Archive for November 16th, 2003

Brain Scan Roots Out Racists

5

A
brain scan to identify racists? But how do we get the suspected racists
to submit to scanning? And what do we do with the racists once we identify
them? None of it made sense until the Dowbrigade noticed that the institution
hosting this racist research was none other than the Ivy League’s Dartmouth
College, which is located waaay up in the wilds of New Hampshire, where
the magnificent isolation obviously inspires them to groundbreaking
research like this. Any inside dirt, Lisa Chau?

A brain scan that can apparently root out racists has been developed
by scientists.

The technique was used on white volunteers shown photographs of black
individuals.
In those with racist tendencies, a surge of activity was seen in part
of the brain that controls thoughts and behaviour.

After interacting with real black individuals, the same group performed
poorly in a task designed to test mental resources. The American researchers
concluded that harbouring racial prejudice, even unintentionally, stirred
up an inner struggle that exhausted the
brain.

Dr Jennifer Richeson, assistant professor of psychological and brain
sciences at Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, said: "We
were surprised to find brain activity in response to faces of black individuals
predicted how research participants performed on cognitive tasks after
actual interracial interactions."

from
Dartmouth College press release

Laos Jars Unsolved Mystery

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THONG HAI HIN, Laos — The first time Sousath Phetrasy saw the huge stone
jars
scattered in a grassy field, he was entranced. Carefully avoiding old unexploded
bombs in the ground, the Laotian businessman walked among hundreds of the ancient,
lichen-covered containers, each one large enough to hold a person. The biggest
weighed more than 6 tons.

Perhaps 2,000 years old, the relics on the plateau known as the Plain
of Jars are one of the oldest — and unexplained — archeological wonders
of Southeast Asia. They have survived looters, the elements, and American
bombs, but for decades were largely forgotten in the chaos and conflict
that swept Laos.

Archeologists say there are thousands of jars in this part of northern
Laos. Experts believe that the urns were used in burial rituals, but
they know little about the people who made them.

from the Boston Globe

BU Community Mortified, Angry

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It’s about time, after years of abuse, mistreatment and embarassment,
that BU faculty, students and alumni found the spine to stand up to
an incompetent administration. Many of the Dowbrigade’s colleagues
are finally up in arms about the succcesive debacles
which have
made us the
laughing
stocks
of American
higher education.
Of course the last group of BU professors who stood up to be counted
were quickly counted among the unemployed..
.

A group of professors have
launched a website called ”BUWatch” to pressure the
administration
for reform.
And one informal group of alumni is even mulling a class-action
suit against the trustees for devaluing their degrees.

”If this is not the time to stand up, when is?” asked Carol Neidle,
a professor of French and linguistics.

”It’s a much broader, more systemic problem than Goldin,” said Jon
Spampinato, communications director for the Visiting Nurses Associations
of America, who has been talking with a group of friends about the
possible suit.

Interim president Aram V. Chobanian said such campaigns are divisive,
backward-looking, and distinctly in the minority.

article
from the Boston Globe

BU Watch website

Insta-Party “Can You Hear It Now”

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Geez, high school kids nowadays have all the fun.  When the Dowbrigade
was in high school we needed to use smoke signals or carrier pidgeons to spread
the word about a hot party. Then they invented the telegraph, and
the whole world changed…

Andover, MA – First there were four: one high school senior, home alone
for the weekend, and three friends she invited over to hang out.

Then there were eight: four more friends, invited to cheer
on the Red Sox during a playoff game. But it didn’t stop there. As cellphones
chirped and instant messages flashed, kids looking for something, anything,
to do had found their Saturday night party.

By the time police arrived, they found an estimated 100 teenage revelers,
who quickly ditched the beer and marijuana pipes. The party ended when
police arrested and handcuffed the cheerleader and honors student who
had invited a few friends over.

Sometimes, parents return home to find their home ransacked. Last spring
at an Andover party, shut down by police after it ballooned to 300
kids, there was $23,000 in damage and theft. Eight months later, there
are still lingering reminders: she recently discovered empty beer cans
in a box of winter hats and gloves.

from the Boston Globe

Blogging Blast from a Neighboring Galaxy

2

There is a fascinating article in tomorrows
(todays) Washington Post about blogging. The author, Jennifer Howard,
launches into a savage attack on the phenomenon, as though she feels
somehow betrayed by her growing addiction to the blogopshere:

What began as the ultimate outsider activity — a way to break the newspaper
and TV stranglehold on the gathering and dissemination of information
— is turning into the same insider’s game played by the old establishment
media the bloggerati love to critique. The more blogs you read and
the more often you read them, the more obvious it is: They’ve fallen
in love with themselves, each other and the beauty of what they’re
creating. The cult of media celebrity hasn’t been broken by the Internet’s
democratic tendencies; it’s just found new enabling technology.

The really interesting part is that she then goes into
a detailed analysis of an entire constellation of blogs that I never
knew existed. She talks about them as if they are the center of
the blogging universe. As I guess she is a literary critic, they all
seem
to be by and about writers and literature.

I am starting to think of the blogosphere like a rapidly
expanding universe, composed of unimaginable numbers of galaxies, each
in turn composed of a handful of brilliant stars and who knows how many
gravitationally affiliated lesser luminaries.

In my own local galaxy the signature stars are Winer
and Reynolds and Lessig and Doctrow. We tend to see our own galaxies
as the center of the blogging universe, but who can count the galaxies?
The amazing thing about the Blogging universe is that we can visit these
other galaxies whenever we want, with or without a guide, and bring things
we learn back to our own local star systems.

from the Washington Post