August 24, 2012

Posted by orrinj at 5:59 AM

WE ARE ALL DESIGNISTS NOW (inappropriate content):

PLAYBOY INTERVIEW: RICHARD DAWKINS (CHIP ROWE, 8/20/12, Playboy)


PLAYBOY: You've described yourself as a "tooth fairy" agnostic. What is that?

DAWKINS: Rather than say he's an atheist, a friend of mine says, "I'm a tooth fairy agnostic," meaning he can't disprove God but thinks God is about as likely as the tooth fairy.

PLAYBOY: So you don't completely rule out the idea of a supreme being. Critics see that as leaving an opening.

DAWKINS: You can think so, if you think there's an opening for the tooth fairy.

PLAYBOY: It sounds like the argument made by Bertrand Russell, who said that while he could claim a teapot orbited the sun between Earth and Mars, he couldn't expect anyone to believe him just because they couldn't prove him wrong.

DAWKINS: It's the same idea. It's a little unfair to say it's like the tooth fairy. I think a particular god like Zeus or Jehovah is as unlikely as the tooth fairy, but the idea of some kind of creative intelligence is not quite so ridiculous.



Posted by orrinj at 5:28 AM

LIVE LONGER, STORE MORE DATA:

Why does the return journey feel quicker? (WILLIAM REVILLE, 8/16/12, Irish Times)

When you recall the duration of a past experience you must rely on your memory of the event - "retrospective timing". The main psychological model that explains retrospective timing is the "contextual change model". You estimate the duration of the event by recalling the data stored in your memory of the event. The more data stored, the longer the estimation of the duration of the event.

However, different amounts of information can be stored in memory during identical clock-time intervals, depending on several factors, eg the intensity of the information processing in which one is engaged. The higher the intensity, the longer the duration seems to be. In a classic experiment, participants were asked to memorise either a simple [a circle] or complex figure . Although the clock-time allocated to each task was identical, participants later estimated the duration of memorising the complex shape to be significantly longer than for the simple shape.

Posted by orrinj at 5:20 AM

ALL THINGS IN MODERATION:

30 minutes of exercise shown to be as effective as 60 (AFP, August 24, 2012)

A new study out of Copenhagen suggests that 30 minutes of daily exercise is just as effective -- if not more -- than working out for a full hour.

The surprising results were published in the American Journal of Physiology and involved monitoring the weight loss efforts of 60 heavyset, but otherwise healthy, Danish men.

Half of the men were instructed to exercise for an hour a day, while the other half would sweat it out for 30 minutes.

Participants were outfitted with a heart-rate monitor and calorie counter and were told to exercise hard enough to break into a sweat.

On average, men who exercised for just half an hour actually lost more weight than their counterparts, losing on average 3.6kg in three months, compared with 2.7kg among those who exercised for 60 minutes.

Posted by orrinj at 5:06 AM

THE LEFT IS THE RIGHT:

The Wrong Side Absolutely Must Not Win (A. Barton Hinkle | August 20, 2012, Reason)

The past several weeks have made one thing crystal-clear: Our country faces unmitigated disaster if the Other Side wins.

No reasonably intelligent person can deny this. All you have to do is look at the way the Other Side has been running its campaign. Instead of focusing on the big issues that are important to the American People, it has fired a relentlessly negative barrage of distortions, misrepresentations, and flat-out lies.

Just look at the Other Side's latest commercial, which take a perfectly reasonable statement by the candidate for My Side completely out of context to make it seem as if he is saying something nefarious. This just shows you how desperate the Other Side is and how willing it is to mislead the American People.

Meanwhile, throughout the Anglosphere there is no political difference between the two sides.
Posted by orrinj at 5:03 AM

IT WASN'T W THEY HATED, BUT AMERICA:

Getting rid of George W. Bush wasn't enough. The US remains a bully (OWEN JONES, 23 AUGUST 2012, Independent)

This week, the UN's Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Counter-Terrorism, Ben Emmerson QC, demanded that the US allow independent investigation over its use of unmanned drones, or the UN would be forced to step in. These drones target militants, it is claimed, but according to a study by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, between 282 and 585 civilians have died in Pakistan as a result. In one such attack in North Waziristan in 2009, several villagers died in an attempt to rescue victims of a previous strike.

According to Pakistan's US Ambassador, Sherry Rehman, the drone war "radicalises foot soldiers, tribes and entire villages in our region". After the latest strike this week, Pakistan's foreign ministry said the attacks were "a violation of its sovereignty and territorial integrity and are in contravention of international law". Its Parliament has passed a resolution condemning the drone war. It is armed aggression by the Obama administration, pure and simple.

If it was happening under the Bush presidency, the opposition would be vociferous and widespread. But while there were 52 such strikes in Pakistan in eight years of Bush, there have been over 280 in three and a half years of Obama. Numbers have soared in Yemen and Somalia, too. Two months ago, former US President Jimmy Carter described drone attacks as a "widespread abuse of human rights" which "abets our enemies and alienates our friends". He's not wrong: the Pew Research Center found just 7 per cent of Pakistanis had a positive view of Obama, the same percentage as Bush had just before he left office.

But, in the West, Obama can get away with acts that Bush would rightly be pilloried for. Indeed, he seems to think it's all a bit of a laugh: in 2010, he jokingly threatened the Jonas brothers with a Predator drone strike if they came near his daughters. How droll, Barack.

Guantanamo was iconic of Bush's brutality, and after his election Obama signed executive orders mandating its closure. The camp remains open for business, pledged to take new "high-value" detainees if captured. The same goes for Obama's pledge to shut down CIA-run "black site prisons" in Afghanistan. At least 20 secret temporary prisons remain in place, with widespread allegations of ill-treatment. US involvement in a senseless, unwinnable war in the country - ruled by a weak, corrupt government that stole the 2009 presidential election with ballot stuffing, intimidation and fraud - continues.

The UR is W lite.