Reboot Your iPhone Before Being Detained by Police to Disable Touch ID

Via Lifehacker: ‘The Virginia Circuit Court ruled this week that you dont have to give up your passcode to police if youre detained. Thats great news, but apparently fingerprints are a different story, so if you have Touch ID enabled, you could still be forced to unlock your phone.

Basically, fingerprints don’t fall under the 5th Amendment like a passcode does, so a police officer who cant force you to unlock your iOS device with your passcode could make you do it with your fingerprint. The solution? If you’re detained, reset your iOS device hold the Home and Power button for a few seconds before you have to hand it over. Touch ID doesn’t work on the first boot.’

 

Brain abnormalities in chronic fatigue patients

Via Neuroscience Stuff:  ‘An imaging study by Stanford University School of Medicine investigators has found distinct differences between the brains of patients with chronic fatigue syndrome and those of healthy people.The findings could lead to more definitive diagnoses of the syndrome and may also point to an underlying mechanism in the disease process.It’s not uncommon for CFS patients to face several mischaracterizations of their condition, or even suspicions of hypochondria, before receiving a diagnosis of CFS. The abnormalities identified in the study, published Oct. 29 in Radiology, may help to resolve those ambiguities, said lead author Michael Zeineh, MD, PhD, assistant professor of radiology.’

Most of us who are dubious about CFS do not question that such a syndrome exists. But I feel it is a faddish diagnosis overused by clinicians and sufferers, sometimes a more acceptable less stigmatizing proxy for depression, sometimes a pretext to explain underachievement. I would venture to say that, if the radiographic changes described in this paper are legitimate, they will only appear in a subset of those currently labelled as having CFS.

 

Reverence for Hallowe’en: Good for the Soul

Three jack-o'-lanterns illuminated from within...

A reprise of my traditional Hallowe’en post of past years:

It is that time of year again. What has become a time of disinhibited hijinx and mayhem, and a growing marketing bonanza for the kitsch-manufacturers and -importers, has primeval origins as the Celtic New Year’s Eve, Samhain (pronounced “sow-en”). The harvest is over, summer ends and winter begins, the Old God dies and returns to the Land of the Dead to await his rebirth at Yule, and the land is cast into darkness. The veil separating the worlds of the living and the dead becomes frayed and thin, and dispossessed dead mingle with the living, perhaps seeking a body to possess for the next year as their only chance to remain connected with the living, who hope to scare them away with ghoulish costumes and behavior, escape their menace by masquerading as one of them, or placate them with offerings of food, in hopes that they will go away before the new year comes. For those prepared, a journey to the other side could be made at this time.

With Christianity, perhaps because with calendar reform it was no longer the last day of the year, All Hallows’ Eve became decathected, a day for innocent masquerading and fun, taking its name Hallowe’en as a contraction and corruption of All Hallows’ Eve.

All Saints’ Day may have originated in its modern form with the 8th century Pope Gregory III. Hallowe’en customs reputedly came to the New World with the Irish immigrants of the 1840’s. The prominence of trick-or-treating has a slightly different origin, however.

The custom of trick-or-treating is thought to have originated not with the Irish Celts, but with a ninth-century European custom called souling. On November 2, All Souls Day, early Christians would walk from village to village begging for “soul cakes,” made out of square pieces of bread with currants. The more soul cakes the beggars would receive, the more prayers they would promise to say on behalf of the dead relatives of the donors. At the time, it was believed that the dead remained in limbo for a time after death, and that prayer, even by strangers, could expedite a soul’s passage to heaven.

English: A traditional Irish turnip Jack-o'-la...

English: A traditional Irish turnip Jack-o’-lantern from the early 20th century.

Jack-o’-lanterns were reportedly originally turnips; the Irish began using pumpkins after they immigrated to North America, given how plentiful they were here. The Jack-o-lantern custom probably comes from Irish folklore. As the tale is told, a man named Jack, who was notorious as a drunkard and trickster, tricked Satan into climbing a tree. Jack then carved an image of a cross in the tree’s trunk, trapping the devil up the tree. Jack made a deal with the devil that, if he would never tempt him again, he would promise to let him down the tree.

According to the folk tale, after Jack died, he was denied entrance to Heaven because of his evil ways, but he was also denied access to Hell because he had tricked the devil. Instead, the devil gave him a single ember to light his way through the frigid darkness. The ember was placed inside a hollowed-out turnip to keep it glowing longer.

Folk traditions that were in the past associated wtih All Hallows’ Eve took much of their power, as with the New Year’s customs about which I write here every Dec. 31st, from the magic of boundary states, transition and liminality.

The idea behind ducking, dooking or bobbing for apples seems to have been that snatching a bite from the apple enables the person to grasp good fortune. Samhain is a time for getting rid of weakness, as pagans once slaughtered weak animals which were unlikely to survive the winter. A common ritual calls for writing down weaknesses on a piece of paper or parchment, and tossing it into the fire. There used to be a custom of placing a stone in the hot ashes of the bonfire. If in the morning a person found that the stone had been removed or had cracked, it was a sign of bad fortune. Nuts have been used for divination: whether they burned quietly or exploded indicated good or bad luck. Peeling an apple and throwing the peel over one’s shoulder was supposed to reveal the initial of one’s future spouse. One way of looking for omens of death was for peope to visit churchyards

La Catrina – In Mexican folk culture, the Catr...

The Witches’ Sabbath aspect of Hallowe’en seems to result from Germanic influence, and fusion with the notion of Walpurgisnacht. (You my be familiar with the magnificent musical evocation of this, Mussorgsky’s Night on Bald Mountain.)

Although probably not yet in a position to shape mainstream American Hallowe’en traditions, Mexican Dia de los Muertos observances have started to contribute some delightful and whimsical iconography to our encounter with the eerie and unearthly as well. As this article in The Smithsonian reviews, ‘In the United States, Halloween is mostly about candy, but elsewhere in the world celebrations honoring the departed have a spiritual meaning…’

What was Hallowe’en like forty or fifty years ago in the U.S. when, bastardized as it has become with respect to its pagan origins, it retained a much more traditional flair? For my purposes, suffice it to say that it was before the era of the pay-per-view ’spooky-world’ type haunted attractions and its Martha Stewart yuppification with, as this irreverent Salon article from several years ago [via walker] puts it, monogrammed jack-o’-lanterns and the like. One issue may be that, as NPR observed,

“Adults have hijacked Halloween… Two in three adults feel Halloween is a holiday for them and not just kids,” Forbes opined in 2012, citing a public relations survey. True that when the holiday was imported from Celtic nations in the mid-19th century — along with a wave of immigrants fleeing Irelands potato famine — it was essentially a younger persons game. But a little research reveals that adults have long enjoyed Halloween — right alongside young spooks and spirits.’

But is that necessarily a bad thing? A 1984 essay by Richard Seltzer, frequently referenced in other sources, entitled “Why Bother to Save Hallowe’en?”, argues as I do that reverence for Hallowe’en is good for the soul, young or old.

“Maybe at one time Hallowe’en helped exorcise fears of death and ghosts and goblins by making fun of them. Maybe, too, in a time of rigidly prescribed social behavior, Hallowe’en was the occasion for socially condoned mischief — a time for misrule and letting loose. Although such elements still remain, the emphasis has shifted and the importance of the day and its rituals has actually grown.…(D)on’t just abandon a tradition that you yourself loved as a child, that your own children look forward to months in advance, and that helps preserve our sense of fellowship and community with our neighbors in the midst of all this madness.”

Three Halloween jack-o'-lanterns.

That would be anathema to certain segments of society, however. Hallowe’en certainly inspires a backlash by fundamentalists who consider it a blasphemous abomination. ‘Amateur scholar’ Isaac Bonewits details academically the Hallowe’en errors and lies he feels contribute to its being reviled. Some of the panic over Hallowe’en is akin to the hysteria, fortunately now debunked, over the supposed epidemic of ‘ritual Satanic abuse’ that swept the Western world in the ’90’s.

Frankenstein

The horror film has become inextricably linked to Hallowe’en tradition, although the holiday itself did not figure in the movies until John Carpenter took the slasher genre singlehandedly by storm. Googling “scariest films”, you will, grimly, reap a mother lode of opinions about how to pierce the veil to journey to the netherworld and reconnect with that magical, eerie creepiness in the dark (if not the over-the-top blood and gore that has largely replaced the subtlety of earlier horror films).

In any case: trick or treat! …And may your Hallowe’en be soulful.

Related:

We May Have Finally Found a Piece of Amelia Earhart’s Lost Plane

Via Gizmodo:  ‘In 1937, Amelia Earharts plane, the aluminum-clad Electra, disappeared somewhere over the Pacific during the course of her global circumnavigation attempt. Now 77 years later, historians and aviation experts are confident they have found a part of her downed aircraft…

This confirmation has huge implications to the Earhart saga. It would indicate that Earhart and Noonan did not sink to watery graves but rather, more likely, they crash landed the Electra on the flat coral reefs surrounding Nikumaroro atoll and—either one or both, maybe neither—spent the rest of their lives as castaways on that dead speck of dry land in the middle of the ocean with nary a volley ball to keep them company.’

“Dogs and cats have to die”: Stephen Colbert sums up latest insane NRA crusade

“Dogs and cats have to die”: Stephen Colbert sums up latest insane NRA crusade - Salon.com

Via Salon.com:  ‘On Tuesday night Stephen Colbert blasted the NRA for killing a Pennsylvania bill that would have made it illegal to consume meat from household pets.The bill, which was introduced after cat and dog meat were cropping up at local butchers, also contained an amendment about the shooting of pigeons. Enter the NRA, who worried that this amendment would be a “slippery slope” downward to “regulated shooting grounds.”“That’s right,” Colbert said. “In order to protect their right to kill birds, the NRA defeated the anti-pet-eating bill.” ‘ (Link to video).

 

Fox News psychiatrist Keith Ablow calls for “American jihad”

Fox News doctor’s creepy jingoism: Keith Ablow calls for “American jihad” - Salon.com

Via Salon.com:  ‘Fox News “Medical A Team” member Keith Ablow thinks “it’s time for an American jihad.”

Ablow issued his summons in a column he penned for Fox News on Tuesday. Noting that definitions of jihad include “war or struggle against unbelievers” and “a crusade for principle or belief,” Ablow calls on the U.S. to wage a domestic and international jihad to remind Americans and citizens around the world that America is, by definition, exceptional and perfect and noble. Ablow’s jihad entails a mixture of quasi-fascist, jingoistic propaganda; messianic crusades to force other countries to adopt U.S. institutions and political practices; and the installation of puppet regimes around the globe. What could go wrong?’

 

Are adults adulterating Halloween?

Via NPR:  ‘“Adults have hijacked Halloween,” the Chicago Tribune reported in 2013. “Two in three adults feel Halloween is a holiday for them and not just kids,” Forbes opined in 2012, citing a public relations survey.

True that when the holiday was imported from Celtic nations in the mid-19th century — along with a wave of immigrants fleeing Irelands potato famine — it was essentially a younger persons game. But a little research reveals that adults have long enjoyed Halloween — right alongside young spooks and spirits.’

 

Ebola — Failures of Imagination

Jody Lanard and Peter M. Sandman: ‘The alleged U.S. over-reaction to the first three domestic Ebola cases in the United States – what Maryn McKenna calls Ebolanoia – is matched only by the world’s true under-reaction to the risks posed by Ebola in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea. We are not referring to the current humanitarian catastrophe there, although the world has long been under-reacting to that.

We will speculate about reasons for this under-reaction in a minute. At first we thought it was mostly a risk communication problem we call “fear of fear,” but now we think it is much more complicated.

Some of the world’s top Ebola experts say they are worrying night and day about the possibility of endemic Ebola, a situation in which Ebola will continue to spread, and then presumably wax and wane repeatedly, in West Africa.They – and we – find it difficult to understand why Ebola has not yet extended into Cote d’Ivoire, Mali, and Guinea-Bissau. After we drafted this on October 23, a case was confirmed in Mali.

Fewer experts refer publicly to what we think must frighten them even more and certainly frightens us even more: the prospect of Ebola sparks landing and catching unnoticed in slums like Dharavi in Mumbai or Orangi Town in Karachi – or perhaps Makoko in Lagos. Imagine how different recent history might have been if the late Ebola-infected Minnesota resident Patrick Sawyer had started vomiting in Makoko instead of at Lagos International Airport on July 20.’

 

What the Failure of ISIS to Take Kobani Means

Via TIME:  ‘Earlier this month, U.S. military officers were speaking of ISIS’s “momentum,” and how its string of military successes over the past year meant that quickly halting its advance would likely prove difficult if not impossible. Yet, as far as Kobani is concerned, that seems to be what is taking place.

But that raises the stakes for the U.S. and its allies. Having smothered ISIS’s momentum, an eventual ISIS victory in the battle for Kobani would be a more devastating defeat for the U.S. military than an earlier collapse of the town.

There are concerns that the focus on saving Kobani is giving ISIS free reign elsewhere in its self-declared caliphate—that the U.S., in essence, could end up winning the battle while losing the war.

“The U.S. air campaign has turned into an unfocused mess,” Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies wrote Friday. “The U.S. has shifted limited air strike resources to focus on Syria and a militarily meaningless and isolated small Syrian Kurdish enclave at Kobani at the expense of supporting Iraqi forces in Anbar and intensifying the air campaign against other Islamic State targets in Syria.” ‘

 

Why Is It Illegal to Not Vote in Most of Latin America?

Why Is It Illegal to Not Vote in Most of Latin America? - The Atlantic

Via The Atlantic: ‘Voters in this weekend’s elections in Uruguay and Brazil have something in common: They are legally required to cast a ballot. Both countries have compulsory voting, under which failure to vote is punishable by a fine.

Roughly 30 countries, and nearly a fifth of electoral democracies, have some form of national compulsory voting law on the books, though only some of these laws are enforced. And of these countries, 13 of them are in Latin America.With compulsory voting laws in about half of its countries, Latin America has by far the highest concentration of such laws on any continent.

“It’s been a contentious and hotly debated question,” Michael Shifter, president of the Inter-American Dialogue, an organization focused on Western Hemisphere affairs, told me by email. “Advocates believe a full democracy needs to respond to the views and interests of all citizens. …

Of course, the chief argument against compulsory voting is that it contradicts the freedom associated with democracy. ”These kinds of arguments are presumably applicable all over the world, so why is compulsory voting so prevalent in Latin America specifically?’

 

In Memoriam, Bassist Jack Bruce 1943 – 2014

via JamBase: ‘We’re sad to report that legendary bassist Jack Bruce has died. Bruce was best known for his work with Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker as a member of seminal rock band Cream in the late 60s. The Scottish native brought a power, flair and old- fashioned sensibility to his bass parts that hadnt been seen until he came along. Jack was also a fine songwriter who co-wrote such storied songs as “Sunshine Of Your Love,” “White Room” and “I Feel Free” with Pete Brown. Bruce died of liver disease according to Press Association.’

The Dalai Lama Will Not Return to Lead Tibet: He Has Something Better in Mind

The Dalai Lama Will Not Return to Lead Tibet He Has Something Better in Mind - Boing Boing

Via Boing Boing: ‘The Dalai Lama set off a firestorm last month by announcing that he will no longer reincarnate in a political role, effectively ending his centuries-old political lineage.It’s the latest in a series of controversial statements about the future of his role—including a hint that his next incarnation may be born outside of Tibet, and may be a woman. And it’s another indicator of a sea change in how the Tibetan diaspora is adapting and revising its traditions for life outside of occupied Tibet. Though the Dalai Lama’s statement was hastily reported in the media as meaning that he will not reincarnate at all, what he’s saying is much more layered: he’s looking to reincarnate as a spiritual leader only, and transition the Tibetan government-in-exile from needing him as a central authority, and towards a democratically-elected committee.’

 

Why You Shouldn’t Freak Out About Ebola in NYC

“Why you shouldn’t freak out…” yet?

Via Gizmodo: ‘Earlier today, a 33-year-old doctor named Craig Spencer, who had recently spent time treating Ebola in Guinea, tested positive for the disease in New York City. Hed ridden the A train; hed gotten an Uber; he went bowling. It sounds grim. And theres cause for concern. But its not as bad as you think.

We’ve written extensively about why Ebola fears are almost always overblown; a refresher about how the disease is transmitted is below to help keep todays news in perspective. The short version: it requires direct contact, through bodily fluids, of someone who is already symptomatic. That means that if you were on the same subway, rode in the same Uber, or rolled strikes a few lanes down, you have nothing to worry about.’

What Schizophrenia Can Teach Us About Ourselves

Via NOVA Next | PBS: ‘Some scientists are arguing that our new understanding of a particular network in the brain is allowing neuroscientists, psychologists, and psychiatrists—even artists and writers—to understand each other in ways that wouldn’t have made sense ten years ago. Called the default mode network, or DMN, it’s a set of brain regions that are typically suppressed when a person is engaged in an external task (playing a sport, working on a budget), but activated during a so-called “resting state” (sitting quietly, day-dreaming).

“It’s an extremely important platform for any kind of thought that is disengaged from the ‘here-and-now,’ ” says Mary Helen Immordino-Yang, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Southern California’s Brain and Creativity Institute. That includes processing other people’s stories, reflecting on our own lives, planning for the future, or making important decisions. Immordino-Yang says the default mode network is “metabolically expensive.” In other words, when your head is lost in the clouds, your brain is hard at work.The default mode network, which is hyperactive in schizophrenic people, plays an important role in self-reflection, identity, and mind-wandering. Though not the only “resting state” network that’s active when we’re staring off into space, the DMN is unusual in that it is reliable and identifiable, making it easy for scientists to study. Like a web of taut ropes overlaying and intersecting one another, the regions of the DMN–which include the medial prefrontal cortex and the posterior cingulate, both of which are involved in self-awareness, self-reflection, and so on–light up in concert, despite any distance separating them.

When neurologist Marcus Raichle and his colleagues discovered the DMN in 2001, it took the scientific community by surprise. How could rest and self-reflection excite the same brain regions in us all? Why are those regions so intimately correlated? Wouldn’t a brain scan vary more from person to person depending on the content of an individual’s thoughts? It turned out that the DMN has nothing to do with content and everything to do with context. This network is functioning all the time–focusing on a task merely tempers and subdues it.

“This is first time we’ve found a neural system that actually reveals your inner self,” says Susan Whitfield-Gabrieli, a research scientist at MIT. In 2009, she and her colleagues found that in schizophrenic people, the DMN operates on overdrive. When clinically diagnosed patients enter an fMRI scanner and are asked to perform various tasks, the dial on their DMN doesn’t turn down like it should. And when the patients are at rest, their DMN is hyper-connected, buzzing with surplus energy. What’s more, they lack the ability to toggle out of the DMN, this highly self-referential state of being. “They’re actually stuck in their default mode network,” Whitfield-Gabrieli says.’

 

Paralyzed man walks again after cell transplant

Via BBC News: ‘A paralysed man has been able to walk again after a pioneering therapy that involved transplanting cells from his nasal cavity into his spinal cord.

Darek Fidyka, who was paralysed from the chest down in a knife attack in 2010, can now walk using a frame.

The treatment, a world first, was carried out by surgeons in Poland in collaboration with scientists in London.’

Ebola Can Be Transmitted Via Infectious Aerosol Particles: Health Workers Need Respirators, not Masks

Via Global Research: Commentary by Lisa M Brosseau, ScD and Rachael Jones, PhD, rspectively Professor and Assistant Professor in the School of Public Health, Division of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

 

Ebola has already gone airborne

Via Alex Jones’ Infowars: ‘In late 1989, cynomolgus monkeys from the Philippines delivered to Hazleton Research Products’ Primate Quarantine Unit in Reston, Va., began dying at an alarming rate, prompting HRP to euthanize all the monkeys in that shipment, but during the 10 days after the euthanization, other monkeys in separate rooms connected only by air ducts began dying as well, which was attributed to an Ebola strain that went airborne.

“Due to the spread of infection to animals in all parts of the quarantine facility, it is likely that Ebola Reston may have been spread by airborne transmission,” wrote Lisa A. Beltz in the book Emerging Infectious Diseases. “On several subsequent occasions during 1989, 1990 and 1996, Ebola Reston killed monkeys in colonies in the United States.”

“Some of the people at the colony in Texas and several of the workers at the facility in the Philippines also produced antibodies to the virus but did not become ill.”The 1989 incident validates concerns that a new, airborne strain of Ebola could infect humans, and if such a mutated strain already exists, it would easily explain why Ebola is currently spreading so rapidly in Africa.’

 

Your Microbes Get Jetlag Too

Via IFLScience:  ‘Flying across time zones throws your biological activities out of sync with the time of day. Turns out, your gut microbes have circadian clocks too, and when their daily rhythms are disrupted, that might lead to obesity and metabolic problems for you. These findings are published in Cell this week. ‘

 

Which Religions Would Have The Hardest Time Accepting Alien Life?

Via io9:

‘At Scientific American, Clara Moskowitz has the transcript from a recent interview with [astronomer David] Weintraub, in which they discuss the implications of extraterrestrial life on humanity’s assorted religious sensibilities. Here’s Weintraub on the difficulties that could be faced by religions that see humans as “the sole focus of Gods attention”:

The religions that see the world through that viewpoint tend to be some of the Christian evangelicals. The Eastern Orthodox Church, a branch of Catholicism, also has that view.There are some people who claim that if God had created extraterrestrials, then there clearly would be words in the Old and New testaments, which we would have already found, that would have said explicitly that God created extraterrestrials—and since those words don’t exist, there can’t be. Well, theres nothing in the Old and New testaments that talks about telephones either, and telephones do seem to exist.

As for which religions would accept the existence of alien life most readily, Weintraub points to the expansive cosmological scope of Buddhism as an indication that practitioners of that belief system “wouldnt be surprised to find life existing in other places.” Mormonism, too, he says, is “pretty interesting”:

There is a clear belief in Mormonism in extraterrestrial life. All Mormons have as a goal to become exalted, to become a god. To become a god you effectively get your own planet with your own creatures on it and youll take good care of them. The only place in the universe where you have the opportunity to become exalted is Earth. Those Mormons that receive the highest level of exaltation will be equals with God and have their own worlds, occupied with living beings seeking their own salvation and immortality. The prophet Joseph Smith taught that these worlds are or will be inhabited by sentient beings. It is everywhere taken for granted. They’re not vague at all. There’s no doubt that the Mormons are comfortable about the idea that there are others on other worlds. They’d be unhappy if we didnt find anybody. But they’d just say we haven’t looked hard enough.

The interview is definitely worth reading in its entirety for the section on whether Jesus saved the Klingons as well as humanity, alone, so check it out over at SciAm. See also the closely related, but very different, question of what effect the discovery of alien life would have on society’s deism.’

 

Are Tornadoes Starting To Move In Swarms?

Via io9: ‘A new study looking at the last 59 years of tornadoes in the United States reveals something surprising: We have fewer tornadoes today than we used to. But those tornadoes are hitting in a terrifying new way.

Harold Brooks, atmospheric scientist at NOAA, who you may also remember from his io9 Q&A on tornado season, is the lead author of the study, published today in Science. Starting at around 1980, the total number of tornadoes in a year starts to trend downward — at the same time, however, the days when multiple tornadoes struck started to trend upwards.’

 

Spectacular comet will engulf Mars this Sunday in historical event

Via Sploid: ‘This Sunday something historical will happen: An ancient rare comet will arrive to Mars after millions of years traveling at 33 miles per second from the Oort cloud. It will look like you can see above, passing just within a third of the distance from the Earth to the Moon, engulfing the Red Planet in its large tail.’

 

Some Fear Ebola Outbreak Could Make Nation Turn to Science

Andy Borowitz: ‘There is a deep-seated fear among some Americans that an Ebola outbreak could make the country turn to science.In interviews conducted across the nation, leading anti-science activists expressed their concern that the American people, wracked with anxiety over the possible spread of the virus, might desperately look to science to save the day.’ (via New Yorker)

From Miasma to Ebola: The History of Racist Moral Panic Over Disease

Via Jezebel: ‘The Western medical discourse on Africa has never been particularly subtle: the continent is often depicted as an undivided repository of degeneration. Comparing the representations of disease in Africa and in the West, you can hear the whispers of an underlying moral panic: a sense that Africa, and its bodies, are uncontainable. The discussion around Ebola has already evoked—almost entirely from Tea Party Republicans—the explicit idea that American borders are too porous and that all manners of perceived primitiveness might infect the West.

And indeed, with the history of American and European panic over regulating foreign disease comes a history of regulating the perception of filth from beyond our borders, a history of policing non-white bodies that have signified some unclean toxicity.’

 

Lockheed Martin Says Its Made a Big Advance in Nuclear Fusion

Via WIRED: ‘…So far McGuire’s team has built a structure—a few meters long by a meter in diameter—to test its plasma confinement claims. If they can iterate fast enough, they may just be the first to get to a functional nuclear reactor… probably in about 10 years.’

[And just what is Neil Patrick Harris doing moonlighting as a nuclear engineer?]

Happy Birthday, Oscar Wilde: A Few Maxims for the Instruction of the Over-Educated

  • Education is an admirable thing. But it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.
  • Public opinion exists only where there are no ideas.
  • The English are always degrading truths into facts. When a truth becomes a fact it loses all its intellectual value.
  • It is a very sad thing that nowadays there is so little useless information.
  • The only link between Literature and Drama left to us in England at the present moment is the bill of the play.
  • In old days books were written by men of letters and read by the public. Nowadays books are written by the public and read by nobody.
  • Most women are so artificial that they have no sense of Art. Most men are so natural that they have no sense of Beauty.
  • Friendship is far more tragic than love. It lasts longer.
  • What is abnormal in Life stands in normal relations to Art. It is the only thing in Life that stands in normal relations to Art.
  • A subject that is beautiful in itself gives no suggestion to the artist. It lacks imperfection.
  • The only thing that the artist cannot see is the obvious. The only thing that the public can see is the obvious. The result is the Criticism of the Journalist.
  • Art is the only serious thing in the world. And the artist is the only person who is never serious.
  • To be really medieval one should have no body. To be really modern one should have no soul. To be really Greek one should have no clothes.
  • Dandyism is the assertion of the absolute modernity of Beauty.
  • The only thing that can console one for being poor is extravagance. The only thing that can console one for being rich is economy.
  • One should never listen. To listen is a sign of indifference to one’s hearers.
  • Even the disciple has his uses. He stands behind one’s throne, and at the moment of one’s triumph whispers in one’s ear that, after all, one is immortal.
  • The criminal classes are so close to us that even the policemen can see them. They are so far away from us that only the poet can understand them.
  • Those whom the gods love grow young.

(via Brain Pickings)

No, Bush was not right about Iraq

How conservatives misread new Times bombshell: ‘The right says a new NY Times report on chemical weapons in Iraq vindicates Bush. Even Team Bush disagrees!’ (Via Salon.com).

Related: How Bush opened the door for ISIS

‘One thing is clear: the foreign armies that the U.S. invests so much money, time, and effort in training and equipping don’t act as if America’s enemies are their enemies. Contrary to the behavior predicted by Donald Rumsfeld, when the U.S. removes those “training wheels” from its client militaries, they pedal furiously when they pedal at all in directions wholly unexpected by, and often undesirable to, their American paymasters. And if that’s not a clear sign of the failure of U.S. foreign policy, I don’t know what is.’ (Via Salon.com).

Research shows the rats of NYC are infected with at least 18 new viruses

Research shows the rats of NYC are infected with at least 18 new viruses

Via io9: ‘To work out what kind of diseases the rats of NYC were carrying, the scientists trapped 133 rats at five sites around the city, focussing on those inside residential buildings in particular, for obvious disease-spreading reasons.They then used molecular testing to look for known bacterial pathogens and viruses in the rats’ tissue and excretions.

They found that 15 of the 20 bacterial pathogens they were testing for were present in the rats, as well as one virus, Seoul hantavirus, which causes Ebola-like heamorrhagic fever in humans. This is the first time the virus has been documented in New York City, and the genetic clues in the rats suggest it’s a new arrival.

Perhaps even more interestingly and worryingly, the researchers also found 18 completely new viruses in the rats. None of these have been seen in humans as yet, but the scientists say that transmission is possible.’

 

Second Nurse with Ebola Flew on Commercial Flight with Fever

A Second Nurse and Second Guesses on Ebola - The Atlantic

Via The Atlantic: ‘The CDC is contacting all 132 passengers who were onboard the Frontier Airlines flight from Cleveland to Dallas on Monday along with a nurse who treated Thomas Eric Duncan before he became the first person to die of Ebola in the U.S. CDC director Dr. Thomas Frieden bluntly told reporters on Wednesday that the nurse “should not have traveled” on the plane because she was one of dozens who were being monitored for exposure to the deadly disease.

…Frieden said all health workers who came in contact with Duncan, who died October 8, would now be restricted from traveling commercially. Still, he said that because the second nurse did not exhibit symptoms on the flight from Cleveland, the risk to other passengers remains “extremely low.” The passengers are being contacted, he said, as “an extra margin of safety.”

Any passengers on Flight 1143, which landed at Dallas-Fort Worth at 8:16 p.m. Central, should call 1-800-CDC-INFO. Frontier Airlines released a statement saying the plane had been cleaned twice before resuming its service.’

The History of the Scary Clown

Via The Atlantic: ‘How, exactly, did clowns go from lovable children’s entertainers to the bewigged, bone-chilling incarnation of evil? The answer is complicated, and spans a period of almost 200 years…’

Related:

Behold, Every Horror Movie on TV This October

Via The Atlantic: ‘October is the most wonderful time of the year for horror fans. TV networks pack their schedules with scares, allowing viewers to create their own horror marathon out of hundreds of different combinations. Below, I’ve put together a calendar of all 300+ horror films set to air on cable for the month—and looking at the list, it’s clear how incredibly versatile the definition of “horror” can be.’

The Scary Truth: Horror Films (Alarmingly) Based on True Stories

Via The Atlantic: ‘These ten horror movies are all inspired by real events—unfortunately.’

Why Do Some Brains Enjoy Fear?

Via The Atlantic: ‘The science behind the appeal of haunted houses, freak shows, and physical thrills.’

‘Annals of Idiocy’ Dept.

Yelling ‘I have Ebola!’ on a bus can get you arrested - The Washington Post

Via The Washington Post: ‘A man wearing a surgical mask and a woman got onto a bus in Los Angeles Monday afternoon. He proclaimed, “I have Ebola!” Moments later, he threw the mask on the ground, and they both got off the bus. Now, the FBI is involved in trying to track down the man, with an investigation being treated as a possible terrorist or criminal threat, according to Los Angeles Metro officials.’

 

Hawking Radiation Recreated In A Laboratory

Via IFLScience: ‘A researcher claims to have produced a simulation of Hawking radiation, which if true will give physicists the chance to test one of Stephen Hawkings most significant predictions.

In 1974, Hawking upended ideas about black holes with his theory that just outside the event horizon, particle-antiparticle pairs should appear as a result of the black holes gravitational field. One of these would be drawn into the hole, but the other escape. Since the appearance of the pair draws energy from the hole and only half of this is recaptured, the effect is to reduce the holes mass, causing it to eventually evaporate.’

 

Netherlands: It’s OK for biker gangs to fight ISIS!

Via Yahoo News‘The Hague (AFP) – The Dutch public prosecutor said on Tuesday that motorbike gang members who have reportedly joined Kurds battling the Islamic State group in Iraq are not necessarily committing any crime.

“Joining a foreign armed force was previously punishable, now its no longer forbidden,” public prosecutor spokesman Wim de Bruin told AFP. “You just cant join a fight against the Netherlands,” he told AFP after reports emerged that Dutch bikers from the No Surrender gang were fighting IS insurgents alongside Kurds in northern Iraq.’

 

When Art Rocked: San Francisco Music Posters, 1966-1971

Via Boing Boing: ‘Ben Marks explores the history of the psychedelic rock poster.’ Marks is a serious scholar and collector of San Francisco rock poster art and curator of a major exhibit that is now hanging at SFO. This article fascinated me, as someone who is just nuts about this genre of graphics. I had a sizable collection of originals myself, and I have long been kicking myself for losing track of most of my collection in moves over the years. (My brother may have them in storage somewhere…) My favorite artist of the genre? Rick Griffin, without a doubt. Gotta pass through San Francisco while the exhibit is still up…

Woman sees 100 times more colors than you

Via Boing Boing: ‘Artist Concetta Antico is a tetrachromat, meaning a genetic mutation in her eyes enables her to see approximately 100 times more colors than an average person. “Around the edge of a leaf I’ll see orange or red or purple in the shadow; you might see dark green but I’ll see violet, turquoise, blue,” she told Popular Science. “It’s like a mosaic of color.”Cognitive scientists are studying Antico to better understand human perception and how it can be shaped by this genetic mutation. Below, Antico’s painting “Rainbow Gully, Mission Hills, SD.” See more of her work at concettaantico.com.’

There was a great episode of Radio Lab that touched on tetrachromats several years ago. One of the takeaway messages from that piece was that we are the misfits of the animal world in terms of the impoverishment of our color vision.

Your Phone Could Become Part of the Worlds Largest Telescope

Via Gizmodo: ‘Inside your smartphone’s camera, whether a Galaxy S5 or an iPhone 6, are silicon photodiode pixels—the things that detect visible light and turn it into something you can see on your screen. But as the UC team explains in their new paper PDF, they can also detect high-energy particles. The app is basically a piece of software that records when your camera senses these particles, then records the levels, location, and time of the “shower.”

It runs itself automatically and imperceptibly only when your phone is charging, so it doesnt suck up battery life, and it only uploads relevant captures to UCs server when youre connected to Wi-Fi. What about privacy? The data the app is uploading is able to detect the different between shower data and actual photos, and will never upload actual images. The team at UC says theyve spent over a year on the beta of the app, all because to achieve the number of users they need for their telescope to function, their app needs to be as invisible and convenient as possible—hence the focus on battery life, data, and privacy.’

You can request access to the app, which is still in pre-release, here.

 

What Does the Gostak Do?

Via io9: ‘The Gostak distims the doshes. This is a sentence that has no meaning in the real world – except the one that is has built up over its extensive history. Learn about the gostak, the doshes, and their surprising science fiction connection…

The sentence was first written editor and progressive educator Simon Ingraham, who believed that one of the “uses of language” was to “keep the grammarians busy.” The point is that, while the sentence has no meaning in the real world, it has a perfect, understandable, and self-contained meaning inside that sentence. The doshes are things that are distimmed by the Gostak. Distimming is what Gostaks do to doshes. And, well, the Gostak distims the doshes. We know what it means. All we need is more context to understand what is actually happening. We feel that, if we could keep reading for a few more paragraphs, we could pick up what each of these things actually are – the way we pick up almost all language.

This elusive lack of context has led to a lot of people playing with the sentence in different contexts. The Gostak shows up in a lot of areas. One of the most notable was “The Gostak and the Doshes,” a science fiction story by Miles Breuer. In the story, “The Gostak distims the doshes,” was a political slogan that made people furious. A visitor tries in vain to get people to explain what it is thats so bad about this idea, but cant even find out what any of the words mean. People didnt know what was being said, but they still couldnt bear the idea that that Gostak was out there. Distimming.’

 

What originally lit up the new universe?

Via space.com: ‘A densely packed star-forming galaxy is reproducing the events that brought light to the early universe. The nearby compact galaxy named J0921+4509, which is rapidly producing stars, has many of the characteristics that would have been required to light up the early universe. Located approximately 3 billion light-years from the Milky Way, the star-forming regions of the tightly bound galaxy are surrounded by dense clouds of gas. Holes in the gas allow radiation to leak out, mimicking events that would have broken through the darkness that followed the birth of the universe.’