Showing posts with label science. Show all posts
Showing posts with label science. Show all posts

Friday, June 06, 2008

Witness to the Creation of the Net's First Node

We didn’t even have a camera or a tape recorder or a written record of that event. I mean, who noticed? Nobody did. Nineteen sixty-nine was quite a year. Man on the moon. Woodstock. Mets won the World Series. Charles Manson starts killing these people here in Los Angeles. And the Internet was born. Well, the first four everybody knew about. Nobody knew about the Internet.

Leonard Kleinrock in How the Web Was Won, Keenan Mayo and Peter Newcomb's story in Vanity Fair.


--

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Darwin's "Origin" sesquicentennial.

Drat! Missed it by a day! But if you're relying on this site for timely info it's time to adapt. Anyway, the U.K.'s Guardian has a rich site up for the 150th year of On the Origin of Species. While celebrating the publication of the most revolutionary insight of all time, don't forget to whom we owe the date: Alfred Russel Wallace.

Monday, July 30, 2007

More on rewardism

Before I could even make it to the shower today, my mind returned to this casual hypothesis of awhile back about how the extraordinary smarts of humans might have evolved from a simple dopamine reward system. I was reading this review of a book by Read Montague, which as paraphrased by reviewer Andy Clark seemed to be suggesting something similar in Why Choose this Book?

Coincidentally, Oliver Sacks' musicophilia story in the New Yorker suggested to me something these reward proposals might help to make sense of: Patients turn to music when their brains cease to reward kinds of contemplation that have ceased to signal "the reward center," which might be expected from a circuit-scrambling seizure or electric shock. But the former connections were highly personal and presumably the product of a whole life history. They're liable likewise to be elaborate, having had a whole life to adapt and to optimize. So an adult brain suddenly starved of reward might not reestablish these same links, but might wire up something new, and perhaps like a child craving sweets or like an addict, it might be expected to pick the quick fix. For coherence in contemplative sense making, music strikes me as the sweetest stuff there is.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

"Gnommon is an island"

The Sundial Bridge of Turtle Bay Exploration Park in Redding, California, striding due north across the Sacramento River.

To everybody on Earth, Murky Thoughts wishes you a nice long day.

i.e. around 18:06 GMT, 21 June, 2007
_____________________________________
Title quote: Robert Nestor Marley.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Consciousness and kinematics

Consciousness looks like it might be an adaption to multi-sensory life on the move, in that the blur of vision, the swirl of smell, the cacophony of sound and the sum of gravity and the various propulsive forces we're exerting with our limbs are a lot to be dealing with directly, if you've got a gazelle to catch (see Merker, B. Consciousness and Cognition 14: 115–118). In other words, there seems to be some speed and efficiency to be gained from walling that off and handing control to a front end that deals with just a simplified synthesis of these inputs, the content of which is the outside world and its happenings, and the disentangled subtracted ingredients of which include, for example, the "merely apparent" motion that our eyes would otherwise causes us every time we glance sideways. A world view sort of like the "image stabilized" view many digital cameras provide.

A nice illustration of a speed improvement that an animal might derive from a "guidance system" that works with a self-subtracted representation of the world might be how a dog fetches or chases: My dog, at least, pursues his line of sight, so that if a person ahead and to his left is tossing a ball to another to his right, he will trace an arc in the grass in his sprint after the hurling orb. When a throw is so weak that the ball would fall short, any human child with a little experience in sports, having had a moment to track the ball, could trace a straight-line course to where the arcing ball is bound to land and so might beat the dog. That which confers advantage in NBA draft selection could also confer advantage in natural selection.

But would it be fair to conclude that the child pursues the ball consciously while the dog does it only unconsciously? Or are dogs and people alike conscious, whereas my dog is just dumb? (Snoopy succeeded as a shortstop, after all.) Or are canines, as carnivorous hunters, just predisposed by evolution to see any moving target as animate and liable to flee adaptively to his or her pursuit? (reorienting always to maximize headway and so sure to extend its lead if a predator were ever to deviate from a dead-reckoned bee-line)

I imagine raptors and other high-nesting bird lineages might have evolved efficiency at intercepting a passively falling body (such as junior or his egg), but to the extent that everything falls at the same speed (shout out to Galileo), that may not have required anything so fancy as consciousness. Do many animals besides ourselves seem to distinguish passive motion and to know the laws that apply?

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Simon Rich on science literacy and on savvy in general

Funster Simon Rich palpably hit me with his (seeming debut) "Shouts & Murmurs" in the New Yorker. Chiefly this part:

I. A Conversation at the Grownup Table, as Imagined at the Kids’ Table

MOM: Pass the wine, please. I want to become crazy.

DAD: O.K.

GRANDMOTHER: Did you see the politics? It made me angry.

DAD: Me, too. When it was over, I had sex.

UNCLE: I’m having sex right now.

DAD: We all are.

MOM: Let’s talk about which kid I like the best.

DAD: (laughing) You know, but you won’t tell.

MOM: If they ask me again, I might tell.

FRIEND FROM WORK: Hey, guess what! My voice is pretty loud!

DAD: (laughing) There are actual monsters in the world, but when my kids ask I pretend like there aren’t.

MOM: I’m angry! I’m angry all of a sudden!

DAD: I’m angry, too! We’re angry at each other!

MOM: Now everything is fine.

DAD: We just saw the PG-13 movie. It was so good.

MOM: There was a big sex.

FRIEND FROM WORK: I am the loudest! I am the loudest!

(Everybody laughs.)

MOM: I had a lot of wine, and now I’m crazy!

GRANDFATHER: Hey, do you guys know what God looks like?

ALL: Yes.

GRANDFATHER: Don’t tell the kids.



Strangely, as my smile muscles started to relax, it occurred to me "you know, there's a useful science literacy lesson in this...maybe." The lesson or heuristic device would be something like:

Think of that imaginary skit or joke whenever you hear about new science: The universe and its workings are at the adult table. The scientists, the news reporters, you and me are at the kids table. So when a finding seems to explain or cure, realize that of course it seems to explain or cure. All we know about the adult side is that our explanations and cures are over there. (And incidentally, that's why scientists park their table precisely where they do, and why "child-like curiosity" is something we associate with science).

Rich's joke made me laugh, I guess, because it reveals something embarrassing, intimate and true, and which--Surprise!--has been standing there forever in plain sight. It may be the same formula as Gary Larson's "What we say to dogs/What they hear" cartoon, and a little like "On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog." Not to mention the joke that's on the cuckold, and Plato's yarn about the shadows on the cave wall. It's not a lesson so much as a prod:

"Our senses deceive us. You know that. Show a little savvy."

Rich is more high-concept than Plato on this one.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Guilt-free dining and polonium

Note that investigators of Litvinenko's poisoning are talking not just about food and drink but now cigarettes. From the getgo backgrounders on polonium have informed us that inhalation is one way this deadly poison gets in the body. They've not mentioned that ingested polonium is liable to go straight through you--making sushi a dubious candidate vehicle for poisoning somebody with polonium. Note what the EPA says about this more familiar alpha-emitting heavy metal:

About 99 percent of the uranium ingested in food or water will leave a person's body in the feces, and the remainder will enter the blood. Most of this absorbed uranium will be removed by the kidneys and excreted in the urine within a few days. A small amount of the uranium in the bloodstream will deposit in a person's bones, where it will remain for years.
I'd say the smart money is on the cigarettes. Your victim carries them everywhere and spies obviously have a thing about them. Even if your spy's a yuppie, best think noire, not nori.

Follow up: Litvinenko ingested the polonium that killed him by drinking a cup of tea, the Times (UK) is reporting. Despite what I wrote above, the report sounds kinda sensible, in that it says the poisoner had to use a hot beverage to avoid tipping off his victim, and had to let it cool before he added the polonium, because it's radiation would be continuously delivering heat to the water. Water doesn't get hot easily, compared to metals and other common materials, and so immediately my thought was "Wow, that's a lot of polonium! Well, then, maybe bets are off: The EPA is unlikely to know or care about acute exposures that intense, which essentially can't happen by accident, in which case their point about ingestion overlooks the forest for the trees under Litinenko's dosing." The water heating makes perfect sense, since water is a very efficient absorber of alpha particles, and polonium radiates alphas. Except it's so efficient that, in the nuclide biz, one learns not even to worry about alphas penetrating the dead layer of cells in your skin, and so it seems like only Litivinenko's gut-lining cells would have been killed off. This can kill you? A hole in your intestine--from a burst appendix, for example--will kill you because it lets bacteria go lunch on your vital organs. But "infection" isn't a word a remember from any of the Litvinenko news I've read. My intuition is that Litvinenko's gut would have to become darn perforated, darn fast, to leak much polonium into his chest, assuming business as usual. Peristalsis and other business might well have shut down, I guess, as his intestinal epithelial cells dissolved under the barrage of alphas. Could sloughing of these cells have exposed Litvinenko's intestinal capillaries, through which the polonium atoms or atomic-clusters he ate might have traveled around his body widely?

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Genes for domesticability: All creatures great and small?

A nifty story by the Times' Nicholas Wade tells of evidence that the genetic potential to be tame and domesticated exists in the pool of all sorts of vertebrates we consider quintessentially wild. Through generations of selective breeding scientists have made whole colonies of foxes, minks, otters, rats and other typically fractious species eager to please as all get out. Somehow in the wild, the variant alleles that combine to make all things wise and wonderful seems never entirely to disappear, even in an environment where being nice seemingly never ever pays. The retention of these variants across diverse species suggests the genes have a biologically very basic function that no vertebrate can do without. In the Times the suggestion is they figure in development of the embryonic neural tube, which is a structure that appears not long after the blastula stage and gives rise to the central nervous system. The Times story suggests furthermore that even we homo sapiens are civil only thanks to good breeding our ancestors practiced.

To me the fact that sociopathy often emerges in early childhood suggests we're not a pure breed in that respect. If so, I think we'll want to know. "Crime gene" testing is part and parcel of investigating how much of behavior is genetic and how much is development and environment. Even if all serial killers carry a set of the same four alleles, so too could thirty percent of the population at large. If we don't identify in particular the genetic carriers who haven't killed, we're unlikely ever to discover what environment and what care prevents serial killing. Clearly there exists something that does when the correlation between genotype and phenotype is low, but we'll never know that unless we test and "type" people.

Do I trust my government and my insurers and my potential employers to do that? Not at the moment. Do I trust individuals not to use knowledge of a person's genotype to discriminate against him or her solely on that basis? Not ever. But preventing societal ills and individual woes are worthy goals, so why don't we think about what kind of governance and what confidentiality laws might make it reasonable for us to pursue it?

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Is an extra reward system why homo evolved extraordinary smarts?

(Another shower-stall moment.)

I surfed the science abstracts the other day on the topic of amphetamines (speed) and how they affect learning , memory and cognition in general. (Comes up because amphetamines make ADD kids better students and as contraband they're being called "smart pills"). The findings are a mess--is my tentative conclusion--and that's sort of to be expected given that the way to test intelligence is anybody's guess and that permission to drug healthy people is hard to get. In lieu of such subjects the reports tell us what happens when you give speed to schizophrenics, substance abusers, brain lesion victims and people with sleep disorders, plus a Noah's Ark of animals: Rats, chickens, horses, monkeys, fish...the list may go on a lot longer for all I know. Rats win the most attention hands down, of course. Anyway, I found a 1987 paper that matter-of-factly states by way of introduction (with reference to a string of citations) that the effect of speed on these species was zip, at least with regard to increasing a couple kinds of sharpness tested. So non-human animals seem to become no smarter on speed...traditionally...maybe. Yet all kinds of smartening emerges when you give speed to people--that is, to human beings who, while not "normal and healthy" in every test reported to a science journal, nevertheless may not be sick or weird in anyway that matters to the question at hand...far as I know, at least. Might this mean the human animal is special with regard to smarts? You know we'd like to think so.

Maybe what makes us special is an extra "reward circuit" in our brains. The characteristic addictiveness of speed and other stimulants gets pinned on dopamine and its action in the so-called "pleasure" or "reward" center of the brain. Maybe what distinguished early homo was that a banana or any other stimulus outside the skull was not all our ancestral brains could look to for reinforcing (ala Pavlov) a behavior or way of cogitating. What if a mutation sent some nerve astray during development in utero or postnatally and created a new input into the reward center? It was bound to happen, in fact, and what if on a particular occasion the stray originated from an area with great acoustics for what was going on overall in the brain. What if this line got livelier when several circuits resonated and such resonance signaled mental concepts cohering? That homo would get an internal reward--a splash of dopamine--every time she put two and two together. That is, she'd get the splash even if her immediate surroundings offered her no application for her insight. In particular, notice that pairing "two and two" would reward her, while not "two and three," say, because combination like that don't harmonize. To an individual of such an evolutionary lineage, suddenly logical coherence (cognitive resonance?) is its own reward.

Notice also that if you can receive a reward on the road, you become able to plan. Perhaps it would be wise to bring a stick or something club-like to the banana grove this time? It's easy to imagine that being able to plan even a little more elaborately could broaden a lot the spectrum of things that become easier with thought. So any homo with even a slightly bigger brain might be sure to compete more effectively and produce more progeny than the others, and our line would be on its way to a bigger and fancier brain. Meanwhile pongo (chimps) deriving no pleasure from a good proof are monopolizing mates each time mostly with such variations as super lustrous hair. Passing pongo homo can only remark "Too bad about the brain, but may I say what a fine coat you've got? Did someone just turn down the heat? Crap. I better come up with something quick."

The rest is history.

Note I don't imagine a just-so story like this one wholly displacing others that have been floated famously: Like that we surged toward fancier brains when we evolved the capacity for subtle vocalizing and/or invented language. But I find it uniquely pleasing. It explains the evolution of our ancestors into ourselves by a way of a process that seems contemporary and so might persist to this day. It also seems morally superior. Any lineage could have emerged smarter by flapping its lips. But maybe we got this way because we like to learn and choose to do so. Ever wondered why so many species can learn to act so smartly after you toss them a few biscuits or bananas or fish, but won't write so much as a novella if left to themselves?

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Global warming denier bags National Review cover with made-up data

I guess it's hard to resist cutting a few corners when you know the safety of the world hangs on whether you spout your bullshit.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

The Amazing Sinervo & his Enlightening Lizards, Episode 2: Black Hats vs. White Hats

In the journals this week Barry Sinervo reports the existence of a gene for cooperative behavior in lizards, which at the same time flags a lizard as "a good guy." It does this with blotches of color on either side of a lizard's throat. Such a gene is just the ticket to avoiding exploitation even while acting helpful, because you can tell exactly who else in the community is a team player. Otherwise, helpful behavior and "playing nice" might never have evolved.

Previously, Sinervo and others in his lab showed rock-paper-sciccors cycles of competition by lizard color morphs, showing that no one lizard color was "the fittest" for its habitat and that no constant "niche" for color existed. So you don't get species diversity just from how many different things there are to hunt or scavenge, it appears. Biodiversity can arise just from the dynamics. (Someone spotted diversity dynamics in guppies just this week.)

Bow to Sinervo, Lizard King.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Do journals "add value" to articles they publish?

Below I'm just cutting and pasting comments I made in reply to a post at madisonian.net, where I suppose you might as well go. But I'll probably transform this post over time. Note I'm absotively and 100% all-for free-access to journals and the Public Library of Science in particular, but because I also see journals as playing a huge and under-appreciated role beyond publication, I was sparked into verbiage by a suggestion that maybe there is nothing else they're doing at all. It just happens to be stuff that fascinates me.


5 Responses to “Value Added by Publishers?”

  1. MT Says:

    They add crucial value, which is prestige. Each journal is like a brand and has a prestige rank and vets manuscripts with its own cadre of peer reviewers, not to mention editorial taste. Open access sounds like we just dump all articles in a barrel. How do we recruit a high-powered academic to provide free refereeing for a manuscript that’s a candidate to be just one more article in the barrel? When we look in the barrel, how do we now which articles were stringently reviewed? Without the splash that comes from landing in a high prestige journal, there’s no way to decide which new articles to look at first. The journal branding flags an article as likely to be good and interesting and important. There’s tons and tons of junky and derivative and incremental work being done, creating a din of noise within which to hear the signal. I suppose with modern IT some fast sifting method will arise eventually, but in the mean time, total open access sounds like a wheel in the spokes of how scholarship gets done (or at least science scholarship, which I know better).

  2. MT Says:

    I suppose one way the academic market might react to total open access to peer-reviewed articles is with a drastic contraction of the number of articles published. When the barrel is small enough, getting into it will carry enough prestigious that editors should be able to recruit good free referees. Another way the market could react would be to start rewarding referees in some other way than they are rewarded now (affiliation with a prestigious enterprise, early info about the most important work in their subject, and the establishment of a relationship with the editors of a journal they want to get their own manuscripts into). Otherwise I imagine peer review as we know it will disappear and some more social process will determine the relative importance of articles after they are published.

  3. MT Says:

    You could also think of a journal as providing an article with a kind of credential. The lack of credentials and authentication online seems a large part of why scholars tend to dismiss it. It sounds like snobbery, but it’s entirely practical. Plenty of people with great ideas write badly. Plenty of people who write wonderfully have bad ideas. Plenty of people assert confidently what they are not confident. And people differ hugely in what kind of evidence and how much it takes to make them confident. So why bother reading any piece of text ever? Descartes may have been saying something worthwhile, but his writing certainly didn’t draw me in. In lieu of a reputation, we settle for credentials, and without credentials (or any credential besides access to the Internet) the potential rewards are far to meager for the effort and/or risk. Scholars earn their living in part by reading text, and so were journals to disappear and were no system for ranking the importance of new articles immediately to replace them, scholars would have no choice but to look for text credentials elsewhere–e.g. whether the purported author purports to have a PhD or a professorship at an Ivy League school (open-access systems still will have to earn reader’s trust for truly and accurately stating authorship and credentials). If we came to rely on this we might end up with even more an intellectual caste system than we have now. People might only read publications out of the top 3 schools. Of course, there’s so much gold to be mined from the publications that come from less prestigious schools that someone will figure out some IT scheme to efficiently extract it. In the meantime though, dissolving journals as I said above I think would be a stick in the spokes. This is just to argue for their value, which the post seemed to call into question. I suppose the actual political proposal doesn’t mean dissolving journals exactly but just preventing them from making money from subscriptions (there’s still advertising).

  4. MT Says:

    Of course, who the hell am I to say?

  5. MT Says:

    I suppose it should be mentioned that there’s a lot of dissatisfaction and skepticism toward the peer review system as practiced now (c.f. For Science’s Gatekeepers, a Credibility Gap, by Lawrence Altman May 2, 2006 NY Times)

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Dolphins have names, new evidence DOES NOT show

That "dolphin names" news story was such a lie, to judge by this NPR, Science Friday interview that one of the scientist authors gave. Dolphins each whistle with a signature pattern--is the "new" finding, for which there was plenty evidence already. Based on that interview, all that's new this time is they recorded the pattern onto a computer and played back an electronic version that wasn't in the dolphin's voice. But birds have signature songs. Do we doubt that a bird doesn't know it's mate by the pattern of its song? My hunch is that if the same experiment as they just did on dolphins hasn't already been done on birds, you can expect it done next week. What lit my fuse was that after this gal described her dolphin experiment in detail, she later referenced what she found out like this: Dolphins use a "name" to "refer to another." Unless she left that very exciting finding out of her intro, this is nothing but a lie under the pretense of simplification. And I can't help noticing how it makes the discovery seem a whole lot more newsworthy. Alas, a whole lot of people now think we've learned something about dolphins that we haven't, and which may well not be true. Oh well, it's more dollars for dolphin research.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Golly, could those lesbians be thinking something different too?

Another one of these oh-my-god brain-imaging stories (henceforth OMGMRIs), in which it is now finally scientifically revealed that something different is going on in the brains of people who behave differently than we do. Shocker! First place I would've looked would've been the kidneys or their livers. Have I told you all my hunch that schizophrenics differ from the average person in the flexibility of their toes, and that when math geniuses do math their ears get warmer than when an average person does math? Thinking and behavior have something to do with the brain? Give me a break!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Male violence no longer news

There's a "gene for violence" in the news. What I want to know: Why is more not being made of the gene being X-linked, and with the violent phenotype correlating with gene underexpression? That's a recipe for exclusively male violence [Eds. note: Recall girls have a backup "X," while boys have only that relatively useless "Y," that "X-linked" means a gene is on the X chromosome, that "phenotype" is a word you can often ignore and contrasts with "genotype," and meanwhile let me invite you to just trust me that "underexpression" means that the abnormal version of the gene sort of fizzles, as opposed to producing an abundance of the wrong thing ]. Ah well. Gender schmender. Nobody cares about such stuff in this enlightened day, even if it does turn out to be rooted in biology.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Bets off: Greenland ice melting double time, seas rising faster

By Shankar Vedantam
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, February 17, 2006

Greenland's glaciers are melting into the sea twice as fast as previously believed, the result of a warming trend that renders obsolete predictions of how quickly Earth's oceans will rise over the next century, scientists said yesterday.

The new data come from satellite imagery and give fresh urgency to worries about the role of human activity in global warming. The Greenland data are mirrored by findings from Bolivia to the Himalayas, scientists said, noting that rising sea levels threaten widespread flooding and severe storm damage in low-lying areas worldwide.

The scientists said they do not yet understand the precise mechanism causing glaciers to flow and melt more rapidly, but they said the changes in Greenland were unambiguous -- and accelerating: In 1996, the amount of water produced by melting ice in Greenland was about 90 times the amount consumed by Los Angeles in a year. Last year, the melted ice amounted to 225 times the volume of water that city uses annually.

"We are witnessing enormous changes, and it will take some time before we understand how it happened, although it is clearly a result of warming around the glaciers," said Eric Rignot, a scientist at the California Institute of Technology's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

. . .

The ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica are among the largest reservoirs of fresh water on Earth, and their fate is expected to be a major factor in determining how much the oceans will rise. Rignot and University of Kansas scientist Pannir Kanagaratnam, who published their findings yesterday in the journal Science, declined to guess how much the faster melting would raise sea levels but said current estimates of around 20 inches over the next century are probably too low.

While sea-level increases of a few feet may not sound like very much, they could have profound consequences on flood-prone countries such as Bangladesh and trigger severe weather around the world.

"The implications are global," said Julian Dowdeswell, a glacier expert at the University of Cambridge in England who reviewed the new paper for Science. "We are not talking about walking along the sea front on a nice summer day, we are talking of the worst storm settings, the biggest storm surges . . . you are upping the probability major storms will take place."


(more)

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Limber = less cerebral

It's been a terrible mistake, this characterizing of "emotional thinking" as female and "analytical thinking" as male. Obviously, the true predictive factor in regard to our favored mental mode is stiffness. As in Hooke's Law. I deduced this only just a moment ago [Eds. note: actually a little before getting in the shower ] from the striking similarity between "limber" and "limbic." A little too striking, is what I thought. I wondered why I'd never appreciated it before.

The limbic system, of course, is the one to which neuroscientists traditionally attribute fear and other emotional judgments. It sprawls around the brain stem and beneath the cerebral hemispheres--which we exercise by being cerebral.

Suddenly it made perfect sense: To be more limber (i.e. more limbic, emotional) is to be less cerebral (i.e. less analytic) Thus it is no wonder if the sex that excels at yoga should also be the one better at compromise and getting along.

After all, in common parlance what is it that stymies compromise? Principle--the very grist of analysis itself. We've all more or less absorbed this hidden truth about "limber "from the common use of "flexible" to characterize both the pliability of materials and the moods of people. The deeper neuranatomical understanding, however, was lacking.

Note that anatomy is not destiny. By emotionally stretching even men can become "limber." Meanwhile the analytical exercise of zero-sum game playing, for example varsity soccer, is thought to toughen women.

On the tip of my tongue all this time: Who'dathunk?

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Another planet in the Milky Way

Only 5 1/2 times Earth size, rocky and not too hot, says the NY Times. Probably too cold for life as we know it, sounds like, but notable enough to make a person wanna adjust his or her personal Drake equation and perhaps spike shares in Panspermia.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Thanks...

to whoever nominated Murky Thoughts for wider recognition! That's swell. I have a feeling this is more a case of kickback for friendly or amusing comments elsewhere than from engaging anybody here (where are the comments?), but it's nice in any event.

------
Not that you should bother reading them, but here are the other nominees, whose links I'll post as my contribution to the meme that's making us all recognized by the great Law of Linkage, which powers Google, Technorati and the fame-makers. Hah! You thought as meek! You thought us unrecognized! World Wide Web, prepare to quake beneath the awesome weight of our notedness!

1115, 2 Political Junkies, 3 Quarks Daily, The Abstract Factory, Acephalous, Adventures of the Smart Patrol, Adventus, Agiprop, akou, All Spin Zone, Alternate Brain, American Leftist, The American Sector, Angry Bear, Angry Old Broad, Ang's Weird Ideas, Anne Zook, Anne's Anti-Quackery & Science Blog, Apostropher, Archy, Arms and Influence, Arms Control Wonk, Arse Poetica, Axis of Evel Knievel, Bag News Notes, Barely Legal, Bark Bark Woof Woof, Bark/Bite, Bartcop, BattlePanda, Beautiful Horizons, Bilerico, Bill's Big Diamond Blog, Bionic Octopus, Birmingham Blues, Black Prof, Black Feminism, Blah3, Blanton's and Ashton's, Blog Them Out of the Stone Age, Blue Girl in a Red State, Blue Meme, The Blue Republic, Blondesense, Bootstrap Analysis, Bouphonia, Brilliant at Breakfast, Brother Kenya's Paradigm, By Neddie Jingo!, Byzantium's Shores, Capitalist Pig vs. Socialist Swine, The Cassandra Pages, Circle Jerk at the Square Dance, Coalition for Darfur, Coeruleus The Cognoscenti, Colorado Luis, Comments From Left Field, Common Sense, Conservative Truths, Contrary Brin, The Countess, Creek Running North, CT Blue, Curly Tales of War Pigs, Culture of Life News, Dadahead, Daily Dissent, The Daily Howler, The Dark Wraith Forums, David E's Fablog, Decorabilia, The Defeatists, Deltoid, Democratic Veteran, Demagogue, Den of Iniquity, Dependable Renegade, Dictionopolis In Digitopolis, The Disgruntled Chemist, Doctor Biobrain, Dodecahedron, Dohiyi Mir, Donkey O.D., DovBear, Driftglass, Dynamics of Cats, Easter Lemming Liberal News Digest, Eccentric Star, Echidne of the Snakes, Effect Measure, Elaine Riggs, Electronic Darwinism, Elementropy, Enemy of the State, ePluribus Media, Ethel, the Early-Warning Frog, Everything Between, Expostulation, Facing South, Factesque, Faithful Progressive, The Fat Lady Sings, Five Wells, Flogging the Simian, Frogs and Ravens, From the Rooftops, The Galloping Beaver, The Garlic: All The Cloves Fit To Peel, Geeky Mom, The Green Knight, Grumpy Old Man, Half Changed World, The Happy Feminist, Happy Furry Puppy Story Time, Hoffmania!, I Blame the Patriarchy, I Cite, Iddybud, Idyllopus, Is That Legal, It's Morning Somewhere, Journalists Against Bush's B.S. (JABBS), Jesse's Blog, Just A Bump on the Beltway, Keat's Telescope, The Kentucky Democrat, kid oakland, King of Zembla, Lance Mannion, Laughing Wild, Lawyers, Guns and Money, Lean Left, The Left Coaster, Left I on the News, Legal Fiction, Legally Blonde , Lenin's Tomb, Liberal Avenger, Liberal Street Fighter, Liberal Truths, Liberalism without Cynicism, Liberty Street USA, Limbo, Limited, Inc., Linkmeister, Little Wild Bouquet, Living the Scientific Life, Loaded Mouth, Long Sunday, Looking for Someone to Lie to Me, Low on the Hog, The Low Rent Rat, Mad Kane's Notables, Mahablog, Making conservatives cringe since 1977, Malkin(s)Watch, Mark LeVine, Martini Republic, Media Girl, Meat-Eating Leftist, Merlot Democrats, Metacomments, The Moderate Voice, The Moquol, MoxieGrrrl, Murky Thoughts, Mykeru, My Left Wing, My Very Brain, Naked Under My Lab Coat, Needlenose, Neil Shakespeare, News Corpse, Newshog, Newsrack, The Next Hurrah, Night Bird's Fountain, Nitpicker, No Blood for Hubris, No Capital, No More Apples, No More Mister Nice Blog, No More Mr. Nice Guy, Norwegianity, Nothing New Under the Sun, Nur al-Cubicle, One Woman Wrecking Crew, One Good Move, The Opinion Mill, Opinions You Should Have, Pacific Views, Patridiot Watch, Patriot Daily Blog: thinkings, Pam's House Blend, The People's Republic of Seabrook, Pinko Feminist Hellcat, Political Animals, Political Cortex, Politics in the Zeros, Peace Tree Farm, Past Peak, A Perfectly Cromulent Blog, Phronesisaical, Posthegemony, Prairie Weather, Preemptive Karma, Prometheus6, Progressive Blog Digest, Progressive Gold, The Progressive Trail, PSoTD, The Psychotic Patriot, Pudentilla's Perspective, Pulse, Random Thoughts, The Reaction, Red Grange Run, Redneck Mother, Red State Diaries, Red State Rabble, Republic of T, Resistance, Rhinocrisy, Riley Dog, Rising Hegemon, Road To Surfdom, Saint Nate's Blog, Science And Politics, Scriptoids, Scrutiny Hooligans, Seeing the Forest, Shining Light In Dark Corners, The Sideshow, Simian Brain, Simply Left Behind, Sister Scorpion, SistersTalk, Sisyphus Shrugged, Skimble, Spontaneous Arising, Stayin' Alive, Steven Bates, the Yellow Doggerel Democrat, Stygius, Street Prophets, Stone Bridge, Suburban Ecstasies, Sufficient Scruples, Syria Comment, The Talent Show, Talk To Action, The Tattered Coat, Taylor Marsh, That Colored Fella, Theology&Geometry, Thoughts from Kansas, Thoughts of an Average Woman, Tiny Cat Pants, Tom Watson, To The Audient Void, Total Information Awareness, Unbossed, Under the Same Sun, Upon Further Review, Veiled 4 Allah, The Viscount LaCarte, Xpatriated Texan, xymphora, Waveflux, We Move to Canada, Whatever It Is, I'm Against It, WhirledView, Why Are We Back In Iraq?, Winding Road In Urban Area, Wis[s]e Words, World War 4 Report, World Wide Webers, Yelladog, Yep, another Goddamned blog.