Caloric Restriction

Caloric Restriction, the limiting of caloric intake while maintaining normal levels of all other vital nutrients, has been shown to be the only reliable method to significantly extend an animal's lifespan by slowing the process of ageing. A new NY Times article about CR explains the idea fairly well. This is a short FT article from June.

Many people have begun CR diets in an attempt to extend their best years. The Caloric Restriction Society is an organisation which promotes and supports CR.

As touched on in the NY Times article, CR research has the potential to reveal many of the genetic pathways for senescent processes, and in turn, new anti-ageing drugs may come from such research.


Foreign Aid

I am a firm believer in the moral imperative of wealthy nations with immigration controls to assist the World's poorest. Unfortunately, when foreign aid distribution is administered by wealthy governments, the worthless inefficiencies of bureaucracy usually squander all the resources.

This NY Times article about condoms for Africa via Cowen illustrates the point. I propose governments begin to divert such funds to well-established, efficient, and successful charitable foundations such as Bill and Melinda Gates run by true captains of industry.


Software Disapproval

I cannot say for Windows at this point, but the new Mac version of Firefox 2.0 has crashed on me 5 times or so in the last 24 hours during normal use. While the recovery of a session with tabs compensates for this slightly, it does not bring back, for example, the text in the box in which I am typing this. I almost lost a gmail as well were it not for gmail's excellent autosave draft feature.

Indeed, I did lose a nice post I wrote yesterday in Spanish concerning Bush's backstabbing of North Americans with his signing of an order to build the Wall. The thrust was that his alleged pro-immigration position was the last shred of dignity the man had left which he has now utterly demolished.

Back to Firefox, I approve of the built in spell checker, which mostly eliminates my need for the google toolbar plugin.


Recommended Documentary

For anyone who does not understand Karl Rove, the evil genius behind every Bush election victory and the victory of many other Republicans, this documentary is for you.

The Economic Burden of Reproduction in a Wealthy Society

This article in the LA Times laments the fact that families and children place a difficult burden on most families. It concludes:
Forming a family and having kids is the most personal of decisions. Yet it's a decision that has profound benefits for society as a whole. Americans do need to make the right choices for their families. But they shouldn't have to choose between economic security and getting married and having kids.
Oh YES they should! The increased cost of having children in a wealthy society is the only thing keeping population in those societies at bay. It is arguably the best reason to support economic development in poor nations.

If a ravaged planet and Malthusian population crash is what you seek, then the socialistic reproductive subsidies suggested by the normally sensible Mark Toma are policies you should seek. It is far more sensible to strive for the population growth rate of China, Europe, or even the US than that of India for economic, humanitarian, and environmental reasons.

Toma is correct in calling for more educational subsidies, but for the average prospective parent, any new subsidies should be offset by additional taxes or penalties to having more children.

Possible Treatment for Alzheimer's Disease

In research by Gary Wenk on Alzheimer's model rats funded by the US Government, a synthetic cannabinoid agonist with anti-inflammatory properties was shown to improve memory and orientation. The study reveals further medical uses of cannabis, a plant whose usefulness has been understood for millenia.

Do not Abuse Your Children

In the West, the tendency has been moving away from parents beating their children. While this is a positive step in a civilised society which has lost touch with the harsh realities of survival in the wilderness, many parents have substituted verbal and mental chastisement and abuse for physical punishment. While no marks are left and the effect is more subtle than a corporal attack, mental scars do result such as impaired verbal, speech, and brain development.

The culture and legal system currently dictate that one may not physically abuse their children, but unusual deference is otherwise given to the parents in raising their child. Most natural families are not nuclear, but are more tribal, with extended family having at least as much to do with raising the children as the biological parents. Therefore in natural families, children tend to be more protected from the excesses of their parents than modern families whose dominance has resulted from advances in transportation and housing technology and the economic drive to migrate to maximise buying power.

I therefore reject this modern notion of "Don't tell me how to raise my kids!" Nobody is perfect and we all make mistakes, most often without realising them. Qualified reproduction may be a human right, but abusing your progeny is not.

Bottom Line: Neither physically nor verbally abuse your children.

(I do not nor would I suggest a legal mechanism to enforce restraint in verbally abusing one's children. I aim simply to educate.)

C++ Connectivity in Eclipse part 2

As a follow up to one of my first posts, I suggest this related article for anyone who wants to code C or C++ in a powerful,versitile, user-friendly and multi-platform software development environment.

New Berry Juice May Be Available Soon

Indian scientists have designed a way to extract the juice of the sea buckthorn, berries which are very high in antioxidants.


The Rich Get Richer, the Poor Get...Richer

The majority of socialists I have met have no understanding of economics. This post by Mankiw illustrates the fact that relative income inequality owing to a freer-market economy does not create poverty, but in fact eliminates it. The poor in the US are significantly wealthier than the poor in Europe - at least on paper.

I would argue that the social welfare of better quality of life, better designed cities, richer culture, and cleaner environment of Europe is not reflected in the financial markets and GDP calculations, but the point remains that income inequality is not itself a bad thing if it owes to an unfettered, competitive market system.


Woman Adopts Child

Madonna Ciccone has jumped on the bandwagon of celebrity adoption of African children. While I honestly do not appreciate her music nor acting and the trendiness of this adoption is easily mocked, I greatly respect the act of adopting an orphan child. Moreover, I will go so far as to say that given the millions of orphans and the huge income discrepancies between the developed and undeveloped world, adoption of orphans from poor countries by typical families from wealthy countries is a moral imperative. If Madonna fans begin to seriously consider doing this themselves this adoption and the surrounding media hype will be a very positive development for humanity.

Richard Feynman: The Douglas Robb Memorial Lectures

If you have never heard Feynman lecture on Physics, you are in for a treat. These are streaming Real Video files of Feynman lecturing at the University of Auckland, NZ. I must credit Timothy for providing me the link. I detest streaming media, especially from Real, but as Timothy chastised me once, "Beggars can't be choosers." These lectures are superb.

More on Robot Games

Previously, I posted on Robo-Basho.

A recent post in Robots-Dreams features an interview with Robotic Amusements founder Joseph Johnson. His goal: inspiring youth to pursue careers in science and engineering.


The Destruction of Language, Expression and Thought

Mark has posted an excellent summary and commentary on John McWhorter's new book 'Doing Our Own Thing.' There I left a poorly written comment.

Aside: The wikipedia entry on McWhorter is suspiciously scant for such a famous writer. I could have off the top of my head written a better biography.


Talent and Meritocracy

The latest issue of the Economist has a survey of Talent. I recommend 'The Battle for Brainpower' and 'Meritocracy and its discontents'

Dynamic Capitalism

Yesterday, Edmund Phelps was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics joining all the other Americans who were granted the Nobel Prizes in hard sciences this year. Today, he has an opinion article in the Wall Street Journal contrasting the social market system of continental Europe with the more dynamic free-market capitalist system of North America and UK. He argues that even under a Rawlsian system (social utility function) where consideration is given only to the lowest-earning rung of society, the dynamic system is still preferable i.e. free markets make everyone wealthier.


The Seeds of Revolution

If anything could destabilise the French state and lead ultimately to la 6eme République, it is the restriction of tobacco consumption. French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin has announced just such a move in new policies designed to ban tobacco consumption in certain public locations. Vive la Revolution!


Software Recommendation: Parallels

Having yesterday upgraded my RAM, today I installed Parallels on my MacBook Pro. Then I installed virtualised Windows. I am so impressed right now at how fast windows is working, how easily it was installed, and how well integrated the virtualised Windows interacts with the host OSX. This site describes the setup process.

Parallels will also virtualise Unix/Linux. That is my next step.


What is Life?

Is each individual cell of a complex organism equivalent to the entire organism. Genetically speaking, yes. This has now been demonstrated. An entire mouse has been generated from a single non-reproductive blood cell. An egg cell was also used, but eggs are not themselves viable nor reproductive. This finding makes it clear that there is nothing particularly special about an embryonic stem cell from a philosophical point of view. Real scientists have known this for years despite what religious or political forces may imagine. In 'Monty Python's The Meaning of Life' there is the song 'Every Sperm is Sacred.' This parody of absurd religious thinking now should to be changed to 'Every Cell is Sacred.'

People should have the right to reproduce as they see fit assuming they have paid their dues/taxes to society and are not through recklessness creating a malformed or diseased offspring in an artificial way. Scientists should have the right to experiment with whatever cells they want to which are created artificially and have no possibility of causing human suffering.

David Friedman

David Friedman, son of legendary economist Milton Friedman, has a blog.(feed) He does not post very frequently, but they are usually very thoughtful. I think it is fair to label him a libertarian anarchist, but that really does not say much. I was introduced to him originally through reading his book "The Machinery of Freedom" which imagines how an anarcho-libertarian society could be possible. Though it is not reality based in my view, it is thought provoking. He is not afraid to question anything. This recent post well illustates the type of thinker he is. His questions and ideas have very important social relevance and should not be seen merely as "on the fringe." I admire too the way this established author is composing a modern text.