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behaviour and intelligence

marine morale 'sky high' - the real fallujah

“There are a number of Marines who have been wounded multiple times but refuse to leave their fellow Marines. It is incredibly humbling to walk among such men. They fought as hard as any Marines in history and deserve to be remembered as such. The enemy they fought burrowed into houses and fired through mouse holes cut in walls, lured them into houses rigged with explosives and detonated the houses on pursuing Marines, and actually hid behind surrender flags only to engage the Marines with small arms fire once they perceived that the Marines had let their guard down. I know of several instances where near-dead enemy rolled grenades out on Marines who were preparing to render them aid. It was a fight to the finish in every sense and the Marines delivered.

“I have called the enemy cowards many times in the past because they have never really held their ground and fought but these guys in the city did We can call them many things but they were not cowards.

“My whole life I have read about the greatest generation and sat in wonder at their accomplishments. For the first time, as I watch these Marines and Soldiers, I am eager for the future as this is just the beginning for them. Perhaps the most amazing characteristic of all is that the morale of the men is sky high. They hurt for the wounded and the dead but they are eager to continue to attack. Further, not one of them would be comfortable with being called a hero even though they clearly are.

“By now the Marines and Soldiers have killed well over a thousand enemy. These were not peasants or rabble. They were reasonably well trained and entirely fanatical. Most of the enemy we have seen have chest rigs full of ammunition and are well armed are willing to fight to the death. The Marines and Soldiers are eager to close with them and the fighting at the end is inevitably close.”

And much more —highly recommended.

the web address for the article above is




computers start to challenge humans in yet another speciality: art authentication

“From the mathematical distribution of lines, the researchers calculate a set of numbers that characterizes each picture. These numbers can be regarded as coordinates in a multi-dimensional space, like a grid reference. If two images share similarities in their use of line, the points in space defined by their coordinates will lie close together, even if the scenes depicted are totally different.

“This allows different painters to be distinguished. For a set of 13 genuine and imitation Bruegel landscapes, the points corresponding to the eight pictures deemed to be authentic all sat together in a cluster, and the fakes were further away.

“The method can be applied to different parts of a single painting too [...]

“ Rockmore does not see the computer technique replacing human judgement. "This would never be the final word for authentication," he admits.”

Ho hum, not this silly argument again.

Of course, computer analysis will become superior to human analysis in such areas. It is just a matter of time, and not a great deal of that.

How humans love to kid themselves. I’ll just bet that a few years back they were claiming a car would never go faster than a horse, or perhaps that a water-wheel would never grind corn as fast as a hand-driven millstone.

If God meant us to fly …, etc!

the web address for the article above is

crowding and charity
This article is well worth a scan.

“Even more specifically, Lacy wrote that, "Put another way, Bush's margin goes up by 2 percentage points for every additional dime of federal spending in a state per dollar of taxes paid by that state." ”

Another thing to keep in mind is that, in cities, alienation is highest because people tend not to know their neighbours and, therefore, rely more upon state provisions.

The article also has

“The case can also made that the cost of delivering services to states with low population densities is greater than it is in urban population concentrations. It is, for example, easier to deliver mail to rows of consecutive mailboxes on city streets than it is to drive to a series of far-flung farmhouses [...] ”


“One possible explanation of this seeming contradiction is that it is caused by progressive taxation and higher urban area incomes. Though the cost of living is higher in the cities than it is in rural areas, taxpayers with nominally higher incomes naturally pay more taxes.”

Thus it is possible that these differences in receiving and ‘donating’ tax dollars are related to government formulas for tax and spending; rather than those monetary movements indicating any causal link with voting patterns. As the article remarks, correlation indeed does not indicate causation.

Those in less alienated societies are more inclined to trust neighbours and look to them for support rather than look to government. These are the social attitudes represented by Republicans, whereas it is Democrats who become untrusting and look to the state.

It may well be that it is the alienation factor that drives the voting preferences, rather than a concern with tax dollars. To attribute the voting preferences to dollar handouts looks like a very ‘Democrat’ notion to me!

related material
the generosity of lefties

It is interesting that charity giving is higher in the red states (Republican) than in the blue states. However, those same states are also the states that receive more from central government. Again, maybe the less alienated socety is inclined to feel more connected and therefore be generous to other people.

In other words, I reckon that both these behaviours, voting Republican and giving to charity, or the inverse, are linked to levels of alienation, not to taxation.

Some work on crowding may be found in the section on Crowding of feedback and crowding.

the web address for the article above is

the generosity of lefties

Here is a list of the alleged most generous states for charity in the USA.

Seek down the list to find the first Democrat-voting state.

If you run out of patience, highlight the box below to see the answer

26: New York


“Just goes to show, that a creeping state is not benevolent; people withdraw themselves from the civic society. Voluntary organisations and charities steadily decline, the greater the scope of the State.

“In this country [the UK], our voluntary sector has all but gone, replaced by 'paid volunteers', and full time volunteers. Not many people do anything at all now, why should they when the Government will do it for you?

“ 'the kids have nowt to do, why doesn't the council coach them football?'
Previously it was, 'the kids have nowt to do, why don't we get them off the streets and teach them football'? ”

Comment courtesy of Gaz

the web address for the article above is

post-election selection trauma (PEST)

“More shocked John Kerry supporters on Wednesday sought psychological help with “post-election selection trauma” in South Florida, prompting the American Health Association to officially release symptoms of the disorder and open its doors for free counseling.”

“Symptoms of Post-Election Selection Syndrome (PEST)

According to Florida mental health professionals, the following symptoms have been identified in John Kerry voters since Nov. 3 and are signs that one should seek help from a licensed mental health clinician. Although therapists report that patients so far have uniformly identified themselves as Kerry supporters upset over their candidate’s concession, they urge that the trauma is not necessarily unique to Democrats.

* Feelings of withdrawal
* Feelings of isolation
* Emotional anger and bitterness
* Loss of appetite
* Sleeplessness
* Nightmares
* Pervasive moodiness, including endless sulking
* Excessively worried about the direction of the country.”

They left off paranoia and conspiracy theories explaining why they didn’t really lose, but that it was, in fact, yet another plot by ‘them’.

All the usual ‘symptoms’ of every pseudo-syndrome under the sun. Let me sell you my ‘services’ for a suitable large fee.

The cotton wool culture comes of age, not long before the Lefties start suing for compensation and disability benefits each time they lose another election. And expecting ‘treatment’ under Medicare or the National Health Service.

It has been said that a psychiatrist is a paid friend .... rather like a prostitute.

the web address for the article above is

and now fossil media cbs starts to whine

After being shredded by the blogosphere for disgraceful lack of professionalism and integrity and after being outmanoeuvred at every stage as they tried unsuccessfully to sell Kerry to the electorate, now the fossil media want to re-write history with them as the good guys.

“As the election campaign unfolded, operators of some of the internet’s politics-oriented blogs, no doubt high on the perfume of many "hits" and their own developing sense of community, envisioned a future when they would diminish then replace the traditional media as the nation’s primary source of political news and commentary.”
[Quoted from]

The fossil media, and in particular CBS, still have not apologised for the ‘disclosure’ of fake memos by Dan Rather, nor have they sacked any of their wayward shills. Nor is this the first time that CBS has been caught with their nikkers around their knees. The difference is this time they can run but they can no longer hide. The bloggers take the fossil media apart almost from the moment they open their latest party political broadcast.

the web address for the article above is

drug pushers

“Britain's largest drug company drew up a secret plan to double sales of the controversial anti-depressant Seroxat by marketing it as a cure for a raft of less serious mental conditions, The Observer can reveal today.”

“ Concerns about the addictive properties of Seroxat saw the government ban its prescription to people under the age of 18 last year. This followed a review which found children taking it were more likely to self-harm or commit suicide.”

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“For years, drug manufacturers and regulators (in the UK and US) have maintained that antidepressants reduce the risk of suicide. But Dr. David Healy, Director, North Wales Department of Psychological Medicine, a psychiatrist with an international reputation (author of 12 books and 120 peer reviewed articles), an expert in psychopharmacology, disputes those claims. He examined confidential internal company documents to which he gained access in his capacity as an expert witness in a lawsuit against GlaxoSmithKline. These internal documents, Dr. Healy says, show the results of the company's own clinical trials testing Seroxat (Paxil, Paroxetine), an antidepressant classified as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). The evidence, Dr. Healy says, shows that RATHER THAN REDUCE THE RISK OF SUICIDE, THE DRUG INCREASES THE RISK [source’s emphasis].

“The evidence is that roughly one person in sixty that goes on this drug makes a suicide attempt. Now you have to contrast that with the people going on placebo or sugar pill, and the rate there is one person in five hundred and fifty. That's nine or ten times less. The risk on the drug is nine or ten times greater than the risk on sugar pill." Dr. Healy says this data was known to both the drug company and regulators in the UK and US for 13 years. Neither the British Medicine Authority nor the American FDA have disputed these claims.” [Quoted from]

marker at

A different, but related, situation:

“Scientific evidence of increased heart attack risk associated with popular arthritis drug Vioxx was available as early as 2000, say Swiss scientists, although the drug was only withdrawn in September 2004.

“Merck & Co, Inc, pulled its product from the market on 30 September after participants in a clinical trial of Vioxx’s effects on colon cancer started to show increased risk of heart attack.

“But after analysing the results from 18 randomised clinical trials and 11 observational studies - many completed before 2001 - Peter Juni at the University of Berne, Switzerland, and his colleagues believe that the decision could have been made much earlier.” [Quoted from]

the web address for the article above is

tracking birds to avoid airstrikes

“ "Not long afterwards, I got home late one night and there was a message from a colonel asking me to be in his office at 8 am the next morning. At that meeting, he told me that a honey buzzard had just destroyed a $5 million Skyhawk flying near Hebron. The pilot survived because the bird came right through the windscreen and hit his ejector handle. It literally ejected him. He broke his neck, but he recovered." ”

“ "For example, we have been tracking a white stork we call Princess for 10 years. She nests each summer 50 kilometres west of Berlin. She originally had a mate who migrated with her to Africa, going to Sudan and on to Cape Town. But she lost him and got another mate, Jonas, in 2001. They are unusual because they go their separate ways in winter. He goes to Spain while she still goes to Africa. But each spring he comes back to Germany and prepares the nest before she arrives. It's a nice story, though exceptional." ”

“ "Yes, there can be a problem when birds eat crops, but not always. Another project of mine is to use birds to control rodent pests on farms, as an alternative to chemicals. Farmers in the Middle East have big problems with rodents and voles. Barn owls worked best: we discovered in tests on a kibbutz that if we put up nesting boxes we could attract hundreds of owls. A single pair with their chicks will eat 2000 rodents a year. So putting up 40 boxes will kill 80,000 animals. We published booklets in Arabic on how to do this, and now Palestinian and Jordanian farms are putting up nesting boxes too." ”

the web address for the article above is

latest corruption index

Note: Approximately, the lower the corruption, the better business functions and the wealthier people become. Naturally, where countries are poor, the strong tend to grab for whatever is available.

spacer at

I do hope you are making plans for world anti-corruption day.

“On December 9, 2004 citizens around the world will celebrate the first ever United Nations International Anti-Corruption Day. Join the activities planned in your country for December 9.” [Quoted from press release]

Or to quote Lehrer:

“It's only for a week so have no fear,
be grateful that it doesn't last all year.”

But this will only last a day!

the web address for the article above is

At this years IgNobel Prize giving:

is there a gorilla in the room?

“Even relatively simply tasks capture so much of a person's attention that he or she becomes blind to surrounding events, according to Harvard psychology researchers Daniel Simons, now at the University of Illinois, and Christopher Chabris. Their study had a woman in a gorilla suit walk through a group of students who were engaged in passing a basketball back and forth.”

The original study report by Simons and Chabris [16-page pdf]

“With each eye fixation, we experience a richly detailed visual world. Yet recent work on visual integration and change detection reveals that we are surprisingly unaware of the details of our environment from one view to the next: we often do not detect large changes to objects and scenes ('change blindness'). Furthermore, without attention, we may not even perceive objects ('inattentional blindness'). Taken together, these findings suggest that we perceive and remember only those objects and details that receive focused attention.”

Here are privided links to the videos shown during Simons and Chabris’ experiments.

This is a variation on several old psychological demonstrations showing the extreme unreliability of human memory and observation. It is fairly standard first-year training for psychologists.

For instance, three people rush into the class room, one of whom is masked, one ‘shooting’ a ‘student’ who falls down. Then the lecturer goes over, and the two strangers still standing put the lecturer on a stretcher and rush out. The ‘shot’ student gets up and gives the lecture for a while. The students in the room are then asked to record what happened, and who did what with what to who, and how various people were dressed.

It is common the students do not even notice the lecturer switch, let alone much other detail.

This sort of ‘experiment’ should be standard for witness training, but it would likely wreak havoc with conviction rates based on witness identifications and stories.

what are the IgNobel Prizes?

According to the IgNobel Prize givers (page includes links to previous IgNobel Prize winners) :

“The winners have all done things that first make people LAUGH, then make them THINK.”

Other IgNobel Prizes for 2004 given include the karaoke machine (Peace), The Effect of Country Music on Suicide (Medicine), Coordination Modes in the Multisegmental Dynamics of Hula Hooping (Physics), the scientific validity of the Five-Second Rule (Public Health)

related material
The IgNobel Prize home page
The origin and development of belly button fluff
Memory, paranoia and paradigms

the web address for the article above is

"Wars of national survival are not quick, not cheap, and not bloodless"

“Historical apologists say that the Japanese were "forced" to attack us because we were strangling their trade in Asia. Sound familiar? American foreign policy in the Middle East is responsible for the anger and rage that has stirred up al Qaeda, right? In fact, there is a crucial similarity between the Japanese imperialism of 50 years ago and Islamic fundamentalism of today: both are totalitarian, anti-Western ideologies that cannot be appeased.

“As Japan amassed victory after victory in the early days of the war, America and our allies could see that we had a long, hard slog ahead of us. Americans understood there was no recourse but to win, despite the fearful cost. This was the first and foremost lesson of World War II that applies today: Wars of national survival are not quick, not cheap, and not bloodless.”

the web address for the article above is

who was leo strauss?

Leo Strauss: 1899 – 1973

There is copious shallow tripe being bandied about concerning “the neo-cons - shock horror!”, much of it emanating from socialist, anti-semite and other tin foil hat sources who, in their constant search for ‘enemies’, are attempting to demonise some Bush supporters.

To this end, the demonisers are caricaturing various vaguely ‘right wing’ opinion formers in the USA and trying to link them, even unto the 4th generation, to an academic philosopher who died in 1973.

But who was Leo Strauss?

Here is a reasonably competent discussion of the ideas of Strauss. Three and a half GoldenYak award

While here is another short item on Strauss.

An extremely crude cheat card (should that be, “How to bluff your way on Strauss at a cocktail party”?) can be found here.

The next item is ponderous, sloppy, and not recommended, but I thought a few quotes from this less able and tainted article may also help give a flavour:

“[...] thoughtless men are careless readers, and only thoughtful men are careful readers.”

“What attitude people adopt toward freedom of public discussion depends decisively on what they think about popular education and its limits.”

“ Strauss saw the world divided up into three layers: there are the vulgar, there are gentlemen, and there are the wise. And honor and courage are the virtues of the gentleman; the virtue of the wise is wisdom. The wise need the gentlemen to be governing. And the gentlemen, this elite, do not operate with the categories of wisdom, but with the "simple virtues" that they are able to grasp and assert.”

For any who think that much of what Strauss is actually teaching is some great, new, modern revelation should be aware that the likes of Aristotle were discussing the same problems a few years back.
From why Aristotelian logic does not work:

Aristotle composed the work, now lost, On Kingship, in which he clearly distinguishes the function of the philosopher from that of the king. He alters Plato’s dictum - for the better, it is said - by teaching that it is not merely unnecessary for a king to be a philosopher, but even a disadvantage. Rather, a king should take the advice of true philosophers; then he would fill his reign with good deeds, not with good words.

end note

  1. tin foil hat
    It has become common opinion that these people go around with hats fashioned from tin foil (shiny side out is best) designed to ward off rays projected with the intent to achieve control by ‘Them’.
    ‘Them’ is any imagined group that tin foil hatters have decided are trying to take over them,or even the world.
    Two sample tin foil hat websites are zapatopi and ericisgreat.

related material
Lakoff: using language to manipulate public opinion

the web address for the article above is

the size of human groups with some comment on terror cells

“Al Qaeda may have been able to grow much larger than this [150 #] when it ran physical training camps in Afghanistan. Physical proximity allowed al Qaeda to operate as a hierarchy along military lines, complete with middle management (or at least a mix of a hierarchy in Afghanistan and a distributed network outside of Afghanistan). Once those camps were broken apart, the factors listed above were likely to have caused the fragmentation we see today (lots of references to this in the news).”

See also linked reference for the so-called Dunbar Number.

“However, Dunbar's work itself suggests that a community size of 150 will not be a mean for a community unless it is highly incentivized to remain together. We can see hints of this in Dunbar's description of the number and what it means:

“The group size predicted for modern humans by equation (1) would require as much as 42% of the total time budget to be devoted to social grooming.

“My suggestion, then, is that language evolved as a "cheap" form of social grooming, so enabling the ancestral humans to maintain the cohesion of the unusually large groups demanded by the particular conditions they faced at the time.”

the web address for the article above is

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