Anti-Colonial Agitator

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

See new blog:

Friday, December 10, 2004

Smoking is for idiots:

Given the wealth of evidence that smoking damages your health, you would have to be stupid not to kick the habit. Now a study suggests this could be a self-fulfilling prophecy, because smoking reduces your IQ.

Lawrence Whalley at the University of Aberdeen and colleagues at the University of Edinburgh, both in the UK, looked at how the cognitive ability of 465 individuals, approximately half of whom were smokers, changed over their lifetime and whether this related to their smoking habits.

They had all been tested in 1947 at age 11 as part of the Scottish Mental Survey, which made no distinction between smoking habits. They were tested a second time between 2000 and 2002, when they were 64 years old.

Smokers performed significantly worse in five different cognitive tests than did both former smokers and those who had never smoked.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

The Face of British Colonialism:

Ian Paisley

Monday, December 06, 2004

Slimming pills and gay children:

Women who take slimming and thyroid pills during pregnancy are substantially more likely to have homosexual children, according to research.

A study of thousands of mothers and their adult children has revealed that Thyroxine – used to treat thyroid deficiency – and amphetamine-based diet pills appear to influence sexual orientation. Both were identified as being strongly linked to a higher rate of homosexuality among female offspring.

The mothers of homosexuals were found to be up to eight times more likely to have taken such drugs, with the effect being strongest with daughters whose mothers took the drugs during the first three months of pregnancy. The discovery, to be published by researchers in America, backs claims that human sexuality is determined by genetic and biochemical factors at work during early pregnancy.

Prof Lee Ellis and colleagues at Minot State University, North Dakota, traced the mothers of more than 5,000 American and Canadian students and members of gay and lesbian support groups, looking for links between prescription drugs taken during pregnancy and the sexual orientation of their children.

The researchers found that the mothers of homosexual women were at least five times more likely to have taken synthetic thyroid medications during pregnancy than mothers of heterosexual women, and eight times more likely to have used amphetamine-based diet pills such as Dexedrine and diethylpropion.

They also found evidence that some drugs have the opposite effect during pregnancy, reducing the probability of homosexual offspring. Mothers of heterosexual males were 70 per cent more likely to have taken drugs to combat nausea than those of male homosexuals.

The results suggest that the effect of the drugs is strongest with female babies and when taken during the first three months of pregnancy, which accords with previous studies showing that sexual orientation is decided during this period. The results will appear in the journal Personality and Individual Differences.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Irish prosperity:

The Irish are the second most prosperous people in the European Union - and even wealthier than the Swiss, according to figures published today.

Nothing can shift Luxembourgers from the top spot - the Grand Duchy boasts per capita wealth running at more than twice the EU average.

But, for the third year running Ireland is ahead of rich nations such as Germany, Austria and Denmark.

The figures from Eurostat, the EU's statistical office, assess GDP in terms of purchasing power standards (PPS).

Taking 100 as the EU average, Luxembourg per capita GDP is put at 215%, followed by Ireland at 133%.

Denmark, Austria, the Netherlands, the UK and Belgium are next, at around 120%.

At the other end of the scale, Lithuania, Poland and Latvia recorded figures last year of less than half the EU average.

Countries still aspiring to become EU members - Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania and Turkey, have even lower per capita wealth - in Turkey's case just 28% of the EU average.

Three prosperous countries happy to stay outside the EU - Iceland, Norway and Switzerland - are doing very nicely, although all are outshone by Luxembourg and two of them by Ireland.

The figures: EU 25 nations, GDP per capita in PPS (average 100)

Luxembourg - 215
Ireland - 133
Denmark - 123
Austria - 122
Netherlands - 121
UK - 118
Belgium - 118
Sweden - 115
Finland - 113
France - 111
Germany - 108
Italy - 107
Spain - 98
Cyprus - 83
Greece - 81
Slovenia - 77
Malta - 75
Portugal - 74
Czech Republic- 69
Hungary - 61
Slovakia - 52
Estonia - 49
Lithuania - 46
Poland - 46
Latvia - 41

Aspiring EU members:
Croatia - 46
Bulgaria - 30
Romania - 30
Turkey - 28

Iceland - 119
Norway - 148
Switzerland - 131.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

The brain is wired for faces:

Faces produce a particular resonance of recognition, even in the youngest infants, who respond to the sight of a face almost from birth. While neurobiologists have known that a particular area of the brain, called the fusiform face area (FFA), lights up with activity when we see a face--and even that the FFA is necessary for us to recognize faces--there is controversy over what kind of processing the area is doing.

Now, Galit Yovel and Nancy Kanwisher have tackled two central questions with one set of experiments: the nature of processing that occurs in the FFA and whether the FFA is "domain specific," that is, exclusively involved in face perception, or whether the area is engaged in more general spatial processing of visual features.

Their conclusions are that the FFA extracts configural information about faces rather than processing spatial information on the parts of faces. Also, their studies indicated that the FFA is exclusively involved in face recognition.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has predicted that the Irish economy will grow by 5% in 2004, rising to 5.5% in 2005 before easing below 5% in 2006. The OECD also forecasts that the US economy would show growth of 3.6% in 2004 and 2.9% in 2005, while the eurozone would post growth of 1.8% and 1.9%.