The brain

This is fascinating:

The idea of the universe as a ‘giant brain’ has been proposed by scientists – and science fiction writers – for decades.


But now physicists say there may be some evidence that it’s actually true. In a sense.


According to a study published in Nature’s Scientific Reports, the universe may be growing in the same way as a giant brain – with the electrical firing between brain cells ‘mirrored’ by the shape of expanding galaxies.


The results of a computer simulation suggest that “natural growth dynamics” – the way that systems evolve – are the same for different kinds of networks – whether its the internet, the human brain or the universe as a whole.


A co-author of the study, Dmitri Krioukov from the University of California San Diego, said that while such systems appear very different, they have evolved in very similar ways.


The result, they argue, is that the universe really does grow like a brain.

Oh yeah, that makes sense

If you want an education to be mere training to be cogs in the machine, that is:

English teachers are fretting that a set of curriculum guidelines could reduce the teaching of fiction and poetry in the classroom, the Washington Post reports. The Common Core State Standards, which will be implemented by more than 40 states by 2014, require that 50 percent of elementary school reading be nonfiction, climbing to 70 percent by 12th grade. Supporters, the Post says, believe American students have suffered from “a diet of easy reading and lack the ability to digest complex nonfiction, including studies, reports and primary documents,” leaving them unprepared for higher education and the working world.


Schools face problems ranging from overcrowded classrooms to crumbling buildings to malnourished students. But the idea of rigorous common standards in general, if not these specific guidelines, has support from powerful interests including the Department of Education, the U.S. Army and numerous reformists. Some of the suggested ideas would be a notable change from what almost all Americans remember of high school.


The Post writes:

Among the suggested non­fiction pieces for high school juniors and seniors are Alexis de Tocqueville’s “Democracy in America,” “FedViews,” by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco (2009) and “Executive Order 13423: Strengthening Federal Environmental, Energy, and Transportation Management,” published by the General Services Administration.


The standards “mandate certain critical types of content for all students, including classic myths and stories from around the world, foundational U.S. documents, seminal works of American literature, and … Shakespeare.” That said, English teachers in particular are distressed over a perceived devaluing of literature.

Even though reading literature has been found to increase emotional intelligence, empathy and critical thinking. Hmm, maybe that’s the point!

Life

If you’re looking for a Christmas gift for a music fan (or you want something for yourself), you probably can’t go wrong with Keith Richards’ memoir “Life.” (It’s a couple of years old now, so make sure your giftee doesn’t already have it.)

The book is co-written with rock journalist James Fox, but it reads exactly as what you’d imagine spending months with Keef might be like.

There’s some minor dish (sounds like Keef was much more of a mensch than Mick ever was), but the surprise of this book is how specifically and deeply Richards digs into the music itself. (His descriptions of the early blues aficionados in England are hysterical.) This is a guy who just loves music, and speaks intelligently about it. Not only that, he includes useful tips for guitar players!

It’s a sprawling, exhilarating book and I can’t imagine the rock fan who wouldn’t love it.

They really hate it when you trap them

https://youtube.com/watch?v=o9CyZ31TFbM%3Frel%3D0

We need a lot more actions like this to remind our elite politicians exactly who has the real power, and what they need to do if they want to get reelected:

Ohio Senator Rob Portman (R) was one of a handful of Washington, D.C lawmakers and policy experts invited to participate in a panel discussion on the fiscal cliff on Tuesday morning, but his prepared remarks were temporarily derailed by about a dozen protesters who stood up, one at a time, to confront Portman over his support for the Republican plan to cut billions from social programs and entitlements that millions of low-income and middle class Americans rely on.


For five minutes, individuals scattered throughout the audience interrupted Portman to ask him not to cut programs like Medicare and Social Security or spending on teachers and other public employees. Several of them identified themselves as his constituents, to which Portman responded by promising them an audience following his remarks. The confrontations, though coordinated, harkened back to last spring, when Republicans returned home to their districts only to find themselves face to face with angry voters who voiced their displeasure at the Republicans’ budget plan of deep cuts and no increases in revenue.


Portman was invited to speak by a group calling itself “Fix The Debt,” a collection of corporate CEOs who are advocating cuts to entitlement programs while simultaneously pushing for more than $100 billion in tax breaks for themselves and their companies.


Things only got more tense once the protestors were escorted from the room. The cameraman captured Ed Haislmaier, a senior research fellow from the Heritage Foundation, shouting angrily at the crowd, and it appears that another individual tried to grab the camera before the footage cuts off.

Oh dear

Whatever will we do without their gentle wisdom?

Sources told Sherman that Fox News chief Roger Ailes has ordered his staff to bench Rove and his fellow GOP pundit Dick Morris, two of the network’s most vocal partisan voices whose predictions turned out to be spectacularly wrong. According to Sherman, producers must now get permission before booking Rove or Morris on Fox shows.

Concussions

Aggression, explosivity linked to brain injuries:

A new study of brains donated after death details the degenerative brain disease that afflicted 68 of 85 subjects who suffered multiple concussions during stints in the military or in organized sports. Among the deceased athletes whose brains were examined for the study were NFL Hall of Famers John Mackey, a tight end, and running back Ollie Matson, both of whom died in 2011 of dementia complications.


Among those diagnosed post-mortem as suffering from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, 26% were considered suicidal at some point in their lives, and at least seven ultimately took their own lives, the study found. In addition to difficulties with attention, memory and judgment, most of the affected subjects whose brains were examined by experts at Boston University also suffered from explositivity, aggressive tendencies, paranoia and depression.


More than one in three of the people whose brains were examined in the current study also had a diagnosis of another degenerative disease of the brain, including Parkinson’s Disease, Lewy body dementia, motor neuron disease, Alzheimer’s disease or frontotemporal lobar degeneration.

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