Saturday, July 16, 2005

Another Saturday Night

Friday, July 15, 2005

Productive Philanthropy

Fred Kavli collects Norwegian oil paintings and ornate Asian vases, installing them lovingly around his sprawling, 12,000-square-foot mansion overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Santa Barbara, Calif. But his most heartfelt passion has nothing to do with art or antiques. As he gazes toward an orange sunset, Kavli begins to speak of life's fundamental questions. He wonders about exploring the processes of the universe, generating nonpolluting forms of power and developing lightweight but strong nanoscale materials. Instead of spending his fortune on treasures of the past, he has dedicated it to these, the possibilities of the future.

Over the past five years, the 77-year-old Norwegian-born businessman has funded 10 basic science research institutes, created an operating foundation to explore pet research questions and laid out a plan to offer three $1-million awards biannually that would compete with the Nobel Prizes. "Because I believe in it," this unusual philanthropist explains simply, as if the reasons were obvious. "Life as we know it today would not be possible without science."

... Although the number of philanthropic organizations has doubled since 1990, the share for science slipped to 2.4 percent in 2003 from 4 percent a decade earlier, according to the Foundation Center, a New York City-based nonprofit that tracks funding trends. The Kavli Foundation stands out even from the handful of those that do finance basic research, insists James Langer, vice president of the National Academy of Sciences. Kavli's own passion about the fields he sponsors, combined with his willingness to let researchers run with their ideas, sets him apart.
Pretty amazing guy. Go read the whole article.

Friday Nature Blogging: Hummer Edition

Bonus ready for take-off feature:

Friday Random 10

1.  Dirty Man - Joss Stone
2.  Ripple - Chris Hillman
3.  Morning Song - Jewel
4.  Still - Macy Gray
5.  The One - Elton John
6.  Night Riding Song - Ranger Doug (Riders in the Sky)
7.  It Takes A Believer - Desert Rose Band
8.  Hope Alone - Indigo Girls
9.  Baby, Please Don't Go - John Lee Hooker
10. Bahia - Spyro Gyra

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Sunday Morning Eye Candy

David Dupaw demonstrates cross-pollination.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Come Saturday Morning ...

Friday, July 08, 2005

Bugger Off

A letter to the terrorists.

Friday Nature Blogging: Hell Dog Edition

Ah, yes it's this time of year that we especially appreciate having acquired our psychotic lab/shepherd pound rescue. This is truly hell week around our house each year (at least for the past seven years). We've gotten accustomed to his other psychotic episodes but this time each year, for the fire-cracking days around the 4th we seriously question our own sanity. He absolutely freaks and it doesn't matter if we have the stereo blaring, stay with him every moment or have him mildly drugged - he goes ape-shit. Unfortunately, in addition to his constant running around, panting and yelping, he places his rather large teeth on anything in reach - his favorite being the nearest wall edge (corner). After 7 years he even has our other dog thinking something's wrong with him because he surely is meant to be freaked out by something but he can't quite figure out what it's supposed to be.

Friday Random 10

1.  When I Drink - Sylvie Lewis
2.  Oh Baby I Love You So - Ann Reed
3.  Down in the Valley to Pray - Doc Watson
4.  Saw You Runnin' - New Graa Revival
5.  Sitting - the artist formerly known as Cat Stevens
6.  Where I Go - Natalie Merchant
7.  Combat Zone - The Nylons
8.  I've Seen All Good People: Your Move - Yes
9.  Wrapped Around Your Finger - The Police
10. Something You Got - B.B. King

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Sunday Morning Eye Candy

From Sunny's Hong Kong photoblog, cloudless.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Come Saturday Morning ...

Friday, July 01, 2005

The Nature of Courage

Through a son's eyes.

[via War and Peace]

O'Connor - First to Go

Sandra Day O'Connor, the first woman on the Supreme Court and a swing vote on abortion as well as other contentious issues, announced her retirement Friday. A bruising Senate confirmation struggle loomed as President Bush selects a successor.[Synaptic emphasis]
Loomed? Is it already over? Personally, I think the bitch should have hung on 'til 2008 (with death her only out) after what her treasonous action in December 2000 wrought.

Update: Well, I guess her staying on to compensate was never going to happen - Digby has more on O'Connor, of which I was not aware. Okay, I'm thoroughly disgusted by her now. It's times like these I wish I believed in God and, conversely, in hell - because that's where she should rot.

Friday Nature Blogging: Bee Balm Edition

So, that's Bee Balm. As I mentioned earlier, we did some planting several weeks ago in my effort to attract hummingbirds. Until the Bee Balm bloomed this week, I had no idea what it looked like.

This frustrates a friend of mine to no end. Not just that I would plant something that I had no idea what it looked like but that I mostly don't have a clue about the names (common let alone genus/species) of anything I plant. The point of the most recent plantings, I explain, was to attract hummingbirds - if I like them as well that's a bonus but certainly not a necessity.

Not knowing what you've planted does have the drawback that if you move (across the country) and wish to duplicate a 'planting' you particularly enjoyed - you're screwed. This is where Mr. CJ generally comes in handy but there's still a 'groundcover' I loved that I've been unable to find -and he can't remember (he's 50 now you know) what it was.

I've decided that this trait (unconcern for what a plant is/is called) must be autosomal dominant. While Mr. CJ would frequently stop on our hikes to explain what a particlar tree or plant was, he would be treated to a uniform chorus of yes, it's beautiful ... it's a tree. No botanists in this family.

Higher Brain Function

Not that we needed another reason to question whether it's all that it's cracked up to be but ...
People should be able to have healthy limbs removed by choice, say two Australian philosophers who are exploring the phenomenon of "amputee wannabes".

Amputee wannabes become obsessed with cutting off a particular part of their body, even though it may be healthy.

Past research has suggested this rare condition may be because they believe their body part is diseased or ugly, because the notion of becoming an amputee sexually excites them, or because of a mismatch between their body and their image of it.
I'm not sure who's nuttier the 'wannabees' or the 'philosophers'. When's the last time you saw another mammal get their rocks off by amputating a limb? Higher primate? Just one more thing that makes it amazing that, as a species, we survive.

Einstein In Drag?

Not exactly. This is one in a series of 12 images "depicting some of history's greatest scientific minds with the seductive physical draw that their minds hold for us intellectually." It was submitted in Princeton's Art of Science competition as was this:

One in a series of 'Mooney faces', which are images commonly used in cognitive psychology to assess children's ability to a "coherent perceptual impression on the basis of very little visual detail." Face?

Or not?

In grad school we used to have Christmas ornament/decoration competitions with the only rule being all materials had to have come from the labs. Let me tell you, a little radioisotope (32P), some X-ray film and a dash of creativity resulted in some pretty amazing images. Science is an art.

I Scream, You Scream

Just in time for your summer cravings, this PSA on ice cream headaches:
All sorts of things can cause headache. For migraineurs, attacks can be provoked by chocolate, cheese, cured meats, or non-food such as stress or changes in sleep habits. Headaches can herald serious neurological disease. Some people have a benign type of headache provoked by coughing or, rarely, by coitus. Many people feel that headaches are caused by eye strain or chronic sinus problems, although probably they are not.

The most common cause of head pain is ice cream, occurring in one third of a randomly selected population.1 It occurs regardless of whether someone suffers from other types of headache. Children know all about ice cream headache, although I have found that they know it best by the descriptive term "brain freeze."

... No treatment is usually required, and sufferers rarely seek medical attention. Since the posterior aspect of the palate is most likely to produce the referred pain of ice cream headache, avoiding contact of the cold food with this area can effectively eliminate the symptoms. Most people arrive at such preventive measures without the advice of doctors. ***Ice cream abstinence is not indicated.[Synaptic emphasis]
***And if it were?

Friday Random 10

1.  Simple As That - Tower of Power
2.  Sleep Better - Pete Yorn
3.  Still Not Ready - Eva Cassidy
4.  Willie & The Hand Jive - Eric Clapton
5.  Let It Grow - Eric Clapton*
6.  Country Blues - Doc Watson
7.  All Your Love - Peter Malick Group**
8.  Nowhere Man - Beatles
9.  Caldonia - Louis Jordon
10. Marie's Wedding - Van Morrison

*Over 7000 available songs (Xmas songs are deselected) and two from the same Clapton album; **Early and much preferred Norah Jones