Random Thoughts

I haven't been on this site in a while, and in looking at a past article it strikes me that some of my previously posted views have changed. (Congratulations, right?) Normally, this is the kind of thing I'd tuck away in some cortical sulcus, but I think it's worth posting because it has got me thinking about some bigger questions. My post on commercial brain-computer interfaces from November of last year meandered around that peculiar industry for a bit and ultimately examined a study in which the authors discuss a proof-of-concept for pulling out volunteers' banking locations, ATM PINs, and the like. I ended the piece with these thoughts:
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), is always in conflict with itself. While it claims to care about animals, it also kills about 90% of the animals it takes in. While they advocate less meat consumption, the people they rally around that flag abuse animals with dietary quackery and forced ideology, like the recent case of a dying kitten who was non-responsive when brought to a veterinarian by its vegan owners - who told them a diet of potatoes, rice milk and pasta was killing their cat.(1) The posturing of PETA members overall is cloying, but nothing like most vegans.
A recent article suggested that many of the buttons/toggles that we experience in our daily lives don't actually do anything, but that simply reinforce an expectation and foster a superstition.

The problem with this article is that it doesn't actually offer any evidence that these buttons don't work.  I know that despite the assertion in the article, many people are skeptical about whether some buttons make a difference [i.e. close elevator door], but equally there are enough incidences that demonstrate that they do work most of the time.

It didn't take long before the Netflix dramedy hit "Orange Is The New Black" made its way into Psychology of Women Quarterly, a publication devoted to peer-reviewing the feminist science.

With all that humor and girl kissing and talk of beatdowns, you know an editor was excited about the chance to link a paper to the show in a press release - things have been rather tame, culturally, for readers and contributors there since "The L Word" went off the air. The American Psychological Association is, as always, happy to ride a cultural wave.(1)


What do anti-science groups do that science never seems to do?

Trot out naked women.

PETA - constantly, Greenpeace - sure, using cheescake to raise money for their corporate agenda is nothing new for groups that have neither data nor reason nor ethics.

But Babes Against Biotech is not even hiding behind a pretense of caring about a naturalistic fallacy. It is so ridiculous and goofy I at first assumed that some evil corporation had created it to make anti-science hippies look sexist.
The Dolomites are a mountain range in north-eastern Italy. They take their name from the mineral called dolomite, a carbonate rock which gives these mountains a characteristic pale pink colour, especially notable at sunset. Their composition is also responsible, at least in part, for their shape.

Most of the peaks are in the 2500-3000 meters of height above sea level, the tallest being mount "Marmolada", at 3342 meters. Despite being less tall than other mountain ridges in the Italian Alps, the Dolomites are reknowned for their breathtaking landscapes, as well as for the ski slopes they offer, especially -but not only- in the region around Cortina d'Ampezzo.
9-year-old Carissa Yip is probably better at chess than you. She is certainly better than me and already better than 93 percent of the 51,000 plus players registered with the U.S. Chess Federation.

She has set a goal to reach 2,100 this year; an Expert is anyone ranked over 2,000 while at 2,200 you are considered a Master. She also wants to one day become the first female to win the overall championship — not just in the female category, her father told The Boston Globe.
Last year, Julie Stitt offered to donate a kidney to her husband, Chuck, who was in kidney failure.

Julie wasn't a match for Chuck but they entered the Paired Kidney Exchange (PKE) program at the University of Maryland Medical Center, which would move Chuck higher up on the transplant list and enable him to get a kidney from a matching living donor; in return, Julie would donate her kidney to a stranger that she matched.

Chuck got his kidney transplant courtesy of an unknown donor in December of 2012. Julie, had just started a new job as a 2nd grade teacher so asked to wait until the summer break in 2013 to have her kidney donation surgery for a stranger.
Backwards is a nicely fitting description for how I have come to be who and what I am. This is my story.

Many scientists go the traditional route of undergrad > master's/TA > Ph.D. > postdoc/adjunct > TT > tenured > retired, all the while gathering publications, students, teaching awards, and of course, prestige.
"Sharknado" Is Pure Liberal Propaganda. But Is It Also Scientifically Possible?" went the title of a Mother Jones article before a sensible editor considered the possibility that there might be 5 people in the world who aren't aware that Mother Jones loves liberal propaganda and changed it to the more sensible "Can a "Sharknado" Really Happen?"