Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Monday, December 28, 2009
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
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
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
Ben Schott has a chart in the NYTimes.com 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 - NYTimes.com
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.
David Brooks of the NYTimes.com 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.In my opinion, 1, 2, 3, 6, and 7 are about innovation. The rest are simply Brooks' conservative agenda.
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.)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Loosen the so-called H-1B visa quotas to attract skilled immigrants.
- 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.
- Lower the corporate tax rate so it matches international norms.
- 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.
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.
The following table, from OpenSecrets.org, 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%)|
Based on data released by the FEC on November 08, 2009.
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