MJ's Ghost

Finally, proof...


Subtlety = Officially Over

Jesus, this a bit brutal, isn't it?

I'm gonna have nightmares...


Fake Pharmaceutical Publications

Care of Philip at Furious Seasons:

Earlier this month I noted that news had come out that Merck had--with the help of major academic medical journal publisher Elsevier--had created a fake medical journal earlier this decade, which then presented studies that were basically gigantic advertorials for Merck's products. Now there's news that the same academic publisher has admitted to creating five other fake journals earlier this decade.

The journals in question are: the Australasian Journal of General Practice, the Australasian Journal of Neurology, the Australasian Journal of Cardiology, the Australasian Journal of Clinical Pharmacy, the Australasian Journal of Cardiovascular Medicine.

Elsevier has a lot to answer for. So far, the company has blamed all of this an its Australian office.

And people think I am off-base when I point out how corrupt the research world has gotten.

You can't make this stuff up...bit more info here.

More stuff you couldn't write if you tried:


God and Cats Playing Keyboard

This poor kid is trying to come out as an atheist to his idiot mother and (I'm assuming) subordinate father. I love the "you'll get nothing for Christmas" threat, which makes sense here because "Christmas is all about Jesus Christ!"

Anyway, what better way to break the tension with a cat playing keyboard.

I'm getting slightly ashamed this blog has turned into a viral video stop, oh well...


Newsflash: Satan is Dead

New Hope First Babtist Church interrupts your regular programming to bring you some breaking news - Satan is dead.
The killer was indeed identified as Mr. Jesus Christ...of...heaven...
This is a sad day for hell and a happy day for the saints and residents of Greenville Mississippi.
There may be too many soundbites to list...just watch...


Kurzweil, Shatner - Dreams Coming True

The new documentary on Raymond Kurzweil looks pretty amazing. He is a technology and future predictor, whose proclamations are often correct (human genome mapping, the internet, the collapse of the soviet union, a computer beating a human chess champion, etc...). The recent big one focuses on the singularlity - a point at which biology and technology are so intermingled they are indistinguishable. I've written about this a lot here, but I can't stop thinking about it - he thinks it will happen right around 2029.

An interesting parallel to Darwin (and maybe a reason he's sometimes regarded as a crackpot), Kurzweil believes he can resurrect his father with DNA and robots. Darwin himself was often quoted as believing in an afterlife and/or God - in particular, during the time when his mother and sister died, which he was heartsick over. Even the most brilliant people can be somewhat deluded it seems. Deluded or not, he believes this evolution of technology will allow him (and maybe all of us) to live forever.

The trailer is great, it really paints him as Vonnegut-like character - half evil genius, half prophet, mostly misunderstood. Towards the end, you can tell the type of backlash he must often receive from bible thumping, fear-mongers frightened he's playing God. Then again, it's nice to hear a quote from Stevie Wonder (a major God believer) praising him, "he is using the gift he was given for the betterment of human kind." Kurzweil is of course also famous for his unique brand of electric keyboards, of which Stevie is a big fan.

There is a showing of this at the Tribeca Film Festival Friday night, anyone got a spare ticket??

Oh yeah, the reason I have to see this now is because it seems to include an unironic interview with THE William Shatner about eternal life.


Auto-Tuned Baby

This baby sounds better than T-Pain and Kanye combined. Seems like something right out of Radiolab...

It Takes Different Strokes

A little exercise in music's ability to...shift the emotion of a visual scene. For the love of God, Arnold and Dudley, do NOT get in that old white guy's car. Courtesy of The Gothamist:


The Micro-Expressions of A-Roid

Our faces our billboards to our emotions, but often only on a lightning fast time scale. The famous microexpressionist (I think I just made that word up), Dr. Paul Eckman takes the time to analyze A-Rod's lying ways on his 60 minutes interview in 2007.

"The most reliable thing that he did is what we call a gestural slip," Dr. Ekman said. Several times during his session with Ms. Couric, Mr. Rodriguez raises his left shoulder momentarily as he speaks.

"It's a slight raise of one shoulder, a fragment that slips out of a full gesture," Dr. Ekman said. In a full shrug, both shoulders rise, stay up, then drop.

A half-shrug can be prompted by feelings like helplessness in the face of tough questions, or a "Who, me?" response to accusations. It doesn't square with firm denials, Dr. Ekman said.

In the interview, Ms. Couric asks: "What's your reaction to this investigation?" referring to the Mitchell report on steroid use in baseball.

His shoulder appears to pop up three times as Mr. Rodriguez talks of being "extremely disappointed" and adds, "It would be a huge black eye on the game of baseball."

He is also asked if he ever witnessed or suspected illegal drug use among players. His answer: "I never saw" - here, his left shoulder lifts - "anything. I never had raw evidence."
The article goes on to explain, that scientifically, nothing is particularly conclusive because he would need to study the purple-lipped cheater during a less stressful conversation to establish a baseline of whatever idiosyncratic facial expressions he has. Frankly, I couldn't imagine staring at that face any longer than I had to.

And even more frankly, I don't need science to prove that Arod and the rest of baseball's lying liars are in a constant state of fabrication, back pedalling, and denial.

If there's anything the steroid era in baseball elucidates, it's the extraordinary lengths people will go to protect their secrets and lies, and that most people, despite instinctually knowing the truth, will still believe the perpetuated stories. Innocent until proven guilty works well in the court of law, but I think we can safely say it doesn't apply to celebrities, athletes and politicians.


Go Jonah Lehrer!

He was just on the Colbert show! I think he did great. In fact, I have no idea how guests can handle being interviewed like that. Not easy to get a word in edge-wise, but he did eventually.

Jonah discusses his new book, How We Decide, which is high on my reading queue, but haven't gotten to it yet. He mentions the idea of metacognition, which is such an important idea in neuroscience and every day life. Knowing your bad habits, knowing the context, knowing how you relate to the other characters in the scenario, the other variables. He calls it, "thinking about thinking." One has to consider their rational thoughts AND their emotional instincts. Colbert throws in "like Spock!" My thoughts exactly.

I wonder when we're all gonna get on board with this idea, it's vital to everything from global ideas like politics and religion to local issues like choosing your mate or what to have for dinner. Great to see Jonah getting more recognition for his insightful work.


Post-Op Pain Killer Freak Out

From a 7-year old. This seems awfully familiar to me...yes, freshman year in college...in the quad...I ate something that tasted bad and made the world go all swirly...

"Is it always going to be like this?!"

The Singularity University is Near

I'm very seriously considering considering this.

To be housed at Nasa’s Ames Research Center, a stone’s-throw from the Googleplex, the Singularity University will offer courses on biotechnology, nano-technology and artificial intelligence.

The so-called “singularity” is a theorised period of rapid technological progress in the near future. Mr Kurzweil, an American inventor, popularised the term in his 2005 book “The Singularity is Near”.

Proponents say that during the singularity, machines will be able to improve themselves using artificial intelligence and that smarter-than-human computers will solve problems including energy scarcity, climate change and hunger.

Yet many critics call the singularity dangerous. Some worry that a malicious artificial intelligence might annihilate the human race.

Science fiction coming faster than we think...


Fast Cheap and Out of Control

My friend Kevin recommended I see Fast, Cheap and Out of Control recently. He knew (and was right) that it was in my wheelhouse and actually sent me a copy from Amazon. Merry Christmas, Kevs...

It's a very unique Errol Morris documentary shot by the cinematographer who did Natural Born Killers (a movie I'm secretly very fond of). It follows a topiary gardener, a biologist that studies mole rats, a lion tamer, and a robotics engineer. All seemingly disparate topics that eventually blend into a pretty brilliant theme about man's role in nature.

My favorite is the robotics engineer (though the lion tamer comes close), who has a brilliant digression about how robots begin to take on identities. There is a sense of being that can transcend their programming, where they are simply reacting to their environment. He goes on to specify how absurd it is to have consciousness without a body - a very subtle (and maybe unintentional) reminder that the separation of mind and body is a myth.

It's funny to watch that idea in action with this collection of robot videos (the best from 2008). The robots playing violin and soccer is fun to watch, but this one is the most singularity-esque and seemingly applicable to humanity. Skip ahead to 3:50 to see this strength suit in action.


Nigerian Shape-Shifting Goats

Being such a neuro-enthusiast, I often catch myself at parties extolling its virtues, explaining how its discoveries will dispel many of the common mass delusions of our time (religion, global warming, ghosts, etc). Whenever I have that discussion with my father, he gives me a friendly but condescending look and says he hopes I'm right.

I understand his doubt when I see articles like this on a Monday morning (thanks Gordon).

Police in Nigeria are holding a goat on suspicion of attempted armed robbery.

Vigilantes took the black and white beast to the police saying it was an armed robber who had used black magic to transform himself into a goat to escape arrest after trying to steal a Mazda 323.

"The group of vigilante men came to report that while they were on patrol they saw some hoodlums attempting to rob a car. They pursued them. However one of them escaped while the other turned into a goat," Kwara state police spokesman Tunde Mohammed told Reuters by telephone.

Is the world one big satire show now? A shape-shifting friggin goat?! Okay, I give up...you win, Dad...


The Large Hadron Rap

Quite possibly the nerdiest thing I've ever seen also happens to be the best explanation for how the large hadron collider works. I'm not really into her flow so much, but I actually feel confident enough now to try discussing this with someone. Who wants some?

Welcome to what has probably been re-enacted endlessly in AP high school physics classes around the globe. (Thanks, John).


The 80s - How one drug could create 10 years worth of unintentional comedy

I mean, this video pretty much says it all doesn't it?

Was everyone doing so much blow, that no one could have the foresight to say, "dudes, I don't think it's good idea for you to play air and wall keyboard..." Jeez, just watch..

I mean, really, not ONE guy smoking a joint with a bit of perspective?

How could this happen??


Eddy Curry Finds Gap in Homosexuality Definition

All crap studies trying to find a physical substrate for homosexuality (either in the brain or DNA) basically define homosexuals as having physical, emotional, or neurological traits of the opposite sex. A gay man has more feminine characteristics, and a woman has more male characteristics.

Let's take the recent case of New York Knickerbocker, Mr. Eddy Curry. Eddy it seems has homosexual tendencies as evidenced by his recent sexual harassment lawsuit, filed by his male driver:

The lawsuit alleges, "On more than one occasion in the last year of plaintiff's employment, Curry approached him, in the nude, and tried to solicit him to engage in homosexual acts with him by telling the plaintiff 'Look at me, Dave, look' and 'Come and touch it, Dave.' "
How do you resist that invitation?

These examples of homosexuality never seem to make into the scientific literature do they? Like with most worthless neuroscience/psychology studies, if the data points don't fit the hypothesis, leave 'em out.

Not to mention, it's not like Curry was exhibiting "female" sexual behavior. In fact, this would appear to be pretty dominant alpha male (asshole) behavior:
Curry also made Kuchinsky perform "humiliating tasks outside the scope of his employment, such as cleaning up and removing dirty towels [Curry had ejaculated into] so that his wife would not see them," the Manhattan federal court suit says.
Or I could be wrong, maybe the gay gene is next to the degrading asshole gene. Doesn't seem like a desirable hypothesis either...