Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for January 18th, 2013

Rachel Maddow on trolling

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Very interesting segment and sound analysis:

Written by LeisureGuy

18 January 2013 at 8:02 pm

Posted in Guns, Video

CVS manager murders a homeless man for stealing a tube of toothpaste

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The headline says it all. It’s a staggering story. The police, who have footage of the murder happening (and the video is shown at the link) have decided that throwing a man to the ground and choking him to death with your hands is an “accidental death.” Interesting. That was in Chicago, though, where they may have a different and more tolerant of homicide.

Written by LeisureGuy

18 January 2013 at 4:48 pm

Posted in Business

Another review of Going Clear

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Read this review in the NY Times. I don’t think I’ll be joining the Church of Scientology.

Written by LeisureGuy

18 January 2013 at 4:25 pm

The endless fight to create ignorance

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It’s amazing how many will fight to prevent knowledge from happening: these are people who (rightly) fear that their ideological or political position is contrary to fact, but they love their ideology so much that they will try to hide facts so that the ideology will be supported—as if holding contrary-to-fact views has no penalties or repercussions.

Obviously, I do not understand the mindset: it seems obviously better to me to base decisions and directions on factual evidence, but a strong minority disagrees and will fight not only to remain ignorant but to keep others ignorant, even though they clearly know that their efforts are to suppress facts. Weird.

Here’s an example, described by Dan Cossims in The Scientist:

Seven US government fisheries scientists this week (January 7) made a formal complaint in which they claim that an administrative official planned to shut down their department because results of their research into the fate of species of salmon under threat in the Klamath River Basin, Oregon, ran counter to those of other agencies.

“This falls into the basket of obstruction of science for policy or political ends,” Jeff Ruch, executive director of the Washington DC-based watchdog Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), told Nature. PEER sent the letter of complaint to the Department of Interior on behalf of scientists at the US Bureau of Reclamation office in Klamath Falls, who have worked on predictive models for the survival and recovery of the threatened coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch), which many environmentalists believe is suffering due to a series of hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River.

Last November, Klamath Basin Area Manager Jason Phillips outlined plans to reassign scientists from the Bureau’s Fisheries Research Branch (FBR), effectively eliminating the department. In the letter of complaint, the scientists allege that Phillips’s actions stemmed from his belief that their predictive models ran counter to the findings of the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

“Since the NOAA Fisheries had raised concerns regarding this model, Mr. Phillips stated that he did not intend to allow the model to be published, be ‘shelved’ and not used by Reclamation on its decision making process,” read the letter.  “Mr. Phillips further stated that he was eliminating the Fisheries Resources Branch so that this kind of work would no longer cause problems for NOAA Fisheries.”

Phillips told Nature the plans are not related to the research, though he acknowledged that he had received complaints from the FWS and NOAA about how some FBR scientists in responded to criticisms during standard scientific reviews. Pete Lucero, a regional spokesperson for the Bureau, confirmed the move is part of a routine re-organization.

Written by LeisureGuy

18 January 2013 at 10:47 am

The importance of reading fiction

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Joss Fong has an interesting article in The Scientist about the importance of reading (and understanding) fiction:

“I tell this to everyone,” Maria Konnikova said in a delicate voice, poised atop a blue exercise ball: “I think you lead an impoverished life if you only read nonfiction.” Her stylish Manhattan apartment is spotless save one detail—the coffee table in her airy living room is covered with stacks of books. Speaking with Konnikova, you get the sense that the books, more than the apartment, are her real home.

Konnikova is a Russian-born doctoral candidate in psychology at Columbia University, where her research probes the minds of people with high self-control. She is also a prolific freelance writer and is working on a novel. Her first book Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes, which combines insights from psychological science and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories, was released last week (January 3).

“I think the best psychologists are actually fiction writers,” Konnikova said. “Their understanding of the human mind is so far beyond where we’ve been able to get with psychology as a science.”

The narrow focus required by scientific research can miss the big picture, Konnikova said; researchers often tinker around the edges of wisdom elucidated by novelists a hundred years ago. “You need the careful experimentation, but you also need to take a step back and realize that fiction writers are seeing a broader vista and are capable of providing you with insights or even ideas for studies.”

In her case, fiction provided an idea for a nonfiction book about effective reasoning. In Mastermind, Konnikova draws anecdotes from Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes canon to highlight decades of psychological research on decision-making and mental shortcuts. She suggests emulating Holmes’ crime-solving habits to tackle our own more prosaic puzzles, such as making career decisions and navigating interpersonal situations.

The key, Konnikova said, . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

18 January 2013 at 10:39 am

Posted in Books, Education, Science

Benefits of having siblings

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Interest article by Ruth Williams in the The Scientist:

Siblings sometimes squabble, but they might also be helping each other become more trustworthy, conscientious, and optimistic individuals, according to a report published today (Jan 10) in Science. The study, which looked at people born in Beijing just prior to or just after the introduction of the One-Child Policy, reveals a number of personality differences in adulthood most likely attributable to the presence or absence of siblings.

“They’ve identified this opportunity to establish a causal relationship between being a single child and how one behaves,” said Abigail Barr, a professor of economics at the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom, who was not involved in the study. “And they’ve used lab-type experiments to do the measurements. It’s really good science.”

The One-Child Policy, introduced in 1979, is a unique natural experiment, said Lisa Cameron, a professor of econometrics and business statistics at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, who led the study. But it’s also politically controversial. “In China, there is concern about the One-Child Policy generation,” said Cameron. “There have been calls for the abolition of the policy on the basis of [that generation having] poor social skills, but there’s been no research documenting whether it has actually had an impact on people.”

Most research seems to suggest few if any personality effects of being an only child. “Studies done in other countries have found that only children are very much like other children,” said Susan Newman, a social psychologist and author of The Case for The Only Child. “You have hundreds of studies that actually contradict the findings here.” Indeed, even previous studies of only children in China found them to be largely similar to kids with siblings.

However, said Cameron, “If you just compare only children with others, what you end up identifying is the effect of being an only child plus the effect of family background.” That is, parents who choose to have an only child may differ from those who chose to have many, be it in their parenting style, personality, genetics, or other attributes. “You can’t get a clean measure of what it means to be an only child,” she said.

Because the One-Child Policy removes parents’ choice, it eliminates the family-background variable, Cameron explained, so “we can isolate the effect of being an only child.”

The team also controlled for cultural background and, as closely as possible, for age, recruiting people who were born in Beijing no more than 5 years before or after the policy’s introduction and who grew up in the city. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

18 January 2013 at 10:32 am

Posted in Daily life, Science

Elite Razor and Omega Boar

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SOTD 18 Jan 2013

Breaking in a new Omega boar: first actual use (after a couple of practice lathers), and I’m happy to report that it held plenty of lather for the three passes—thanks in part, no doubt, to the excellent RazoRock Napoleon Violet shaving soap, which produced an excellent lather quickly and easily.

Three passes with the red jasper Elite Razor, this one with an Edwin Jagger head and hold a Swedish Gillette blade. Very smooth finish, to which a good splash of Krampert’s Bay Rum was applied. Ready for the day once more!

Written by LeisureGuy

18 January 2013 at 10:06 am

Posted in Shaving

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