July 27th, 2006

(no subject)

From: "Geoffrey A. Landis"
Subject: Venus exploration paper
Date: 26 Jul 2006 16:01:08 -0700
Newsgroups: rec.arts.sf.science,sci.space.policy

For those interested in such things, my paper "Robotic Exploration of the Surface and Atmosphere of Venus" is now out in the electronic version of Acta Astronautica, Vol. 59, 7, 517-580 (October 2006).

Abstract online via the following DOI link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.actaastro.2006.04.011

(This had earlier been presented at the International Astronautical Federation Congress in 2004, the paper can be found at
From bna.com's newsletter:

The United States may be willing to cede at least some of its historic control of the Internet domain name system after all. Despite bold statements last year that seemed to indicate otherwise and ignited a worldwide debate, John Kneuer, the acting assistant secretary for communications and information at the U.S. Commerce Department, said the government "remains committed" to private management of the DNS.

The Bush administration pressed Congress yesterday to ease decades-old restrictions on surveillance to catch up to Internet-age technology. As lawmakers debate whether the president's domestic spying program is legal, the CIA director said the 1978 law covering such monitoring is behind the times.
<http://tinyurl.com/ger5n> [Washington Post]

Google's hundreds of thousands of AdWords advertising clients could learn, starting Monday evening, the number of times Google believes their ads were the subject of click fraud. The goal is for Google advertisers to get their first, real look at the scope of the click fraud problem and how it directly impacts them.

BNA's Electronic Commerce & Law Report reports that the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that eBay is not a "consumer reporting agency" by virtue of providing a forum for pseudonymous users to rate their experiences with a particular seller. The court rejected an argument that sought to subject eBay to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, in a bid to force the online auction service to correct alleged inaccuracies about a particular seller in a user forum. For the FCRA to apply, the court pointed out, eBay would have to be a "consumer reporting agency," which requires it to provide "consumer reports." Case name is McCready v. Ebay. Decision at http://caselaw.findlaw.com/data2/circs/7th/052450p.pdf Article at <http://pubs.bna.com/ip/bna/eip.nsf/eh/a0b3a7f8v3> For a free trial to the source of this story, visit http://www.bna.com/products/ip/eplr.htm


From the new_scientist LiveJournal feed:
Future spacesuits could heal themselves
Besides fixing any small holes caused by space debris, new "smart" materials will allow suits to generate their own electricity, kill germs and block radiation
From New Scientist's newsletter:
Pit vipers strike at prey with incredible accuracy even when blindfolded, a feat that's been hard to explain given the rudimentary nature of their heat-sensing organs. "In the lab, blindfolded snakes can strike a running rat behind the ears to avoid its sharp teeth," says physicist Leo van Hemmen. "It must be seeing more than just a warm blob." It seems that some rather spectacular image processing may be the key...
From http://eurekalert.org:
Public Release: 27-Jul-2006
International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease
In-home sensors spot dementia signs in elderly
An Oregon Health & Science University study shows motion and door sensors placed in elders' homes can help track activity patterns thought to relate to memory changes that are early signs of dementia. The study results, presented at the 10th International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease and Related Disorders, show that continuous, unobtrusive monitoring of in-home activity may be a reliable way of assessing changes in motor behaviors that may occur along with changes in memory.
NIH/National Institute on Aging, Intel Corp

Public Release: 27-Jul-2006
Journal of Neurophysiology
Drug triggers body's mechanism to reverse aging effect on memory process
A drug made to enhance memory appears to trigger a natural mechanism in the brain that fully reverses age-related memory loss, even after the drug itself has left the body, according to researchers at UC Irvine.
NIH/National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, NIH/National Institute on Aging, NIH/National Institute of Mental Health

Public Release: 27-Jul-2006
Current Biology
Marine protected areas: it takes a village, study says
Coral reef marine protected areas established by local people for traditional use can be far more effective at protecting fish and wildlife than reserves set up by governments expressly for conservation purposes, according to a study by the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and other groups.

Public Release: 27-Jul-2006
Honey helps problem wounds
Honey helps the treatment of some wounds better than the most modern antibiotics. For several years now medical experts from the University of Bonn have been clocking up largely positive experience with what is known as "Medihoney." Even chronic wounds infected with multi-resistant bacteria often healed within a few weeks. In conjunction with colleagues from Düsseldorf, Homburg and Berlin they now want to test the experience gained in a large-scale study.

Public Release: 27-Jul-2006
Scientists build 'magnetic semiconductors' one atom at a time
In a stride that could hasten the development of computer chips that both calculate and store data, a team of Princeton scientists has turned semiconductors into magnets by the precise placement of metal atoms within a material from which chips are made.
National Science Foundation, US Army Research Office

Public Release: 26-Jul-2006
Intelligence and Security Informatics Conference
Proceedings of Intelligence and Security Informatics Conference
UCI researchers 'text mine' The New York Times, demonstrating ease of new technology
Performing what a team of dedicated and bleary-eyed newspaper librarians would need months to do, scientists at UC Irvine have used an up-and-coming technology to complete in hours a complex topic analysis of 330,000 stories published primarily by The New York Times.

Public Release: 26-Jul-2006
UF scientists discover evolutionary origin of fins, limbs
The genetic instructions used to construct and position our limbs were being perfected more than half a billion years ago in fish, not along the sides of the body where the fins that preceded human arms and legs sprouted, but at the midline that runs along the backbone and belly. The findings, published in the journal Nature by UF Genetics Institute researchers, provide insight into the evolutionary history of genes involved in human birth defects.

Public Release: 26-Jul-2006
American Naturalist
Human behavior changes the number of strains of infectious diseases
Simple models predict that only one strain of an infectious disease can exist at one time, but observation suggests otherwise. In a study in the August issue of The American Naturalist, Ken Eames and Matt Keeling (University of Warwick) use a mathematical model to help explain multiple strains, showing that the way humans interact is all-important. The researchers found that the coexistence of multiple infectious disease strains result from monogamous populations.

Public Release: 26-Jul-2006
American Naturalist
Invasive plants prefer disturbance in exotic regions over home regions
One of the most invasive exotics in the western United States, the yellow starthistle, is successful both at "invasion" in non-native areas and "colonization" in native ones. However, new research from an international team of researchers finds that a disturbance -- such as fire or grazing -- actually increased the success of yellow starthistle far more in non-native than in its home regions. Furthermore, yellow starthistle was able to establish virtual monocultures in disturbed plots only where it is exotic.

Public Release: 26-Jul-2006
American Naturalist
Thieves promote stable coexistence among desert rodents
The warm deserts of North America are hopping with multiple species of kangaroo rats and pocket mice despite limited seed resources. Why doesn't one species win out in the rat race? Ecologist Mary Price (University of California, Riverside and University of Arizona) and theoretical biologist John Mittler (University of Washington) teamed up to explore their hunch that coexistence might follow from the propensity of these rodents to store harvested seeds and to steal from one another's caches.

Public Release: 26-Jul-2006
26th International Conference on the Physics of Semiconductors
Physical Review Letters
Plenty of nothing: A hole new quantum spin
Scientists have created a tiny quantum wire that carries an electric current by exploiting the gaps -- or holes -- between electrons. The holes can be thought of as real quantum particles that have an electrical charge and a spin. They exhibit remarkable quantum properties and could lead to a new world of super-fast, low-powered transistors and powerful quantum computers.
Australian Research Council

Public Release: 26-Jul-2006
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
CU study finds connection between sound and meaning in words
A new Cornell study describes a series of linguistic experiments showing that the sounds (phonology) of a word can indicate whether it is a noun or a verb. An article on the subject will appear in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Public Release: 26-Jul-2006
Journal of Marriage and Family
Native-born blacks more likely to marry whites than other blacks
Breaking away from previous marriage and cohabitation studies that treated the U.S. black population as a monolithic culture, a new Cornell study finds significant variations in interracial marriage statistics among U.S.-born blacks and black immigrants from the Caribbean and Africa.

Public Release: 25-Jul-2006
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Ancient global warming drove early primates' dispersal
The continent-hopping habits of early primates have long puzzled scientists, and several scenarios have been proposed to explain how the first true members of the group appeared virtually simultaneously on Asia, Europe and North America some 55 million years ago.
National Geographic Society, Belgian Federal Science Policy Office, National Science Foundation

I've been a wild quaker for many a year

Thursday July 27, 2006. Steeple People Thrift Store had several of Jo Dereske's "Miss Zukas" mysteries, about a Lithuanian-American librarian. (This combination is not yet a recognized subgenre. And I don't think any mystery publisher yet has either a line of ethnic-detective mysteries or a line of librarian mysteries.)

Later, I found myself wondering about US mysteries in which the detective's family belongs to a radical political minority -- Marxist, anarchist, Libertarian, far-right, or pacifist. (Mental image of a detective who operates like Mike Hammer at a family gathering where most attendees are pacifists.)

[Asking in rec.arts.mystery got me two series with leftist family backgrounds.]

Also seen: Joe Gores, Menaced Assassin. I've read several of his DKA Files novels and short stories: hard-boiled mysteries about a skip-tracing and auto repo firm in the San Francisco Bay area. They were good enough that Menaced Assassins seemed worth a look.

Joe Gores is another victim of the Braineater.

"The Braineater" originated in the newsgroup rec.arts.sf.written. (The earliest use I find is November 10, 1998 by James Nicoll. Since he then felt no need to define it, odds are it's older.) It's the entity which preys on writers who have written well in the past, and causes them to turn out bad fiction. One symptom is an urge to preach, at the expense of mere storytelling.

In Menaced Assassin, Gores set out to explain human nature.
"In a few months Pitt's [Pitt the Younger] experience had done more to clarify the relation of the Ministry to Parliament than a century of previous parliamentary history. Quite naturally the significance of these events was not perceived by those who participated in them. Not until the dawn of the new [19th] century did Englishmen begin, and then only imperfectly, to perceive the nature of the institution of cabinet government. Indeed descriptions of the system that convey anything like our modern understanding of it did not begin to appear until about half a century later." Wilfred E. Binkley, President and Congress, 1962, Vintage Books.

And what are we missing now about current events which will be obvious in fifty years and blindingly obvious later yet?

This kind of thing is why I say it's impossible to write about the present. There's too much which won't be understood for decades.
Writing: "Down Among the Sane Ones" -- printed out for reading at Twin Cities Speculative Fiction Writers Network meetup on Sunday.

Self-help information: Sent out info on South Minnneapolis Clutterers Anonymous meetings in August.

Decluttering: Trash picked up.

Selfwork: Found a book which gives instructions for using Thera-Bands in exercise at Steeple People thrift store.


bodiment Found a book which gives instructions for using Thera-Bands in exercise at Steeple People thrift store.


organizery Sent TCSFWN schedule (non-RSVP events only) to Einblatt (Mnstf newsletter) and the Events list.
Sent out info on South Minnneapolis Clutterers Anonymous meetings in August.

authory "Down Among the Sane Ones" -- printed out for reading at Twin Cities Speculative Fiction Writers Network meetup on Sunday.