aliasinkhorn


Conservatives are happier than liberals, but why? Political ideology, personality, and life satisfaction

From the page: '"a b s t r a c t

Political conservatives are happier than liberals. We proposed that this happiness gap is accounted for by specific attitude and personality differences associated with positive adjustment and mental health. In contrast, a predominant social psychological explanation of the gap is that conservatives, who are described as fearful, defensive, and low in self-esteem, will rationalize away social inequalities in order to justify the status quo (system justification). In four studies, conservatives expressed greater personal agency (e.g., personal control, responsibility), more positive outlook (e.g., optimism, self-worth), more transcendent moral beliefs (e.g., greater religiosity, greater moral clarity, less tolerance of transgressions), and a generalized belief in fairness, and these differences accounted for the happiness gap. These patterns are consistent with the positive adjustment explanation..'



Junk food can hijack brain like drugs do, experts say

From the page: '"The data is so overwhelming the field has to accept it," said Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. "We are finding tremendous overlap between drugs in the brain and food in the brain."

The idea that food may be addictive was barely on scientists' radar a decade ago. Now the field is heating up. Lab studies have found sugary drinks and fatty foods can produce addictive behavior in animals. Brain scans of obese people and compulsive eaters, meanwhile, reveal disturbances in brain reward circuits similar to those experienced by drug abusers.'

A great big Hello to everyone, and a hearty thanks to Matt for getting me uploaded to Categorian. I'm terribly busy working on a project these days but will be posting soon.

In the meantime, I've a lot to learn about Categorian (it took me over two years to figure out SU : )


The End of StumbleUpon? Blog Functionality Being Phased Out, Users Headed to Tumblr

From the page: "Word around StumbleUpon is that the social bookmarking site, powered by its ever-popular and addictive toolbar, will soon do away with their blogging functionality. User profiles will revert to the "thumbnail" view, erasing years of user-tailored blog pages, some of them carefully tweaked using basic HTML. Though StumbleUpon staff members are assuring everyone they'll have plenty of time to export their blogs, they don't claim to have a working export feature just yet. Here are some screenshots of the earful StumbleUpon staff are having to deal with over at Get Satisfaction, along with the official statement from their community manager."

.............
What I have thought one of the two most intelligently designed social network sites has suddenly announced changes that effect one of its chief appeals: a blog.

It's like a 5 star hotel announcing it's cutting it's services to become a 2 star hotel. It's like a Mercedes Benz thinking it cool to look like a junkyard Studebaker. In removing the ability to post attractively, StumbleUpon now will be a site hardly any different then Digg or Mashable, in my opinion. In addition, it will help inadvertently elevate Tumblr's brand by causing many Stumblers to move to their posting platform - or Posterous, Categorian, and Google+ as alternatives. StumbleUpon's better alternative would have been limited HTML code posting, but not its elimination, to maintain its unique differentiation from other alternatives.

I created a site on Tumblr (aliasinkhorn) and Google+ (Alias Inkhorn (thanks to PurpleGem)) and have been, however, slow to adopt them. Current SU news will turn my interests toward them.

It is peculiar to me that SU has made this change, although their new business model must predict increased success and improved bottom-line, because SU makes money on our interests and connections; Stumble, Discover, post, share, and follower. One would think SU, however, would keep Stumblers pleased and loyal to it to continue its popularity and positive WOM.

I've never been pleased SU didn't have an export function - and now necessary for many. I have always thought it was a deliberate omission; it keeps us close to SU. Many of us have devoted hundreds of hours over the years to create our SU sites, And now it appears, maybe unfairly, but appears nonetheless, that SU does not value nor reward our dedication to it.

I will leave my SU site up. It might have value to others over time. But unless I see changes that demonstrate interest in Stumblers, I will be inactive.

I've tried to download my site with special software with no success. I will save as much as I can of my site manually before it looks like a bone yard. Each page of posts will be copied and pasted in an Outlook e-mail. I've used Outlook (and Gmail) for archiving over the years and it works well. Pages can also be copied and saved in Word. Most of the post format is retained - SU functions will be copied also, of course, but will align vertically to left margin and deleted easily. It's a time consuming method, but there are a number of posts of value I will work to keep. Perhaps, in the meantime, SU will release an export function. It would be a big 'thank you' to us all who have contributed to its past and present success.

It's been a real ride since early 2008. And it's been a great pleasure to have met and gotten to be acquainted with or to know so many wonderful and fine people on SU. Going through some very difficult times, the best friends I've had were here in Stumbleville. I've been blessed and give great thanks to them all.

Aliasinkhorn



Update: Followed foresthippy's instructions with one little change and successfully downloaded site.



Power of suggestion affects heart arteries
Simply suggesting that a treatment will ease chest pain may not only dampen the pain, but directly alter heart arteries, a small study concludes.

From the page: "Among 30 patients having a procedure to evaluate their chest pain, researchers found that those who were told they were being given an infusion of a pain-relieving drug did, on average, report a decrease in pain.

But the participants also showed a measurable change in their heart arteries: a slight but distinct narrowing of the vessels.

Exactly what the findings mean, and whether they have implications for heart disease patients, is not clear.

None of the chest-pain patients actually had heart disease; they were told about the "drug" (which was actually harmless saline) only after testing had shown no blockages in their heart arteries.

The key point is that the power of suggestion created an objective change in the blood vessels, according to Drs. Karin Meissner and Joram Ronel of Technical University Munich in Germany.

"The major finding was that the coronary vessels reacted so clearly to a mere psychological intervention," they told Reuters Health in an email.

And the reaction was in a direction opposite to the one researchers had expected to see.

The patients were actually told that the "drug" they were receiving would widen their arteries to relieve their chest pain. Instead, there was a small amount of blood vessel constriction in the group overall.

But that constriction does make biological sense, according to Meissner and Ronel.

In a healthy person who is under stress, the nervous system triggers a widening in the blood vessels so that blood circulation increases to meet the body's needs. When stress fades, the vessels can narrow again.

"When the heart works less," Meissner and Ronel explained, "there is less need for blood supply, and the vessels will be less dilated than in a stressful situation. This is how we interpret our data."

They added, though, that this is the process in a healthy person. The situation may be different in a person with heart disease.

The findings, reported in the American Heart Journal, build on a phenomenon seen in clinical trials studying heart disease. That is, some people receiving placebos (inactive "treatments") report improvements in symptoms like chest pain.

How much of that reaction is due to psychological or even biological effects is unclear.

To examine whether there might be placebo effects on the heart arteries, Meissner and Ronel's team looked at 30 patients who underwent coronary angiography to evaluate chest pain symptoms.

During coronary angiography, a thin tube (catheter) is threaded through a blood vessel into the heart, where a special dye is injected. Using X-rays, doctors can then look for blockages in the heart arteries that may be the source of the chest pain.

The 30 patients were included in this study only after the test turned up no blockages. While still on the exam table, they were randomly assigned to either a "verbal suggestion" group or a control group.

In both groups, patients received an injection of saline into the catheter. Those in the verbal-suggestion group were told it was a drug that would widen their heart arteries and boost blood flow to the heart. Patients in the control group were told nothing.

On average, the study found, the verbal-suggestion group reported a dip in their chest pain after the procedure, while showing some blood vessel narrowing. The opposite was true in the control group: slightly more pain and a little more vessel dilation.

The researchers say they suspect the pain reduction was an "indirect effect" of the verbal suggestion, but they cannot know for sure whether or to what degree the blood vessel changes might have contributed to it.

More studies on this question are still needed, according to Meissner and Ronel. If verbal suggestion does have a measurable effect "at the level of the heart" in people with actual heart disease, they said, that would be important to know."



Meditation and Prayer: Does It Help Entrepreneurs Succeed?

From the page: "Entrepreneurs behave just like most Americans when it comes to religion -- but with one spiritual twist.

They're significantly more likely to pray several times a day or to meditate, said sociologist Kevin Dougherty, a co-author of the Baylor Religion Survey that was released Tuesday (Sept. 20).

The survey can't answer whether prayerful, peaceful folks are more likely to take a business risk, or whether the stress of a start-up drives folks to their knees or to the lotus position, Dougherty said.

But either way, 34 percent of entrepreneurs say they frequently look up to the Lord, compared with 27 percent of non-entrepreneurs. Nearly as many (32 percent) say they look inward in meditation, while just 22 percent of non-entrepreneurs say they practice any of the eight forms of meditation -- including Christian, Jewish and Buddhist variations -- listed on the survey.

Leading the way: Christian meditation, reported by 18 percent of entrepreneurs.

Leah Rampy of McLean, Va., who ran her own company as an executive leadership coach, said her prayers were often that "the spirit would work through me."

Mindful meditation was cited by 17 percent of entrepreneurs. Wendy Woods, a consultant based in Toronto, shares with her corporate clients how "meditation helps me push away fear and bring in calm and creativity."

Buddhist meditation worked for Ray Yeh, of Ukiah, Calif., who created and ran a software sales company for 20 years. He found "working 12 hours a day, seven days a week leaves you no time to think, to get in touch with your inner self." Yeh sold the company in 1999 and now lives in a Buddhist monastery in Northern California.

Psychologist Kenneth Pargament, a scholar in residence at the Institute for Spirituality and Health at the Texas Medical Center in Houston, put it this way:

"Entrepreneurs have a strong sense they can take matters into their own hands. But they also face risk, unpredictability and uncertainty," he said. "Prayer and meditation can be important resources for people who are trying to achieve a lot and yet still face the reality that there is only so much they can control."

Questions on entrepreneurs were a part of the survey underwritten by Baylor's sociology department, the National Study of Religion and Entrepreneurial Behavior and the National Science Foundation."

Joan Armatrading - Willow (Live in the Studio)






'Stingray' Phone Tracker Fuels Constitutional Clash

From the page: "Stingrays are one of several new technologies used by law enforcement to track people's locations, often without a search warrant. These techniques are driving a constitutional debate about whether the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures, but which was written before the digital age, is keeping pace with the times. On Nov. 8, the Supreme Court will hear arguments over whether or not police need a warrant before secretly installing a GPS device on a suspect's car and tracking him for an extended period. In both the Senate and House, new bills would require a warrant before tracking a cellphone's location.

A stingray works by mimicking a cellphone tower, getting a phone to connect to it and measuring signals from the phone. It lets the stingray operator "ping," or send a signal to, a phone and locate it as long as it is powered on, according to documents reviewed by the Journal. The device has various uses, including helping police locate suspects and aiding search-and-rescue teams in finding people lost in remote areas or buried in rubble after an accident. Experts say lawmakers and the courts haven't yet settled under what circumstances locating a person or device constitutes a search requiring a warrant. Tracking people when they are home is particularly sensitive because the Fourth Amendment specifies that people have a right to be secure against unreasonable searches in their "houses."

"The law is uncertain," says Orin Kerr, a professor at George Washington University Law School and former computer-crime attorney at the Department of Justice. Mr. Kerr, who has argued that warrants should be required for some, but not all, types of location data, says that the legality "should depend on the technology.""



Mozart motivates sewage treatment microbes
Operators of a sewage treatment plant in eastern Germany have saved around 10,000 Euros over the last year - apparently by playing Mozart to their microbes. They are now calling for scientists to come and investigate.

From the page: "Roland Meinusch, manager of the plant in Treuenbrietzen, Brandenburg, said the plant some 70 kilometres southeast of Berlin produced 1,000 cubic metres less sewage sludge than normal last year - and the only thing he had changed was the music.

"We play them Mozart's Magic Flute, on a half-hour loop," he told The Local.

The better the microbes work, the more they digest the sewage, producing more clean water and less sludge.

"And the less sludge we produce, the less we have to pay to farmers for them to put it on their fields," said Meinusch.

"We are a very open company, and often try out new ideas to see if we can reduce costs, by cutting electricity consumption for example."

He said he was approached by a company making special loudspeakers which had supposedly achieved interesting results at a sewage plant in Austria and wanted to try out their idea at a plant with more advanced technology.

"Last March, we fitted in the speakers and started playing the music to the microbes. They are very sensitive to environmental factors, particularly to temperature, and so at first nothing was really happening and in May we nearly stopped the experiment," he said.

But after a local newspaper reported about the test, the amount of interest generated was great, that the plant managers decided to continue.

"After a year, we were left with 6,000 cubic metres of sludge, compared with the usual 7,000 cubic metres we produce in a year. That saved us about 10,000 Euros which is quite a lot of money," Meinusch said.

"Of course as an engineer, I cannot say whether what we achieved was actually due to the music - nothing has been scientifically proven. I would hope to attract someone from a university to come and study it, perhaps a student who needs a subject to investigate for a diploma or doctorate."

He said the plant and Mundus, the manufacturers of the speakers, decided to continue the experiment. Meinusch also said he had given the firm a share of the savings as a bonus."



Return of a Killer Volcano

From the page: "What if one of the largest volcanic eruptions in recent history happened today? A new study suggests that a blast akin to one that devastated Iceland in the 1780s would waft noxious gases southwestward and kill tens of thousands of people in Europe. And in a modern world that is intimately connected by air traffic and international trade, economic activity across much of Europe, including the production and import of food, could plummet.

From June of 1783 until February of 1784, the Laki volcano in south-central Iceland erupted. Although the event didn't produce large amounts of volcanic ash, it did spew an estimated 122 million metric tons of sulfur dioxide gas into the sky - a volume slightly higher than human industrial activity today produces in the course of a year, says Anja Schmidt, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom.

Historical records suggest that in the 2 years after the Laki eruption, approximately 10,000 Icelanders died - about one-fifth of the population - along with nearly three-quarters of the island's livestock. Parish records in England reveal that in the summer of 1783, when the event began, death rates were between 10% and 20% above normal. The Netherlands, Sweden, and Italy reported episodes of decreased visibility, respiratory difficulties, and increased mortality associated with the eruption. According to one study, an estimated 23,000 people died from exposure to the volcanic aerosols in Britain alone. But elsewhere in Europe, it's difficult to separate deaths triggered by the air pollution from those caused by starvation or disease, which were prominent causes of death at the time.

To assess how such an eruption might affect the densely populated Europe of today, Schmidt and her colleagues plugged a few numbers into a computer simulation. They used weather models to estimate where sulfur dioxide emissions from an 8-month-long eruption that commenced in June would end up. They also estimated the resulting increases in the concentrations of airborne particles smaller than 2.5 micrometers across, the size of aerosols that are most easily drawn into human lungs and that cause cardiopulmonary distress. Then, they used modern medical data to estimate how many people those aerosols would kill.

In the first 3 months after the hypothetical eruption began, the average aerosol concentration over Europe would increase by 120%, the team reports online today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The number of days during the eruption in which aerosol concentrations exceed air-quality standards would rise to 74, when a normal period that length typically includes only 38. Not surprisingly, the air would become thickest with dangerous particles in areas downwind of the eruption, such as Iceland and northwestern Europe, where aerosol concentrations would more than triple. But aerosol concentrations in southern Europe would also increase dramatically, rising by 60%.

In the year after the hypothetical eruption commences, the increased air pollution swept from Iceland to Europe would cause massive amounts of heart and lung disease, killing an estimated 142,000 people. Fewer than half that number of Europeans die from seasonal flu each year...."



Self-Delusion Is a Winning Survival Strategy, Study Suggests

From the page: "Harboring a mistakenly inflated belief that we can easily meet challenges or win conflicts is actually good for us, a new study suggests. Researchers have shown for the first time that overconfidence actually beats accurate assessments in a wide variety of situations, be it sport, business or even war.

However, this bold approach also risks wreaking ever-greater havoc. The authors cite the 2008 financial crash and the 2003 Iraq war as just two examples of when extreme overconfidence backfired.

A team from the University of Edinburgh and the University of California, San Diego used a mathematical model to simulate the effects of overconfidence over generations. It pitted overconfident, accurate, and under-confident strategies against each other.

A paper published in Nature September 14 shows that overconfidence frequently brings rewards, as long as spoils of conflict are sufficiently large compared with the costs of competing for them. In contrast, people with unbiased, accurate perceptions usually fare worse.

The implications are that, over a long period of time the evolutionary principal of natural selection is likely to have favored a bias towards overconfidence. Therefore people with the mentality of someone like boxer Mohammad Ali would have left more descendents than those with the mindset of film maker Woody Allen.

The evolutionary model also showed that overconfidence becomes greatest in the face of high levels of uncertainty and risk. When we face unfamiliar enemies or new technologies, overconfidence becomes an even better strategy.

Dr Dominic Johnson, reader in Politics and International Relations at the University: "The model shows that overconfidence can plausibly evolve in wide range of environments, as well as the situations in which it will fail. The question now is how to channel human overconfidence so we can exploit its benefits while avoiding occasional disasters.""



Keep Your Fingers Crossed: How Superstition Improves Performance

From the page: "Don't scoff at those lucky rabbit feet. New research shows that having some kind of lucky token can actually improve your performance - by increasing your self-confidence.

"I watch a lot of sports, and I read about sports, and I noticed that very often athletes - also famous athletes - hold superstitions," says Lysann Damisch of the University of Cologne. Michael Jordan wore his college team shorts underneath his NBA uniform for good luck; Tiger Woods wears a red shirt on tournament Sundays, usually the last and most important day of a tournament. "And I was wondering, why are they doing so?" Damisch thought that a belief in superstition might help people do better by improving their confidence. With her colleagues Barbara Stoberock and Thomas Mussweiler, also of the University of Cologne, she designed a set of experiments to see if activating people's superstitious beliefs would improve their performance on a task.

In one of the experiments, volunteers were told to bring a lucky charm with them. Then the researchers took it away to take a picture. People brought in all kinds of items, from old stuffed animals to wedding rings to lucky stones. Half of the volunteers were given their charm back before the test started; the other half were told there was a problem with the camera equipment and they would get it back later. Volunteers who had their lucky charm did better at a memory game on the computer, and other tests showed that this difference was because they felt more confident. They also set higher goals for themselves. Just wishing someone good luck - with "I press the thumbs for you," the German version of crossing your fingers - improved volunteers' success at a task that required manual dexterity. The research is published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science

Of course, even Michael Jordan lost basketball games sometimes. "It doesn't mean you win, because of course winning and losing is something else," says Damisch. "Maybe the other person is stronger.""



Ettore Majorana: genius and mystery

From the page: "Ettore Majorana est né en Sicile en 1906. Physicien extrêmement doué, il faisait partie à Rome dans les années 30 du fameux groupe de Fermi avant de disparaître mystérieusement en mars 1938. Dans cet article, Antonino Zichichi jette un double regard sur Ettore Majorana: le mystère de sa disparition et le génie de sa contribution à la physique, en s'appuyant sur les souvenirs de grands physiciens comme Fermi et Oppenheimer.

Ettore Majorana was born in Sicily in 1906. An extremely gifted physicist, he was a member of Enrico Fermi's famous group in Rome in the 1930s, before mysteriously disappearing in March 1938.

Ettore Majorana

The great Sicilian writer, Leonardo Sciascia, was convinced that Majorana decided to disappear because he foresaw that nuclear forces would lead to nuclear explosives a million times more powerful than conventional bombs, like those that would destroy Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Sciascia came to visit me at Erice where we discussed this topic for several days. I tried to change his mind, but there was no hope. He was too absorbed by an idea that, for a writer, was simply too appealing. In retrospect, after years of reflection on our meetings, I believe that one of my assertions about Majorana's genius actually corroborated Sciascia's idea. At one point in our conversations I assured Sciascia that it would have been nearly impossible - given the state of physics in those days - for a physicist to foresee that a heavy nucleus could be broken to trigger the chain reaction of nuclear fission. Impossible for what Enrico Fermi called first-rank physicists, those who were making important inventions and discoveries, I suggested, but not for geniuses such as Majorana. Maybe this information convinced Sciascia that his idea about Majorana was not just probable, but actually true - a truth that his disappearance further corroborated.

Laura Fermi

There are also those who think Majorana's disappearance was related to spiritual faith and that he retreated to a monastery. This perspective on Majorana as a believer comes from his confessor, Monsignor Riccieri, who I met when he came from Catania to Trapani as Bishop. Remarking on his disappearance, Riccieri told me that Majorana had experienced "mystical crises" and that, in his opinion, suicide in the sea was to be excluded. Bound by the sanctity of confessional, he could tell me no more. After the establishment of the Erice Centre, which bears Majorana's name, I had the privilege of meeting Majorana's entire family. No one ever believed it was suicide. Majorana was an enthusiastic and devout Catholic and, moreover, he withdrew his savings from the bank a week before his disappearance. The hypothesis shared by his family and others who had the privilege of knowing him (Fermi's wife Laura was one of the few) is that he withdrew to a monastery.

Laura Fermi recalls that when Majorana disappeared, Enrico Fermi said to his wife, "Ettore was too intelligent. If he has decided to disappear, no-one will be able to find him. Nevertheless, we have to consider all possibilities." In fact, Fermi even tried to get Benito Mussolini himself to support the search. On that occasion (in Rome in 1938), Fermi said: "There are several categories of scientists in the world; those of second or third rank do their best but never get very far. Then there is the first rank, those who make important discoveries, fundamental to scientific progress. But then there are the geniuses, like Galilei and Newton. Majorana was one of these."

Animated discussion

A genius, however, who looked on his own work as completely banal: once a problem was solved, Majorana did his best to leave no trace of his own brilliance. This can be witnessed in the stories of the neutron discovery and the hypothesis of the neutrinos that bear his name, as recalled below by Emilio Segré and Giancarlo Wick (on the neutron) and by Bruno Pontecorvo (on neutrinos). Majorana's comprehension of the physics of his time had a completeness that few others in the world could match...."



Voting Causes Stress: Study

From the page: "According to Prof. Hagit Cohen from the Anxiety and Stress Research Unit at BGU's Faculty of Health Sciences, "We understand that emotional changes are related and affect various physiological processes, but we were surprised that voting in democratic elections causes emotional reactions accompanied by such physical and psychological stress that can easily influence our decision making."

In a study to be published in the print journal, European Neuropsychopharmacology, researchers found that the level of cortisol - a hormone secreted in times of stress to help the body cope with threats -- was nearly three times higher just before voting than the cortisol level of the control group, and nearly twice their level 21 months later. It is known that when a person is in a state of stress, threat or emotional distress, the body releases a series of hormones such as cortisol, known as the "stress hormone."

The study was conducted on Israel's Election Day in 2009 on 113 people who were on their way to vote. They were asked to give a saliva sample for cortisol testing and to complete a questionnaire examining their emotional arousal at a stand that was placed about 10 meters from the ballot box. The control group consisted of other people from the same area who were asked to give a saliva test and complete the questionnaire on post-election day.

The study also found that people were more emotionally aroused just before casting their ballot. "Since we do not like to feel 'stressed out'," adds Prof. Cohen, "It is unclear whether this pressure on Election Day can influence people and cause them not to vote at all. Impact on voter turnout is particularly important given that the stress levels rise if our preferred party or candidate for whom we want to vote is not popular in the polls and projections."

The researchers emphasized that their findings are only a first step in understanding the relationship between stress at a biological level and voting, and that their study did not examine -- and therefore did not find -- if high levels of cortisol affect choice. However, evidence about the decision making processes and biological processes in the body should be explored in future research."



Old West Glossary
I learned a number of these as a kid, and use a few from time to time still.

From the page: "A to Izzard = A to Z. "One man who don't know nothin' about prospectin' goes an' stumbles over a fortune an' those who know it from A to Izzard goes 'round pullin' in their belts." Clarence E. Mulford, Bar-20

all wool and a yard wide = genuine, not fake, honorable. "'I never denied you much,' he looked down at her. 'But the man that gets you's got to be all wool an' a yard wide.'" Bertrand Sinclair, Wild West

beard = to confront boldly. "He felt that Mark would not risk bearding both himself and Dan Mayne on their own ground." Bertrand Sinclair, Wild West

botts = a parasitic infestation of the intestines of animals, especially horses, by larvae of the botfly. "Why, once over on Snake River, when Andrew McWilliams' saddle horse got the botts, he sent a buckboard ten miles for one of these strangers that claimed to be a botanist." O. Henry, Heart of the West

cap-a-pie = head to foot, complete. "In a week the J7 was cap-a-pie - fourteen cow-punchers, two horse wranglers, a capable cook, wagons stocked with grub." Bertrand Sinclair, Wild West

chaffing = teasing, bantering (also chaffering). "I was prepared to hear a good deal of chaffing about getting lost." Bertrand Sinclair, Raw Gold

crack-loo = a form of gambling in which coins are tossed high into the air with the object having one's coin land nearest a crack in the floor. "Then they would order three or four new California saddles from the storekeeper, and play crack-loo on the sidewalk with twenty-dollar gold pieces." O. Henry, Heart of the West

cut ice = be important, carry weight. "But you cut a lot of ice in this country, or your dad does, and it's the same thing." Bertrand Sinclair, Wild West

cut up didoes = play pranks. "But you ain't a-helpin' yourself a-cuttin' of didoes like this." Bertrand Sinclair, Raw Gold

dragging the long rope = "a range euphemism for stealing other men's cattle, specifically unbranded calves." Bertrand Sinclair, Wild West

galley-west = askew, confused, lopsided. "That scheme was knocked galley-west and crooked." Bertrand Sinclair, Raw Gold

gazabo = a fellow, a guy (derogatory). "'That long, stoop-shouldered gazabo's got the stuff on him,' he growled." Bertrand Sinclair, Raw Gold

heeled = armed, wearing a gun. "Maybe he'd 'a' got me if I'd been heeled." Bertrand Sinclair, Wild West

hop the twig = make a hasty exit. "If I catches Birdie off of Mired Mule again, I'll make him hop the twig." O. Henry, Heart of the West

Ishmael = an outcast. "Months in a strange country had taught Robin that he was not the stuff of which an Ishmael is made." Bertrand Sinclair, Wild West

kalsomining = applying a whitewash to ceiling or walls. "The bartender rounded the bar in a casual way, looking up at the ceiling as though he was pondering some intricate problem of kalsomining." O. Henry, Heart of the West

megrims = depression, unhappiness. "Overtaken by the megrims, the philosopher may seek relief in soliloquy." O. Henry, Heart of the West

perdu = hidden, concealed. "Until after the noon hour we laid perdu in the hollow, no wiser for our watching." Bertrand Sinclair, Raw Gold

play hunk = get even. "'Th' wall-eyed piruts,' he muttered, and then scratched his head for a way to 'play hunk'." Clarence E. Mulford, Bar-20

pound one's ear = to sleep. "Gee whiz, I'm sleepy! I'm goin' to pound my ear again." Bertrand Sinclair, Wild West

put the skibunk on = impose, defraud. "I couldn't let him put the skibunk on you." O. Henry, Heart of the West

shebang = hut, house, home, quarters. "There was a kind of sheebang - you couldn't call it a hotel if you had any regard for the truth - on the outskirts of Walsh, for the accommodation of wayfarers." Bertrand Sinclair, Raw Gold

skypiece = brains. "If you only got a twice-by-two skypiece all the schoolin' in the world won't land you on top of the heap." Bertrand Sinclair, Wild West

snoozer = sheep or sheep man. "He'd been raised a cow pony and didn't much care for snoozers." O. Henry, Heart of the West

spite house = a building constructed or modified to irritate neighbors or other property owners. "'Twas a ranch country, and fuller of spite-houses than New York City." O. Henry, "The Hiding of Black Bill"

stirrup cup = a last drink before leaving. "They would ordinarily have found some of the outfit, perhaps have played stud poker an hour or two, taken a stirrup cup and departed." Bertrand Sinclair, Wild West"

Volare - Dean Martin
I absolutely love this song!






Deep voice gives guys leg up with ladies? What study says

From the page: "Do women dig guys with deep voices? A new study from Scotland seems to answer that provocative question with a resonant yes.

For the study - published online in the journal "Memory & Cognition" - researchers conducted a pair of experiments in which women were shown various objects while hearing the names of the objects spoken by high-pitched and low-pitched voices.

As it turned out, the women were much more likely to recall the objects accurately when they were introduced by deep voices. What's more, the women expressed a strong preference for the low-pitched voices.

Dr. Kevin Allan, a University of Aberdeen neuroscientist who supervised the research, said in a written statement that evolution seems to have shaped women's ability to remember information associated with desirable men. "Good memory for specific encounters with desirable men allows women to compare and evaluate men according to how they might behave in different relationship contexts, for example a long-term committed relationship versus a short-term uncommitted relationship," he said.

But why would dudes with deep voices get the nod from the ladies? Evidence suggests that deep voices are more likely than high-pitched voices to be associated with emotional warmth and other highly desirable traits, according to the researchers.

So what's the advice for guys who sound more like Pee-Wee Herman than Barry White? The statement put it quite simply: "If you want women to remember, speak to them in a low pitch voice.""



Are genes our destiny?
Salk scientists discover 'hidden' code in DNA evolves more rapidly than genetic code

From the page: "A "hidden" code linked to the DNA of plants allows them to develop and pass down new biological traits far more rapidly than previously thought, according to the findings of a groundbreaking study by researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies.

The study, published today in the journal Science, provides the first evidence that an organism's "epigenetic" code - an extra layer of biochemical instructions in DNA - can evolve more quickly than the genetic code and can strongly influence biological traits.

While the study was limited to a single plant species called Arabidopsis thaliana, the equivalent of the laboratory rat of the plant world, the findings hint that the traits of other organisms, including humans, might also be dramatically influenced by biological mechanisms that scientists are just beginning to understand.

"Our study shows that it's not all in the genes," said Joseph Ecker, a professor in Salk's Plant Molecular and Cellular Biology Laboratory, who led the research team. "We found that these plants have an epigenetic code that's more flexible and influential than we imagined. There is clearly a component of heritability that we don't fully understand. It's possible that we humans have a similarly active epigenetic mechanism that controls our biological characteristics and gets passed down to our children. "

With the advent of techniques for rapidly mapping the DNA of organisms, scientists have found that the genes stored in the four-letter DNA code don't always determine how an organism develops and responds to its environment. The more biologists map the genomes of various organisms (their entire genetic code), the more they are discovering discrepancies between what the genetic code dictates and how organisms actually look and function.

In fact, many of the major discoveries that led to these conclusions were based upon studies in plants. There are traits such as flower shape and fruit pigmentation in some plants that are under the control of this epigenetic code. Such traits, which defy the predictions of classical Mendelian genetics, are also found in mammals. In some strains of mice, for instance, a tendency for obesity can pass from generation to generation, but no difference between the genetic code of fat mice and thin mice explains this weight difference.

Scientists have even found that identical human twins exhibit different biological traits, despite their matching DNA sequences. They have theorized that such unexplained disparities could be the work of epigenetic variation.

"Since none of these patterns of variation and inheritance match what the genetic sequence says should happen, there is a clearly a component of the 'genetic' heritability that is missing," Ecker said.

Ecker and other scientists have traced these mysterious patterns to chemical markers that serve as a layer of genetic control on top of the DNA sequence. Just as genetic mutations can arise spontaneously and be inherited by subsequent generations, epigenetic mutations can emerge in individuals and spread into the broader population.

Although scientists have identified a number of epigenetic traits, very little was known about how often they arose spontaneously, how quickly they could spread through a population and how significant an influence they could have on biological development and function.

"Perception of the extent of epigenetic variation in plants from generation to generation varies widely within our scientific community," said Robert Schmitz, a post-doctoral research in Eckers' laboratory and the lead author on the paper. "We actually did the experiment, and found that overall there is very little change between each generation, but spontaneous epimutations do exist in populations and arise at a rate much higher than the DNA mutation rate, and at times they had a powerful influence over how certain genes were expressed."

...

The plants were all clones of a single ancestor, so their DNA sequences were essentially identical across the generations. Thus any changes in how the plants expressed certain genetic traits were likely to be a result of spontaneous changes in their epigenetic code - variations in the methylation of the DNA sites- not the result of variations in the underlying DNA sequences."



How Christopher Columbus and Martin Luther Transformed Western Civilization

From the page: "In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue. In 1517, Martin Luther posted the 95 Theses. So began two stories that have shaped the West since the 16th century. But what happens if we link the two?

The first story cast the relationship between Europe and the Western hemisphere in terms of conquest: Columbus crossed the Atlantic and "discovered" islands. He was followed by Hernán Cortés and Francisco Pizarro, who conquered first Central and then South America for Spain. The second is the foundation story for modern western Christian churches, both Catholic and Protestant. A small handful of men who were God's instruments on earth broke with Catholicism, which was traditional and medieval, to found modern, liberal churches. Each Church caught in that battle for souls claimed the authority of God's will; each found its origins in the person of Christ; and each claimed those origins were exclusive of any other understanding of Christianity.

Those two stories obscured much that was and is important. Columbus "crossing" the Atlantic obscured that he knew neither the sheer breadth of the body of water -- his sailors were close to mutiny when they sighted land -- nor the islands and the two continents we now call North and South America: he was literally out of his reckoning. "Crossing" the Atlantic presumes that both coasts were known and the distance between them known. They were not. The 95 Theses belonged to an established tradition of university debate -- a pedantic act of a local university professor shrank in comparison with the dangers posed by the Ottoman Empire to the east or the possibilities posed by new lands to the west. It was not the theses themselves that moved thousands, but the authority that Luther, along with hundreds of others seized as certain: the Bible or, as they called it, the Word of God. They turned to a printed object, where they located absolute authority, to ground their own understanding of their salvation.

Only in bringing the two stories together can we see why that printed thing, the product of a new technology, very much like the internet today, became so important. It had been around, after all, for a long time. Why then? Why there? But the printed Bible, as the Word of God, offered Europeans something certain in the face of truly overwhelming "discoveries." We are used to discoveries -- they happen every nanosecond. In this, we are heirs to Columbus: it has become normal to "discover." But in 1492, Europeans thought they knew the size of the world, and they thought that their classical sources were not simply right, but authoritative -- the foundation for all knowledge. Columbus's voyage shattered that confidence.

If, as we now understand, the story of conquest obscured terrifying uncertainties, the overthrow of what was familiar and trusted, the story of Reformation cast different understandings of a sacred text in terms of divine revelation: only one of those understandings, according to the story, could be "true." That one text was not simply an authority unto itself. It could have only one true reading. All other readings were "false," "misunderstandings" of God's will, God's intent, God's meaning. That story of Luther's 95 theses obscures that there were hundreds, perhaps thousands of different readings -- indeed, by the end of the century, there were different Bibles, different Ten Commandments and different understandings of the ancient words of the Apostles' Creed and the Lord's Prayer. It silences the richness of the text; it denies the authenticity of other readings...."

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