The Nutlog

The Nutlog Archive

15th March!

A good few days for GMT+9 :-
The bunny people of Planet Pynk.
Newly published SS handbook gives the Nazis' blueprint for Britain.
Homopants! A serious yet amusing website by a Japanese political scientist.

14th March
Various tidbits of bio or cloning news :-
Japanese scientists may create cloned cat. It's hoped that the technique may help to save endangered felines.
Dolly scientists clone five piglets - Millie, Christa, Alexis, Carrel and Dotcom.
US and UK governments want Human Genome Project results to be made public.

Viva Bardot!
London cabbies' brain 'grow' on the job! Well, actually, the average cabby's hippocampus grows to store information such as detailed road maps of London. Fascinating. Seems to indicate that increased levels of mental activity actually effect physical changes in the brain!
Underground military sites in the UK. Via Bifurcated Rivets.
Know your patron saint. Via Meme Pool.
New images of Io and Europa. Via Honey Guide.
An AI weblog. Via Strange Brew.
Burglary suspect blames aliens. Via Obscure Store.

13th March For Dull Men.
Exhibition of posters from the former USSR, China and Cuba. Via Strange Brew.

12th March
Vavatch Orbital points me towards the website of Mars Society, which promotes the human exploration and colonisation of Mars. I'm a little wary of this - the human race has already successfully made a mess of this planet, why inflict ourselves upon another? On the other hand, it may help solve a few social problems. And what an adventure! Maybe I'm just too cynical.
Vavatch Orbital also informs me that 64 % of Americans believe that Creationism should be taught alongside evolution in schools, as opposed to a vanishingly small percentage of Brits. If this is true, it makes me feel quite proud to be British.
A weblog from Mexico City.
Anguilla News. A weblog from the Caribbean.
Is the customer really always right? Take a look at Via Meme Pool.
Fortean phenomena in Colombia.

11th March
Jello Biafra's platform for the US Green Party presidential primary.
A website for online francophones - Liaison Francophonie.
Another politically-oriented weblog - Left Watch.
Octofungi. Via GMT+9.
Linksluts webring. Via GMT+9.
So how tough is your email address? A web fighting game. My email addresses are pretty tough - some of them can even beat :) Via GMT+9.

10th March
An insight into the top level domain naming system. I agree with this 100%.
Church may beatify Gaudi.
Earth needs 10 million years to recover from mass extinctions.
Excavations begin at Egyptian necropolis. Via Ancient World News.
Are you a victim of TMI? Via Jabberwocky.
Scurrilous scandalmongering!

9th March
MonkeyFist weblog is covering Ralph Nader's presidential campaign.
And here is Nader's rather well-crafted 1996 acceptance speech.

A good week for the New Scientist :-
How sheep recognise their friends.
Why does the Moon turn blue? Why does the Sun turn blue?
Were predictions of floods in Mozambique ignored?
Does a gene profiling system threaten your innermost secrets?
How two tiny moons keep Uranus' rings in order.

Catholic bishop says that the Antichrist is 'walking among us' in the guise of a pacifist, vegetarian philanthropist. Hmmm.... Via Jabberwocky.
Snow falling on water may annoy dolphins. Via Honey Guide.
Hearing shapes. Via Honey Guide.
Good article in The Guardian on why Ken Livingstone is running for mayor.
Ode to a road is poetry in motion.
Ikea enlists friends for email publicity.
New issue of Index on Censorship.
Paediatrician questions the wisdom of treating children with psychotropic drugs. Personally, I'd also question the wisdom of treating some adults with psychotropic drugs.

The website of Pitcairn Island. Pitcairn is a tiny UK dependency in the Pacific Ocean with a population of around 50, all descendants of the men who mutinied on the Bounty in 1789 and their Tahitian wives. Pitcairn has no airstrip and extemely limited phone communications (i.e. only via Inmarsat at certain times of day) to the outside world; it does, however, have a nice line in stamps.

Lots of weblogs :-
A Buddha's Memes.
Hear Ye!
Diary of a New Homemaker.

8th March
Hello kitties! Salon article on Japanese teenage culture. Via GMT+9.
The Burning Man Opera. Via GMT+9.
Nun dolls. Via Strange Brew.
Nice personal site. I especially like the online role-playing exercise Gay for a Day - I actually felt I learnt something from it. :) It's done in an entertaining and attractive way. Read all the disclaimers before you play it - not for under 18's, not a counselling service, etc.

Happy International Women's Day.
London prostitutes mark Women's Day by going on strike.
Freedom and rogue governments.

Now it's time for a rant!
I've been doing some research into Prisoner's Dilemma game theory today, as described by the biologist Richard Dawkins in his book 'The Selfish Gene'.
The scenario is this :- You and a colleague are being interrogated, under suspicion of committing a crime. You do not know how your colleague will respond to interrogation. The detectives try to persuade you to confess to the crime (to 'defect'). What happens depends on what both of you do. If both of you remain silent (i.e. 'cooperate' with each other), you both get a short sentence for a lesser crime. If both of you 'defect' (i.e. grass each other up) then you will both receive a longer sentence. If one of you 'cooperates' and the other 'defects', the defector will get off scot-free while the cooperater will receive the heaviest sentence possible.
If the game is played over a few rounds, the most sensible option is to 'defect'; you will generally get a lesser punishment than you would by 'cooperating'. Over a longer time frame, however, 'cooperating' makes more sense. Dawkins ran simulations of the game where different strategies were played off each other - some more cooperative, some tending more to 'defect', some making random moves, some cooperating until the other player 'defects', after which they bore a 'grudge' and defected. The most successful strategies tended to be basically canny cooperative strategies which also took into account whether its colleague defected, in which case they would be more likely to defect. This way, the 'cooperative' players built up a circle of 'friends' who would cooperate with them; players who continually defected were gradually isolated and lost ground.
This came as a surprise to a lot of biologists and economists who assumed that the more competitive strategies would always tend to win out. Actually, cooperation, altruism and friendship worked out better as a survival strategy than more selfish, egoistic strategies! Survival depends on other people, and no one wants to cooperate with someone who is always selfish. In this way, Dawkins seemed to show that altruism and self-interest are extremely compatible.
I actually suspect that altruism is more important to long-term human evolution than egoism. Devotees of Thomas Hobbes may assert that there is 'no such thing as altruism', but values such as love, friendship and empathy are ultimately essential for the survival of our species, and maybe life itself. I'm a devotee of the Gaia philosophy; the Earth and all the living beings on it can be seen as a gigantic, self-regulating super-organism that protects its own. Nature is not red in blood and claw; actually extreme egoistic lifestyles always self- destruct in the end. Empathy and altruism have evolved and they work in the interests of survival!
Whether you see this as an evolutionary process or as something that comes from God and is hard-coded into the structure of the Universe doesn't really matter. The conclusion, in short, is that in the long run, nice guys finish first. The meek really shall inherit the Earth. It is better to be kind than to be selfish. I find this conclusion both heart-warming and intellectually satisfying.
That was quite a long rant really ;).
Here are some related links :-
The Prisoner's Dilemma game online. You can play Prisoner's Dilemma here.
Why are we nice to other people? Slightly mathematical.
A review of Richard Dawkins' book, 'The Selfish Gene'.
The entry for James Lovelock's 'The Ages of Gaia'. This is the book in which Lovelock proposes that the Earth and all living species are part of a singe super-organism which changes environmental conditions to ensure survival. Dawkins has rejected Gaia theory in the past, but I believe that an evolutionary theory of altruism is entirely compatible with the Gaia principle.

7th March
Burning Man portraits. Thanks Kadi.
Nanjo's Nihon. A Japanese photofeature in the Yomiuri. My favourites are Ancient Timbers, In the Noh, Spring Pilgrims, Awesome Blossoms, Amaterasu Omikami, Fingers of Ice, Land of Lilies, and Castle in the Sky.
Japan is preparing a bill to ban human cloning.
Good news for UK Internet users - Internet price war heats up.
A couple of Rio carnival stories - pet owners dress dogs and hamsters for carnival, topless dancers take centre stage.
Here is a very comprehensive Rio carnival site - with lots of pictures and lots of stories.
A couple more carnival pictures.
Various New Orleans Mardi Gras links :- here, here, and here.
The latest Mojo looks good.
Is your computer possessed? Via Honey Guide.
Nice pictures of Tokyo cats. Via GMT+9.
Tokyo to ban cell phone use on public transport. Good idea. Via GMT+9.

6th March
Be generous at
Ken Livingstone wants to be mayor of London. I'm still undecided on who would be best for the job. Whilst I believe Blair's Labour government is much, much better than its predecessor, I also think that so many years out of office, when Labour was divided between its left and right wings, have made the Labour leadership far too afraid of tolerating different opinions within the party. (For people outside the UK, Livingstone was the last leader of the Greater London Council, which the Conservative government abolished in the 1980's. He is a leftwinger and a colourful character - he is known as 'Red Ken' - who is now running for the mayoral position in defiance of the Labour Party's leadership).
The candidates for mayor of London include :- Livingstone, Frank Dobson (Labour), Steve Norris (Conservative), Susan Kramer (Liberal Democrat), and Darren Johnson (Green Party). The Cockney singers Chas 'n' Dave and the Sex Pistols' svengali, Malcolm McLaren, are also running. McLaren is running on a libertarian platform, with lots of policies I approve of such as supplying free alcohol to public libraries (well, it may improve literacy). For the 'serious' candidates, I'd give Livingstone, Norris and Dobson reasonable chances. Livingstone is well to the left but personally very popular, Dobson has the London Labour Party machine behind him, and Norris is much more liberal than most Conservatives (London is a liberal city) and likely to benefit from a split Labour vote.
Anyway, enough politics!
A half-million year old building has been discovered in Japan.
Apparently, scientists have taught cells to grow in a chemical trail. This has implications for the idea of growing tissue 'to order'.

5th March
Evidence for an advanced native North American civilisation found in Illinois. Via Ancient World News.
New baboon study may shed light on language development. Via Ancient World News.
What a nice picture. This charming fellow is a vicuna.
Happy Rio carnival.
It's also time for the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras. With lots of really groovy pictures!
Bob Jones University drops ban on interracial dating. Died of shame, more like, I would have thought.
Chile's President Lagos says will never forgive Pinochet. I doubt I will either. Chile's Foreign Minister says Pinochet must either stand trial or be declared insane.

4th March
George Bush Jr. appeared on the David Letterman show the other day and apparently it was squirmworthy! I find US presidential candidates making fools of themselves amusing, though. Via Bird on a Wire.
Meanwhile Bob Jones University explains that the ban on interracial dating isn't racist, but actually a stand against Satan. Um, right. Via Bird on a Wire.
If I had a vote in the US presidential election, it would probably go to Ralph Nader. He's sincere and compassionate, and he doesn't go in for the mawkishly patriotic rhetoric so common amongst US candidates. As an activist, he's had a major impact on the way people see green and consumer issues - even though he's never actually won any elections. I also like the way he says he's opposed to the 'individual' death penalty (for human beings) but in favour of the 'corporate' death penalty (i.e. closing down a corporation which commits crimes). Nice :). Let's not forget that people are more important than things. A real democrat (with a small 'd'), if you ask me.
Yesterday was Girls' Day in Japan.
New mammal found in the Andes. A new genus of tree rat. :) This makes me happy. However, the news isn't all good; take a look at threatened animals of the world. Via Meme Pool.
Lots of astronomical images from the European Southern Observatory. Via Meme Pool.
The ever-wonderful MonkeyFist now has its own search engine for past articles.

3rd March
A quiet day zzzz :).
I've been following the latest LAPD police corruption/ brutality scandal; the best coverage I can find is in the L.A. Times.
I've also uncovered this logic problems page. Dodgy politics too (the webmaster lists Creation Science and Family Values Politics - whatever that is - amongst his interests). I can't really see much logic in Creation Science... However, I like logic problems, so I'll link to it anyway. Logic and creationism... wow ;). Never let it be said I don't allow equal time...

2nd March
The New Scientist takes a look at canine psychology.
Kiwi faces threat from marijuana growing. Via Honey Guide.
State of Texas told to free man whose lawyer dozed.

1st March
Carnival time soon. Find your sequins and feathers.
Here is a travel piece about Rio with some really good pictures. Via Robot Wisdom.
Someone's patenting herself. Good for her.
Some new papers have been released about Edward VIII's abdication and his alleged connections with Nazi Germany.