What Rough Beast Comes?

26 83%  28% 2mph NNW  bar 30.15 rises windchill25   Yuletide

                          Waning Gibbous Cold Moon

The assassination of Benazir Bhutto chilled me, chilled me more than the air temperature outside.  My reaction surprised me since I have no Pakistani friends, feel no special affiliation with the Pakistani people and know only a little about Ms. Bhutto.  Yeats comes to mind:  The center will not hold.  This targeted political violence is the rough beast that slouches toward the Bethlehems in every country and toward the calm in our souls.

There is no place on the globe any longer that does not affect us, no matter how remote from our understanding or apparent sympathies.  This is good in a general sense and perhaps bodes well for the long term future when these kind of strong links bind us together even more strongly; but now, in the short term, the ripples will have unexpected consequences.

The material below is interesting.

From Scientific American Online

People who describe themselves as being politically liberal can better suppress a habitual response when faced with situations in which that response is incorrect, according to research that used a simple cognitive test to compare liberal and conservative thinkers. Tasks that require such “conflict monitoring” also triggered more activity in the liberals’ anterior cingulate cortex, a brain region geared to detect and respond to conflicting information.

Past research has shown that liberals and conservatives exhibit differing cognitive styles, with liberals being more tolerant of ambiguity and conservatives preferring more structure. The new paper “is exciting because it suggests a specific mechanism” for that pattern, com­ments psychologist Wil Cunningham of Ohio State University, who was not involved with the study. In the experiment, subjects saw a series of letters flash quickly on a screen and were told to press a button when they saw M, but not W. Because M appeared about 80 percent of the time, hitting the button became a reflex—and the more liberal-minded volunteers were better able to avoid the knee-jerk reaction.

The study’s lead author, psychologist David Amodio of New York University, emphasizes that the findings do not mean that political views are predetermined. “There are a lot of steps be­tween conflict monitoring and political ideology, and we don’t know what those steps are,” he says. Although the neurocognitive process his group measured is so basic that it is most likely in place in early childhood, he notes that “the whole brain is very malleable.” Social relation­ships and other environmental factors also shape one’s political leanings.

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