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Member since: Sat Mar 29, 2008, 09:11 PM
Number of posts: 45,851

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Mother Jones: If You're Denying, You're Losing

Looking around GD it's obvious a lot of posters think this is true.

And you know who you are.


Matt Steinglass says that all the talk about Barack Obama being a socialist or Mitt Romney being a social Darwinist is a "reverse dog whistle." These aren't words with subtle meanings that your own supporters understand but no one else does, they're words designed simply to piss off your opponents. And it works! When you fight back against this stuff, you lose:

What liberals say: Barack Obama is not a socialist! Socialism is government control over the entire economy, not bailouts of private banks and industries that leave them private, like Obama's (which Bush started anyway)! Obamacare isn't a government takeover of health-care, it's based entirely on private insurers! That's less socialist than Medicare!
What voters hear: Obama...socialist....socialism...bailouts...Obama...Obamacare...government takeover...socialist.

What conservatives say: Mitt Romney is not a social Darwinist! He's a middle-of-the-road Wall Street executive! Just because his business success has made him rich doesn't mean he doesn't care about poor people! Social Darwinists believe poor people are inherently inferior to rich people; Romney doesn't believe that, he thinks deregulation and tax cuts will empower the poor to better themselves! Recognising that we need to cut Medicare spending growth doesn't make you a social Darwinist, Romney's just recognising budgetary reality!
What voters hear: Romney...social Darwinist...Wall Street...rich...social Darwinist...poor people are inferior...cut Medicare...Romney.

As the old saying goes, If you're explaining, you're losing. Or, more pungently, there's the (possibly true!) story about LBJ spreading a rumor that his opponent was a pig-fucker. Aide: "Lyndon, you know he doesn't do that!" Johnson: "I know. I just want to make him deny it." If you're denying, you're losing.

Rejuvenation through vampirism: the medical ethics are not getting easier


For those of you paying attention to either the biomedical literature or to this here blog, it wonít be news that researchers can reverse aging. And itís easy! At least it is in mice. Just transfuse older rodents with the blood of much younger mice and itís like that segment of the Twilight Zone movie. The ramifications of this work were obvious and a little queasy*, but it helped that researchers identified a protein called GDF11 that might offer the same benefit in pill or injection form, no young blood required.

Or maybe not.

Egerman [and co-workers] undertook a careful analysis of the function of GDF11 in young and aged mice. They report the opposite of what Sinha et al. reported, that overexpression of GDF11 results in impaired satellite cell function and reduced muscle regeneration. Notably, systemic delivery of GDF11 into old mice had no effect, whereas in young mice muscle regeneration was delayed due to reduced expansion and differentiation of satellite cells.

Meanwhile the overall benefit of perfusing young blood into old rats has held up pretty well.

Ten bucks to be a fly on the wall at Mayhew Insurance while they debate how to cover it.

(*) Count all the people who would prefer not to suffer from old age. Now multiply it by how much young blood each person would need. Factor in just how badly (some) people want to keep their youth and vigor, or get it back. Now consider that the group who wants the blood has all of societyís wealth and influence whereas those who would provide it have none.


An empty house just up the road had these in the yard the other day.

Nikkor 135 3.5 @ f11 on macro rings...

Five line skink sunning himself on a retaining wall

Took a while to sneak up on this baby close enough to get a shot, skittish little bugger and there's no cover anywhere close to his spot. I've seen him disappear out of the corner of my eye probably a dozen times this year so far, this is the first time I've actually had a chance to see what he looks like.

It's as easy as riding a bicycle, once you learn how you never forget

Except if you make one minor change to the bicycle it can take as much as eight months to learn how to ride again and then you can't ride an unchanged bike. Knowing something intellectually and understanding it are two quite different things that often don't have much to do with each other.


So many things we do require a lot more skill than we realize, this is particularly true of things we learn when young. Bicycle riding is a remarkably complex skill that just seems simple on the surface, indeed most of us don't even know that we steer left on a bicycle to initiate a turn to the right and we steer right to initiate a turn to the left, we just do it.


I have asked dozens of bicycle riders how they turn to the left. I have never found a single person who stated all the facts correctly when first asked. They almost invariably said that to turn to the left, they turned the handlebar to the left and as a result made a turn to the left. But on further questioning them, some would agree that they first turned the handlebar a little to the right, and then as the machine inclined to the left, they turned the handlebar to the left and as a result made the circle, inclining inward. -Wilbur Wright

No, this post isn't really about riding a bicycle, it's about the difference between knowledge and understanding.

Two Moons & Long March Traverses Leo

I'm finally starting to get the sort of results on the Moon I know my camera and lens should be able to do, Sony NEX C3 200mm f4 Yashinon at f8. First shot is from yesterday morning, second from this morning. I'm using a form of "lucky imaging" where I take about two or three hundred shots in a row by holding down the shutter button and then software on my computer sorts out the best twenty images and stacks them. You end up with a very smooth but rather soft final image which then sharpens remarkably well.


The second set of images is a Chinese (presumably surveillance) satellite in a polar orbit that was launched by a Long March rocket, it was the brightest satellite of the evening a couple of days ago. NEX C3 28mm f2.0 Vivitar at f2.8, first image is four exposures of 6 seconds each at ISO 3200 stacked together to give the dashed trail, second image is one unprocessed file straight out of the camera as submitted to astrometry.net where the constellations and brighter stars were marked (out of 4323 stars detected in the image). I set up the camera ten minutes in advance, didn't have to move it at all to get the shot, just waited for the satellite to show up and then pressed the shutter button for five exposures in a row (first exposure was a little too early and off the shot to the left). North is to the right in both shots and the bright object at the extreme left edge is Jupiter. The satellite was a good bit brighter than it appears in the image, the fact it's moving makes the streak much dimmer in the picture than an equivalently bright star that illuminates the same spot for all six seconds.


I spent an hour this morning shooting cardinals and other birds, the cardinals are really skittish and hard to image, worse than hummingbirds.

And the last one is two baby not-cardinals waiting to be fed by their parents, it was so cute I had to include it.

Macro ring gives a new perspective on an old lens

I shot these with my 200mm f/4 Yashinon telephoto with a 16mm macro spacer ring, they are all wide open on the lens, NEX C3 at ISO 3200.

My sense of things after talking to non political folks I know: Bernie might just get traction

No one really seems to know who he is at the moment but when I point out a few things about Bernie then metaphorical eyebrows go up...

I'm part of an informal and ongoing morning coffee get together group at a local breakfast joint and sometimes politics comes up. Most of the people I know in the group are or were small contractors/subs and of course they tend to lean Republican but are also practical minded because if you're not you don't stay in business as a sub, all in all a cynical group that tends to look for the gotchas in things but isn't necessarily informed beyond what they need for work and hobbies. None of them really follow politics to any great extent so there are a lot of misconceptions floating around that I try to gently correct. Posting online a lot has made me well informed and conscious of choosing my words carefully and I'm not too bad at it in real life now.

So I brought the conversation around to Presidential candidates and then after a bit of talk showed a couple of short video clips on my phone of Bernie speaking and mentioned a few things about him, like he's been in politics since 1971 but his net worth is actually less than some of these guys, he's Jewish but it's not a big deal to him, he was against the Iraq war, etc.

Bernie's words ring true to them, they are primed to pass off anything they hear from a politician as just so much BS but Bernie's words seem more genuine to the ones I bothered or had the chance to show him to. The waitresses too are impressed, no one is more cynical than a fifty year old waitress and if you can make their ears perk up you have a smooth line indeed or are actually genuine. I'm friendly, sympathetic and a dependable tipper so the waitresses are primed to be receptive to what I have to say.

I have been thinking that the way Bernie looks made him unelectable and I haven't really got on his or anyone's bandwagon all the way, I'm not much of a bandwagon type person in the first place. Now I'm starting to think Bernie might just capture the imagination of the public.
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