Friday, November 03, 2006

News of the Day 11-03-06

Wake Forest U researchers have isolated novel proteins and mechanisms in brains of cocaine addicts that may allow us to develop better pharmaceutical interventions (shh . . . technocorrections). . . . Along the brain chemical line, U of Chicago researchers have found that early child abuse and maternal rejection may create or set low serotonin levels in some females (monkeys, but still . . . ), which then affect their own later maternal behavior (and not in a good way). Thus, the links sometimes found in families with generational child abuse. Again, a possible area for later pharmaceutical therapies . . . . For those of you who may wonder what I'm talking about here when I refer to brain-computer interface technology, this article provides a nice application. And once we can affect movement and behavior for the disabled, I wonder where we might turn next . . . ? . . . Unintended consequences bite us in the butt again. In IL, it turns out that a gang leader has been using the state online probation and parole data system to id targets to be nailed by hitmen. "The more these guys learn about computers," a law enforcement type said, "the more dangerous they are going to be." We saw this also with the state online court data system in WI. The sheriff on our commission complained once to me that, by tracking court dates, dispositions, proceedings and such, thugs were able to tell who was turning state's evidence. A court administrator also noted that the really shrewd ones were able to game their own proceedings by tracking dockets, schedules, and so forth. One good turn, huh? . . . And from the "even a blind hog" file, Russell Crowe makes a telling statement about the US criminal justice process, commenting on how simple assaults are not generally criminalized in his homeland as they are here. Much of our crime increase in recent years can indeed by chalked up to different social norms and official responses rather than actual hikes in criminal activity. Congratulate him if you get a chance (but don't make him mad, especially if there's a loose phone around).

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