Sean King

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Knoxville, Tennessee, United States

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Vatican Discovers Oldest Image of St. Paul

It dates to the Fourth Century, and here it is.

More of the Same

Via executive order, the Obama Administration continues the Bush era policy of holding terrorism suspects indefinitely and without charges, but seeks to give the impression that it consulted with "civil liberties groups" to craft its policy. TalkLeft calls bullshit.

I do too.

Tennessee is One of the Losers

Here's a state-by-state breakdown of the impact of cap-and-trade legislation.

1979:

The Year The World Changed

Climate Skeptic:

Those who want to argue that the surface temperature record should be used in preference to that of satellites need to explain why the three areas in which the two diverge the most are the three areas with the worst surface temperature data coverage. This seems to argue that flaws in the surface temperature record drive the differences between surface and satellite, and not the other way around.


Indeed.

And, here's why it matters.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Wow.

In New York, they don't want you to even be able to own and keep nunchaku in your home.

It's Official

No more "sunlight before signing."


But hey, I see obama's point. I mean, why should the public be given time to read these bills before they become law when our elected representatives don't even bother to read them before voting on them. Take the House's recent vote on the "cap and trade" bill, for example:

I Hope So

PopSci.com: Soon we might be living in printed sandstone buildings that rival those on Tattooine.

I rarely agree with anything posted on Daily Kos...

...but in this case I couldn't agree more. "ebbv" writes:

So the question here is really, is having a 550 lbs 14 year old son child abuse?
***
To answer this I think you only need to look at the reverse side; what if the boy weighed only 75 lbs. There'd be no question malnourishment and starvation would result in jail time. Thus we obviously have a line for "too skinny" where it becomes abuse. The only question then becomes, is there a line for obesity? I think the obvious answer is yes.



So do I, and it's WAAAAYYYYY before your 14 year old hits 550 pounds!

Instapundit...

notes some interesting language in the Tennessee Constitution, and offers a history lesson to boot.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Babes of Wimbledon

Apparently looks, rather than ranking, decides who gets to play on Centre Court in the early rounds.

Prize Economics

Prize economics improves Netflix.

Shenanigans at the EPA:

Source inside EPA confirms claims of science being ignored, suppressed, by top EPA management.

Such stories got a lot more press when Bush was president.

New Celebration of Masculinity?

For some time "manliness" has been out of vogue. But recently, I've noticed a slight change. Madison Avenue, which is normally out front on social trends, seems to be celebrating, rather than parodying, in-your-face masculinity (at least when it comes to ads for alchohol).

For instance, the "most interesting man in the world" sports a beard of all things:




And check out the tone of this vodka ad:

Intel's CTO Justin Rattner Contemplates the Singularity

Courtesy of Steve Leibson.

UK to Begin Screening for Aneurysms

guardian.co.uk: A new programme to screen men in their 60s and 70s for weaknesses in the body's biggest artery could save nearly 2,000 lives a year, according to new research. Ultrasound scans will be used to check for weak spots in the aorta, which can be strengthened with surgery if necessary. Without treatment, there's a danger the aorta could rupture, causing fatal bleeding.

The researchers calculated that, over the 10 years, the costs of the programme were £7,600 for every year of life saved. Adjusting for quality of life, the costs rose to £9,400. Both of these figures are well within the cut-off point of around £30,000, at which treatments are deemed too expensive for the NHS.

Genetic Similarities

SFGAte.com: Scientists have long known that regardless of ancestral home or ethnic group, everyone's genes are pretty much alike. We're all Homo sapiens. Everything else is pretty much details.

Recent research has produced a surprise, however. Population geneticists expected to find dramatic differences as they got a look at the full genomes - about 25,000 genes - of people of widely varying ethnic and geographic backgrounds.


But, they didn't.

It's in the Genes

After analyzing more than two million regions of the human genome, the researchers found that the NRXN3 gene variant ─ previously associated with alcohol dependence, cocaine addiction, and illegal substance abuse ─ also predicts the tendency to become obese. Altogether, researchers found the gene variant in 20 percent of the people studied.

The Significance of the World's Aging Population

In 2008 the number of deaths in Japan outnumbered the number of births 1.14 million to 1.09 million respectively and the population fell by 51,000 according to the Health Ministry. By 2050 both Japan and Russia will lose over 20% of their populations and 38% of Korea will be over 65, making it one of the oldest nations in the world. Since 2006, an astonishing 330 people have turned 60 every hour in the US. Over 12% of the US’s population and 16% of the UK’s population is 65 or older, compared to 5.2% in India and 8% in China, suggesting the East will be the economic powerhouse of the new era.


Read the whole thing.

Senior Dating

The State: For many it's unimaginable. But one of the things new under the sun since Katz was a boy is an 18-year increase in U.S. life expectancy, much of it spent in healthy retired life.

Those who are living through it spend their time in the traditional American way: pursuing happiness. And so it is that seniors today aren't just dating more, they're the fastest-growing users of Internet dating services and the fastest growing group of cohabiters.

To be sure, older men remain in short supply and millions of widows decide that meeting one man's needs was enough. A few million more are ailing beyond caring. Still, there more couples than ever like Eleanor Robinson and John Kunec.

News That's Not News

Mediterranean diet may boost longevity. Or, at least a certain variation of it.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Demographics of Revolution

Iran style.

Buried in Destin

Link Between Obesity and Pancreatic Cancer

But hey, we shouldn't let such bad news dissuade us from being "young, fat and fabulous."

This is nuts!

Though I know from personal experience that it's true: Patients often not told of abnormal test results.

Does Greater Life Expectancy Result from Superior Healthcare?

Yes, but here are two stories explaining that there is much more to the story.

The World's Most Politically Incorrect Corporate Logo:



Sherwin Williams: "Cover the Earth"

Destin, Florida:

HIV Rates

HIV infection rates are highest in the South.

I wouldn't have thought it.

Rasmussen:

The percentage of people who strongly disapprove of O's job performance now equals that of those who strongly approve.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

It's All About the "O"

Discovermagazine.com: On Tuesday, June 16, President Obama dazzled audiences during a CNBC interview by performing a difficult feat: He swatted a buzzing fly in one swift motion, leaving the creature lifeless on the carpet of the White House's East Room.


Here's the video. Watch it and be dazzled yourself.




What can I say? The man's a god.


UPDATE:> At the NYT, Maureen Dowd has analysis of "Obama's Fly Move" (pun likely intended).

Rationalizing Obesity, With the Help of ABC News

If an alcoholic or dug addict did this, we'd call it what it is.

Melanie Reid speculates on a connection...

between flu outbreaks and low vitamin D.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Aaron Saenz offers some thoughts...

on the Kurzweil/Lyons debate.

Death of the Depression Gene?

One of the most celebrated findings in modern psychiatry — that a single gene helps determine one’s risk of depression in response to a divorce, a lost job or another serious reversal — has not held up to scientific scrutiny, researchers reported Tuesday.

Amazon Going Galt in North Carolina?

Well...kinda.

Is "Efficient Market" Theory Dead?

Charles Sizemore thinks it should be.

Scientists Find a Missing Link

And it helps explain the "digit dilemma."

Sad but True

Green Dam is only an extreme example of a global trend: The Internet censorship club is expanding and now includes a growing number of democracies. Legislators are under growing pressure from family groups to "do something" in the face of all the threats sloshing around the Internet, and the risk of overstepping is high.


It's a very slippery slope.

Well, It's a Start

President Barack Obama, offering a small win to the gay-rights community, will sign a directive Wednesday giving some new benefits to the domestic partners of federal civil service employees.

Specifically, federal workers will be allowed to add their gay and lesbian partners to the long-term care insurance program, and supervisors will be required to let workers use their sick leave to take care of domestic partners and non-biological, non-adopted children, according to a fact sheet released Wednesday.



Not sure what took him so long.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Revolt in Iran?

niacINsight is basically live-blogging the demonstrations (riots?) in Iran and is doing an excellent job.

In the meantime, CNN ignores the story and is tweeted to death for doing so.

Obama is basically silent too.


UPDATE:> Technology is subversive.

Irish Life Expectancy Improves

The life expectancy of Irish people improved by four years during the Celtic tiger era, according to a new World Health Organisation (WHO) report.

In the year 2000 the combined life expectancy for men and women here was 76 years but this had climbed to 80 years by 2007. In contrast, life expectancy only improved by one year -- from 75 to 76 -- between 1990 and 2000.

Taxing Height?




To find out why such an approach makes some sense, read the article.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

More Vitamin D News

In 22 studies of vitamin D, conducted with 3,670 participants, 48% to 100% of those with musculoskeletal pain displayed vitamin D deficiencies. With supplementation, almost all reported a lessening or complete elimination of bone and muscle pain. Another study of 360 participants with back pain showed that all had insufficient levels of vitamin D, and 95% showed relief after three months of supplementation, assuming there was no injury, such as a slipped disc. A study at the University of Minnesota noted that the majority of those with severe deficiency were under the age of 30. Studies of over 40,000 participants taking vitamin D showed a reduction in hip fractures by 18%.

Well, Ya Think?!

Washington Post: After enjoying months of towering poll numbers, legislative victories and well-received foreign policy initiatives, the White House has become increasingly concerned that President Obama's spending plans, which would require $9 trillion in government borrowing over the next decade, could become a political liability that defines the 2010 midterm elections.

Bing Ruffles Google's Feathers

New York Post: You'd think nothing would get under the skin of search giant Google.

But co-founder Sergey Brin is so rattled by the launch of Microsoft's rival search engine that he has assembled a team of top engineers to work on urgent upgrades to his Web service, The Post has learned.



I've used Bing, and I've been impressed.

Cyber Security and Civil Liberties

President Obama has said that the new cyberdefense strategy he unveiled last month will provide protections for personal privacy and civil liberties. But senior Pentagon and military officials say that Mr. Obama’s assurances may be challenging to guarantee in practice, particularly in trying to monitor the thousands of daily attacks on security systems in the United States that have set off a race to develop better cyberweapons.


Yah, well, it wouldn't be the first time he's lied. Or the second.

Fool me once....

The World Health Organization's Secret Study on Illegal Drugs

You can find it here.

Global Warming Models

They all depend upon feedback assumptions.

Dating the Popol Vuh

Some historians dismiss the Popol Vuh as a contaminated document, containing not only ancient Mayan mythology but also contemporary Spanish Catholic influences. The discovery of the panels establishes key portions of the stories as genuinely Mayan. “We can now extend the authenticity of the creation myth back another 1,000 years,” Hansen says.


The Popol Vuh was first written down in the 16th Century. One reason that scholars had previously viewed it as a "contaminated" document is that portions of it were seemingly inspired by Judeo-Christian theology which didn't arrive in the new world until after Columbus.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Not Surprising

China's new mandatory porn-blocking software is really spyware:

Computer hackers in China have cracked open Green Dam’s keyword library and administrative codes.

According to the information produced by these hackers, Green Dam has 2,700 keywords relating to pornography, and 6,500 politically sensitive keywords. While these keywords include references to the Tiananmen Square massacre and Tibet, the great majority of the keywords refer to Falun Gong, the spiritual practice the Chinese regime banned and began persecuting in 1999.

Freedom of Speech

Not quite dead in Canada. (via Instapundit)

Biggest Black Whole Bigger Than Thought

The most massive black hole yet weighed lurks at the heart of the relatively nearby giant galaxy M87.

The supermassive black hole is two to three times heftier than previously thought, a new model showed, weighing in at a whopping 6.4 billion times the mass of the sun. The new measure suggests that other black holes in nearby large galaxies could also be much heftier than current measurements suggest, and it could help astronomers solve a longstanding puzzle about galaxy development.

You mean it's NOT about LSD?

The story behind Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.

Shikha Dalmia Calls Out Obama on "Don't Ask Don't Tell"

President Obama is pleading for time to push this issue until after, presumably, he has averted global warming, revived the economy, and implemented universal health coverage. But to backburner a major civil rights cause for which the country is ready, and that is well within his power to advance, in order to save the world first, bespeaks a profound megalomania.

He ought to get his priorities straight.


And, David Paul Kuhn ponders: Will Obama be Truman on Gay Rights?

Rioting in Iran

Instapundit has pictures and video.

Naturalism Has Been Hijacked

George Ball: The political views of the Eco-elitists defy easy categorization, if not also comprehension. Their anti-business stance might mark them as liberals, while their hard-edged fundamentalist views about nature and brittle nostalgia for a lost Peaceable Kingdom are surely conservative.

Perhaps they are little more than one of nature's newest 21st century hybrids: Progressive-Reactionaries.

He's a "Brilliant Comrade"

The youngest son of North Korea's authoritarian leader has been given the title of "Brilliant Comrade," a newspaper reported Friday, a sign the communist regime is preparing to name him as successor to the ailing Kim Jong Il.


Well, isn't that nice.

Kindle v. "Real" Books

Scott Stein: [W]hen will e-books become more compelling than the physical books they were meant to replace?

For me, it happened. Today, at 2 p.m. Eastern, I went to Borders and returned a book I bought just a week ago. The reason was this: I found the book had popped up on the Amazon Kindle store for less. So I pulled the trigger.



I'm to the point now where I too prefer e-books to hard copies--so much so that I get very frustrated when books that I want to read aren't available in Kindle format at Amazon.com. I can't imagine why a publisher today wouldn't make its books available in this new formal.


UPDATE:> Related story here. I've not heard of scribd before. Will have to check it out.

Big News in the Fight Against Breast Cancer

Reuters: A gene that is highly active in up to 20 percent of breast cancer cases might be blocked by a generically available blood pressure drug, U.S. researchers reported on Tuesday.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Gates To Rich:

"Give it away".

Might as well give it away before they take it away, I guess.

On a serious note, I'm a big fan of the Gates foundation and the work it does.

David Hardy sets the LA Times Straight...

...on the issue of Justice Thomas' jurisprudence.

Glenn Reynolds:

Under a Republican President, this would be a huge scandal.

Walgreens Goes Galt...

... in Delaware.

Obama Betrays Gays

Gays right proponents are pissed.

As for me, I think the whole issue should be left to the states.


UPDATE:> Glenn Reynolds has some advice for advocates of gay marriage with which I wholeheartedly agree.

Exactly!

Michael S. Malone: Entrepreneurship has been the single most important contributor to the economic health of this country for at least a century now - and if you were going to systematically destroy that vitality, you couldn’t come up with a better strategy than the one Washington has put in place over the last six months. Indeed, you can make the case that the sole contribution the Obama administration has made to entrepreneurship in America to date is to force all of those millions of unemployed people to desperately set up their own businesses in order to survive.

You might imagine that this would be upsetting to all of those Valley tycoons who played such an important role in underwriting, advising and legitimizing Candidate Obama. But you would be wrong.

What I think is most misunderstood by outsiders is that the electronics industry is not monolithic, and that its players do not all share the same interests. And nowhere is this divide greater than between start-up companies and the giant, well-known corporations - even though the latter, just a few years before, were start-ups themselves.

For example, you may think that the competitive challenge that big tech companies fear most is from other big tech companies. You know: Apple v. Microsoft, HP v. Dell, Cisco v. Juniper, MySpace v. Facebook. But in fact, that isn’t the case. Sure, those are dangerous competitors; but far more threatening is that clever new start-up that seems to appear out of nowhere. That’s the threat that wakes up Fortune 500 tech CEOs at 3 a.m. That little start-up not only competes with you, it can render your entire business - even your entire industry - obsolete and you don’t even see it coming. Think desktop publishing and the printing industry, the iPod and the music industry - and just look at the terror that Twitter seems to be creating at Google and Facebook these days.

Once you understand this dynamic, a lot of the paradoxical recent business behavior in high tech suddenly becomes explicable. For example, why did the big tech companies embrace such regulations as Sarbanes and stock options expensing - even though they would cost them billions of dollars with no obvious gain? And why would they support a Presidential candidate who seemed to have little understanding of, or sympathy for, market capitalism and business?

Because it was the best strategy to crush the start-ups.



I have made this very point myself. Socialism makes it much more difficult for poor or average folks to become rich, and even more insidiously, it makes it much more difficult for the rich to become poor.

Mammoth Mystery

A local newspaper in Vero Beach, Florida, Vero Beach 32963, has announced what will be among the most significant discoveries of prehistoric art in the New World, if it holds up. See the National Geographic news article and the Vero Beach 32963 report for more information. The find, which is an engraved bone with what looks like a mammoth on it, is of major significance because there is simply nothing like it in the New World. Many such engravings, however, are known from European paleolithic art, which began around 35,000 years ago and continued until the end of the paleolithic around 10,000 years ago.

Charles Sizemore:

In this age of “bailouts,” it’s easy to think that we are somehow living in unprecedented times; that no government has ever squandered the tax dollars of the many to rescue the few from their monumentally bad business decisions. Unfortunately, Mr. Levy tells us below, this kind of thing is far from new.


I do take some comfort in the fact that we've been down this road before and that it FAILED.

Barack Obama

Better than FDR, and cooler than JFK!

LMAO. Satire only works when it's true.

Susan Reimer offers...

a little empathy for the white males.

This is What Favorable Demographics Does for You

India and China will be able to sidestep contraction in their growth rates this year despite the ongoing global economic turmoil, which is the deepest since the second world war, global financial services firm BNP Paribas said.

Alex Tabarrok...

allocates blame for the deficit.


In my view though, separating out the "stimulus bill" from the "Obama agenda" is a little disingenuous.

Those Amazing Stem Cells

Drew Halley: Once upon a time, if you had a failing organ, you could pretty much consider it a death sentence. Then along came organ transplants, letting you swap out your defectives for slightly used parts. But doctors are upping the ante. Why go under the knife if you can patch your organs where they sit? The stem cell revolution is upon us, and your kidneys will thank you for it.

For the first time in the world, doctors in Western India have used stem cells to repair the kidneys of patients suffering from chronic and acute nephritis, an advanced form of kidney disorder.

Iain Murray:

So, according to the new Government/Italian-owned Chrysler, its newest green car, the 2009 Peapod (stop laughing), will have a "new look and feel" with an "innovative, groundbreaking design."

LMAO.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Latest on Light Bulbs

From discovermagazine.com.

We're with the government, and we're here to help...

you count your calories.

Major Disocovery Regarding Ovarian Cancer

ScienceDaily: "This is really a two-fold discovery," says Dr. David Hunstman, lead author and genetic pathologist at the BC Cancer Agency and Vancouver General Hospital and associate professor in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the University of British Columbia. "It clearly shows the power of the new generation of DNA sequencing technologies to impact clinical medicine, and for those of us in the area of ovarian cancer research and care, by identifying the singular mutation that causes granulosa cell tumours, we can now more easily identify them and develop news ways to treat them."
***
Through a collaboration between OvCaRe and the BC Cancer Agency's Genome Sciences Centre, the research team used "next generation" sequencing machines that are able to decode billions of nucleotides at rapid speed and new computer techniques to quickly assemble the data. "This task would have been unfathomable in terms of both cost and complexity even two years ago," says Dr. Marco Marra, Director of the BC Cancer Agency's Genome Sciences Centre.



It's much easier to treat conditions once you understand their cause.

Does Socialized Medicine Result in a Longer Life Expectancy?

Many people argue so. See, for instance, this.

But the simple fact is that the US's lower life expectancy can be traced to several factors that have little or nothing to do with the quality of our health care, or access to it.

To be blunt, as compared to countries with socialized medicine, folks in the US:

1) Do more drugs;
2) Drive more miles in cars (leading to a higher accident death rate per 100,000 of population);
3) Eat more processed foods and fast foods;
4) Murder each other at a much higher rate (more than three times the rate in France)
5) and are far, far fatter.

Adjust for these causes of death, and life expectancy in the US rivals or exceeds that in most countries with socialized medicine.

Classic Cas Walker



Yes, he's hilarious, but rest assured that he meant every word.

Cheaper Life Insurance Coming Soon

Why? Longer life spans.

Kurzweil Introducing Singularity University, and Explaining the Law of Accelerating Returns in the Process:

Vitamins for Your Skin

Of all the news coming from the beauty community, the loudest buzz may be about the power of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients to give skin a more radiant, healthy, and, yes, youthful glow.

The excitement is focused not only on creams and lotions you put on your skin but what you put into your body as well. Health experts say that vitamins and minerals in all forms play an integral role in a healthy complexion, whether the source is food, supplements, or even a jar of cream.

"Your skin is the fingerprint of what is going on inside your body, and all skin conditions, from psoriasis to acne to aging, are the manifestations of your body's internal needs, including its nutritional needs," says Georgiana Donadio, PhD, DC, MSc, founder and director of the National Institute of Whole Health in Boston.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Washington DC:

Boom Town.

Not Surprising

There's a correlation between marginal tax rates and sales of Atlas Shrugged.

I Love the Internet

How else would I be able to see things like Steve Jobs' 2005 Stanford Commencement Address:

Religious Freak?

Obama invokes Christ more than Bush.

But he can't be a religious freak. He's not a republican.

Reverand Wright

Asked if he had spoken to the president, Wright said: "Them Jews aren't going to let him talk to me. I told my baby daughter, that he'll talk to me in five years when he's a lame duck, or in eight years when he's out of office. ..."


I assume by "Jews" he means Rohm Emanuel.

Cold in Canada

Reuters: In Manitoba, the frost is the worst in memory for its frequency and area covered, said Derwyn Hammond, the province's senior agronomy specialist for the Canola Council.

"Certainly (it's) the worst year I've seen," said Hammond, who has worked for the Canola Council for 15 years.

The Queen's English?

CNN: English contains more words than any other language on the planet and added its millionth word early Wednesday, according to the Global Language Monitor, a Web site that uses a math formula to estimate how often words are created.

The Global Language Monitor says the millionth word was added to English on Wednesday.

The site estimates the millionth English word, "Web 2.0" was added to the language Wednesday at 5:22 a.m. ET. The term refers to the second, more social generation of the Internet.

The site says more than 14 words are added to English every day, at the current rate.



Who knew?

We're with the government, and we're here to help...

make sure that your children eat their veggies.

PopSci:

The Essential Guide to Stem Cells.

Those Amazing Stem Cells

PopSci.com: Researchers in Australia have come up with an outwardly simple but incredibly ingenious way of curing blindness caused by corneal damage: Take everyday contact lenses, already used by millions (including me), and infuse them with a patient's own stem cells. After wearing them for about 2 weeks, test subjects reported a seemingly miraculous restoration of sight.

At Home Laser Treatments?

US health agency FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approved over-the-counter (OTC) marketing of Palomar's laser device for treatment of wrinkles around the eyes, i.e. periorbital wrinkles.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Technology Will Always Outrun "Climate Change"

PRNewswire: Monsanto Company (NYSE: MON) and BASF scientists unveiled the discovery that a naturally-occurring gene can help corn plants combat drought conditions and confer yield stability during periods of inadequate water supplies.

The companies stated that they will use the gene in their first-generation drought-tolerant corn product which is designed to provide yield stability to their farmer customers. This product will be the first biotechnology-derived drought-tolerant crop in the world.

The announcement comes at a time when recent studies, including one by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, are warning of declining crop yields and global food shortages as a result of climate change. According to a United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization report prepared for ministers of the G-8, the number and duration of dry spells, especially in already drought-prone areas, is expected to increase.



There are reasons to doubt the UN's conclusion, but regardless, advances in technology such as that noted above will insure that any adverse effects of climate change are of the less dramatic variety.

What Would a Right-Wing Extremist Look Like?

Jonah Goldberg contemplates.

And, here's why it matters.

The Collapsing Global Left

Bruce Walker: American voters are bombarded by their media with the message that conservatism is dead, because a Democrat got 52 perecent of the presidential vote. Meanwhile, the collapse of the Left proceeds apace elsewhere in the world.


Read the whole thing to find out why he says so.

Human Body 2.0

Keith Kleiner: Did you ever stop to think how silly and also how dangerous it is to live our lives with absolutely no monitoring of our body’s medical status? Years from now people will look back and find it unbelievable that heart attacks, strokes, hormone imbalances, sugar levels, and hundreds of other bodily vital signs and malfunctions were not being continuously anticipated and monitored by medical implants. We can call this concept body 2.0, or the networked body, and we need it now!


It's closer than we think. Much of the technology exists, and the aging, creative Baby Boomers will surely have the motivation to employ it.

Battling Obesity Through Gene Therapy

Transplanting the fat-burning pathway of bacteria into mice allowed the rodents to eat a high-fat diet while remaining lean. And the results of the study point to a whole new approach to treating ailments in humans who could benefit from some other species' biologic functions.

China Seeks to Block Porn

China will require that starting July 1 all PCs sold within the country be equipped with Web filtering software that blocks access to pornographic sites, according to published reports.


So, we have more than 32 million Chinese males with no access to real women and now no access to porn? That's bound to turn out well.

Record Cold

Coldest since 1943 in Green Bay.

June snowfall in North Dakota.

Keith Hennessey:

15 things to know about the draft Kennedy-Dodd health bill.

Scary stuff, some of it.

Vitamin C Helps Diabetes Patients

Researchers at Harold Hamm Oklahoma Diabetes Center have found a way to stop damage caused by Type 1 diabetes by using insulin and vitamin C.

Doctors say combining the two helps stop blood vessel damage caused by diabetes in patients who have poor control over their glucose levels.

Being a Minority in America

NYT: If Judge Sonia Sotomayor joins Justice Clarence Thomas on the Supreme Court, they may find that they have far more than a job title in common.

Both come from the humblest of beginnings. Both were members of the first sizable generation of minority students at elite colleges and then Yale Law School. Both benefited from affirmative action policies.

But that is where their similarities end, and their disagreements begin. For the first time, the Supreme Court would include two minority judges, but ones who stand at opposite poles of thinking about race, identity and opportunity. Judge Sotomayor and Justice Thomas have walked parallel paths and yet arrived at contrary conclusions, not only on legal questions, but on personal ones, too.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Rachel Abrams:

What’s more, in all the years during which Santa and Bunny “were allegedly passing information to the Cubans, they never indicated any interest in the island, according to friends and colleagues -- even at long dinner parties in which guests discussed world affairs.” Which just goes to show: if you’ve graduated from the right schools (Brown), come from a famous family (Gilbert H. Grosvenor and Alexander Graham Bell), “love to sail and peruse the London Review of Books,” and are as “appalled by the Bush years” as everyone else discussing world affairs at long dinner parties in your neighborhood, you can get a lot of spying in before you get caught.

I Just Love the Internet

How else would I get to see things like Reagan's speech commemorating the 40th anniversary of D-Day.

$1,000 Gene Sequencing is Near

Lisa M. Krieger: They'll be as small as your microwave and cheaper than your laptop. And the powerful tools — future gene sequencing machines — will be able to tell you exactly what you're made of. Someday, they could help keep you healthy.

It took 10 years and $4 billion for the federal government to complete the first sequence of the human genome in 2000. Its equipment filled vast rooms at many campuses.
Now rival scientific teams, including three in the Bay Area, are racing to build tests that can accurately sequence an entire human genome in less than 30 minutes for $1,000 — about a hundredth of the current price. The cheaper tests will make it possible to sequence the genomes of tens of thousands more people, providing vital data about human traits, such as susceptibility to disease.

Virtuoso bioengineers predict that within two years their tests will start to transform medicine much as PCs rocked the world of mainframe computing.



It is hard to overstate the impact that such things will have on healthcare. Medicine is becoming digitized, making it subject to the Law of Accelerating Returns. This will finally lead to deflation rather than inflation in healthcare, just like in every other industry that has been digitized.

Cost will be further reduced by the fact that, as Krygier's quote suggests, healthcare is increasingly self-administered in the home. Everything from blood pressure monitors to glucose tests to, eventually, genome sequencing machines are or soon will be available very cheaply at your local drugstore.

What's so Wrong with Central Planning?

It ignores the Law of Unintended Consequences.

This Should Really Help Home Values!

Obama’s own proposal would set a 28 percent cap on tax deductions for items such as mortgage interest, investment expenses and charitable gifts for Americans in the two highest tax brackets, which would be 36 percent and 39.6 percent under his proposals. Without the cap, they would be able to deduct 36 cents and 39.6 cents on the dollar for those expenses, respectively.

Obama also proposes new taxes on securities dealers and life insurers, and to raise revenue by prohibiting certain estate-planning techniques.
[emphasis added]

The Future of War

Rise of the robots.

How Bad is the Current Unemployment Picture

Barry Ritholz has a roundup that includes lots of informative charts.

Heavenly Havens

Sixty Years Ago Today

George Orwell's 1984 was published on this day in 1949. Here's a relevant quote:

The command of the old despotisms was Thou shalt not. The command of the totalitarians was Thou shalt. Our command is Thou art.

Big Gains for the Right in World Elections

CNN has a country-by-country roundup.

Personally I think the right's gains are overstated. In many cases so-called "right wing" parties have adopted a socialist response to the economic crises. Thus, their election is more a function of the unpopularity of current leftist incumbents than of the public's move to the right.

What Happens When 32 Million Males Under the Age of 20 Stand No Chance of Mating?

No, really, I mean NO CHANCE.

I dunno what happens, but I'm pretty sure it's not going to be good.

Kenneth Anderson contemplates.

On a positive note, the surplus of men is dramatically increasing the value of women in Chinese culture. Regrettably though it's often their fathers or husbands or pimps, rather than the women themselves, who reap the rewards of their relative scarcity.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

Wolfram Alpha has the answer. Impressive!

Ben Parr discovers that he/she/it also knows the answers to many more such esoteric questions.

Measuring Temperature

Oddly enough, the Orange County Register has an editorial explaining the difficulty in accurately measuring temperature trends.


Kudos to Anthony Watts for bringing this issue to light in an objectively measurable way.

Terrafugia

AOPA offers an update on the "flying car"...er..."driving plane", I mean.

Sources of Genetic Diversity

Natural selection is only partly responsible for the distribution of genetic differences among humans, according to a new study co-authored by Graham Coop (above). Human history and migrations also play major roles in the distribution of genetic variants.

A Wise Latina Woman?

I don't think a truly "wise" latina woman would say such foolish things as this.

Plus, isn't "latina woman" a bit redundant? Are not all "latinas" women? Perhaps she was just stressing the point for the benefit of all us white males who can't be expected to know such things.

Talking Mice?

Sounds crazy, but it may be closer than you think.

Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics

Mobilized by distressingly low levels of public trust in official statistics, the U.K. government is embarking on a daring, and possibly unique, experiment. With broad support, Parliament in 2007 approved the formation of the U.K. Statistics Authority, a group with the budget, authority and independence to question other government agencies on the numbers they release to the public.

After its formation last year, the authority got off to a slow start, but it has already taken to task other government agencies for presenting data in a misleading way. Now, it is gearing up for audits on hot-button topics, such as crime statistics and education test scores, whose reliability has come into question.



Or...er...global warming maybe?

Longevity Insurance?

[I]f you have a history of good bloodlines or just feel healthy and lucky, you can buy a longevity insurance plan with money down now and recoup that money, with interest, 20 years or so down the road.


Interesting. Here's the rest of the the story.

Those Amazing Stem Cells

Scientists in China say they've "reprogrammed" skin cells from adult pigs to behave like stem cells from humans.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Exercise Cost of Food

1 Dunkin Donut = 59 minutes of walking!

More Benefits from Vitamin D:

Low vitamin D tied to infections during pregnancy.

Vitamin D decreases senior moments.

Vitamin D could cut some cancers by 25%.

World's Oldest Recordings (Re)discovered

[T]hese sound bites and other snippets, unveiled May 29 by historians at the annual meeting of the Association for Recorded Sound Collections, are the earliest known recordings. A bunch of wavy lines scratched by a stylus onto fragile paper that had been blackened by the soot from an oil lamp date from 1857. That’s 20 years before Edison invented the phonograph.

World's Oldest Pottery?

Bits of pottery discovered in a cave in southern China may be evidence of the earliest development of ceramics by ancient people.

The find in Yuchanyan Cave dates to as much as 18,000 years ago, researchers report in Tuesday's edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Sun Update

Watts Up with That: A typical solar minimum lasts 485 days, based on an average of the last 10 solar minima. As of today we are at 638 spotless days in the current minimum. Also as of today, May 27th, 2009, there were no sunspots on 120 of this year’s (2009) 147 days to date (82%).


Read this to find out why that matters.

AI on your iPhone?

Experts in artificial intelligence, or AI, say Siri will either be the first "intelligent agent" that responds to natural language — or the most recent failure in a series of spectacularly unsuccessful attempts to write software code that replicates some basic functions of the human brain.


I'm betting on the latter and hoping for the former.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Sotomayor's Record Suggest She's No Racist

Tom Goldstein recently completed a study of Judge Sotomayor's race-related cases and concludes:

In sum, in an eleven-year career on the Second Circuit, Judge Sotomayor has participated in roughly 100 panel decisions involving questions of race and has disagreed with her colleagues in those cases (a fair measure of whether she is an outlier) a total of 4 times. Only one case (Gant) in that entire eleven years actually involved the question whether race discrimination may have occurred. (In another case (Pappas) she dissented to favor a white bigot.) She participated in two other panels rejecting district court rulings agreeing with race-based jury-selection claims. Given that record, it seems absurd to say that Judge Sotomayor allows race to infect her decisionmaking.


Agreed.

The Latest on Health Care Reform Proposals

Courtesy of Reuters.

Obscene

Justice Department political appointees overruled career lawyers and ended a civil complaint accusing three members of the New Black Panther Party for Self-Defense of wielding a nightstick and intimidating voters at a Philadelphia polling place last Election Day, according to documents and interviews.


Would the outcome be the same if clansmen in the South were wielding nightsticks at polling booths?