More Presidential Race stuff, teen brains, and other topics

Non Political Stuff:

Teenage brains: not “less used” adult brains.

Your teenage daughter gets top marks in school, captains the debate team, and volunteers at a shelter for homeless people. But while driving the family car, she text-messages her best friend and rear-ends another vehicle. How can teens be so clever, accomplished, and responsible—and reckless at the same time? Easily, according to two physicians at Children’s Hospital Boston and Harvard Medical School (HMS) who have been exploring the unique structure and chemistry of the adolescent brain. “The teenage brain is not just an adult brain with fewer miles on it,” says Frances E. Jensen, a professor of neurology. “It’s a paradoxical time of development. These are people with very sharp brains, but they’re not quite sure what to do with them.”

Research during the past 10 years, powered by technology such as functional magnetic resonance imaging, has revealed that young brains have both fast-growing synapses and sections that remain unconnected. This leaves teens easily influenced by their environment and more prone to impulsive behavior, even without the impact of souped-up hormones and any genetic or family predispositions. Most teenagers don’t understand their mental hardwiring, so Jensen, […]

Science Note that a body can actually “disown” part of itself under certain circumstances:

Here’s a trick to make a rubber hand come to life. Hide your right hand under a cloth and stick the rubber hand where your right hand should be. Now have someone stroke your right hand and the fake hand at the same time. Before you know it, you’ll begin to “feel” sensation in the rubber hand. But what happens to your real right hand? New research suggests that your body begins to disown it. Psychologists have used the rubber-hand illusion for years to study how people perceive body boundaries. How, for example, does your brain know where you stop and a bicycle begins? Brain scans reveal that the premotor cortex, the part of the brain that integrates vision and touch, helps the body adopt the rubber hand, but no one had looked at what was going on with the hidden, real hand.

Lorimer Moseley, a neuroscientist who studies pain at Oxford University in the U.K., and colleagues repeated the rubber-hand experiment on 11 volunteers, but they added a twist: They took the temperature of the hidden hand. During the 7-minute illusion, the researchers found that the average temperature of the hidden hand dropped 0.27°C in all participants; the temperature of other body parts, including the person’s other real hand, remained the same.

Atheism Some time ago, Sandwalk talked about why he isn’t signing up with the “atheists out” campaign”; he won’t define himself by what he doesn’t believe in. Personally, where I agree with what he said in this post, I am with the “out” campaign to help my fellow non-believers feel a bit less isolated.

Nevertheless, by “atheism” I mean that I hold non-existence of a deity to be the null hypothesis and that I have not seen sufficient evidence to overturn the null hypothesis. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

But, this means that “atheism” is where I am parked for the moment; I’d gladly leave if I saw convincing evidence, and happily stay if I don’t.

What I believe in is free inquiry, reason and skepticism. Hence, atheistic regimes like Mao’s or Pol-Pot’s would have had me executed on the spot!

Evolved and Rational talks about this from another viewpoint; someone evidently made the mistake by telling her that she ought to toe the line with regards to feminism…. 🙂

Speaking of atheism, Friendly Atheist links to an article about illustrated Bible stories; stories that Bible believers might not want illustrated (e. g., divinely sent bears eating kids, cities being sacked with their populations ruthlessly murdered by divine orders, etc.)

Back in my Christian days, I was sickened when I read these stories. I ended up rationalizing them by appealing to “higher Biblical scholarship” which told me that these stories were made up BS designed for an effect. But that started the critical thinking flowing….


Fact Check debunks an anti-Obama attack ad (on Iran and how Obama sees the Iranian threat)

McCain’s new ad, released on Day 3 of the Democratic National Convention, quotes Obama saying that Iran is a “tiny” country that “doesn’t pose a serious threat.” It implies that he fails to see Iran’s threat to Israel.

The picture changes dramatically when Obama’s full quotes are considered:

* Obama actually said of Iran, Cuba and Venezuela: “These countries are tiny compared to the Soviet Union” (emphasis ours).

* Likewise, he said those countries don’t pose a serious threat to the United States “the way the Soviet Union posed a threat to us.”

* Obama has also said in speeches that Iran is Israel’s greatest threat, and a serious threat to the region, and he has discussed its sponsorship of terrorism. […]

Of course, I could point out that Obama, unlike McCain, actually knows something about Iran.

On the other hand, Democratic claims that McCain voted with Bush 90% of the time are accurate.

According to Congressional Quarterly, McCain’s presidential support scores (the percentage of roll call votes on which he sided with Bush’s position) for each completed individual year of Bush’s presidency are:


McCain Presidential Support Score

2001 91

2002 90

2003 91

2004 92

2005 77

2006 89

2007 95

More on McCain: Here is McCain’s infamous “American workers wouldn’t pick lettuce for 50 dollars an hour” comment.

Remember that McCain isn’t talking to a bunch of soft-handed Ollies. He is talking to:

rake hot asphalt in the summertime;
maintain air conditioning systems in attics that can feel over 110 degree on a hot day;
pour concrete all day long while baking in the sun;
and freeze in the winter while they’re out repairing busted pipes.

Democratic Convention

Governor Brian Schweitzer’s speech. Note that he openly talks about working with Republicans.

Notice that this is completely consistent with what Barack Obama was saying all along, even during the days of the primary campaign. In this video, he talks about working with Republicans (“teamwork”)
Check out what he says at about 1:00-1:20 into this talk:

So people who say that Obama’s pragmatism is some “new move to the center” for the general election just don’t know Obama very well. He campaigned on working across party lines from day one.
That is one thing he was known for when he was in the Illinois State Senate.

Military war veterans against the Iraq war. Note that these folks take Democrats to task too; their viewpoint really isn’t partisan.


August 27, 2008 - Posted by | humor, Illinois, mccain, obama, politics, politics/social, religion, republicans, science

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