‘The worse the spill gets, the better the politics in support of meaningful energy legislation become.’ — Andrew Leonard (Salon.com)
First human ‘infected with computer virus’. ‘Dr Mark Gasson from the University of Reading contaminated a computer chip which was then inserted into his hand.
The device, which enables him to pass through security doors and activate his mobile phone, is a sophisticated version of ID chips used to tag pets.
In trials, Dr Gasson showed that the chip was able to pass on the computer virus to external control systems.
If other implanted chips had then connected to the system they too would have been corrupted, he said.’ (BBC)
‘Austrian authorities say druids have been so successful in dealing with motorway accident blackspots in one area that they plan to extend the project nationwide.’(Metro.co.uk)
Complaints that get results (New York Times )
Imaginary book covers, designed for actual authors (The Hypothetical Library)
A new report, commissioned by the federal government, finds the field is rife with poorly done studies, misdiagnoses and tests that can give misleading results.
While there is no doubt that people can be allergic to certain foods, with reproducible responses ranging from a rash to a severe life-threatening reaction, the true incidence of food allergies is only about 8 percent for children and less than 5 percent for adults, said Dr. Marc Riedl, an author of the new paper and an allergist and immunologist at the University of California, Los Angeles.
Yet about 30 percent of the population believe they have food allergies. And, Dr. Riedl said, about half the patients coming to his clinic because they had been told they had a food allergy did not really have one.
Dr. Riedl does not dismiss the seriousness of some people’s responses to foods. But, he says, “That accounts for a small percentage of what people term ‘food allergies.’ “‘ (New York Times )
Scientists in China have succeeded in teleporting information between entangled photons further than ever before — 16 km (10 miles), much further than the few hundred meters previously achieved — bringing us closer to transmitting information over long distances without the need for a traditional signal.’ (KurzweilAI.net)
Bush’s former strategist is secretly seizing control of the GOP: ‘One afternoon in late April, Karl Rove welcomed an elite group of conservative political operatives and moneymen into his home in Washington, D.C. Along with his protégé Ed Gillespie, who succeeded him as George W. Bush’s top political adviser, Rove had gathered together the heavyweights of the GOP’s fundraising network. In attendance were the political director of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, as well as the leaders of two new megadollar campaign groups loyal to Rove: American Crossroads and the American Action Network. Rove’s plan was straightforward: to seize control of the party from Michael Steele, whose leadership of the Republican National Committee was imploding in the wake of a fundraiser at a lesbian bondage club. By building a war chest of unregulated campaign cash – an unprecedented $135 million to be raised by these three groups alone – Rove would be able to wage the midterm elections on his own terms: electing candidates loyal to the GOP’s wealthiest donors and corporate patrons. With the media’s attention diverted by the noisy revolt being waged by the Tea Party, the man known as “Bush’s brain” was staging a stealthier but no less significant coup of the Republican Party.’ (Rolling Stone)
- Karl Rove Thumbs His Nose At RNC, Builds Shadow Republican Party To Evade Finance Limits (crooksandliars.com)
- Rove Ludicrously Claims Bush White House Never Questioned Opponents’ ‘Motives’ Or Called Them Names (thinkprogress.org)
- Karl Rove leads GOP plot to regain power (capitolhillblue.com)
- Rove, Steele And The GOP (riehlworldview.com)
Ebola vaccine closer after monkey trials: ‘Ebola, a viral disease that kills as many as 90% of infected humans, may be one step closer to a cure.
Researchers at government institutions in the U.S. have created a vaccine that successfully immunises monkeys against the two most lethal strains of the disease, and have found that it also protects against a newer strain not represented in the vaccine.’ (Cosmos)
‘”The Star That Ate My Planet” may sound like a B-grade science fiction movie title, but this is really happening 600 light-years away. Like a moth in a candle flame, a doomed Jupiter-sized planet has moved so close to its sunlike parent star that it is spilling its atmosphere onto the star. This happens because the planet gets so hot that its atmosphere puffs up to the point where the star’s gravity pulls it in. The planet will likely be completely devoured in 10 million years. Observations by Hubble’s new Cosmic Origins Spectrograph measured a variety of elements in the planet’s bloated atmosphere as the planet passed in front of its star. The planet, called WASP-12b, is the hottest known world ever discovered, with an atmosphere seething at 2,800 degrees Fahrenheit.’ (HubbleSite)
‘I was intrigued by the “mind reading” aspects of vision. In a nutshell, how does this work, and how do humans benefit from this ability?’
‘Our color vision fundamentally relies upon the cones in our retina, and I argue in my research that color vision evolved in us primates for the purpose of sensing the emotions and states of those around us. We primates have an unusual kind of color vision – our cones sample the visible spectrum in a peculiar fashion – and I have shown that one needs that kind of peculiar color sense in order to pick up the color modulations that occur on our skin when we blush, blanch, redden with anger, and so on. Our funny primate variety of color vision turns out to be optimized for seeing the physiological modulations in the blood in the skin that underlies our primate color signals.
So, we evolved special mechanisms designed for sensing the emotions and states of others around us. That sounds a lot like the evolution of a “mind-reading” mechanism, which is why I (only half in jest) describe it that way.’ (N e u r o n a r r a t i v e)
LucyPhone: Sign up for a free account then search their growing database online for the company you want to call.
LucyPhone then calls you via the phone number specified in your profile (cell, work etc.), Google Voice-style. Once the hold process begins, simply press **, hang up the phone and go about your business.
Once a real live customer service rep picks up, no matter how much later, LucyPhone calls you back.
‘The following is a list of people that have left the official Church of Scientology organization and have spoken out publicly against it. Although some of them still believe in the validity of the core precepts and practice them outside of the the Church of Scientology, all of them have denounced the legitimacy of the organization itself. The names are listed alphabetically by last name. As of the last count, there are 1059 names on this list. The purpose of this list is to give courage to others who are still in to finally leave, or those who have already left to speak out. Also, perhaps those that are still in may recognize a name they may have known before and are unaware they have left. It is also important to show how extensive this list is, especially now that some senior former members have come forward.’
via Why We Protest Wiki.
- Tom Cruise betrayed by Scientology leader (beliefnet.com)
- Scientology Tries To Block German Documentary (yro.slashdot.org)
- Cult of Greed (venganza.org)
- Church of Scientology at center of human trafficking allegations, new lawsuit (boingboing.net)
- Scientology Official Calls for Government-Community Cooperation to Attack Drug Abuse (prweb.com)
- Scientology’s open-handed compliment (getreligion.org)
- Pranking Scientology [Books] (gawker.com)
‘Jupiter has lost one of its prominent stripes, leaving its southern half looking unusually blank. Scientists are not sure what triggered the disappearance of the band.
Jupiter’s appearance is usually dominated by two dark bands in its atmosphere – one in the northern hemisphere and one in the southern hemisphere.
But recent images taken by amateur astronomers show that the southern band – called the south equatorial belt – has disappeared.
The band was present at the end of 2009, right before Jupiter moved too close to the sun in the sky to be observed from Earth. When the planet emerged from the sun’s glare again in early April, its south equatorial belt was nowhere to be seen.’ (New Scientist)
- Pre-Oiled Shrimp (eschatonblog.com)
- Philip Radford: BP Waives Responsibility — Health Effects of Oil Cleanup Could Be Deadly (huffingtonpost.com)
- BP Oil Spill Couldn’t Have Happened at Worse Time For Us, Louisiana Fisherman Explains (Video) (treehugger.com)
- BP Trying To Buy Off Alabamans (alan.com)
Did he turn the other cheek? ‘Police say a Pittsfield woman has been cited for running down a man named Lord Jesus Christ as he crossed a street in Northampton on Tuesday. The 50-year-old man is from Belchertown. Officers checked his ID and discovered that, indeed, his legal name is Lord Jesus Christ. He was taken to the hospital for treatment of minor facial injuries.’ (NPR)
‘If You’re Going To Eat A Carrot From Your Garden Be Sure It’s Not Hemlock. It’s great that you’re a locavore and all that but, before you run out and eat stuff that is growing in your yard, look carefully and make sure it’s not hemlock, a poisonous plant that, according to Wikipedia, can kill you by the time you’re on about your 6th delicious leaf. (Ok, it takes longer than that, but you get the idea. It’s bad for you.)
A medical investigator says that a mysterious death back in April may have been the result of hemlock poisoning after the woman “apparently put hemlock in a salad she ate, thinking it was something else.”
This isn’t the first time this has happened recently. Another guy thought hemlock (a member of the carrot family) was actually a carrot and added it to a bowl of fermented veggies. He lived, but is lucky he wasn’t killed. (Hemlock is the same poison that killed Socrates.)’ (TheConsumerist)
‘A small band of economists has been studying how height, weight and beauty affect the likelihood of committing — or being convicted of — a crime. Looking at records from the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries, they have found evidence that shorter men are 20 to 30 percent more likely to end up in prison than their taller counterparts, and that obesity and physical attractiveness are linked to crime.” (New York Times )
An Italian master barista says you are probably not drinking espresso at all, even if you think you are (in the US): “The biggest mistake I’ve seen is an enormous quantity of coffee being used—way too much. I’m talking about 20 to 25 grams of coffee for a single espresso shot! It is like making a mojito with half a mint leaf, one ice cube, a few grains of sugar, and a gallon of rum. Undrinkable!
Espresso made this way—well, it’s not espresso, but I’ll call it that—turns out overly concentrated, and because of that it cannot delight the drinker with the magnificent aromas of toasted bread, chocolate, red fruit, orange, and jasmine flowers that are all present in a high-quality blend.
The beverages I tasted were almost syrups, full-bodied but with a very sour, almost salty taste. I suspect that beans that were roasted too recently played a part. After roasting, beans need a few days to breathe and mature. These too-young beans are a big problem. Also, I’ve visited too many coffee bars that don’t heat cups before serving, and in the process sacrifice flavor and aroma. Or that serve in wet cups, an espresso sin.
An espresso, a real one, requires seven to eight grams of freshly ground coffee roasted two to three days in advance, or preserved using pressurization. The water can’t be too soft, and must not exceed 200 degrees F to avoid burning, nor be lower than 190 F in order to extract all the best aromatic components.
The grind is also fundamental. A too-fine grind can create burnt coffee and extract unpleasantly bitter and woody flavors. This is why so many people describe espresso’s taste as “bitter.” An overly coarse grind doesn’t permit full extraction of certain key elements. The proper, medium grind permits extraction of one ounce of aromatic black liquid in 25 to 30 seconds, the ideal amount of time.
If all these variables are respected (amount of coffee, temperature, time, and volume), along with the right pressure (around nine atmospheric units or 130 psi), you get an opaque, perfumed liquid containing microscopic oil droplets releasing precious coffee aroma, set fully free on your taste buds.”
- Buying the Right Espresso Machine (yearn2blog.com)
- Espresso Coffee Pods: What Are They? (yearn2blog.com)
- Choosing Espresso Beans for your Espresso Machine (yearn2blog.com)
- Quitting Coffee (nutrition.suite101.com)
- All About Espresso Cups (yearn2blog.com)
- New website on cappuccino machines (slideshare.net)
- eco espresso maker (designboom.com)
The genome of Neanderthal man has been sequenced. Especially if you don’t think this is awesome, you might be interested in reading biologist PZ Meyers’ description in his wonderful weblog Pharyngula of what a feat it is.
‘A mystery object in a galaxy far, far away could be a supermassive black hole that got booted from its home galaxy’s center, according to a new study.’ (National Geographic)
‘To define the divide in a sentence: In red America, families form adults; in blue America, adults form families..
One of the oddest paradoxes of modern cultural politics may at last be resolved. The paradox is this: Cultural conservatives revel in condemning the loose moral values and louche lifestyles of “San Francisco liberals.” But if you want to find two-parent families with stable marriages and coddled kids, your best bet is to bypass Sarah Palin country and go to Nancy Pelosi territory: the li. beral, bicoastal, predominantly Democratic places that cultural conservatives love to hate.
The country’s lowest divorce rate belongs to none other than Massachusetts, the original home of same-sex marriage. Palinites might wish that Massachusetts’s enviable marital stability were an anomaly, but it is not. The pattern is robust. States that voted for the Democratic presidential candidate in both 2004 and 2008 boast lower average rates of divorce and teenage childbirth than do states that voted for the Republican in both elections.
…Six of the seven states with the lowest divorce rates in 2007, and all seven with the lowest teen birthrates in 2006, voted blue in both elections. Six of the seven states with the highest divorce rates in 2007, and five of the seven with the highest teen birthrates, voted red. It’s as if family strictures undermine family structures.’ (National Journal Magazine)
‘There is a long-standing myth that before the Enlightenment, all the experiences and behaviours we would now classify as madness were thought to be due to demonic possession.
This idea has been comprehensively debunked and it is now clear that both of these concepts have run side-by-side and medieval courts often went to great lengths to try and distinguish the two ‘states’.
I’ve just read a fascinating article about ‘Demonology, Neurology, and Medicine in Edwardian Britain’ from the Bulletin of the History of Medicine that showed that this tendency continued well into the modern age.’
‘Welcome to the new website of the Endangered Language Alliance. We are a non-profit organization whose mission is to further the documentation, description, maintenance, and revitalization of threatened and endangered languages, and to educate the public about the causes and consequences of language extinction. You can read more about us here.’
- Oh, we got endangered languages / right here in New York City (languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu)
- The Lost Languages, Found in New York (nytimes.com)
- The death of a language | David Shariatmadari (guardian.co.uk)
- Sahaptin Dictionary (languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu)
- So many languages, so much technology… (languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu)
‘We also asked our readers to fill out a survey card included in the January 2010 issue indicating which they thought were the three strongest works of fiction published in 2009. The top twenty most-represented novels we received from readers follow. Below that, please find a selection of additional eligible titles that received several honorable mentions.’ (The Believer)
Do you still read fiction?
“When we fall under the spell of a charismatic figure, areas of the brain responsible for scepticism and vigilance become less active. That’s the finding of a study which looked at people’s response to prayers spoken by someone purportedly possessing divine healing powers.” (New Scientist via miguel)
‘Stephen Hawking, a self-described “physicist, cosmologist and something of a dreamer,” offers instructions on how to build a time machine in an article for the Daily Mail. “All you need is a wormhole, the Large Hadron Collider or a rocket that goes really, really fast,” the article promises.’
‘A Brooklyn attorney hopes to break new ground this week when he offers a brain scan as evidence that a key witness in a civil trial is telling the truth, Wired.com has learned.
If the fMRI scan is admitted, it would be a legal first in the United States and could have major consequences for the future of neuroscience in court.’ (Wired Science)
- Brain-Scan Lie Detection Rejected By Brooklyn Court (yro.slashdot.org)
- Brain Scan Evidence Rejected by Brooklyn Court (wired.com)
- Brain-Scanning Lie Detectors May Be Used In Court Soon [Crime] (gizmodo.com)
- Another Attempt to Use fMRI Lie Detector in US Court Fails in Brooklyn. More on the Way. (singularityhub.com)
- Can fMRI Tell If You’re Lying? (psychcentral.com)
‘A Russian MP has asked President Dmitry Medvedev to investigate claims by a regional president that he has met aliens on board a spaceship.
Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, the leader of the southern region of Kalmykia, made his claim in a television interview.
MP Andre Lebedev is not just asking whether Mr Ilyumzhinov is fit to govern.
He is also concerned that, if he was abducted, he may have revealed details about his job and state secrets.’ (BBC News)
- Russian Leader Meets with Space Aliens (dvorak.org)
- Russian politician claims he met aliens on Moscow balcony (telegraph.co.uk)
- Serious allegations: Kalmyk governor leaks classified information to “humanoid” aliens (trueslant.com)
‘Therapists for years have listened to patients blame parents for their problems. Now there is growing interest in the other side of the story: What about the suffering of parents who are estranged from their adult children? (New York Times )
Scrapheap Transhumanism: “I’m sort of inured to pain by this point. Anesthetic is illegal for people like me, so we learn to live without it; I’ve made scalpel incisions in my hands, pushed five-millimeter diameter needles through my skin, and once used a vegetable knife to carve a cavity into the tip of my index finger. I’m an idiot, but I’m an idiot working in the name of progress: I’m Lepht Anonym, scrapheap transhumanist. I work with what I can get.” (h+ Magazine)
…and I’m stickin’ to it. Raw Story She’s desperate to be in people’s faces, isn’t she? What other explanation could there be for putting this out there just at this point?
“Climate change may be responsible for the spread of a virulent new strain of a mysterious fungal disease. First found on Vancouver Island, B.C., 11 years ago, Cryptococcus gattii is spreading south through Washington and Oregon, and several dozen people have died.” (NPR)