Saturday, May 31, 2008

These photographs show the development of a chicken from an egg. (Via Boing Boing.)

Friday, May 30, 2008

"Military Recruits Thousands More Warbots for New Unmanned Surge"
Triangle juggling. This also has the advantage that it could be performed in zero-G. (Via Cynical-C.)
Exploiting the Casimir effect for microelectromechanical systems (MEMS).
"8 Types Of Annoying People You'll Find Inside Starbucks". (Via Clicked.)

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Terminator 6? "Christian Bale is to play rebel leader John Connor in three sequels to the Terminator franchise, its producers have revealed." (Via BBspot.)
Folding laptop.
Real-life epidemiology lessons from a virtual-world disease:
A fascinating - and completely accidental - case study occurred in 2005 within Blizzard's World of Warcraft, which at the time hosted some 6.5 million players of diverse age and background. Issues of race, gender, and seniority issues are built in, since the players are real people, and the world is highly social, with real-world factors such as transportation, working together, and friendships arising as a result of game mechanics and player groupings such as guilds.

One of the game's bosses infected players in his immediate vicinity with a disease called "Corrupted Blood," intended merely as a short-term, short-range annoyance - but afflicted players were able to teleport back to large population centers, effectively starting a quick-spreading epidemic, leaving central hubs littered with bones and covered in blood as players dropped dead left and right. Normal gameplay was massively disrupted.

Players panicked, both in the game and on message boards, wondering whether the outbreak was intentional or an accident. It mirrored real-world epidemics in numerous ways: it originated in a remote, uninhabited region and was carried by travelers to urban centers; hosts were both human and animal, such as with avian flu; it was spread by close spatial contact; and there were asymptomatic individuals - in this case, invulnerable NPCs.

...Interestingly, player behavior was closely aligned with real-world behavior in such situations. Those with healing capability volunteered their services in city centers. Lower-level characters who could not tangibly pitch in warned others away at city limits. Nervous players fled to areas known to be uninfected. Suspicion and fear was rampant over in-game communication, blogs, and email.

One trait was particularly enlightening: curiosity, something epidemiologists did not generally build into their models. Some players attempted to enter infected areas to witness the chaos, then rush out before contracting the disease themselves. This behavior has real-world parallels, particularly in the case of journalists, who must rush towards a problem to cover it, then rush back out.
(Via BBspot.)
Video of the day: "I Will Derive", to the tune of "I Will Survive". (Via Michael Williams.)

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Impressive 3-dimensional spider tattoo. My wife's immediate reaction was, "Creepy! Eeek! Yuck! Gross!" (Via Look At This...)
Advances in artificial legs.
"Researchers have taken the first real-time images of a viral unit assembling inside a living cell."
Video of the day: "Through the Panama Canal in 75 Seconds".

The Panama Canal Authority website states, "The history of the construction of the Panama Canal is the saga of human ingenuity and courage: years of sacrifice, crushing defeat, and final victory. Many gave their life in the effort. Follow the story from the early days of the French construction period, to the completion by the United States, and into the present time."

More details can be found here. And of course there's a Wikipedia article.

(Via Joost Bonsen.)
"World's biggest drawing created with the help of GPS and DHL".
"Down on the server farm: The real-world implications of the rise of internet computing."

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

"Internet to run out of addresses 'within 3 years'":
As of this month 85 per cent of the 4.3 billion available Internet Protocol (IP) addresses, which identify devices connected to the net, are already in use. Within three years they will all be used up, according to a report by the OECD. "The situation is critical for the future of the internet economy," it says.

The report urges governments and businesses to upgrade from the current version, IPv4, to IPv6, which effectively has an unlimited number of IP addresses. IPv6 has been available for more than a decade but service providers have been slow to adopt it.
The history and science of hangovers. I especially liked the bit on international terminology:
Some words for hangover, like ours, refer prosaically to the cause: the Egyptians say they are "still drunk," the Japanese "two days drunk," the Chinese "drunk overnight." The Swedes get "smacked from behind."

But it is in languages that describe the effects rather than the cause that we begin to see real poetic power. Salvadorans wake up "made of rubber," the French with a "wooden mouth" or a "hair ache." The Germans and the Dutch say they have a "tomcat," presumably wailing. The Poles, reportedly, experience a "howling of kittens." My favorites are the Danes, who get "carpenters in the forehead."

In keeping with the saying about the Eskimos' nine words for snow, the Ukrainians have several words for hangover.
(Via Cosmic Log.)
We may be living in doughnut-shaped universe (technically a 3-torus).

As Homer Simpson would say, "Doughnuts -- is there anything they can't do?..."
Delayed choice quantum experiment update. I must confess, I still don't quite understand the full significance and/or implications. Here's some background information from Wikipedia.
"Does Time Run Backward in Other Universes?" (Via ALDaily.)

Monday, May 26, 2008

Video of the day: Radley Balko bought a $15 toy robot dog from Target and introduced it to his real dogs. Watch the fun!
Browser wars resume.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Cognition enhancing drugs.

Friday, May 23, 2008

The $3.99 problem:
Mom-and-pop service stations are running into a problem as gasoline marches toward $4 a gallon: Thousands of old-fashioned pumps can't register more than $3.99 on their spinning mechanical dials.

The pumps, throwbacks to a bygone era on the American road, are difficult and expensive to upgrade, and replacing them is often out of the question for station owners who are still just scraping by.

Many of the same pumps can count only up to $99.99 for the total sale, preventing owners of some SUVs, vans, trucks and tractor-trailers from filling their tanks all the way.
(Via Marginal Revolution.)
"China's All-Seeing Eye: With the help of U.S. defense contractors, China is building the prototype for a high-tech police state. It is ready for export." (Via Bruce Schneier.)
Dutch robot walks like a human.
Re-examining the hype about functional brain imaging.
"Astronomers Witness Supernova's First Moments"

Thursday, May 22, 2008

50 stunning photographs. (Via DRB.)
"Lost parrot tells veterinarian his address:"
The parrot also provided his full home address, down to the street number, and even entertained the hospital staff by singing songs.
Interesting podcast on the economics of "free", featuring an interview with Chris Anderson of Wired. Here's a companion article (available for free online of course).
The case for lunar property rights. And a related article on property rights in outer space.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

"The UK government is considering a massive database to store every person's emails, phone calls, text messages and internet use. The plan was suggested as a tool to help security forces tackling crime and terrorism."
"What's Wrong With CSI":
Forensic evidence is foolproof, right? It's how those clever cops on CSI always catch the killer. DNA evidence springs innocent men from prison. Fingerprints nab the bad guys.

If only forensics were that reliable. Instead, to judge by the most comprehensive study on the reliability of forensic evidence to date, the error rate is more than 10% in five categories of analysis, including fiber, paint and body fluids. (Meaning: When the expert says specimen X matches source Y, there's a 10% probability he's wrong.) DNA and fingerprints are more reliable but still not foolproof...
"21 Best Mugshots Ever: When you go to jail, remember that your mugshot belongs to the ages. And in today's world, once you get it taken, it belongs to the Internet." (Via Linkfilter.)
British scientists have received government permission to create human-animal hybrid embryos.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

"Upgrading the Prosthetic Hand"
Poseidon Undersea Resort. (Via Maximizing Progress.)
Building an artificial virus.
Invention of the day: Easy PB&J Jar
...How many times have reached the bottom of the jar only to be frustrated at not being able to get those last few bits? Well, too often for me.

The Easy PB&J Jar is a jar with two lids that allows you to access all of your peanut butter easily without having to resort to breaking open the jar. As you near the end on one side, simply flip the jar over to get the rest. The straight and smooth internal walls also ensure that no peanut butter is ever left behind a nook or cranny like existing jars.
(Via Neatorama.)

Monday, May 19, 2008

Update on physicist Ronald Mallett and his goal of proving that time-travel is possible. (Via Fark.)
Whiskey geeks.
"How Did That Chain Letter Get To My Inbox?" More on recent chain-letter transmission research:
...Rather than spreading like a virus, with each message producing many direct "descendents" in the tree diagram, the data suggest that people are selective in forwarding messages to others in their social networks. For example, the researchers discovered that 90 percent of the time, the messages produced only a single descendent.

These messages also rarely took the most direct route between two inboxes, even when two people were connected by a few degrees of separation. "The chain letters themselves often got to people by highly circuitous routes," [Cornell researcher Jon] Kleinberg explains. "You could be six steps away from someone, and yet the chain letter could pass through up to 100 intermediaries before showing up in your inbox."
The complete illustrated ACME catalog. (Via Rand Simberg.)

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Off-topic political post: "FAQ on Free Market Health Insurance"

I've received multiple e-mails in response to my recent letter to the editor in the May 11, 2008 New York Times advocating a free market in health insurance. I appreciate the fact that the correspondents all took the time to read my letter, see my affiliation with Freedom and Individual Rights in Medicine (FIRM), search for the FIRM website, find my e-mail address, and then write me with their comments and questions.

The various correspondents posed a number of good questions about the nature of a free market in health insurance, as well as some more fundamental issues on individual rights and the proper role of government in health care. I've had several stimulating rounds of e-mail discussion with folks from around the country. And even though we didn't always agree on some important issues, all of the e-mails I received were polite and articulate, and I appreciated the many thoughtful remarks from all of the writers.

One correspondent recommended that I post my responses online so that other interested parties would have a place to read a more fully developed and explicit explanation of the ideas related to a free market in health insurance. I thought that was an excellent suggestion. Hence, I've paraphrased and collated an essentialized set of questions (and my subsequent responses) in the form of this brief FAQ.

The permanent location for this FAQ will be:
<http://www.westandfirm.org/blog/2008/05/faq-on-free-market-health-insurance.html>

===========

Q1) In a free market for health insurance, should insurers be able to exclude someone based on a pre-existing condition?

Q2) Why should whether I live or die depend on whether an insurance company finds it too costly to pay for my care? Should my fate be determined by whether a corporation finds it profitable?

Q3) How would a free market guarantee that all Americans will have necessary health coverage?

Q4) What if someone has a bad disease through no fault of his own, can't afford the treatment, and no insurance company will cover him? Who will pay for his care?

Q5) Isn't the purpose of a government to promote the common welfare of all citizens?

Q6) Your position is very harsh and Darwinian. If you were dying of cancer and could not afford treatment, would you really say to yourself, "Oh well, this is my random bad luck, no one has an obligation to treat me and so I must die"?

Q7) Isn't it my social obligation to subsidize the health care of those who can't afford it?

Q8) I agree that health care is not a "right", but isn't it moral for the US government to raise taxes to improve the overall welfare of the nation? Universal health care (ideally administered through a free-market mechanism to the greatest extent possible) would be a good use of that power.

= = = = = = = = = =

Q1) In a free market for health insurance, should insurers be able to exclude someone based on a pre-existing condition?

A1) Yes. In a free market, insurers (like any other businesses or individuals) are entitled to set whatever terms they wish for the products they wish to sell. Similarly, customers can choose to accept those terms, decline them, or negotiate with them for some other mutually agreed-upon alternative.

It's also important to note that our current system is far from a free market -- at best it's semi-free. Insurance companies are under numerous government constraints about what sorts of services they must/must not offer, who they can/cannot exclude, what sorts of prices they can charge, when they must accept customers, etc. For instance, some states require that a healthy 22-year old man must pay the same premium as a 60-year old man with multiple chronic health problems. Some states require that insurance companies that offer small group policies must accept every group that applies and must accept every member of the group regardless of lifestyle choice or health condition. Constraints such as these make it difficult for customers to purchase insurance in the first place. These constraints are the cause of our current problems and it is those contraints that I wish to see repealed. (For more details, please refer to "Moral Health Care Vs. 'Universal Health Care'" by Lin Zinser and myself.)

Q2) Why should whether I live or die depend on whether an insurance company finds it too costly to pay for my care? Should my fate be determined by whether a corporation finds it profitable?

A2) One should reverse that question. Should an insurance company be obliged to run at a loss? For example, there are many people who wish to force insurers to cover expensive treatments that are of minimal (if any) proven efficacy, such as bone marrow transplant in patients with late-stage breast cancer. If or when such laws are passed, insurance companies don't survive for long or else they pull out of local markets where such laws are in force, thus depriving all the other residents of that locality the possibility of purchasing insurance from that company. If an insurance company cannot be profitable, then they can't provide coverage for anyone.

More fundamentally, should an insurance company be obliged to pay for your care purely because you need it, regardless of the cost to them? The fact that you have a need does not create an automatic obligation on others to fulfil that need.

Q3) How would a free market guarantee that all Americans will have necessary health coverage?

A3) There's a premise in your question that I must disagree with - namely that it's the government's responsibility to guarantee health coverage for all Americans. It is not, any more than it's the proper role of the government to guarantee that every American has a job or a car. Health care is a need, but that's not the same thing as a right.

A right is a freedom of action that an individual possesses, such as the right to free speech. Rights impose no obligations on other people, other than the negative obligation to leave you alone. Rights are not automatic claims on the goods and services produced by others -- that is just state-sanctioned theft.

To further concretize the difference between a need and a right, consider an innocent child with a rare disease who will die unless he gets a bone marrow transplant from a matching donor. The only potential donor with the proper tissue match is someone who doesn't want to donate, for whatever reason (maybe he's scared of needles, maybe he's a Jehovah's Witness, maybe he's just an ornery old cuss). We'll also stipulate that the potential donor understands exactly what is at stake for the child, and that he correctly understands that donating bone marrow is a very safe procedure that would involves a few minutes of tolerable physical pain and a couple of hours of his time, but otherwise wouldn't impair his life afterwards. The fact that the child will die without that bone marrow does not mean that the child's family (or anyone else) has the right to strap that potential donor down and forcibly take a marrow sample from him against his will. The child's need does not constitute a right to that other man's bone marrow.

Q4) What if someone has a bad disease through no fault of his own, can't afford the treatment, and no insurance company will cover him? Who will pay for his care?

A4) The short answer is, "Anyone who wishes to do so."

If someone incurs an unfortunate random hardship (even though it is no fault of his own), it does not create an automatic obligation for anyone else to pay for it. Depending on the exact circumstances, I might be willing to voluntarily donate my own time/money to help him out. For example, in my capacity as a physician, I have personally waived my own professional fee more times than I can count out of voluntary charity for patients whom I've thought were worthy recipients. The same is true for nearly every other physician I know. And in general, Americans have been extraordinarily benevolent about voluntarily donating their time and money for innocent victims of natural disasters, disease, and man-made harms (such as 9-11 or the Oklahoma City bombings).

So if someone developed a bad disease that would cost him $100k, and either didn't get insurance or couldn't get insurance, then he essentially has to rely on the voluntary charity of others. His need (genuine as it may be), does not create a right to someone else's property or time.

This isn't limited to health care. The same would be true if an unfortunate homeowner didn't or couldn't purchase flood insurance, then his house was completely destroyed by a freak 100-year flood. His hardship does not constitute any sort of automatic claim on others' assets. Again, I (and many others) might be willing to be offer voluntary charity to help him out. But if no one is voluntarily willing to help him out, then he loses his house.

Furthermore, the very fact that such examples tug at the sympathies of normal decent Americans also means that those Americans will be forthcoming with voluntary charity. And I fully support giving to charities that are consistent with my values and priorities.

Q5) Isn't the purpose of a government to promote the common welfare of all citizens?

A5) No, the purpose of government is to protect individual rights - specifically to protect individuals from the predations of others who would use force to deprive men of their rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. This includes protecting honest men from external enemies who would wage war on us as well as internal criminals who would use force to steal, murder, commit rape, etc. Hence the purpose of a government is to create and enforce conditions where men and women can freely and voluntarily exchange ideas, goods, and services to the mutual benefit according to their best rational judgment, without fear that someone else will try to forcibly rob them of those benefits. Man's essential nature requires that he uses his reasoning mind to create the values necessary for sustaining his life. Hence, protecting his right to the free use of his mind (and the right to voluntarily trade with others for the products of their thought and effort free from compulsion) is the basic function of a government.

When a government ceases to be the protector of individual rights and instead becomes one of the chief violators, then it undermines the very reason for its existence. It's akin to a government claiming that "we need to protect the freedoms of Americans from enemies abroad", and then imposing a military draft on young Americans to fight in a war (and violating those draftees' freedom and rights in the process).

Q6) Your position is very harsh and Darwinian. If you were dying of cancer and could not afford treatment, would you really say to yourself, "Oh well, this is my random bad luck, no one has an obligation to treat me and so I must die"?

A6) Yes. My life is my own responsibility. Others may choose to voluntarily help me if am in need, but they should not be legally obligated to do so (i.e., they should not be forced by the government to help me against their will or punished by the government for failing to help me.)

If I needed $100,000 for a life-saving cancer treatment but couldn't afford it, I would of course do everything legal and moral to try to live. I might borrow money from friends and family, I might ask for charitable contributions, I might sign up for clinical trials of experimental drugs, etc. But I wouldn't hack into my neighbor's bank account and steal that money from his kids' college fund. Or steal $100 each from a thousand of my neighbors. Or ask the government to take it from my neighbors by force.

Similarly, if my next-door neighbor was the only possible matching bone marrow donor to cure my rare disease but he didn't want to donate a sample to save my life, I wouldn't strap him down and take it from him by force. If I had a brain tumor that required a delicate operation in order for me to live, and the only neurosurgeon with the necessary skill was unwilling to do the procedure, I wouldn't force him to perform the surgery at gunpoint (or have the government force him).

That's not being Darwinian -- that's just being moral. Of course, I would prefer to live rather than die of a terrible disease. But I wouldn't want to live if it costs me my integrity and my self-respect. A man can't "save" his life at the price of sacrificing his morality, since morality is the very means that a man survives as a man.

Q7) Isn't it my social obligation to subsidize the health care of those who can't afford it?

A7) No, you have no positive binding obligation to help others although of course you have the voluntary choice. Nor is this limited to health care -- it's an application of a more general principle. If I saw a child drowning in the ocean, in all likelihood I would try to save him if I thought I had a reasonable chance of success. And nearly everyone I know would feel similarly. But if a different passerby chose not to make the attempt for whatever reason, then that's his choice to make and one which I have to respect. He has the right to decide whether he wishes to try or not. Conversely, the drowning child cannot demand that a random passerby must help him as a matter of right -- only out of voluntary charity. If it turned out that a passerby was a strong swimmer but refused to help because he was a total jerk, then I might hold him up to public moral censure -- maybe he'd lose his friends, his job, and the respect of his peers. But the government should not send him to jail for failing to take a positive action that could have saved the child's life (assuming that he wasn't the cause of the child's drowning in the first place).

Just as a passerby should not (and currently does not) have a legally binding positive obligation to help a drowning child even if he is capable of doing so at no cost to himself, he should not be obligated by law to pay for my cancer treatment. There's a crucially important difference between him having the negative obligations not to steal from me or not to deprive me of freedom of speech (i.e., to respect my rights), and any purported positive obligations to pay for my health care or save me from an accident. Again, my right to free speech implies only a negative obligation on his part not to violate it -- it does not require a positive action on his part. On the other hand, any alleged entitlement rights such as a "right" to health care is essentially a demand by me for some forced positive action from others.

Q8) I agree that health care is not a "right", but isn't it moral for the US government to raise taxes to improve the overall welfare of the nation? Universal health care (ideally administered through a free-market mechanism to the greatest extent possible) would be a good use of that power.

A8) If we agree that there is no "right" to health care, then by what right does a government force one citizen to pay for the care of another citizen? That's what any system of "universal care" essentially amounts to. What you consider a moral use of government power is something I consider deeply immoral. And the experience of other nations shows that any attempted system of universal care ends up destroying the free market that makes quality health care possible.

At a practical level, if I needed major medical care and couldn't afford it, I'd much rather rely on a pure free market plus voluntary charity from my fellow Americans, than a British-style system of government "universal care".

Although critics of the free market regularly claim that it would lead to "people dying in the streets", this would not actually happen unless Americans were far more impoverished and callous than they are today. The free market is our best protection from that scenario. And if Americans ever became that impoverished and callous, then no system of government-run universal care would be sustainable or even possible.

On the other hand, the nationalized health systems routinely deny care to people who have theoretical "universal coverage". Those patients do end up dying because of the allegedly "compassionate" government system.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Excellent radiology party trick.
"10 optical illusions in 2 minutes". (Via MeFi.)
Magic trick of the day: This German street performer looks like he's sticking to the side of a wall with just one hand. The second page shows how it's done. (Via Clicked.)
"Real archaeologists don't have whips": A comparison of real archaeology vs. Indiana Jones. (Via SciTechDaily.)
The US Air Force wants to build a military botnet. As BBspot says, "How about we name it Skynet? That sounds like a good name..."

Thursday, May 15, 2008

"Top 10 interview mistakes". Besides offering some general advice, the article gives the following examples of things not to do:
• Candidate answered cell phone and asked the interviewer to leave her own office because it was a "private" conversation.

• Applicant told the interviewer he wouldn't be able to stay with the job long because he thought he might get an inheritance if his uncle died - and his uncle wasn't "looking too good."

• The job seeker asked the interviewer for a ride home after the interview.

• The applicant smelled his armpits on the way to the interview room.

• Candidate said she could not provide a writing sample because all of her writing had been for the CIA and it was "classified."

• Candidate told the interviewer he was fired for beating up his last boss.

• When the applicant was offered food before the interview, he declined saying he didn't want to line his stomach with grease before going out drinking.

• An applicant said she was a "people person" not a "numbers person" -- in her interview for an accounting position.

• During a phone interview the candidate flushed the toilet while talking to hiring manager.

• The applicant took out a hair brush and brushed her hair.
(Via Rand Simberg.)
Interesting system to resolve eBay disputes through game theory. Here's the commercial website.
Video of the day: "Top 10 Jackie Chan Fight Scenes". Slightly NSFW -- the commentary contains a few profanities. (Via DRB.)
"The Vatican's chief astronomer says that believing in aliens does not contradict faith in God." Here's more information.

(He didn't mention whether aliens were allowed to use birth control or have abortions.)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

"Things Younger Than John McCain".

(Disclaimer: Of course age alone doesn't disqualify (or qualify) a person from being President of the US.)

For an alternative, one could consider voting for John McClane for President, not John McCain. McClane's track record speaks for itself:
*In 1988, John McClane defused the hostage crisis at Los Angeles' Nakatomi Tower.

*In 1990, John McClane foiled a terrorist plot to seize control of Dulles International Airport in Washington, DC.

*In 1995, John McClane foiled the New York Federal Reserve Heist.

*In 2007, John McClane stopped the greatest cyberterrorism conspiracy in history.

*John McClane has defeated terrorists in elevator shafts on numerous occasions.

John McClane will keep us safe from terrorists, like he always has. A tough man for tough times. Yippie-Kay-Yay...
(Via Neatorama.)
The best use of Multitouch I've seen so far is this giant version of Missile Command. Of course, there's a video!
Apple has trademarked the iPod shape.
Text messaging "is at least 4 times more expensive than transmitting data from Hubble."

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

"How can you tell if a photo was retouched?"
"5 Scientific Laws and the Scientists Behind Them":
1. Archimedes' Principle of Buoyancy
2. Hooke's Law of Elasticity
3. Bernoulli's Law of Fluid Dynamics (Bernoulli's Principle)
4. Dalton's Law of Partial Pressures
5. Fourier's Law of Heat Conduction
"Scientists have created the first genetically modified human embryo."

Monday, May 12, 2008

Striped icebergs.
"Not even quantum cryptography is 100-percent secure". According to Jan-Ake Larsson, associate professor of applied mathematics at Linkoping University:
There is a theoretical possibility that an unauthorized person can extract the key without being discovered, by simultaneously manipulating both the quantum-mechanical and the regular communication needed in quantum cryptography.
He does propose a patch, which should be secure (unless/until someone finds another hole.)
Outsourcing legal work to India.
How to catch up on lost sleep.
"Whose pants on fire? The latest lie-detector trial suggests the best way to detect liars may be to lie..."

Sunday, May 11, 2008

ObPoliticalPost: The May 11, 2008 New York Times printed my LTE (letter to the editor) in response to their earlier article from May 4, 2008, "Even the Insured Feel the Strain of Health Costs". My letter is the fourth one down on this page:
To the Editor:

The skyrocketing costs of health insurance are the result of onerous government regulations, such as mandatory benefits.

Many states require insurance plans to include benefits like chiropractor care or in vitro fertilization. Such mandatory benefits raise insurance costs by about 20 percent to 50 percent, according to the Council for Affordable Health Insurance.

More fundamentally, mandated benefits violate an individual’s right to contract freely with insurers and providers according to his rational judgment for his best interest. Instead, a bureaucrat decides how the individual must spend his own money.

Eliminating these mandates would make health insurance available to millions of Americans who desperately want it but cannot now afford it.

The proper solution to the health insurance crisis is not more government, but a free market.

Paul Hsieh
Sedalia, Colo., May 4, 2008

The writer, a doctor, is co-founder, Freedom and Individual Rights in Medicine.

Friday, May 09, 2008

"What a Botnet Looks Like". (Via /.)
"Electromagnetic signals from cell phones can change your brainwaves and behavior.":
The arousal effects the researchers measured are equivalent to about half a cup of coffee, and many other factors in a person's surroundings will affect a night's sleep as much or more than cell phone transmissions.
Flogos are floating corporate logos made from soap bubbles. (Via Fark.)
The psychogeography of the United States? According to this article, various personality types shows distinct regional clustering:
...America's psychogeography lines up reasonably well with its economic geography. Greater Chicago is a center for extroverts and also a leading center for sales professionals. The Midwest, long a center for the manufacturing industry, has a prevalence of conscientious types who work well in a structured, rule-driven environment. The South, and particularly the I-75 corridor, where so much Japanese and German car manufacturing is located, is dominated by agreeable and conscientious types who are both dutiful and work well in teams.

The Northeast corridor, including Greater Boston, as well as San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, and Austin, are home to concentrations of open-to-experience types who are drawn to creative endeavor, innovation, and entrepreneurial start-up companies. While it is hard to identify which came first - was it an initial concentration of personality types that drew industry, or the industry which attracted the personalities? - the overlay is clear.
(Via SciTechDaily.)

Thursday, May 08, 2008

"30 tech myths debunked". (Via BBspot.)
Wikipedia T-shirt of the day.
Artificial mouth.
Quantum internet search.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

"How David Blaine held his breath for 17 minutes". (Via Fark.)
"Mentos and Diet Coke Explosion at 1200fps". A thing of beauty...
"How much of the traffic on the internet is peer-to-peer file trading?"
Regenerative medicine update.
Never urinate on an electric fence.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Robot squirrel used to infiltrate native squirrel population.
"Hard Drive Recovered from Columbia Shuttle Solves Physics Problem":
Researchers have finally published the results of data recovered from a cracked and singed hard drive that fell to Earth in the debris from the Space Shuttle Columbia, which exploded during reentry on February 1, 2003, killing all seven crewmembers.

The hard drive contained data from the CVX-2 (Critical Viscosity of Xenon) experiment, designed to study the way xenon gas flows in microgravity. The findings, published this April in the journal Physical Review E, confirmed that when stirred vigorously, xenon exhibits a sudden change in viscosity known as shear thinning. The same effect allows whipped cream and ketchup to go from flowing smoothly like liquids to holding their shapes like solids.
Nice review of the memristor.
Mass or zombie takeover? And, Graph Theory Meets the 7 Vices.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Modular shape-shifting robot reassembles itself when kicked apart.

What could possibly go wrong with this technology? (Via DRB.)
Update on nuclear fusion.
E-mail backscatter.
It's only been 15 years since this.
Strap on helicopter. (Via Rand Simberg.)

Saturday, May 03, 2008

"Man stuck in machinery uses big toe to call 911".

Friday, May 02, 2008

More high-speed photography revelations.
"Telescope could focus light without a mirror or lens".
Boomerangs in space.
"Real-Life Iron Man: A Robotic Suit That Magnifies Human Strength"

Thursday, May 01, 2008

"Physicists Build a Quantum Gambling Machine":
Quantum gambling machines may not be popping up at futuristic casinos any time soon, but the devices could have other uses – such as enabling physicists to study game theory in situations where cheating is impossible.
"Survival Gear That's Just Crazy Enough to Work"
Senseless signage.
"How much is my credit card number worth on the black market?"