March 6th, 2007

(no subject)

Monday March 5, 2007. When I woke up, I knew the right ending for "Cheap Futures." It required changing one character's age and a few other tweaks; but that was less change than would've been needed for the ending I'd had in mind to fit.

I added it to my LinkOnline zine, sent off the zine (one day past the extended deadline).
From the languagehat LiveJournal feed: SPEECH ACCENT ARCHIVE.

"The speech accent archive [ ] uniformly presents a large set of speech samples from a variety of language backgrounds. Native and non-native speakers of English read the same paragraph and are carefully transcribed. The archive is used by people who wish to compare and analyze the accents of different English speakers." From the About page:

The speech accent archive is established to uniformly exhibit a large set of speech accents from a variety of language backgrounds. Native and non-native speakers of English all read the same English paragraph and are carefully recorded. The archive is constructed as a teaching tool and as a research tool. It is meant to be used by linguists as well as other people who simply wish to listen to and compare the accents of different English speakers...
From the Sunlight Foundation"

"To celebrate Sunshine Week (March 11-17th) a week celebrating open government we are hosting a contest. We are offering a $2,000 prize for the best 'Web 2.0 Mashup' that displays information about Congress."
Writing: "Cheap Futures" -- Finished. Sent for LinkOnline critiques.

Self help information:

Decluttering: Laundry done. Tossed three socks.


(no subject)

From's newsletter:

The Chinese government began blocking access to the popular blogging site LiveJournal on Friday, cutting off its citizens from the roughly 1.8 million blogs the service hosts. SixApart, the company behind LiveJournal, says there are 8,692 self-reported Chinese bloggers on the site, a number that is likely low since it is based on information volunteered in user profiles.,72872-0.html

China on Tuesday banned any more cybercafes from opening this year, the latest move by the nation's communist rulers to restrict the rising influence of the Internet. Chinese authorities will not approve any more Internet cafe licences in 2007, according to a notice posted on the culture ministry's website. The notice also vowed to crack down on gambling through online games and restrict the use of virtual currencies.

A hacker stole sensitive data from a computer in the offices of French far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen, fuelling his fears that rivals used it to try and keep him out of the presidential race. The security breach at Le Pen's National Front party headquarters comes as the campaign intensified ahead of the April and May election with several candidates facing smear scandals in recent weeks.

The U.S. government is about to start opening up the process of reviewing patents to the Internet. The Patent and Trademark Office is starting a pilot project that will not only post patent applications on the Web and invite comments but also use a community rating system designed to push the most respected comments to the top of the file, for serious consideration by the agency's examiners. A first for the federal government, the system resembles the one used by Wikipedia.
<> [Washington Post]

Intel says it may have lost many internal e-mails that it is obliged to produce for rival AMD and other antitrust plaintiffs. AMD sued Intel in June 2005 in U.S. District Court in Delaware, accusing the company of using a variety of improper tactics to maintain a monopoly in sales of microprocessors that provide the calculating power for most personal computers and server systems. Private antitrust suits on behalf of Intel shareholders followed. Intel has insisted that its tactics are fair and legal.

A White House privacy board has determined that two of the Bush administration's controversial surveillance programs, electronic eavesdropping and financial tracking, do not violate citizens' civil liberties. After operating mostly in secret for a year, the five-member Privacy and Civil Liberties Board is preparing to release its first report to Congress next week.

U.S. ambassador David Wilkins has called on Canada to introduce copyright reform to address what he calls the weakest copyright laws in the G7. Meanwhile, Senators Dianne Feinstein and John Cornyn have written to the Canadian Prime Minister to urge him to introduce anti-camcording legislation. U.S. ambassador coverage at
<> [AFP]
Senator letter at

Science Press Releases


Public Release: 6-Mar-2007
2007 American Physical Society March Meeting
Holographic images use shimmer to show cellular response to anticancer drug
The response of tumors to anticancer drugs has been observed in real-time 3-D images using technology developed at Purdue University. The new digital holographic imaging system uses a laser and the same microchip used in household digital cameras, to see inside tumor cells. The device also may have applications in drug development and medical imaging.
National Science Foundation

Public Release: 6-Mar-2007
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences
Paper challenges 1491 Amazonian population theories
There's a scholarly debate brewing about whether pre-Columbian Amazonian populations settled in large numbers across Amazonia and created the modern forest setting that many conservationists take to be "natural." The view is challenged in a recent paper from Dr. Mark Bush of the Florida Institute of Technology. His findings may rekindle a debate has major implications for land use and policy-setting in the rain forest.

ublic Release: 6-Mar-2007
Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics
Women need expanded musculoskeletal care during pregnancy, study finds
Despite the high prevalence of musculoskeletal pain during pregnancy, few women receive treatment for their low back pain, according to a February 2007 study in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics (JMPT).

Public Release: 6-Mar-2007
Journal of Neuroscience
New compound prevents alcoholic behavior, relapse in animals by blocking stress response
A study of alcohol-dependent animals shows that a newly discovered compound that blocks chemical signals active during the brain's response to stress effectively stops excessive drinking and prevents relapse.

Public Release: 6-Mar-2007
Astrophysical Journal Letters
AEGIS survey reveals new principle governing galaxy formation and evolution
Faced with the bewildering array of galaxies in the universe, from orderly spirals to chaotic mergers, it is hard to imagine a unifying principle that describes them all with mathematical precision. But that is just what astronomers have now discovered.
National Science Foundation, NASA

Public Release: 6-Mar-2007
Clinical Science
Red flag for repetitive stress injuries identified for first time in humans
A new discovery paves the way for early detection of repetitive injuries like carpal tunnel and tendonitis -- a $20 billion annual problem – before the damage leads to disability and lost work days. For the first time in humans, Temple University researchers have identified early indicators of inflammation -- potential warning signs of damage caused by repetitive motion. Their findings are reported in the March issue of Clinical Science
Temple University

Public Release: 6-Mar-2007
Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology
New study suggests special cocoa may lead to sustained improvement in blood vessel function
A new study published in the Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology found that regular consumption of a special Mars, Inc., cocoa containing cocoa flavanols may have a sustained benefit on blood vessel health. This is the first study to suggest the cardiovascular benefits of flavanol-rich cocoa could be long-term.
Mars Inc.

Public Release: 6-Mar-2007
Biophysical Journal
On the (sound) track of anesthetics
Danish scientists challenge the accepted scientific views of how nerves function and of how anesthetics work. Their research suggests that action of nerves is based on sound pulses and that anesthetics inhibit their transmission.

Public Release: 6-Mar-2007
Proceedings of the Royal Society B
The penalty of having a sister -- why sibling sex matters for male saiga antelopes
Having a twin sister could put male saiga antelopes at a reproductive disadvantage, says new research published today. The study shows that male twins with a sister are born lighter than those with a brother, making them smaller than the optimal size for males. The research also shows that saigas are the supermums of the hoofed animal world with no other similar species investing more in their offspring during pregnancy.
"The researchers point out that mixed-sex litters have been shown to have an impact on animal health elsewhere in the animal world. In dairy cows for example, it is well known that calves from mixed litters are less fit. Female heifers from mixed litters are generally infertile. But unlike dairy cows, in cases of saiga mixed-sex twins, the male foetus appears to be worse off, not the female."

These next two are different slants on the same research:
Public Release: 6-Mar-2007
American Journal of Medical Genetics
Potential genetic testing for substance abuse raises hope, concern
Now it is possible to develop similar tests that reveal a person's potential to become dependent on nicotine or marijuana or have antisocial personality disorder, University of Iowa researchers report online March 6 in the American Journal of Medical Genetics.
National Institutes of Health

Public Release: 6-Mar-2007
American Journal of Medical Genetics
Blood tests may be possible for mental health conditions
Blood tests for panic disorder and other mental health conditions are potentially around the corner, based on results from a University of Iowa study. The findings, which were based on analysis of genetic information in lymphoblasts, or immature white blood cells, appear online March 6 in the American Journal of Medical Genetics.
National Institutes of Health

Public Release: 6-Mar-2007
Journal of the National Cancer Institute
Lung cancer risk reduced in female textile workers exposed to endotoxin
Long-term, high-level exposure to bacterial endotoxin -- a contaminant found in raw cotton fiber and cotton dust -- is associated with a 40 percent decrease in lung cancer risk among female Chinese textile workers, according to a new study in the March 7 Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Public Release: 6-Mar-2007
Cell Metabolism
In obesity, brain becomes 'unaware' of fat
Critical portions of the brain in those who are obese don’t really know they are overweight, researchers have reported in the March issue of the journal Cell Metabolism, published by Cell Press. These findings in obese mice show that a sensor in the brain that normally detects a critical fat hormone -- causing a cascade of events that keeps energy balance in check -- fails to engage. Meanwhile, the rest of the metabolic pathway remains ready to respond.
NIH/National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, additional funders

(no subject)

Tuesday March 6, 2007. How My Mind Works #1

In Creating Short Fiction, Damon Knight explained that the conscious mind thinks linearly, while the unconscious thinks in webs of association. (Knight preferred to call the unconscious "Fred," for his own reasons.) This may be the only place in the book where Knight said that everyone's mind works a certain way.

My conscious mind works in webs of association. Part of my unconscious mind thinks linearly.

Only a minor part of my thinking is in words. (This took me a few decades to figure out, by the way.) Much of it is in tactile/visual diagrams, with the tactile part dominant.
As I woke up, I designed a theory of how societies work. In every society, there is a class of people who are essential -- and no one knows they're essential. Remove that group, or make their importance known, and the society falls apart.

This isn't fully original. There's the Jewish legend of the Thirty-six Righteous. And in M. A. Foster's The Morphodite, every society and sub-society has one person as its linchpin.

What do I believe? It's closest to the sociological theory called Symbolic Interactionism. Roughly: Society and culture are maintained and continually changed by people reacting to what they think other people's actions and words mean.

***To Joyce Food Shelf. Among other things, I got a loaf of Women's Bread from French Meadow Bakery.
Self help information:

Decluttering: Used hearing aid batteries out.