Daily Archives: March 6, 2008

Scary or sensational? A machine that can look into the mind

Scientists have developed a computerised mind-reading technique which lets them accurately predict the images that people are looking at by using scanners to study brain activity.

The breakthrough by American scientists took MRI scanning equipment normally used in hospital diagnosis to observe patterns of brain activity when a subject examined a range of black and white photographs. Then a computer was able to correctly predict in nine out of 10 cases which image people were focused on. Guesswork would have been accurate only eight times in every 1,000 attempts.

The study raises the possibility in the future of the technology being harnessed to visualise scenes from a person’s dreams or memory.

Writing in the journal Nature, the scientists, led by Dr Jack Gallant from the University of California at Berkeley, said: “Our results suggest that it may soon be possible to reconstruct a picture of a person’s visual experience from measurements of brain activity alone. Imagine a general brain-reading device that could reconstruct a picture of a person’s visual experience at any moment in time.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Science & Technology

Panel tackles same-sex marriage in Canada

Worth a look; one of the panelists, an Anglican, comments on the diocese of New Westminster.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Canada, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

The Struggle for parity between the Races

Watch it all and there is more here.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Race/Race Relations

The Bishop of Cyprus and the Gulf visits Kuwait

The newly enthroned Bishop of Cyprus and the Gulf, The Right Reverend Michael Lewis, recently held a series of meetings with representatives of political, religious and community organisations. A graduate of Merton College, Oxford, England where he studied Hebrew, Aramaic and Syriac, before completing his second degree in Theology. Michael Lewis is a theologian of the highest order.

Previously the Bishop of Middleton in Manchester-England where he was responsible for over 150 churches in an area no more than 35 miles in length, Bishop Michael now finds himself as the Leader of one of the largest Dioceses in the Anglican Church. His new area of geographical responsibility has a distance from end to end of around 2,000 miles. Having moved from England’s second city to cover an area of the world which is, ‘where the great questions of our day are focussed’ it would be easy to imagine that his job has changed in the same magnitude. His thoughts are mixed on this. ‘My job has not changed radically, but certainly in detail.’
Having an open agenda for this first visit to Kuwait Bishop Michael was, he said, eager merely to ‘get around, listen to people, and to preach the Gospel and assist others in living out the Christian mission’ as he would anywhere.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, - Anglican: Latest News, Middle East

Traditional Anglican parishioners can still use Metchosin Canada church

Members of an Anglican parish in Metchosin, determined to quit the church over gay marriages, can continue to use the premises of St. Mary of the Incarnation.

Under an agreement reached this week, the two ministers of St. Mary of the Incarnation have resigned. Sharon Hayton is no longer rector and Andrew Hewlett is no longer assistant priest.

But also under the agreement, the Diocese of British Columbia has agreed to allow the breakaway parishioners to continue to meet at the church at 4125 Metchosin Rd., at least temporarily.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces

Do-Over in Michigan and Florida?

Officials in Michigan and Florida are showing renewed interest in holding repeat presidential nominating contests so that their votes will count in the epic Democratic campaign.

The Michigan governor, along with top officials in Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign and Florida’s state party chair, are now saying they would consider holding a sort of do-over contest by June. That’s a change from their previous insistence that the primaries their states held in January should determine how the their delegates are allocated.

Clinton won both contests, but the results were meaningless because the elections violated national party rules.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, US Presidential Election 2008

Turning Glare Into Watts

At first, as he adjusted pumps and checked temperatures, Aaron Boucher looked like any technician in the control room of an electrical plant. Then he rushed to the window and scanned the sky, to check his fuel supply.

Mr. Boucher was battling clouds, timing the operations of his power plant to get the most out of patchy sunshine. It is a skill that may soon be in greater demand, for the world appears to be on the verge of a boom in a little-known but promising type of solar power.

It is not the kind that features shiny panels bolted to the roofs of houses. This type involves covering acres of desert with mirrors that focus intense sunlight on a fluid, heating it enough to make steam. The steam turns a turbine and generates electricity.

The technology is not new, but it is suddenly in high demand. As prices rise for fossil fuels and worries grow about their contribution to global warming, solar thermal plants are being viewed as a renewable power source with huge potential.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Energy, Natural Resources

David Frum: Government is unlearning from the past

A third lesson, big banks are stuck with hundreds of billions in bad real estate loans. That’s also happened before, in the 1980s savings and loan crisis. Back then, everybody had to learn that the best way to unravel bad credit was fast. Yet once again we’re hearing prominent politicians urging rate freezes and foreclosure moratoriums, postponing the inevitable at great cost.

We like to think that we get smarter as we get older, and that society makes intellectual progress from year to year — not on present evidence. It would be bad enough if we did not know better. It’s worse. We have unlearned what we do know.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Politics in General, US Presidential Election 2008

Advisers for Clinton Plan the Endgame

Advisers to Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton today began plotting a ground game, advertising budgets and a confidence-brimming outreach strategy in hopes of both scoring a big victory in April’s Pennsylvania primary and accumulating enough superdelegates over time to even the nomination fight against Senator Barack Obama.

Mr. Obama, who had 11 straight primary and caucus victories in February, has enjoyed momentum lately in picking off superdelegates, the party leaders who have a vote in the nomination. Mrs. Clinton and her advisers now believe that with her victories in Texas and Ohio last night, she can convince superdelegates to stand with her after a Pennsylvania victory.

She also believes that a strong showing in Pennsylvania, which has 188 delegates at stake, could set up a powerful one-two punch two weeks later in the Indiana and North Carolina primaries, which have a combined 218 delegates. Her team believes she has an especially good shot at winning Indiana, where the state’s influential Democratic senator, Evan Bayh, a former two-term governor, was one of Mrs. Clinton’s earliest supporters.

Clinton advisers acknowledged on Wednesday that the delegate arithmetic still has them at a disadvantage; Mr. Obama has 1,456.5 delegates to Mrs. Clinton’s 1,370, and the upcoming primaries will award delegates proportionally to both the winner and the loser. That will have the effect making each candidate inch toward the 2,025 delegates needed for the nomination.

Senator Clinton is also hoping to get an extra boost by adding delegates to her column from Michigan and Florida, and her advisers today have been discussing ways to deal with the conundrum in those states.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, US Presidential Election 2008

Bloggers' Roundtable: Are the Media Harder on Hillary?

Our panel of bloggers reacts to last night’s election results and dissects media coverage of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

Joining in are Arlene Fenton of Black Women Vote; Baratunde Thurston of The Huffington Post and Jack and Jill Politics; and Kevin Ross of Three Brothers and a Sister.

Listen to it all from NPR.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, US Presidential Election 2008

2nd thoughts on moment of silence

Most legislators thought it was a terrific idea last fall when they required students in Illinois schools to have a moment of silence to pray or reflect, but House lawmakers now think they could have used a few more moments for reflection themselves before they put the law in place.

The House voted Tuesday to reverse the requirement after getting an earful of complaints from school administrators and teacher unions who found the requirement poorly thought out and unenforceable.

A total of 33 lawmakers switched positions on the moment of silence since last fall-18 Democrats and 15 Republicans, including Republi can leader Tom Cross of Oswego.

The move represented a stark contrast from last year’s position of both the House and Senate, which overwhelmingly voted to give students a brief period for “silent prayer or for silent reflection on the anticipated activities of the day.”

Not only did they approve the moment of silence requirement, but in October both chambers delivered a three-fifths supermajority to override Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s veto of the legislation.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture

For more immigrants, suburbia's a nice fit

Twice, Nancy Cadavid left her native Colombia to live in the United States. Twice, she settled in cities that have long attracted large numbers of immigrants ”” New York first, Miami second.

Now that she’s here to stay, Cadavid, 44, has chosen to live far from the large cities that have been traditional immigrant gateways. She works two jobs and owns a house here in central Florida, near Orlando and Disney World. Her daughter graduated from Florida State University and works in advertising in Tampa. Her son attends community college and works part time at Disney.

Cadavid’s tale is more than an immigrant success story. It reflects the path that immigrants increasingly are taking after they first enter the country ”” legally or illegally. Her moves eventually landed Cadavid ”” now a U.S. citizen ”” in a suburban county, well ensconced in middle-class America.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch

A Day in the life of Cardinal George

I enjoyed this.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Other Churches, Roman Catholic