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  • February 2010
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links for 2010-02-27

  • Quote:"Instead, new research shows, it's the connections between very specific areas of the brain that determine intelligence and often, by extension, how well someone does in life.

    "General intelligence actually relies on a specific network inside the brain, and this is the connections between the gray matter, or cell bodies, and the white matter, or connecting fibers between neurons," said Jan Glascher, lead author of a paper appearing in this week's issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. "General intelligence relies on the connection between the frontal and the parietal [situated behind the frontal] parts of the brain."

    The results weren't entirely unexpected, said Keith Young, vice chairman of research in psychiatry and behavioral science at Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine in Temple, but "it is confirmation of the idea that good communication between various parts of brain are very important for this generalized intelligence.""


The Stand-up Economist in Minnesota

Yoram Bauman (PhD), “the world’s first and only stand-up economist,” will be in Minnesota next week.

His Schedule:

* Mar 02: University of South Dakota. At 8pm at the Business School Auditorium at USD. Free and open to the public!

* Mar 03: St Olaf College. At 8pm in Holland Hall room 501. Open to folks at St Olaf College and neighbor Carleton College.

* Mar 04: St. Cloud State University. Part of the Winter Institute. I’ll be speaking at 7:15pm, after dinner.

* Mar 05, 2pm: St. Croix Preparatory Academy (Stillwater MN). Open only to folks at this public charter school, and congrats to Rebecca Wahl and students for getting this gig via my free show Google map!

* Mar 05: Macalester College. I believe this is at 4:30pm in the JBD lecture hall, but check google as the date approaches for confirmation. Macalester folks only, sorry.

He’s funny. Check out his website:


links for 2010-02-25

  • Quote:"Elfstrom's girlfriend was tagged for $108 — the state-mandated $25 fine for a first-time offender, plus the $75 the law allows as a petty-misdemeanor surcharge fee — repeat after me: this is not a tax, it's a fee — that goes into the state general fund. The remaining $8 — repeat again: it's not a tax, it's a fee — goes to fund law libraries. "

    // It's nice to see the government has ways of making money, even in a recession. (Also, the studies mentioned in the article do not take into account behavior, which are very important in discussing seat belt laws. People who buckle up are more likely to take risks in motor vehicles than those unbuckled.)

  • Quote:"Some say the military is always fighting the last war. That is not my impression. Our armed services do a better job of learning from their mistakes than any other large organization I know. I wish that the rest of government, and scientific establishments, could learn with similar speed. We are far from mastering the new kind of urban war in which we do battle in the midst of innocents and demand extremely low collateral damage. We are learning as we go. Our strength is enormous — but, just as in biological evolution, it is often more important to be adaptable than to be strong."

    // Great read on Iraq War, via Kevin Ecker.


    Choose the oldest age by which you want to get married, for example 39. Call this number 'n.’

    Decide the earliest age at which you'll start to consider women as potential wives, for example, from 20 onwards. This number becomes 'p'.

    Subtract 'p' from 'n' (20 from 39) then multiply the result by 0.368.

    This gives you 6.992, which you should add to your minimum age (20).

    The result of 27 (more or less) is your Optimal Proposal Age."

  • Quote:""There is a lack of consensus," said Kevin Trenberth, head of the Climate Analysis Section at the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research, on why global temperatures have not matched a peak set in 1998, or in 2005 according to one U.S. analysis. For a table of world temperatures: [ID:nLDE6050Y5]

    Part of the explanation could be a failure to account for rapid warming in parts of the Arctic, where sea ice had melted, and where there were fewer monitoring stations, he said."

    // It doesn't matter anymore. Read SuperFreakonomics, we have a $100 million answer to global warming. So relax, if things get to hot, will spill some SO2 into the stratosphere.

  • // Wonderful digital photography

From the Notebook

-A few people might still know that I was a McCain supporter. An early McCain supporter. And I defended him, including the BCRA (the campaign finance bill). No one brought it up (probably because I’m such an insignificant blogger, but I still expected one of my friends to ridicule me) but I still feel a sense of cognitive dissonance over the fact I defended BCRA yet I was happy SCOTUS recently took the teeth out of the bill.  The idealist in me is happy the government no longer restricts the rights of associations of citizens to pursue shared interests in the dynamic speech arena of American democracy. But, I also know this changes helps the left much more than it does the right. As a practical political hack, I didn’t mind the restriction. Having read the decision, I can’t say I disagree with the majority opinion.

-Read The Iliad as part of the GBWW reading program. Not much I can add to the copious literature related to this Homeric Epic, but I will say this book completely changed my perception of the violence in the Old Testament.

-Having a hard time coming to terms with Glenn Beck. I have openly criticized his program from being simple hyperbolic rabble rousing manipulative showmanship. But, I’ve been watching more and more, and he is one of the only talking heads who willingly shows actual data in the forms of graphs and charts. He also digs up the words of long dead philosophers. Something all pundits should do, since hard data and aged wisdom speak louder than BS rhetoric.  Maybe I criticized Glenn too soon, but he still makes me cringe whenever I watch; which is more and more often.

-Read Plato’s Meno as part of the Great Books of the Western World Ten Year Reading Program. The more I read Plato, the more I enjoy it. Meno starts out as a search for the true nature of virtue and it turns into a discussion of the problem of knowledge and the nature of the human soul. It’s “deep” but very approachable philosophy.

-What a great winter. I wish I was more of a shutterbug, the weather this year provided so many opportunities to get those great winter snow shots. The snow has been great. And I normally hate winters. It was too cold for only a few weeks there, otherwise very pleasant. And now, with a pair of size 17 hockey skates coming my way, I have more reasons to look forward to a long winter.

-Read an article on the shortage of rare earth elements, which are important in new electronic gadgets. It suggested the US needs to subsidize rare earth element mining to avoid shortage because that’s what China does. 1) Why subsidize these elements when we already get subsidized elements from China? 2) Couldn’t it be said the coming shortage of rare earth elements was caused by the subsidy itself? Come on, these elements will be mined when it makes sense to do so. Subsidization will only end in a misallocation of scarce resources. Let the Chinese do that.

-I’ve never been able to understand when other people complain about trade deficits. Normally defined as when the US imports more foreign stuff than exports US stuff. Isn’t this good? It means we have more stuff. Let other countries try to eat our money or use it to play videogames. Hazlitt, in his “Economics in One Lesson” dissects this issue better.

links for 2010-02-24

links for 2010-02-23

  • // An informal poll of MN Bloggers pertaining to the MNGOP gubernatorial race. I was uncommitted. I still am. In general, my rule is to prefer the most conservative candidate who can win. I'd need to see some polling data before I would be willing to support Emmer outright. Since the race is so tight, it's important to vet the campaigning ability of each of these candidates. My guess? Emmer is not prepared for a statewide campaign. But i don't know for sure. And it doesn't matter, I'm not a delegate this year (though now, as tight as the race is, I wish I had caucused).

links for 2010-02-22

  • // If only this were possible in America. Via CaptCap
  • Quote:"JERUSALEM – An Israeli archaeologist said Monday that ancient fortifications recently excavated in Jerusalem date back 3,000 years to the time of King Solomon and support the biblical narrative about the era.
    If the age of the wall is correct, the finding would be an indication that Jerusalem was home to a strong central government that had the resources and manpower needed to build massive fortifications in the 10th century B.C.
    That's a key point of dispute among scholars, because it would match the Bible's account that the Hebrew kings David and Solomon ruled from Jerusalem around that time."

links for 2010-02-21

  • Quote:"SAN DIEGO – Words and music, such natural partners that it seems obvious they go together. Now science is confirming that those abilities are linked in the brain, a finding that might even lead to better stroke treatments.
    Studies have found overlap in the brain's processing of language and instrumental music, and new research suggests that intensive musical therapy may help improve speech in stroke patients, researchers said Saturday at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
    In addition, researchers said, music education can help children with developmental dyslexia or autism more accurately use speech."

    // All I could think about when reading this was Socrates belief in musical and poetical education found in Plato's Republic.

links for 2010-02-20

  • Quote:"Those in the planning phase of a vacation had higher happiness scores than those not going away, which the researchers say, is likely due to holiday anticipation. Following the trip, vacationers and non-vacationers showed no difference in their happiness levels, that is unless the time off was considered very relaxing. In that case, there was a slight happiness boost for vacationers noticeable during the first two weeks back. After eight weeks, that slight increase had faded completely, the scientists found. "

    // I've always believed, if you live the life you want, in a balanced (read:Zen) way, you won't need vacations, you won't need to retire, and you won't need to read about studies on how to find happiness.

links for 2010-02-19