Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Racial IQ differences

Interesting paper from Rushton and Jensen seems to have pretty good evidence of racial differences in IQ and body development. Would like an enlightened discussion to ensue, but small chance of that, ha ha.

Link: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2005-04/cdri-bai042505.php

I first saw this on http://www.jerrypournelle.com

Saturday, April 23, 2005


I heard about this and will take the test. MCS would have loved it.


Here's some text from the link:

The National Geographic Society, IBM, geneticist Spencer Wells, and the Waitt Family Foundation have launched the Genographic Project, a five-year effort to understand the human journey—where we came from and how we got to where we live today. This unprecedented effort will map humanity's genetic journey through the ages.
The fossil record fixes human origins in Africa, but little is known about the great journey that took Homo sapiens to the far reaches of the Earth. How did we, each of us, end up where we are? Why do we appear in such a wide array of different colors and features?
Such questions are even more amazing in light of genetic evidence that we are all related—descended from a common African ancestor who lived only 60,000 years ago.
Though eons have passed, the full story remains clearly written in our genes—if only we can read it. With your help, we can.
When DNA is passed from one generation to the next, most of it is recombined by the processes that give each of us our individuality.
But some parts of the DNA chain remain largely intact through the generations, altered only occasionally by mutations which become "genetic markers." These markers allow geneticists like Spencer Wells to trace our common evolutionary timeline back through the ages.
"The greatest history book ever written," Wells says, "is the one hidden in our DNA."
Different populations carry distinct markers. Following them through the generations reveals a genetic tree on which today's many diverse branches may be followed ever backward to their common African root.
Our genes allow us to chart the ancient human migrations from Africa across the continents. Through one path, we can see living evidence of an ancient African trek, through India, to populate even isolated Australia.
But to fully complete the picture we must greatly expand the pool of genetic samples available from around the world. Time is short.
In a shrinking world, mixing populations are scrambling genetic signals. The key to this puzzle is acquiring genetic samples from the world's remaining indigenous peoples whose ethnic and genetic identities are isolated.
But such distinct peoples, languages, and cultures are quickly vanishing into a 21st century global melting pot.
That's why the Genographic Project has established ten research laboratories around the globe. Scientists are visiting Earth's remote regions in a comprehensive effort to complete the planet's genetic atlas.
But we don't just need genetic information from Inuit and San Bushmen—we need yours as well. If you choose to participate and add your data to the global research database, you'll help to delineate our common genetic tree, giving detailed shape to its many twigs and branches.
Together we can tell the ancient story of our shared human journey.

Nikon responds

Nikon responds to RAW / DRM / Adobe debacle A new post on DP Review reads:
Nikon has today issued an advisory addressing the current concerns around the 'encryption' of white balance data in its NEF (RAW) files from the D2X and D2Hs digital SLR's. This story started three days ago when Photoshopnews.com published an interview with chief engineer and original author of Photoshop Thomas Knoll which complained that Nikon were now encrypting white balance data in their NEF files and that future versions of Adobe Camera RAW would not be able to read WB data. In the new advisory from Nikon state that they already make available an SDK which "...when implemented properly, enables a wide range of NEF performance, including white balance..."


Thursday, April 21, 2005

Odd Nikon DRM

From boingboing, this is an unusual situation that Nikon is in:


Dan Wineman reminds us of recent reports that Nikon's D2X uses a proprietary form of data encryption that locks out third party software (DRM where it is not needed = really stupid):
The camera actually encrypts part of the image file (specifically, the white balance data) for every photo you shoot with it. The encryption isn't particularly good, so there are various ways to get around it, but Nikon won't license the decryption algorithm to Adobe. This means that Photoshop can't import Nikon's raw image format unless Adobe reverse engineers it, and Adobe is unwilling to do so because of the DMCA. Slashdot story and original article. Why should you care? Because it amounts to a camera manufacturer using technology to assert ownership rights over the pictures you take. I'll explain: there's absolutely no technical reason why that data should be encrypted, and the encryption scheme is so bad that Nikon must have implemented it only to gain DMCA protection. That protection isn't available to them unless they own the data being protected, so if they DON'T intend to claim a copyright interest in your photos, then they've just gone to a whole lot of trouble to make a digital camera that's incompatible with Photoshop. I'm sure that's what customers are clamoring for, right?
BB reader Stephen B. Goodman argues:
Nikon's D2X ships with a Photoshop plug-in that can export RAW format data from the camera into Photoshop. So it is not only possible, but encouraged to use Photoshop in your workflow. What Adobe is worried about is incorporating the D2X's excrypted RAW format into their OWN proprietary RAW importer which they sell for a profit. Adobe simply wants to be able to support more cameras, so they can sell the plug-in to more photographers. Secondly, only Nikon really knows why their data is encrypted, but it probably has far more to do with protecting their trade secrets concerning firmware and hardware design, than it does about wanting copyright control over a photographer's image. No digital cameras that shoot a RAW format are natively compatible with Photoshop (which is why you see a list of supported cameras in the Adobe link above), because RAW (which is really a name convention, not a standard format) is a straight data dump from a camera's chip. Different chips + different firmware = different data formats.

Monday, April 18, 2005

MCS remembrance from Jon

Here is his contribution:

It's like summer up in the North today, the kind of early Spring day when you can almost hear the cells dividing in the leaf buds everywhere in the woods, and so many chickadees are out they make a moving web of sound with their calls. Elizabeth and I took the girls for a hike through the commons up behind our house in town, up a street, through a couple large fields that look as though they were farmed not too many years ago, but are now open space owned by Traverse City, and into a field next to the city ski hill where we often fly kites in the summer.
The breeze moving over the grass (just starting to green), the blue sky, and the warm sun (almost hot today), made me think of times at the Farm, as this combination of elements often does, and while walking along the path, I starting remembering all those times eating corn on the cob under the old Chinese Chestnut tree with you and your mom and dad. I can still see that picnic table with the red and white checked cloth, still feel the rough underside of those planks we used to check for wasp holes. Remember that old round table (painted red) with the umbrella hole through the center? I had lots of memories to choose from: launching new apples from the ends of cut shoots, detonating plastic models with carefully installed firecrackers, knocking golf balls around in the side yard.
I remember too the sounds of our parents voices as they would sit in folding chairs in the yard and talk while we played. I was on the phone with my sister shortly after your mom passed away, and we were having these silences when I knew we were both replaying memories. I know it's been said, but I definitely agree: who we are is based in large part on our personal histories. And Beek and I were acknowledging to each other that your mom is one of the pillars on which we hold our understanding of who we are. I'm glad she passed comfortably, and that you were able to spend so much time with her during her last weeks. Beek said that it felt like an era had passed. It feels that way to me too. I can only imagine your experience. I'll miss her. It was great to be able to spend time with her in Virginia last year, and also to have a visit in early Feb this year. Here's a photo from that visit.

This I believe; Magourik;MIT

Great essay by John Updike in the NPR This I Believe series.
Here's a link:

Also, following the Magourik case of removing the feeding tube of someone not terminally ill:

I love this from JerryPournelle.com. It's made a lot of news and blogs. Seems the paper generator is fooling some folks:

Jeremy Stribling said that he and two fellow MIT graduate students questioned the standards of some academic conferences, so they wrote a computer program to generate research papers complete with nonsensical text, charts and diagrams.
To their surprise, one of the papers - “Rooter: A Methodology for the Typical Unification of Access Points and Redundancy” - was accepted for presentation.
“Rooter" features such mind-bending gems as: “the model for our heuristic consists of four independent components: simulated annealing, active networks, flexible modalities, and the study of reinforcement learning” and “We implemented our scatter/gather I/O server in Simula-67, augmented with opportunistically pipelined extensions”.
I LOVE it! (this is the response from Jerry Pournelle)
Here's one link:

Sunday, April 03, 2005

MCS remembrances

I'm posting a memorial I wrote for the funeral service. I wrote it in a hurry, so please forgive any mistakes. The pastor read it interestingly and authoritatively. The day of the funeral went as well as could be expected. As our neighbor Jim told me at the viewing, this will close a chapter of my life.


Marian remembrances

Everyone speaking to me about my mother after her death this week has emphasized the fact that she carried herself with class. She had time for everyone, was involved in many things in her community, and made a great partner to her husband John, my father. She taught me to respect everyone, and to earn what I needed in life. She never let anyone or any illness stop her from doing what she wanted to do and how she wanted to do it. Here is a brief overview of her life that I would like to share with you:

Marian as a young girl grew up in Perth Amboy and went to high school there. Without a normal nuclear family life, she was raised by a host of grandparents, aunts and uncles. She came to appreciate nature and farm life during her long summers at the family farm, an appreciation she passed along to me. As a young teen, she came down with rheumatic fever, which damaged her heart, but she overcame that and eventually was able to participate in normal activities.

Marian had the great opportunity to attend college at a time when not many women did so. Not only did she graduate from what is now Rutgers, but did well enough to be invited to attend Yale school of nursing. Her class was rushed through because of WWII, but she still found time to date many of the doctors and other handsome denizens of New Haven in the early 1940’s.

Upon her graduation, the war ended, so she traveled across country with a nurse friend. Upon reaching San Francisco they then sailed to Hawaii to work as nurses for a few years. She always said that a good education had allowed her to travel and work at what she most desired. She soon felt the Eastern pull of family, however, and moved back to work in New York, spending time in her aunt’s house in Perth Amboy. There she met my father, they got married, and she settled down to a life of homemaking and nursing for Red Cross blood banks.

While pregnant, Marian came down with her worst bout of Crohn’s disease, and suffered through several major operations. Her delivery was successful (Here I am!) but she had to have aunts, uncles and nurses assist her in my first years. Whenever she was hospitalized, a network of relatives and friends came together to support her and our family. This remained true until her last days, and allowed her to stay independent in her own home until the end. The only sticking point was she would always complain about her care, sniffing that it was never up to the original Yale nursing standards!

When Marian recovered, we moved out from Perth Amboy and she became deeply involved in the greater Metuchen community. She went to church, joined the BIL, the Historical society, the Quiet Hour, and the Garden Club. She also remained active with Kearny cottage and the Proprietary house. She would research the history of a town, a neighborhood, or a site, and take stunning slide photos to present in her famous lectures. As I grew up, I assisted her with the picture taking using my camera. Her drive to do this was amazing. Even in her last few years, she managed to get herself stuck when sneaking into the basement of the oldest house in Perth Amboy to take photos, and later couldn’t understand why the contractor would not let her into the oldest house in Metuchen before it was demolished.

Marian also served as the family genealogist, researching back hundreds of years of our German heritage and taking photos of long lost cousins during reunion activities. Between her organizations and her extended family, she held a sense of place and community no one else I know will match.

I know Marian has touched many of your lives and I know we are all deeply sorry she is no longer with us.