Monthly Archives: January 2020

Novel Coronavirus: Regaining Trust is a Long Slog

A Different Country Now China’s financial situation in 2020 is less resilient than it was in 2003, when the country shrugged off the SARS epidemic. The SARS debacle left few long-lasting scars on China, mainly because China’s economy was red-hot … Continue reading

Posted in Biomedicine, China | Tagged ,

Can A Single Neuron Understand the Whole Brain?

Neuroscientists are beginning to ask themselves: Can a human brain understand the human brain? The sheer amount of descriptive data on the brain being generated in neuroscience labs is terribly daunting — and is being described as “an existential crisis” … Continue reading

Posted in Cognition, Human Brain | Tagged | 2 Comments

Novel Coronavirus first Emerged December 8, 2019

For 3 Weeks China Tried to Cover It Up China squandered a crucial 3-week window that could have been used to better contain the epidemic. Instead of trying to contain the virus itself, the communist party focused on covering up … Continue reading

Posted in China | Tagged | 1 Comment

Cash Crops Around the World

Farmers are not in the business just for their health. Besides sometimes growing much of the food that they eat, farmers also need cash to buy the tools of the trade, as well as for everyday dry goods and occasional … Continue reading

Posted in Agriculture | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Sex and the Banana: Not Work-safe

The Banana’s Controversial Sex Life The banana plant first originated ten thousand years ago in South Asia, when two wild plant species — Musa acuminata and Musa balbisinia — accidentally cross-pollinated, resulting in the sterile half-breed banana plant. The fruit … Continue reading

Posted in food, Sex | Tagged ,

Why 100,000 Typically Want to Go to Trump Rallies

Donald Trump spoke to the “woke billionaires” at the WEF in Davos, but they were not necessarily listening. The World Economic Forum has a different vision for the future, which is less concerned about whether people have jobs, and more … Continue reading

Posted in Donald Trump, Economics, Politics | Tagged

Global Innovation: Foundations and Futures

Turnover is common on the Bloomberg Innovation Index. The 2020 list is no exception, as nations are rising and falling in the rankings across the board. Who Will Lead in Innovation in 2030? China is catching up with the rest … Continue reading

Posted in China, Economics, Europe, innovation, University | Tagged | 2 Comments

Four Paths to Savant Mental Skills

Savant skills are typically confined to five areas: art, music, calendar calculating, mathematics and mechanical/spatial skills (Treffert 2005). These skills are [ed: in brain-damaged savants] accompanied by an exceptional ability to recall meaningless detail—memory without understanding (Sacks 2007) and a … Continue reading

Posted in Cognition, Human Brain | Tagged

Is Culture as Malleable As We Feared?

Perhaps not, if this study published yesterday in Nature Human Behaviour is to be believed. Study researchers compared rates of cultural evolution vs. rates of biological evolution. … most culture is subject to “directional and stabilising forces”… – even creating … Continue reading

Posted in anthropology, Disruptive Technologies, Donald Trump | Tagged | 2 Comments

SpaceX Almost Ready for Manned Spaceflights

The Moon is Getting Closer SpaceX is preparing to launch humans into space, following its successful Dragon capsule test yesterday. The first piloted flight of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon astronaut taxi is likely just a few months away, now that a … Continue reading

Posted in Future, Space Future | Tagged | 2 Comments

Nobody Wants to be Married; Can’t Afford Children

We recently discussed the demographic crises in Japan, South Korea, and parts of Europe. In the close vicinity of both Japan and South Korea, is another nation that is unprepared for the sudden shrinkage of its working class population. “It’s … Continue reading

Posted in China, Demographics | 2 Comments

Evolution and Human Cognition

Since the split from the chimpanzee lineage, the human brain has increased three-fold in size and has acquired abilities for vocal learning, language and intense cooperation. … the increasing availability of genome sequences from humans, chimpanzees and other primates, as … Continue reading

Posted in Cognition, Evolution, Genetics and Gene Expression, Human Brain | Tagged

Part of “the Deceit of Growing Up”

There is no way to get from infancy to adulthood without suffering through a million tiny lies and self-deceptions. The neuropsychology of growing up provides insufficient cognitive resolution at the time it happens, to allow our developing bodies/brains and puny … Continue reading

Posted in Childhood Development, Competence, Dangerous Child | Tagged | 4 Comments

Bernie Sanders’ Organizer Promises “Milwaukee Will Burn”

A man claiming to be a Bernie Sanders campaign organizer named Kyle Jurek recently promised in a video that Milwaukee would burn if Bernie Sanders did not get the Democratic Nomination for US President in 2020. Milwaukee is the planned … Continue reading

Posted in Politics | Tagged

The Iranian Breakdown and Abeyance of Apocalypse

Note to readers: Al Fin is neither a religious observer nor a religious believer. But any discussion of events in the middle east will impinge on issues of religion. Protests continue in Iran against the corrupt, incompetent Islamic regime. Revolutionary … Continue reading

Posted in geopolitics, Islam's Bloody Borders

Iranians Blame Ugly Ayatollah; Death to the Revolution!

Iran’s ruling regime finally admitted to shooting down a Ukrainian airliner, and the Iranian people are not happy. Last night young Iranians poured into the streets — first to mourn the dead from the loss of the airliner, then to … Continue reading

Posted in geopolitics, Media, Politics | Tagged

Taiwan and Hong Kong Compare China Notes

“For sure. I already knew that China was an asshole. But after everything that happened in Hong Kong, I knew that that could be really worse. “They promised Hong Kong 50 years of freedom. They’re already breaking it. They couldn’t … Continue reading

Posted in China | Tagged | 2 Comments

When Gaia Met Theia: The Blobs Remember

Garnero speculates, the dense, distinct piles might even be fragments of Theia itself, forever interred in the deep Earth. __ Quanta Roughly 4.5 billion years ago, when Earth and the solar system were very young, a giant Mars-sized planet is … Continue reading

Posted in Doom, Science | Tagged

Making Government Unnecessary III

Large and unwieldy governments such as those of China, the EU, the USA, or Russia, must be dismantled piece by piece. The most salient aspect of large government is bureaucracy. Dismantling bureaucracy — making bureaucracy unnecessary — is a good … Continue reading

Posted in Disruptive Technologies, Economics, Government, Making Government Unnecessary, Politics | Tagged

People are Dying for Company: What is the Solution?

Japan is withering and growing old for lack of children. Few are getting married which means that few babies are being born. The problem is spreading to other countries: Believe it or not, the West may not be far behind: … Continue reading

Posted in Demographics | 2 Comments

Augmenting Human Cognition

It is important to understand that human cognitive ability is strongly influenced by genes — with the genetic influence generally increasing as a person grows older, from about 40% heritability in childhood to roughly 80% heritability in late maturity. Intelligence … Continue reading

Posted in Cognition, Human Brain | Tagged ,

Obama Loses a Friend; Trump Unapologetic

… early Friday, a U.S. MQ-9 Reaper — operating under President Donald Trump’s orders — fired missiles into a convoy carrying Soleimani as it was leaving Baghdad’s international airport. __ Source Former US President Obama in 2015 sent $1.7 billion … Continue reading

Posted in geopolitics, Islam's Bloody Borders, Politics | Tagged | 1 Comment

Do 2020 Days Seem to be Getting Longer?

The Days are Getting Longer! By approximately 14 nanoseconds . . . A day on Earth is slightly longer this year than last year. It might be hard to notice in just a single year, but the time it takes … Continue reading

Posted in Future, Space Future | Tagged | 1 Comment

Are We Dead and Just Don’t Know It?

Forever Doomed In 1988, famed climatologist James Hansen predicted that much of Manhattan would stay permanently underwater sometime between 2008 and 2018. In 1989, a senior UN environmental official declared that entire nations would be inundated by rising sea levels … Continue reading

Posted in Climate, Doom, Environment | Tagged , | 2 Comments