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Image Hosted by ImageShack.us Tonight on TDS, Oscar-winning film director Danny Boyle, Trance; and on TCR, NIH director Francis Collins, talking about The Brain Activity Map Project.
sausage grinder of snark
Roger Ebert
1942-2013

Next week:
TDS TCR
Mon
4/8
 David Stockman Bill Clinton
Tues
4/9
Jimmy Carter Charlie LeDuff
Weds
4/10
Ken Burns Shane Smith
Thurs
4/11
TBA
Cass Sunstein
Adding these late tonight, sorry...
The Daily Show
Mon
4/1
Mary Roach, Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal
twitter
author site
Amazon
goodreads
Publisher site
B&N, many reviews
excerpt: The Chemistry of Kibble: The billion-dollar, cutting-edge science of convincing dogs and cats to eat what’s in front of them.
excerpt: The Marvels in Your Mouth
WSJ review
Tues
4/2
Jonathan Sperber, "Karl Marx: A Nineteenth-Century Life"
history.missouri.edu/people/sperber
RateMyProfessors.com
Columbia Missourian.com article
If you have the stomach for it, the Daily Show guest page links to an interview at the National Review

B&N has the major reviews


(Harpers is subscription only)
CSMonitor
NYTimes:

Assuming you know something about history/poli sci, these are the two to read:
PopMatters.com


That's Karl Marx and Intellectual History, at SUSIH-Society for US Intellectual History (which you should take a look at). Takes a look at those NYTimes & Harper's reviews -- and make sure to read the comments.
Weds
4/3
Sheryl Sandberg is the chief operating officer of Facebook and the author of "Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead."

Forbes bio
twitter
wikipedia
Bloomberg bio & spec. gossip

Lots of stuff about the book out there. B&N has several full reviews (snippets from some majors). Some sexism (let's post silly pictures of the latest silly woman thinking she should get attention! And what should she be dressing like?), lots of agreement (fawning and/or sincere) and a whole lot of disagreement, especially (but not exclusively) from our intellectual compatriots on the left.

Good snippet at goodreads:

Someone asked me for a cliffs notes version and the best I can say is to search online for Sheryl Sandberg's TEDWomen talk in 2010. It is a 15 minute long speech that basically sums up her most pertinent points in this book.
cognoscenti.wbur.org
UK Guardian review



Lean In and 1% Feminism (new to me, read this one if nothing else)



Thurs
4/4
Danny Boyle, Trance
wikipedia
imdb
Danny Boyle’s Olympic Opening Ceremony nominated for Bafta Radio Times Audience Award
movie wikipedia
RottenTomatoes:summary
Simon (James McAvoy), a fine art auctioneer, teams up with a criminal gang to steal a Goya painting worth millions of dollars, but after suffering a blow to the head during the heist he awakens to discover he has no memory of where he hid the painting. When physical threats and torture fail to produce answers, the gang's leader Frank (Vincent Cassel) hires hypnotherapist Elizabeth Lamb (Rosario Dawson) to delve into the darkest recesses of Simon's psyche. As Elizabeth begins to unravel Simon's broken subconscious, the lines between truth, suggestion, and deceit begin to blur. (c)Fox Searchlight
Consensus:
Tomatometer 69% 55 reviews
As stylish as ever, director Danny Boyle seems to be treading water with the surprisingly thinly written Trance -- but for fans of Boyle's work, it should still prove a trippily entertaining distraction.
Danny Boyle Celebrates New York Premiere of ‘Trance’

Danny Boyle finds his inner feminist with heist film ‘Trance’
:
Boyle first encountered the “Trance” screenplay nearly 20 years ago, when writer Joe Ahearne sent it to the filmmaker. Ahearne wanted to direct the movie himself, and eventually did as a television movie in 2001, but the script’s central premise — and the chance to have a female protagonist— stuck in Boyle’s mind.

“The idea of a woman right at the center of the film is something that I was really attracted to and actually failed miserably to do in all the succeeding years,” Boyle said Saturday at an early screening of “Trance” hosted by Hero Complex at WonderCon in Anaheim.

Um?
Try harder. Or is one enough?
Danny Boyle: My film plots are 'the same'
Danny Boyle to make anti-Downton period drama (central character: male.)
The Colbert Report
Mon
4/1
Sigourney Weaver, Broadway: Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
wikipedia
show site
broadway.com
Playbill
NYTimes review
vaguely related New Yorker blog
broadwayworld.com
backstage.com
theatermania.com
broadwayworld.com review roundup
Tues
4/2
Jim McGreevey, Former Governor of New Jersey
 wikipedia
HBO documentary
The former governor of New Jersey discusses his resignation and newfound salvation in the HBO documentary, "Fall to Grace."
Really? Jim McGreevey Is a Recovering Politician?
An HBO documentary examines the former governor's renewed passion for religion and for helping female prisoners get a second chance.

The redemption of Jim McGreevey: believe it, you scowls.
Jim McGreevey’s Second Act
Weds
4/3
A.C. Grayling
Author, "The God Argument: The Case Against Religion and for Humanism"

ACGrayling.com
wikipedia

Philosopher A.C. Grayling looks at religion from a humanist perspective in his new book, "The God Argument."

new statesman review
B&N, has Kirkus review
Pub Weekly
Guardian review
another Guardian review

Thurs
4/4

Francis Collins
Director, National Institutes of Health
NIH.gov
twitter
National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins discusses The Brain Activity Map Project.
wikipedia
previous appearances

BAM/BRAIN wikipedia:

The BRAIN Initiative (Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies, also commonly referred to as the Brain Activity Map Project) is a proposed collaborative research initiative announced by the Obama administration on April 2, 2013, with the goal of mapping the activity of every neuron in the human brain
sciencedaily.com
NYTimes: Obama Seeking to Boost Study of Human Brain (John Markoff, 2/17/13):
The Obama administration is planning a decade-long scientific effort to examine the workings of the human brain and build a comprehensive map of its activity, seeking to do for the brain what the Human Genome Project did for genetics.

The project, which the administration has been looking to unveil as early as March, will include federal agencies, private foundations and teams of neuroscientists and nanoscientists in a concerted effort to advance the knowledge of the brain’s billions of neurons and gain greater insights into perception, actions and, ultimately, consciousness.

mentions paper available .pdf at Neuron(Neuron, Volume 74, Issue 6, 970-974, 21 June 2012):
The Brain Activity Map Project and the Challenge of Functional Connectomics

    Summary
    The function of neural circuits is an emergent property that arises from the coordinated activity of large numbers of neurons. To capture this, we propose launching a large-scale, international public effort, the Brain Activity Map Project, aimed at reconstructing the full record of neural activity across complete neural circuits. This technological challenge could prove to be an invaluable step toward understanding fundamental and pathological brain processes.

New Yroker: The Three-Billion-Dollar Brain
Last week, the Human Connectome Project, supported jointly by sixteen components of the National Institutes of Health, released its first set of data, a massive set of structural and functional images of the brains of sixty-eight adult volunteers—to almost no fanfare whatsoever. The amount of data, two terabytes, is so great that it poses problems for the Internet; you can download it for free if you like, but the organizers of the project would rather mail it to you on a hard drive.

The announcement has received so little press so far because nobody has yet figured what to do with all the data. In principle, data of this sort might contribute to understanding how the brain works, and might have important implications for treating neurological disease—especially when the project is complete, and the researchers have scanned all one thousand two hundred subjects. But, for now, we know how much data has been collected, but not what it all means...

Fortunately, a study of the thing that the Brain Activity Map seeks to measure—the activity of billions of individual neurons, measured simultaneously—is entirely unprecedented, absolutely necessary, and vastly more fine-grained than the target of the Human Connectome Project. The latter has been looking at the interconnections between roughly five hundred “brain areas”; Obama’s Brain Activity Map is focused on a much more detailed level. The Human Connectome Project is like a plan to figure out broad strokes of the United States economy by mapping the cities that people and goods travel through. The Brain Activity Map is more like an effort to figure out the economy by examining the dynamics of individual consumers. Both projects have value, but their contributions are different, if complementary.

Still, although there is little risk of overlap between these two projects, the Obama Administration would do well to reflect on what the Human Connectome Project has discovered so far: it is easier to collect massive amounts of data than to understand them...

In a previous essay on this topic, I suggested five specific goals: understanding the language of the brain, understanding how neurons organize into circuits, understanding how the brain develops and learns, understanding how the brain determines which circuits to use in a given situation, and understanding the relations between neural circuitry and behavior. The Brain Activity Map has the potential to speak to each of these questions, but its advocates need to say much more about how the data they collect will be used to address theoretical questions. Obama’s grand challenge shouldn’t be to record data from every neuron, per se, but to understand how the brain works. The Brain Activity Map is a means to an end, but not the end in itself.

NYTimes, Markoff again, 2/25/13 Background, skeptical. Somehow -- maybe it's the reference to Fantastic Voyage -- decreases my confidence in using the NYTimes as an info source.

Nature.com news blog article:

Obama launches multi-billion-dollar brain-map project
Current technology allows scientists to record the activity of up to hundreds of neurons in action. The BRAIN Initiative aspires to map the function of thousands or hundreds of thousands of neurons simultaneously, as they function at the speed of thought. Obama acknowledged the difficulties involved, but said: “Think about what we could do once we do crack this code.” He imagined an amputee playing the piano or throwing a baseball, people fully recovering after a stroke or traumatic brain injury and cures for autism and Alzheimer’s disease.

Significantly, the White House has engaged Cori Bargmann, a neuroscientist at Rockefeller University in New York, to co-chair a National Institutes of Health (NIH) committee that will develop a detailed scientific plan for the project including timetables, milestones and cost estimates. (Neurobiologist William Newsome of Stanford University will be the other co-chair.) Bargmann had been one of the proposed project’s vocal critics, suggesting to Nature that it represented “central planning inside the [Washington, DC] Beltway” and worrying whether it would crowd out “bottom-up”, investigator-initiated research...The White House also noted its plans to collaborate with private foundations that are already at work in dynamic brain-mapping efforts.

io9: Here's how Obama's brain mapping project will actually work Much better explanation.

What’s Wrong with the Brain Activity Map Proposal: With the president suggesting a multibillion-dollar neuroscience effort, a leading neuroscientist explains the deep conceptual problems with plans to record all the brain's neurons @partha_mitra, big-shot neuroscientist in Scientific American.
followup: Obama: ‘Braaaaaains.’ Partha Mitra: ‘Whoa there, buddy.’:

different from what was initially talked about, and better...There was a statement in the New York Times about recording from every neuron in the human brain. That doesn’t make any sense. Even if you took a whole mouse brain, that still isn’t workable. There is no real possibility of that when you look at the basic physics of how light scatters in brain tissue or the lengths of antennas you need to make radio transmitters.

What we have subsequently heard are moderate, more realistic goals. Going from recording hundreds of neurons to recording thousands, or tens of thousands, okay, that sounds doable. Under what circumstances and how it will be done, all this will really have to be discussed and developed...

So the definition of the scientific goal is not quite there yet. It’s more like, “Let’s develop tools.” And I think that’s great, I do believe we need better tools. One should have goals and develop tools to meet those goals. But someone like me, who has a theoretical background, wishes there’d be a bit more discussion of what our scientific goals are.

Event info for a talk at Berkeley:
Since the beginning of the year, the European Union and United States have separately announced major initiatives in brain science. The latter is called the Brain Activity Mapping (BAM) Project and the size of the effort and the implications for science and medicine have been compared to the Human Genome Project. A key part of the effort involves developing new scientific instruments capable of observing the activity of large ensembles of neurons in awake behaving humans with the goal of understanding the neural basis for cognition and diagnosing a wide range brain disorders from Parkinson’s to Alzheimer’s...

Why is a research scientist from Google interested in mapping the brain? Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. Information concerning human brain activity certainly ranks high in terms importance to society. The computational and storage requirements for making this data accessible and useful are staggering. Google is perhaps uniquely qualified with the infrastructure and technical wherewithal to assist the scientific community in meeting this challenge.

Google wants your braaaaaaaaains!

NewScientist.com background, some discussion of other related projects

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