Relic from a shameful chapter of American history returned to the Dakota People by an anonymous donor

In an age of decadence, narcissism and shit behavior from well-to-dos that's excused with mutterings of affluenza, it's always nice to be surprised by someone anonymously throwing a large sum of money at a worthy cause.

Before talking about the inherent good that some affluent individual pulled out of thin air earlier this week, we need to talk about The U.S.-Dakota War of 1862, also known as the Sioux Uprising. For the uninitiated, it was a brief, ugly piece of American history. The short version of events: The Dakota people were pissed: the United States government had been screwing them out of land, coming up late with agreed-upon shipments of essential supplies and submitting them to unfair trade practices, contrary to what had been signed off on in treaties between the Dakota/Sioux nations and the United States of America. Tempers flared, as they do over issues of trust and sustenance. A group of Dakota killed a party of Minnesota settlers. War between the U.S. Government and the tribes broke out.

38 Dakota men were captured and convicted of war crimes. They were hung in response to the killing of the settlers: it was the largest single day mass execution in American history. By April of 1863, having lost to superior government forces, the remaining Dakota people were forced out of Minnesota as the United States Congress abolished the tribe's rights to their reservations. Hundreds of people on both sides of the war died as a consequence of the conflict.

Fast forward to the present day: a peace pipe with a history that traces back to the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862 was included in an auction being held in Boston. Read the rest

How does the brain think?

I was on Minnesota Public Radio's morning show The Daily Circuit today—along with Ivan Semeniuk, chief of correspondents for the journal Nature—talking about the Curiosity rover, human evolution, and dealing with the big unknowns in science. You can listen to that segment online.

But right at the end of my bit, as I was packing up my stuff to leave the studio, I heard the next segment on the show, and it was AWESOME. Ask a Neuroscientist is, precisely, reader questions answered by a neuroscientist. But you have to read the transcript for today's first question, where a 5-year-old exchanged ideas with Baylor College of Medicine neuroscientist David Eagleman.

Madeline, 5 years old: How does a brain think?

David Eagleman: We don't know. Part of modern neuroscience's quest is to answer that. One theory goes that, in the same way brains control muscle movement, your brain controls your arms and legs and mouth and so on. Thought might be, essentially, covert muscle movement. In other words, it's going through the same routine that says 'bend this, flex that, extend that' - except that it's not controling a muscle. Instead, it's controling something conceptual.

Holy, awesomesauce.

Read the rest at The Daily Circuit website Read the rest

Radiolab marathon all day today

Minnesota Public Radio is playing a marathon of the NPR show Radiolab all day today. Hours of good, science-filled, story telling wonderfulness. Right now, at 12:32 central, they're doing a show about epidemiologists tracing the origin of AIDS back to the 1920s. Definitely worth listening to. You can listen to the entire marathon on MPR's live stream from anywhere in the world. Read the rest