Archive for July, 2011

Rapa Nui (Easter Island)

July 31, 2011

I always found Jared Diamond a bit rimbombastic (pompously bombastic) and wrong in many issues and assumptions. My worst, or best, chip in the shoulder was his conjecture about the demise of Rapa-Nui “culture(s)” (it made my blood boil with noble rage).  But now, at the WSJ,  Charles C. Mann, of 1491, and now 1493, reviews,  Hunt and Lipo: “The statues that walked” in which the claim is: “It was a rat that caused the sudden collapse of Easter Island’s civilization.” Dont blame the natives. OK?

theyarewatching

not bad for a decimated island

“Today Easter Island is bouncing back, its boom driven in part by eco-tourists who want to see humankind’s most famous environmental catastrophe. Tourists should indeed come to this fascinating place. But this clear and provocative book suggests that the lessons it teaches may have nothing to do with ecological failure.”

Chupate esa Diamond: me cais mal. It would be cool to watch his theories go down one by one: especially his “position” on the megafauna extinction in North America, attributed to who else? the Natives.” The english speaking white bias against original cultures is obscene and unfounded.

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You have to be kiddin…

July 30, 2011

“The rising cost of food has led to an increase in foraging in city parks, according to New York officials say. At right, Leda Meredith leads foraging tours in Prospect Park. ‘ (unimportant pic)

The NYT, July 30

European Neandertals (i liked older spelling better)

July 29, 2011

Im puzzled, a bit, from Science, Mellars and French, chracterization of Neandertals as europeans: (or at least this bunch).

outcrowding

Abstracto: “European Neandertals were replaced by modern human populations from Africa ~40,000 years ago. Archaeological evidence from the best-documented region of Europe shows that during this replacement human populations increased by one order of magnitude, suggesting that numerical supremacy alone may have been a critical factor in facilitating this replacement.”

A coment from Science editors:

“Modern humans migrated into Eurasia about 40,000 years ago and rapidly replaced the existing Neandertal populations, driving them to extinction. Genetic data imply that one reason modern humans were so successful is that their populations were greater—although better tools and different social structures also may have been important. Mellars and French  (p. 623) analyzed the archaeological records in one well-studied region of France to better assess population changes. The number of sites, density of food processing at the sites, and extent of occupations imply that after the transition, modern humans were 10 times as abundant as the preceding Neandertal population. Thus, the rapidity and success of the transition may have been largely a matter of numbers.”

 

More on the Rigor in Scence: human nature & medicine

July 29, 2011

Paxil study under fire, Nature, July 12: “The contentious issue of drug-industry influence over medical-research writing erupted on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia this week. A professor of psychiatry has alleged that several colleagues — including the chair of his department — allowed their names to be added to a manuscript while ceding control to the global pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). The professor, Jay Amsterdam, also claims that the manuscript, written with an unacknowledged contractor paid by GSK, unduly promotes the company’s antidepressant drug Paxil (paroxetine), the subject of the study.”

The NYT today (July 29): Carl Elliott : “LAST month, the Archives of Internal Medicine published a scathing reassessment of a 12-year-old research study of Neurontin, a seizure drug made by Pfizer. The study, which had included more than 2,700 subjects and was carried out by Parke-Davis (now part of Pfizer), was notable for how poorly it was conducted. The investigators were inexperienced and untrained, and the design of the study was so flawed it generated few if any useful conclusions. ”

Man oh man…!!

The Rigor in Science: The Atlantic on New Age Medicine.

July 28, 2011

David H Freedman writes: “Medicine has long decried acupuncture, homeopathy, and the like as dangerous nonsense that preys on the gullible. Again and again, carefully controlled studies have shown alternative medicine to work no better than a placebo. But now many doctors admit that alternative medicine often seems to do a better job of making patients well, and at a much lower cost, than mainstream care—and they’re trying to learn from it.”

Rigor in Science with good news for you, old-folks babblers.

July 28, 2011

NATURE, 27 July 2011. Neuronal basis of age-related working memory decline. Min Wang, Nao J. Gamo, Yang Yang, Lu E. Jin, Xiao-Jing Wang, Mark Laubach, James A. Mazer, Daeyeol Lee & Amy F. T. Arnsten  et al. Nature doi:10.1038/nature10243.

From the abstract: “Many of the cognitive deficits of normal ageing (forgetfulness, distractibility, inflexibility and impaired executive functions) involve prefrontal cortex (PFC) dysfunction1, 2, 3, 4. The PFC guides behaviour and thought using working memory5, which are essential functions in the information age. Many PFC neurons hold information in working memory through excitatory networks that can maintain persistent neuronal firing in the absence of external stimulation6. ” The punch line: ” These findings reveal the cellular basis of age-related cognitive decline in dorsolateral PFC, and demonstrate that physiological integrity can be rescued by addressing the molecular needs of PFC circuits.”

In short; guanfacine, a hypertension, ADD drug may “upgrade” older forgetful neurons to younger, “good memory” ones. How about that, hypertension drug restores memory (well in changos anyways)..only in america. Good job Amy.

Rigor in Science: hilarious papers.

July 27, 2011

Fresh from the presses:

Case study N1. From the Helsinki Centre of Economic Research: Male Organ and Economic Growth: Does Size Matter*? Abstract: This paper explores the link between economic development and penile length between 1960 and 1985. It estimates an augmented Solow model utilizing the Mankiw-Romer-Weil 121 country dataset. The size of male organ is found to have an inverse U-shaped relationship with the level of GDP in 1985. It can alone explain over 15% of the variation in GDP. The GDP maximizing size is around 13.5 centimetres, and a collapse in economic development is identified as the size of male organ exceeds 16 centimetres. Economic growth between 1960 and 1985 is negatively associated with the size of male organ, and italone explains 20% of the variation in GDP growth. With due reservations it is also found to be more important determinant of GDP growth than country’s political regime type. Controlling for male organ slows convergence and mitigates the negative effect of population growth on economic development slightly. Although all evidence is suggestive at this stage, the `male organ hypothesis’ put forward here is robust to exhaustive set of controls and rests on surprisingly strong correlation. Keywords: economic growth, development, male organ, penile length, Solow model. Tatu Westling Department of Political and Economic Studies.

This “discussion paper’ has been amply publicised.

Case study n.2. (via economist). Sex with a good looking man is more likeley to elicit a female orgasm than having sex, say, with DSK? According to The Economist, Dr. Puts’ lab will be publishing this study in Evolution and Human Behaviour. I couldnt find a  paper in Dr Puts “in the press”  list.  Will just have to wait.

Case study n. 3. A man with a wide face will probably hit you if you piss him off.  Michael P. Haselhuhn and Elaine M. Wong. Bad to the bone: facial structure predicts unethical behaviour. Proc. R.Soc. B Biology. July 7. Read it and laugh/weep/laugh. No wonder Jack Palance was always beating the crap out of everybody.

A propos of LHC whimper(s).

July 26, 2011

Allegedly (favourite word these days: remember Sunny Davis in Protocol? : “Ill show you alleged”…patting her glorious right gluteus) forecasts of Higgs are delirious. At Not Even wrong, P. Voigt writes: ” Over the past few days the results of the 2011 LHC run have been revealed at the EPS-HEP 2011 conference in Grenoble, where a press conference today marked the beginning of the next part of the conference, featuring summary talks. For some discussion of these results see for example here, here, here, here and here. The bottom line is much stronger results ruling out supersymmetry, extra dimensions, black holes and other exotica, restriction of the possible mass range of the Higgs to about 114-150 GeV, and a tantalizingly small and not yet statistically significant excess of possible Higgs events in the mass range 120-145 GeV.”

So? Nada, a whole bunch of string theorists are wrigging and wrigling, twitching and twirling, which reminds me of TS Eliot:

The Hollow men (TS Eliot, 1925)

Here we go round the prickly pear
Prickly pear prickly pear
Here we go round the prickly pear
At five o’clock in the morning.
Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow
                                        For Thine is the Kingdom
Between the conception
And the creation
Between the emotion
And the response
Falls the Shadow
                                                    Life is very long
Between the desire
And the spasm
Between the potency
And the existence
Between the essence
And the descent
Falls the Shadow
                                        For Thine is the Kingdom
For Thine is
Life is
For Thine is the

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.”

PS: many are quiet today, finally. Well, sort if, from viXra.rg (the home team, sorta):

“The Higgs sector does not look like what the standard model predicts. There are hints of something in the light mass window but it does not look like the SM Higgs. It does not have sufficient cross-section and may be spread out over too wide a mass range. It is too early to say what that is, or even if anything is really there. Much more data must be collected so that each experiment can separately say what it sees. That could take until the end of next year, but we will certainly have more clues at the end of this year. If the Standard Model is out, then we cannot be sure that some heavier Higgs is not another possibility. It just wont be the SM Higgs.” (trumplets blaring…)

Breaching Life

July 25, 2011

Lucian Freud died at 88, of a brief illness (sic) the same week that Amy Winehouse, 27, died of allegedly, a brief overdose. In diffent metrics, both were brilliant and powerful in their art. Resplandescent.

 Lucian sailed thru-no doubt rough oceans- life and arrived to death port without breaching his “physical” life; Amy arrived to death port without sailing. Naked man as Freud, imprinted  his canvas with all his rawness and depth.

lucian freud as amy

Lucian and Amy lived “extraordinary’ (sensu nonordinary) lives. In the voice of Alicia Alonso, the phenomenal cuban prima ballerina assoluta, choreographer and ballet director when asked if she was happy” Happy? Whats happy? I do-I live-ballet: thats life. She is like a 100 years old. Somehow Alonso survived herself, so did Freud, who lived dangerously and painted away. Amy Winehouse is-was- a Freuds’ painting.  Genuine, shocking and overwhelming. She breached her life. The other two breached life.

Amy as Lucian

One can contemplate Freuds’ death without cringing. One can contemplate Winehouse’s death but cringing, recoiling to the monstrous aberration of death uninvited.

Somebody mentioned that Keith Richards and Eric Clapton had close calls, both heroin addicted, what save them? NOT themselves.

Time to get serious. right

July 24, 2011

Nothing better for an adregernic surge to listen the formerly orange, speaker of the house, saying: “time to get serious”…sir, you cant be serious! a la McEnroe….

oh and then Brit Hume (a disgrace for the last name) pontificate about it. Great before the gym.

I always wondered what kind of jerk uses seriousness as a handle? What is not being serious?