It may not be entirely surprising that rats cooperated in the Prisoner’s Dilemma. After all, animals often cooperate in nature to altruistically serve the group, whether that means hunting in packs to get more meat, or a surrogate mother animal adopting an abandoned baby to boost the pack’s numbers. Still, there’s no direct evidence that shows rats grasp the concept of direct reciprocity. Given that the rats in this study changed their strategy based on the game their opponent was playing, and cooperation rates were only high when the rats played against a tit-for-tat opponent, the authors showed, perhaps for the first time, that rats directly reciprocate. But an even more surprising finding was how well the rats played the game. They plotted and schemed. They manipulated their opponents by taking calculated strategic risks for the high payout reward. In essence, these rodents challenged our perception of animal intelligence and proved that they, too, can master both the game, and the psychological component of competition.
The Holy See’s second-highest prelate after the Pope has blamed homosexuals for the paedophile crisis.Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican’s Secretary of State, said that the child rape scandal that is threatening the moral authority of the Roman Catholic Church worldwide is linked to homosexuality and not celibacy among priests.Other Vatican clerics have sought to deflect criticism from the Catholic hierarchy by blaming the media, and one retired bishop was even reported earlier this week to have blamed the Jews.Cardinal Bertone made the comments during a news conference on Monday in Chile, where one of the church’s highest-profile paedophile cases involves a priest having sex with young girls.
We already know the cardinal is a piece of human shit, why does he insist on proving it again and again?
The budget for the 2011 fiscal year, which has to be voted by Congress by this Oct. 1, looks to be about $3 trillion, not counting the funds collected for Social Security (since the Vietnam War, the government has included the Social Security Trust Fund in the budget as a way to make the cost of America’s imperial military adventures seem smaller in comparison to the total cost of government). Meanwhile, the military share of the budget works out to about $1.6 trillion.
That figure includes the Pentagon budget request of $708 billion, plus an estimated $200 billion in supplemental funding, called “overseas contingency funding” in euphemistic White House-speak), to fund the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, some $40 billion or more in “black box” intelligence agency funding, $94 billion in non-DOD military spending, $100 billion in veterans benefits and health care spending, and $400 billion in interest on debt raised to pay for prior wars and the standing military.
The 2011 military budget, by the way, is the largest in history, not just in actual dollars, but in inflation adjusted dollars, exceeding even the spending in World War II, when the nation was on an all-out military footing.
Military spending in all its myriad forms works out to represent 53.3% of total US federal spending.
Ipsos-Reid surveyed 1,003 Canadians by telephone last week. Eight per cent of respondents, and seven per cent of Roman Catholics surveyed — numbers that if extrapolated across Canada would equal two million people — personally know a victim of sexual abuse by a Catholic priest.
The results on this question were highest in British Columbia (11 per cent) and Atlantic Canada (10 per cent), Quebec (nine per cent), Alberta (eight per cent) and lowest in Saskatchewan and Manitoba (three per cent each). For Ontario, the result was six per cent.
The German satirical magazine Titanic is being crucified, in a manner of speaking, for its April cover. The cover story “Kirche Heute” (“The Church Today”) is illustrated with a priest kneeling before a rather large crucifix. In the midst of the worldwide Catholic church sex abuse scandal, it seems that many who have viewed the new magazine cover see more than just prayer in the image, and they think that sucks.
Leo Fischer, the editor-in-chief of Titanic, coyly claims not to understand the controversy (sound familiar?), stating, “That cover? You only see a priest praying in front of Christ. I am pleased to say that we have many Christians among our readers.”
Shizo Kanakuri disappeared while running the marathon in the 1912 Summer Olympics in Stockholm. He was listed as a missing person in Sweden for 50 years — until a journalist found him living quietly in southern Japan.
Overcome with heat during the race, he had stopped at a garden party to drink orange juice, stayed for an hour, then took a train to a hotel and sailed home the next day, too ashamed to tell anyone he was leaving.
There’s a happy ending: In 1966 Kanakuri accepted an invitation to return to Stockholm and complete his run. His final time was 54 years, 8 months, 6 days, 8 hours, 32 minutes and 20.3 seconds — surely a record that will last forever.
International law is the belated reply to one of the oldest surviving aphorisms in the English language. There are half a dozen versions, but the best known is this: “They hang the man and flog the woman / That steals the goose from off the common / But let the greater villain loose / That steals the common from the goose.” This is the way we thought it would remain. The powerful were licensed by our expectations to carry on committing great crimes, while their subjects were punished for lesser offences. No longer. Picture the pope awaiting trial in a British prison, and you begin to grasp the implications of the radical idea that has never yet been applied: equality before the law.
At the same time as Dawkins and Hitchens laid out their case, the barrister Polly Higgins challenged our perceptions of what legal equality means. Last Friday she launched a campaign to have a fifth crime against peace recognised by the international criminal court. The crime is ecocide: the destruction of the natural world.
The laws of most nations protect property fiercely, the individual capriciously, and society scarcely at all. A single murder is prosecuted; mass murder is the legitimate business of states. Only when these acts are given names – genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, crimes of aggression – do we begin to understand their moral significance.
The same applies to nature.
The Vatican may have forgiven the Beatles over the weekend for their “satanic” messages — but Ringo Starr, the legendary band’s drummer, says he couldn’t care less.
But Starr told CNN: “Didn’t the Vatican say we were satanic or possibly satanic — and they’ve still forgiven us? I think the Vatican, they’ve got more to talk about than the Beatles.”
Cash-strapped American Airlines announced a new series of fees this week that will apply to all customers not currently flying, scheduled to fly, or even thinking about flying aboard the commercial carrier.
The fees, the latest introduced by American Airlines in a continuing effort to combat its financial woes, will take effect on Monday. According to company officials, these charges will include a $25 tax on citizens traveling with any other airline, as well as a mandatory $30 surcharge for passengers who decide to just stay home for the holidays instead.