Archive for September, 2008

Could USA Today be more stupidly sexist?

September 19, 2008

Babies can cause ‘momnesia’ – USATODAY.com

Few parents enjoy feeling so scatterbrained, says neuropsychiatrist Louann Brizendine, author of The Female Brain. And momnesia can be dangerous, such as when moms forget to fasten the straps in an infant’s car seat. Yet momnesia may give modern mothers an evolutionary advantage, Brizendine says.

“It turns you into someone who serves that little infant, to keep it alive no matter what,” says Brizendine, founder of the Women’s and Teen Girls’ Mood and Hormone Clinic at the University of California in San Francisco. “Other parts of your brain that are usually on high alert are sort of taken offline.”

Yeah, because being unaware of your surroundings while you focus on one particular task has always been so evolutionarily advantageous.

It seems to me, as a guy who has lots of memory lapses while taking care of an infant (to the point where I may walk downstairs to get something and have completely forgotten what it is by the time I arrive) even though my hormonal disturbances are supposedly minor, that sleep deprivation and job conditioning are easily enough to account for whatever may be going on. There’s the 15-25% of sleep lost, plus the rest of it disrupted.

Then there’s having to be prepared to drop whatever you’re doing at a moment’s notice to deal with a baby. You know those trains of thought that take 20 or 30 minutes to develop, or jobs that need several hours of uninterrupted concentration to get done right? Forget about those when you’re a primary caregiver for an infant.

But no, it must be evolution and women’s hormones.

(And I gotta say, with the example of someone who has had to rescue her kid from choking more than 20 times in 17 months: there’s a reason for keeping babies and small airway-obstructing objects apart, and prevention really is better than treatment.)

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Cynical software

September 18, 2008

Software spots the spin in political speeches – tech – 17 September 2008 – New Scientist Tech

The algorithm counts usage of first person nouns – “I” tends to indicate less spin than “we”, for example. It also searches out phrases that offer qualifications or clarifications of more general statements, since speeches that contain few such amendments tend to be high on spin. Finally, increased rates of action verbs such as “go” and “going”, and negatively charged words, such as “hate” and “enemy”, also indicate greater levels of spin.

So any politicians who talks about their supporter rather than just about themselves, and who don’t make ringing promises followed by weasel words that revoke them, are spinning a lot. And woe to the politician who complains about negative advertising that depicts him or her as an enemy…

I guess it does explain the current republican mode: just lie flat out, without any fancy rhetorical devices, and no one can accuse you of spinning.

BPA yet another doomsday chemical

September 18, 2008

Common plastics chemical linked to human diseases | Health | Reuters

Using government health data, they found that the 25 percent of people with the highest levels of bisphenol A in their bodies were more than twice as likely to have heart disease and, or diabetes compared to the 25 percent of with the lowest levels.

So which way does the causation go?

Pants on fire

September 17, 2008

Government steps in again, bails out AIG with $85B – Yahoo! News

“No, I think it’s an unfair appraisal,” said Greenberg, who was replaced as CEO three years ago as part of an accounting probe. “You know, there are many things that contributed to this unfortunate episode. after I left the company, all the risk management procedures that we had in place were obviously dismantled. I can’t explain that. There’s a new board of directors. One should be asking that board of directors what they did and why.”

Greenberg said he has lost “my entire net worth. Literally, my entire net worth.’

Gotta say that “replaced as part of an accounting probe” is a remarkably polite way of saying “allowed to resign because he was in charge while the books were being cooked.” It takes a lot longer than three years to screw up this badly.

And if Greenberg has lost his entire net worth, he must be the stupidest ex-CEO on the planet. Putting all your capital in the company you work for is for chumps, and keeping it there after you leave is for people who make chumps look smart. Diversify.

The punchline writes itself

September 16, 2008

Talking Points Memo

Defending her remarks that Sarah Palin is not qualified to run a Fortune 500 company, top McCain adviser and former HP CEO Carly Fiorina says she doesn’t think John McCain (or Obama or Biden) could run a major corporation either.

I guess it takes one to know one…

Assuming, of course, that the author is telling the truth

September 12, 2008

Anatomy of a malware scam | The Register

This type of malware is very, very disturbing. One can only wonder how many users have been duped into installing ineffective security software, and what happened to their private information and credit card data when they paid for it. The presence of such software, and the overall very high quality of the ruse it presents, is frightening. More than likely, thousands of people have been fooled. In fact, this type of deception has been around for several years now, and it would not still be here if it did not work well.

I don’t htink anyone can say at this point that we’re not living in a cheap cyberpunk novel. Not even a good one.

just pretty

September 11, 2008

Happy Birthday: Spitzer Space Telescope Celebrates 5th Birthday With Portrait of Stellar Nursery

star-forming region in the constellation Cassiopeia

Design and the elastic mind

September 11, 2008

All in effing flash so it’s impossible to find anything in it, but pretty cool anyway

National Obsession

September 11, 2008

Latest Design for 9/11 Museum Merges Old and New – NYTimes.com

The ground floor will have ticket windows, a large security area in which visitors will undergo airport-style screening, and a staircase, escalators and elevators down which they will begin a trip that will lead them nearly 70 feet below street level, ending near an exposed part of the slurry wall. There will also be exit doors ushering them into the heart of the memorial plaza.

About two million visitors are expected annually at the museum, said Alice M. Greenwald, the museum director. The building is designed to handle 1,500 people arriving an hour, she said.

Are that many people that fascinated with 9/11?

The intertubes are just too dangerous for mortals

September 10, 2008

Schneier on Security

Soon, additional signs appeared pointing to a partnership between Rock Phishers and Asprox. Most notably, the command and control server for the custom Rock Phish crimeware had exactly the same directory structure of many of the Asprox servers, leading RSA researchers to believe Rock Phish and Asprox attacks were using at least one common server.