27 May 2010

Daily Digest, 27.05.2010

I'd been planning on making my first blog post an introductory one about me, the blog, and what I plan to do with the blog.  But so much good stuff turned up today, as I was testing ScribeFire, the plug-in blog editor for Firefox, that I couldn't resist making this Daily Digest my first post.

An article in Prospect on the distressing neglect of the sites at Pompeii and Herculaneum.

Peter Whittle in Standpoint, on the reluctance of the Left and the gay community in Europe to criticize Muslim intolerance of homosexuality.

Sir Mick interviewed by BBC News on the rediscovered tracks from the era of "Exile on Main Street," and what it was like in the good old days in the South of France.

Neurophilosophy on the relationship between daydreaming, memory, and the direction of bodily motion.

Nature News reports a new study in Cell showing a relationship between the immune system and obsessive-compulsive behavior in mice.

Fascinating report at the ever fascinating Not Exactly Rocket Science on a study by Italian scientist Alessio Avenanti showing that empathic response to another's pain varies according the race of the person whose pain is being observed. Avenanti shows through a clever extension of this experiment (using purple hands), that the variation in empathy according to skin color is probably a learned response.

Jane Austen's fiction manuscripts are being assembled in an online digital edition as a joint project of Oxford and King's College London.

Neuroskeptic discusses an article in Nature Neuroscience on the apparent role of DNA methylation in memory. A helpful description of methylation for beginners (like me), with useful links.

Emily Badger writes in Miller-McCune Online about an investigation by Ken Cuccinelli, Virginia's attorney general, of Michael Mann, the climate scientist especially renowned for the "hockey-stick" graph. Cuccinelli seems to be using the threat of a lawsuit to intimidate a scientist whose science he doesn't like.

As reported in Science News, a note in the 28 May issue of Science argues that the environment of Ardi (Ardipithecus ramidus) was predominantly savanna, not forest, as had been argued by Ardi's discoverers. As reported in Nature, a second note in the same issue of Science suggests that Ardi is too close to the split of the ape and human lineages to make a reliable determination whether she belongs to one or the other.  Ardi's discoverers disagree with both notes.  See also John Hawks.

Is syntax processed in the anterior temporal lobe, rather than Broca's area?  Apparently at least when one is listening to Alice in Wonderland while inside an fMRI machine.
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