Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Rev. Jeremiah Wright's newest comments

Here is a new clip from the Obama-Wright saga:
Barack Obama said Tuesday he was outraged and appalled by the latest comments from his former pastor, who asserted that criticism of his fiery sermons is an attack on the black church and the U.S. government was responsible for the creation of the AIDS virus.
Seriously? This pastor married Sen. Obama and his wife, and he baptized their children! Read the rest of the article here.

Guantánamo drives prisoners insane, lawyers say

A new article came out about the treatment of Guantanamo prisoners. Check out this story Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a Yemeni who was once a driver for Osama bin Laden. He is supposed to be working on his defense for his trial next month:
...But his lawyers say he cannot. They say Hamdan, already the subject of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, has essentially been driven insane by solitary confinement in a tiny cell where he spends at least 22 hours a day, goes to the bathroom and eats all his meals. His defense team says he is suicidal, hears voices, has flashbacks, talks to himself and says the restrictions of Guantánamo "boil his mind..."
...Conditions are more isolating than many death rows and maximum-security prisons in the United States, said Jules Lobel, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh who is an expert on U.S. prison conditions...
Read the rest of the International Herald Tribune article here.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Boy or Girl? The Answer May Depend on Mom’s Eating Habits

According to the NY Times, how much a new mother eats at the time of conception may influence the sex of her child:
...The report, from researchers at Oxford and the University of Exeter in England, is said to be the first evidence that a child’s sex is associated with a mother’s diet. Although sex is genetically determined by whether sperm from the father supplies an X or Y chromosome, it appears that a mother’s body can favor the successful development of a male or female embryo.

The study, published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, shows a link between higher energy intake around the time of conception and the birth of sons. The difference is not huge, but it may be enough to help explain the falling birthrate of boys in industrialized countries, including the United States and Britain...
Read the rest of the article here.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Cognitive Dissonance

John Tierny writes about the Monty Hall Problem:

Here’s how Monty’s deal works, in the math problem, anyway. (On the real show it was a bit messier.) He shows you three closed doors, with a car behind one and a goat behind each of the others. If you open the one with the car, you win it. You start by picking a door, but before it’s opened Monty will always open another door to reveal a goat. Then he’ll let you open either remaining door.

Suppose you start by picking Door 1, and Monty opens Door 3 to reveal a goat. Now what should you do? Stick with Door 1 or switch to Door 2?

Before I tell you the answer, I have a request. No matter how convinced you are of my idiocy, do not immediately fire off an angry letter. In 1991, when some mathematicians got publicly tripped up by this problem, I investigated it by playing the game with Monty Hall himself at his home in Beverly Hills, but even that evidence wasn’t enough to prevent a deluge of letters demanding a correction.

Before you write, at least try a few rounds of the game, which you can do by playing an online version of the game. Play enough rounds and the best strategy will become clear: You should switch doors.

He says that this problem also arises in other types of experiments. We have a remarkable ability to rationalize our choices even when they do not improve our "happiness". Read the article here.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Betting to Improve the Odds

Leading corporations are now using prediction markets to asses whether their new ides will succeed or fail. These prediciton markets use virtual currency to predict whether a new product will succeed in the market. The prizes are usually modest, cash or an ipod, if the investors "win". Learn more about the technique here.

Has Hillary Clinton's Campaign caused the fourth wave of feminism?

The New Yorker seems to think so. Find out the details here.

Tina Fey on SNL: "Bitch is the New Black"

Tina Fey on Hilary Clinton: "She is [a bitch]. And so am I. Bitches get stuff done. That's why Catholic Schools use nuns instead of priests... At the end of the year you hated those bitches, but you knew the capital of Vermont."

Monday, April 14, 2008

Monday, April 7, 2008

Emotions that trigger financial risk

A brain-scan study from Northwester University professor Camelia Kuhnen found a link between financial risk and sex.
When young men were shown erotic pictures, they were more likely to make a larger financial gamble than if they were shown a picture of something scary, such a snake, or something neutral, such as a stapler, university researchers reported.
No wonder so many attractive women work in Vegas Casinos. Read the rest of the Huffington Post article here. (Thanks Haoming for the find.)

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Greece vs. the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

The NY Times featured two views about the Greece/Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (Fyrom) argument. In one article, the authors note that Fyrom walked out of the NATO summit on Thursday because of increasing tensions with Greece over the use of the name "Macedonia". You can view this editorial here.

The Times also featured a rebuttal, explaining that Greece has been flexible with Macedonia over the past few years, but has hit a few stumbling blocks including when:
...Authorities in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, or Fyrom, portray Greek Macedonia as “occupied” territory, refusing to remove such claims from textbooks, speeches, articles, documents and maps of “Greater Macedonia,” which includes parts of northern Greece...
Read the rebuttal here.

How to Figure Out When Therapy Is Over

How do you know when it is time to break-up with your therapist? Now that therapy has become an expensive form of chatting, the NY Times gives some hints about how to end the relationship. Learn them here.

Friday, April 4, 2008

70 Year Old Man Joins 1st Grade

Need a midday pick-me-up? Check out this video about a 70 year old man who goes back to first grade to fulfill a life-long desire to learn how to read. It's only two minutes long.

Watch the video here.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The Lost Decade

(Click picture for larger image.)

Here is a disheartening report in the WSJ:
Over the past 200 years, the stock market's steady upward march occasionally has been disrupted for long stretches, most recently during the Great Depression and the inflation-plagued 1970s. The current market turmoil suggests that we may be in another lost decade.

The stock market is trading right where it was nine years ago. Stocks, long touted as the best investment for the long term, have been one of the worst investments over the nine-year period, trounced even by lowly Treasury bonds. (!)
Read the rest of the article here.

Explaining Religion... Biologically

Scientists at the European particle-physics labratory (CERN) in Geneva are spending $3.1 million dollars "on the search for God-himself -- or, rather, for the biological reasons why so many people believe in God, gods and religion in general. 'Explaining Religion', as the project is known, is the largest-ever scientific study of the subject" Read the rest of the Economist article here.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Why are jeans blue?

"Denim is unique in it's singular connection with one colour. the warp yarn is traditionally dyed with the blue pigment obtained from indigo dye. Until the introduction of synthetic dyes, at the end of the 19th century, indigo was the most significant natural dye known to mankind,linked with practical (sic) fabrics and work clothing. the durability of indigo as a colour and it's darkness of tone made it a good choice, when frequent washing was not possible. In 1870 BASF in Germany, originally suppliers of natural indigo had started the search for a synthetic substitute, in 1894 the process was perfected." - Designboom.com

Why Women Aren’t C.E.O.s, According to Women Who Almost Were

"It’s not a pipeline problem. It’s about loneliness, competition and deeply rooted barriers." Read more in the NYT .