Sunday, May 31, 2009
Friday, May 29, 2009
A new Nature study demonstrates two dopamine pathways - one tuned for salience of reward, and one tuned for salience of general value (both punishment and reward).
Go. Read. Now. I'll wait until you get back.
OK, isn't that freaking awesome?!! Did you see the differences in firing patterns during the air puff vs. juice for the second set of neurons? That's GORGEOUS - this study showed us SO MUCH. OooMmmGgg, I wonder what it all means! Brains are so very deliciously complicated.
I love neural pathways, I love gorgeously tuned populations of neurons, I love firing patterns, I love raster graphs, I love primate studies, I love Scicurious, I love dopamine, I love neuroscience, I love new discoveries. I'm squeeing my head off over here.
Hopefully these results are replicable. (Nature isn't always so good with that... but this seems like a well-done study. Preemptive squee!)
Monday, May 25, 2009
But sometimes people submit the most ridiculous antifeminist things...
Such as 18 General and Contradictory Criticisms of Women, where I am informed about all the things men (as a cohesive unit, apparently!) hate about me.
Oh, and there's also Four Ways You're Not Catering To Teh Menz, that will set me straight about my horrible tendency to talk to LotR fans about my favorite winery in Napa, which is clearly costing me the opportunity to get swept off my feet by charming shiny knights.
Look, if you're tempted to write down your personal list of pet peeves about an entire class of people in list-based format... just stop it. Stop it. You're embarassing yourselves. The only people who can pull that off are Cracked writers, and even they just barely squeak by sometimes.
Sunday, May 24, 2009
But my pro-Cesarean and pro-medical-care views are not the only problem I have with this ridiculous article.
I'm only going to address the most egregious lines from it, because otherwise I'd be here all day. And this article is only about 600 words long!
Inducing childbirth -- bringing on or hastening labor with the drug oxytocin, also raises the risk of complications that lead to cesareans. Experts say miscalculations often result in the delivery of infants who are too young to breathe on their own.Dudes - lungs are functioning at the 27th-29th week of pregnancy. No one would induce a child more than a week early. Yes, at that point the baby can very well breathe on its own.
Cesareans also have been shown to increase premature births and the need for intensive care for newborns.Citation needed. And... how? (If you mean children born later to women who have Cesareans, then maybe. Maybe.)
Most U.S. physicians discourage vaginal deliveries after a cesarean because of some widely publicized cases several years ago in which the uterus split disastrously along the prior incision. The modern C-section in the United States is the low transverse, an incision in the bottom part of the uterus, from side to side. Those heal better. All the studies say, in those types of incisions, the risk is less than 1%, probably a half percent that it will open during labor. Doctor's will insist on a C-section again for the second birth because of a 1% chance of a uterine rupture.DUDE. I'd like to point out, 1% isn't a very small number. That's one instance out of every hundred. Yeah, I'd certainly like to avoid a 1% chance of my uterus erupting catastrophically during childbirth, putting both me and my baby in imminent danger.
I mean, there are legitimate things to say about the overmedicalization of all that. But this article either doesn't say them, or says them very, very poorly.
Saturday, May 23, 2009
[California] Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, has written legislation to allow the legal sale of marijuana to adults 21 years and older for recreational use. His Assembly Bill 390 would charge cannabis wholesalers initial and annual flat fees, while retailers would pay $50 per ounce to the state.From AP, as reported by the Miami Herald.
I liked PZ before this article, no denying it. He's at the top of my blagroll. I've always thought he was pretty groovy. But this? This changes everything.
PZ Myers, if you came to Pittsburgh this summer (before August 1 when I move out of state for grad school - btw, if you ever want to vacation in Tampa, you're totally welcome to crash at my place literally anytime, anytime you'd like, I'd sleep on the couch and you could use my room, it'd totally be cool), I'd be one of the first in line to buy tickets to PZ-stravaganza, and I'd sit outside your trailer afterwards -because all superstars have trailers, naturally - with a homemade "PZ is my homeboy" T-shirt waiting and hoping for an autograph. If I were permitted the great honor and privilege of meeting you in person, I'd present you with frankincense and myrrh. I would camp out on 279 to eagerly await your presence, and as you approached I'd throw palm fronds onto the highway to herald your presence.
I would not, however, wash your feet. That would be creepy.
But seriously now, that was a really good article. Go, PZ! You tell 'em!
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Well, member of the Sciborg collective Coturnix has an absolutely intense link roundup about Ida on his blog. So, go over there and read about it to your heart's content.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
I've already shared a couple of my picks with you. Having a terrible memory, I checked in on that post to write down my preferred candidates... and found that I had acquired a troll! Lovely!
My good anonymous friend had been telling me about PA Super Lawyer Phil Ignelzi when all of a sudden this guy shows up:
Ronald said...I had a couple responses to this. Firstly, a judge who doesn't make rulings based on anti-gay or misogynist bigotry is a judge I'd like on the bench. A lesbian mother doesn't get cut out from her child's life? Fantastic. Second, if she did anything like rule against child care or condone tax fraud, link me up. Otherwise, Ronald's 'objections' actually encourages me to vote for Leah Williams-Duncan.
Do not vote for Leah Williams Duncan. For 4 years she has been refusing rights of men and their children rewarding woman who abandon their children to live a Lesbian lifestyle. She has also refused child care for those children. She has been taking away funds for the childs care to forward her Gay agenda. Pittsburgh does not need a judge that refuses the rights of children and punish the morally correct and reward immoral lifestyles. She was a single parent trying to raise her children but refuse to make woman pay for their infidelity. She keeps imposing her immoral views from the bench instead of enforcing the laws as she is supposed to. I also watched as she laughed when she found out that the woman she was rewarding was commiting Federal Tax Fraud for 6 years.
Leah Willaims Duncan is not the type of judge Pittsburgh needs.
I figured this guy would be a hit-n-run commenter, something I don't consider trolling, so I didn't bother saying anything more. But nope:
Ronald said...This guy is full of non-sequiturs, ridiculousness and general flaming bigotry. Let me count the ways:
Muse142 I figured you would like her as your choice that is why I wrote this on your blog Leah is for people like you that refuse Children their rights to impose your sexual preferences upon them.
I have custody of my son not her due to her mental illness. Hearing officers like Leah Williams-Duncan felt that she should be rewarded for abandoning her son, her family, and she was a Catholic Christian mother when she abandoned her faith. Through all this she has also bankrupted her own mother and two more like you. I would like to see you vote for her so she will allow my ex-wife to bankrupt more like you. In doing what Leah Williams-Duncan has done for her over the years she has alienated my son from his mother. (I requested the visitation his mother didn't want any) Leah has put more woman and their children on welfare that I took care of bankrupting the state. Her immoral judgements have always produced the opposite results. I leave it up to you to decide is this the kind of judge you want? You may not get what you like. Just look at her profile on Facebook.
How can you say, "For 4 years she has been refusing rights of men and their children rewarding woman who abandon their children to live a Lesbian lifestyle"? She isn't a judge yet! How can she refuse the rights of men while simultaneously rewarding women. That doesn't make any sense!
Anonymous She has been a hearing officer for many years in Family Division of Allegheny County. Take away the rights of Men to insure that Gay woman don't have to pay child support. But look at her profile on Facebook. If you are gay or straight with my info or her own profile would you vote for her to be a judge? It's your choice. Anonymous why don't you look at Leah's profile and look at what I'm saying which way would you vote. I'm just showing you that she is hypocrite. Either way I don't live in Allegheny County any more to many hypocrites there. I moved to Central PA. where the real thieves are in Harrisburg.
First, all this talk about taking away men's rights. What rights? What, do you mean primary custody? Paying child support?
Custody... ok this one's difficult for me, because I don't think it's a right or a "reward". I think it's a responsibility. You have kids, and whether you're a woman or a man (or anything in between), you should be responsible for raising them. You pointed out yourself that you have custody of your kids now. Men aren't ruled out from custody. In almost all divorces I know where kids were involved, the parents share custody. Giving someone custody isn't 'rewarding' them and taking it away isn't 'punishing' them. I think the APA guidelines for this kind of thing are key - and notice that the only time they mention sexuality, it's to note that child custody evaluations should be free from discrimination.
Which brings me neatly to my second point. There's nothing inherent about being a lesbian that makes someone unfit for parenting. Children raised by lesbian mothers are no different from children raised by straight mothers in acquiring sex-role behavior or frequency of psychological problems. You can read some more about lesbian mothers and how family law has basically pissed all over them for no reason here. I'll repeat for you: There's nothing inherent about being a lesbian that makes someone unfit for parenting. If you think so, then you have some damned bigoted views. Feel free to start a blog elsewhere, but that won't get very far here.
And on top of that, children don't have some sort of right not to interact with other human beings. No one can "refuse Children their rights to [escape from a parent who would] impose your sexual preferences upon them", because children don't have that right. At this very moment, Ronald, you are imposing your sexual preferences upon your children!! In fact, I'd imagine that you're a lot more "imposing" than most lesbian mothers, who would probably understand if their child wasn't JUST LIKE THEM OMG THE HORROR.
Thing number three: your misogyny is showing. I know, I know, it must suck not owning your woman, such that she can go and get divorced and explore her sexuality and (gasp!) sleep with someone who's not you. And unlike the days of yore, she won't be punished for it! Gosh, what has society come to, when these bitches refuse to let the patriarchy rule their lives, and the system isn't even allowed to take their children away like they clearly rightly deserve! Tch. Throw your preserve-my-privilege pity party somewhere else.
One last thing... OMG terrible grammar ftl. If English is not your first language, forgive me for this, but GEEZ OH MAN. I normally wouldn't bring it up, but I literally had to reinterpret like half of your sentences. If I misunderstood something you said, that's why.
Oh, and I hope everyone voted for Leah Williams-Duncan!
So, that's that. My first troll! Squee!
Thursday, May 14, 2009
There's not much easily-Googled info about the specifics of prefrontal lobotomies. I mean, yeah yeah you can look at the Wikipedia page, and Neurophilosophy has a nice roundup of the history, and there's stories from lobotomy survivors. Any one of those links will give you a good idea about the effects of a lobotomy. Typically, lobotomies make people quiet, calm, and unemotional - to the point where a person who's been given one can get "zombie-like".
But only a passing mention is given to the actual lobotomy itself - severing the white matter that connects the thalamus with the frontal cortex. What is that all about?
You've all seen the typical neuron diagram, right? Well if you haven't:
A brain cell / nerve / neuron has a cell body (soma) just like any other cell, with a nucleus and all that. It's special in that it has a long extension called an axon that ends in a synapse on another neuron. When a neuron is activated, it sends a little electrical pulse down its axon. That's how nerves send signals.
Your brain has "gray matter" and "white matter". Gray matter is where your cell bodies (somas) are. White matter is where the axons go. So when you cut white matter, like in a lobotomy, you're cutting axons. In essence, you're cutting the cables from one brain area to another.
The axons affected in a lobotomy start in the thalamus and go to the frontal cortex. The thalamus is like a relay station; sensory, emotional, and other basic info go to the thalamus, which processes it a little and sends it on through the white matter to the cortex.
The cortex is the outside layer of your brain - the gray wrinkly stuff that you think of when you think "brain". It does a lot of stuff, but the frontal cortex is what's important here. The frontal and prefrontal cortex are basically the thinkin' parts of the brain. That's where the planning happens. Any action you consciously take has its roots in the frontal cortex.. and many actions you don't consciously take.
So, basically, a lobotomy cuts the cables that send emotional and sensory information to the "planning" part of your brain. Knowing this, you can explain the effects of a lobotomy very well. People are quiet and calm because the part of their brain that plans actions and responds to emotions ain't getting the usual amount of information.
This is great, if you just want "that crazy person" to stop bothering you, shut up, and sit in the corner staring at a wall. But for those of us who understand that people with cognitive or mood disorders are human fucking beings...
Well, we've come a ways since lobotomies, right?
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
This is why I do not read DailyKos. Here is a sane response to it, with lots of refreshing comments.
Obesity is (apparently!) bad for you!!! What's the problem with that, you ask? Even if those conclusions are completely correct... Firstly, is there really a good way to prevent oneself from being fat or to become thin once one is fat? Is there really? (If you give me the bunsen burner model of humans [cals in - cals out = cals stored], then I'd like some evidence that human biology is really that ridiculously simple, because even my wee bit of intro to physiology would indicate otherwise, kthx.) Secondly, CORRELLATION != CAUSATION. For the diabetes correllation (higher BMI ~~ more likely to have a diabeetus diagnosis), if fatter people are screened more intensely for diabeetus, or if both obesity and diabeetus are lots higher in certain specific populations (low-income, minority, disadvantaged...), or if the two conditions are genetically linked, or even if maybe higher weight might be protective against dying from diabeetus then wouldn't it be true that the fatter you got, the more likely you'd have a diabeetus diagnosis? I mean, MarkH does point out that, if we think fatness is unhealthy, it'd be unethical to try and make thin people fat experimentally... but as far as I know it's pretty much been shown to be nigh impossible (to make thin people fat) anyway. I will acknowledge that the all-causes mortality graphs are pretty convincing, though. So I'll be pondering this.
Sunday, May 10, 2009
Here's how it works. You enter in a song or an artist, and it creates a radio station based around the musical qualities of that song or artist. This process uses the Music Genome Project, which is totally sweet. You can "seed" as many songs/artists as you like. Then, when it's playing songs, you can give them a "thumbs up" or a "thumbs down". It's pretty intuitive, but the FAQ is very thorough in case you want to know exactly what thumbs up/down does to a song.
I have the following stations, all made by me (seeds in parentheses):
- Chill male alternative (John Meyer, Modest Mouse, Barenaked Ladies)
- Celtic punk rock (Flogging Molly)
- Reggaeton 'n' Rap (Gasolina by Daddy Yankee)
- Soul of Pop (Boyz II Men, Told You So by BNL, More Than Words by Extreme, At This Moment by Billy Vera & The Beaters)
- [Dude] thinks it's cool (At The Drive-In) [my station for my ex-Dude]
- I can dance to it (Single Ladies by Beyonce, Live Your Life by T.I., Crank That by Soulja Boy)
- Pseudo-psychedelic (Buffalo Springfield, The Yardbirds, Syd Barrett)
- Kinda Folky (Blackbird by The Beatles)
One caveat: Your seeds are used individually to generate your music. So if you type in "The Beatles", it really seems like the songs generated could have the musical qualities of any Beatles song ever. So if you seed a lot of artists, you're going to have to thumbs-down a lot of crap.
When you thumbs-down a song, normally it will skip the rest of it. But you only get six 'skips' an hour per station. Especially when you're first making a station, you might thumbs-down a song and have to suffer through the remainder of it.
But as faults, those are extremely minor. It's free, you get to make as many stations as you can stand, and each station is completely customizable. So, all in all, a great service. If I were you, I'd get an account while it's still free. (If you were me, you'd already have one, because I do. And that's how these things work.)
Thursday, May 7, 2009
Here's the thing; this commenter got it exactly backwards. It's true that "male privilege is being able to not think about gender", but that's BECAUSE THE MALE GENDER IS ASSUMED THE STANDARD. So men don't have to bother themselves to familiarize with women's experiences, and thus don't have to "think about gender". Women, as the "other gender", have to deal with male-centered culture all the damn time, where the male perspective/motivation is presented constantly. Thus women have a better idea of what it's like to be a man than men have of what it's like to be a woman. If it were about lived experiences, the average woman would be a much better "everyman" (eugh, typing that word made my stomach turn a little).
I think the reason for using an “everyman” instead of an “everywoman” is because women, being women, have specific experiences as women. A female character is aware of her gender. An everyman character can have both male and female experiences, and become somewhat androgynous (ie. Nemo).
It’s privilege, I admit. White privilege is being able to not think about race, and male privilege is being able to not think about gender.
But it's not about lived experiences. It's about what the audience can project onto the characters. In this case, this commenter sees women, clearly, as the "special case" gender who can only experience womanly things, whereas men are objective observers. Men are the default, women are the other. AGAIN.
Basically, what this douchenozzle is saying is, "Men are the standard, because men are the standard!! People notice when girls are girls. Because they're girls! Duh. That's what male privilege means!"
OK, so maybe he's unintentionally closer to the truth than I'm giving him credit for...
The new revision of the DSM is unnecessarily pathologizing sexualities. Sigh. KEEP YOUR STUPID OUT OF MY BEAUTIFUL SCIENCE.
A big Fuck You Very Much to the anti-LGBTQQ haters out there.
Dr. Free-Ride always has good discussions, this one about math and science and femininity and masculinity and.... Look, just click the link.
I'm going to go catch a nap now. :)
Monday, May 4, 2009
But the most egregious error I've made is not updating my blagroll. How on earth is it that Steph Zahn wasn't on my roll there?! She was my first legitimate commenter! And it was missing Isis, too! And Shakesville, for crying out loud. Wtf?! I check these blogs every day! Greta Christina was myseriously missing, even though I check her at least once a week. And at least one blag had moved locations, with nary an update on my roll. Sorry OldAndrew!
I'm such a terrible slacker. Ugh.
Also, if I have STILL forgotten someone, don't be shy and let me know! If I'm on your roll, you should be on mine. End of discussion!
The local primaries in Allegheny county, PA are coming up on May 19th, and the most confusing race is the one for the Court of Common Pleas. It's confusing because there are 15 candidates running for 5 primary spots, and there's a lot of info to digest.
The Post-Gazette has some information about a selection of the candidates here:
The candidates' respective websites can be found at the above link as well, if you're interested.
I am generally cool with the Bar Association recommendations, a complete list of which can be found here:
There's four levels of Bar recommendation: Highly recommended, just plain old recommended, not recommended at this time, and unqualified. Dude, if the Bar Assoc. tells you that someone's not qualified to be a judge, I tend to acknowledge that. More on that later.
Now, given these sources of information, here's my somewhat informed opinion of the candidates:
My personal favorite is Judge Joe Williams. http://www.judgejoewilliam
Some others I like:
Leah Williams-Duncan, because of her record as a public defender, especially her work in the family courts. She's represented both parents and children, and she's recommended by the Bar. http://www.lwduncan4judge.
Hugh Fitzpatrick McGough, because... well, just look at his resume, especially the representative cases. http://www.mcgough4judge.c
EDIT: Phil Ignelzi (http://www.phil4judge.com/) is likely to be a good dude, once the Assistant US Attorney who was named a Pennsylvania Super Lawyer and highly recommended by the bar. He spent some time defending white collar criminals, which makes me go ehhhh, but it's well-balanced by his efforts working to help victims of medical malpractice.
Arnie Klein, but this one's more iffy because my liking of him comes from the Post-Gazette blurb about him but not his own website. He has experience in family, orphans', and elder-law cases (as well as civil and criminal), and was a public defender... but his own damn site has very little of substance to it. http://www.kleinforjudge.c
You can see my biases there. I'd like to have judges on the bench who are compassionate to those who deserve and need it (retirees, battered women, orphans, poverty-stricken, etc) and throw the book at people who would prey upon them.
I am more or less indifferent to Michael Marmo (http://www.marmoforjudge.c
A couple candidates don't look too bad, but don't have very much meaningful information on their websites. Like Alex Bicket (http://www.bicket4judge.co
Another couple candidates seem like great lawyers, but they take stances that I'm kinda meh about.
Carolyn Bengel, Jeff Eisenberg, Don Walko, and Michelle Peck were all not recommended at this time by the Bar Association. Since there are 15 freaking candidates, I think we can safely rule these guys out. (Unless you have some particular reason for liking one of them, in which case comment away and let me know!)
Both Joe Luvara and Jenifer Satler were deemed unqualified by the Bar Assoc., so... yeah.
My final ticket will probably look something like this: Joe Williams, Leah Williams-Duncan, Hugh McGough,
And if I missed someone, I'm very very sorry, and feel free to point it out. I'll remind you again: 15 candidates! Intensity!
Friday, May 1, 2009
Woo! Go me!
That being said, I will actually have time to blog n'at. Not right now, no. But soon. Thank you all for your eternal patience!
At the moment I'm in the middle of a big Axis & Allies game with the Ex-Dude. However, I do have a small amusement for anyone who's still around.
You know PZ's recent Pharyngulation of a homeopathy poll? Well I went over to the ridiculous homeopathy site do my duty as a flying monkey, and literally laughed at this comment. Bask in the majesty of this self-righteous stupid:
DAVID HARTLEYHeh. Poor widdle guy.
What a GREAT example of "modern science" !
the wannabe priesthood of the religion of scientism have been successfully treated by a homeopath, who shows how scientism eats its young :-)
These bozos form a ratpack to purposefully "dilute" the results of a poll on homeopathy.
This is PERFECT ! ! !
THANK YOU bozos, for this PERFECT EXAMPLE of your religion of scientism at work.
You are the veritable POPEs of the CHURCH of SCIENTISM !
The Galileo who dares to produce any reality which eludes categorization within your ineffectual worldview shall be duly excommunicated by your RATPACK type of activity, right?
(oh, wait ... they failed in their attempts to excommunicate him ... and OH NO ! "true science" was once AGAIN vindicated)
Dear ratpack: you bozos are not Eintstein. Many of you cannot even spell, and otherwise have limited written expression, often characterized by vulgarity.
The future belongs not to the vermin of the ratpacks.
The future, as always, belongs to those with vision, with courage, with the ability to think outside of the box (which is your little mental prison; to which your are abundantly welcome :) The innovators and inventors of THE FUTURE are nowhere to be found in your bogus religion of scientism.
Why don't you ratpack fellas go back to your jobs, where you probably directly or indirectly support companies like Baxter, which is apparently very actively trying to thin the herd (hint: you guys ARE the herd.. the mindless mainstream.. the cud-chewing maroons who don't quite get that quantum physics, Buddhism, and homeopathy are all saying a lot of the same things.)
We oughtta just let them have a go at it, as the survivors will be people who, like the HOMEOPATHS, have found scientific means [which you are not allowed to consider, according to the false POPEs of the religion of scientism] of success in "evidenced based" medicine which you are merely mindless worker-ants in the army of fools attempting to "DILUTE" the evidence for... which is the quintessential perfection of "evidence" how your scientism operates in ratpacking the THOUGHT POLICE to assure that the world which your tiny minds can comprehend does not become too difficult for you to rationalize .. a thousand thank you's for this superb example of purposefully skewing experimental results !! this is EXACTLY how the ratpack thought police are vainly attempting to impose the backwards shackles scientism upon advances in human learning .. DON'T LOOK NOW, but your scientistic church buddies over at the edifice of "modern medicine" are now FAMOUS .. as Doctors of Death, inc. ! Your ratpack mentality, enslaved in service of the almighty dollar (well, ok, the WEAK dollar.) has brought about the undeniable EVIDENCE that the modern medical disease-care industry (which has no right at all to use the term healthcare) is conservatively ranked as the #3 direct leading cause of death in the U.S. CONGRATULATIONS, ratpack !
(oh, and thanks for all the site hits, trackback links, etc. please invite the rest of your pack :)
You'll be wanting statistics, I suppose .. good luck diluting them ;-)
debunk this http://www.iatrogenic.org