Healthy people and enhancement drugs

Healthy people are more willing to take drugs to enhance traits that are not fundamental to their identity.

[Think about it. That’s a pretty scary sentence.]

According to a new study, people’s willingness to take a pill or drug depends on whether the trait the drug promises to enhance is one they consider fundamental.

Authors Jason Riis, Joseph P. Simmons and Geoffrey P. Goodwin examine the moral dilemmas that arise as technologies develop that not only cure disease but also enhance already-healthy people. As many young people without diagnosed disorders or deficits take Ritalin or Adderall to improve concentration or anti-depressants to lift their moods, this study examines what makes healthy people willing to take pills.

The researchers determined that people do not feel comfortable using a pill to enhance a trait they believe to be fundamental to their identity. But less-fundamental traits, including concentration, are more acceptable targets

Not surprisingly, the marketing message affected participants’ responses. When the researchers tested different advertising taglines, they found that participants responded more positively to a drug promising to help them become “more than who you are,” than one that would allow them to become “who you are.”

Mother’s Little Helper still rules – just more people, eh?

NYC businessman tries to hire a samurai sword hit on his wife!

On his way to arraignment

A man who believed his wife was unfaithful tried to hire a hit man to kill her and chop off her hand with a samurai sword so he could get back a $27,000 diamond wedding ring.

Rockerfelle Auguste was arrested last week at his Manhattan office on charges of conspiracy to commit murder and criminal possession of a weapon. Police say the 35-year-old Auguste, a designer at an architectural firm, suspected his wife was cheating. They say he gave the undercover officer a samurai sword and a $500 deposit.

At a court hearing Friday, prosecutors said Auguste tried to hire a killer because he was angry about spending thousands of dollars on a wedding celebration that never happened. The two were civilly married.

The 26-year-old woman moved out of their Brooklyn home a few months ago after filing a domestic abuse report.

Domestic abuse? Sounds like it was only the beginning.

“Rock Me Sexy Jesus!”

“Rock Me Sexy Jesus.” “You’re As Gay As the Day is Long.” “Raped in the Face.” These aren’t insults. They’re song titles from the new film “Hamlet 2,” which opened over the weekend.

The movie follows an eternally optimistic but marginally talented high school drama teacher as he mounts an ambitious musical sequel to “Hamlet” that he hopes will save the school’s drama department. The irreverent songs come as choreographed musical numbers in the student production, which closes the film.

Fleming and Brady spent five years writing the “Hamlet 2” screenplay. The songs came in a rush just before filming began. “It was like an accidental panic craziness,” Fleming said.

“This musical is coming from the mind of Dana Marschz, the teacher, and he doesn’t think it’s funny and he’s not trying to be offensive,” she said. “The joke of it is that he’s so damaged and he’s trying to be so honest with his feelings but he’s so limited with his abilities that it ends up being completely inappropriate.”

Of course, you know by now that I wouldn’t find any of these offensive. At least, not to me.

Now, try me on patriotic political presidential pap. That’s offensive to my brain…

Rice praises Biden as “true patriot”

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice today praised Sen. Joe Biden, the newly named Democratic vice presidential candidate, as a statesman and a “true patriot.”

“I am not going to comment on the politics of it. I will just say that Sen. Biden is obviously a very fine statesman,” Rice told reporters as she flew to Israel for talks on Israeli-Palestinian peace. “He’s a true patriot.”

The warm words were unusual from Rice, who generally steers away from commenting on the U.S. presidential election pitting Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona against Democrat Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois.

Anyone think Condi is angling for a gig in the next administration?

Son of Nazi “Doctor Death” wants him declared dead

Aribert Heim - believed alive in April, 2008

Believed still alive April, 2008

A son of notorious Nazi doctor Aribert Heim says that he wants his father declared legally dead so he can take control of his money and donate some of it to help document the suffering that occurred at a former concentration camp.

Ruediger Heim told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper that his father — dubbed “Dr. Death” and atop the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s list of most-wanted suspected Nazi war criminals — should officially be declared missing and then dead.

He reiterated he has not had any contact with his father since he fled Germany in 1962, save two short notes in his family’s mailbox.

“Between 1962 and 1967, two notes appeared in our mailbox. There was a single sentence written on them, ‘I am doing fine.’ But if those letters were really from my father, I do not know,” the paper quoted him as saying…

He said he, his brother and sister only discovered in 1997 that a bank account in his father’s name existed. If he could get control of the money, he told the newspaper he would donate to help document suffering in the Mauthausen concentration camp near Linz, Austria, where his father worked as camp doctor in October and November 1941.

Of course, if they were able to prove they knew he was dead, there just might be a tad suspicion they knew he was alive for a number of years. As a wanted war criminal.

You say Phelps, China officials say Feierpusi

Maikeer Feierpusi

To the rest of the world, he’s Michael Phelps, the American swimmer who snagged eight gold medals. But for most Chinese here, he’s Maikeer Feierpusi.

Like all of the other approximately 10,000 athletes competing in these games who aren’t Chinese to begin with, Mr. Phelps was assigned a Chinese name. The names are used to introduce the athletes to a vast domestic audience for whom Western names are just so much Greek.

The job of coming up with all those names falls to the seven members of the Xinhua News Agency’s Proper Names Translation office. “One nation, one person, one name!” declares Li Chun, the director of the team referred to respectfully by his colleagues as “professor.”

Assigning Chinese names is no easy task. Because Chinese has no alphabet, each syllable must be approximated with a character. And since every character has a meaning, translators must also seek to avoid those characters with negative or weird connotations.

The characters in Feierpusi (pronounced “fay are poo suh”), for example, could be read to mean “luxurious,” a pronoun for “you,” “common” and “this,” although they don’t communicate any specific meaning when combined. Women tend to receive more feminine characters; men, more masculine ones…

But the office grasps the seriousness of its role. Left in the hands of an imprudent translator, name creation can cause a heap of trouble. In the 1920s, beverage giant Coca-Cola Co. famously encountered this problem when shopkeepers created characters to identify the soda. Depending on dialect, the literal translations ranged from “bite the wax tadpole” to “female horse stuffed with wax.” Today, Coke’s Chinese name Kokou Kole means “delicious” and “enjoyable.”

Tee hee.

Ancient life revealed by melting alpine glaciers

Melting alpine glaciers are revealing fascinating clues to Neolithic life in the high mountains. And, as a conference of archaeologists and climatologists meeting in the Swiss capital Berne has been discussing, the finds are also providing key indicators to climate change…

It all started at the end of the long hot summer of 2003, when a Swiss couple, hiking across a melting Schnidejoch glacier, came across a piece of wood that aroused their curiosity.

They took it down with them, and gave it to canton Berne’s archaeological department, where careful examination and carbon dating revealed the piece of wood to be an arrow quiver made of birch bark, dating from about 3000 BC.

And the finds are not confined to 3000 BC. Some of the leather found, and a fragment of a wooden bowl, date from 4500 BC, older even than Oetzi, making them the oldest objects ever found in the Alps
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Beijing Olympics most viewed event in U.S. history: Gold for NBC

The 209m viewers for an unprecedented 3,600 hours of coverage on seven NBCU channels in the first 15 days of the Beijing Games put it on track to surpass the 1996 Atlanta Olympics as the most watched event in US television history, Jeff Zucker told the Financial Times.

NBCU had seen a healthy return on its $894m investment in exclusive rights to the Games, said Mr Zucker, although he added that estimates that it could make as much as $100m profit were too high.

Obviously we’ll make a profit here,” he said, noting that the company had sold an additional $25m of Olympic advertising inventory after media buyers realised the Games were attracting larger audiences than expected…
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Priest signing up nuns for online beauty contest

Sophia Loren as The White Sister

Father Antonio Rungi may be a Roman Catholic priest, sworn to celibacy. But he is also a man. And an Italian.

“Do you really think nuns are all elderly, straitlaced and funereal?” “It’s no longer that way these days. There are nuns from Africa and Latin America who are really very, very lovely. The Brazilians, particularly.”

Rungi has been so captivated by the looks of his sisters in God that he is organising a beauty competition for them. The first Sister Italy – as distinct from Miss Italy – contest is to be held online.

Starting next month, Rungi will post on his website the photos of those nuns who wish to take part. In a nod towards modern sensibilities, the pictures will be accompanied by a space in which the candidates can list the order to which they belong and the duties they perform.

I’ll keep everyone up-to-date on this critical question.

Elephant Math

An Asian elephant has reportedly mastered simple arithmetic, adding to the growing number of animals that are able to count.

The elephant, named Ashya, has shown mastery in simple addition problems.

When Ashya’s trainer dropped three apples into one bucket and one apple into a second, then four more apples in the first and five more in the second, the pachyderm recognized that three plus four is greater than one plus five, and snacked on the seven apples.

“I even get confused when I’m dropping the bait,” says Naoko Irie, a researcher at the University of Tokyo, Japan and Ashya’s math tutor.

Irie presented her findings last week at the International Society for Behavioral Ecology’s annual meeting in Ithaca, New York.

She discovered that as well as summing small numbers with almost 90% accuracy; elephants can also discriminate between small numbers.

Experts say animals from salamanders to pigeons to chimpanzees can discern numerical values. But all animals, including humans when forced to make split-second decisions, are best at telling apart two quantities when the ratio between the large and small number is greatest.

But Irie says that isn’t so for elephants.

The four that she tested distinguished between five and six apples as well as they did between five and one. They picked the bucket with the most fruit 74% of the time, on average, far above 50-50.

Sure sure sure. But can they solve a king and pawn endgame using the theory of related squares?