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OK, so it's not a deep and serious analysis... but it's entertaining:  well-done, pretty funny, makes its point and sticks in your head afterwards.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yVgOl3cETb4

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Iran <3 twitter

I'm fascinated by the news from Iran.  Like so many others, I'm watching this story unfold, struck by the fact that we are witnessing history being made.

I don't have too much to say that's particularly insightful or original.  I read what you may be reading; I'm not well-versed enough to comment intelligently.

But perhaps the biggest part of the story is the role of the social networking sites in all this.  Truly, the genie has been let out of the bottle; the world is changed and can never go back.  Governments can expell the foreign journalists, sieze the local news media and so on.  But you can't go back to a world before cell phones.  People are twittering, snapping photos and sending them to facebook, to friends, to youtube.  If they cannot post comments, photos or video themselves, they send it to someone who can.  When the best that CNN can do is to show us what's on twitter and youtube and facebook, well, the revolution has come.

Who woulda guessed?  Twitter playing a major role in the politics of Iran.  The mind reels.

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What bored men do with sheep...

When Welshmen get bored with their sheep

No, this is not dirty. Your kids, wife, girlfriend, grandmother, grandfather, or whatever can view this
p.s. These guys are not retired electricians either!

http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid1137883380?bctid=17075685001

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The Borg have assimilated....

... Rachel Maddow??

Well, maybe not. But on tonight's show, there was a segment about Michelle Obama taking up the Judge Sotomayer defense fight in her husband's absense. The crawl throughout the segment?

"Resistance is futile."

Wow. A ST:VOY reference, right in the middle of my one of my daily political fixes.

Is good.

Daily Show

Stewart had a lot of gems on Monday's show, but these were my favorites:

Newsclip:
"Her parents were both immigrants from Puerto Rico; her father died when she was just nine; her mother was a nurse; she grew up in a public housing project in the Bronx; Bronxdale, where she spoke as a child of trying to avoid the drug dealers in the stairwells..."

Stewart:
"....Holy [bleep] -- Is that her life story or did Oprah create her in a focus group?"


And then there's this one -- ROTFLMAO:

http://www.thedailyshow.com/video/index.jhtml?videoId=228054&title=saturday-night-fever

Great stuff.

OK, this is really dumb...

... but it made me laugh out loud, so I wanted to share it.

I was walking my dog.  Dog stopped to poop.  Finished.  Another dog comes up, sniffs at poop, is much too interested in it.  Person calls to her dog:  "Sherlock, come!  Leave that alone!"

I start laughing, then turn to the dog and say:

"No shit, Sherlock!!"

... the only time in my life, I believe, when I get to utter those words and really, really mean it.

It was a peak moment. 

(Maybe you hadda be there...)
 

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Scientists are studying which human genomes might be responsible for the ability to use language.  One gene -- most likely one among many -- has been isolated.  In order to test its effect, a study has been done where mice are injected with the gene.

Here:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/29/science/29mouse.html

No, they didn't expect the mice to start chatting with them.  But the gene did alter the mice's squeaks, showing that the gene has effected their vocalizations.

So... fast-forward ten years...  and the dog will be nagging us for a walk.  Wait... they already do that.

Oh, yeah... and there's that whole lips-and-tongue thing.

Well, maybe they could try enhancing the existing gene in certain members of the male species.  Then maybe those men would actually want to, you know, talk.

Just a joke...
 

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Cookies more powerful than torture

From the article:

The most successful interrogation of an al-Qaeda operative by U.S. officials required no sleep deprivation, no slapping or ‘walling’ and no waterboarding. All it took to soften up Abu Jandal, who had been closer to Osama bin Laden than any other terrorist ever captured, was a handful of sugar-free cookies....
“He was a diabetic ... We had showed him respect, and we had done this nice thing for him .... So he started talking to us instead of giving us lectures.”

Cookies work better than waterboarding... no shit, Sherlock.  Still, gotta love the image of a hardened terrorist deciding to talk after being offered some chocolate-chip cookies.  I know, I know -- they didn't specify they were chocolate-chip, but I like to imagine they were.  And they *were* (shudder!) sugar-free, but I guess even sugar-free cookies aren't easy to come by where this guy's from.

I like some of the comments:

Terrorist: "DEATH TO THE INFIDEL! I'LL NEVER TALK!"
Interrogator: "Cookie?"
Terrorist: "DEATH TO... what? Er, um, thanks. Where was I?"

Good plan, but Halliburton contractors would charge the Army like $4,900 per cookie. Don't even ask about the cost of the cold milk.


Actually, the key part is "... we showed him respect."  Amazing.  People respond well to being treated with respect.

http://www.eandppub.com/2009/05/no-torture-neededcookies-did-the-job.html
 

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Obama, Cheney and Deep Space Nine

The philosophical debate between President Obama and former VP Dick Cheney is riveting.  Rarely do we see such divergent views showcased so clearly.  Values vs security.  "Keeping true to our core beliefs" vs doing "whatever it takes" to feel safe.

I was explaining this news cycle to my daughter.  She's 12 1/2, and so far has not been very politically aware, or maybe I should say very involved with news and/or current events.  I would like her to start taking more of an interest, and being more involved in the world outside of herself.  But as I started to explain this story, I got not two sentences into it, when she interrupted me and said, "Oh, I know exactly what this is about!"

"Oh, really?"  I asked.  "Did they talk about it in school?"

"No," she said.  "It's right from Deep Space Nine!  Homefront and Paradise Lost!  That was the exact same issue!"

And you know what?  She was right.

(I made her read the articles in the newspaper, anyway.  She agreed, but added that we had to see those two episodes again.  Deal.)

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How to stay sharp in your old age

Today's NY Times had a fascinating article about why certain people in their 90s and above remain mentally sharp, while most others succumb to dementia.  The article repeats the findings of past studies, that exercising regularly and challenging oneself mentally with activities such as crossword puzzles, seems to help.  But this article disputes those past studies.  Exercise, it says here, does not seem to be relevant in those in their 90s and up.  What seems to make the most difference is having regular social interaction.

The group which the article focuses on is a retirement community in California with an active contract bridge club.  The bridge club members, the article tells us, get regular mental challenges -- bridge demands sharp memory skills -- plus social interaction at the same time.

Here's the article:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/22/health/research/22brain.html

The article says that without regular social interaction, even minds that are stimulated get fuzzy.  Isolation is the enemy of mental health.   Interacting with friends, and even strangers, provides as much mental stimulation as puzzles, and perhaps more.

Those who are now in their 80s, 90s and older came of age at a time when games such as bridge, canasta and mah-jongg were all the rage on college campuses.  After college, they often still had clubs that met regularly to play these games.  Even without the "mental-stimulation" aspect, social groups like bowling leagues or sewing circles or block parties or casual dinner parties were much more common than now.

I don't believe we have the equivalent these days.  We tend to play games in isolation, like computer games, or at most with one other person.  Role-playing games are probably the closest, but they are not as common among the general population as were the card (and to a lesser degree, board) games of the past era.  Poker is still popular, but many play it online, and besides, poker does not demand the same mental effort as more strategy-oriented games.

I wonder if online communities and interactions provide the same degree of stimulation.  My guess would be that it is better than isolation, but not as good as real-life interaction.  Online communities and friendships are a boon to those who are housebound, live in isolated, rural areas, and especially those who have interests that their real-life friends don't share.  Yet being online can be addictive.  It can take the place of real life interactions because it is easier, safer, immediately available, and easy to bail out of, yet it does not -- I believe -- really provide all the benefits of real life friendships. 

I'm not being critical here, or disapproving of anything internet-related.  The last thing I mean to communicate is the sense that I'm being "scold-y" to anyone.  I'm writing as I'm thinking, and I'm speaking as much to myself as to anyone else.  I love my online relationships , cherish my online friends and adore the ability to connect with those who share my interests!  I'm very grateful that I live in the Internet age, and I wouldn't give it up for anything!!  It has enhanced my life in so many ways.

Still... I wonder if I should learn bridge... 




But who would I play it with?

I know!  My online friends!  ;)