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Sounds About Right July 31, 2011

Posted by geoff in News.
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Baroness Greenfield Sneers at Facebook and Twitter

From the Daily Mail:

Facebook and Twitter have created a generation obsessed with themselves, who have short attention spans and a childlike desire for constant feedback on their lives, a top scientist believes.Repeated exposure to social networking sites leaves users with an ‘identity crisis’, wanting attention in the manner of a toddler saying: ‘Look at me, Mummy, I’ve done this.’

It gets better:

Baroness Greenfield, former director of research body the Royal Institution, said: ‘What concerns me is the banality of so much that goes out on Twitter.

But she’s just warming up:

‘It’s almost as if people are living in a world that’s not a real world, but a world where what counts is what people think of you or (if they) can click on you,’ she said.

‘Think of the implications for society if people worry more about what other people think about them than what they think about themselves.’

Seems reasonable in a “bitching about the internet at a bar” sort of way, and I don’t think blogging is immune from these criticisms (nor is YouTube). But I do have to question the Baroness’s credentials. She was criticized by other scientists for her own brand of self-promotion:

The Professor of Pharmacology at the University of Oxford, who studies disease of the brain, regularly appears on television and is acknowledged by her peers as one of the most talented communicators of science of her generation.

Her unconventional approach to courting publicity, however, has annoyed as many scientists as it attracts, some of whom claim that her talent for self-promotion outweighs her scientific credentials. She has been rejected as a candidate for fellowship of the Royal Society, the elite national academy of science.

And speaking of credentials, how many friends & followers does she have on Facebook & Twitter? Huh? Huh?

‘Nuff said.

Shuttle Launch You’ve Never Seen July 30, 2011

Posted by Retired Geezer in Gardening, Heroes.
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Here’s a Time-Lapse video of the prep and launch of STS-131.
It’s silent until the end.
Full Screen is better.

Go For Launch.

H/T Kelso Smith, The Skydiving Realtor.

Another Technology Race Lost July 29, 2011

Posted by geoff in News.
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I’ve oft complained that the US is losing its technology lead over other countries, and now I have a striking example: We’ve lost the glow-in-the-dark beagle race:

Scientists in South Korea have created a glow in the dark dog with an on/off switch.

The beagle was made using a cloning technique that the researchers hope will help in efforts to find new treatments and possible cures to degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Two-year-old Tegon was genetically engineered to glow when placed under ultraviolet light.

You can even turn his glowing on and off with additives to his food. Unbelievable.

Propping Up Hillary July 29, 2011

Posted by geoff in News.
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Lacking any real power or backing in her diplomatic mission, Hillary resorts to the death glare. (Picture from Slate)

I have to admit that I would have greatly preferred seeing Hillary Clinton elected compared to what we ended up with. But even so, I can’t abide her being propped up by her admirers as an incredibly effective Secretary of State. Perhaps I’m being too harsh – after all, being a decent SecState under the squish administration is a tough job. So here, judge for yourself:

…(a) politician has been on the other side of the world the past couple of weeks advancing American interests and the policies of the president with meaningful results and exceptional skill.That politician is Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is just completing an around-the-world mission that has taken her from the economic frontlines of the eurozone crisis to the markets of tomorrow in Asia. The trip, obscured in the noise around the debt ceiling debate, has been a real triumph for the Obama administration and has revealed that many of its policies over the past two years are now bearing significant fruit. It has also revealed the State Department’s deftness and bench-depth in dealing with an Asia agenda that is vastly more important in every respect than virtually anything that has been discussed inside the beltway for months.

Wow. And here I thought our Asian policy was an unmitigated disaster. What did she do that was so great? (more…)

Squeezing Every Last Inch Out of Your House July 26, 2011

Posted by geoff in News.
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Real estate prices got you down? Maybe you should think about subdividing! Yes, you could probably fit 10 or 20 houses on your lot!!

At least you could if you were as wacky as these folk in Poland:

There’s a new guy in town, and his name is Keret House, designed smack in the center of Warsaw, Poland, by architecture/design firm Centrala. Set to be constructed in the crack between two buildings, Keret House will measure four feet at its widest point and 28.3 inches at its thinnest

Here’s the spot it’s going to squeeze into (photo from curbed.com):

…and this is the current record holder (photo from freshome.com):

Talk about motivation to manage your weight.

Related: 7 Crazy Houses

Bad Polling; Bad Poll Interpretation July 26, 2011

Posted by geoff in News.
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A brand-new Reuters/Ipsos poll seems to indicate that the public is siding with President Obama on the debt crisis. At least that’s the shallow interpretation Politico put on the results. I mean, a 56% approval for a combined increased taxes/reduced spending plan vs. just 19% for reducing spending by itself – doesn’t that support Epstein’s claim that the public favors Obama’s “plan” over Boehner’s?

But there are some issues. Like the fact that 49% of the respondents identified themselves as Democrats, while only 33% identified as Republicans. And the fact that when the people who supported a combination approach were asked to pick one or the other, 49% picked reducing spending vs. 43% who supported increasing taxes.

But overall, these questions are being interpreted poorly. Here, for example, is the big one:

As you probably know, the US budget deficit is currently about 1.4 trillion dollars. There are a number of different solutions being discussed for reducing this deficit. These are cutting existing programs, raising taxes, or some combination of the two.

Which approach do you think is best?

Epstein and the Reuter’s folk interpret support for a combined approach as support for Obama’s plan over Boehner’s plan. But that’s not at all true.

If you want to find out which plan people prefer, you should present them both plans and ask them to choose. Equating idealized versions of plans to the actual courses of action proposed by Boehner and Obama is over-reading the results.

Unless, I suppose, you’re a liberal journalist.

How Important is it to Increase Revenues? July 26, 2011

Posted by geoff in News.
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Click to Embiggen

As our President tries to rewrite both his history and that of his predecessors, it is worth revisiting the fundamental terms of the debt limit debate. It comes down to this: our debt crisis has been magnified greatly during the recession. Have our recent deficits been due more to increased spending or reduced revenues?

Political Calculations has the answer.

It seems pretty clear that the debt limit deal should emphasize budget cutting, especially in this time of painfully slow economic growth.

Let’s Say Your Band Got A Poolside Gig At Some Resort July 25, 2011

Posted by Michael in Art, Ballistics.
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Would you say to yourself, hey, self, this could be awesome if we cover a Who song and I do the guitar solo in the pool?

Of course, you would have to play the guitar behind your head to keep it dry, but so what. Would you think of that?

Me neither, but this guy did:

Thanks to Retired Geezer for the tip.

Why Teen Pregnancy Isn’t Important July 25, 2011

Posted by geoff in News.
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Last one today, I swear. Hot Air Headlines linked to an NYT piece entitled The Sleepover Question, which advocates allowing teens to sleep with their partners openly at home.

Obviously sleepovers aren’t a direct route to family happiness. But even the most traditional parents can appreciate the virtue of having their children be comfortable bringing a girlfriend or boyfriend home, rather than have them sneak around.

As a “most traditional parent,” I can tell you immediately that the author made that bald assertion up. But it gets worse. This fledgling logician leaps from “American parents don’t let kids sleep together” to “American parents don’t educate their children about sex and contraceptives.”


Economists vs. Business July 25, 2011

Posted by geoff in News.
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The sidebar at AoSHQ linked to a The Hill column on the administration’s failure to reconcile with Business. The authors decided that the complaints of businesses could be downplayed due to this little gem:

The Wall Street Journal earlier this month found that, by more than a 2-to-1 margin, economists felt hiring was sluggish due to scant demand rather than to uncertainty over government policies.

The problem, as proven by the Obama administration’s farcical economic policy, is that economists don’t have a clue about business. Using a poll of economists to dismiss the criticisms of businesses is like asking a social worker to take over the governance of the foreign policy, economy, and defense of a superpower.

Uh oh . . .

The Follies of Medicine and the Perils of Government Medicine July 25, 2011

Posted by geoff in News.
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One of my big issues with nanny state intervention in our health care and lifestyles is that, well, the science of health isn’t very good, yet. Just look at how many fundamental health platitudes have been questioned or proven wrong over the past years:

  • Salt is Bad for Your Heart. “…a meta-analysis of seven studies involving a total of 6,250 subjects in the American Journal of Hypertension found no strong evidence that cutting salt intake reduces the risk for heart attacks, strokes or death in people with normal or high blood pressure.” (July 8, 2011)
  • LDLs Are the Bad Cholesterol. “The so-called “bad cholesterol” – low-density lipoprotein commonly called LDL – may not be so bad after all, shows a Texas A&M University study that casts new light on the cholesterol debate, particularly among adults who exercise.” (May 4, 2011)
  • Saturated Fats Cause Heart Disease. “We’ve spent billions of our tax dollars trying to prove the diet-heart hypothesis. Yet study after study has failed to provide definitive evidence that saturated-fat intake leads to heart disease.” (December 13, 2007)
  • Alcohol is Bad for Your Heart. “Drinking a bottle of wine a day, or half a dozen beers, cuts the risk of heart disease by more than half in men, it has been shown.” (November 19, 2009)
  • Being Overweight Will Shorten Your Life. “…in elderly persons followed for two to 23 years, a baseline body mass index (BMI) below normal (18.5-25kg/m2) was associated with a higher risk of mortality whereas a BMI above normal (>25kg/m2) was associated with a lower risk.” (No Date Provided)
  • An Oldie But Goodie: Stress Causes Ulcers. “…bacteria were present in almost all patients with active chronic gastritis, duodenal ulcer, or gastric ulcer and thus may be an important factor in the aetiology of these diseases.” (June 14, 1983).

The medical profession wastes enough money, time, and health on blind alleys without putting the full force of government behind it. Medicine is currently like an ecosystem, where certain treatments rise and fall according to their efficacy and competition. The government will pare that ecosystem down to only a few dominant species, which will be immune to competitive forces, limiting us to one-size-fits-all treatments.


And when the government picks the wrong course, via either the consensus of a misguided medical establishment, or to the advice of politically influential lobbyists, the current harms will be magnified through the power of a significant portion of the American tax base.

Into The Canyon July 24, 2011

Posted by Cathy in Nature Shit, News, Stupid shit, Travel.
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Something for your Lazy Sunday…

Palo Duro Canyon - Texas Panhandle