IRS Investigation: Congressman Jim Jordan Reveals Deputy Attorney General James Cole's Ineptitude...
(Related: Report: IRS Sent Database Containing Confidential Taxpayer Information to FBI)
A Cincinnatian's commentary on government waste, pork barrel spending, politics and more.
The U.S. government is making roughly $100 billion in improper payments every year thanks to a combination of fraud, clerical errors and insufficient IRS enforcement, according to testimony at a congressional hearing on Wednesday.Related: Citizens for Tax Justice (They're totally serious): Addressing the Need for More Federal Revenue :
“The amounts here are absolutely staggering,” Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., said.
The problem of erroneous payments – largely from Medicare and other health care programs – is not a new one. But Mica said at the hearing of a House oversight subcommittee that federal agencies reported over $100 billion in improper payments during each of the last five years.
That’s roughly what the Obama administration spent on the Afghanistan war and other security operations last year.
“That’s an incredible amount of money that has been misappropriated, mis-paid,” Mica said.
The money is coming from an array of agencies, and includes tax credits to families that didn't qualify, unemployment benefits to people who had jobs and medical payments for treatments that might not have been necessary...
America is undertaxed, and the result is underfunding of public investments that would improve our economy and the overall welfare of Americans. Fortunately, Congress has several straightforward policy options to raise revenue, mostly by closing or limiting loopholes and special subsidies imbedded in the tax code that benefit wealthy individuals and profitable businesses...
With a $2.4 billion price tag, the Maryland Department of Transportation's 16-mile light-rail "Purple Line" won't be built without federal taxpayers as major underwriters. The state is asking them to kick in $900 million for construction costs—and that's before contractors, who are notorious for cost overruns, have even broken ground. That kind of money is a rounding error in Washington but it also seems to be a colossal waste of money...
...Even using the Parsons Brinckerhoff predictions, the project seems misguided. According to the EIS, roughly two-thirds of the riders forecast to use the system by 2040 will come, not out of their cars, but from existing bus lines. In other words, reducing the number of cars on the road, which was once supposedly a key objective, is now a minor side effect of a system that will cost $150 million per mile—if it comes in at budget...
...But Gov. O'Malley and his developer friends want it, and President Obama wants them to have it. The president put a cool $100 million in his 2015 budget for the Purple Line although the FTA has yet to complete the project development phase of its assessment and it hasn't even begun the engineering phase.
Whether Mr. Porcari has been able to help with all this is a matter of speculation. In 2009 he left the Maryland DOT to become President Obama's deputy DOT secretary. In December he left the Obama administration to become senior vice president and national director of strategic consulting at Parsons Brinckerhoff. He did not return requests for comment. But taxpayers could be forgiven for suspecting that he and all the other Purple Line planners are taking them for a ride.
...Scientists first proposed the idea that sleep is important to memory nearly a century ago, and plenty of experiments since then have shown that after a night of sleep, and sometimes just a nap, newly formed memories “stick” better than they would if one had spent the same amount of time awake...
What makes one neural correlate response wiser than another neural response?Here game theory, cited by Stephen Hall in his book, comes into play (pun intended). (Also see: Game Theory Intro.)
In any game, utility represents the motivations of players. A utility function for a given player assigns a number for every possible outcome of the game with the property that a higher number implies that the outcome is more preferred...John Nash won a Nobel Prize in 1994 for offering a systematic way of identifying the utilities in non-cooperative games and quantifying the Nash equilibrium. Since then, Steven Brams has made a major contribution to game theory providing insight into the complex strategies used for maximizing utility with Theory of Moves (TOM):
Another approach to inducing cooperation in PD [prisoner's dilemma] and other variable-sum games is the theory of moves (TOM). Proposed by the American political scientist Steven J. Brams, TOM allows players, starting at any outcome in a payoff matrix, to move and countermove within the matrix, thereby capturing the changing strategic nature of games as they evolve over time. In particular, TOM assumes that players think ahead about the consequences of all of the participants’ moves and countermoves when formulating plans...The implementation of the 'think ahead' strategies quantified in TOM are manifested on a neural network that has been molded by the memory making dynamics detailed by Eric Kandel and the memory pruning mechanism argued by doctors Tononi and Cirelli.
...in a world of ongoing social interactions, as in the serial repetitions of games in game theory, people who insist on winning at all costs, whose self-interest trumps sociality, and whose greed (financial or emotional) exceeds the bounds of fairness end up playing solitaire. A famous Sicilian proverb holds that "the man who plays alone never loses," but in social reality most of us experience, it also means he never wins...It's ironic that Hall misses this very lesson while advocating that Socrates was a paragon of wisdom. On page 21 he notes:
...Socrates managed to alienate, humiliate, illuminate, and educate his countrymen about the paradoxes of Socratic wisdom...It escapes Hall that Socrates was less than wise with respect to his social skills; a major contribution to his trial and death. Socrates would have benefited from the wisdom of a fictional Sicilian and game theory practitioner extraordinaire, The Godfather's Don Vito Corleone, famous for counseling: "Keep your friends close and your enemies closer". Sage advice that even the Dali Lama should have used.
Sweet revenge comes in many delectable forms, among them the receipt of accolades for work long scorned. And then to get to tell the whole story at length and without a single interruption — small wonder that the Nobel laureate Dr. Stanley B. Prusiner, a renowned neurologist at the University of California, San Francisco, writes with a cheerful bounce. Once disparaged, his scientific work is now hailed as visionary, and his memoir takes the reader on a leisurely and immensely readable victory lap from then to now.
Long-time readers of Nanodot may remember the section of Chapter 15 of Nanosystems in which Drexler explores options for producing easier to design proteins for the protein engineering path toward atomically precise manufacturing by incorporating specially chosen amino acids in addition to the 20 genetically encoded amino acids. Back in 1992 the only option for incorporating unnatural amino acids into proteins was Merrifield solid phase peptide synthesis, using the methods of organic chemistry rather than biological systems. However, this becomes problematic and expensive for longer chains. Consequently, finding ways to expand the repertoire of biologically encoded amino acids would be quite useful. One way to accomplish this goal would be to expand the DNA ‘alphabet’ from two to three base pairs (that is, from four to six ‘letters’). We noted progress in this direction back in February of 2008 when Floyd Romesberg, at the Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, California created two artificial DNA letters that were accurately and efficiently replicated by a natural enzyme. In September of 2011 we noted a different approach taken by a team at the Salk Institute that keeps the current DNA alphabet but alters one three-letter word to mean an unnatural amino acid, increasing the amino acid repertoire by one. We noted in June of 2012 that continued work by Romesberg had revealed how the new base pair was efficiently replicated in the test tube by a natural enzyme. In a major advance, Romesberg and his collaborators have engineered a living organism to stably propagate the expanded genetic alphabet...
Thomas Piketty has recently attracted widespread attention for his claim that capitalism will now lead inexorably to an increasing inequality of income and wealth unless there are radical changes in taxation. Although his book, "Capital in the Twenty-First Century," has been praised by those who advocate income redistribution, his thesis rests on a false theory of ..how wealth evolves in a market economy, a flawed interpretation of U.S. income-tax data, and a misunderstanding of the current nature of household wealth.Update: Piketty's Book -- Just Another Excuse For Legal Plunder And Expanding The State:
...Those responses to Piketty, accurate though they are, do little to blunt his message that the rich are already too rich and will keep getting richer unless government steps in to impose substantially higher taxes on them. Arguing against Piketty on the grounds that inequality isn’t as great as he says is futile. It’s like trying to file down the tip on your dueling opponent’s sword – the darned thing will still be lethal.Update: Data problems with Capital in the 21st Century
Rather than going after Piketty’s numbers, we need to go after his philosophy...
...Private retirement plans rose to $12.4 trillion in 2012 from $875 billion in 1984. None of it is reported on tax returns....
...The empirical evidence points to substantial group-level benefits for most enduring religions.However, as one can see with Congressman Fernando Wood, it is a two-edged sword.
Benefits include defining the group, coordinating action to achieve shared goals and developing elaborate mechanisms to prevent cheating. The same evolutionary processes that cause individual organisms and social insect colonies to function as adaptive units also cause religious groups to function as adaptive units. Religious believers frequently compare their communities to a single body or a beehive. This is not just a poetic metaphor but turns out to be correct from an evolutionary perspective....
The Clergy Project is a confidential online community for active and former professional clergy/religious leaders who do not hold supernatural beliefs. The Clergy Project launched on March 21st, 2011.The Clergy Project is referred to by Daniel Dennett in his presentation: How to Tell if You're an Atheist
Currently, the community's 582 Forum Participants use it to support, network and discuss what it's like being an unbelieving professional in a religious community or being an unbeliever as ex-clergy in their world.
The Clergy Project’s goal is to support Forum Participants as they move beyond faith. Forum Participants freely discuss issues related to their transition from believer to unbeliever including:
Remember the $223 million in federal funds earmarked in 2005 for the "bridge to nowhere" in Alaska? The project stalled but the public outrage it sparked led to a 2011 decision by Congress to end earmarking. Well, it looks like the bridge-to-nowhere crowd is ready to get the scaffolding out again, with lobbyists and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle calling for a return to earmarks and pork-barrel politics.
The powerful House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R., Ky.) has called the ban a "bad idea." Two Republican candidates in Mississippi—Sen. Thad Cochran and House candidate Gene Taylor —are making a return to pork part of their platform. Meanwhile, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D., Ill.) recently tried to dismiss the bipartisan ban as a fringe, right-wing idea that has led to gridlock. "It was a tea party reform," Sen. Durbin told reporters in Springfield, Ill., on April 14 after a speech to Teamsters. "They came in and eliminated it and what they did is take the glue out of a federal transportation bill. That was the glue that held everybody together."
Mr. Durbin said he longs for the day "when we get back to the point where members of Congress are sitting down with a common goal—let's pass this bill, let's make sure there is enough money in this bill, let's find the sources of revenue necessary for this bill—you know, it creates a much better and more positive feeling."
The "glue" is pork and the "positive feeling" that Mr. Durbin is referring to is the joy of spending other people's money. For politicians, this sensation is highly addictive. It's why I called earmarks the gateway drug to Washington's spending addiction after fighting my own party's earmarks in the 1990s...
How many times have you heard that we humans are "using up" the world's resources, "running out" of oil, "reaching the limits" of the atmosphere's capacity to cope with pollution or "approaching the carrying capacity" of the land's ability to support a greater population? The assumption behind all such statements is that there is a fixed amount of stuff—metals, oil, clean air, land—and that we risk exhausting it through our consumption.
"We are using 50% more resources than the Earth can sustainably produce, and unless we change course, that number will grow fast—by 2030, even two planets will not be enough," says Jim Leape, director general of the World Wide Fund for Nature International (formerly the World Wildlife Fund).
But here's a peculiar feature of human history: We burst through such limits again and again. After all, as a Saudi oil minister once said, the Stone Age didn't end for lack of stone. Ecologists call this "niche construction"—that people (and indeed some other animals) can create new opportunities for themselves by making their habitats more productive in some way. Agriculture is the classic example of niche construction: We stopped relying on nature's bounty and substituted an artificial and much larger bounty.
Economists call the same phenomenon innovation. What frustrates them about ecologists is the latter's tendency to think in terms of static limits. Ecologists can't seem to see that when whale oil starts to run out, petroleum is discovered, or that when farm yields flatten, fertilizer comes along, or that when glass fiber is invented, demand for copper falls...
In his first term, President Obama presided over an administration known for its lack of open dissension on critical foreign policy issues.This line of questioning was pursued by both Senators McCain and Graham during the hearing.
But on Thursday, deep divisions over what to do about one of those issues — the rising violence in Syria — spilled into public view for the first time in a blunt exchange between Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, and the leaders of the Pentagon.
Testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta acknowledged that he and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, had supported a plan last year to arm carefully vetted Syrian rebels. But it was ultimately vetoed by the White House, Mr. Panetta said, although it was developed by David H. Petraeus, the C.I.A. director at the time, and backed by Hillary Rodham Clinton, then the secretary of state...
...Neither Mr. Panetta nor General Dempsey explained why President Obama did not heed their recommendation. But senior American officials have said that the White House was worried about the risks of becoming more deeply involved in the Syria crisis, including the possibility that weapons could fall into the wrong hands. And with Mr. Obama in the middle of a re-election campaign, the White House rebuffed the plan, a decision that Mr. Panetta says he now accepts.
With the exception of General Dempsey, the officials who favored arming the rebels have either left the administration or, as in Mr. Panetta’s case, are about to depart. Given that turnover, it is perhaps not surprising that the details of the debate — an illustration of the degree that foreign policy decisions have been centralized in the White House — are surfacing only now. A White House spokesman declined to comment on Thursday.
The plan that Mr. Petraeus developed, and that Mrs. Clinton supported, called for vetting rebels and training a cadre of fighters who would be supplied with weapons. The plan would have enlisted the help of a neighboring state.
A mysterious Libyan ship -- reportedly carrying weapons and bound for Syrian rebels -- may have some link to the Sept. 11 terror attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Fox News has learned.
Through shipping records, Fox News has confirmed that the Libyan-flagged vessel Al Entisar, which means "The Victory," was received in the Turkish port of Iskenderun -- 35 miles from the Syrian border -- on Sept. 6, just five days before Ambassador Chris Stevens, information management officer Sean Smith and former Navy Seals Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty were killed during an extended assault by more than 100 Islamist militants.
On the night of Sept. 11, in what would become his last known public meeting, Stevens met with the Turkish Consul General Ali Sait Akin, and escorted him out of the consulate front gate one hour before the assault began at approximately 9:35 p.m. local time.
Although what was discussed at the meeting is not public, a source told Fox News that Stevens was in Benghazi to negotiate a weapons transfer, an effort to get SA-7 missiles out of the hands of Libya-based extremists. And although the negotiation said to have taken place may have had nothing to do with the attack on the consulate later that night or the Libyan mystery ship, it could explain why Stevens was travelling in such a volatile region on the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
When asked to comment, a State Department spokeswoman dismissed the idea, saying Stevens was there for diplomatic meetings, and to attend the opening of a cultural center...
...The cargo reportedly included surface-to-air anti-aircraft missiles, RPG's and Russian-designed shoulder-launched missiles known as MANPADS.
Texting and using mobile devices for long periods of time could lead to lower life expectancy, chiropractors have warned.
The forward-leaning posture that many people adopt when texting, going online, sending emails or playing games on phones and other mobile devices increases the risk of an early death in elderly people, and there are fears that younger people could also be knocking time off their lives...
A team of researchers with members from Syracuse University and the University of California, has found that naturally forming peptides can self-assemble into catalysts. In their paper published in the journal Nature Chemistry, the team describes how they designed seven peptides, allowed the resulting molecules to self-assemble into amyloids and then noted how many of them could catalyze the hydrolysis of esters...Related (Amino Acids occur natutallly): Life Ingredients Found in Superhot Meteorites—A First: New evidence that space rocks may have seeded life on Earth.
...To learn more, the team created seven modest peptides, each of which were constructed from just seven amino acids—putting them together in a dish, with a dash of zinc iron to help move things along, allowed the peptides to self-form into different sheet-like fibril amyloids. During testing, four of the amyloids the team created were found to be able to catalyze the hydrolysis of esters.
The results of the team's experiments suggest that enzymes didn't necessarily have to spring forth fully formed from the primordial soup for life to begin, perhaps amyloids came first, serving as an intermediary, or a sort of blueprint—over millions of years the amyloids could have given way to the much more complicated enzymes, leading eventually to living organisms.
The head of the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday sharply accused the CIA of violating federal law and undermining the constitutional principle of congressional oversight as she detailed publicly for the first time how the agency secretly removed documents from computers used by her panel to investigate a controversial interrogation program.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said that the situation amounted to attempted intimidation of congressional investigators, adding: “I am not taking it lightly.” ...
...One can argue that cheap labor is keeping U.S.-based agriculture from further automating and reducing it's labor content...That cheap labor is providing a disincentive to fund further research and development that reduces the labor content in agriculture.
Along with the Homeland Security benefits of halting illegal immigration, we could see an increase in good ole' fashion American ingenuity that would lessen our dependency on cheap labor. Our future would see more innovations like trunk shaker machines, robotic fruit pickers, sheep shearing robots, satellite controlled harvesters and flexible agricultural automation.
...The court holds that Utah’s prohibition on same-sex marriage conflicts with the United States Constitution’s guarantees of equal protection and due process under the law..This ruling is in direct conflict with the following assertion by the U.S. Supreme Court in the recently settled United States v. Windsor (emphasis added):
..(b) By seeking to injure the very class New York seeks to protect, DOMA violates basic due process and equal protection principles applicable to the Federal Government. The Constitution’s guarantee of equality “must at the very least mean that a bare congressional desire to harm a politically unpopular group cannot” justify disparate treatment of that group. Department of Agriculture v. Moreno, 413 U.S. 528, 534–535. DOMA cannot survive under these principles. Its unusual deviation from the tradition of recognizing and accepting state definitions of marriage operates to deprive same-sex couples of the benefits and responsibilities that come with federal recognition of their marriages...Clearly the Supreme Court will now have to settle the conflict. Either states have their own
This chapter deals with how Real Estate agents and the Ku Klux Klan are similar. It goes on to say that they are our keepers of information and the information asymmetry causes them to have the power over people. The comparison comes to the fact that both parties have important information and are withholding that information. The two can also be said to have information that is dealing with Fear. Ku Klux Klan breeds fear through violence with its secret society while real estate agents deal with the fears of selling your house (largest financial transaction for most) for too little money or not selling it all.Ridicule, as an art form, is at its highest in Victor Davis Hanson's Pajama Boy Nation (HT: Instapundit) and hopefully Obamacare will suffer the same fate as the KKK:
The author starts out by giving a slight history of the Klan and how getting the information of the Klan out in the open led to its downfall. One man Stetson Kennedy and “John Brown” infiltrate KKK meetings and gather their secret information. They then take it and ridicule it on a national radio program, “The Adventures of Superman”. Now that their secret information was disseminated it brought with it the dissolution of the KKK’s power. After this the Klan became unpopular and looses many members...
...Somehow we as a nation went from the iconic Marlboro Man to Pajama Boy — from the noble individual with a bad habit to the ignoble without a good habit — without a blink in between.Related: Social Commentary Through Juxtaposition
There are lots of revolting things in the Pajama Boy ad. After all, how can you top all at once a nerdy-looking child-man dressed in infantile pajamas while cradling a cup of hot chocolate with the smug assurance that he is running your life more than you his?
The Liberal Body-Snatchers
Still, there are one or two even scarier thoughts.
One, did the Obama appendage, Organizing for Action, really believe that such a sad-sack image might galvanize anyone about anything? And two, did they really think that Pajama Boy would resonate with any young people outside of the New York-DC circus, as if to assume he would be persuasive: stay cool with retro geek glasses, pajamas, and hot chocolate like Pajama Boy, and then, presto, rush out to buy an Obamacare policy?
Out here in the rural middle of California — or most anywhere 30 miles inland from the coasts — Pajama Boy would last about two seconds pruning vines, or walking about the local Wal-Mart parking lot with his hot chocolate. Yet put him where his foot-padded pajamas bring dividends and for the last five years we all have lived out the consequences of his ilk’s ideological dreaming...
...What an incredible political turnabout. Mr. Obama and HHS used to insist that the new plans are better and less expensive after subsidies than the old "substandard" insurance. Now they're conceding that at least some people should be free to choose less costly plans if they prefer—or no plan—and ObamaCare's all-you-can-eat benefits rules aren't necessary for quality health coverage after all...
...The NSA's mission to provide intelligence for our national defense/'immune' system is made more complex by burdening it with the restrictions of 'privacy'. Contrary to the chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence's arguments, we can allocate resources to service providers to keep customer information private (relative to the government) behind a barrier; yet readily accessible (à la NexisLexis-style business-to-business access) when authorized by the FISA Court. Like the immune system's Blood-Brain-Barrier, some costs are worth paying for the benefits when developing an optimal defense strategy that has to take into account competing interests.The Wall Street Journal is now reporting that implementing this strategy was already tested and proven in 1999 with a program called ThinThread. What's more, it turned out to be "too cheap" to implement (emphasis added):
...The current NSA model relies largely on amassing as much data as it can obtain and trying to sort through it all later.
In its place, the presidentially appointed review panel suggested a drastic and fundamental change..."Software that would allow...intelligence agencies more easily to conduct targeted information acquisition rather than bulk-data collection."
The panel proposed a feasibility study. but form NSA officials say such a transition is certainly doable. "That's exactly what we did," says form NSA official Ed Loomis. "It's not only feasible--the government threw away the software that did it."...
...ThinThread was also handicapped because it was too cheap. With a $3 million price tag, the program couldn't compete with a $4 billion program called Trailblazer that was backed by major contractors...
Another Pork-Laden Omnibus Spending Bill
By Brian M. Riedl and Keith Miller
As runaway spending pushes the cost of government over $20,000 per household and the federal budget deficit past $400 billion, Congress continues to pile an endless supply of special interest projects onto the backs of weary taxpayers. With the recently-passed fiscal 2005 omnibus spending bill (H.R. 4818), Congress is expected the break its own record-set in last year's budget-for pork projects, with new grants for such items as therapeutic horseback riding and a school mariachi music curriculum. This performance is simply embarrassing and highlights the need for reform of Congress's obviously broken budget process.
Historically, Congress funded grant programs and then asked federal agencies, governors, and mayors to award the grants competitively to the most capable applicants. But over the past few years, Congress has increasingly bypassed these agencies, governors, and mayors and selected grant recipients on its own. Thus, the Franco-American Heritage Center and the Greater Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame have been chosen by Congress this year to receive earmarks, the legislative term for pork projects. No longer do grant seekers simply submit persuasive grant proposals to unbiased agencies. Now, they must master the Washington influence game and hire lobbyists to win federal funds.
Predictably, an entire lobbying industry has emerged to secure pork projects for those willing to pay for their services. Organizations and local governments seeking federal money can choose between dozens of powerful lobbying firms who effectively trade campaign contributions for earmarks.
Auctioning pork projects to the highest bidder reduces the number of merit-based grants distributed by federal agencies, governors, and mayors. These shortages, in turn, induce Congress to expand merit-based programs-and then earmark those new funds as well. Consequently, the number of pork projects skyrocketed from under 2,000 six years ago to 10,656 in the 2004 budget. Total spending on pork projects has correspondingly increased to over $23 billion...
STONY BROOK, N.Y., January 18, 2008 – People from East Asian cultures use their brains differently than people from American culture when solving the same mental task based on simple visual perception. This finding is based on the results of a brain imaging study by researchers from Stony Brook University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Stanford University. The finding shows for the first time that the culture one is raised in and the extent to which one identifies with that culture influences brain activity patterns. The study appeared in the January issue of Psychological Science in a research report titled “Cultural Influences on Neural Substrates of Attentional Control.”
Co-investigator Arthur Aron, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology at Stony Brook University, and colleagues developed the study from established cultural concepts in psychological research. More specifically, American culture values the individual, and therefore emphasizes the independence of objects from their context, compared with East Asian cultures, which emphasize the collective and interdependence of objects based on context.
The researchers tested the brain patterns of 10 East Asians recently arrived in the United States and 10 Americans during a mental task. Each participant made quick perceptual judgments related to the task while in a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanner. The participants’ responses to the task tested their perception of the independence or interdependence of objects as the fMRI measured the neural basis of their responses.
The task involved participants viewing a series of diagrams, each consisting of a vertical line inside a box. Participants decided whether each square-and-line combination in a series matched the one before it, using one of two rules. One rule required them to ignore the context and match the absolute line lengths ignoring the size of the squares. The other rule required them to take the context into account and match the proportions of the lines to their squares. Participants from both cultures were scanned while making judgments using both types of rules. The primary question was whether the pattern of brain activity would differ when making judgments using the two kinds of rules.
“Our major finding was that the frontal-parietal brain region known to be engaged during attention-demanding tasks was more activated for East Asians when making judgments ignoring context but was more activated for Americans when making judgments when they had to take context into account,” says Dr. Aron. “The finding illustrates that each group engaged this attention system more strongly during a task more difficult for them because it is not generally supported by their cultural context.”
The researchers point out in their report that the findings show how experience in and identification with a cultural context may shape brain responses associated with the basic process of attentional control. The fMRI result illustrates how cultural differences in the preferred and encouraged judgment style in the task powerfully influences brain function, completely reversing the relation between task and activation across a widespread brain network.
Another important finding was that the degree of this culture-specific brain-activation pattern was greatest for individuals who most strongly identified with their particular culture. To gauge cultural references, the researchers had participants answer a separate questionnaire on social and cultural identities.
Dr. Aron notes that ultimately the study findings complement those of behavioral studies and provide important and novel neurobiological insights into cultural differences.
Dr. Aron’s colleagues include Trey Hedden, Ph.D., lead author of the report and a research scientist from Stanford University and MIT; Sarah Ketay, Ph.D., Stony Brook University; Hazel Rose Markus, Ph.D., Stanford University; and John D.E. Gabrieli, Ph.D., of MIT.
The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health and supported by the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT.
...U.S. Chief Technology Officer Todd Park said the government expected HealthCare.gov to draw 50,000 to 60,000 simultaneous users, but instead it has drawn as many as 250,000 at a time since it launched Oct. 1...So there is no need for Freelander's "trolls" to bring Obamacare to its knees; just slightly more than 50,000 to 60,000 simultaneous users. Future historians may find that Mr. Park not implementing "Best Practices for High Volume Web Sites" along with bad economic/social policy was the reason for Obamacare's downfall.
C-SPAN has posted Tuesday's hearing into the investigation of the former high ranking EPA official, John Beale, that pleaded guilty to fraud; including cheating the government out of almost $1 million.