Archive for October, 2009|Monthly archive page

Arrest those GeoJerks, or they’ll Ruin Everything!

In Uncategorized on October 30, 2009 at 11:14 pm

This is a WINNER. Hitler and friends guest star on Captain Planet, who sweats from the hatred, and bid on a weapon from the future. Alas! Plans crumble when the geojerks, er, uh, teens-full-of-love-and-righteousness arrive and change the course of history.


DARPA Director, Dr. Regina E. Dugan talks at UCLA, IA40

In Uncategorized on October 30, 2009 at 6:03 am

Today was the Internet Anniversary celebration at its birthplace, UCLA. This celebratory event was co-organized by Brad Fidler. Read his press release here. There were several great ones, (see them), but here is DARPA director, Dr. Regina E. Dugan’s talk.

She speaks of: women of science are going to save the day & changing the image of science (‘we’re smokin’ hot. so that is progress, real progress‘); challenges; iconic discovery; going viral; networking; these being serious times that require the best of all of us. And best, in my opinion, we need the wonder. A History of Science perspective: this.is.gold. The call-to-serve article she cites is attached.



a call to serve.pdf
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Lecture: nazi science take II, rockets and NASA

In Uncategorized on October 29, 2009 at 3:28 pm

“there were a lot of little hitlers, ya? so there was one big hitler and a lot of little hitlers”

which reminds me. on making laws in the free world: more than zero, less than fascism – jon stewart.

Mind Your Tweets: CIA and EU Surveillance

In Uncategorized on October 27, 2009 at 7:04 pm

Mind Your Tweets: CIA and European Union Building Social Networking Surveillance System


Return on Early Human Investment

In Uncategorized on October 24, 2009 at 10:12 pm


Policy discussions to ameliorate socioeconomic (SES) inequalities are increasingly focused on investments in early childhood. Yet such interventions are costly to implement, and clear evidence on the optimal time to intervene to yield a high economic and social return in the future is meagre. The majority of successful early childhood interventions start in the preschool years. However socioeconomic gradients in cognitive skills, socio-emotional functioning and health can be observed by age three, suggesting that preventative programmes starting earlier in childhood may be even more effective. We discuss the optimal timing of early childhood intervention with reference to recent research in developmental neuroscience. We motivate the need for early intervention by providing an overview of the impact of adverse risk factors during the antenatal and early childhood periods on outcomes later in life. We provide a brief review of the economic rationale for investing early in life and propose the ‘‘antenatal investment hypothesis’’. We conclude by discussing a suite of new European interventions that will inform this optimal timing debate

“The antenatal investment hypothesis

Current evidence on antenatal interventions, while limited, would therefore suggest that the returns to investing in this period are high, yet an explicit test of this hypothesis is lacking. By amending Fig. 2a to incorporate the antenatal period from conception to birth Fig. 2b presents a graphical illustration of the antenatal investment hypothesis. The hypothesis can be displayed as two downward sloping investment curves representing the rate of return to investment starting in the antenatal period (upper curve), and the postnatal period (lower curve). If the hypothesis is correct, the return in both cases is greatest for earlier rather than later investment. This hypothesis also indicates that the return on the antenatal investment will be higher than the postnatal investment, both initially and in the long-term, and may increase the rate of return on investment at every subsequent period. As the Nurse–Family Partnership had a greater impact on young women having their first child, the hypothesis may be further extended to investigate whether supporting women at the beginning of their reproductive life leads the benefits of the intervention to be carried over to subsequent births. An explicit study which tests the antenatal investment hypothesis and models the impact of intervening at different stages of the child’s and mother’s life is needed. Current knowledge in this area is based on a small number of predominantly US studies, and it cannot be assumed that the effectiveness of a US-style intervention can be replicated across European settings given the difference in social welfare systems and cultural contexts. For example, social welfare spending in Ireland is half that of Sweden (OECD, 2007). An optimal study design would incorporate a series of randomised interventions with programmes starting at difference ages. A longitudinal study would reveal the impact of the timing.”

Heckman timing and economic efficiency.pdf
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genetic privacy & sci fi, a snippet revisited just because its on my mind

In Uncategorized on October 24, 2009 at 2:07 am



Using Turnitin & Privacy infringement

In Uncategorized on October 22, 2009 at 11:06 pm

In a meeting my colleagues and I had with our professors, we discussed whether or not to use Turnitin for midterms and essays. I have been and am opposed to it. Turnitin is an online application teachers can use to check for originality in papers written by their students: http://turnitin.com/static/index.html The aim is to support academic integrity and prevent plagiarism, which seems like it would be helpful when you have large classrooms and repeated content. A paper is crosschecked against every other paper turned in on the site, as well as against the world wide web of uploaded content.

There are various flaws with this kind of program, importantly with respect to intellectual property. One of my colleagues provided this review of Turnitin, attached. Part Two, which is not that lengthy, addresses legal and ethical issues of students’ copyrights and right to privacy. The author addresses the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) that protects student records, teaching pedagogy and hypocrisy.

Using Turn It In at UCLA.pdf
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Einstein’s Letter to FDR regarding nuclear physics, 1939

In Uncategorized on October 21, 2009 at 6:16 am

Einstein Letter to FDR 1939.pdf
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Ref: ARC Identifier 593374. The letter itself is in the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library in Hyde Park, NY. This is a copy at the National Archives.

Students are wonderful. One of them found this to share with us for our discussion on scientific neutrality, civilian/military research, secrecy/open-access and WWII.

x sequencing y

In Uncategorized on October 21, 2009 at 4:32 am

"I was once naive enough to think that the study of human population genetics would conquer racism, or at least strongly challenge it. I thought science might put a stake through the dark heart of eugenics and racial hygiene. That’s because I didn’t know much about racism except some of the genetics of human inheritance. Genomics won’t conquer racism any more than evolutionary biology has beaten back Creationism, and Maynard Olson, among others, in “Davenport’s Dream” has noted that we can’t count on the facts reinforcing every Liberal Dream. We may find some phenotype-genotype associations that we find downright uncomfortable that cannot be attributed to schlock science. It is not a given, but it is a possibility. I just have to think there are many, many issues that are going to arise as it becomes cheap and fast to study the full genomes of lots of people, and as we can reconstruct our common and our uncommon ancestry with levels of specificity vastly beyond what we have been able to do until now."

from http://www.genomicslawreport.com/index.php/2009/10/19/the-balance-of-experiment-and-theory-is-shifting-in-genomics-this-matters-for-elsi/

by http://www.genome.duke.edu/people/faculty/cookdeegan/

Scientists in War

In Uncategorized on October 20, 2009 at 8:36 am

This week I am teaching some lovely content on the mythical neutrality of scientists in war, secrecy and collaborations from this book

In one of the responses was this beauty becoming:

“A war is parrellel (sic) to a rivalry game for sports but instead of losing pride you may lose your life.”