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Saturday, April 30, 2011

Poll Winner : Hawaii

poll winner : hawaii
poll winner : hawaii

Las Vegas: Broke Baby Boomers,

Las Vegas: Broke Baby Boomers,
Las Vegas: Broke Baby Boomers,

BMX Old School 1981

Hans-Willi Zims, Andreas Tittmann, Uli Heitkamp

The Neuro-Recession

Everyone's favourite British psychopharmacologist David "Ecstasy Vs Horseriding" Nutt joins four other leading neuroscientists to discuss the impact of the financial crisis on neuroscience, in an article over at NR:N: Neuroscience in recession?

It's interesting to get an international perspective. Susan Amara, President of the Society for Neuroscience, says that American scientists were encouraged by the surprise $10bn boost to NIH funds that made it into the 2009 economic stimulus package. But these funds are due to run out in 2012.

Meanwhile, in Europe, some countries have slashed funding as part of their austerity programmes - Greece most of all - while the larger and richer nations like France and Germany have protected science. Japan has also opted against major cuts, so far, but with a massive deficit, researchers fear that the axe will fall in coming years.

A repeated complaint is that biomedical research has faced a rate of inflation much higher than the rate experienced by the economy as a whole. Nutt says that if the overall inflation rate is 4% per year, the rate paid by scientists is more like 10%. As a result, even if nominal budgets are protected, the real budget will fall. The current British government has decided to keep nominal science funding flat, while cutting pretty much everything else, which is nice, but it still means falling real investment.

So everyone pretty much agrees that there are cuts, and cuts are bad. OK. Where things get more interesting is in the debate over what this means for individual scientists. Susan Amara says that she fears that investigator-initiated "R01" grants are in danger. These are when a scientist gets an idea, writes it up as a proposal and says "Isn't this cool? Can we have some money to do it?"

Amara warns that this kind of thing seems to be getting harder, while established, ongoing research programmes are being protected. But Tom Insel, head of the NIMH and, therefore, the guy with ultimate responsibility for these R01 grants, says the exact opposite. Insel claims that R01s are being protected in favour of the big programmes! "Where have we cut back in order to preserve R01 grants? ... We have reduced the budget of our intramural research programme."

Who's right on this point? I'm not sure. Maybe US readers might be able to comment.

The authors express particular worry that young neuroscientists (postdocs and PhD students) will suffer, either directly, as a result of not being able to find money, or indirectly in terms of poor morale and a sense that their talents might be better rewarded outside of science - leading to long-term harm to the next generation of neuroscientists.

They offer some words of encouragement, though, saying that the pendulum will swing back towards more investment in the future. Until then, hang on as best you can, even if it means being willing to move to find work with a supervisor, or in a country, which does have good funding prospects...

ResearchBlogging.orgAmara SG, Grillner S, Insel T, Nutt D, & Tsumoto T (2011). Neuroscience in recession? Nature reviews. Neuroscience, 12 (5), 297-302 PMID: 21505517

On August 21st, 1959 Hawaii

On August 21st, 1959 Hawaii
On August 21st, 1959 Hawaii

Friday, April 29, 2011

Go-Go dance competition turns ugly

One bad loser!!!!


Posted via email

suku aztec

I Guess I Am Thinking About

I guess I am thinking about
I guess I am thinking about

Have a beautiful weekend.

My darlings, what are your plans for the weekend? Alex and I are going out to a neighborhood French restaurant tomorrow and I'm thinking about wearing false eyelashes just for fun. Have you ever worn them? (Any tips?) Hope you have a wonderful weekend, and here are a few great posts from around the web...

Update: This. (Genius.)

Beautiful Royal Wedding photo. (How gorgeous was Pippa's dress?)

And a funny flowchart.

Ominous Manhattan weather this week.

New York City gets made under.

April showers.

Wedding sparkles.

All kinds of stripes.

Magritte coat hangers.

Aren't you glad this isn't your to-do list?

Basket backpack. (Jane Birkin would have approved.)

Adorable spring collection.

Three guys living in IKEA.

Pretty in pink.

Finally! A truly friendly bike shop in NYC.

Plus, three Cup of Jo posts you might have missed:
* Seahorse tails.
* How to look confident.
* Sea-salt brownies.

Have a good one, my lovelies! xoxo

(Photo by Sweet Eventide, via Poppytalk)

Mother's Day gift guide

My dolls, if you're still looking for a Mother's Day present, I put together a little gift guide here. xoxo P.S. And the present I got my own mom.

Three pretty things

How would you like to wear this...
read a book here...
and vacation here?

(Top photo by the Sartorialist, bottom photo by Papa Stour. Via TKOW)

Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate

At 6pm Singapore time, my friends and I gathered to watch the 'live' telecast of the Royal Wedding from the Westminister Abbey. The royal wedding was totally amazing ..... and very beautiful. sigh

At the end of their wedding service at Westminster Abbey, Prince William and Kate travelled in the 1902 State Landau along the Processional Route to Buckingham Palace.

I was fascinated by the royal carriage and did a search.

The 1902 State Landau was specifically built for King Edward VII in 1902 and was intended to be used at his Coronation. It is the carriage in most general use at the Royal Mews and is usually used by The Queen to meet Foreign Heads of State when they arrive on State Visits to Britain. The Prince of Wales travelled to St Paul's Cathedral in the 1902 State Landau for his wedding in 1981, returning in it with The Princess of Wales after the service. The Duke and Duchess of York also used it for their return to Buckingham Palace at their wedding in 1986.

Kate's dress is very elegant, a classic that goes very well in the Westminster decor. I like the dress very much. Sarah Burton of Alexander McQueen is the British designer who has created the Wedding Dress of the Century.

The Queen has given William three titles: Duke of Cambridge, Earl of Strathearn and Baron Carrickfergus. Catherine or Kate will become: Duchess of Cambridge, Countess of Strathearn and Baroness Carrickfergus. (Thanks to Kloggers/Polly)

From all of our family in Singapore, we would like to wish the Royal couple Prince William and Princess Kate long life, happy marriage, and wealth of blessing.

Congratulations, Will and Kate!

What a romantic moment...
...although maybe a little too loud. :)

(Via Elle)






You Can Access The Live Hawaii

You can access the live Hawaii
You can access the live Hawaii













In Las Vegas

in Las Vegas
in Las Vegas

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Kalaulah Ini Terjadi...


Seorang gadis, kakak tiri dan teman baiknya menggunakan wang simpanan mereka untuk bercuti ke Paris, yang akhirnya bertukar kepada kisah yang tak dijangka. Ketika mereka mahu berehat sebentar di sebuah lobi hotel lima bintang, salah seorang dari mereka disangka pewaris British hingga membawa mereka ke percutian mewah di Monte Carlo.
Tayangan Bermula: 30 Jun 2011
Lakonan:  Selena Gomez, Leighton Meester, Katie Cassidy, Corey Monteith, Andie MacDowell

A Square Deal (GE 2011)- PH

PhotoHunt theme : Square

Workers' Party Super A team - Photo credit : Yahoo

"A man who is good enough to shed his blood for his country is good enough to be given a square deal afterwards. More than that no man is entitled, and less than that no man shall have." 
Teddy Roosevelt

Most Crucial Election in Singapore History

2011 Singapore General Elections promises to be fascinating. More than 2.2 million voters will get to vote on May 7 after many walkovers in previous elections.

Most importantly, Singaporeans will see many more close electoral contests between the PAP and the opposition especially in several GRCs, namely Aljunied, Bishan-Toa Payoh and Moulmein-Kallang.

Workers' Party (WP) chief Low Thia Khiang, chairman Sylvia Lim, corporate lawyer Chen Show Mao, Mr Pritam Singh, a postgraduate law student, and Mr Muhamad Faisal Manap, a freelance counsellor form the WP's Super A team to take on the PAP team in Aljunied GRC.

I salute these Singaporeans for their bravery and indomitable spirit. As opposition members, they face worse obstacles and problems, some seem insurmountable. But no matter how tough, talented or big their opponents are, they refuse to be beaten or give in.

"It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better.

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows,in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.

Teddy Roosevelt
"Citizenship in a Republic,"
Speech at the Sorbonne, Paris, April 23, 1910

I wish them all the best.

Time for Change
 If not now, then when?

2011新加坡大选 : 明智投票

First Commenter -


Aw, sad.

Don't google yourself tonight, Prince William!

The Schizophrenic Computer

All over the world, inanimate objects are getting schizophrenia. Last week, it was a dish (full of neurons).

Before that, it was a computer program. That's according to a paper, which appeared in Biological Psychiatry last month, although it involved no biology, called Using Computational Patients to Evaluate Illness Mechanisms in Schizophrenia.

The authors set up a neural network model, called DISCERN, and trained it to "read" stories. The nuts and bolts are, we're reassured, not something that readers of Biological Psychiatry need to worry about: "Its details, many of which are not essential in understanding this study..."

Anyway, it's basically a series of connectionist models. These are computer simulations of a large number of simple units, or nodes, which can have "activations" of varying strengths, and which have "connections" to other nodes. The model "learns" by modifying the strength of these connections according to some kind of simple learning rule.

Connectionist models are a bit like brains, in other words. A bit. They're several orders of magnitude simpler than a real brain, in several different respects. Still, they can "learn" to do some quite complicated things. You can train them to recognise faces and stuff, which is not trivial.

Anyway, DISCERN is a connectionist model of language, but it's not necessary a model of how the human brain actually learns language. Because we just have no idea how the human brain does that. We don't even know if our brain acts as a connectionist network at all, above the cellular level. Some cognitive scientists think it is, but others think that those guys are talking out of an orifice connected to their mouth, but not their mouth. Not in so many words you understand.

So they set up this system and got it to learn 28 stories, each of which consisted of multiple sentences. Some of the stories were the autobiography of a doctor - "I was a doctor. I worked in New York. I liked my job. I was good doctor" - he was not a great communicator, clearly. Others were a story about gangster ("Tony was a gangster. Tony worked in Chicago..." etc.) The network had to read these stories and then recall them.

The core of the study was that they tested to see what happened when they interfered with the program by introducing certain bugs - interfering with the activations or connections of nodes in particular parts of the model. They tried 8.

They compared the computer's performance to that of 37 actual patients with schizophrenia (or the related schizoaffective disorder) who were tested on a similar task, compared to 20 healthy controls. When the human patients came to recall the stories they'd read, they tended to make more errors of particular kinds: mixing up who did what ("agent switching"), and adding stuff that wasn't in the story ("derailment").

What they found was that DISCERN made the same kinds of errors when it was given 2 particular deficits, "working memory disconnection" and "hyperlearning". The other 6 deficits didn't cause the same pattern of findings. Hyperlearning was the best match.

They comment that
A majority of three-parameter best-fit hyperlearning simulations also recurrently confused specific agents in personal stories (including the self-representation) with specific agents in crime stories (and vice versa) in a highly nonrandom fashion.

Noteworthy was the high frequency of agent-slotting exchanges between the hospital boss, Joe, and the Mafia boss, Vito, and parallel confusions between the “I” self-reference and underling Mafia members, suggesting generalization of boss/underling relationships.

Insofar as story scripts provide templates for assigning intentions to agents, a consequence of recurrent agent-slotting confusions could be assignment of intentions and roles to autobiographical characters (possibly including the self) that borrow from impersonal stories derived from culture or the media.

Confusion between agent representations in autobiographical stories and those in culturally determined narratives could account for the bizarreness of fixed, self-referential delusions, e.g., a patient insisting that her father-in-law is Saddam Hussein or that she herself is the Virgin Mary.
So if you believe it, they've just made a program that experiences schizophrenic-type paranoid delusions.

It's fair to say that this is speculative. On the other hand, it's an interesting approach, and at least it's theory-based, rather than just an attempt to use ever more powerful genetic, neuroimaging and biological techniques to find differences between a patient group and a control group.

ResearchBlogging.orgHoffman RE, Grasemann U, Gueorguieva R, Quinlan D, Lane D, & Miikkulainen R (2011). Using computational patients to evaluate illness mechanisms in schizophrenia. Biological psychiatry, 69 (10), 997-1005 PMID: 21397213

The Royal Wedding

So excited for The Royal Wedding tomorrow!!! Are you going to wake up early and watch it? Kate must have serious butterflies.

Fun fact: Did you know that Royals tend not to use last names? I suddenly realized this morning that I had *no* idea what Prince William's last name was. (Apparently it's Mountbatten-Windsor.)

P.S. I can't wait to see all the wedding hats and fascinators.