Monday, September 11, 2006

Links On Monday Give Me a Reason To Live.

Alert! Children Watch Movie Trailers.

Despite a ban on tobacco advertising on television, nearly all U.S. children age 12 to 17 years may have been exposed to tobacco use through movie advertisements televised in 2001 to 2002, according to an article in the September issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.


I am getting very tired of these grandstanding buffoons who rant and rave about "protecting our children." They're no better than the idiotic religious groups who claim to do the same. They wrap any and all inane goals, frequently ideological goals, up in the masquerade of protecting children.

My god! Children see people smoking on TV. Children see people smoking in real life, too. Actually, children see people being violent and shit blowing up in movie trailers. Maybe we should mandate that trailers of all kinds should be removed from TV. Bad influence, and all.

You'll notice that they don't make any declarations about this research. They just spout this data and then let the reader make inferences about its relevance. In fact, they barely elaborate on the data, itself. Most importantly, they call upon "studies" that "indicate" that children who see smoking have different attitudes to it.

NONE of these studies have ever indicated a solid link. None. Zero. Zilch. If you think otherwise, pull up a journal database and try to find them. Most importantly, none of them have ever controlled for the manifold variables outside of advertisements. Some control for parents, but not the parents of friends, or extended family, or that cool older kid.

This is not science. It's misguided caring at best, and grandstanding camera hogging at worst. Cigarettes are bad. Smoking makes you go bye-bye in nasty ways. It will eventually die out. Still, we all make choices, and if someone decides to smoke or not to smoke, there is no advertising that can change that.

Televised movie trailers expose youth to images of tobacco use (Via


I'm Strong to Finish!

Nanoscientists have transformed a molecule of chlorophyll-a from spinach into a complex biological switch that has possible future applications for green energy, technology and medicine.

Nanoscientists Create Biological Switch from Spinach Molecule (Via Ohio University)


What's That, Sonny? Speak Up!

The largest study ever to analyze the hearing of women on hormone-replacement therapy has found that women who take the most common form of HRT have a hearing loss of 10 to 30 percent more compared to similar women who have not had the therapy. It's as if the usual age-related hearing loss in women whose HRT included progestin, a synthetic form of the hormone progesterone, was accelerated by five to 10 years.

Hormone-replacement therapy hurts hearing, study finds (Via


Evolution Evolves.

Biologists at the University of Rochester have discovered that an old and relatively unpopular theory about how a single species can split in two turns out to be accurate after all, and acting in nature.

Genetic Surprise Confirms Neglected 70-Year-Old Evolutionary Theory (Via University of Rochester)


Great! I Was Running Out Of Space For My American Idol Episodes.

In a research first that could lead to a new generation of hard drives capable of storing thousands of movies per square inch, physicists at Rice University have decoded the three-dimensional structure of a tornado-like magnetic vortex no larger than a red blood cell. The findings, published online by Physics Review Letters, were made with a one-of-a-kind scanning ion microscope that trapped and imaged cone-like magnetic vortices on tiny cobalt disks.

Physicists trap, map tiny magnetic vortex (Via


Well This Proves it, Me Are Smarter Than Women.

A study of 100,000 17- to 18-year-olds on the Scholastic Assessment Test published in the September 2006 issue of the journal Intelligence, has confirmed a surprising new finding-that men have a 4- to 5-point IQ advantage over women by adulthood. Because girls mature faster than boys, the sex difference is masked during the school years, which explains why the sex difference was missed for 100 years.


It's annoying that this is even getting covered. I don't think this says anything about the intelligence of men and women, but more about how useless IQ tests are. I have an IQ of 210 or 190, depending on which one you trust. You know what that means? It means I'm very good at taking IQ tests. As far as real-world intelligence goes, it means jack squat.

They also rely heavily on the "G Factor" in the article. While the G Factor is more accurate than the SAT's in predicting scholastic performance, they're not interested in scholastic performance in this article. They're interested in intelligence. I'm sure schools are very interested in this, but I'm not. The G Factor is just as useless as IQ tests and the SAT's in determining intelligence.

I know a person who scored 800 verbal and 780 Math. His first try, too. He's practically pre-verbal. He couldn't complete a sentence if his life depended on it. I know someone else who tanked the SAT's and would probably score near-100 on an IQ test, yet he's become an award-winning local artist. These aren't just rare anecdotes, these are commonplace circumstances.

I was 90th+ percentile on every MAT I ever took. I failed almost every class from 8th grade till 12th (I honestly don't know how I graduated). Obviously, schools must test and try to determine, as best they can, which students belong where. But using mildy accurate tests for academic purposes is very different from declaring that you've "discovered" something about cross-gender intelligence.

I also feel that sex differences require further research. There is a difference and perhaps we can some day quantify it, but it is not today. Women consistently do better on real-world tests and our colleges and universities are being overrun with women. This discovery of the point difference does nothing more than further prove the inaccuracy of the tests.

Males have greater G: sex differences in general mental ability (Via


Ah good. When We're Done Mucking Up This Planet, We'll Have Somewhere to go.

More than one-third of the giant planet systems recently detected outside Earth's solar system may harbor Earth-like planets, many covered in deep oceans with potential for life, according to a new study led by the University of Colorado at Boulder and Pennsylvania State University.


I've spent some time writing about SETI, and a week or so ago I wrote a response to an article posted on CSICOP's website about the need for a bit of skepticism with SETI. One of the major arguments behind his skepticism was the declaration that the universe may not be as filled with Extraterrestrial Edens like we first thought. While I'm not in any position to argue the validity of this study, it's another point for my team.

I would wager that the universe is chock full of planets like ours. The only question I think that's of any importance is whether we should spend money on this, and I think the answer is an unavoidable "no." Even if all these nearby planets are FULL of life, getting there would constitute an unconquerable hurdle.

SETI In The Crosshairs
Extension to Both Extensions
Extension To The Extension
Extension To The Drake Equation

Earth-like planets may be more common than once thought, says new U. of Colorado-Penn State study (Via


Who Knew?

But why? After years of growing up with the notion that mice and cheese go together, here's another mythbuster heading our way: those furry little fellows don't like cheese. At all.

Breaking Up the Mice-Cheese Loveteam (Via Science.QJ.Net)

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