has some paintings she's done to show you, and in the ghetto every man is a rap*star just waiting to be discovered. You're just all so special and unique!

His argument is that distracted kids think more creatively, and that since they can have the information online, they don't need to know it.

What he forgets is that for any task more complicated than answering a multiple-choice question -- like all tasks in the real world -- you have to have a background in knowledge and navigate between many different data points, each of which has multiple attributes.

The idiot clearly didn't think of that. Instead, he wants us to teach kids "to the test," or so that they appear to be succeeding, while sapping their fundamental skills. Is memorization needed? LOL, linear thinking -- a degree of memorization is needed to all tasks. We need to find a happy balance, and going off on some "we're so creative, all we need is Google and an iPod" is beyond stupid -- it's deceitful.

Mathematical Distributions -or- Why Free Will Is Bunk


Zipf’s law is a testament to the order in our world, showing that the same patterns emerge in a wide variety of situations. The linguist George Kingsley Zipf first proposed the law in 1949, when he noticed that the distribution of words in a newspaper, book, or other literary article always followed the same pattern.

Zipf counted how many times each word appeared, and found that the probability of the occurrence of words starts high and tapers off. Specifically, the most frequent word occurs about twice as often as the second most frequent word, which occurs about twice as often as the fourth most frequent word, and so on. Mathematically, this means that the frequency of any word is inversely proportional to its rank. When the Zipf curve is plotted on a log-log scale, it appears as a straight line with a slope of -1.

Since Zipf’s discovery, researchers have found that the power law describes many other natural and human phenomena, including the distribution of cities ranked by their population, the distribution of corporate wealth, and Internet traffic characteristics.

{ snip }

Yet throughout the 12 years, the distribution of packages, as ranked by their number of incoming links from other packages, has followed Zipf’s law, with a few very popular packages having much greater connectivity than most.

PhysOrg


Interesting. So without our free will intervening, the number and distribution of packages in Linux distros matches this mathematical pattern.


The Poisson Distribution is a discrete distribution which takes on the values X = 0, 1, 2, 3, ... . It is often used as a model for the number of events (such as the number of telephone calls at a business or the number of accidents at an intersection) in a specific time period. It is also useful in ecological studies, e.g., to model the number of prairie dogs found in a square mile of prairie.

CSUSB


Translation: when you map linear numbers to reality, you find they follow a "bell curve" like distribution. This underlies events in our worlds, our own abilities, and our own thoughts -- great ideas tend to fit this pattern as well.

Still think you're autonomous and isolated from reality, an island? You're not. Nor do you have "free will." You are one more piece of the universe acting according to its patterns, which you can't touch or feel, but over time, they manifest themselves.

From Horror, Knowledge: How Nazi Science Helps Us Today


As I discovered when researching a history of the Nazis at war, much of what scientists did under the Third Reich was regarded as "normal science", subject to standard protocols of peer review in conferences and journals. The infamous Dr Josef Mengele regarded himself as a normal scientist, held seminars to discuss his experiments, got research funds from the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute in Berlin, and reported regularly to his teacher, the eminent scientist Otmar von Verschuer, on his progress.

Mengele's research at Auschwitz, in particular, shows how the system worked. His experiments there were intended to be a contribution to his second doctorate, the Habilitation, which all German academics needed to qualify for a university professorship. Under Verschuer's guidance, he selected twins from the trainloads of Jews who arrived and injected them with chemicals to see if they reacted differently from one another. He collected prisoners with physical abnormalities, such as heterochromia – having a different colour in each eye – to investigate if their condition was hereditary. He treated gipsy and other children for starvation-related diseases, using vitamins and sulphonamides, to see if there were hereditary differences in their response to the therapy.

{ snip }

The answer springs from the fact that medicine was both dominant in the world of science under the Third Reich, and closely allied to the Nazi project. By 1939, almost half of all students at German universities were studying medicine; the others were spread across the whole range of other subjects. The Nazis poured resources into medicine, increasing doctors' pay, setting up new health care facilities for "Aryan" citizens, creating large numbers of new jobs in the rapidly expanding armed forces and opening new institutes for "racial hygiene" at many universities. By 1939, around two thirds of all German doctors had some connection or other with the Nazi Party.

The Telegraph


We learn through tragedy.

A man finds a new plant, eats it, and dies in horror as his liver disintegrates.

We pass on that knowledge so others may live.

Similarly, we torture lab animals to death every day for our learning.

Similarly, the Nazis mutilated and killed their lab subjects.

The article goes off track here:


What underpinned this behaviour was a widespread belief that some people were less than human, relegated to a lower plane of existence by their inherited degeneracy – or their race. For German doctors, a camp inmate was either a racially inferior subhuman, a vicious criminal, a traitor to the German cause, or more than one of the above. Such beings had no right to life or wellbeing – indeed, it was logical that they should be sacrificed in the interests of the survival and triumph of the German race, just as that race had to be strengthened by the elimination of the inferior, degenerate elements within it. After all, German medical science had uncovered the causes of several major diseases and contributed massively to improving the health of the population over the previous decades. Surely, therefore, it was justified in eliminating negative influences as well?


Yes, the Nazis were anti-Semites, but this author is anti-German -- notice how he switched from "Nazi" to "German" in the above paragraph? If you switched from "Black Panthers" to "African-Americans" in the same way, your career would be over.

I don't support the Holocaust or Nazis. But I also don't support this idiot's oppressive "human rights versus science" argument. Doctors perform experiments because they know that no human has a "right" to life. Rights are abstractions, little white lies we tell each other, and have no origin in nature. We sacrifice some so that others may live.

Those firemen who ran into the burning World Trade Center and got exterminated when it fell -- did we allow that because they were less than human? No: it's how the cookie crumbles. Life is full of horror, but from it we can take learning, and make life better.

Remember When People Didn't Need Airbrushing?


They used to focus their attention on sewing, cooking and home-making.

But modern-day Girl Guides, it seems, have a much broader remit.

They are demanding a ban on the airbrushing of models in magazines and a crackdown on peer pressure to have sex too soon.

The Daily Mail


The rest of their manifesto is liberalized Nanny-Totalitarian State (N.T.S.) bloviation: fight for equal pay, fight discrimination, don't let your boyfriend carry a knife.

But remember the past, when people were generally good looking, and didn't need airbrushing?

Everyone today is a mix of parts. Classes, European ethnicities, races, and what I can only assume are mutations induced by fast food, TV radiation, airborne benzene, etc -- who knows, but it's a modern problem.

It seems that each time I see a picture of a Hollywood star on TV without makeup, they stand revealed as the weird-looking, hideous trolls they are -- but did I mention they're slender, and look sexually accessible?

That's what it takes. Our media doesn't care about beauty -- if they did, why is Amy Winehouse ever covered? -- but they care about pitching a fantasy. "If you met her, she might." And to that end, they keep airbrushing trolls and calling them goddesses.

When Will The Birth Certificate Drama End?


Daniel John Essek, 47, filed a demand last week that Obama prove he is a natural-born U.S. citizen — one of the few requirements to run for president.

Essek wants Obama to provide a copy of his birth certificate to a federal judge in London for verification.

{ snip }

The charge that Obama wasn't born in the United States came up often during the presidential campaign. Obama's campaign said that was ridiculous, posting a copy of his birth certificate on the Internet to prove he was born in Hawaii.

A Pennsylvania judge threw out a pre-election court challenge to Obama's birth qualification, saying its arguments were frivolous.

Lexington Herald-Leader


Just provide the birth certificate and get authorities to declare it legit. This is getting tiresome.

The Republicans ran a stupid campaign in which they alluded to his differentness, his race, and his illegitimacy as a candidate, but they didn't attack the meat: zero experience, obvious race huckster, clear connections to CORRUPTION, and an artful dodger with no new ideas.

If you're going to run a campaign, it doesn't need to be soft or hard. Just make it truthful and articulate the core of the issue: conservatives take care of us according to history and science, liberals take care of us according to emotions.