Wednesday, December 30, 2009


Here's a neat website. It lists free things! Try it out. (It's also very nicely done.)

Monday, December 28, 2009

Study says tailored music therapy can ease tinnitus

From Reuters
LONDON (Reuters) - Individually designed music therapy may help reduce noise levels in people suffering from tinnitus, or ear ringing, German scientists said on Monday.

The researchers designed musical treatments adapted to the musical tastes of patients with ear-ringing and then stripped out sound frequencies that matched the individual's tinnitus frequency.

After a year of listening to these 'notched' musical therapies, patients reported a distinct decrease in the loudness of ringing compared with those who had listened to non-tailored placebo music, the researchers wrote in a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Hans Rosling: Asia's rise — how and when

A great TEDIndia talk by Hans Rosling, the creator of GapMinder, about economic and health growth in Asia compared to the West.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Who Are You? | Cosmic Variance | Discover Magazine

Sean Carroll has a neat blog entry about teleportation. Here's a piece.
What if you murdered someone, and then teleported — would the reconstructed person still be guilty of murder? That’s not quite the right question, because it still relies on the slippery essence of continuous personhood, but there’s a closely related sensible question — should we treat the reconstructed person as if they had committed murder? And it seems to me that the answer is clearly “yes” — whatever good reasons we had for treating the pre-teleportation person in a certain way, those reasons should still apply to the post-teleportation person.

The issue of duplication seems much thornier to me than the issue of teleportation. If someone made an exact copy of a known murderer, should we treat both the original and the copy as murderers? (I vote “yes.”) Fine, but what about the view from the inside? Let’s say you have an offer to get paid $100 if you let yourself be copied, with the proviso that after being copied one of the two of you will randomly be chosen for immediate painless execution. Do you take that deal?

Monday, December 14, 2009

A Look at the Lives and Loves of Older People

Ben Schott has a chart in the that suggests we are doing pretty well as we age. He also points out that in 1967, when the Beatles released "When I'm 64" life expectancy of men/women was 67/74. Now it's 75/80. We're doing well there too.

Saturday, December 12, 2009


From Obama Blasts Banks for Opposing Financial Overhaul -
President Barack Obama singled out financial institutions for causing much of the economic tailspin and criticized their opposition to tighter federal oversight of their industry.

While applauding House passage Friday of overhaul legislation and urging quick Senate action, Obama expressed frustration with banks that were helped by a taxpayer bailout and now are ''fighting tooth and nail with their lobbyists'' against new government controls.

In his weekly radio and Internet address Saturday, Obama said the economy is only now beginning to recover from the ''irresponsibility'' of Wall Street institutions that ''gambled on risky loans and complex financial products'' in pursuit of short-term profits and big bonuses with little regard for long-term consequences.

''It was, as some have put it, risk management without the management,'' he said. …

The president also told CBS' ''60 Minutes'' that ''the people on Wall Street still don't get it. ... They're still puzzled why it is that people are mad at the banks. Well, let's see. You guys are drawing down $10, $20 million bonuses after America went through the worst economic year ... in decades and you guys caused the problem,'' Obama said in an excerpt released in advance of Sunday night's broadcast of his interview.

An Innovation Agenda

David Brooks of the paraphrases from what he calls "an unfairly neglected" white paper on Innovation.
President Obama’s National Economic Council argued that the U.S. should not be in the industrial policy business. Governments that try to pick winners “too often end up wasting resources and stifling rather than promoting innovation.” But there are several things the government can do to improve the economic ecology. If you begin with that framework, you can quickly come up with a bipartisan innovation agenda.
  1. Push hard to fulfill the Obama administration’s education reforms. Those reforms, embraced by Republicans and Democrats, encourage charter school innovation, improve teacher quality, support community colleges and simplify finances for college students and war veterans. That’s the surest way to improve human capital.

  2. Pay for basic research. Federal research money has been astonishingly productive, leading to DNA sequencing, semiconductors, lasers and many other technologies. Yet this financing has slipped, especially in physics, math and engineering. Overall research-and-development funding has slipped, too. The U.S. should aim to spend 3 percent of G.D.P. on research, as it did in the 1960s.

  3. Rebuild the nation’s infrastructure. Abraham Lincoln spent the first half of his career promoting canals and railroads. Today, the updated needs are just as great, and there’s widespread agreement that decisions should be made by a National Infrastructure Bank, not pork-seeking politicians.

  4. Find a fiscal exit strategy. If the deficits continue to surge, interest payments on the debt will be stifling. More important, the mounting deficits destroy confidence by sending the message that the American government is dysfunctional. The only way to realistically fix this problem is to appoint a binding commission, already supported by Republicans and Democrats, which would create a roadmap toward fiscal responsibility and then allow the Congress to vote on it, up or down.

  5. Gradually address global imbalances. American consumers are now spending less and saving more. But the world economy will be out of whack if the Chinese continue to consume too little. The only solution is slow diplomacy to rebalance exchange rates and other distorting policies.

  6. Loosen the so-called H-1B visa quotas to attract skilled immigrants.

  7. Encourage regional innovation clusters. Innovation doesn’t happen at the national level. It happens within hot spots — places where hordes of entrepreneurs gather to compete, meet face to face, pollinate ideas. Regional authorities can’t innovate themselves, but they can encourage those who do to cluster.

  8. Lower the corporate tax rate so it matches international norms.

  9. Don’t be stupid. Don’t make labor markets rigid. Don’t pick trade fights with the Chinese. Don’t get infatuated with research tax credits and other gimmicks, which don’t increase overall research-and-development spending but just increase the salaries of the people who would be doing it anyway.
This sort of agenda doesn’t rely on politicians who think they can predict the next new thing. Nor does it mean merely letting the market go its own way. (The market seems to have a preference for useless financial instruments and insane compensation packages.)

Instead, it’s an agenda that would steer and spark innovation without controlling it, which is what government has done since the days of Alexander Hamilton. It’s the sort of thing the country does periodically, each time we need to recover from one of our binges of national stupidity.
In my opinion, 1, 2, 3, 6, and 7 are about innovation. The rest are simply Brooks' conservative agenda.


The following table, from, lists the top 100 lobbying organizations ranked by money spent. I had always imagined that the lobbying money was mainly Republican. This suggests it is heavily Democratic.
LEGEND:  Republican  Democrat   On the fence
= Between 40% and 59% to both parties
= Leans Dem/Repub (60%-69%)
= Strongly Dem/Repub (70%-89%)
= Solidly Dem/Repub (over 90%)

RankOrganizationTotal '89-'09Dem %Repub %Tilt
1AT&T Inc$43,938,53544%55%
2American Fedn of State, County & Municipal Employees$41,728,31198%1%   
3National Assn of Realtors$35,376,88348%51%
4Goldman Sachs$31,343,06264%35%
5Intl Brotherhood of Electrical Workers$31,287,95797%2%   
6American Assn for Justice$31,232,47990%9%   
7National Education Assn$30,035,41792%6%   
8Laborers Union$28,705,40092%7%   
9Service Employees International Union$27,830,01795%3%   
10Carpenters & Joiners Union$27,650,18389%10%  
11Teamsters Union$27,549,87492%6%   
12Citigroup Inc$26,948,42850%49%
13Communications Workers of America$26,940,14699%0%   
14American Federation of Teachers$26,282,22198%0%   
15American Medical Assn$26,277,47339%60%
16United Auto Workers$25,767,00298%0%   
17Machinists & Aerospace Workers Union$25,002,27798%0%   
18National Auto Dealers Assn$24,189,70831%68%
19Altria Group$24,052,64128%71%  
20United Food & Commercial Workers Union$24,027,83398%1%   
21United Parcel Service$24,003,68136%63%
22American Bankers Assn$22,303,71641%58%
23National Assn of Home Builders$21,753,55536%63%
24EMILY's List$21,148,79699%0%   
25National Beer Wholesalers Assn$20,786,84532%67%
26Time Warner$20,195,86071%28%  
27Microsoft Corp$19,917,84653%46%
28JPMorgan Chase & Co$19,646,27851%48%
29National Assn of Letter Carriers$19,369,53488%11%  
30Morgan Stanley$18,450,05845%53%
31Verizon Communications$18,376,31240%59%
32Lockheed Martin$18,205,72742%57%
34FedEx Corp$17,876,41640%59%
35General Electric$17,741,06951%48%
36National Rifle Assn$17,299,83617%82%  
37Credit Union National Assn$17,105,36448%51%
38Sheet Metal Workers Union$16,999,91397%2%   
39Ernst & Young$16,992,78644%55%
40Bank of America$16,985,18847%52%
41American Dental Assn$16,380,95446%53%
42Operating Engineers Union$16,317,55085%14%  
43American Hospital Assn$16,306,33053%46%
44Blue Cross/Blue Shield$16,210,71840%59%
45Plumbers & Pipefitters Union$16,131,51194%5%   
46Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu$15,868,72035%64%
47International Assn of Fire Fighters$15,833,14382%17%  
48Air Line Pilots Assn$15,564,02784%15%  
50Natl Assn/Insurance & Financial Advisors$15,015,85542%56%
51AFLAC Inc$14,763,26944%55%
52Merrill Lynch$14,303,13037%61%
53Union Pacific Corp$14,211,64824%75%  
54Boeing Co$13,946,60747%52%
55United Transportation Union$13,538,19588%10%  
56Pfizer Inc$13,537,34229%69%
57United Steelworkers$13,512,44799%0%   
58Reynolds American$13,344,77724%75%  
59Ironworkers Union$13,085,52592%7%   
60BellSouth Corp$12,993,78245%54%
61American Institute of CPAs$12,841,35342%57%
62Credit Suisse Group$12,412,64044%54%
63American Postal Workers Union$12,000,82695%4%   
64National Rural Electric Cooperative Assn$11,936,82152%47%
65General Dynamics$11,670,29446%52%
66American Financial Group$11,443,82518%81%  
68Walt Disney Co$10,924,74967%32%
70Exxon Mobil$10,616,67314%85%  
71Natl Active & Retired Fed Employees Assn $10,496,00077%22%  
72MBNA Corp$10,059,00617%82%  
73General Motors$9,952,26438%60%
74UST Inc$9,938,81121%78%  
75Freddie Mac$9,871,49043%56%
76Human Rights Campaign$9,856,26690%9%   
78National Restaurant Assn$9,703,64516%83%  
79Southern Co$9,695,79431%68%
80MetLife Inc$9,464,19255%44%
81Prudential Financial$9,428,19948%51%
82American Academy of Ophthalmology$9,314,53852%47%
83National Cmte to Preserve Social Security & Medicare$9,200,49980%19%  
84Eli Lilly & Co$9,120,60928%70%  
85CSX Corp$8,997,77931%68%
86Associated General Contractors$8,883,44114%85%  
87American Maritime Officers$8,855,22146%53%
88Amway/Alticor Inc$8,763,0010%99%   
89National Cmte for an Effective Congress$8,707,94099%0%   
90Archer Daniels Midland$8,304,11443%56%
91Seafarers International Union$8,217,64484%14%  
92American Airlines$8,125,53547%52%
93MCI Inc$8,093,47246%53%
94American Council of Life Insurers$7,640,50437%62%
95Marine Engineers Beneficial Assn$7,413,12774%25%  
96Bristol-Myers Squibb$7,263,61221%77%  
97Enron Corp$6,583,25728%71%  
Based on data released by the FEC on November 08, 2009.

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