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New Briefs 25-12-2005

Christmas Holidays – for news editors? Bah, HUMBUG! — Great minds… 😉

  • Henges, pyramids, and the Celtic cross helped ancient mariners sail the world: Crichton Miller’s discovery could lead to a total re-evaluation of Neolithic history.
  • Reconstructed Stone-Age circle in Germany catches sun’s rays.
  • Rare 6th-century seal bearing images of Jesus and a cross that signifies the name ‘Christ’ excavated in Tiberias, Israel.
  • Ice-age footprints left some 20,000 years ago are giving a fresh perspective on the lives of Australian Aborigines. Love that photo.
  • Unveiling part of the wooley mammoth’s nuclear DNA, researcher says, ‘Mitochondria is sooo 1980s.’
  • Just reactivate the thymus gland, insert blood stem cells from the organ donor, and voila’, you have a whole new immune system which permanently accepts the transplanted organ.
  • Neuroscientists find evidence that memory retrieval is a form of mental time travel.
  • Research finds SSRI anti-depressants increase the number of axons in areas of the brain that are important for thinking, feeling, and autonomic functions.
  • European Space Agency finds killer electrons.
  • Hubble Reveals New Moons, Rings, Chaotically Jockeying For Position Around Uranus.
  • The year of unnatural disasters. They bloody well should have added this to the list!
  • UK scientists squint really hard at Martian photos, and say, well, it certainly looks like a dead dog to us. Where’s Hoagland when you need him?
  • Prestigious US journal Science lists top 10 scientific achievements of 2005. Nice close-up of Titan’s surface.
  • Science on a lighter note: 2005 has had its share of unusual, outrageous, tragi-comic and just downright silly science news. I can’t decide which I like better, the two beetle-naming experts, or the inventor of an alarm clock that rings, then runs away and hides.
  • Cows excel at selecting leaders.
  • Effective, safe anthrax vaccine can be grown in tobacco plants.
  • Engineers show off prototype of hydrogen fuel cell vehicle for the masses. Yo, Santa! This is what I want for Christmas next year! And, umm, one of those hiding alarm clocks too, please.
  • Harry Potter magics children out of hospital accident wards. Don’t be raising those eyebrows at me – this is scientific research!
  • Scholars, archaeologists, architects and engineers team up to design Nazareth Village, an authentic re-creation of a first-century Holy Land farm.
  • Anthropologist says, what we need is the historical context of the war on Christmas. Humm, War? What war?
  • The new Scrooges of Christmas present.

Quote of the Day:

The Scrooge factor is permanent in human nature, and seasons like Christmas always bring it out. But in many ways, excess is the point of Christmas. It’s a big blast at the coldest, darkest part of the year. I just hope that people balance the excess of pleasure with an equivalent excess of kindness and charity – and many people do.

Richard Holloway, former Bishop of Edinburgh

  1. Cows excel at selecting leaders

    Recent studies on leadership in cows and other grazing herbivores suggest that intelligence, inquisitiveness, confidence, experience and good social skills help to determine which animals will become leaders within herds.

    It is my best wish that some Americans can turn into cows before the next presidential election. 😉

    1. All too human…
      >>Recent studies on leadership in cows and other grazing herbivores suggest that intelligence, inquisitiveness, confidence, experience and good social skills help to determine which animals will become leaders within herds. It is my best wish that some Americans can turn into cows before the next presidential election. 😉

      I’m confident that there are millions of Americans with those qualities. But, unlike the cows, who get to choose any cow in the herd to lead them, Americans only get to choose between 2, maybe 3, people; and the vast majority of us have no say as to who those 2 or 3 candidates will be. Perhaps an even bigger problem is that, for the most part, those people who have the needed personal qualities, knowledge and experience to be a good president, for a variety of reasons, have no ambition for the job.

        1. works for a long time
          In short, all western countries are run by councilors.

          Most big countries are run by the lower levels of the adminitration, and in cases of market economies, by the country itself. Often a country operating with a market economy completely ignores the government.

          You can say, for example, that Bill Clinton’s economic strategy was successful because he left things alone, and did not interfere when it was not necessary.

          Germany was basically without a government for 2 months (or 3?), and it did not matter.

          The USA has had many presidents who had no majority in parliament, and other countries work well with many years of minority governments.

          So, countries like the USA, and most other western countries, work quite well without central control. Mostly I think because they are in some kind of natural balance, which is not forced continually by a strong central goverment. This kind of balance cannot be established in a short time, which is why Russia (as an example) cannot do this now. China is an even worse case of not knowing what the balance should be, nevermind how to get there.

          1. Councilors with specialized areas?
            Are there countries elect and run by councilors with specialized areas? For example, health, humanity, commerce, education…

            How could mistakes like Katrina ever happen? How could a president appoint someone without approval of people specialized in emergency response?

          2. specific office elections
            I don’t know about any country that elects it’s miniter (or secretary) or heath, commerce etc directly.

            However in some states in the USA, many such positions are elective offices. California is a good example. Even more so at lower levels of government in the USA, where most city officials are elected, not appointed. The result is not noticably different from places where all these officials are appointed. If anything, it’s worse because people get into specialist jobs based on popularity, not ability.

            As for Katrina, that sort of thing happens because all local and state officials, and the local people, preferred to spend money on immediate projects – based on the hope that a big hurricane would not hit there in the near future. Of course if you keep doing that indefinetely, then eventually you are wrong. That was the main mistake, the engineers could certainly have prevented the flooding if given the opportunity.

            But going back to the counsillors, almost all the heads of departments rely on the career people in their organization. A minister of health rarely has a medial education (except the “surgeon general” in the USA), and even if they do have one, their job is administrative and political.

            What does a councillor for “humanity” do? Is that a well defined area?

            How does Switzerland work? Perhaps you can check that out, I think it is a different organization than most goverments.

          3. Re: specific office elections
            Majority of people are too easily controlled by fear and greed. I don’t think election is the best way for civilizations unless the people are able to think of things 400 years down the road.

            A “humanity” councillor would be someone who understands the psychology of human beings and be able to help the society to be re-connected by heart, instead of by enforcement of laws, which to me, is a separation of people.

            Have you heard of Essenes? That’s what I have in mind.

  2. the belly fulls, past and present
    Merry Xmas Hi,

    Well Kat, you added “love that photo” comment with the ice age footprint story , so i just had to check. Lo and behold ! The man didnt leave just a footprint, he left his facial imprint aswell, remarkable ! It aint no rorsach. In front of his toes one can observe eye sockets, nose and cheek shadows and a slightly smiling mouth..Go figure .

    Whats this with nazareth rebuilding, i thought it was well estabalished that the place didnt exist during roman days. It was the nazarene and that connotes something very different. Here’s a site to start the nazarene way Plenty there to enlighten …

    As for cows following the best foodsniffer…. Bush’s electorate are the bellyfulls, so its logical that they follow the one that tells them its their godgiven right to have their bellies full, and that the hungry should rejoice and celibrate the ones with their belly full, the best scavengers may even hope to join the belly full…

    ” do unto others as you would have them do unto you “

    1. The bellyfulls, past and present
      In his Dec. 21 post, titled ‘Howell Raines Delivers Roast Bush For Christmas’, over at Newshog, Cernig points to another person who shares your opinion of the bellyfulls, saying, “Wooooaaahhhh! Howell Raimes, once executive editor of the New York Times, delivers a truly eloquent roasting of the whole Bush dynasty for Australia’s The Age newspaper today…” His Newshog post contains excerpts, beginning with this paragraph:

      Behind George W, there are four generations of Bushes and Walkers devoted first to using political networks to pile up and protect personal fortunes and, latterly, to using absolutely any means to gain office, not because they want to do good, but because they are what passes in American for hereditary aristocrats. In sum, George Bush stands at the apex of a pyramid of privilege whose history and social significance that, given his animosity to scholarly thought, he almost certainly does not understand.

      But as Cernig says, it’s better if you read the whole thing:

      The miscreant dynasty: The Bush generations have enriched themselves while impoverishing the presidency.



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