Discover magazine notes that we can now store data in DNA, and brings up the case of the group that successfully DNA-encoded and retrieved Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech. This is neat from a data storage point of view. But even neater is that it means we can do something I didn’t know we could – create a given DNA strand on demand. This sounds like it might have useful implications for genetic error correction.
Why are male German soldiers growing left (but not right) breasts?
Nate Silver gives the statistics on what is driving growth in government spending. Spoiler: mostly entitlement programs, mostly mostly health care.
Jim (jimrandomh from LW) showed me his text accelerator when I was staying with him in Boston. It’s a program that flashes words upon the screen at a constant rate to force you to speed read. And it seems to work.
You know something’s up when scientists advertise that they are looking for “an adventurous human woman”. In this case, it’s even better than it sounds: the attempt to create the first Neanderthal baby in 30000 years. Despite the obvious appeal of the mad science involved, I hope we work things out with a dodo or mammoth or auroch or something before meddling with more-or-less humans. [EDIT: Appears to be exaggerated]
This is my nightmare: obsessed student decides to destroy professor’s life with false rumors and allegations.
Most people reading this probably already know that the best birth control in the world is for men. I’m only linking this article because the best pun in the world is the second update at the bottom.
This article is about yet another school shooting where a victim of bullying snaps and unloads a gun on his classmates, but there’s a bit of a twist: the bullies were telling the kid he didn’t have a soul because he was a ginger. This bothers me because society tends to wall off certain areas of insultspace associated with as absolutely unacceptable, and most other areas as obviously all in good fun and if you complain about them you’re just a sore-ass who needs to lighten up. If this kid had been black and shot some people who bullied him with racist taunts, that would be the entire focus of this case. Instead, the article dismisses the taunts as a funny little detail and goes on about how he was reading Eragon at the time instead.
Going to prison increases your future earnings by $11,000 . . . in the crime industry.
An argument that penicillin, rather than birth control, caused the age of free love by eliminating the fear of syphilis?
Two green children wander into town, speaking an unknown language. They will eat only green beans, and when they finally are taught English, they say they come from a world underground where everything is green. One gets sick and dies, the other gets taken in, grows up, and marries a local official. All in a day’s work in medieval England.
Just so that you don’t let media selection bias totally shape your opinions: the French have intervened in Mali’s civil war, easily toppled a violent and dictatorial Islamist militia, been greeted as liberators by the populace, been given an impromptu parade, and had a bunch of Malinese citizens beg them to stick around.
A claim: up until the mid-1600s, the majority of slaves in the New World – over 100,000 of them – were not African but Irish and Irish people were treated even worse than Africans because apparently religious hatred trumps racial hatred if you’re a 17th century Anglo-American. Also contains an interesting economic example of unfortunate incentives: indentured servants were usually treated worse than slaves, because masters’ self-interest was to work the servants to death before their term of indenture ran out whereas it was always useful to make sure your slaves were still around tomorrow.
“President Lyndon B. Johnson was known as an owner of an amphibious car. Apparently he liked to scare new visitors to his ranch by driving them downhill in his amphicar directly into his property’s lake, all the while shouting that the brakes had broken.” Man, they don’t make presidents like they used to.
This article’s title gimmick – South Dakota School of Mines Grads Earn More Than Harvard Grads is technically true, but only at the entry level. But even the mid-career numbers aren’t too far apart – Harvard grads get $116,000, and South Dakota Mining grads $96000. And out-of-state tuition at the latter is “only” about $10K/year. Although “go to mining engineering school!” is probably not a great idea for my particular set of career worries, it seems like possibly a good solution for other people in closely related positions.
Significant only because it suggests there are still people surprised by this: AI prescribes better treatment than doctors.
Researchers investigating the link between violent video games and violent personality usually find some sort of vague weak positive results. But I wasn’t aware that a closely related study – investigating the link between violent video game sales numbers and crime rate numbers – find a significant decrease in crime when video game sales go up. Although this is an epidemiological study which “controls for confounders”, which I don’t trust further than I can throw, it gains some credibility in that it reminds me of the very similar result that pornography has been found to decrease rape, possibly by providing an outlet for the relevant impulses. It seems at least plausible that violent video games might work the same way, and it’s a fun theory to shove in certain annoying people’s faces.
Speaking of which, Iceland tries to ban Internet porn. Iceland is coming dangerously close to losing their position on my “Not actually too dumb, for a country” list. [EDIT: Appears to be exaggerated.]
Remember that claim that “Jewish genius” was mysteriously disappearing but that Ivy League schools were still discriminating in favor of Jews against Asians? It now seems this was just bad statistics, which Andrew Gelman has proceeded to debunk.
A lot of people use the example of Vioxx (a very useful painkiller later found to increase the risk of heart attacks) ever getting approved by the FDA as proof that the medical system sucks. I am not sure of my opinion on that, but think that Vioxx (literally the only drug that could help certain people in constant pain) then getting totally demonized in overreaction until eventually it was forced off the market (as opposed to just getting a “warning: slightly increased risk of heart attacks” label) is proof that the medical system sucks. Possibly relevant to the controversy is that a much more commonly used painkiller, diclofenac, is now found to be just as likely to give you a heart attack as Vioxx. And yet no one has stopped using diclofenac, even though there are a bunch of perfectly good alternatives which wasn’t the case with Vioxx at all.
Dogs seem to have theory of mind – they are more likely to steal food in the dark, when they think a human can’t see them, then in the light when they expect to get caught. Also in animal deception news: cheating monkeys try to hide their infidelity.
Wanna feel slightly more objectified than you did earlier today? Anthropometric and Socioeconomic Matching on the Marriage Market will tell you exactly how much each of your unattractive qualities contributes to the eventual mediocreness of the man or woman you will have to settle for marrying.
Oooh, even more objectification: scientists looking at scans of your brain structure can now determine your political beliefs with 83% accuracy. While having no specific critique of the data, I still find some of these platitudes a bit unsatisfying. “Liberals are more willing than conservatives to accept risk”? Really? What about the risk of starting or intervening in a war? Or the risk of replacing our known-to-be-mediocre government services with private ones that might be either terrible or awesome? Or the risk of something going wrong in your life so that you need the social safety net? Or the risk of catastrophic global warming? Or…or…or..!
Originally saw this .gif titled Burning calcium supplements summons Cthulhu. It did not disappoint. [EDIT: Appears to actually be mercury thiocyanate]
I read Al-Jazeera for the lack of silly meaningless pop news stories, and every so often they surprise me with a silly meaningless pop news story anyway and it is usually awesome. Here is “Gangnam Style”, Gaza-style.
A little while back we discussed whether people strongly identified with their genders, which led to a thread in comments where my mostly male readership debated how they would react to a omnipotent being’s request to turn them into girls. In case you were wondering about Orthodox Judaism’s answer to that question, apparently every morning all male Orthodox Jews say a prayer thanking God for not making them a woman.
In old-timey math, the eighth power of a number was called its zenzizenzizensicus. Come back, old-timey math! We still love you!