A Whole World of Wasted Time


News and Site Updates Archive 2008/09/16

Half of the American people have never read a newspaper.  Half have never voted for President.
One hopes it is the same half...

- Gore Vidal

16 Sep '08 - In 1951, Morton Sobell was tried and convicted with Julius and Ethel Rosenberg on espionage charges.  He served more than 18 years in Alcatraz and other federal prisons.  Through it all, he maintained his innocence.  But on Thursday, Sobell, 91, dramatically reversed himself, shedding new light on a case that still fans smoldering political passions.  In an interview with The New York Times, Sobell, who lives in New York, was asked whether as an electrical engineer he turned over military secrets to the Soviets during World War II when they were considered allies of the US and were bearing the brunt of Nazi brutality.  Was he, in fact, a spy?  "Yeah, call it that," he replied.  "I never thought of it as that in those terms."  Sobell also concurred in what has become a consensus among historians: that Ethel Rosenberg did not actively participate.  "She knew what he was doing," he said, "but what was she guilty of?  Of being [his] wife."  Sobell made his disclosures as the National Archives released most of the grand jury testimony in the espionage conspiracy case against him and the Rosenbergs.  Sobell's admission bolsters what has become a widely held view among historians: that Julius Rosenberg was, indeed, a spy, but that his wife...may have been framed by prosecutors.  Nixon said he was in the room when the Attorney General made the final case against clemency to Eisenhower.  Prosecutors later said they hoped that convicting Ethel Rosenberg and imposing the death sentence would persuade her husband to confess and implicate others.  But that strategy failed.

      One of the aims of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is to hunt for the Higgs boson, the so-called "God particle" (because it is everywhere but remains frustratingly elusive).  The Higgs is said to be the so-far undetected key to mass.  If scientists can prove its existence, it could pave the way for manipulating the gravity which exists in all mass - rather like Star Trek "tractor beams."  Professor Brian Cox, from the University of Manchester, is one of the LHC scientists and also played keyboard with pop band D:Ream.  He admitted to having received death threats from opponents of the LHC, who claim it can create black holes which could swallow the earth.  Scientists dismiss such fears as nonsense.  (Video)...  Useless facts: There are almost twice as many chickens alive as humans.  Women are estimated to buy 80% of everything sold.  2/3 of Britons live within 5 miles of where they were born and raised.  70% of Land Rovers - first built in 1948 - are still on the road.  While filming Eyes Wide Shut, Stanley Kubrick, shot 96 takes of Tom Cruise walking through a door.  On an average day, 3.3% of the world's population has sex.  Wonder how they know?  Self reports in the matter of frequency of sex are never inflated!

     Who is this mystery woman?...  My thoughts on who is Trig Palin's birth mother: Sarah Palin didn't realise daughter Bristol was pregnant for 4 months or so.  Sarah decided to remove Bristol from school (reason given: mono).  The plan was for Bristol to secretly have the child and it would be adopted.  Toward that end, adoption papers were prepared.  But the diagnosis of Downs meant no one would adopt baby Trig.  What to do now?  Sarah decided to announce her own pregnancy and then, after Trig's birth, she and her husband would secretly adopt him.  This would have the advantage of allowing the doctor to legally put Sarah and Todd's name on Trig's birth certificate as his parents.  So far so good.  But Sarah's enthusiasm to make her pregnancy seem more real caused her to claim that she was leaking amniotic fluid.  (Perhaps because Bristol was? - but Sarah was flying for hours across the US while Bristol was in a clinic under a doctor's care.)  After questions about Trig's parentage spread across the Internet, Sarah realised something needed to be done.  Bristol owed her parents a big favour, so they had her agree to say she is pregnant NOW, which means she can't be Trig's mother and therefore Sarah HAS to be and those embarrassing questions being raised move to the background.  After the presidential election is held, Bristol's baby will sadly be stillborn.  Realise that any other actions on Sarah's part could wreck her political career - she has no choice.  (Still, this is only MY opinion)...  “Only when the tide goes out do you discover who’s been swimming naked.” - Warren Buffet

      Imagine that America has no system of post-secondary education, and you are a member of a task force assigned to create one from scratch.  One of your colleagues submits this proposal: "First, set up a single goal to represent educational success, which will take 4 years to achieve no matter what is being taught.  Attach an economic reward to it that seldom has anything to do with what has been learned.  Urge large numbers of people who do not possess adequate ability to try to achieve the goal, wait until they have spent a lot of time and money, and then deny it to them.  Stigmatise everyone who doesn't meet the goal.  Call the goal a 'BA.'"  You would conclude that your colleague was cruel, not to say insane.  But that's just the system we have in place...  A man named Arkhipov saved the world during the Cuban Missile Crisis.  During a naval skirmish between an American destroyer and a Soviet B-59 submarine off Cuba on 27 October 1962, “the destroyer dropped depth charges near the submarine to try to force it to surface, not knowing it had a nuclear-tipped torpedo [it] was authorised to fire if 3 officers agreed.  Officers began a fierce, shouting debate over whether to sink the ship.  Two said yes and the other no.  ”This was no failure of Russian military training (which is of unparalleled rigour), but instead [showed] vivid historical consciousness.  The culture of the US is shallow - good military training can transform a callow youth into a robot soldier attuned to his assigned functions, unlikely to question orders and training under conditions of danger, urgency and confusion - or to recognise moments of pivotal importance."

      A meta-analysis culled from 88 samples in 12 countries with an N of 22,818 revealed that “several psychological variables predict political conservatism.”  Which variables exactly?  In order of predictive power: Death anxiety; system instability; dogmatism or intolerance of ambiguity; closed-mindedness; low tolerance of uncertainty; high need for order, structure, and closure; low integrative complexity; fear of threat and loss; low self-esteem.  The researchers conclude that “the core ideology of conservatism stresses resistance to change and justification of inequality”...  What makes people vote Republican?  Conservatism is partially heritable and predisposes people to be cognitively inflexible, fond of hierarchy, and inordinately afraid of uncertainty, change, and death.  People vote Republican because they offer a simple vision of good and evil.  In contrast, Democrats appeal to reason with long-winded explorations of policy options for a complex world.  Why have so many Americans voted Republican over the last 30 years?  They prefer the Republican vision of moral clarity.  Conservative positions on gays, guns, god and immigration are a means to achieve one kind of morally ordered society.  But how can Democrats respect what they regard as narrow-minded, racist, and dumb?
   Liberals tend to see society as a social contract invented for mutual benefit - all individuals are equal and should be left as free as possible; respect others' rights and band together voluntarily to help those in need or change laws for the common good.
   Conservatives tend to see society as emerging as people find ways of living together, binding themselves to each other, suppressing selfishness and punishing deviants and free-riders.  The basic social unit is not the individual but the hierarchic family, which profoundly limits autonomy.  Self-control is valued over self-expression, duty over rights, and loyalty to the group over concern for the outgroup.  These systems bind people into intensely interdependent groups that work together to reach common goals.
Republicans have become the party of the sacred, appropriating not just the issues of God, faith, and religion, but also the sacred symbols of the nation such as the flag and the military.
Democrats have become the party of the profane — of secular life and material interests.  Democrats see voters as consumers, relying on polls to choose a set of policy positions that will convince 51% of the electorate to buy.  But politics is more like religion than shopping.

      The new border security fence being built between the US and Mexico received a waiver of environmental laws to hasten construction.  Much of that fencing consists of 10-foot wide and 15-foot tall steel-mesh panels.  The design causes debris to accumulate on the fence, which impedes the flow of rainwater through the area, causing flooding at ports of entry and at the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, creating gullies and erosion...  During a series of studies, researchers found that young people were less likely to agree to take a drug to increase their social comfort than one that increased their ability to concentrate.  The most common reason participants said they wouldn't want to take a pill was because it would "fundamentally change who I am."  Study authors conclude that people's willingness to take psychological enhancements will largely depend on beliefs about whether those enhancements will alter characteristics considered fundamental to self-identity.  This puzzles me greatly.  What do the authors and/or the participants think alcohol does?  I have met hundreds of inebriated people (sadly, I've even been one at times) who have seriously changed who they are for a time.  Many drink to overcome shyness - to enhance their personalities.  Perhaps the authors should draw a different conclusion?...  Alcohol and calculus don't mix.  Never drink and derive...  A moving obituary for for David Foster Wallace.

      Cake Wrecks (when professional cakes go wrong): "The plastic clone babies wearing naught but Mohawks is bad enough, but then they're also riding carrots.  What do you do with that?  It looks like some kind of perverted vegetable rodeo"...  The English word most commonly spelt incorrectly is "supersede".  Many wrongly spell it "supercede" because of knowledge of the words intercede and precede.  The word itself comes from the Latin supersedere, meaning to desist from.  Other commonly misspelled words include consensus, liquefy and sacrilegious.  Consensus is frequently spelt incorrectly as concensus because people wrongly believe that it relates to the word census which comes from the Latin censere, or to assess.  Consensus, however, derives from the Latin consentire, or to agree.  When it comes to liquefy many are tempted to spell it as liquify because they wrongly apply the spelling of liquid.  The same applies to sacrilegious which is often misspelt as sacreligious and inoculate because many know the word innocuous contains a double "n".  Other problem words include conscience, indict, foreign, mortgage and phlegm.  I used to think proper spelling was quite important - until I moved to NZ and discovered many words I knew how to spell in the US were in fact considered misspellings here.  This made me realise (realize) that spelling has baggage.  Is that really necessary?  As long as your point is clear, why stress?...  An inexpensive web-enabled device for measuring lung function in patients with asthma and other disorders could allow physicians to monitor their patients remotely and quickly instigate medical attention in an emergency.

      Collective wisdom: "Never eat in a place called Mom's.  Never play cards with a man named Doc.  Never lie down with a woman who's got more troubles than you."  "When in charge, ponder; when in trouble, delegate; when in doubt, mumble."  "The quality of food in a restaurant is in inverse proportion to the number of signed celebrity photographs on the walls."  "Anybody who is popular is bound to be disliked."  "Church ain't out till the fat lady sings."  More.  With sources.  As if you care...  The Portland Tribune reports that in 2005, the last year for which complete data has been compiled, 19 Oregon soldiers died in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.  That same year, 153 Oregon veterans of all ages, serving in various wars, committed suicide.  After 5 years of war in Iraq, Marine suicides doubled between 2006 and 2007, and Army suicides are at the highest level since records were first kept in 1980.  Reported suicide attempts jumped 500% between 2002 and 2007.  When Veterans for Common Sense (unsuccessfully) sued the VA for delays in benefits, lost records, long waits for doctors' appointments, insufficient oversight, and veterans turned away from hospitals in spite of suicidal thoughts, one of the most revealing moments was the testimony of the Associate Deputy Undersecretary for Field Operations.  Confronted with the shameful backlog of veterans' claims for health benefits, Undersecretary Walcoff admitted that the VA improved the appearance of timeliness by counting every suicide as a resolved claim.

      Focus your mind to cast a magic spell.  Smile or wink and your on-screen avatar does the same.  Get mellow and background music matches your mood.  These are some of the possibilities promised by Emotiv Systems - a company founded by 4 Australian scientists in 2003 - that plans to sell its wireless "neuroheadset" late this year.  The A$300 device for PCs uses 16 sensors that press lightly against the scalp to monitor electrical activity from the brain and face.  A built-in gyroscope tracks head movements to control a cursor or viewing angles.  The next step is - what? - be your own 3-D avatar?  Your avatar could be yourself as you were when you looked your best, not as you look right now.  You could virtually show someone how to dance or skate - or bowl or play the guitar.  Record yourself to make your own animations...  Medicalization refers to an illegitimate practice of introducing medical terms, concepts, and practices into an area of social or personal life when inappropriate (for example, viewing racism or homosexuality as diseases).  There are two general forms of medicalization: "medicalization from below" (that is, from powerlessness) which takes the form of malingering, wherein the individual (falsely) assumes the role of patient to be treated in certain ways and excused from certain responsibilities.  Here, the individual adopts this strategy to pursue certain interests (avoid punishment, avoid having to confront difficult situations, receive benefits) at the expense of others.  Second, there is "medicalization from above" (from power), which takes the form of "medicalization of the other to control or punish", wherein individuals who are disruptive, deviant, dangerous, troublesome are placed in a patient role to legitimise various forms of "treatment" or coercive measures with or without the person's consent.  Here, an individual (or group) viewed as detrimental to others, society or the State, is identified as diseased and controlled in ways that harm (via dehumanization and deprivations of liberty).

      A wild dolphin is apparently teaching other members of her group to walk on their tails, a behaviour usually seen only after training in captivity.  The tail-walking group lives along the south Australian coast near Adelaide.  One of them spent a short time after illness in a dolphinarium 20 years ago and may have picked up the trick there.  Scientists studying the group say tail-walk tuition has not been seen before, and suggest the habit may emerge as a form of "culture" among this group...  For entire populations who have never had access to instantaneous global communication, the mobile unleashes the innate, inherent and inalienable capabilities of sociability.  Sociability has always been the cornerstone to human effectiveness.  Being social has always been the best way to get ahead.  We have a drive to connect and socialise: this drive has now been accelerated and amplified as comprehensively as the steam engine amplified human strength 250 years ago.  The hyperconnectivity engendered by these new toys is transforming the human landscape of social relations.  A photo snapped on a mobile becomes instantaneously and pervasively visible.  In this simple human act of sharing, it becomes immediately apparent that any pretensions to control, or to limit, or to exercise power have already collapsed...  Although most were destroyed, some of the maze of 1,000 World War II bunkers under the city of Berlin are intact and serve as a reminder of the city's violent history.  By the end of the war, Germany's most heavily bombed city could protect up to 800,000 people underground.  The tunnels - in surprisingly good condition - are between 90 and 220 metres long and lie beneath Tiergarten Park; they would have accommodated roads and a railway line.  Visits can be arranged...  What would be the most effective safety device inside a car?  A dagger pointing at the driver from the centre of the steering wheel.  More dangerous is more safe.

      "I'd like to, like, have, like, better grades.  But when I, like, talk in the, like, like, classroom, I, like, say a lot of, like, things that my, like, teacher and my, like, classmates don't find, like, convincing"...  On the other hand, what seems most convincing in these scenarios?  When the sun is active, it's not uncommon to see sunspot numbers of 100 or more in a single month.  Every 11 years, activity slows, and numbers briefly drop to near-zero.  Normally sunspots return very quickly, as a new cycle begins.  But this year, corresponding to the start of Solar Cycle 24, has been extraordinarily long and quiet, with the first 7 months averaging a sunspot number of only 3.  August followed with none.  This has defied predictions, and caught nearly all astronomers by surprise.  In the past 1,000 years, 3 previous such events - the Dalton, Maunder, and Spörer Minimums - have all led to rapid cooling, one large enough to be called a "mini ice age."  And yet an analysis of the global carbon cycle and climate for a 70,000 year period in the most recent Ice Age show a remarkable correlation between CO2 levels and surprisingly abrupt changes in climate and appear to confirm the validity of the types of computer models that are used to project a warmer climate in the future.  A key driver is ocean currents and circulation patterns, which create different patterns of warm and cold climates depending on the strength of various parts of the global ocean circulation system.  Finally, new studies of the Southern Ocean reveal giant spinning eddies that have a profound influence on marine life and on the world's climate.  These massive swirling structures – the largest are known as gyres - can be thousands of kilometres across and can extend down as deep as 500 metres or more.  The water in the gyres does not mix well with the rest of the ocean, so for long periods these gyres can trap pollutants, nutrients, drifting plants and animals, and become physical barriers that divert even major ocean currents and have a major effect on the way that heat and carbon are distributed around the planet by the oceans.

      A 40-foot tall blue bear.  If this were a small sculpture, it would be quite unremarkable.  So where is the value add?  In concept?  In engineering?  In fabrication?  I presume art such as this is not made to last overly long - unless it's for, or conveniently near, a popular tourist destination, I expect the value of such whimsical art declines fairly rapidly...  There are, in fact, regularities in human history.  For instance, a statistically significant trend across various societies shows that the number of instability events per decade is always several times higher when the population is declining then when it is increasing.”  This result was obtained by studying societies and time periods as different as the Roman Empire and 8 Chinese dynasties.  (Why would this be?  Do they mostly become conservative/Republican then?  I thought this was the most intriguing information in an otherwise undistinguished article)...  Forgetting has taken over from hearing impairment and male-pattern baldness as the principal midlife worry.  It's more than inconvenience or social embarrassment.  The prospect of having to cope with losing one's mind and livelihood before ushering all one's children through education and into full employment sends a shudder through the limbic system.  Memory isn't just something, it's everything - the sum of who we are, the glue, page and spine of our story, the repository of our identity.  It's no more than a handful of sludge but it's also vast - a great galaxy of all we have experienced and known, constantly updating, drawing meaning from the absurd blizzard of life to make and shape and sharpen our personalities and intellects and gut feelings.  Scientists speak of our superior ability to "time travel."  Memory commands not only our past, but provides us with the gift of forward planning.  The hard-learnt nous that stopped low-forehead man from going near the hole where the sabre-toothed tiger lived is today behind our impulse to take out pensions and pet insurance...  Death Star over San Francisco is a surprisingly good amateur video clip of alien invasion of California.

      Physicists sent two photons down fibre optic cables to detectors in two Swiss villages located 18 km apart.  Both photons started in Geneva, with one heading toward Satigny and the other toward Jussy.  When the researchers measured several properties of each photon at its destination, they found that the particles could instantly sense the other's behaviour without any known communication.  Although this correlation obeys the laws of quantum mechanics, it seems to defy the nature of space and time, at least from humans' everyday perspective.  The photons seem to be communicating faster than the speed of light - at least 100,000 times faster - but how?...  Avatars in elaborate online fantasylands respond to social cues to help one another in the same ways that people do in the real world.  For example, when one avatar tries to influence another to fulfill a request, he may use something called the door-in-the-face (DITF) technique - the avatar first makes an unreasonably large request to which the responder says no.  The avatar then follows this request with a more moderate request.  Similar to people who participate in the same experiment in the real world, avatars are more likely to comply with the moderate request when it is preceded by the large request than when the moderate request is presented alone.  Avatars exhibit a psychological tendency to reciprocate the requester's "concession" (which was the change from a relatively unreasonable request to a more moderate request).  Research further shows that the outcome of this reciprocity-inducing technique is affected by how the requester is perceived, whether this person - in this case represented by another avatar - is deemed "worthy of impressing".  Since avatars represent humans, why would anyone feel they would act in some alien manner?...  A clip of some rare and extremely creepy TV programming from Germany in the 1930s.  It is worth it to watch this all the way to the end - it is short but very memorable.

      This is a stunning photo of the Burj Dubai.  The surface of the earth below looks unnatural - nothing is green except for water, which really should be blue but isn't (the water in a lone pool near the bottom left corner of the photo, however, IS blue).  It's very hot in Dubai.  I fail to see the attraction of living there - but whatever...  Thirty-six years ago, one of the most remarkable and daring bank raids shocked Britain.  The walkie-talkie bank job saw £500,000 - worth £5m today - stolen from Lloyds in London's Baker Street and the crime was never solved.  High-ranking police officers, the secret service, politicians and a prominent member of the royal family were incriminated.  Reports of the raid were on the front pages of newspapers for a handful of days in September, 1971.  Then, oddly, a government gagging order, or D Notice, was imposed to prevent further coverage.  (It is still unclear whether or not the robbers were ever caught.  Apparently the loot was never recovered.)  It seems the robbers had posted a lookout.  Back in the days before cell phones, the lookout used a big, clunky two-way radio.  The robbers now had an advantage: they could see police coming if the heist went wrong.  What they didn't figure on was that a ham-radio operator would hear and record them (actual recording).  More.  By the way, the world's biggest robbery was in July 2007, when three guards at the Dar Es Salaam bank in Baghdad stole £146 million from the vaults...  Margaret Thatcher has had to be repeatedly told her husband Sir Denis has died.  Her daughter Carol said his death from pancreatic cancer in 2003 was "truly awful" for her mother.  But Lady Thatcher, now 82, suffers from dementia and keeps forgetting she has lost her husband of more than 50 years.  Carol said: "I give her the bad news over and over again.  Every time it finally sinks in, she looks at me sadly and says, 'Oh.'  And as I struggle to compose myself, she'll ask softly, 'Were we all there?'"

      Deaf people can communicate via cell phone using text messages.  But video would be better because it's faster and better at conveying emotion.  Low data transmission rates on US cellular networks combined with limited processing power on mobile devices have so far prevented real-time video transmission with enough frames per second that it could be used to transmit sign language.  Communication rates on US cellular networks allow about 10% of the data rates common in places such as Europe and Asia (and sign language over cell phones is already possible in Sweden and Japan).  A group at the University of Washington has developed software to enable the deaf and hard-of-hearing to use sign language over slower networks.  The team discovered that the most important part of the image is around the face.  The current version of MobileASL uses a standard video compression tool to stay within the data transmission limit.  Future versions will incorporate custom tools for better quality.  The team developed a scheme to transmit the face and hands in high resolution, and the background in lower resolution.  Another feature identifies when people are moving their hands, to reduce battery consumption when the person isn't signing.  The team uses phones imported from Europe because they have a camera and video screen located on the same side of the phone so that people can film themselves while watching the screen.  I wonder why someone would need to be deaf to benefit from this.  I would prefer to see the person to whom I'm speaking - surely I can't be alone in this.

      It turns out everybody has a lightning story.  Floyd Woods, a retired truck driver from Ardbeg, Ontario, was 12 years old in 1943 when his house was hit.  The strike shot through the radio antenna, exploded in the living room into a blue fireball that roared down the hall, lifting up the linoleum runner by the tacks, ripping the nails out of the floor, splintering the house walls as fine as kindling before it ran off over the bedrock outside and died...  Personal details of more than 1,000,000 bank customers were found on a computer sold on eBay.  Highly-sensitive information on American Express, NatWest and Royal Bank of Scotland customers was stored on the machine's hard drive.  It included names, addresses, mobile phone numbers, bank account numbers, credit card numbers, mothers' maiden names and even signatures.  The information was being held by the archiving firm Graphic Data, which copies paperwork from some of Britain's biggest financial organisations, then stores it digitally.  It was on a computer previously used at the company's archive in Essex.  A former employee sold it on eBay for just £35.88 early in August - without first erasing the internal hard drive...  Just one night without sleep can increase the amount of the chemical dopamine in the human brain.  Because drugs that increase dopamine, like amphetamines, promote wakefulness, the findings offer a potential mechanism explaining how the brain helps people stay awake despite the urge to sleep.  (On the other hand, sleepiness is common in people with Parkinson's disease, which kills dopamine neurons.)

      A new generative experiment uses a swarm of autonomous particles influenced by hidden attractors.  The force fields of the attractors overlap, so particles are under several effects at once, allowing interesting configurations to arise...  Pairs of primes separated by a single number are called prime pairs.  Examples are 17 and 19.  Prove that the number between a prime pair is always evenly divisible by 6 (assuming both numbers in the pair are greater than 6).  Answer at the end of this page...  An estimated 50 million people were killed by the 1918 flu pandemic worldwide.  90 years later, B cells taken from some of the still-living survivors continue to produce antibodies to block re-infection of this deadly virus.  The antibodies produced by these cells demonstrate remarkable staying power even 9 decades after infection.  These findings could serve as potential therapy for another 1918-like virus.  However, the majority of deaths during that pandemic were not caused by the influenza virus acting alone - most victims actually died from the bacterial pneumonia caused when bacteria that normally inhabit the nose and throat invaded the lungs along a pathway created when the virus destroyed the cells that line the bronchial tubes and lungs.  Comprehensive pandemic preparations should include not only efforts to produce new/improved influenza vaccines and antiviral drugs but also provisions to stockpile antibiotics and bacterial vaccines, too...  320 million: the number of trees destroyed in Louisiana and Mississippi by Katrina.

      When we lived in North Carolina, the size of our lot was about 3.5 acres, mostly covered in native trees.  The size of the house we built was limited by the size of the largest open space because we were determined not to cut down anything bigger than a sapling.  As it was, the decks that surround the house were built around all the maples, dogwoods and poplars.  I loved to stand on the deck in a strong wind with my arms around a tree - you could feel the thick trunk vibrate and creak.  I was willing to have a tree trunk inside one of the rooms but the weather in North Carolina is too variable and we wouldn't have been able to sufficiently weatherproof (and critterproof) the ceiling and floor.  But other people are more adventurous: K P Singh, a retired government servant from Udaipur, India, wanted to protect a 65-year-old mango tree from being cut down by developers - so he bought the lot with the tree and built his 3-story house in the branches.  The house is 9 feet off the ground and rises 45 feet.  (I envy him.)  Video...  There are cases of former libertarians who have held high government positions and sacrificed all their values in order to hold their jobs.  They claim that they haven't abandoned libertarianism but rather seek to apply it in the "real world."  But the real world of government is the opposite of libertarianism.  It is stealing, lying, killing, butchering, badgering, looting, coercing, and sucking the life out of society itself.  That is the essence of modern statecraft.  You either have to come to terms with that or leave.  If you stay, you become part of the very problem that you once fought to oppose.  (You can probably ignore the rest of that article)...  If all you ever do is all you’ve ever done, then all you’ll ever get is all you ever got.

      Fever (archaically known as ague) is a frequent medical sign that describes an increase in internal body temperature to levels above normal.  Fever is most accurately characterised as a temporary elevation in the body's thermoregulatory set-point, usually by about 1 to 2°C.  This elevation means that the previous "normal body temperature" is considered hypothermic, and effector mechanisms kick in.  The person who is developing the fever has a cold sensation, and an increase in heart rate, muscle tone and shivering attempt to counteract the perceived hypothermia, thereby reaching the new thermoregulatory set-point.  A fever is one of the body's mechanisms to try to neutralise the perceived threat inside the body, be it bacterial or viral.  There are arguments for and against the usefulness of fever, and the issue is controversial.  Studies suggest that warm-blooded vertebrates recover more rapidly from infections or critical illness due to fever.  They allow the body to reach high temperatures, causing an unbearable environment for some pathogens.  White blood cells also rapidly proliferate due to the suitable environment and can also help fight off the harmful pathogens and microbes that invade the body...  Zoom into steel at ever-increasing magnification...  "Politics is not the art of the possible.  It consists in choosing between the disastrous and the unpalatable." - John Kenneth Galbraith

      There may be a very good reason why coffee and cigarettes often seem to go hand in hand.  Research suggests that nicotine's power may be in how it enhances other experiences.  For a smoker who enjoys drinking coffee, the nicotine may make the coffee taste even better.  That may explain why smoking is so hard to quit - people have very regimented things they do when they smoke - it occurs in very specific places, often with a specific group of people.  Maybe it's a reason why nicotine is so addictive — if you get used to having that extra satisfaction from things you normally enjoy, not having nicotine could reduce the enjoyment in a given activity.  People may not be smoking to obtain a pleasurable drug state but to regulate mood; this effect could make nicotine more addictive than other drugs...  Adult head size can be used to estimate the size of the fully-developed brain.  Clinical expression of Alzheimer's disease is related to head size, with people having smaller heads more likely to show the characteristic symptoms of this illness.  Larger brains provide reserve against Alzheimer's, allowing people to function normally despite having considerable Alzheimer pathology in their brains.  The Nun Study found that Alzheimer's disease with onset in old age could be predicted accurately from characteristics of autobiographical essays written at an average age of 22.

      Molecular gastronomy is "the scientific study of deliciousness".  Khymos is Greek meaning "juice", but it is related to al-kimiya, the Arabic word from which our word chemistry derives.  This site and the related blog are both from Norwegian Martin Lersch, who holds a Phd in organometallic chemistry.  I got to his site after doing a search for the pH of ginger.  If you do a search for ginger on his blog, the articles that turn up are what I've read thus far (I plan to return here to search first anytime I have a food-related question in the future).  I find this site to be extremely helpful as I'm not a gastronome and understanding the why of taste helps me to better understand what all the fuss is about...  “Decision paralysis” is a common condition people face when confronted with choices.  Give someone a choice between what he’s doing now and something clearly better, and he’ll usually take the clearly better option.  But give him a choice between what he’s doing now and 2 things clearly better, and he'll freeze — and keep doing the clearly inferior thing he was already doing.  Communication advice: Don't use the wrong medium to communicate: use email if not time-bound or if it may need to be referred to later; call if the need is immediate; visit if you need to see expressions; instant message when a visit isn't possible; tightly control meetings; blogs are for the long-term storage of reference material; use SMS for a "ping" contact only...  About emails (Parts 1 & 2): Turning emails into actions and archiving everything else is the best way to stay on top of it.  Only reply if you have something valuable to add.  If it doesn’t need to be more than a sentence, never make it longer.  If it needs to be long, edit it like crazy before hitting send.  Use descriptive subjects.  Don’t CC without a really good clear reason.  Use BCC for bulk mail.  Don't forward mail unless absolutely necessary...  Amazing Flash spider.

      Key appetite control cells in the human brain degenerate over time, causing increased hunger and potential weight-gain as we age.  Appetite-suppressing cells are attacked by free radicals after eating and the degeneration is more significant following meals rich in carbohydrates and sugars.  People in the age group 25 - 50 are most at risk.  A diet rich in carbohydrate and sugar has become so prevalent in modern societies over the last 20 - 30 years that it has led to premature cell deterioration...  A study has shown that people trying to lose weight stick to their diet more carefully if they take photos of what they eat...  "It is surreal to hear the praise heaped upon Governor Palin.  I feel as if I’m living in a parallel universe – as if I haven’t seen what others have.  Listening to people say on NPR that they hadn’t planned on voting for McCain because he was too old, but would now because Governor Palin has “spunk” and will get things done, made me despair for the future of democracy – and even for the future of civility." - Elizabeth Fuller...  Cosmetics and beauty products may contain ingredients that impair fertility, increase the effects of ageing and are linked to cancer, allergies and other health problems.  The very products that are promoted as making women look younger, sexier, healthier and more attractive may ultimately be doing the opposite...  "Politicians are like God.  No one believes in them, they haven't done anything for ages, and they give jobs to their immediate family" – Andy Zaltzman...  Black and white cinema remains vital, and often beautiful, because it’s not a reflection of everyday existence...  Ten airline commercials from long ago...  Answer for the question asked above: If x and x+2 are prime pairs, then x+1 must be divisible by 2 because if it weren't, both x and x+2 would be, and so they wouldn't be primes.  It is also divisible by 3 because if it weren't, either x or x+2 would be because in any set of 3 consecutive numbers, one of them is divisible by 3.  Since x+1 is divisible by 2 and also by 3, then it must be divisible by 6 - hence it is always a multiple of 6.

The Internet is the first thing that humanity has built that humanity doesn't understand, the largest experiment in anarchy that we have ever had.

- Eric Schmidt

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