Abuse genes

At Mind Hacks is Born to be bad?

The latest issue of Prospect magazine features a fresh in-depth analysis of whether there is such a thing as a criminal personality.

The author David Rose of the Observer notes that contemporary politicans have tended to focus on the social causes of criminality. But he points to new research showing that genetic factors are also key, in particular he highlights research by Terrie Moffitt and colleagues at the Institute of Psychiatry, including a study showing that whether childhood maltreatment leads to later increased risk of criminality depends in part on the variant of the MAOA gene that a person has. The gene codes for the enzyme monoamine oxidase A, and is involved in the regulation of neurotransmitter levels.

A person with a low activity variant of this gene who is maltreated is far more likely to develop antisocial behaviour.

Link to Prospect article (open access).
Link to the Dunedin Study.

MindHacks adds:

There’s a thought-provoking piece over at Brain Ethics about the role of genetics in violence, and particularly the role of a gene that codes for a type of monoamine oxidase enzyme involved in the breakdown of certain neurotransmitters in the brain.


It takes just a tenth of a second for people to make judgements about you based on your facial appearance.

Subjects were asked to rate attractiveness, likeability, competence, trustworthiness, and aggressiveness of faces after looking at their photos for just 100ms.

The ratings they gave the faces correlated strongly with ratings given by other students who were allowed as long as they wanted to rate the faces. The strongest correlation was for trustworthiness.
“Maybe as soon as a face is there, you know whether to trust it”, the researchers surmised.

more at psychDigest

Inking an egg

british egg logoThe age-old argument over the best way to cook the perfect boiled egg could be a thing of the past thanks to a new hi-tech ink logo going on shells.

After cooking begins, an invisible, temperature-sensitive thermochromic print appears in black to indicate when an egg is soft, medium or hard-boiled.

Link: BBC NEWS | UK | Hi-tech ink perfects egg boiling.

College in 2056?

“The Future Will Be Different! Why Study?” asks bookofjoe

“What will higher education look like in 50 years? If you weren’t in Honolulu a couple of weeks ago, you might not know. Alas, I wasn’t there either. But a glance at the panels of a conference convened there — called “The Campus of the Future” — offers a clue: College in the coming decades will have even less to do with learning than it does now.”

Early Infections Cause Chronic Illnesses

Even if one does not die while infected the infectious diseases take their toll and accelerate aging in a number of ways.

First off, the pathogens directly do damage to the body.

Second, the immune system’s response does damage. In the process of attacking pathogens the immune response causes collateral damage to human tissue. Chemical compounds released by immune cells do damage to our own cells.

Third, infection reduces our ability to stay nourished due to decreased appetite, diarrhea, decreased ability to do activities that bring in food, and other mechanisms.

Therefore a reduction in infectious disease exposure has reduced the rate at which our bodies accumulate damage.

Gina Kolata of the New York Times has written a great article surveying the building body of evidence which shows earlier generations got classic diseases of old age sooner and did so due to infections while very young and poorer nutrition. (and I strongly urge you to read the full article)

New research from around the world has begun to reveal a picture of humans today that is so different from what it was in the past that scientists say they are startled. Over the past 100 years, says one researcher, Robert W. Fogel of the University of Chicago, humans in the industrialized world have undergone “a form of evolution that is unique not only to humankind, but unique among the 7,000 or so generations of humans who have ever inhabited the earth.”

We humans alive today are physically way different on average as compared to previous generations.

In previous centuries heart disease, lung disease, and other ailments showed up decades earlier in human lives.

The biggest surprise emerging from the new studies is that many chronic ailments like heart disease, lung disease and arthritis are occurring an average of 10 to 25 years later than they used to. There is also less disability among older people today, according to a federal study that directly measures it. And that is not just because medical treatments like cataract surgery keep people functioning. Human bodies are simply not breaking down the way they did before.

What is most interesting about these results are the suspected causes: events in the womb and while still quite young can set people up for chronic diseases decades later.

The proposed reasons are as unexpected as the changes themselves. Improved medical care is only part of the explanation; studies suggest that the effects seem to have been set in motion by events early in life, even in the womb, that show up in middle and old age.

“What happens before the age of 2 has a permanent, lasting effect on your health, and that includes aging,” said Dr. David J. P. Barker, a professor of medicine at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland and a professor of epidemiology at the University of Southampton in England.

But it is too late for us to go back in time and tell our mothers to avoid people with colds and flus and other infectious diseases. Our bodies are damaged even from before birth.

Excellent post from the excellent FuturePundit

no heartburn and no pain?

Why Stomach Acid is Good For You by Wright and Lenard.

Interesting theory on stomach function, stomach acid, and the damage done by antacids and acid suppressing drugs. If you are taking Prevacid, Nexium, Prilosec — you must read this book. It may or may not be right but it is a view you should understand for yourself.

The core of it is this — heartburn caused by acid reflux is actually a symptom of too little stomach acid, and the downstream effects on your helf of having too little acid and thus incorrectly digesting food are tremendous. The heavily-marketed treatment of eliminating stomach acid does more harm over your lifetime than good.

via a LittleLudwig

Also from Ludwig, which may help heartburn as well:

Brilliant articulation of how to think about the future

A couple years ago, I was talking the Institute’s Bob Johansen about wisdom, and he explained that – to deal with an uncertain future and still move forward – they advise people to have “strong opinions, which are weakly held.”

What we know about knowing is wrong

TOURBUS Volume 12, Number 04

On with the show…


Dale’s Cone of Nonesense
Audience: Educators, Librarians, and Trainers

Since many Tourbus riders are also educators or librarians, I thought
I’d don my powder blue academic hood [see http://tinyurl.com/qjubv ]
and share with you some interesting academic research. There is a
concept in education called “Dale’s Cone of Experience” that states
that people generally remember:

10% of what they read
20% of what they hear
30% of what they see
50% of what they hear and see
70% of what they say or write
90% of what they as they do a thing

Often displayed graphically as a cone — see
http://teacherworld.com/dalescone.gif — Dale’s Cone has had a
profound impact on the way we teach both children and adults.

And it is a complete and total fraud.

No, really. Will Thalheimer at Work-Learning Research delved into
Dale’s Cone and discovered that:

1. While Edgar Dale indeed did indeed create a model of the
concreteness of various audio-visual material back in 1946,
the model contained no numbers and no research was conducted
to create the model. Dale’s Cone was just a hunch, albeit an
educated hunch, one that Dale warned shouldn’t be taken too

2. The percentages — ‘people generally remember 10% of what they
read’ and so on — were most likely added to Dale’s Cone by an
employee of the Mobil Oil company in the late 1960s. These
percentages have since been discredited.

You can see Thalheimer’s complete report online at


It’s an eye-opening read, especially if you’re an educator, librarian
or trainer. Let me also put in a plug for Thalheimer’s blog at


While I’ve known about Thalheimer’s investigation into Dale’s Cone
for a couple of years now, I’ve only recently discovered his blog.
It contains a collection of “research-based commentary on learning,
performance, and the industry thereof.”

‘Man maps’ link love and real estate

This is one even the writers of “Sex in the City” couldn’t dream up -– a map to identify neighborhoods with the most rich men. It’s real estate meets Mr. Right in the form of online “man maps.”

The maps are the brainchild of Kelly Kreth, a divorced New York City publicist who represents an online real estate firm called PropertyShark.com.

“I had asked the founder of Property Shark if he would construct a map with all his city-centric data of where all the rich single men are so I could find a date,” says Kreth.

CNBC article

found via snipurl.com

Granite Frisbee

There are 1000s & 1000s of, I swear, perfect skipping stones in the delta bed of the Eel River.

I’m astounded. I would never have imagined anything like it. Every footstep reveals a handful of granite frisbee to spin. There can’t be another factory like it anywhere.

I’m stunned there isn’t a global championship event each year. A regional charity competition. Speaking of which, the Fortuna AutoExpo was a kick. Many many sweet rigs under the perfect coastal sun.

google offers up some fun entries with ‘perfect skipping stone‘, for instance, a physicist has answered his son’s quest for the perfect skipping stone that maximizes its number of bounces on a lake,

Mathematically speaking, the number of bounces equals
velocity squared divided by gravity and the distance.

In 1992, a man in Blanco River, Texas,
set the world record for the most bounces: 38.

In 2002, Kurt “Mountain Man” Steiner took the record to 40. But in the summer of 2007, Guinness certified a new record of an outstanding 51 skips by Russell “Rock Bottom” Byars.

How the nation changes

This study indicates that there are 35.2 million immigrants — legal and illegal — living in the US making it the largest immigrant population in US history.

The current immigration boom is two and a half times the 13.5 million immigrants in 1910.
Original story first at www.chronwatch.com

Most landlords in America allow pets

The great majority of Americans own pets.
Caring for a pet is a signature of responsibility.
Pets provide an essential part of our humanity.

I’ve travelled many places.
I’m in the north coast of California now.
This area is unique.
Most nearby landlords condemn pets.

It is only a local fashion.
And it’s a thoughtless policy.

Directional fire alarms

‘ExitPoint’ from System Sensor draws attention to exit routes in emergency situations.

It makes a big difference not surprisingly.

The tones and intensities from directional devices offer easy-to-understand cues for rapidly finding exits.

Pointing the blare?

Article at Directions Magazine… found at weigo.

times have really changed

Reputation is many things. For our nation, here’s one insight about how we’re doing.

…times have really changed.
Sellers or suppliers are finding that payments are not guaranteed even within the system in North America.

Many distributors, contractors, or buyers in North America are not even getting paid themselves by their own customers and thus can not afford to pay the supplier.

Bankruptcies and terms such as Chapter 11 are being learned by foreigners when they find out that the company they sold to cannot and will not pay the supplier at all.

Suppliers are finding that they do not understand the legal system or ways of collecting money from their American customers. Some suppliers are now changing their terms of sales to Letters of Credit only to find out that their competitors have not.

Since it is still a buyer’s market and hundreds of suppliers are selling with open account terms, how does one protect his investment and sell in North America?

Some suppliers are just backing out and saying to themselves “Let us sell to South America or the Far East where buyers pay by Letter of Credit or some guarantee of payment; plus these buyers are not so demanding.

Coffins for humanity

EveryBody Special is a new, low-cost wooden coffin created to meet extreme demand during emergency situations.

Designed by Dutch EveryBody Coffins, the EveryBody Special is a modular coffin that’s extremely easy to assemble. No tools, nails or screws are required – the pieces just click together. The standard material used is 12 mm multilayered wood, and more environmentally friendly options are also available.

Since they’re lightweight and packaged in flat-packs (Ikea-style), transporting EveryBody coffins is very cost efficient: up to 570 extra large (XL) caskets fit into a 20 foot container. Combined with their easy assembly, this makes the coffins highly suitable for burial and cremation in disaster areas and epidemic situations. The company hopes to offer a more dignified, humane alternative to plastic body bags that are often the only option when large-scale disaster strikes.

Besides selling to governmental and aid organisations, EveryBody is also offering its product to commercial distributors in those regions where consumers will welcome a low-cost alternative to expensive caskets. As we’ve pointed out before, everything can be reinvented!

Coffin spotting at SpringWise
Website: http://www.everybodycoffins.com

Not too much marriage, dear

Couples shouldn’t be so determined to sleep together

Dr Neil Stanley, a sleep expert at the University of Surrey, said: “It’s not surprising that people are disturbed by sleeping together.

“Historically, we have never been meant to sleep in the same bed as each other. It is a bizarre thing to do.

“Sleep is the most selfish thing you can do and it’s vital for good physical and mental health.

“Sharing the bed space with someone who is making noises and who you have to fight with for the duvet is not sensible.

Once the sex becomes infrequent (or so married men assure me) why not sleep apart some of the time?

Marriage doesn’t just make men dumber. It also takes away some of their drive.

Read much more at futurePundit

A future for heritage livestock?

heritage livestockOver the last 40 years farm production has become industrialized. Historically, multi purpose, hardy livestock were raised on small farms with relatively low costs inputs for housing, care and feed. Now the agriculture industry depends on highly productive specialized breeds raised in controlled environments and requiring high-cost inputs for nutrition, housing and health care.

The Slow Food movement has done a terrific job in reawakening interest in foods selected for flavour and having deep roots in regional and traditional farm settings. The organic movement documents the potential hazards of relying on food products that are laden with hormones, antibiotics and pesticides. Environmental groups have publicized the toll of intensive industrialized food operations. Slowly, the demand for flavourful food, from older breeds that thrive under natural conditions, is growing.

Despite these advances, the outlook is still not good for rare breeds.

Before we lose the traditional breeds that are hardy, disease resistant and well suited to natural production methods. These breeds are the gene pool, the only source of genetic material that exists to produce future generations of livestock. Many breeds are facing extinction, or severe loss of genetic diversity. Support is needed from farmers, governments, and those who value traditional livestock.

Rare breeds provide a healthy and environmentally sound alternative to industrial food. Farmers of heritage breeds typically look to the long-term benefits of their operations and take care not deplete their resources.

Rare Breeds and Small Farmers

Gas, Coal or Straw?

Vidir Biomass Systems straw fuelWe’re using straw.

The estimate is that one bale of straw is 200 dollars worth of electricity or about 200 dollars worth of natural gas.

The cost of heating with wheat straw is similar to that of using coal but straw fuel is about 90 percent less expensive than heating with either natural gas or electricity.

We put 16 bales on a conveyer, the conveyer feeds them into the system. We have a shedder that shreds the bales into finer particles and delivers it into the primary combustion chamber where we essentially do a low temperature burn, or create smoke.

Then we take that smoke and send it into a secondary chamber, or afterburner, and we burn it in there at two thousand degrees Fahrenheit which then means we get full and complete combustion, clean gas that we then move over into our heat exchanger to heat water. The water, in turn, heats the facilities. via FarmScape

Suck a Bit of Sugar.

Use it.
Use the web.

Learn to print what you’ve been saying.

It’s healthy.


The future has not once been what you were thinking.

Your Very Own Personal Tank

Hyanide vehicleDeep mud, sand and snow are no match for this go-anywhere mutated motorbike, cites Popular Science.

The design entered the 2006 Michelin Challenge Design showcasing vehicles made especially for California’s diverse and often rugged topography.

Hyanide is designed to run on a flexible rubber tread that spans the machine’s entire underside. So if any part of the bottom is touching the ground, the Hyanide should be able to move, no matter how deep the quagmire, no matter how rough the terrain. The tank-like tread consists of 77 identical segments—each made from hard plastic covered with tire rubber —held together by Kevlar rope. Each segment flexes independently, making the tread significantly more limber than if its components were rigid. Not only does this setup help with traction, but it would allow the tank-motorcycle to corner like no other vehicle.

Tidbit about talking

You say tomato:
“The problem of pronouncing names correctly is so extensive, and the possibility of gaffes so omnipresent, that the BBC employs an entire pronunciation unit, a small group of dedicated orthoepists (professional pronouncers) who spend their working lives getting to grips with these illogical pronunciations so that broadcasters don’t have to do it on the air.”

World stays up

Airlines are set to pump $2.6 trillion into buying new commercial jets over the next 20 years, aerospace group Boeing has predicted.

Boeing expects airlines to take delivery of 27,200 new passenger jets and cargo planes by 2025 – doubling the world fleet. via the BBC

Food vs Fuel

A growing number of livestock producers are at least anxious about the impact on feed prices and supplies if corn is redirected to ethanol.

A reply from USDA Under Secretary J.B. Penn:

“All of a sudden we’ve seen a real increase in demand for corn for ethanol. This is a really big development. Suddenly, we have the opening of a market that has never been there.

Since the time of Christ, corn has been food. But now agriculture is trying to produce industrial products. And this situation has been greeted with great glee in farm country.

Now we’re in a short-run situation where strong ethanol demand and strong livestock demand for feed are competing. We’re trying to get more markets open for products like beef. This is one of those great situations for farmers.

In the past we’ve all been concerned about surpluses. My sense is that we may have some short-term frictions here. Don’t underestimate the technology and the entrepreneurial spirit when folks put their minds to something. I think we’ll be able work through things and capitalize on the renewable fuels and meet the demand for feed and exports.”

via agweb

Thought tips:

Change is neither global nor universal.
Solutions will vary by location, region and company.
Regional resources, infrastructure and taxation are critical factors.
Choices are actions by many not headlines for many.