John Lennon was a closet Republican, who felt a little embarrassed by his former radicalism, at the time of his death – according to the tragic Beatles star’s last personal assistant.
Fred Seaman worked alongside the music legend from 1979 to Lennon’s death at the end of 1980 and he reveals the star was a Ronald Reagan fan who enjoyed arguing with left-wing radicals who reminded him of his former self.
His drawings often represent his current obsessions. In the attachment I send you, it’s not hard to guess what’s keeping him busy right now. There are almost 400 birds on it and he knows the names and Latin names of most of them.
Click on the picture to enlarge. Thanks to Caroline Collier.
Do you, like many, think that drug addicts become drug addicts because they derive greater reward from getting high than others? The biology says no. They actually seem to want it more but like it less. The scientific definition of addiction is actually rooted in the brain’s inability to experience pleasure.
“There are variants in genes that turn down the function of dopamine signaling within the pleasure circuit,” explains Linden, a professor of neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the chief editor of the Journal of Neurophysiology.” For people who carry these gene variants, their muted dopamine systems lead to blunted pleasure circuits, which in turn affects their pleasure-seeking activities, he says. “In order to get to that same set point of pleasure that others would get to easily — maybe with two drinks at the bar and a laugh with friends — you need six drinks at the bar to get the same thing.”
It is important to realize that our pleasure circuits are the result of a combination of genetics, stress and life experience, beginning as early as the womb. Crucially, brain imaging studies show that giving to charity, paying taxes, and receiving information about future events all activate the same neural pleasure circuit that’s engaged by heroin or orgasm or fatty foods.
At this rate, even with 12 of the country’s best engineers working round-the-clock, IBM was never going to deliver its first computer prototype to Microsoft in a matter of four months. The parts were all new. The software. The hardware. Even the names “software” and “hardware.” They were treading new ground. There had never been a “PC,” a personal computer, until this group of programmers built the first one in that lab.
So, as you can imagine, there was a lot of frustrating rebooting going on as Dave Bradley tried to get the CPU – the central processing unit, which they named – to talk to a printer or a monitor for the first time, code he had spent months writing.
He needed a quicker way to restart, to refresh, to escape from a computer quagmire than just switching the computer off and waiting for it to reboot. So he wrote nine lines of code, a “10-minute job,” Bradley remembers. He wanted to make sure it wasn’t something you could just press by accident and wipe out your work. He wrote it so that with his left hand, he held down the keys Ctrl+Alt. With his right hand, he pressed Del.
The screen went black, came back to life and voilà: A cultural icon was created and some great one-liners from the creator, such as “I got to meet Bill Gates when he was only worth millions” .
Actually, about that meeting – At a panel discussion with Gates for the 20-year anniversary of the PC, Bradley was asked about how he created the keystroke. Google Dave Bradley and Bill Gates to see video of Bradley quipping, “I may have invented it, but I think Bill made it famous.” The crowd rolls with laughter. Bill Gates, frozen in a smile-shaped grimace, is not amused.
Life on Earth has gone through five “mass extinction events” caused by events such as asteroid impacts; and it is often said that humanity’s combined impact is causing a sixth such event. The IPSO report concludes that it is too early to say definitively. But the trends are such that it is likely to happen, they say – and far faster than any of the previous five.
“What we’re seeing at the moment is unprecedented in the fossil record – the environmental changes are much more rapid,” Professor Rogers told BBC News. “We’ve still got most of the world’s biodiversity, but the actual rate of extinction is much higher [than in past events] – and what we face is certainly a globally significant extinction event.”
The report also notes that previous mass extinction events have been associated with trends being observed now – disturbances of the carbon cycle, and acidification and hypoxia (depletion of oxygen) of seawater. Levels of CO2 being absorbed by the oceans are already far greater than during the great extinction of marine species 55 million years ago (during the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum), it concludes.
China has dropped 97 percent of its holdings in U.S. Treasury bills, decreasing its ownership of the short-term U.S. government securities from a peak of $210.4 billion in May 2009 to $5.69 billion in March 2011, the most recent month reported by the U.S. Treasury.
Treasury bills are securities that mature in one year or less that are sold by the U.S. Treasury Department to fund the nation’s debt.
Mainland Chinese holdings of U.S. Treasury bills are reported in column 9 of the Treasury report linked here.
Until October, the Chinese were generally making up for their decreasing holdings in Treasury bills by increasing their holdings of longer-term U.S. Treasury securities. Thus, until October, China’s overall holdings of U.S. debt continued to increase.
Since October, however, China has also started to divest from longer-term U.S. Treasury securities. Thus, as reported by the Treasury Department, China’s ownership of the U.S. national debt has decreased in each of the last five months on record, including November, December, January, February and March.
What may be the science story of the century is breaking this evening, as heavyweight US solar physicists announce that the Sun appears to be headed into a lengthy spell of low activity, which could mean that the Earth – far from facing a global warming problem – is actually headed into a mini Ice Age.
Early records of sunspots indicate that the Sun went through a period of inactivity in the late 17th century. Very few sunspots were seen on the Sun from about 1645 to 1715. Although the observations were not as extensive as in later years, the Sun was in fact well observed during this time and this lack of sunspots is well documented. This period of solar inactivity also corresponds to a climatic period called the “Little Ice Age” when rivers that are normally ice-free froze and snow fields remained year-round at lower altitudes. There is evidence that the Sun has had similar periods of inactivity in the more distant past.