Saturday, July 31, 2010

Reading terrorists minds about imminent attack: P300 brain waves correlated to guilty knowledge

Imagine technology that allows you to get inside the mind of a terrorist to know how, when and where the next attack will occur.

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Friday, July 30, 2010

Greta Christina's Blog: 5 Stupid, Unfair and Sexist Things Expected of Men

If you have a scrap of progressive politics in your bones, it's no surprise to you that sexism hurts women. Like, duh. That's kind of the definition of the word. But we don't talk as much about how sexism hurts...

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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Should the 'literacy package' include science too? - The Irish Times - Thu, Jul 29, 2010

THREE HUNDRED and fifty years ago, a group of distinguished men gathered in London to hear a young Christopher Wren give a lecture on astronomy.

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Liberal Political Ideology as Mental Illness?

'Bizarre Foods' Host Reveals His Past as Homeless Druggie

Bizarre Foods host Andrew Zimmern is going to be profiled on Nightline tonight (barring breaking news, etc.), and apparently he discusses his history of drug abuse with host John Berman in pretty graphic detail.

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Aleister Crowley: A Passion for Evil? – Disinformation: The Podcast | Disinformation

Disinformation: The Podcast: Episode 12 — Aleister Crowley: A Passion for Evil? iTunes • Direct Download • RSS This episode features an

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Peanut Butter: Proof Evolution Doesn’t Exist | Disinformation

Fundamentalist Christians' newest real-world example that shows conclusively that evolution is a lie: peanut butter. Don't know how the unbelievers will be able to answer this one.

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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Insurers said to hurt troops' families - Mike Allen -

Giant insurance companies have figured out a way to hold onto death benefits, a Bloomberg piece shows.

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Online Store: *Choward's Guava Candy*

Choward's Fine Mints and Gum online store. Try our New Guava Candy! Buy your favorite candy products online, its fast easy and secure!

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Leading article: Mr Cameron's antiquated passage to India - Leading Articles, Opinion - The Independent

For a thoroughly modern politician, David Cameron appears to have some strangely antiquated ideas about how the modern global economy works. This week, the Prime Minister will board a plane to India in the company of scores of senior British businessmen. At the other end, much flesh will be pressed and the merits of British firms loudly trumpeted. A new defence contract for BAE Systems is expected to be brandished. This is the traditional way of conducting trade policy. It is also thoroughly outdated. If there is business to be done between Britain and India, the private sectors of each country are perfectly capable of getting on and doing it without politicians of either nation smoothing the way.

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Sunday, July 25, 2010

Can Plants Think? | Popular Science

In a new study, scientists have found a cabbage relative capable of remembering and responding to information

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Hollywood publicist to launch coming out series | News Story on

Shamecca Harris

By Shamecca Harris,
07.23.2010 10:30am EDT

Publicist Howard Bragman is set to launch a new television series about coming out of the closet, Nikki Finke’s Deadline Hollywood reports.

Bragman, who is openly gay, has represented celebrities such as Chaz Bono, Chely Wright and Meredith Baxter when they came out publicly.

The show, titled “Coming Out” will follow currently closeted celebrities in their journeys to publicly disclose their sexual orientation.

According to Deadline Hollywood, “The Coming Out Guru” is teaming up with JUMA entertainment and A&E to develop the new series.

Bragman recently served on a panel at the Los Angeles gay and lesbian film festival Outfest, where he described closeted public figures as “sad.”

“If there are superstar male actors who are in the closet and they are worth $100 million and they have this whole fake life, there’s just nothing sadder,” he said.

At the panel, Bragman reportedly called on the crowd to refer any public figures coming out of the closet to him for a “great TV opportunity.”

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The Incredible Shrinking Man | A public research into the implications of genetically downsizing the human species to better fit the earth.

Neuroethics of dual-use « Neuroethics at the Core

Malcolm Dando thinks we neuroethicists are not talking enough about the problem of dual-use: the simultaneous application of advances in (neuro)science to both improving society as a whole and to assist military capabilities. I think he is right. In an article in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Dando tells us that,

“in regard to the question of dual-use the advances in neuroscience have already seen application in the Russian use of some form of fentanyl, a powerful painkiller, as a novel incapacitating chemical agent to break the 2002 Moscow theater siege.  Moreover, Russia is unlikely to be the only state interested in the development of such new agents, given the changing nature of modern warfare. One can only hope that neuroethicists will begin to pay some attention to the clear and present danger that the hostile misuse of modern neuroscience could lead to the erosion of the prohibition of chemical weapons embodied in the Chemical Weapons Convention and make a valuable contribution to the discussion of this problem in the run up to the 3rd Five Year Review Conference of the convention in 2013. For example, the peaceful purpose defined in Article II.9 (d) as “Law enforcement including domestic riot control purposes” could be read to mean that ordinary domestic riot control agents are a sub-category of a larger group of chemical agents that can be used legally. On this reading, novel so-called non-lethal chemical incapacitating agents based on advances in modern civil neuroscience could be developed and used.  Yet all the evidence is that use of such agents would be very difficult to distinguish from the use of lethal agents; recall that more than 120 of the hostages in the Moscow theater siege were killed by the chemical agent. Such developments by states could undermine the whole prohibition and lead to a downward spiral of misuse.  Therefore, this issue of dual-use should be of great concern to neuroscientists, and particularly neuroethicists, who wish to help protect civil neuroscience from such dreadful distortion of its intended purpose.”

The truth is that other than Jonathan Moreno, few neuroethicists have applied serious scholarship to the issue of dual use.  Of course, it is a simple matter to just say no: neuroscience should only be used for improving the quality of human life.  But frankly, that is too simplistic.  One can take a rather strong position against the use of neurobiological tools for torture and killing, but there are some very challenging grey zones as well.  The one that springs to mind most readily is the idea of developing ‘calmants’, agents that might incapacitate an enemy briefly, allowing them to be captured without any loss of life.  As recounted in Dando’s piece, the Russians used fentanyl as an incapacitating agent to end the 2002 siege at a Moscow theatre; the consequences were disastrous, with more than 120 people killed.  Of course, fentanyl is a very potent fast acting narcotic that has been around since the 1060′s.  Worrying about fentanyl’s use as a ‘calmant’ is in some ways akin to worrying about methylphenidate as a cognitive enhancer: both agents have been around for a while, and while some people (college students and the Russian government come to mind) might think they are useful in one arena or another, they are really crude tools. But if a better agent were to be developed, would such incapacitation be unacceptable?  Would allowing some forms of chemical warfare (there is really no other word for it) open the door to a whole new armamentarium that emerges from neuroscience laboratories?  The only thing that I know for certain is that this is an area worthy of further debate.

Link to Malcolm Dando’s article

Image Credit: Nature

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Bombshell Report: 550 IDF Officers And Soldiers Interrogated About Possible War Crimes In Gaza

Former Givati Brigade commander Ilan Malka is among the IDF officers under investigation for war crimes in Gaza

Former Givati Brigade commander Ilan Malka is among the IDF officers under investigation for war crimes in Gaza

On July 18, a bombshell report appeared in the Israeli daily Yediot Aharanot. The article, which has only been published in Hebrew and was buried on page 8 as a small news item, stated that 550 officers and soldiers who participated in Israel’s assault on the Gaza Strip in late 2008 and early 2009 have been questioned by IDF military police about possible war crimes the IDF committed during Cast Lead. Among them is the former commander of the Givati Brigade, Ilan Malka, who was interrogated for an air strike that resulted in the killing of 21 members of one family in Gaza City. At least one other soldier is accused of using human shields, or “use of neighbor” tactics. In fact, nearly all battalion commanders who participated in Cast Lead have been interrogated regarding their conduct. Maybe Judge Goldstone wasn’t so crazy after all.

A full translation of the article is below:

YEDIOT AHARONOT      Sunday, July 18, 2010  page  8

Officers under interrogation


By our military correspondent  Yossi Yehoshua

Brigadier  Ilan Malka is not alone. More than 550 officers and men of IDF who participated in the “Cast Lead” operation have been interrogated by the investigative military police of the IDF in the last 18 months.

Last Friday “Yediot Aharonot” wrote that former GIV’ATI  brigade commander [Ilan Malka  A.O.] will be interrogated about an aerial attack in “Cast Lead” that killed 21 members of one [Gaza  A.O.] family. It now turns out that hundreds more were interrogated, some more than once. Among the interrogated are almost all battalion commanders who participated in the operation and dozens of soldiers in regular service and in the reserves.  It is a number without precedent in any other [Israeli  A.O.] operation or war. Senior officers expressed their worry that this will create a situation in future wars where commanders in the field will think twice before carrying out problematic operations, due to fear of legal steps taken against them later.  Battalion and platoon commanders who participated in “Cast Lead” find it difficult to go through the interrogations.  One battalion  commander said he had to spend his few days of Leave in interrogation chambers instead of with his family.  He said “Even if they try to deny it the damage caused to commanders is immense” adding “It is an unpleasant feeling to risk your life for your country and then be interrogated about it again and again”.

So far the interrogations gave rise to a considerable number of disciplinary – and legal – steps.  The most serious one was taken last week when the Chief Military Prosecutor, Aloof Avihai Mandelblit, decided to charge a Giv’ati soldier for committing murder.  On another occasion he decided to court-martial a Golani battalion commander for ignoring IDF instructions forbidding “use of neighbor” tactics.

(My note: “Use of neighbor” tactic is the act where soldiers preparing to enter a suspected house force the neighbors to walk in front of them as a human shield.)

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New research: Sugar substitutes help reduce caloric intake without overeating or hunger

A new study published in the August 2010 journal, Appetite, further demonstrates that people who consume low-calorie sweeteners (sugar substitutes) are able to significantly reduce their caloric intake and do not overeat. In fact, study participants who received the sugar substitutes instead of sugar consumed significantly fewer calories and there was no difference in hunger levels despite having fewer calories overall.

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Keyboard Leds - software shows state of Num Lock, Caps Lock and Scroll locks.

Program shows state of Num, Caps and Scroll locks. Very useful for notebooks and keyboards that have no hardware indicators.

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Saturday, July 24, 2010

BBC News - Ancient Egyptian tomb unearthed near Cairo

Egyptian archaeologists have unveiled a newly-unearthed double tomb near Cairo, and said it could be part of a vast cemetary in the area.

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Budget Cuts Force British Government To Shut Down Mysterious Seaside Village | The Onion - America's Finest News Source

LONDON—Officials announced this week that the country's ongoing financial crisis would necessitate the closure of a mysterious seaside village operated by the British government since 1967.

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Friday, July 23, 2010

Thursday, July 22, 2010

It's the World's Strongest, Most Expensive Beer -- Inside a Squirrel -

Our old buddies BrewDog have done it again. Not content with winning back the 'strongest beer in the world' title last February with its Sink

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

All in the “Family”: Global Drug Trade Fueled by Capitalist Elites | Dissident Voice

When investigative journalist Daniel Hopsicker broke the story four years ago that a DC-9 (N900SA) registered to a company which once used as its address the

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The Higgs boson was initially called the ‘goddamn particle’ | ZME Science

Peter Higgs is not the rockstar type of scientist; the particle physicist rarely gives interviews, despite the fact that he is the one who proposed the

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Corruption in Paradise | Mother Jones

Have you heard of the city of Bell? I didn't think so. It's one of the dozens of little municipalities that surround Los Angeles, and it's now on the surprisingly large list of such municipalities that are in trouble. In this case, it's because of an LA Times story revealing that the City Manager earns about $800,000, his assistant earns $400,000, the police chief makes nearly half a million dollars, and the city council members pay themselves $100,000 per year. All for a town with a population under 40,000.

Surprisingly, this is not actually all that surprising. The variety of corruption varies from town to town around LA, but there's a helluva lot of it. And Bell's is typical, the result of a small cadre of insiders who manage to gain control of the municipal apparatus and basically run it as their own little fiefdom. But the question is, have they actually done anything illegal? California law limits the pay of city councilmembers, but they got around that via a technicality: paying themselves not for being on the council, but for being on a variety of planning boards — all of which met infrequently and consisted solely of city councilmembers. The city manager and the police chief got loads of cash, but there's nothing illegal there. The city council voted to pay it to them fair and square.

But it's even worse than that! Here's the latest:

Bell City Council members are seeking the resignations of the city manager and two other top officials amid growing public outcry over salaries that appear to be among the highest in the nation, according to three sources close to the discussions.

Resigning would make City Manager Robert Rizzo, Police Chief Randy Adams and Assistant City Manager Angela Spaccia eligible for lucrative pensions. But the three also have contracts that protect them from being fired without cause.

As a result, unless they agree to resign, the city would face the prospect of buying out their contracts, which could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional payments.

Isn't that great? These guys connive with the city council to get paid astronomical salaries, and when the gravy train finally ends they have (enforceable!) contracts that pay them big bucks if they're fired without cause. And since pensions are based on salary levels, they're entitled to astronomical pensions even if they do leave.

All I can say is: there just has to be something illegal here. I don't know what, but is it really possible that such an obvious abuse of the public trust can be legal? I know the answer to this: yes, it's possible. But in practice, I sure hope someone manages to figure out how to pin something on these guys.

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New evidence that chili pepper ingredient fights fat

Capsaicin, the stuff that gives chili peppers their kick, may cause weight loss and fight fat buildup by triggering certain beneficial protein changes in the body, according to a new study on the topic. The report, which could lead to new treatments for obesity, appears in ACS' monthly Journal of Proteome Research.

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

6 Things to Try If You Want Sex More Than Your Partner Does | | AlterNet

If your partner doesn't like sex nearly as often as you do -- or if they like sex a lot more often than you do -- what can you do about it?

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The Mattress Racket -- Why You End up Paying a Lot More for a Bed Than You Should | | AlterNet

It's so hard to figure out what is good value among the piles of blindingly expensive mattresses emblazoned with smart terminology and little scientific proof for their claims.

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8 mattress mysteries, Consumer Reports

Learn Consumer Reports experts' answers to eight mattress mysteries.

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Op-Ed Columnist - The Roots Of White Anxiety -

To understand the country’s polarization, take a look at the admissions process at elite private colleges.

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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Chicken came before egg, evidence suggests | Cutting Edge - CNET News

British scientists claim to have solved one of the great mysteries of life, the universe, and everything in it: The chicken came before the egg, they say, and they're not mincing words.

"It had long been suspected that the egg came first, but now we have the scientific proof that shows that in fact the chicken came first," Sheffield University's Colin Freeman, according to a report in the Metro.

Researchers from Scotland and England used a supercomputer called HECToR to look in such detail at a chicken eggshell that they were able to determine the vital role of a protein used to kick-start the egg's formation.

That protein is only found, wait for it...inside a chicken.

Freeman, who worked on HECToR with counterparts at Edinburgh's Warwick University, said the protein had been identified earlier by scientists and was known to be linked to egg formation, "but by examining it closely we have been able to see how it controls the process," he added, describing it as a catalyst.

Professor John Harding, who also took part in the research, told Metro the discovery could have other applications.

"Understanding how chickens make shells is fascinating in itself, but can also give clues towards designing new materials." he said.

Which is good, because in spite of HECToR's hard work and the "scientific proof" it yielded, the study offered no explanation as to how the chicken got there in the first place.

If not from an egg, perhaps it just came from across the road.

This story originally appeared on

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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Jacques Rancière’s ne­olib­eral ped­a­gogy › Voyou Desoeuvre

Lazy rascals, spending their substance, and more, in riotous living

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Brooding Russians: Less distressed than Americans

Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy portrayed Russians as a brooding, complicated people, and ethnographers have confirmed that Russians tend to focus on dark feelings and memories more than Westerners do. But a new University of Michigan study finds that even though Russians tend to brood, they are less likely than Americans to feel as depressed as a result.

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Slashdot | Arctic Bacteria Used To Make Cool Vaccines

Arctic Bacteria Used To Make Cool Vaccines -- article related to Index, Biotech, Medicine, and Science.

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It's All About the Wages -- Our Economy Would Be Fine If Everyone Made Their Fair Share | | AlterNet

When virtually all the gains from growth go to a small minority at the top, the result is deep-seated anxiety and frustration.

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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The 20 Worst Mel Gibson Rant Quotes (Presented By Kittens): Pics, Videos, Links, News

The 20 Worst Mel Gibson Rant Quotes (Presented By Kittens): In case you haven't heard the vitriolic taped phone calls between Mel Gibson and his ex-girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva, here's your chance to experience all the hate and anger in a more palatable way: WITH ADORABLE KITTENS! [ Update : There was a 3rd call released today. BONUS KITTENS!]..The 1st Mel Gibson Rant

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Saturday, July 10, 2010

"1945-1998" by Isao Hashimoto: CTBTO Preparatory Commission

Partner's self-revelation affects men and women differently in romance

Having a partner reveal his true self is much more important to women in romantic relationships than it is for men in dating the opposite sex, a newly published University of Florida study finds.

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Instant Oil Spill

That's right, now you can have all the same disregard for the environment (albeit virtual) that big oil does everyday! Why should they get to have all the fun?

Simply enter the web address of the site you'd like to contaminate and watch the spill happen.

Note: This doesn't really harm other websites. We're not complete a**holes! ;)

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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The last person out of the closet? The bisexual male -

Robert Winn met his wife, Christine, in college. He was a fraternity boy. She was a sorority girl. Early in their relationship, he made a confession, a thorny secret he camouflaged from his closest family and friends.

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Monday, July 5, 2010

Sunday, July 4, 2010

In Defense of The Memory Theater | Open Letters Monthly - an Arts and Literature Review

Our bookshelves are a hedge against our failing memories, and as such, an extension of our minds. Nathan Schneider explores if and how this sacred role will be preserved in the age of digitization.

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Saturday, July 3, 2010

Get a Samsung laser printer for $49.99 | The Cheapskate - CNET News

Samsung's ultra-compact ML-1665 laser printer is perfect for homes and small offices. (OK, very small offices.)

Samsung's ultracompact ML-1665 laser printer is perfect for homes and small offices. (OK, very small offices.)

(Credit: Newegg)

Inkjet printers are all well and good for printing photos and other items that require color, but for everything else, the faster, cheaper, smarter bet is a laser.

Newegg has the Samsung ML-1665 laser printer for $49.99 shipped. That's after applying coupon code EMCYVYN35 at checkout. (You also need to be a Newegg newsletter subscriber.)

As you might expect, this is a bare-bones, entry-level laser--not that there's anything wrong with that. It can crank out 17 pages per minute (according to Samsung), and it delivers an output resolution of 1,200 by 600 dpi--not at all shabby.

The ML-1665 has a 150-sheet input tray, 100-sheet output capacity, and USB interface. It's compatible with both Windows and Macintosh systems. Like most low-priced lasers, this one ships with a "starter" toner cartridge that's good for around 700 pages.

Unfortunately, standard-yield cartridges (good for about 1,500 pages) are kind of hard to come by, and not exactly cheap. Plan on spending around $70, unless you go the toner-refill route (which I've never done, but it looks simple enough).

It might be worth the effort, as the ML-1665 does have a couple slick features. Its PrintScreen button prints the entire contents of your screen, just like that. Hold it for 2 seconds and you get a printout of just the active window.

The ML-1665 is also one of the world's smallest laser printers, measuring just 13.4 inches wide by 8.8 inches tall by 7.2 inches deep. If there's a desk that won't accommodate this little guy, I haven't seen it.

Newegg's coupon code is good until Monday (and I'm outta here till Tuesday, FYI), but there's always the chance the printer will sell out before then. I'm not wild about the toner situation, but a laser printer for 50 bucks is just plain hard to pass up.

Bonus deal: Also at Newegg this weekend: the Iomega Select 1.5TB USB external hard drive for $89.99. The promo code on that one is EMCYVYN2. That's an unreal deal on a huuuuuge drive!

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Friday, July 2, 2010

Epigenetics and the Importance of a Nurturing Society : The Primate Diaries

The latest issue of the journal Science has an essay by Greg Miller looking at the explosion of research into epigenetics and what this work could suggest about human society. In 2004, Szyf and Meaney published a paper in Nature...

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