links for 2011-03-25

  • "In the meantime, there's a Streisand Effect aborning: if the Wisconsin Republican Party goes berserk any time someone speculates about a link between it and ALEC, well, perhaps more of us should be looking more closely at whether such a connection exists."
  • "Much of the bill is based upon verifying that those who receive food stamps benefits are meeting the federal requirements for doing so. However, one section buried deep within the bill adds a startling new requirement. The bill, if passed, would actually cut off all food stamp benefits to any family where one adult member is engaging in a strike against an employer"
  • "In his introduction, Gross suggests there’s more Mickey at work here than one would think. Many parodies, he says, are 'undoubtedly motivated by exasperation or contempt. They are designed to annihilate.' But there’s a Mickey side, too: 'Killer parodies,' he says, 'are in a small minority. Most parodies are relatively benign, especially the ones with staying power.'"
  • "But a deeper casus belli lies in the two-fold historical claim made by activists of Hindu American identity politics: that yoga (a) was first described in the ancient Vedic texts of Hinduism and (b) has always been the core of Hinduism. Hindu Americans’ deep investment (to continue the financial metaphor) in these claims about history has its own history. For, given the human obsession with roots, those claims generally take the form of arguments about the origins of yoga, a quest for purity of lineage, for undefiled racial descent, here as always a mad quest, since the history of yoga is, like most histories, a palimpsest."
  • "According to Baird, an archaeology lecturer at the University of London, the idea for publishing a collection of research on ancient graffiti came up during a conversation in a pub. 'We had problems with how graffiti was being treated (or not) by archaeologists and historians,' she says. 'It’s not just idle scratches, but something that gives real insights into people’s lives.'"
  • "Over the past few decades, in Tennessee, archaeologists have unearthed an elaborate cave -art tradition thousands of years old. The pictures are found in dark  zone sites—places where the Native American people who made the artwork did so at personal risk, crawling meters or, in some cases, miles underground with cane torches—as opposed to sites in the "twilight zone," speleologists' jargon for the stretch, just beyond the entry chamber, which is exposed to diffuse sunlight."
  • "In order to distinguish their synthetic DNA from that naturally present in the bacterium, Venter’s team coded several famous quotes into their DNA, including one from James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist of a Young Man: “To live, to err, to fall, to triumph, to recreate life out of life.”
    After announcing their work, Venter explained, his team received a cease and desist letter from Joyce’s estate, saying that he’d used the Irish writer’s work without permission. ”We thought it fell under fair use,” said Venter."
  • "But is that it? Or are there other biological domains hiding in the shadows—missed, like the archaea were for so long, because biologists have been using the wrong tools to look? That is the question asked recently by Jonathan Eisen of the University of California, Davis, and his colleagues. They suspect there are, and in a paper just published in the Public Library of Science, they present an analysis which suggests there might indeed be at least one other, previously hidden, domain of life."

    "If the new domain is real, it must have been around for several billion years, and must thus have something going for it. What that something is remains to be seen."