Dan Goodman's prediction and politics journal.

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

Wednesday October 8, 2003. To me, grocery shopping is interesting. Not the mechanics of choosing and finding food; but there's usually something interesting to observe.

I hadn't gone to the shopping center near Lake and Minnehaha for a while. The Cub supermarket now has bilingual aisle signs. From one direction, the signs are in English. From the other, they're in Spanish. (Not the most correct Spanish; I don't think "farina de Hotcakes" is the most proper translation of "pancake flour".)

They now have a lot of Mexican sodas.

They also have the East African bread called injera. It's gray, looks like a sponge, and looking at it doesn't make me hungry.

At the Rainbow supermarket, the rack of free publications included one from Lyndon LaRouche urging readers to vote "No" on California's gubernatorial election.


Discussion on soc.history.what-if: the alternate world in which Ayn Rand married H. P. Lovecraft.

Something for Scooby-Do and/or Buffy The Vampire Slayer fans:

scooby noun a marijuana joint.

Name of an institution: Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Looks like a merger between a Jewish institution and a Lutheran one. And it's connected with Harvard University, once devoted to a form of Protestantism rather different from Lutheranism.


BUSH-CHENEY BLOGGERS. Expect the Bush-Cheney 2004 campaign to take a page out of former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean’s political playbook and attempt to create a pro-Bush phenomenon on the Web. Democratic strategists expect Bush’s top political advisor Karl Rove to do just that. In fact, Bush’s campaign began reaching out to “bloggers,” people who swap political opinions and gossip on the Web, over the summer, by giving them access to regular news feeds from the campaign. However, political technophiles are curious to see whether Bush advisers are really ready to risk losing control of their tightly scripted message, which often happens when politics becomes entwined with the Internet.

I predict they aren't. (I also predict that Alaska will have snow this December.)

Successful American politicians -- candidates, their staffs, and party functionaries -- usually try to do what worked last time. (Unsuccessful ones try to do what _should_ have worked last time.) The problem is, a lot can change in the two years between House elections. And more can happen in the four years between Presidential elections, or the six years of a Senator's term.

Among the things that can change is how widely various technologies are used. In 1944, television didn't have much impact on the Presidential election. In 1960, it did.

One thing that has stayed constant over the decades is that publicity using new technologies could be scripted. Not always; reporters do tend to ask the wrong questions, for example -- but usually. Another thing that has remained constant is that when lower level volunteers take orders, campaigns usually work better.

The Internet doesn't work that way. An eleven-year-old can set up a political blog; and if she's good enough at analyzing political developments and expressing her views on them, she might rise to the top. A middle-aged political scientist can also set up a political blog, and have a chance to reach the top.

Neither of them is likely to become owner of a commercial tv channel or a daily newspaper.
(I suspect the average eleven-year-old girl could do a better job of running either than the adults now in charge, but that's another matter.)

So far, only Howard Dean's campaign has adapted to the Internet by letting the volunteers run free. If I'm right, the next few Presidential elections will see a change in that.

And UK politics is also going to be changed by the Internet.

Science news:

Public Release: 8-Oct-2003
A new study in the Oct. 9 issue of the journal Nature describes three distinct stages in the life of a memory, and helps explain how memories endure -- or are forgotten -- including the role that sleep plays in safeguarding memories.

Public Release: 8-Oct-2003
Scientists at the University of Chicago have demonstrated that sleeping has an important and previously unrecognized impact on improving people's ability to learn language. Researchers find that ability of students to retain knowledge about words is improved by sleep, even when the students seemed to forget some of what they learned during the day before the next night's sleep.

Nature 425, 612 - 614 (09 October 2003); doi:10.1038/nature01971
Ultraviolet vision in a bat
Most mammals, with the exception of primates, have dichromatic vision and correspondingly limited colour perception. Ultraviolet vision was discovered in mammals only a decade ago, and in the few rodents and marsupials where it has been found, ultraviolet light is detected by an independent photoreceptor. Bats orient primarily by echolocation, but they also use vision. Here we show that a phyllostomid flower bat, Glossophaga soricina, is colour-blind but sensitive to ultraviolet light down to a wavelength of 310 nm. Behavioural experiments revealed a spectral-sensitivity function with maxima at 510 nm (green) and above 365 nm (ultraviolet). A test for colour vision was negative. Chromatic adaptation had the same threshold-elevating effects on ultraviolet and visible test lights, indicating that the same photoreceptor is responsible for both response peaks (ultraviolet and green). Thus, excitation of the -band of the visual pigment is the most likely cause of ultraviolet sensitivity. This is a mechanism for ultraviolet vision that has not previously been demonstrated in intact mammalian visual systems.

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