Via National Geographic: ‘We seem indifferent to the mass extinction were causing, yet we lose a part of ourselves when another animal dies out.’
Via National Geographic: ‘We seem indifferent to the mass extinction were causing, yet we lose a part of ourselves when another animal dies out.’
Via National Geographic: ‘A new approach, similar to one previously tested on Ebola, saved monkeys up to three days after infection with Marburg virus.’
Via io9: ‘Sportfishers off the coast of Bonita Springs Florida captured the footage earlier this month. The shark caught on the line is a blacktip shark, the big fella an appropriately named goliath grouper.’
Via WIRED: ‘Something about city life appears to be causing spiders to grow larger than their rural counterparts. And if that’s not enough to give you nightmares, these bigger urban spiders are also multiplying faster.
A new study published today in PLOS One shows that golden orb weaver spiders living near heavily urbanized areas in Sydney, Australia tend to be bigger, better fed, and have more babies than those living in places less touched by human hands.’
Via Salon.com: ‘Imagine a world where a filmmaker could go to a studio and say, “My team has five million followers. Through crowd-funding, we’ve done 25,000 preorders for the video that we haven’t begun to shoot, and I want to be your partner in the producing and marketing of this movie.” How could that not be enticing? And we’re almost at that point. This is the beginning of the third way. And you can already see it peeking out from under the horizon. Each day, it grows larger, better, and, perhaps for some, more threatening.’
Via Big Think: ‘Thanks to advantages in facial recognition technology and natural language analysis, virtual therapists can “understand” humans better than ever before. Developed by the Institute for Creative Technologies in Los Angeles, one virtual therapist named Ellie can measure your smile whether its ironic or sincere, spot a nervous tic, and determine the meaning of your tone of voice and your posture. She will also analyze speech patterns to determine how forthcoming you are about your true thoughts and feelings.
Were humans always willing to level with their professional caretakers about their psychological state, there might not be a need for virtual therapists. Those most in need of therapy, however, such as soldiers returning home from war, are also the most likely to avoid it. But when therapy is virtual, people are more likely to divulge information that can be useful in developing treatment. In a experiment of 239 individuals who were given sessions with virtual counselor Ellie, those were told the truth that Ellie was a computer expressed more personal information than those told a human was controlling what Ellie said.’
Via ThinkProgress: ‘In 1977, a Texas man named Jerry Hartfield was convicted of murder. His conviction was tossed out three years later because the process used to select his jury was unconstitutional. Yet Hartfield was neither freed from prison nor given a new trial. Last April, a Texas trial judge held that he must remain in prison, despite the fact that the sole legal basis for his detention was overturned nearly 34 years ago, because Hartfield did not actively seek a new trial. Hartfield is intellectually disabled. His IQ is estimated to be only 51. On Thursday, Hartfield’s case grew even more similar to a Franz Kafka novel with a Texas Court of Appeals decision refusing to grant him relief.’
Via Aeon: ‘A ferocious biological struggle between mother and baby belies any sentimental ideas we might have about pregnancy…’
Via BlackGirlDangerous: ‘A Black person is murdered by cops, security guards or self-appointed vigilantes every 28 hours in the U.S. The killing of an unarmed Black teenager named Mike Brown in Ferguson, MO, which has resulted in protests in that town and harsh police push-back and brutality against even more of its citizens, and which, via social media, has gotten the attention of people around the world, probably isn’t even the latest occurrence, at just three days old.
Talking to people on Twitter about Mike Brown and what’s happening in Ferguson right now, I’ve noticed again how easily folks get distracted when Black people are murdered by the police. It seems as though every detail is more interesting, more important, more significant—including looting of a Walmart in Ferguson, which a local Fox news station focused its entire coverage on—than the actual life that was taken by police.
So, to get folks back on track to focus on what matters most here—the killing of yet another unarmed Black teenager—I’ve compiled this list of 6 Things To Stop Being Distracted By When A Black Person Gets Murdered By the Police.’
Via The Atlantic: ‘The Sunni militants who now threaten to take over Iraq seemed to spring from nowhere when they stormed Mosul in early June. But the group that recently renamed itself simply “the Islamic State” has existed under various names and in various shapes since the early 1990s. And its story is the story of how modern terrorism has evolved, from a political and religious ideal into a death cult.’
Via Salon.com: ‘It would appear that Texas gun owners want to expand their rights yet again. And you won’t believe what new right their creator endowed them with this time: the right to sell alcohol at gun shows. What could go wrong?’
Via Boing Boing: ‘ “Im sure most of you have heard the story of the man who, desperately ill, goes to an analyst and tells the doctor that he has lost his desire to live and that he is seriously considering suicide. The doctor listens to this tale of melancholia and then tells the patient that what he needs is a good belly laugh. He advises the unhappy man to go to the circus that night and spend the evening laughing at Grock, the worlds funniest clown. The doctor sums it up, After you have seen Grock, I am sure you will be much happier. The patient rises to his feet, looks sadly at the doctor, turns and ambles to the door. As he starts to leave, the doctor says, By the way what is your name? The man turns and regards the analyst with sorrowful eyes. I am Grock.” ‘
Via Gizmodo: ‘Alfred Hitchcock appeared briefly in the majority of his movies, making that his signature. Morgan T. Rhys edited all those cameos together in a video so all Hitchcocks fans can enjoy it. His cameos became so popular that Hitchcock decided to make his appearances more obvious and earlier in the film, so people wouldn’t get distracted from the movie trying to spot him.’
Via The Wire: ‘Jay Chapman is the creator of the most commonly used lethal injection protocol, which he concocted in the late 1970s. This lethal recipe was adopted by 37 states. Chapman’s protocol called for three drugs: sodium thiopental, a sedative; pancuronium bromide, a paralytic agent; and to stop the heart, potassium chloride. However, in the last few years, manufacturers have pulled away from selling these drugs to states for the purpose of lethal injection. Sodium thiopental, the key sedative in the protocol, has become virtually unavailable. The last manufacturer of sodium thiopental in the United States stopped producing it in 2011. The European Union banned export of it all together, and India has banned its sale. While some states attempted to stockpile the drug before the bans, sodium thiopental has a shelf life of only four years, with expirations fast approaching in 2015.
Suddenly, states were left with prisoners on death row, and no way to kill them. They had to reinvent the lethal injection. On July 23, convicted murdered Joseph Wood was executed by the state of Arizona. His execution took almost two hours, involving fifteen doses of an experimental drug combination. Witnesses watched as he gagged and choked for the majority of the two hours, his opioid receptors filling with hydromorphone and midazolam.
An …official told the judge working to find an acceptable lethal injection protocol that “You’re not entitled to a pain-free execution.” This mentality is a point of contention on both sides of the execution battle. While some believe a painful execution qualifies as cruel and unusual punishment, others believe that with murderers who are guilty of terrible crimes against humanity, the end is more important than the means.’
Via io9s: ‘The midshipman fish has, all things considered, one of the more pleasant mating rituals in nature. Rather than fighting among themselves or biting the hell out of their prospective mates – as sharks do – they try to out-sing each other. The males get together in groups and start a low humming sound. He who hums best gets the girl.The group of fish humming together gets the attention of the local townspeople. Low-frequency humming carries over large distances, traveling through the ground, penetrating walls, and rattling windows. This is why we hear the bass when cars playing loud music come by the house, rather than the higher notes. It’s also why people close to the ocean hear a humming at night loud enough to keep them up. Just as a bonus, the fish are nocturnal. These people did not know where the humming was coming from, which is why power lines and local highways got a lot of complaints until someone turned their eyes on the ocean.’
Via Salon.com: ‘One of the last things Brown said, according to a witness: “I don’t have a gun! Stop shooting!” ‘
Via WIRED: ‘I like everything. Or at least I did, for 48 hours. Literally everything Facebook sent my way, I liked—even if I hated it. I decided to embark on a campaign of conscious liking, to see how it would affect what Facebook showed me. I know this sounds like a stunt (and it was) but it was also genuinely just an open-ended experiment. I wasn’t sure how long I’d keep it up (48 hours was all I could stand) or what I’d learn (possibly nothing.)…
My News Feed took on an entirely new character in a surprisingly short amount of time. After checking in and liking a bunch of stuff over the course of an hour, there were no human beings in my feed anymore. It became about brands and messaging, rather than humans with messages.Likewise, content mills rose to the top. Nearly my entire feed was given over to Upworthy and the Huffington Post. As I went to bed that first night and scrolled through my News Feed, the updates I saw were in order: Huffington Post, Upworthy, Huffington Post, Upworthy, a Levi’s ad, Space.com, Huffington Post, Upworthy, The Verge, Huffington Post, Space.com, Upworthy, Space.com.
Also, as I went to bed, I remember thinking “Ah, crap. I have to like something about Gaza,” as I hit the Like button on a post with a pro-Israel message.By the next morning, the items in my News Feed had moved very, very far to the right. I’m offered the chance to like the 2nd Amendment and some sort of anti-immigrant page. I like them both. I like Ted Cruz. I like Rick Perry. The Conservative Tribune comes up again, and again, and again in my News Feed.’ (Thanks, RK)
Via Salon.com: ‘ “We are living in the most peaceful century in human history; however the 2014 Global Peace Index shows that the last seven years has shown a notable deterioration in levels of peace.”So begins this year’s peace index, an annual report released by the nonprofit Institute for Economics and Peace. The study ranks 162 countries covering 99.6% of the world’s population according to a complex set of indicators that gauge the absence of violence and political instability. These include a nation’s level of military expenditure, its relations with neighboring countries and the percentage of the population held in prisons.’
Via Salon.com: ‘The people of Ferguson are angry. Outraged. The officer’s story is dubious. Any black kid with sense knows it is futile to reach into an officer’s vehicle and take his gun. That story is only plausible to people who believe that black people are animals, that black men go looking for cops to pick fights with. Absurdity. Eyewitness accounts like these make far more sense.
It seems far easier to focus on the few looters who have reacted unproductively to this tragedy than to focus on the killing of Michael Brown. Perhaps looting seems like a thing we can control. I refuse. I refuse to condemn the folks engaged in these acts, because I respect black rage. I respect black people’s right to cry out, shout and be mad as hell that another one of our kids is dead at the hands of the police. Moreover I refuse the lie that the opportunism of a few in any way justifies or excuses the murderous opportunism undertaken by this as yet anonymous officer.’ — Brittney Cooper, Rutgers
Via Boing Boing: ‘The “suicide contagion” is a real phenomenon, says the CDC. Heres how journalists, bloggers, and public officials can help avoid spreading it.’
Via The Atlantic: ‘Is there a gun in your home? If so, is it secure? A Florida law now prevents physicians from discussing firearm safety with patients.’
Via Salon.com: ‘Why are companies selling bottled water from the driest part of California? Because were still buying it.’
Via theguardian.com: ‘Children will often have imaginary friends, the recently bereaved sometimes hear their loved ones and for some people voices in their head can be a horrible, destabilising ordeal.
The full gamut of experiences are to be explored in detail at this years Edinburgh International Book Festival, in a project investigating why and how people hear voices when no one is speaking.
Researchers from Durham Universitys Hearing the Voice project will be at the festival asking both readers and writers what their experiences are. There will also be interviews, panel discussions and workshops delving into what is still a little-talked-about subject.
The projects director, Charles Fernyhough, said: “It is usually considered a troubling symptom of a severe mental illness but is more and more being recognised as something that happens to a lot of people and there are a lot of different contexts.
…”There’s a terrible stigma about it,” he said. “It is something many people who have the experience feel very uncomfortable talking about because they fear the reaction of society, for good reason.
“Having the opportunity to talk to a “captive audience” of writers will be invaluable, said Fernyhough. “They often have to hear the voices of their characters before they can write.”Similarly, for readers, hearing the voices of the people they are reading about is an important part of the process.’
Via Cloud Surfing: ‘ “Circumstances have necessitated that all scheduled tour dates for Bob Weir & RatDog are being cancelled. This applies to all dates on the summer tour starting on Thursday, August 14 in Boston through September 14 in Nashville and also includes the Jamaica event in January of 2015….” ‘
If you know who Bob Weir is, you will likely care…
Via Boston.com: ‘The clear skies of the past couple of nights and the next two would seem to make for ideal viewing for annual Perseid meteor shower. However, this year we have another problem, the moon. The meteor shower will peak on the 12th and the 13th, but you have already been able to see them for nearly 2 weeks. The show will last through the third week of the month.’
Via IFLScience: ‘Australia has a seriously strange entry in its enormous list of creatures that could kill you. Two new species of jellyfish have been discovered, one of which appears to defy everything we know about the invertebrates. The other is just really, really dangerous.’
Via The Atlantic: ‘The former secretary of state, and probable candidate for president, outlines her foreign-policy doctrine. She says this about President Obamas: “Great nations need organizing principles, and Dont do stupid stuff is not an organizing principle.” ‘
Via National Geographic: ‘For their beliefs, they have been the target of hatred for centuries. Considered heretical devil worshippers by many Muslims—including the advancing militants overrunning Iraq—the Yazidis have faced the possibility of genocide many times over. Now, with the capture of Sinjar and northward thrust of extremists calling themselves the Islamic State of the Levant, or ISIL also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, Iraq’s estimated 500,000 Yazidis fear the end of their people and their religion. “Sinjar is, hopefully not was, home to the oldest, biggest, and most compact Yazidi community,” explains Khanna Omarkhali, a Yazidi scholar at the University of Göttingen. “Extermination, emigration, and settlement of this community will bring tragic transformations to the Yazidi religion,” she adds.
The Yazidis have inhabited the mountains of northwestern Iraq for centuries, and the region is home to their holy places, shrines, and ancestral villages. Outside of Sinjar, the Yazidis are concentrated in areas north of Mosul, and in the Kurdish-controlled province of Dohuk. For Yazidis, the land holds deep religious significance; adherents from all over the world—remnant communities exist in Turkey, Germany, and elsewhere—make pilgrimages to the holy Iraqi city of Lalesh. The city is now less than 40 miles from the Islamic State front lines.’
Via Gizmodo: ‘The spacecraft Rosetta is now orbiting the Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Its taking some amazingly clear images including the one above, the first ever close up of a the surface of a comet in history. Soon we will be landing there.’
Via Pacific Standard: ‘The moral quandary with Dark Tourism is rather obvious: Is this an industry that seeks to profit from the suffering of others or educate those still living among us?’
Related: IDTR: ‘Dark tourism as the act of travel to sites of or sites associated with death has gained significant attention with media imaginations and academic scholarship. There is a growing body of literature on the representation and tourist experience of ‘deathscapes’ within contemporary visitor economies. As such, dark tourism is now a recognisable field of academic study, which include interdisciplinary perspectives of the ‘darker side of travel’ in sociology, anthropology, cultural studies, geography, thanatology, and business management.
The Institute for Dark Tourism Research iDTR, based at the University of Central Lancashire UK and led by Dr Philip Stone, is a world-leading academic centre for dark tourism scholarship, research and teaching.
Dark tourism as an academic field of study is where death education and tourism studies collide and, as such, can shine critical light on the social reality of death. Dark tourism can also reveal tensions in cultural memory, interpretation and authenticity, and political and moral dilemmas in remembering our ‘heritage that hurts’. Dark tourism is also a recognised research brand in which scholars around the world can locate and analyse a diverse range of death-tourism related sites and tourist experiences.The iDTR promotes ethical research into the social scientific understanding of tourist sites of death, disaster, and atrocities, and the tourist experience at these places. Dark tourism is not simply a fascination with death or the macabre, but a multi-disciplinary academic lens in which to scrutinise fundamental interrelationships of the contemporary commodification of death with the cultural condition of society.’
Via Spaceweather.com, ‘The European Space Agencys Rosetta probe has reached 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko and is maneuvering to go into orbit around the comets core. This is an historic event. After Rosetta goes into orbit, it will follow the comet around the sun, observing its activity from point-blank range for more than a year. Moreover, in November, Rosetta will drop a lander onto the comets strange surface. Today’s events are being streamed live by the ESA.’
Via IFLScience, ‘Michael Stevens, of Vsauce, walks us through the options.’
Via Discovery News, ‘A new gene linked to suicide risk has been discovered… [R]esearchers scanned the genes of brain tissue samples from people who had died by suicide, and compared these genes with those of people who died of other causes. …A genetic mutation in a gene called SKA2, was more common among the people who died by suicide [and] a chemical change, called anepigenetic change, on that same gene was more common among people who committed suicide than in those who died from other causes…
Via Boing Boing, ‘Holes like this one have been appearing in Siberia — at least three are known so far. There are a couple of theories for whats causing them and both are linked to climate change.
First, there’s the idea that the holes are created when mounds of ice, covered with earth, melt. Called pingos, the loss of the ice would leave behind a big hole that collapses in on itself. Given the rising temperatures and melting of permafrost in Siberia, it wouldnt be surprising to find that pingos are melting.
But, other scientists argue, these holes dont really fit the look of a pingo collapse. Which brings us to the other, fairly awesome, possible explanation. Some observers have noted the presence of smoke and flashes of light in the places where the holes appeared. Theres also been some weirdness in the atmospheric science world with spikes of methane turning up in air over Siberia.Thats leading some scientists to speculate that the holes could be forming when methane from melted permafrost builds up in a space left by a melting pingo — eventually leading to an explosion.’
Via WIRED: ‘[The] FDA says it is now working to crack down on questionable healthcare apps, and some app makers may be willing to provide additional disclosures about their software when pushed to do so…’
Via BBC News: ‘A man died and several other people were injured in a thunderstorm off the coast of California. What happens when lightning hits the sea, asks Justin Parkinson.’
Simple answer: get out or go deep.
Via New Scientist: ‘In 2007, Paul Liu at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration compiled a catalogue of more than 50 historical incidents probably associated with rogue waves. Here are some of the most significant.’
Via National Geographic: ‘There are few direct flights from West Africa to the U.S., so most feverish passengers entering American airports will have something far more routine and less risky than Ebola.
Ebola is contagious only when symptomatic, so someone unknowingly harboring the virus would not pass it on, Monroe said.
Even passengers showing symptoms are unlikely to pass the disease on to fellow travelers, he said.Blood and stool carry the most virus—which is why those at highest risk for Ebola infection are family members who care for sick loved ones and health care workers who treat patients or accidentally stick themselves with infected needles.Theoretically, there could be enough virus in sweat or saliva to pass on the virus through, say, an airplane armrest or a nearby sneeze, said Stephen Morse, an epidemiologist and virologist at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University in New York. But droplets would still need a way to get through the skin.’
Via Salon.com: ‘In his latest column for the New York Times, leading liberal pundit and celebrated economist Paul Krugman takes on the new trend in the world of corporate tax avoidance, the practice of “inversion,” which is what U.S. corporations call it when they pretend a foreign subsidiary is the real owner of their company as an excuse to shift profits away from America’s higher corporate tax rate.
“The most important thing to understand about inversion,” Krugman writes, “is that it does not in any meaningful sense involve American business ‘moving overseas.’” Inversion, Krugman says, is “a purely paper transaction” but one that “deprive[s] the U.S. government of several billion dollars in revenue that you, the taxpayer … have to make up one way or another.” ‘
Via Pacific Standard: ‘Those who study animal phobias have found that while more people are afraid of spiders or snakes than dogs, living with cynophobia is considerably more challenging—especially today, as dog-wielding humans appropriate more and more public places. [People] living with a fear of dogs [describe] a debilitating phobia that affects where they go and who they see.’
Via Pacific Standard: ‘[D]eclining wildlife populations are stoking wildlife crimes as prices for contraband animal bits rise, and as communities are forced to travel farther afield and clash with competing groups to find their dinner.
Those crimes, in turn, are fueling further declines in wildlife populations.
And the whole vicious cycle is triggering a heinous global crime wave, including everything from slavery and terrorism to piracy.’
Via Pacific Standard, ‘Why do we use the term “normal weight” when talking about BMI? What’s presented as normal certainly isn’t the norm, and it may not even be what’s most healthy.’
Via Pacific Standard, ‘The majority of American children with cancer will be cured, but it may leave them unable to have children of their own. Should preserving fertility in cancer survivors be a research priority?’
Via Big Think, ‘The image above maps the location of more than 150,000 geocoded tweets that contained words deemed to be racist, homophobic or that targeted people with disabilities. The project was completed by students at Humboldt State University in California. You can view the zoomable map here.’
Via NYTimes.com, ‘Can people in high positions of power — presidents, bosses, celebrities, even dominant spouses — easily empathize with those beneath them? Psychological research suggests the answer is no.’ (thanks, Barbara)
The authors suggest that this is ‘because’ the mirror neuron system of powerful people is less responsive, but this seems to me to be an egregious example of neurological determinism. (You should always see ‘because’ in neurocognitive literature as a red flag, IMHO.) The mirror neuron system may be the neurophysiological basis of empathy, but the observed underactivity in people with power may be a reflection of rather than a reason for their empathic deficits.
Via NPR Science Friday, ‘A new online tracker is snooping on visitors to more than 5,600 popular sites, such as Cancer.org, WhiteHouse.gov and NYDailyNews.com—and its nearly impossible to block. Julia Angwin, author of Dragnet Nation and a senior reporter at ProPublica, talks about “canvas fingerprinting,” as the new technique is called, and what this post-cookie tracker means for privacy online.’ (thanks, Rich)