"It is true, and thus the question of whether it is sad or happy has no meaning whatever."
Bernhard Schlink

Science is best when discussed: leave your thoughts and ideas in the comments!!

Thursday, January 31, 2008

One More Reason... 

...to hate Fox News. They've actually managed to make me respect Montel Williams. Seriously. Basically, the long-running tabloid talk show host was a guest on another Fox talk show last weekend, and totally read the hosts (video clip here) for their ceaseless (and ceaselessly) inane coverage of Heath Ledger's death, while ignoring those of American troops being ceaselessly killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. His show on Fox was 'mysteriously' cancelled the next day.

Seriously. When Montel Williams is too respectable for your network...we have problems.

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008


I know I at least can't wait for a day when I can control certain bits of technology with thoughts rather than having to, say, give myself repetitive stress injuries with a mouse. With bluetooth prosthetics and monkey-thought-driven robots in the news so much lately, you'd think we're almost there. Well, another study may help us get even closer.

Primates and a few other animals are unique in their consistent use of tools, and how they are able do so has been a perplexing question. A really elegant study by Italian neuroscientists has come to a fascinating conclusion, which makes the dreams above seem more plausible than ever. They found that monkeys' brains essentially 'trick' themselves into treating a tool as part of their own body, as opposed to some intermediary between self and world. The implications of this for cybernetics is, I would think, that the brain is already primed to 'assimilate' new parts or functional groups into itself: we don't need to retrain the brain, or find new regions - we could just use the ones we use anyways without tools.

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Friday, January 18, 2008

Blowing (up) 

In news that may, depressingly, be a real shock to many people, it turns out that you can't tell which guys have an STD just by looking at them. Emory researchers found that African-American girls often use "selective avoidance" - that is, only hooking up with guys they think are clean - as a substitute for proper prevention. This technique of course ignores the entirety of human history, wherein only a fairly small minority are likely to have sought to have sex with people they knew would give them chlamydia. But then again, this is Georgia, where sex ed isn't precisely comprehensive.

Chlamydia isn't usually fatal, however, so these girls may be in a better position, sexually, than the newly-discovered Malagasy palm Tahina spectabilis. When these tall characters finally go in to bloom, the show is so spectacular it kills them. I guess dying in the throws of passion is many people's fantasy, so maybe it's not all bad!

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Thursday, January 17, 2008

Roots and Evils 

What happens when an action motivated by greed conflicts with more basic greed? Litigation, of course. In order to build the xenophobe's panacea that will be the DHS' boarder fence against Mexico (expected to cost billions to build and save about $25.03 in American GDP from illegals), the gubmin is of course trying to seize land.

Eloisa Tamez, whose name probably sounds a bit too Mexican to the DHS crowd, lives on land granted to her family before the American Revolution, and even longer before we hated Mexicans or needed them for gardening. So, DHS is doing everything it can to evict her to build a fence that only a vocal minority of citizens (backed, of course, by monied contracting firms and jingos-at-large) think they want. Ain't democracy grand?

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