Monthly Archives: April 2012


“And then, little by little, he collected his thoughts and knew that he was hugging not Daneel but R. Daneel–Robot Daneel Olivaw. He was hugging a robot and the robot was holding him lightly, allowing himself to be hugged, judging that the action gave pleasure to a human being and enduring that action because positronic potentials of his brain made it impossible to repel the embrace and so cause disappointment and embarrassment to the human being.”

–Isaac Asimov. The Robots of Dawn. Kindle edition. Quote in chapter 7.


“Postoperative delirium (POD) is frequently under diagnosed and more often than not, under treated. It is the final common manifestation of multiple neurotransmitter abnormalities; with features of impaired cognition, fluctuating consciousness and a disturbed sleep-awake cycle. At least 15% of elderly patients undergoing major procedures have POD, with an associated increase in mortality. Various risk factors and batteries of clinical examination have been devised to diagnose delirium, followed by a multifaceted approach to treatment, using biopsychological along with pharmacological intervention.”

–A Rudra, S Chatterjee, J Kirtania, S Sengupta, G Moitra, S Sirohia, R Wankhade, S Banerjee. “Postoperative Delirium.” Indian Journal of Critical Care Medicine 10.4 (2006): 235-240. Web.


“As a species, the brown pelican has bounced back from impending oblivion. First decimated so its feathers could decorate hats, it was nearly done in by the cumulative food-chain buildup of the insecticide DDT, which was banned in the United States in 1972. The brown pelican was listed as endangered in 1970, three years before Congress passed the Endangered Species Act. Almost four decades later, in late 2009, after the DDT ban and vigorous conservation efforts and environmental protection, the species was officially delisted. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said at the time, ‘Today we can say the brown pelican is back,’ with an estimated global population of about 650,000.”

–Dick Corten. “There’s a WHAT on the Lawn?” Graduate Division, University of California, Berkeley. April 13, 2012. Web.


“‘The Occupy Handbook,’ a new publication examining the factors contributing to the Occupy Wall Street movement – as well as where it stands now and where it goes next – contains contributions by leading economic scholars, including UC Berkeley’s own economists Emmanuel Saez, Brad DeLong and Robert Reich. The book hit the bookstore shelves today (Tuesday, April 17).”

–“UC Berkeley Economists Contribute to Just-Released ‘Occupy Handbook.'” UC Berkeley NewsCenter. April 17, 2012. Web.


“We now live under a kind of extrovert tyranny, Cain [Susan Cain, in her new book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking] writes, and that has led to a culture of shallow thinking, compulsory optimism, and escalating risk-taking in pursuit of success, narrowly defined. In other words, extroverts—amplifying each other’s groundless enthusiasms—could be responsible for the economic crisis because they do not listen to introverts, even when there are some around (and they are not trying to pass as extroverts).

If that’s stretching matters, it seems harder to deny that the routine exclusion and silencing of talented, quiet people has costs just like other forms of arbitrary discrimination. And, Cain argues, the extrovert idea is discriminatory on the basis of ethnicity, particularly against those who share the Asian cultural ideal of speaking less and thinking more.”

–William Pannapacker. “Screening out the Introverts.” The Chronicle of Higher Education April 15, 2012. Web.


“‘Who are you?’ said Lunkwill, rising angrily from his seat. ‘What do you want?’

‘I am Majikthise!’ announced the older one.

‘And I demand that I am Vroomfondel!’ shouted the younger one.

Majikthise turned on Vroomfondel. ‘It’s all right,’ he explained angrily, ‘you don’t need to demand that.’

‘All right!’ bawled Vroomfondel, banging on a nearby desk. ‘I am Vroomfondel, and that is not a demand, that is a solid fact! What we demand is solid facts!’

‘No, we don’t!’ exclaimed Majikthise in irritation. ‘That is precisely what we don’t demand!’

Scarcely pausing for breath, Vroomfondel shouted, ‘We don’t demand solid facts! What we demand is a total absence of solid facts. I demand that I may or may not be Vroomfondel!’

–Douglas Adams. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. New York: Del Rey, 2005. Quote on page 171.


“‘During the Cold Way with Russia, in the 1960s America of Cape Canaveral, the Zeitgeist of the nation changed,’ Dr. [Neil deGrasse] Tyson added on a passionate note. ‘We embraced curiosity and discovery. I submit that in the 21st century the leading nations of the world will be those who embrace active investments in science and technology. If our own economic health is a priority, we need to fully fund NASA’s missions to the frontiers of space. The very phrase “Space Age” means future. It doesn’t mean the past.'”

–John Heilpern. “Getting Astrophysical.” Vanity Fair May 2012: 66.


Astronomer Geoff Marcy says, “If Gene Roddenberry is right and the Klingons and the Romulans are really out there, they have to communicate with each other. They aren’t going to do this by stringing fiber optic cables between the stars, they are going to do it with lasers. Lasers are a logical way to go, because you can maintain a level of privacy by confining your laser to a beam narrow enough that it just hits a spacecraft or the civilization that’s around another star three light years away. Not to mention, you save energy. Why spread energy everywhere like a radio transmitter does?

If our galaxy is teeming with advanced technological life, it has lasers crisscrossing it—tens of thousands, millions of them—and we should be able to pick up some spillover. Also, some aliens are going to try to communicate with us. Maybe they are literally pointing their lasers at us and we just aren’t looking.”

–Anil Ananthaswamy. “Hunting for the Great Galactic Internet.” Slate April 8, 2012. Web.


“Stereotyping is alive and well in data aggregation. Your application for credit could be declined not on the basis of your own finances or credit history, but on the basis of aggregate data — what other people whose likes and dislikes are similar to yours have done. If guitar players or divorcing couples are more likely to renege on their credit-card bills, then the fact that you’ve looked at guitar ads or sent an e-mail to a divorce lawyer might cause a data aggregator to classify you as less credit-worthy. When an Atlanta man returned from his honeymoon, he found that his credit limit had been lowered to $3,800 from $10,800. The switch was not based on anything he had done but on aggregate data. A letter from the company told him, ‘Other customers who have used their card at establishments where you recently shopped have a poor repayment history with American Express.’

Even though laws allow people to challenge false information in credit reports, there are no laws that require data aggregators to reveal what they know about you. If I’ve Googled ‘diabetes’ for a friend or ‘date rape drugs’ for a mystery I’m writing, data aggregators assume those searches reflect my own health and proclivities. Because no laws regulate what types of data these aggregators can collect, they make their own rules.”

–Lori Andrews. “Facebook Is Using You.” The New York Times Feb. 4, 2012. Web.


“As law professor Lori Andrews recently noted in the New York Times, ‘If guitar players or divorcing couples are more likely to renege on their credit-card bills, then the fact that you’ve looked at guitar ads or sent an e-mail to a divorce lawyer may cause a data aggregator to classify you as less credit-worthy.'”

–James B. Rule. “A Privacy Right to Believe In.” Huffington Post. April 10, 2012. Web.