Annals of Emerging Diseases

Via CDC:  ‘What is Bourbon virus?

Bourbon virus belongs to a group of viruses called thogotoviruses. Viruses in this group are found all over the world. A few of these viruses can cause people to get sick.

How do people get infected with Bourbon virus?

We do not yet fully know how people become infected with Bourbon virus. However, based on what we know about similar viruses, it is likely that Bourbon virus is spread through tick or other insect bites.

Where have cases of Bourbon virus disease occurred?

As of February 12, 2015, only one case of Bourbon virus disease had been identified in eastern Kansas in late spring 2014. The man who was infected later died. At this time, we do not know if the virus might be found in other areas of the United States.

What are the symptoms of Bourbon virus?

Because there has been only one case identified thus far, scientists are still learning about possible symptoms caused by this new virus. In the one person who was diagnosed with Bourbon virus disease, symptoms included fever, tiredness, rash, headache, other body aches, nausea, and vomiting. The person also had low blood counts for cells that fight infection and help prevent bleeding.’


Marriage Proposal by Physics Paper

R.I.P. Sam Houston Andrew

Guitarist for Big Brother and the Holding Company Dies at 73 ( ‘His death was announced on the band’s website, which said Mr. Andrew had a heart attack 10 weeks ago and underwent open-heart surgery.

Big Brother and the Holding Company was among the first and most successful exponents of the so-called San Francisco sound, an adventurous mix of folk, blues and rock influences fueled by psychedelic drugs. (Others included Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead.)

Mr. Andrew, who founded Big Brother in 1965 with the bassist Peter Albin and shared lead guitar duties with James Gurley, referred to the band’s sound as a “progressive-regressive hurricane blues style.”

…Critics, even while praising Ms. Joplin’s singing, often dismissed Big Brother and the Holding Company in its late-1960s heyday as undisciplined and lacking technique. Mr. Andrew, not surprisingly, saw things differently.

“Big Brother and the Holding Company,” he once said, “was a prime example of a band where the chemistry was right, where the whole was greater than the sum of its parts. You cannot buy or manufacture the natural feeling that was in that band.” ‘

Cheap Thrills (Big Brother and the Holding Com...

I tend to agree with Sam. Big Brother was not merely a backing band for Janis, as clear in the extended back and forth riffing between him and her on numbers such as ‘Ball and Chain’ or ‘Combination of the Two,’ both captured well on Cheap Thrills. Sam, I’m cueing up the LP now. You will be missed.

Our Greatest President-Poet

The Poetry of Richard Milhous Nixon, a slim volume compiled by Jack S. Margolis and published in 1974, stands as a seminal work in verse. Comprising direct excerpts from the Watergate tapes—arguably the most fecund stage of Nixon’s career—it fuses the rugged rhetoric of statesmanship to the lithe contours of song, all rendered in assured, supple, poignant free verse. Below, to celebrate Presidents’ Day, are four selections from this historic chapbook, which has, lamentably, slipped out of print.




The position is

To withhold


And to cover up

This is

Totally true.

You could say

This is

Totally untrue.



We are all

In it


We take

A few shots


It will be over.

Don’t worry.

I wouldn’t

Want to be

On the other side

Right now.



In the end

We are going

To be bled

To death.

And in the end,

It is all going

To come out anyway.

Then you get the worst

Of both worlds.

(via Paris Review)

Should We Be Trying to Make Contact with Extraterrestrials?

Via io9:  ‘Another debate popped again this week, one that’s been talked about and argued over for years now—whether we should be actively seeking out and sending messages to habitable planets in the search for life beyond Earth.

Known as Active Seti (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence), some researchers and scientists want to continually broadcast messages to known habitable planets in an effort to reach a new alien species. But many disagree. People like Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk think a more measured and thought out approach makes more sense, and that historically, races of people who have happily greeted newcomers quickly found them to be conquerors.

The idea of Active Seti is to encode messages in powerful radio signals and send endlessly for centuries to solar systems with habitable planets. According to The Guardian, Seth Shostak, the director of the Seti Institute, wants to just beam the entire contents of the internet, porn and all, to other star systems.’


Join the Battle for Net Neutrality

Join the Battle for Net Neutrality. The most important FCC vote of our lifetime is about to happen.On Feb 26 the FCC will vote to save net neutrality or let Comcast and other ISPs create Internet slow lanes. Some members of Congress, on behalf of their Cable donors, are trying to stop the FCC from protecting the Internet we love. There isn’t much time to stop them, contact them now.


Why it’s brave to think like a coward

via Aeon: ‘The stigma attached to cowardice has caused terrible harm, most obviously to those who have been made to pay for the alleged ‘crime’. Less obvious, but more pervasive, is the damage done by people who, fearing the shame of cowardice, have acted in reckless, often violent ways. Remembering this should make us less ready to use the label of ‘coward’, especially in the case of someone refusing to use violence…’  – Chris Walsh

Australia’s Oldest Man Knits Tiny Sweaters For Penguins Injured In Oil Spills

Via Huffington Post: ‘When disaster strikes, the wildlife clinic at the Phillip Island Nature Park will be ready, equipped to deploy hundreds of tiny wool sweaters at a moment’s notice.

Not tiny sweaters for people, but penguins — knit by a group of volunteers that includes Alfred “Alfie” Date, who at 109 years of age is Australia’s oldest man.’


Amazing Photo Of An Intoxicated Gorilla About To Punch A Photographer

People Are Stamping Rising Sea Levels onto Dollar Bills for Climate Change

People Are Stamping Rising Sea Levels onto Dollar Bills for Climate Change | Motherboard

Via Motherboard:  ‘Starting this week, dozens of people will pull out $20 bills to find the White House on the back submerged in water: a striking image that comes as part of a new call to action over climate change.

The project is the last of three “currency interventions” by San Francisco-based artist Joseph DeLappe. In the past, he has call​ed attention to drone warfare and police brutality with similar projects.’


Robert Reich: America is headed full speed back to the 19th century

Shirley Manson perfectly nails what’s wrong with Kanye

Via  ‘…[W]hat has been largely missing so far from the whole Kayne vs. Beck conversation has been someone to call West out on his apparent need to take umbrage on Beyonce’s behalf. That, however, was taken care of Monday, when Garbage front woman posted an open letter on Facebook. “It is YOU who is so busy disrespecting artistry,” she wrote, adding, “You disrespect your own remarkable talents and more importantly you disrespect the talent, hard work and tenacity of all artists when you go so rudely and savagely after such an accomplished and humble artist like BECK. You make yourself look small and petty and spoilt. In attempting to reduce the importance of one great talent over another, you make a mockery of all musicians and music from every genre, including your own. Grow up and stop throwing your toys around. You are making yourself look like a complete twat.” But where she really nailed it was in her PS, when she observed, “I am pretty certain Beyonce doesn’t need you fighting any battles on her account. Seems like she’s got everything covered perfectly well on her own.”’



Here’s A Way To Stop Drones Flying Over Your House, Without A Shotgun

Parrot AR.Drone prototype flyingVia io9:  ‘The ambition of NoFlyZone, a consortium of (small) drone manufacturers, is to create a nationwide database of homeowners and flight permissions. If you don’t want drones to be able to overfly your residence, the solution is simple: enter your house in the online database, and after the next round of firmware updates, drones will be incapable of overflying your property, in the same way that they’re currently banned from the airspace around airports and, uh, the White House.’

Climate Change Threatens to Halt Alaska’s Sled Dog Races

Via Big Think:  ‘NPR’s Emily Schwing reports on some recent climate-change developments that are affecting Alaska’s Yukon Quest and Iditarod sled dog races. Officials and mushers are beginning to wonder how long the state sport will be able to survive these drastic changes with warm temperatures threatening food supplies and the landscape of the race.’


The slow, painful death of America’s antiwar movement

Giving Tea The Blue Bottle Treatment

Giving Tea The Blue Bottle Treatment | Fast Company | Business + Innovation

Via Fast Company:  ‘To understand third-wave tea, it’s helpful to understand third wave coffee, which you could characterize as an obsession with tiny, granular details. First wave coffee meant Folgers. At a second-wave establishment like Starbucks, a patron might request non-coffee additives like soy milk, two pumps of sugar-free vanilla, and their name spelled correctly. Third-wave coffee drinkers are more concerned with process, and the coffee beans themselves: What’s the best extraction method? A pour-over? A vacuum pump? What’s the ideal water temperature? Oh! And if you aren’t using a conical Burr grinder, what are you even doing with your life?

If first-wave tea was Lipton coming to the U.S. at the turn of the 20th century, and the second wave was the spread of mall emporiums like Teavana, third-wave tea in the U.S. is, like its coffee predecessor, a return to form, with an emphasis on purity and accessibility. It’s simply tea, unadulterated and directly sourced from farmers, usually from Asia.’


Prewar Japanese beer posters: the most beautiful ads ever made?

Via Boing Boing:  ‘Japanese beer culture has exploded over the past twenty years… But if we’ve entered the golden age of Japanese beer, we’ve missed the golden age of Japanese beer advertising. That came before the Second World War, a time when, if the advertising industry needed drawing, painting, or lettering, it was done by hand.

Asahi, Kirin, and Sapporo were not known for their richly flavorful product, but could command richly evocative imagery for the posters and postcards that promoted it.

A robust market now exists for these antique pieces of advertising and their suitable-for-framing reproductions. Spend enough time hunting for them, and you’ll start to notice that different brands often used the same pictures: what you’d thought of as “the Asahi girl” might well turn up on a Sapporo poster, and so on.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I seem to have developed a sudden thirst for an ice-cold beverage of some kind.’


Americans Are Fleeing Religion and Republicans Are to Blame

Hospitals: Stop Suing Poor Patients

What a beheading feels like: The science, the gruesome spectacle — and why we can’t look away

Via ‘Decapitation may be one of the least tor­turous ways to die, but nonetheless it is thought to be painful. Many scientists believe that, however swiftly it is performed, decapitation must cause acute pain for a second or two.

Decapitation in one single motion draws its cultural power from its sheer velocity, and the force of the physical feat challenges that elusive moment of death, because death is presented as instantaneous even though beheadings are still largely inscrutable to science…

Beheading is an extremely bloody business, which is one of the reasons it is no longer used for state executions in the West, even though it is one of the most humane techniques available. Decapitation is faster and more predictable than death by hanging, lethal injection, electric shock or gassing, but the spectacle is too grim for our sensibilities.’


Ray Kurzweil’s Mind-Boggling Predictions for the Next 25 Years

Via Singularity HUB:  ‘By the late 2010s, glasses will beam images directly onto the retina. Ten terabytes of computing power (roughly the same as the human brain) will cost about $1,000.

By the 2020s, most diseases will go away as nanobots become smarter than current medical technology. Normal human eating can be replaced by nanosystems. The Turing test begins to be passable. Self-driving cars begin to take over the roads, and people won’t be allowed to drive on highways.

By the 2030s, virtual reality will begin to feel 100% real. We will be able to upload our mind/consciousness by the end of the decade.

By the 2040s, non-biological intelligence will be a billion times more capable than biological intelligence (a.k.a. us). Nanotech foglets will be able to make food out of thin air and create any object in physical world at a whim.

By 2045, we will multiply our intelligence a billionfold by linking wirelessly from our neocortex to a synthetic neocortex in the cloud.’


How Americans Changed The Way Japanese People Ate Sushi

Via io9:  ‘Nigiri is… a relative newcomer to Japanese cuisine, invented some time during the 19th century. A sushi shop owner named Yohei Hanaya is often credited with created the hand-squeezed nigiri, but he may have just been the most successful early vendor of the dish. But nigiri definitely got its start in Edo, the city which was renamed Tokyo just a few decades later.

While nigiri quickly became the most popular style of sushi in Edo, it did not immediately dominate the sushi landscape as it does today. In his book The Story of Sushi, Trevor Corson credits two events with the rise in popularity of nigiri outside of Tokyo: One is the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, which forced many people (including sushi chefs) to leave Tokyo for their hometowns. When the Tokyo sushi chefs opened up sushi restaurants back home, they made Edomae (Edo-style) sushi, with an emphasis on nigiri.

The other event is where the Americans come in…. During the American occupation after World War II, a food rationing program helped the rise of nigiri outside Tokyo…’


A Navy SEAL’s Tips On How To Dominate Hide-And-Seek

How Prohibition Put the Cocaine in Coca-Cola

How Prohibition Put the Cocaine in Coca-Cola - Pacific Standard

Via Pacific Standard:  ‘You may be familiar with the fact that the coca in Coca-Cola was originally cocaine. But did you know that the reason we infused such a beverage with the drug in the first place was because of prohibition? Cocaine cola replaced cocaine wine. In fact, when it was debuted in 1886, it was described as “Coca-Cola: The Temperance Drink.”’


Ebola May Be Mutating

How Hospitals Can Help Stop the Cycle of Youth Violence

How Hospitals Can Help Stop the Cycle of Youth Violence - Pacific Standard

Via Pacific Standard: ‘The idea behind an intervention program in the hospital setting is that, while victims of violence might have other opportunities to connect with social workers or other resources at other times in their lives, the time right when they are recovering from their injuries may be the most crucial. So the people who are surrounding them at that time should be trained to help them make the right choices.’


The Little Albert Experiment: The Perverse 1920 Study That Made a Baby Afraid of Santa Claus & Bunnies

Via Open Culture: ‘The field of psychology is very different than it used to be. Nowadays, the American Psychological Association has a code of conduct for experiments that ensures a subject’s confidentiality, consent and general mental well being. In the old days, it wasn’t the case.

Back then, you could, for instance, con subjects into thinking that they were electrocuting a man to death, as they did in the infamous 1961 Milgram experiment, which left people traumatized and humbled in the knowledge that deep down they are little more than weak-willed puppets in the face of authority. You could also try to turn a group of unsuspecting orphans into stutterers by methodically undermining their self-esteem as the folks who ran the aptly named Monster Study of 1939 tried to do. But, if you really want to get into the swamp of moral dubiousness, look no further than the Little Albert experiments, which traumatized a baby into hating dogs, Santa Claus and all things fuzzy.’

An Illustration of Every Page of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick

Via Open Culture: ‘Throughout the novel, ordinary objects and events—especially, of course, the whale itself—acquire such symbolic weight that they become almost cartoonish talismans and leap bewilderingly out of the narrative, forcing the reader to contemplate their significance—no easy task. Depending on your sensibilities and tolerance for Melville’s labyrinthine prose, these very strange features of the novel are either indispensably fascinating or just plain excess baggage. Since many editions are published with the whaling chapters excised, many readers clearly feel they are the latter. That is unfortunate, I think. It’s one of my favorite novels, in all its baroque overstuffedness and philosophical density. But there’s no denying that it works, as they say, “on many levels.” Depending on how you experience the book—it’s either an incredibly gripping adventure tale, or a very dense and puzzling work of history, philosophy, politics, and zoology… or both, and more besides….

Recognizing the power of Melville’s arresting imagery, artist and librarian Matt Kish decided that he would illustrate all 552 pages of the Signet Classic paperback edition of Moby Dick, a book he considers “to be the greatest novel ever written.” He began the project in August of 2009 with the first page, illustrating those famous first words—“Call me Ishmael”—above. (At the top, see page 489, below it page 158, and directly below, page 116). Kish completed his epic project at the end of 2010. He used a variety of media—ink, watercolor, acrylic paint—and incorporated a number of different graphic art styles. As he explains in the comments under the first illustration, he chose “drawing and painting over pages from old books and diagrams because the presence of visual information on those pages would in some ways interfere with, and clutter up, my own obsessive control over my marks.” All in all, it’s a very admirable undertaking, and you can see each individual illustration, and many of the stages of drafting and composition, at Kish’s blog or on this list we’ve compiled. (You can also find links to the first 25 pages at bottom of this post.) The entire project has also been published as a book, Moby-Dick in Pictures: One Drawing for Every Page, a further irony given the obsessive literariness of Melville’s novel, a work as obsessed with language as Captain Ahab is with his great white nemesis.’

15 unique illnesses you can only come down with in German

Chinese police ‘salamander banquet’ scandal

Chinese police alleged to have eaten endangered giant salamander at banquet | World news | The Guardian

Via The Guardian: ‘Chinese officials feasting on critically endangered giant salamander turned violent when journalists photographed the luxury banquet, according to media reports.

The 28 diners included senior police officials from the southern city of Shenzhen, the Global Times said in a report which appeared to show a flouting of Beijing’s austerity campaign.

“In my territory, it is my treat,” it quoted a man in the room as saying.

The giant salamander is believed by some Chinese to have anti-ageing properties, but there is no orthodox evidence to back the claim.

The species is classed as “critically endangered” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) red list of threatened species, which says the population has “declined catastrophically over the last 30 years”.

“Commercial over-exploitation for human consumption is the main threat to this species,” the IUCN said.


The new neuroscience of depression: Why your brain’s architecture may be to blame

How Lewis Carroll’s Rules of Letter-Writing Can Make Email More Civil

Via Brain Pickings: ‘…(W)hat more humane an act is there than correspondence itself — the art of mutual response — especially amid a culture of knee-jerk reactions that is the hallmark of most communication today? Letters, by their very nature, make us pause to reflect on what the other person is saying and on what we’d like to say to them in response. Only when we step out of the reactive ego, out of the anxious immediacy that text-messaging and email have instilled in us, and contemplate what is being communicated — only then do we stand a chance of being civil to one another, and maybe even kind.’


Best Iain M. Banks Tribute Ever

Rare And ‘Horrific': Frilled Shark Startles Fishermen In Australia

Via NPR:  ‘Normally, we wouldn’t call something a living fossil. But the name seems tailor-made for the frilled shark, whose roots are traced to 80 million years ago. Its prehistoric origins are obvious in its primitive body; nearly all of the rare animal’s closest relatives are long extinct.

In the most recent of those 80 million years, the frilled shark has been scaring the bejeezus out of humans who pull it out of the water to find an animal with rows of needle-like teeth in a gaping mouth at the front of its head.

That’s what happened recently off Australia’s coast, where a fishing trawler’s net snagged a frilled shark.

“It was like a large eel, probably 1.5 meters [about 5 feet] long, and the body was quite different to any other shark I’d ever seen,” fisherman David Guillot tells 3AW radio. “The head on it was like something out of a horror movie. It was quite horrific looking.” ‘


Imports of British Chocolate Barred

Chocolate War Bars British Cadbury Eggs From NYC Stores - West Village - New York

Via  ‘It’s a war on Cadbury. British businesses in New York City, including the Village’s Tea & Sympathy, are up in arms over a lawsuit preventing them from importing Cadbury eggs and other candies from England…

“It’s just another thing to make everybody miserable, Why are we having a fight about chocolate? I mean, chocolate! … You know what’s behind it, right? Hershey’s doesn’t want people to eat Cadbury’s, because Cadbury’s is so much better, people aren’t going to be buying their filth.” ‘


7 natural wonders that humans could destroy within a generation –

The Citizen Candidate Movement

Via  Drew Curtis for Governor:“It is a well-known fact that those people who most want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it.” – Douglas Adams

We have a theory that we’re about to see a huge change in how elections and politics work. Across the country, we have seen regular citizens stepping up and challenging the status quo built by political parties and career politicians. They have been getting closer and closer to victory and, here in Kentucky, we believe we have a chance to win and break the political party stronghold for good.

We are not politicians. We are Citizen Candidates.

Citizen Candidates evaluate ideas on merit, not on outside influence, campaign contribution sources, or party ideology. They believe a good idea is a good idea, no matter which political party supports it. Citizen Candidates are regular people with common sense. They are capable leaders who would be fantastic elected officials – if they chose to run.

Most don’t. And we can’t blame them.

Political parties have shut out any outsiders from the process. But we think we see another way.

We’re not the only ones either. In just 2014 alone, we saw the following:

– Bob Healey, an educator and political activist, ran for Governor of Rhode Island and won 22% of the vote – and spent just $35 to do it.

– Greg Orman, an entrepreneur and Independent candidate for Senate in Kansas, knocked the Democratic candidate out of the race and was polling close with the Republican incumbent the entire election.

– Columbia Law professor Tim Wu ran a campaign that almost put him on the Lt. Governor ballot for the November 2014 election.

– House of Representatives Majority Whip Eric Cantor was knocked out of the GOP primary by David Brat, a professor from Randolph Macon College.

None of these people were politicians.

All ran for office with the goal of finding a new way to seek elected office. And now we believe there is a path to victory in Kentucky and a chance to shatter the glass permanently. It goes beyond Kentucky though. Win or lose, our plan is to produce a blueprint others can use to get elected – in any state – without party help.

This campaign is important to everyone, not just citizens of Kentucky.

This is our chance. But it takes everyone’s help to make it happen. We are standing up against career politicians, political parties, special interests, and every group that thinks they deserve more influence than you.

Influence money can’t stop the power of citizens when they are unified.

In 2014, 1,000,000 people contacted the FCC in support of net neutrality – a policy that Big Telecom like AT&T and Comcast have been fighting for decades. They have spent hundreds of millions of dollars to fight it, and yet, none of it mattered once a million people voiced their support to the FCC. Now even the President has come out in support of it, addressing the issue in the State of the Union.

If we are ever going to change the tide…

…against special interests and political parties in our electoral process, we need that same kind of overwhelming support. We need more than just your votes. To remain viable in the face of so many forces trying to keep third party candidates out of the election, we need your financial support too. Citizen Candidates can’t raise money from special interest groups – because it doesn’t buy influence. We won’t cater to their demands. We need to raise it from their grassroots supporters, so please donate what you can.

If every voter gave their candidate just $5, special interest money would be powerless.

Not only does your financial support help us stay competitive, it proves legitimacy to the mainstream media. The deck has been stacked against us, but you can change that.

Not only do we want to win this election and shatter the electoral status quo, but we need to produce a blueprint so Citizen Candidates can win in all 50 states without political party support.’


How Ayn Rand Helped Turn the U.S. Into a Selfish, Greedy Nation

Atlas sculpture, New York City, by sculptor Le...

Via Alternet:  ‘Only rarely in U.S. history do writers transform us to become a more caring or less caring nation. In the 1850s, Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896) was a strong force in making the United States a more humane nation, one that would abolish slavery of African Americans.

A century later, Ayn Rand (1905-1982) helped make the United States into one of the most uncaring nations in the industrialized world, a neo-Dickensian society where healthcare is only for those who can afford it, and where young people are coerced into huge student-loan debt that cannot be discharged in bankruptcy.Rand’s impact has been widespread and deep.

At the iceberg’s visible tip is the influence she’s had over major political figures who have shaped American society. In the 1950s, Ayn Rand read aloud drafts of what was later to become Atlas Shrugged to her “Collective,” Rand’s ironic nickname for her inner circle of young individualists, which included Alan Greenspan, who would serve as chairman of the Federal Reserve Board from 1987 to 2006.’


Why You Should Care That The FCC Is Trying To Redefine Broadband

Via Gizmodo:  ‘…(The) FCC is required to “encourage the deployment on a reasonable and timely basis of advanced telecommunications capability [read: broadband] to all Americans”. So if it doesn’t think that enough households have broadband, it can use a selection of tools to ‘encourage’ competition — tools that scare companies like Comcast or TWC.

So it’s clear why the telecoms companies want to keep the definition of broadband down: a lower threshold for broadband keeps regulators off their backs, and allows them to perpetutate the (very valuable) oligopoly that exists in the high-end broadband market.

And, in turn, the position of companies like Netflix and Google, who are advocating for faster broadband speeds, should be equally clear. Faster internet means a better experience for consumers, which means more paying customers for Netflix, and more eyeballs on videos for YouTube.

From an individual’s perspective, there aren’t really any downsides to the bar for ‘broadband’ being moved higher. If the FCC gets its wish, and overnight 25/3 becomes the minimum standard for broadband, the only negative effects will be for telecoms companies that sell internet packages. They’ll be shamed for not offering broadband to wide swathes of America; but more importantly, an ‘entry level’ broadband package will be something you might want to own, rather than a low-price face-saving tool designed to make telcos look good.’


U.S. Supreme Court to Review Oklahoma’s Lethal Injection Drugs

7 Worse Problems For The NFL Than Deflategate

Via WGBH: ”I wish I could say I cared about deflate-gate though. But I don’t. You see the NFL and I already parted ways this summer. I am a serious sports and football fan…. But I just can’t watch the NFL anymore and it’s been tough. I seriously miss watching with friends and family. But I’m also a Political Scientist whose research focuses on issues of equality and public policy in the United States. And the divergence between these concerns and the norms of the NFL just became too untenable. “

​Here’s A Spider So Awful You’ll Wish It Would Only Bite You To Death

Via ​io9: ‘The hackled orb weaver has no fangs. If you’re its prey, that might sound like good news. It’s not. It means that it will kill you in an even more excruciating way than spiders normally do.

The hackled orb weaver spider doesn’t actually have any penetrating teeth, apparently because that gets the delicious business of killing over with too quickly. Instead of paralyzing and liquifying its victims, the orb weaver chooses to do its own personal riff on the Saw movies — it wraps the victim in its silk.

Buried alive, you say? That sounds rather nasty, you say? You know nothing. Because once the orb weaver has its victim surrounded in silk, it keeps going. More and more it wraps. Tighter and tighter it wraps. A single moth gets 460 feet of silk put into its death. How does it finally die? Well, after the spider has broken the insects’ legs and wings to prevent any chance of escape, it concentrates on the head — eventually it wraps its prey so tight that the insects’ own eyes get forced down into its head, killing it.

That’s right, this spider wraps things so tightly that it kills them with their own inward-exploding-eyeballs.’


Scientists moved the Doomsday Clock 2 minutes closer to midnight

Via ‘Thursday morning, the Science and Security Board of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists moved the hand on the Doomsday Clock 2 minutes later, setting the time to only 3 minutes before midnight. The clock, which symbolically represents Earth’s proximity to disaster, now indicates that the “probability of global catastrophe is very high.”

The Doomsday Clock was created in 1947. It has changed 18 times since then, ranging from two minutes to midnight in 1953 to 17 minutes before midnight in 1991.

It has been at five minutes to midnight since 20112 and the last time it was three minutes to midnight was in 1983, when the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union was at its iciest.’


Freshly Eaten Snake Makes Amazing Escape—Find Out How

India’s Tigers May Be Rebounding, in Rare Success for Endangered Species

India's Tigers May Be Rebounding, in Rare Success for Endangered Species

Via National Geographic:  ‘More money has been spent on tiger conservation than on preserving any other species in the world, yet wildlife biologists have been seemingly unable to stop the decline of the iconic big cat in the face of poaching and habitat loss.

That appeared to change Tuesday, when the government of India—the country is home to most of the world’s wild tigers—announced preliminary results of the latest tiger census that reveal a surge in the number of the big cats in its preserves over the past seven years.’


Should MLK Jr. Replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 Bill?

Why Should We Still Have to Retrieve Black Boxes from Airplane Crashes?

We’re Close To Achieving The Second Ever Global Eradication Of A Human Disease

Via IFLScience: ‘Back in 1980, the World Health Organization officially declared that one of the deadliest diseases in human history, smallpox, had been eradicated. This marked the first time that a disease had been completely eliminated from the planet. Achieving this was certainly no mean feat. It took an enormous collaborative effort, mostly involving global vaccination campaigns, surveillance and prevention measures.

Now, amazingly, humanity is tantalizingly close to eradicating the second ever human disease from the planet, and you might not have even heard of it: Guinea worm disease.

Although it’s rarely lethal, which could be why it has not received the attention that it deserves, Guinea worm disease, or dracunculiasis, is utterly horrific and can be permanently debilitating…’


Declinism: is the world actually getting worse?

Declinism: is the world actually getting worse? | Pete Etchells | Science | The Guardian

Via The Guardian: ‘A recent survey suggests that 71% of people think that the world is going to the dogs. Are things actually that bad, or is it a psychological trick of the mind?

Let’s face it, 2015 hasn’t been the most positive of years so far. But is the world really going down the pan? Radio 4’s The Human Zoo kicked off a new series this week, taking a look at “declinism” – the idea that we’re predisposed to view the past favourably, and worry that the future is going to be dire. In a survey run by YouGov for the programme, 71% of respondents said they thought the world was getting worse, and only 5% said that is was getting better. But what’s the reality of the situation?

Declinism is a trick of the mind …

Two lines of psychological research might provide insight into why people might think things are getting worse…’


New evidence for anthropic theory

Via ‘Fundamental physics constants underlie life-enabling universe: For nearly half a century, theoretical physicists have made a series of discoveries that certain constants in fundamental physics seem extraordinarily fine-tuned to allow for the emergence of a life-enabling universe. Constants that crisscross the Standard Model of Particle Physics guided the formation of hydrogen nuclei during the Big Bang, along with the carbon and oxygen atoms initially fused at the center of massive first-generation stars that exploded as supernovae; these processes in turn set the stage for solar systems and planets capable of supporting carbon-based life dependent on water and oxygen.

The theory that an Anthropic Principle guided the physics and evolution of the universe was initially proposed by Brandon Carter while he was a post-doctoral researcher in astrophysics at the University of Cambridge; this theory was later debated by Cambridge scholar Stephen Hawking and a widening web of physicists around the world.

German scholar Ulf-G Meißner, chair in theoretical nuclear physics at the Helmholtz Institute, University of Bonn, adds to a series of discoveries that support this Anthropic Principle.

In a new study titled “Anthropic considerations in nuclear physics” and published in the Beijing-based journal Science Bulletin (previously titled Chinese Science Bulletin), Professor Meißner provides an overview of the Anthropic Principle (AP) in astrophysics and particle physics and states: “One can indeed perform physics tests of this rather abstract [AP] statement for specific processes like element generation.”

“This can be done with the help of high performance computers that allow us to simulate worlds in which the fundamental parameters underlying nuclear physics take values different from the ones in Nature,” he explains.’