California

No News is Good News

— Filed under: Breaking News, People & Culture, Opinion
 Brookgreen Gardens in P...

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My wife gave birth to our first child a few weeks ago, and I'm writing this after a midnight run to the hospital laboratory with a stool sample, to check if our baby's diarrhea is anything to worry about.

It's not.  Which is good, but I'm wondering if I'm destined to spend the next 18 years on pins and needles, waiting anxiously for diagnoses, rifling through parenting books, and scouring the web for info.  I'm going to need some way to keep from stressing about every little hiccup and cough.

And then it struck me: the news media does this to us too.  It throws impending doom in our faces every day — as if we couldn't imagine it ourselves!  Catastrophe is literally around every corner.  Even innocuous events are spun to their full, ominous potential.  It is really and truly an anxiety-inducing parade of fear, and it's non-stop, 24 hours a day.

What kind of terrible events are on tap at the moment?  Here's a small sampling:… Continues …

Science Upended Again: The Fountain of Youth and Living Clouds

— Filed under: Breaking News, Science & Technology
The Fountain of Youth by Lucas Cranach the Elder

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Just when we think that we have a grasp on what's possible — on the outer limits of what science is likely to achieve or learn — something comes along to turn all that on its head. If, like many people (including myself), you thought that science would probably never discover anything resembling a fountain of youth, it turns out you were wrong. Not only have scientists recently succeeded in slowing down the aging process in mice, they have actually reversed it.

According to PopSci, scientists at Harvard "turned unhealthy old mice into youthful versions of themselves." Ronald DePinho, the lead scientist working on the project, told the Guardian:

"What we saw in these animals was not a slowing down or stabilisation of the ageing process. We saw a dramatic reversal – and that was unexpected... These were severely aged animals, but after a month of treatment they showed a substantial restoration, including the growth of new neurons in their brains."

Self-Driving Cars Are Just Around the Corner

— Filed under: Breaking News, Science & Technology
Congestion caused by a road accident, Algarve,...

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Goodbye traffic jams?

Who among us hasn't daydreamed about cars that could drive themselves? Dream no more — that sort of technology is literally just around the corner, as Google has been test-driving these new cars on over 100,000 miles of California road. Not surprisingly, the computer-controlled vehicles are safer than human drivers, with only one accident in all that testing, and even that one was caused by human error.

Other benefits include better fuel efficiency, less-maddening traffic jams (computers aren't inclined to slow down to rubber-neck at accidents as they pass, which should be less frequent anyway), and the ability for the passengers to engage in other pursuits, like checking their Gmail accounts. Presumably Google would also attempt to harness the potential of its cloud computing endeavors, with these new vehicles collaborating and communicating with each other to improve performance even further.… Continues …

Summer of Racism in the United States

— Filed under: Breaking News, Politics & Government, People & Culture
Racism

Image by maHidoodi via Flickr

A glut of racially-tinged stories seems to be flooding the United States this summer - so many that it has some people wondering what the heck is going on.

The madness was prefaced in March of this year by racial epithets hurled at black members of Congress by people who were protesting the passage of the health care reform bill.

Then Arizona really stirred up the pot. The state passed their now-infamous and highly controversial immigration law, which contains a provision for law enforcement officials to demand immigration documents whenever they have "reasonable suspicion" that a person might be an illegal alien. Opponents of the law claim that it encourages racial profiling.… Continues …

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