res ipsa loquitur

Iraq's puppet government beheads Saddam Hussein's half-brother

One continual talking-point of apologists for our contemporary Crusade in the Middle East is how barbaric "those people" are because they execute people by beheading. Remember that these apologists are, by and large, people who are in favor of Americans executing our own criminals by electric shock or by injecting an agonizing potassium chloride solution directly into their veins as they lie paralyzed; describing the irony is left as an exercise for the reader.

Anyway, their argument is that our invasion of Iraq is justified because we're bringing civilized democratic government to the region.

According to a report from Reuters, in another botched execution, Saddam Hussein's half-brother Barzan al-Tikrit was beheaded by the noose during his hanging.

Besides being ghastly, disturbing, and inhumane in and of itself, this can only inflame hatred of the Iraqi government and its American sponsors, i.e., us.

Robert Anton Wilson leaves us behind

Robert Anton Wilson, noted author, servant of Eris, has left this vale of tears.

Wilson was one of the influential people in the founding of the Discordian Society. He was co-author of The Illuminatus! Trilogy, and wrote Cosmic Trigger and many other books on "psycho-spirituality". RAW was a frequent speaker at Starwood in its early years.

I think that along with Timothy Leary and Kerry Thornley, he will be remembered as one of the most influential philosophers of the late 20th century.

Kallisti.

AP: 'Hibernating' man survives for 3 weeks

I am often amazed at what the human body can endure.

AP reports on a a man who survived three weeks in western Japan without food and water in near-freezing weather, by falling into a state similar to hibernation. (I've always thought hibernation would be a good way to spend the whole damn winter, after all the holiday parties are done of course.)

Mitsutaka Uchikoshi had almost no pulse, his organs had all but shut down and his body temperature was 71 degrees Fahrenheit when he was discovered on Rokko mountain in late October, said doctors who treated him at the nearby Kobe City General Hospital. He had been missing for 24 days.

Reuters: "SkySail" may help ships conserve fuel

Reuters reports on a new type of sail, a sort of giant kite meant to boost a cargo ship's propulsion and save fuel.

"I got the idea on a sail boat a few years ago," Stephan Wrage, inventor and founder of SkySails GmbH & Co. KG, told Reuters. "I love flying kites and found sailing rather slow. I thought the enormous power in kites could somehow be utilized."

The technology he has developed is a throwback to an earlier age of maritime travel when ships relied solely on wind. But it also addresses a key concern of the modern age: climate change.

Reuters: Landlocked prisoners taught deep-water diving

Reuters reports on a rehabilitation program for prisoners, a most interesting sort of job training:

A landlocked California men's prison aims to keep inmates from returning to jail by putting them in deep water -- training them for undersea construction and dam repair.

The California Institution for Men in Chino...houses a prison-based marine technology training program where inmates serving sentences of 14 months to 4 years learn skills authorities hope will help them find jobs when they return to society.

...

No more than 12 percent of the more than 1,600 inmates who have participated in the program have returned to prison -- far below the average recidivism rate of 50 percent in California prisons, officials said.

Seed: "Who Wants to Be a Cognitive Neuroscientist Millionaire?"

Seed features a piece by Ogi Ogas on how he used his knowledge of cognitive neuroscience to help his performance on Who Wants to Be A Millionaire?

The first technique I drew upon was priming. The priming of a memory occurs because of the peculiar "connectionist" neural dynamics of our cortex, where memories are distributed across many regions and neurons. If we can recall any fragment of a pattern, our brains tend to automatically fill in the rest. For example, hearing an old Madonna song may launch a cascade of linked memories: your high school prom where it was the theme song, your poorly tailored prom outfit, your forgotten prom date, the stinging embarrassment when you threw up in the limo.

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