Elton John says ban religion completely

Elton John says his solution [to hatred] would be to “ban religion completely, even though there are some wonderful things about it”.

He added: “I love the idea of the teachings of Jesus Christ and the beautiful stories about it, which I loved in Sunday school and I collected all the little stickers and put them in my book.

“But the reality is that organised religion doesn’t seem to work. It turns people into hateful lemmings and it’s not really compassionate.”

And he called on the leaders of major religions to hold a “conclave” to discuss the fate of the world – which he said was “near escalating to World War Three”.

“I said this after 9/11 and people thought I was nuts,” he said. “It’s all got to be dialogue – that’s the only way. Get everybody from each religion together and say ‘Listen, this can’t go on. Why do we have all this hatred?’

“We are all God’s people; we have to get along and the [religious leaders] have to lead the way. If they don’t do it, who else is going to do it? They’re not going to do it and it’s left to musicians or to someone else to deal with it.”

He also said he would continue to campaign for gay rights.

“I’m going to fight for them, whether I do it silently behind the scenes or so vocally that I get locked up.”

First there was dog

A recent Gallup poll concluded that nearly 50% of the American public believes the universe is less than 10,000 years old. Nearly half the population, in other words, believes that the entire universe, the sun and solar system, the Milky Way galaxy, the Andromeda galaxy, and all the billions of other galaxies, all began after the domestication of the dog. Richard Dawkins

We remember

Hitler could persuade you, he could do anything.
Churchill would persuade you, you could do anything.

Remembering, and Flander’s Fields.

And Celia Sandys, Churchill’s grand daughter, who reminds us that Churchill would spend hours rehearsing impromptu speeches in front of a mirror such as rehearsing his famous mistake when he cited the “infernal combustion engine”.

CNN maps the troops.
Not a decent mashup.

Well said

The real measure of your wealth is
how much you’d be worth if you lost all your money.

Why no-Intel in Detroit?

US semiconductor giant Intel said Friday it would invest a billion dollars in Vietnam and employ 4,000 people in what will be its largest assembly and test facility in the world.

Wonder where in Viet Nam that plant is being built?
Up in the north?
Hanoi really needs a boost.

Hang-on, not Han-oi. Can’t you spell?

That’s another city in Viet Nam in the northeast. The capital of Viet Nam is Hanoi and the southern city of Saigon has been renamed “Ho Chi Minh City”.

Ho-Chi-Mintel City?

Sounds like a Manhattan massage chain.

Johnny Googleseed

Sydney Morning Herald

Deborah Lines, Windsor Downs, Australia, writes to ask, “Can we put a stop to this right now?”

Today on my apple there were two stickers. One was the apple label…. I’ve learned to live with those annoying little things. The second one was an ad for a new release on DVD. Imagine? All that potential advertising space wasted until now.

Lost when learning

Researchers at the University of Rochester may have answered one of neuroscience’s most vexing questions—how can it be that our neurons, which are responsible for our crystal-clear thoughts, seem to fire in utterly random ways? In the November issue of Nature Neuroscience, the Rochester study shows that the brain’s cortex uses seemingly chaotic, or “noisy,” signals to represent the ambiguities of the real world—and that this noise dramatically enhances the brain’s processing, enabling us to make decisions in an uncertain world.

read more

My maxim for this?

“information overload equals information retrieval”

There is a 30 year old study lost somewhere showing that the brain restrains blood flow to the lower body during the period when a particularly challenging thought is being formulated.

The brain is reserving energy for itself for a short period. This often makes people feel tired, nauseated or slightly dizzy, thus causing them to turn away from their thinking. I’ve often recommended that this is when it’s best to try a little harder; take a deep breath and finish the task.

It’s very likely that the “feeling” of information overload is precisely the period when information retrieval is taking place.

Speaking of his effort in art, Winston Churchill noted, “I know of nothing that while invigorating the mind more thoroughly exhausts the body. ”

The dissolving wood stick

A long time before breaking down plant fibers to produce ethanol was linked to energy independence and national security, researchers at Iowa State University watched a wooden stick falling apart and sinking into a beaker of liquid. Forty years ago.

But the University isn’t identifying the compound until they explore the potential for patents.

Breaking down the tough cellulose that forms the structure of a plant’s cell walls can release the simple sugars that are fermented into ethanol. Many additional crops, weeds and waste products can be used in the fuel matrix, removing production pressure from food and feed crops.

Oklahoma Energy Secretary David Fleischaker said, “If we took every stick of corn that we grow and turn it into fuel and eat none of it, we’re talking about producing about 12 percent of the 140 billion gallons of gasoline that we burn annually.”

via agnet: Iowa State University, John Verkade

Biomedical engineering

“Synthetic Biologists” [?] re-engineer bacteria to give them novel functions.

Techniques called experimental evolution rapidly track changes in DNA, attempting genetically engineer bacteria to churn out high concentrations of ethanol and other useful chemicals such as new antibiotis.

Bacteria such as E. coli evolve relatively quickly: they divide rapidly and sloppily, passing on error-filled copies of their genetic information to the next generation. For example:

When E. coli was provided only glycerol for nutrition, which the microbes do not metabolize very well, the cells grew slowly at first. But after 20 days, they grew 150 percent faster, and at 44 days they were thriving. Those that were more fit for the environment took over the culture…

agnet via MIT

Leadership characteristics

Five unique sources of motivation exist:

Intrinsic process – motivated by FUN
Instrumental – motivated by REWARDS
Self-Concept-External – motivated by REPUTATION
Self-Concept-Internal – motivated by CHALLENGE
Goal Internalization – motivated by the cause or PURPOSE

Each of the five sources requires different organizational and leadership characteristics to tap into them.

When they call, answer!

Researchers from the University of Georgia and San Diego State University report for the first time that social exclusion actually causes changes in a person’s brain function and can lead to poor decision-making and a diminished learning ability.

“Our findings indicate that social rejection can be a powerful influence on how people act…”

The way to be interesting

“The way to be interesting is to be interested. You’ve got to find what’s interesting in everything, you’ve got to be good at noticing things, you’ve got to be good at listening. … Interesting people are good at sharing.” russell davies via Preoccupations

Mental Health Problems Threaten Economic Growth

All modern knowledge economies are damaging their human capital to some extent.

It is a result of the pressure to be ever more productive.

In the industrial sector you can achieve that by putting in more and better machines, but in the service economy the main way to achieve this is by making people work more and more intensely. By giving workers autonomy they have to effectively self-manage and self-regulate, which is much more efficient from the firm’s perspective, but which adds substantially to the load and pressure of the worker.”

read article

Better rate than a checking account

Anthony Cerminaro wants to let you all know about a cool non-profit that is doing great things:

Kiva.org – Loans that change lives

Kiva.org allows individuals to make $25 loans to low-income entrepreneurs in the developing world (microfinance). By doing so, individuals like you provide affordable working capital for the poor (money to buy a sewing machine, livestock, etc.), empowering them to earn their way out of poverty.

It’s a new, direct and sustainable way to fight global poverty, and the way I see it, I get a higher return on $25 helping someone build a future than the interest my checking account pays.

A Page on incompatible plugs and cables

From a recent talk by Google’s Co-Founder and President Larry Page:

Page spent the most time decrying the lack of standards in the hardware industry, specifically, the proliferation of incompatible plugs and cables, network “ports,” adapters, audio and video protocols, displays, indicators, storage, keyboards and input/output devices.

“I am just going to plea to you: Let’s get all these devices talking to each other and I think you will have just amazing innovation,” Page said, directing his comments to the electronics industry at large.

“Why not instead just standardize the power supply?” Page asked. “Why (are) there no standards for those keyboards and little devices? One wire should be able to do everything possible,” Page argued.

“I don’t think there is much of anything that is needed besides standards. I think standards are best done by universities,” said Page, who was a Stanford University graduate student and the son of a Michigan State computer science professor.

“I am amazed we don’t have devices like this and the reason for this is that we lack standards to do it,” he said. “If one in a thousand power adapters start to catch fire and you have one of them, it starts to become an issue,” Page joked.

“It is just silly,” he added.

Have you lifted a stigma today?

Reuters reports:

Chronic fatigue syndrome, once thought by some doctors to be a psychological problem or even a excuse for malingerers, is a real disease that affects more than a million Americans, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Friday.

And get this:

Up to 80 percent of people with chronic fatigue do not know they have it, the CDC said.

Its causes are unknown but it can cause profound exhaustion, sleep difficulties, and problems concentrating and remembering. The CDC launched an awareness campaign about chronic fatigue and published a dedicated Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/cfs/.

And this:

There are tens of millions of people with similar fatiguing illnesses…

No one therapy works but reducing stress, dietary restrictions, gentle stretching and nutritional supplementation have all been shown to help.

Passing on bummers

Infant abuse may be perpetuated between generations by changes in the brain induced by early experience, research shows at the University of Chicago shows. A research team found that when baby rhesus monkeys endured high rates of maternal rejection and mild abuse in their first month of life, their brains often produced less serotonin, a chemical that transmits impulses in the brain. Low levels of serotonin are associated with anxiety and depression and impulsive aggression in both humans and monkeys.

Child abuse across generations

Money takes a Web 2.0

Zopa is the first lending and borrowing marketplace in the whole entire world. So we can understand if you’re a little curious about the thinking behind it.

Is China buying US or is Japan?

> the Japan of 2014 will scarcely resemble
> that of today. That country will have a very low
> savings rate, significant inflation and either a
> small current account surplus or an outright
> deficit. Its reputation for frugality will be but a
> quaint memory.

> The writer is a fellow at Stanford University’s
> Asia-Pacific Research Center

The Coalition of Economic Policy Institutions is a non-partisan FORUM dedicated to promoting research and public discussion of issues related to macroeconomic and monetary policy.