Saturday, June 17, 2006

Notes on Saturday.

An SUV instead of a Civic. That's the choice we made in the face of high gasoline prices heading further north; in the face of increasing demand for oil from China and India; in the face of petrodollars being recycled in Saudi Arabia to advance militant Islam; in the face of Florida's main supplier of oil being Venezuela. Why would we do such a thing? Although the need for something suitable to pull our camper motivated us in part, the main thing for me was fear of being in a smaller car in an accident. Just recently we learned of two serious accidents. Carol's aunt survived nearly unscathed an accident that totaled the car Carol's cousin was driving on the highway from Charlotte to Spindale. The car was a Toyota Avalon. The teenage niece of one of our neighbors was in a single car accident, where she hit a tree. It took rescuers 4 hours to get her out of the car. Her legs were terribly broken and she may lose them. With that memory we went to CarMax and came back with a 4Runner.

The 450-Watt Skateboard. I've returned to reading Popular Mechanics after a 45 year hiatus. Its full of interesting applied-science news and features. In an earlier comment, Macon suggested that it was time to attach the Stihl two-cycle engine to the venerable skate board. The power-skateboard people have gone much further than that. This article discusses the "450 Watt Skateboard" pictured below.

(Childrens, I will forgive you for being late with the Father's Day present, provided it is the Raptor 4.0 - plus a box of band-aids.)

Brain Genes. Yesterday's WSJ, on its front page, features a story about a University of Chicago professor of human genetics who has published some papers that suggest that evolution among human beings in the last 100,000 years may have made people from the Middle East and Europe smarter than those who remained in Sub-Sahara Africa. Needless to say, the suggestion generated a good bit of backlash, which the article details. The professor, Bruce Lahn, is a Chinese. The Chinese are not among the groups that Dr. Lahn identifies as being favored genetically. The reaction to his findings is so stiff that he is backing away from this sort of research. But maybe it wasn't really the criticism he received. The last three sentences of the article read as follows:

Dr. Lahn says he once tried testing himself for which type version of the brain genes he has. The experiment's outcome was blurry but "it wasn't looking good", he says. He hasn't tried testing himself again.

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