Thursday, July 24, 2008

Entry #179: Benjamin Bixby

André Benjamin (a.k.a. André 3000) line called "Benjamin Bixby" comes out Fall 08. Sweeeet! NY Mag article here

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Entry #178: For whom the bell tolls.

Plaza Mayor in Salamanca, Spain (2005)

Entry #177: Ten Commandments, for the Modern Day or the ethics of genetic engineering

From this week's Genome Biology on how to deal with genetic information:

1. All races are created equal
No genetic data has ever shown that one group of people is inherently superior to another. Equality is a moral value central to the idea of human rights; discrimination against any group should never be tolerated.

2. An Argentinian and an Australian are more likely to have differences in their DNA than two Argentinians
Groups of human beings have moved around throughout history. Those that share the same culture, language or location tend to have different genetic variations than other groups. This is becoming less true, though, as populations mix.

3. A person's history isn't written only in his or her genes
Everyone's genetic material carries a useful, though incomplete, map of his or her ancestors' travels. Studies looking for health disparities between individuals shouldn't rely solely on this identity. They should also consider a person's cultural background.

4: Members of the same race may have different underlying genetics
Social definitions of what it means to be "Hispanic" or "black" have changed over time. People who claim the same race may actually have very different genetic histories.

5. Both nature and nurture play important parts in our behaviors and abilities
Trying to use genetic differences between groups to show differences in intelligence, violent behaviors or the ability to throw a ball is an oversimplification of much more complicated interactions between genetics and environment.

6. Researchers should be careful about using racial groups when designing experiments
When scientists decide to divide their subjects into groups based on ethnicity, they need to be clear about why and how these divisions are made to avoid contributing to stereotypes.

7. Medicine should focus on the individual, not the race
Although some diseases are connected to genetic markers, these markers tend to be found in many different racial groups. Overemphasising genetics may promote racist views or focus attention on a group when it should be on the individual.

8. The study of genetics requires cooperation between experts in many different fields

Human disease is the product of a mishmash of factors: genetic, cultural, economic and behavioral. Interdisciplinary efforts that involve the social sciences are more likely to be successful.

9. Oversimplified science feeds popular misconceptions
Policy makers should be careful about simplifying and politicising scientific data. When presenting science to the public, the media should address the limitations of race-related research.

10. Genetics 101 should include a history of racism
Any high school or college student learning about genetics should also learn about misguided attempts in the past to use science to justify racism. New textbooks should be developed for this purpose.

Journal reference: Genome Biology (online, full text available here w/ abstract and everythang).

Above is an image from Hitler's foray into his ideal race.

Interesting paper (note: PDF) on Race Cleansing in America.

Entry #176: Oil & Urban Sprawl

The origin of nearly every city in the Southern California area is result of petroleum discovery.

A brief history
The glitz and glamour that seem to define Los Angeles, Hollywood, and its beach cities find its roots in the discovery of oil in Los Angeles in 1892. This lead to the discovery of other fields in the basin—and by 1923, one out of every 5 barrel of oil produced in the United States was from the Los Angeles area, making it the most productive oil producer in the United States.

The population increased significantly—doubling between 1890 and 1900, and then tripling between 1900 and 1910. Each oil field discovery lead to a population boom which formed a city, and others around it. This includes Huntington Beach in 1920, Santa Fe Springs in 1921, and the biggest of them all, Signal Hill/Long Beach oil field, also in 1921.

Oil money financed the real estate development of nearby areas and, once gas powered cars were engineered, oil men became even richer. Oil money was used to encourage the building of the roads and highways as cars were now affordable, cheap, and a reliable form of transportation.

The film industry was financed by oil money and family dynasties resulted from oil:

The Ghettys, the Dohenys and Alphonzo Bell all became rich from their discovery of oil. They also became real estate developers, creating wealthy enclaves such as Bel-Air for themselves and other rich oil men.

Even palm trees became more abundant in California because of a proposition that voters made law which required oil companies to plant palm trees around Southern California.

Below are some images of the heyday of oil in Southern California:

Oil derricks in Belmont Shores, Long Beach.

Oil derricks in downtown Los Angeles, First Street.

Oil derricks in Signal Hill, Long Beach. Signal Hill was the richest city in the world during the boom of the 1920s.

Modern day oil derricks off of Long Beach are disguised.

More disguised oil derricks in Long Beach. Notice the palm trees.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Entry #175: The Intelligent Life, Aging Gracefully

I mean,

the title is slightly egotistical. But The Intelligent Life is a lifestyle magazine put out by The Economist.


I was floored when I discovered they even had a lifestyle magazine and spent hours reading. I like the pictures and some of the articles are interesting.

From a response to Lori Gottlieb's Atlantic op-ed "Marry Him!"

But the series that won me over = "Bright Old Things"

Life, he says, is inevitably tragic, because we are born to die. "If you want to live a long time, love and be loved. I married two women who loved me. And you can continue living productively if you follow the rule of the Roman stoics--carpe diem. Don't live expectantly, live for the day."

There's no point in worrying about the future because there's nothing to be done about it. "As Shakespeare says, ‘The coward dies many times before his death.'

Betty Stevens, 90
We shouldn't expect to be happy in old age, she says: contentment is enough. "I have an absurd sense of the ridiculous--I see life in a series of cartoons..."

Brian Power, 90
Ageing, he says, takes one by surprise. "There's no point at which I say I am old. I've always believed in relativity: you can feel incredibly old one moment, middle-aged in the afternoon, young again at tea-time to the point of being skittish, and then very old by 11..."

Entry #174: LIAR

I am obsessed with the scientific study of the human mind, so when HE MENTIONED that someone wrote an op-ed on this, I went online in anticipation...

The op-ed entitled "The Luxurious Growth" appeared in the New York Times yesterday. In it, editor David Brooks writes that science has been slow to connect A to Z. This is because there are factors including B, C, D... Y.

This stuff was written about years ago by Matt Ridley in the book, "Nature Via Nurture: Genes, Experience, and what Makes Us Human." BOO. I thought it would be well thought out w/ new arguments n stufffffz!!

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Entry #173: Topoanalysis vs Oeniric

“Phenomenology” vs “Hermeneutics”

I love airports (still!) and

passion simmers in cadence.