Recent Articles

Diane Feinstein doesn’t like it when she herself is the victim of government spying

| March 18, 2014 | Reply

Hypocrisy is not a beautiful thing, though sometimes it is a tiny bit gratifying. Rolling Stone reports. My favorite is #8:

8. The CIA was so angered by the Senate having its hands on the Panetta Review that it spied on the work of its Senate overseers.

[O]n January 15, 2014, CIA Director [John] Brennan requested an emergency meeting to inform me and Vice Chairman Chambliss that without prior notification or approval, CIA personnel had conducted a “search” – that was John Brennan’s word – of the committee computers at the offsite facility. This search involved not only a search of documents provided to the committee by the CIA, but also a search of the “stand alone” and “walled-off” committee network drive containing the committee’s own internal work product and communications.

According to Brennan, the computer search was conducted in response to indications that some members of the committee staff might already have had access to the Internal Panetta Review. The CIA did not ask the committee or its staff if the committee had access to the Internal Review, or how we obtained it.

Instead, the CIA just went and searched the committee’s computers.

Read More

How to break habits

How to break habits

| March 18, 2014 | Reply

This is a good collection of advice on how to break a bad habit.

Here are the first 3 steps:

Step 1: Define the habit. What is the behavior you want to stop?

Step 2: Identify your trigger. What is the cue that sets you off? It can be subtle — a time of day, a memory, an odor, an emotion or a set routine. Ask yourself: I do this habit whenever I [fill in the blank]?

Step 3: Identify the reinforcement. What are you really getting out of this action?

Read More

Foot in the door effect

| March 17, 2014 | Reply

This video makes the point that you might want to get your foot in the door before seeking the full measure of what you seek.

Read More

Bug church

| March 17, 2014 | 1 Reply

Here’s another religion cartoon I spotted on FB. Can’t quite make out the author, or I would provide full attribution.

bug church

Read More

Amazing pool shots

| March 15, 2014 | Reply

I’ve always enjoyed these creative collections of billiards trick shots.

Read More

Collapse of industrial civilization

| March 15, 2014 | Reply

As reported by the U.K. Guardian, the unsustainable ways of modern societies is posing a serious threat:

A new study sponsored by Nasa’s Goddard Space Flight Center has highlighted the prospect that global industrial civilisation could collapse in coming decades due to unsustainable resource exploitation and increasingly unequal wealth distribution.

Noting that warnings of ‘collapse’ are often seen to be fringe or controversial, the study attempts to make sense of compelling historical data showing that “the process of rise-and-collapse is actually a recurrent cycle found throughout history.” Cases of severe civilisational disruption due to “precipitous collapse – often lasting centuries – have been quite common.”

Read More

How Tigers Get their Stripes

| March 15, 2014 | Reply

Alan Turing was an amazing man. London researchers have recently substantiated one of his theories regarding repeated biological patterns:

[The] study, funded by the Medical Research Council and to be published online in Nature Genetics, not only demonstrates a mechanism which is likely to be widely relevant in vertebrate development, but also provides confidence that chemicals called morphogens, which control these patterns, can be used in regenerative medicine to differentiate stem cells into tissue.
The findings provide evidence to support a theory first suggested in the 1950s by famous code-breaker and mathematician Alan Turing, whose centenary falls this year. He put forward the idea that regular repeating patterns in biological systems are generated by a pair of morphogens that work together as an ‘activator’ and ‘inhibitor’.

Read More

Some more of my favorite quotes

| March 15, 2014 | 1 Reply

I periodically publish quotes I have collected. Here is the latest batch (and here is my entire collection). Not particular topic this time:

“A boat is safe in the harbor. But this is not the purpose of a boat.”
Paulo Coelho

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”
― Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad/Roughing It

America’s “culture of death”: “a culture that embraces a soulless free-market idolatry in which the value of everything, including human beings, is determined by the bottom line. … It is a culture of death that prevails on Wall Street, K-Street, Hollywood, and our ever expanding Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex.”
Rich Broderick, journalist who writes for the online Twin Cities Daily Planet

“I prayed for twenty years but received no answer until I prayed with my legs.”
Frederick Douglass

“What is absurd and monstrous about war is that men who have no personal quarrel should be trained to murder one another in cold blood.”
Aldous Huxley

“Whatever you may be sure of, be sure of this-that you are dreadfully like other people.”
James Russell Lowell (1819 – 1891)

“Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.”

Godwins’ Law – the idea that as an online discussion grows longer the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one.

“Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.”
Pablo Picasso

“Education isn’t something you can finish.”
Isaac Asimov

If a thing isn’t worth saying, you sing it.
Pierre Beaumarchais (1732 – 1799)

“Don’t think money does everything or you are going to end up doing everything for money.” Voltaire

“If the only thing keeping you from being a horrible person is your religion, you are already a horrible person.”
Someecards (on Facebook)

“The greatest challenge to any thinker is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution.”
Bertrand Russell (1872 – 1970)

Read More

Head versus Heart – Animation of what happens on a date.

| March 15, 2014 | Reply

Everyone on a date with someone who is attractive struggles, at least occasionally. The head fights the heart. But this struggle actually happens in many contexts. I enjoyed this animation.

Read More