The Frontal Cortex

Archives for November, 2006

Southern California Says No To Coal

Speaking of Los Angeles, the city just announced that they are weaning themselves off cheap coal power: Southern California is gambling its future power needs on its constant sunshine, wind and the ability of engineers to effectively harness those and other alternative energy sources. Officials in Pasadena, Anaheim and several other large cities notified the…

NY vs LA

There are few arguments quite as futile, or fun, as debating the merits of cities. I’ve spent many hours discussing the virtues of New York City pizza versus Mexican food in Los Angeles, or the views from the Brooklyn Bridge versus Mulholland. Personally, I take great pleasure in knowing both metropoli, in being as intimate…

Visions of God

Over at The American Scene, Ross Douthat argues that scientists should try treating our spiritual experiences of the divine as literal events. In other words, the crazy people who see God might not be crazy: Atheistically-inclined scientists and philosophers have all manner of complicated theories about how religious experience and beliefs sprang up in homo…

Chimps Like Older Females

The MILF phenomenon, biologically explained. From the National Post: Female chimpanzees become more sexually attractive as they age, even into old age, according to research published today. By studying the mating habits of our closest living evolutionary cousin, anthropologists from Harvard and Boston University discovered that there seems to be no such thing as a…

The Expensive 1 Percent

Did you know that 1 percent of hospital patients account for nearly a quarter of all medical expenses? This graph is a sobering glance at the real problems facing our health care industry. It’s the 80-20 rule come to life: The worst part is that these problems don’t have an easy answer. They won’t be…

Twins

In the new New York Review of Books, there is a fascinating review of Nancy Segal’s new book on twins. (Caveat: I haven’t read the book yet.) The review is full of choice anecdotes like these: The “Fireman Twins” were adopted by separate families living just thirty miles apart and who both grew up to…

The Red Sox and Behavioral Economics

Here’s a perfect example of The Winner’s Curse at work. From Bill Simmons, writing about the Boston Red Sox bid for Japanese pitching phenom Daisuke Matsuzaka: My favorite part about their $51.1 million bid was that they originally wanted to bid $50 million, then they decided on $50.1 just in case someone else bid $50,…

The Nintendo Wii and Antonio Damasio?

I’ve got a short essay on the Nintendo Wii, William James and Antonio Damasio over at seedmagazine.com. It’s fun for the whole family. (And don’t believe the Sony Playstation 3 hype, unless you really care about how realistically your basketball players sweat. The Wii is a much cooler system.) This is the irony of the…

Milton Friedman and Rational Agents

Milton Friedman was a magnificent economist, and I’ll defer to other economists to sing his praises. But it’s worth noting that, besides being an evangelical for free-markets, he was also a proponent of the rational-agent model. Those two facts aren’t a coincidence. Friedman firmly believed that, when left alone, people will intelligently act in their…

Tsunami Hits California

For whatever strange reason, Crescent City, California is prone to tsunamis. In 1964, the town was devastated by a freakish tidal wave. Yesterday, more than 24 hours after a massive earthquake rocked the coast of Russia, another wave rolled into the small fishing town causing significant damage. Before noon, fishermen in Crescent City working on…