Muscle bound overlords…blame myostatin-free mutants

From Slashdot:

“It’s not exactly regular Slashdot fare, but the NYTimes has a story about a kid in Berlin (now 4 years old) who was born with naturally massive muscles. It’s not a new condition, but it apparently hasn’t been recorded in humans before. It also looks like the cause is a suppression of the myostatin protein, which could be reproducible.” Reader Spazmasta adds “A gene that blocks production of a muscle-limiting protein (called myostatin) has been found in a abnormally muscular German baby. This news comes apparently 7 years after researchers at Johns Hopkins created ‘mighty mice’ through a related approach, turning off the gene that produces the muscle-limiting protein. I, for one, welcome our new myostatin-free overlords.” MORE

Hitchens Fisks Moore in brutal demolishon of "Unfairenheit 9/11"

Unfairenheit 9/11 – The lies of Michael Moore. By Christopher Hitchens:

To describe this film as dishonest and demagogic would almost be to promote those terms to the level of respectability. To describe this film as a piece of crap would be to run the risk of a discourse that would never again rise above the excremental. To describe it as an exercise in facile crowd-pleasing would be too obvious. Fahrenheit 9/11 is a sinister exercise in moral frivolity, crudely disguised as an exercise in seriousness. It is also a spectacle of abject political cowardice masking itself as a demonstration of “dissenting” bravery.  MORE

Testosterone damps pain sensation in males [Nature]

“It will come as no surprise to some… men are less sensitive than women, at least to pain. Researchers have found that the male hormone testosterone masks feelings of discomfort. They believe that such tolerance effects may help men to maintain their stamina in fights, when testosterone levels are high.

“If men are less sensitive to pain, there is more willingness to fight and participate in further fights,” says Michaela Hau, an animal physiology and behaviour scientist at Princeton University, New Jersey, and lead author of the study.” MORE

Enhancing our Grasp of Complex Arguments By Paul Monk and Tim van Gelder [Austhink]

“My main contention is simple. Using a technique called argument mapping, we can structure, communicate and correct arguments of any degree of complexity with a clarity and efficiency simply unavailable using other means. If we use the technique in a deliberative process, we can govern the deliberation, constrain it from straying off course, target our use of evidence, specify our disagreements, and capture the whole process with an ease and rigour significantly greater than are available using standard cognitive processes.” EXCELLENT

Rules of war enable terror By Alan M. Dershowitz [Baltimore Sun]

The time has come to revisit the laws of war and to make them relevant to new realities. If their ultimate purpose was to serve as a shield to protect innocent civilians, they are failing miserably, since they are being used as a sword by terrorists who target such innocent civilians. Several changes should be considered:

First, democracies must be legally empowered to attack terrorists who hide among civilians, so long as proportional force is employed. Civilians who are killed while being used as human shields by terrorists must be deemed the victims of the terrorists who have chosen to hide among them, rather than those of the democracies who may have fired the fatal shot.

Second, a new category of prisoner should be recognized for captured terrorists and those who support them. They are not “prisoners of war,” neither are they “ordinary criminals.” They are suspected terrorists who operate outside the laws of war, and a new status should be designated for them – a status that affords them certain humanitarian rights, but does not treat them as traditional combatants.

Third, the law must come to realize that the traditional sharp line between combatants and civilians has been replaced by a continuum of civilian-ness. At the innocent end are those who do not support terrorism in any way. In the middle are those who applaud the terrorism, encourage it, but do not actively facilitate it. At the guilty end are those who help finance it, who make martyrs of the suicide bombers, who help the terrorists hide among them, and who fail to report imminent attacks of which they are aware. The law should recognize this continuum in dealing with those who are complicit, to some degree, in terrorism.

Fourth, the treaties against all forms of torture must begin to recognize differences in degree among varying forms of rough interrogation, ranging from trickery and humiliation, on the one hand, to lethal torture on the other. They must also recognize that any country faced with a ticking-time-bomb terrorist would resort to some forms of interrogation that are today prohibited by the treaty.

Voice of a Superpower [Foreign Policy]

A very interesting piece from Foreign Policy magazine

The 2004 U.S. presidential election may be the first in decades to center on the candidates’ foreign-policy views. So what do most Americans really think about Iraq, terrorism, North Korea, and free trade? Herewith an “interview” with the American people, with each answer reflecting majority positions in recent opinion polls. Americans’ surprising preferences offer insight into what voters want from their next president. MORE