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May 29, 2009

The Complete Guide to Google Wave

I wrote yesterday about Google Wave.  Business Week has put together the Complete Guide to Google Wave. This is going to have an impact when it finally gets to the public.

May 29, 2009 in Google | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 28, 2009

New Science Papers At SSRN

A new paper titled Why Neuroscience Matters for a Rational Drug Policy by Mark A. Correro is available at SSRN.

Abstract:  Drug addiction reflects abnormal operation of normal neural circuitry. More than physical dependence, addiction represents changes in the brain that lead to increased craving and diminished capacity for the control of impulses. Given the growing biological understanding of addiction, it is critical for scientists to play an active role in drug policy because, as neuroscientific understanding develops, we will, to a much greater degree, be able to target specific behavioral, pharmaceutical, and neurological treatments for specific addictions. It is important to emphasize that biological explanations will not become equivalent to exculpation. Instead, the goal of explanation is to introduce rational sentencing and the opportunity for customized rehabilitation. This approach is likely to show more utility and less cost than incarceration. The neuroscientific community should continue to develop rehabilitative strategies so that the legal community can take advantage of those strategies for a rational, customized approach to drug addiction.

SSRN recently established the Cognitive Science Network for papers.  The latest abstracts include:

"How Body and Soul Interact with the Spiritual Mind: Multimodal Cognitive Semiotics 
of Religious Discourse"  

Conceptual Structure, Discourse and Language, 9th Conference on Conceptual Structure, Discourse, and Language (CSDL9)
VITO EVOLA, University of Palermo
Email: evola@unipa.it

Cognitive Linguistics as an enterprise provides new theoretical and methodological instruments in understanding the relationship between people's thoughts and the language they use. Spiritual and religious experiences (particularly the ones involving some type of revelation from or communication with a transcendent being) are especially interesting since they involve some type of external, physically invisible force or agent, contributing an "ineffable" quality to the phenomenon. However, people can and do describe such events, and metaphors and blends pervade the representations of certain concepts of the transcendental when attempting to talk about such abstract ideas. One of the main tenants of Cognitive Linguistics is that people's views about themselves and the world around them are deeply rooted in their conceptual systems, created by their experiences and their bodily interactions with the world, whether they be physical, psychological or social. People who practice spirituality reach certain states by means of personal or collective rituals, such as prayer, meditation, and bodily procedures involving discipline, as is the case of fasting or re-understanding pain. When they then communicate certain religious and spiritual concepts, they are revealing a great deal about themselves and their world and the way they interact with it. Concepts dealing with people's system of beliefs are very "meaningful" for the individual, and the more entrenched a frame of mind is, the less plastic it is, a fact confirmed by the neurosciences which claim that it is difficult to break down and reconstruct certain synaptic structures of the brain. 

But how do people who have had such awesome experiences represent these supernatural encounters and their states of being? What is the relationship between the concepts of body and soul in devotees who torture their bodies, who have out of body experiences or who describe a body possessed by other spirits? What does the language they use say about the individuals' concept of themselves and their world? 

I will present some of my own research data containing conceptual metaphors and blends collected in various sacred texts and during a series of interviews of people who claim to have had such supernatural experiences. The data includes linguistic expressions as well as gesture. Moreover, the interviewees were asked to draw on paper certain experiences of spiritual nature and then to describe their pictures. My investigation will try to shed new light on the phenomenology of spiritual experiences and personhood, using cognitive linguistics as a prime tool of analysis.
"Ahimsa and its Role in Overcoming the 'Ego': From Ancient Indic Traditions to the Thought and Practice of Mahatma Gandhi" 

The Icfai University Journal of History and Culture, Vol. II, No. 4, pp. 52-65, October 2008
HOPE K. FITZ, Eastern Connecticut State University
Email: fitzh@easternct.edu

Ahimsa is an ancient concept that began in India about 3600 years ago. The roots of ahimsa are found in the Vedas, i.e., the sacred scriptures of the Hindu tradition. However, the concept spread to Jainis and then to Buddhism. It culminated in the thought and practice of Mahatma Gandhi. For Gandhi, the basic meaning of ahimsa was no harm to any living being by thought, word or deed and the greatest love (compassion) for all creatures. Given Gandhi's belief in and practice of ahimsa, one is able to achieve the 'softening the boundaries of the self'. This softening is necessary if one is to overcome the ego which is formed by the tight boundaries. 

"Noblesse Oblige? Determinants of Survival in a Life and Death Situation"  

Univ. of Zurich Institute for Empirical Research in Economics Working Paper No. ISSN 1424-0459
BRUNO S. FREY, University of Zurich - Institute for Empirical Research in Economics (IEW), CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute for Economic Research), Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich
Email: bsfrey@iew.unizh.ch
DAVID A. SAVAGE, Queensland University of Technology
Email: da.savage@student.qut.edu.au
BENNO TORGLER, Queensland University of Technology, CREMA, CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute for Economic Research)
Email: benno.torgler@qut.edu.au

This paper explored the determinants of survival in a life and death situation created by an external and unpredictable shock. We are interested to see whether pro-social behaviour matters in such extreme situations. We therefore focus on the sinking of the RMS Titanic as a quasi-natural experiment do provide behavioural evidence which is rare in such a controlled and life threatening event. The empirical results support that social norm such as "women and children first" survive in such an environment. We also observe that women of reproductive age have a higher probability of surviving among women. On the other hand, we observe that crew members used their information advantage and their better access to resources (e.g. lifeboats) to generate a higher probability of surviving. The paper also finds that passenger class, fitness, group size, and cultural background matter. 

"Uniqueness and Self Belonging in Nature"  

MARVIN ELI KIRSH, California State University, Los Angeles
Email: kirsh2152000@yahoo.com

Love, avoidance, liking, thoughts of beauty, ugliness, sexual attraction are some of the categories that might be affirmed as belonging to the a set of relations called affinities. If one attempts to outline all of the influencing elements belonging to each of these terms it becomes very difficult to from a complete notion of concepts from particulars. For example, what factors are involved in the emergence feeling of love, and what factors comprise those feeling. A unique history to each unique event in the emergence of feeling of love is most likely the case. The factors that comprise those feeling on the other hand (i.e. of a positive feeling of well being, a change in perception of factors that influence daily life experience, etc) are more accessible but their origin and history is difficult to tabulate in terms of a single nature or characteristics that compose the emergence of these feeling. In this respect, this presentation is devised to focus on the normally conducted projections and extensions of notions in ordinary investigation to these ends, verses a normally excluded and normally perceived insufficient, counterpart explanation of reduction absurdum (i.e. A=A). Thus it is proposed that the word affinity, applied scientifically, when instantiated to human behavior is universally instantiatable as an innate universal property. 

"Cultural Finance"
WOLFGANG BREUER, Aachen University - Department of Finance
Email: wolfgang.breuer@rwth-aachen.de
BENJAMIN QUINTEN, University of Applied Sciences and Technology Aachen (RWTH Aachen) - Chair for Business Administration, particularly Business Finance
Email: benjamin.quinten@bfw.rwth-aachen.de

Especially against the background of a Europe growing together more and more and in times of striking globalization, an emphasis of culture as an explanatory determinant in the context of economic issues would seem particularly attractive. This study intends to pursue this line of thought and to proclaim a new, autonomous discipline: Cultural Finance. This discipline aims to integrate cultural aspects into the analysis of financial questions. To this end, the importance of cultural values in financial decision-making is demonstrated on the basis of methods taken from Game Theory and Institutional Economics. Additionally, existing weak points in this research field are uncovered by a systematic overview of the current literature, and some future developments are indicated. Finally, this study shows that Cultural Finance can close the literature gap between the neighbouring disciplines of "Law and Finance" and "Behavioural Finance". 

May 28, 2009 in Science | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Microsoft Shows Off Bing, But Google Is Not Doing the Standing Still

The big news today is Microsoft's preview of Bing, the latest upgrade to the Microsoft search engine.  I have a long post about it at the Law Librarian blog, so feel free to check it out here.  Google has its own revolutionary product brewing, and it's starting to come on to the radar.  It's called Google Wave.  It combines email, chat, and other social contacts and sharing in real time.  Wave is not available yet to the general public.  Screen shots and descriptions are at the Google Wave site.  Here is one description from the site:

What is a wave?

  • A wave is equal parts conversation and document. People can communicate and work together with richly formatted text, photos, videos, maps, and more.
  • A wave is shared. Any participant can reply anywhere in the message, edit the content and add participants at any point in the process. Then playback lets anyone rewind the wave to see who said what and when.
  • A wave is live. With live transmission as you type, participants on a wave can have faster conversations, see edits and interact with extensions in real-time.

As news and other information sources describe it, Google Wave seems to be a combination of mail, chat, video, games, pictures and more updated in real time.  It sounds like Facebook, Twitter, and Google (Orkut?) rolled up into one massive social communication site.  The Official Google Blog describes it even further here.  I'm not sure if Google Wave will become popular.  A lot of Google services are used heavily, but not universally.  Nonetheless, Google is upping the ante on keeping people involved at their site with this move.

May 28, 2009 in Google | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 27, 2009

Lawsuits Are the Hazzard of Blogging

Blogging can get someone in trouble.  Just ask Lyndal Harrington who was just released from jail yesterday on a contempt of court charge for failing to turn over a computer as part of a defamation suit against her.  Harrington has been sued by Virgie Arthur, mother of the late Anna Nicole Smith.  The details of the suit are in this article from the Houston Chronicle web site.  The most interesting part is a short statement from Robert Cox, president of the Media Blogger Association who notes that suits against bloggers are more common these days.  His best line is “Bloggers have a tendency to believe myths — like that they are judgment-proof.”  Sad but true.  His organization offers blogger insurance for judgments.  The article also contains a link to the Media Resource Law Center which maintains a list of suits against bloggers, including status updates.  Some of the entries contain links to the orders and documents in the various cases.  It is a useful resource when tracking these things.

May 27, 2009 in Lawsuits | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

May 26, 2009

Mac Clone Maker Files Chapter 11

Psystar, the Mac clone maker and target of Apple's legal ire has filed for bankruptcy.  The company has been sued earlier by Apple for selling machines capable of running the Leopard OS, and that case is pending.  Apple claims that Psystar's machines violate the OS license agreement.  More in the Wall Street Journal.

May 26, 2009 in Apple | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

SP2 for Vista and Server 2008 Available for Download

Microsoft has released a combined Vista and Windows Server 2008 Service Pack 2 as a stand alone download here.  It's available in 5 languages and can be installed on 64 bit systems as well.  The service pack will come through Windows Update some time in June.  The download is about 384 megabytes.  More information about the service pack from Microsoft is here.

May 26, 2009 in Microsoft | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack