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You Can Now Search for Addresses Across 750 Million Years of Earth’s History

NewImage

‘Ever looked at a picture of the supercontinent Pangea and wondered where your current address would have been 250 million years ago? A new interactive map provides this very service, allowing you to see modern locations across 750 million years of our planet’s history.

This awesome 3D map is the brainchild of Ian Webster, curator of the supremely impressive Dinosaur Database. It defaults to 240 million years ago, during the Early Triassic, a time when life was rebounding from the Permian mass extinction and early dinosaurs began to make an appearance. Back then, our planet was dominated by the giant Pangea supercontinent, and it makes little sense from our current perspective.

To help, Webster overlays the map with modern political boundaries, and you can even search for present-day addresses to pinpoint specific locations. Using the left or right cursor keys, you can scroll back or forward in time to see the shifting of the continents. In all, the map goes from 750 million years ago to the 21st century, so you can watch how a specific location on Earth changes across the Devonian, Jurassic, Neocene, or whichever period strikes your fancy….’

Via Gizmodo

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This Is What American Christians Think God Looks Like – Motherboard

 

NewImageGod is a young white dude who looks like he plays the acoustic guitar, according to a study of more than 500 American Christians.

‘Researchers were surprised to find that despite centuries of art depicting God as an elderly, wizened old white man, people leaned toward a younger, softer visage. And their biases about what he looks like reflected their own political views: Liberals saw a feminine God, while conservatives saw God as more of a hardass….’

Via Motherboard

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The Bullshit-Job Boom

Nathan Heller in The New Yorker:

‘In “Bullshit Jobs” (Simon & Schuster), David Graeber, an anthropologist now at the London School of Economics, seeks a diagnosis and epidemiology for what he calls the “useless jobs that no one wants to talk about.” He thinks these jobs are everywhere. By all the evidence, they are. His book, which has the virtue of being both clever and charismatic, follows a much circulated essay that he wrote, in 2013, to call out such occupations. Some, he thought, were structurally extraneous: if all lobbyists or corporate lawyers on the planet disappeared en masse, not even their clients would miss them. Others were pointless in opaque ways. Soon after the essay appeared, in a small journal, readers translated it into a dozen languages, and hundreds of people, Graeber reports, contributed their own stories of work within the bullshit sphere….’

Via The New Yorker

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Rocks Under I-95 Present Odd, and Scary, Threat to Power Grid

NewImage‘Here’s something you probably didn’t know you needed to worry about: 

There’s a layer of 300 million-year-old rock under Interstate 95 that’s capable of killing the lights from Washington to Boston and beyond the next time the sun erupts in all its fury.

Sound far-fetched? Perhaps. But not to scientists. A solar storm is now viewed as enough of a risk in fact that grid operators across North America are working on plans to respond to just such a disturbance. And a draft of a soon-to-be-published U.S. Geological Survey report pinpoints the Eastern Seaboard as one of the areas most in danger.

Illustration of events on the sun changing the conditions in Near-Earth space.Source: NASA That’s because this Paleozoic-era rock doesn’t let the energy from a major geomagnetic storm — a once-in-a-100-years kind of event — pass through it but instead acts as a backstop that sends the surge back up above the ground for a second shot at causing mayhem….’

Via Bloomberg

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One of the World’s Largest Steam Locomotives Is About to Make a Triumphant Return

NewImage‘SEVENTY YEARS AFTER THE FIRST Transcontinental Railroad was completed in 1869, the steep Rocky Mountains of Wyoming and Utah were still giving the Union Pacific Railroad trouble.

Despite having massive steam engines, the Union Pacific, one of the biggest railroads in America, still struggled to move heavy freight trains over the mountains and would often have to use multiple locomotives to get trains to their destination. This practice required more workers and more fuel. In 1940, the Union Pacific’s mechanical engineers teamed up with the American Locomotive Company to build one of the world’s largest steam locomotives, a class of engine simply known as “Big Boy.”

Now, six decades after the last Big Boy was taken off the rails, the Union Pacific is rebuilding one of the famous locomotives in honor of the upcoming sesquicentennial celebration of the first Transcontinental Railroad. It’s a project so ambitious that Ed Dickens Jr, a Union Pacific steam locomotive engineer and the man leading the rebuild, has likened it to resurrecting a Tyrannosaurus rex….’

Via Atlas Obscura

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Have we forgotten how to die?

NewImage‘Although we greedily consume death at a distance through fiction, drama and the media, we are hamstrung by it up close and personal. In 1955 the commentator Geoffrey Gorer declared that death had become more pornographic than sex. It was, he said, the new taboo and mourning had become “indecent”. Since then, matters have arguably got worse….’

Via Times Literary Supplement

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Passel of Interesting Stories on Gizmodo Today

The US State Department evacuated at least two diplomats in China following a mysterious illness experienced after hearing strange noises—the latest in a series of unexplained sicknesses that have hit American diplomats and their family members in recent years. According to the New York Times , the State Department has flown in a medical team to test employees at the American consulate …
It’s taken as a given that the more schooling we get, the better off our lives will be across the board. But a new study published Wednesday in The BMJ reaffirms a hidden health risk of higher education. The more years of school someone gets, it turns out, the greater the chances of them becoming near-sighted. For more than a century, observational research across the world has pointed to…
Not Gilderoy Lockhart Dr. Mehmet Oz is at it again. The infamous snake oil salesman tweeted today, asking his followers to learn more about the link between a person’s astrological sign and their health. After a brief paroxysm of screaming, I clicked through the slideshow to learn that, as a Capricorn, I am so ambitious and take on so many tasks that I am prone to literally becoming weak in the knees…
Beginning in August, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will begin piloting a new face recognition system at the Mexican border. Using a series of cameras, the CBP plans to use face recognition to remotely check the identifies of both drivers and passengers. Called the Vehicle Face System (VFS), the program will track drivers and passengers on either side of the crossing at the Anzalduas …
A Texas man thought he had bested a rattlesnake by decapitating it, but when he tried to pick up the slain serpent’s head, it bit him and released a potentially fatal dose of venom into his body. His wife Jennifer Sutcliffe told local news station KIIITV that doctors said he might not survive, but he is now in recovery, thanks to 26 vials of antivenom. Trauma surgeon Michael Halpert told the news …
Comcast’s Xfinity landline service has been experiencing issues across the U.S. since this morning, with thousands of problems still being reported this afternoon, according to DownDetector.com . The outage map indicates that customers throughout the U.S. have encountered issues, with the most recent reports coming from San Francisco, Chicago, Portland, Mountain View, Denver, Seattle, Atlanta, …
Hurricane Harvey, as seen from low-Earth orbit. The pace at which hurricanes move across the planet is slowing, according to new research. This suggests Hurricane Harvey, which stalled over Texas last summer, may not have been an…

via Gizmodo

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U.S. Army develops algorithm that shows how to get ‘optimal alertness’ from caffeine

The researchers behind the new study aimed to find the optimal balance between the amount of caffeine and the time it’s administered. To do so, they used data from four past caffeine-sleep studies and inputted them into an algorithm built on the unified model of performance, which is a mathematical model that accurately predicts the effects of sleep–wake schedules and caffeine consumption on simple neurobehavioral tasks.

The team, led by the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command’s Dr. Jaques Reifman, ran thousands of simulations across a wide range of doses and sleep-wake schedules.

“We found that by using our algorithm, which determines when and how much caffeine a subject should consume, we can improve alertness by up to 64 percent, while consuming the same total amount of caffeine,” Reifman told Science Daily. “Alternatively, a subject can reduce caffeine consumption by up to 65 percent and still achieve equivalent improvements in alertness.”

The algorithm could someday be used, for instance, by college students who want to know when they should consume caffeine “so you are as alert as possible during the exam,” Reifman told Live Science.

The optimal caffeine dose amounts and times depended on each individual scenario, so there’s no universal recommendation for when and much caffeine to consume. However, the U.S. Army is reportedly using the algorithm in experiments with soldiers in an effort to improve sleep health in the military, an organization in which sleep deprivation is a constant and often unavoidable problem.

The base algorithm looks like this:

If that’s not your cup of joe, a simplified version of the algorithm is available to the public through the 2B-Alert app, which lets users enter their sleep schedules and caffeine intake to find out when and how much caffeine they should consume.

Source: Big Think

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Physicists Are Excited About Fresh Evidence for a New Fundamental Particle

NewImageHints of a ghosty, “sterile” version of the neutrino:

There are three types of neutrinos in the Standard Model, the blueprint of particle physics. But in past experiments, scientists have thought there could be a fourth, more mysterious type. Results from an experiment called MiniBooNE, combined with data from another called the Liquid Scintillator Neutrino Detector, seem to add even further evidence for the existence of the sterile neutrino.

Neutrinos are perhaps the second most common particle in the universe, after light particles, called photons. Physicists have long known about the electron neutrino, the muon neutrino, and the tau neutrino. They’ve also known that the neutrinos can swap identities, or oscillate, between types. And experiments seemed to observe neutrinos disappearing and reappearing, as if they’d swapped into a fourth, more difficult-to-observe identity….’

Via Gizmodo

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Where Are Europe’s Last Fairytale Forests?

NewImageThe best way to explore  “last-of-their-kind patches” might be in the pages of storybooks, or in the chapters of our imagination:

‘in Kay Nielsen’s illustrations for the Brothers Grimm story of Hansel and Gretel, the deep woods are full of secrets. The trees are towering, gnarled, and knotted. Their canopies, crunchy and brown, blot out the sky. On the ground, clusters of ferns unfurl around tree roots; there are patches of grass, and verdant trees studded with blooms. In a glen, of course, sits that devilishly tasty house built from bread and cakes.

The woods are a character in the story. They are thick, tall, and deep—so much so that the young duo could wander them for days. Their allure, and a dash of horror, comes from the fact that they are unknown, and maybe unknowable.

In 2018, they aren’t many truly unknown corners of the globe—few places are pristine and untraveled the way they might be described in a fairytale. Still, dense clusters of primary forests—where trees have grown, for ages, largely undisturbed—exist in patches of the Amazon basin, Southeast Asia, and Canadian and Siberian Taiga. Slivers of Europe are still luxuriant with trees, too, and very old ones at that. But they’re dwindling.

A team of researchers, led by Francesco Maria Sabatini of Berlin’s Humboldt‐Universität, recently set out to map exactly where those oldest, least-disturbed forests are, and how many of them are left….’

Via Atlas Obscura

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Why does it seem like serial killers all wear the same glasses?

NewImage‘The list of serial killers who wore glasses is long and bloody, from Dahmer to BTK to Harold Shipman and his professorial frames; even the Zodiac Killer, never caught, wears a thick-rimmed pair in a police sketch. The aesthetic of “serial killer glasses” is so pervasive that it pops up everywhere from Urban Dictionary (“Eyeglasses with heavy or severe frames that live somewhere between fashionable and creepy”) to TV Tropes (where “a guy who is cold, emotionless … or even a soulless monster” is given glasses “to quickly tip off the audience to his personality”), and countless Tumblr posts in between.

Search for “serial killer glasses” on Amazon and you’ll be directed to the “So In Luxe Aviator Retro Fashion Glasses” – perfect for the manic pixie dream serial killer. Naturally, Spirit Halloween sells a pair, too. It’s a look that signifies “creep” and “outsider” so well that it’s become the punchline to a joke: Amy Schumer and Conan O’Brien have both done skits about how men who favor a certain style of glasses tend to be serial killers, molesters, cult leaders or all of the above.

Of course, the fact that many serial killers wear glasses is simple math: over 60% of Americans use some sort of vision correction, and serial killers are just like the rest of us, at least when it comes to their eyesight. But because these killers are often exhaustively scrutinized and even fetishized in the media, their glasses have become part of the serial killer iconography. A pair of shiny lenses, perched on the bridge of a serial killer’s nose, becomes a subtle metaphor for his walled-off nature, for her sociopath’s aloofness. Glasses become a mask that’s acceptable for the killer to wear in public. They become a threat, too: after all, the serial killer who wears glasses is apparently someone who can see us better than we can see them. Someone who’s always watching….’

Via The Guardian

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The Lost Lingo of New York City’s Soda Jerks

Natasha Frost writes:

‘…“[S]oda jerk[s],” …half a million [of whom were] employed at tens of thousands of soda fountains across the United States in the 1930s and 1940s, …had white coats, swift fingers, and even swifter tongues—indeed, their linguistic concoctions were as much of a draw as the sweet treats they served up. [One] got a special shout-out in a university English course on American colloquialism after a professor ordered a large cherry coke and heard him shout back: “Stretch one, paint it red!” …’

Source: Gastro Obscura

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Kim’s tunnel explosions a goodwill gesture?

NewImageNo so fast:

‘No weapons inspectors or nonproliferation experts were invited to witness the detonation, and now initial assessments indicate that the show was essentially a charade. “The explosions seem to have been too small” for scientists to have discerned any significant geologic activity such as collapsing tunnels, an international arms control official who follows North Korea closely told CNN. “The fact that journalists were reportedly only around 500 meters from the explosions is a good indication that these were small blasts. And the amount of dust leads us to believe that they were quite superficial,” the official said….’

Via CNNPolitics

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White House Reporters Say Things Are Getting More Challenging

NewImage‘…Trump’s inner circle has solidified, and the president is increasingly acting on his own. Meetings are getting smaller, reducing the number of people with proximity to information. Top officials, some who acted as relatively helpful press gatekeepers, like former communications director Hope Hicks, have left without replacements. And, after back-and-forth hostile leaks between the White House and State Department under Rex Tillerson, reporters are now dealing with National Security Adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, kindred spirits who are also more discreet. 

All the while, Trump’s behavior is becoming more and more erratic, and White House reporters say it’s becoming harder to know what’s going on — not like it was ever easy…

The White House, for its part, has continued its quest to find those speaking to the press, particularly after the leak of comments in a private meeting made by White House aide Kelly Sadler that Sen. John McCain’s opinion didn’t matter because he would die soon…’

Via BuzzFeed News

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Hobson’s Choice

NewImageSam Hobson is a wildlife photographer with a twist. His focus is on the ‘invasive’ species that are colonizing urban spaces, e.g. red foxes (I have a family living on my street outside of Boston) and parakeets (whose populations are burgeoning in the air over cities like London, some say thanks to Jimi Hendrix releasing a mating pair sometime around 50 years ago to make the city more colorful!). Such arresting images often require painstaking groundwork.

Via Sam Hobson Photography

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US fertility is dropping. Here’s why some experts saw it coming

 

NewImageThe recent drop in fertility brings the U.S. more in line with peer countries:

‘However, this recent decline fits with global trends and isn’t unprecedented in U.S. history. As a demographer who studies fertility trends, what strikes me as anomalous is not the recent drop, but the previous high fertility “bubble.”

The U.S. maintained surprisingly high fertility rates for a long time. After the baby boom of the 1950s and 1960s, fertility in the U.S. and other wealthy countries fell during the 1970s. However, the U.S. steadily rebounded, even as rates in most other wealthy countries stayed low or fell even lower….’

Via The Conversation

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Bob Mueller’s White Hot Summer

NewImageFormer federal prosecutor Nelson Cunningham in Politico:

‘Special Counsel Robert Mueller may well be in the final stages of wrapping up his principal investigation. Last week, I argued here in Politico that Mueller will want to avoid interfering with the November midterms, and so will try to conclude by July or August. On this one we can believe Trump’s new lawyer, former prosecutor and New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, who claims Mueller’s target is September 1….’

It seems to me that wrapping up before the midterm elections stands a good chance of doing precisely the opposite, especially if the scenario is as he predicts in the article:

Mueller will not indict the president, but will issue a comprehensive and detailed report… Rod Rosenstein will decide to release the report to Congress and the public… Rosenstein’s move to release the Mueller report will lead to his firing and perhaps another Saturday Night Massacre… And this is when the Senate and the Congress might finally engage.

As for the political impact? All of this – the conclusion of Mueller’s investigation, the issuing of his report, the fight over its release and the fallout from a firing of Rosenstein – will play out loudly in public before November.

Quickly, “release the report” will become the central political axis of this political year. In these crowded months before November 6, we may see political tumult unseen since 1974. And just as then, the fate of a presidency may hang in the balance.

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Massive Neutron Star Is the Definition of Extreme

NewImage‘New research published this week in the Astrophysical Journal describes one of the most massive neutron stars ever detected, an object containing 2.3 solar masses. Only one known neutron star tops it: a behemoth discovered seven years ago that weighed in at 2.4 solar masses. In total, out of the approximately 2,000 neutron stars known to astronomers, only four are more than two solar masses. Super-massive neutron stars are thus relatively rare, and they exist at the limits of what’s physically possible—making them exceptionally important objects of inquiry, both for astronomers and for particle physicists….’

Via Gizmodo

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Are Plants Conscious?

NewImage‘Animal rights activists have done stellar work in foregrounding the question of creature-consciousness: no meat-eater is now ignorant of the fact that their food once lived, breathed, maybe nuzzled its kin in a blood-soaked slaughterhouse. Environmentalists have a harder go of it. Fracking footage will always be less upsetting than your average fast food expose: Plants, after all, can’t wail frantically as they’re mowed down by the millions. But does that mean they’re not conscious? Is it sensible, or desirable, to start anthropomorphizing crabgrass and dandelions, or are plants really as insensitive as we all instinctively assume?…’

Via Gizmodo

 

 

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Impeachment is Not the Answer?

NewImageNew Laurence Tribe Book Offers Cautions:


‘A new book from Laurence Tribe and Joshua Matz argues that removing a president, even when justified, can be an unwise move….’

Tribe and his former student argue that impeachment talk, which has been faced by every president since 1992, is often stirred not by the president’s opponents but by his supporters, as a way to sustain political engagement between elections, since we are in an age of permanent campaigning and permanent partisanship. And for many Trump supporters, the authors observe, 

Trump’s appeal is less what he will accomplish programmatically than whom he will attack personally. Were Trump removed from office by political elites in Washington, DC—even based on clear evidence that he had grossly abused power—some of his supporters would surely view the decision as an illegitimate coup. Indeed, some right-wing leaders have already denounced the campaign to remove Trump as a prelude to civil war.

One central piece of advice from Tribe and Matz is that impeachment is not a legal, but a political question. It is a mistake to think that solving the problem of whether to impeach depends on whether the President’s actions meet some standard of “high crimes and misdemeanors.” Grand visions of putting the President on trial, they say, devalue other political ways of defending democracy.

The book is, according to the review by David Frum, 

a hopeful summons to defend an imperiled democracy with a renewed and enlarged commitment to democratic action.

Via The Atlantic

Fifteen Unanswered Criminal Law Questions Surrounding the Enfant Terrible

NewImageIn a companion piece, Frum catalogues the open questions about potential criminal acts by the Buffoon-in-Chief, his campaign, his company, and his family. However, he cautions that all he has to do to avoid repercussions is tell lies his contemptibly credulous base believes:

 

 

‘As Laurence Tribe and Joshua Matz show in their new book about impeachment, an agitated and committed minority can suffice to protect a president from facing justice for even the most strongly proven criminality….’

 

 

Via The Atlantic

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The Practically-Extinct Northern White Rhino Just Got Some Good News

NewImage‘Things look pretty bleak for the northern white rhinoceros. Since the death of Sudan, the last male, the entirety of the subspecies has dwindled to only two females. But a group of scientists is churning away on a high-tech save involving carefully cryopreserved cells and tissue cultures from long-dead northern white rhinos. And a new study on the genetics of these precious samples suggests that they are diverse enough to successfully seed a recovered population in the future….’

Via Earther

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“I was Jordan Peterson’s strongest supporter. Now I think he’s dangerous”

NewImageBernard Schiff, professor emeritus of psychology at the University of Toronto and former publisher of The Walrus:

‘I thought long and hard before writing about Jordan, and I do not do this lightly. He has one of the most agile and creative minds I’ve ever known. He is a powerful orator. He is smart, passionate, engaging and compelling and can be thoughtful and kind.

I was once his strongest supporter.

That all changed with his rise to celebrity. I am alarmed by his now-questionable relationship to truth, intellectual integrity and common decency, which I had not seen before. His output is voluminous and filled with oversimplifications which obscure or misrepresent complex matters in the service of a message which is difficult to pin down. He can be very persuasive, and toys with facts and with people’s emotions. I believe he is a man with a mission. It is less clear what that mission is….’

Via Toronto Star

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Why medicine leads the professions in suicide

NewImageAnd what we can do about it

‘Having entered medicine believing that their own knowledge, compassion and experience would help make the difference between health and illness and even life and death for their patients, they have found themselves inhabiting a very different reality, one that often leaves them feeling more like passengers than pilots.

Consider how physician performance is assessed. In the past, physicians sank or swam based on their professional reputations. Today, by contrast, the work of physicians tends to be evaluated by the quality of their documentation, their compliance with policies and procedures, the degree to which their clinical decision-making conforms to prescribed guidelines, and satisfaction scores. Over the past few decades, the physician has become less of a decision-maker and more of a decision implementer….’

Via The Conversation

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Scientists Are Hunting for DNA in Loch Ness—Get the Facts

NewImageIf the famous cryptid is real, this hunt ought to find it—but if not, scientists will still gain valuable ecological data.

‘A group of scientists plans to find out once and for all if Scotland’s most famous “resident,” the Loch Ness Monster, is or ever was hiding in the deep by sequencing as many DNA fragments as they can find in the lake’s murky waters.

Since April 2018, an international research team led by University of Otago geneticist Neil Gemmell has collected water samples from the iconic freshwater lake. In June, Gemmell’s team will begin extracting DNA from the samples, hunting in part for Nessie’s genetic fingerprint.

The team expects to announce their findings by January 2019. In the meantime, the project will shine a bright spotlight on environmental DNA, or eDNA for short—a relatively new field of study that’s giving scientists unprecedented insights….’

Via National Geographic

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“I Killed Them All.”

ThNewImagee Life Of One Of America’s Bloodiest Hitmen

‘That he killed so many for so long suggests a dark truth about law enforcement in the US: Kill the right people — in his case, farmworkers and drug dealers, few of whom had anyone to speak on their behalf — and you just might find there’s no one to stop you….’

Via BuzzFeed

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Can we treat psychosis by listening to the voices in our heads?

NewImageT. M. Luhrmann writes:

‘A group of highly respected, mostly European scientists—among them Jim van Os in Maastricht, the Netherlands, and Charles Fernyhough in Durham, England—have started to argue for the maverick idea that all auditory hallucinations exist on what they call the psychotic continuum. In other words, voices heard by healthy people are simply less severe manifestations of those heard by the mentally ill. These scientists suggest that hearing voices is like experiencing sadness. Some people are clearly sadder than others, and terrible sadness may require hospital care. But there is nothing inherently abnormal about sadness itself. Van Os, Fernyhough, and others have started to ask whether healthy people who hear voices frequently… somehow learned early on to manage their unusual perceptions and so never spiraled into mental illness. They believe that the voices of madness could be softened, if we could only teach people to harness them….’

Via Harpers

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Donald Trump Stalked Bill Gates’ Daughter

Monica Hunter-Hart writes:

‘As for the list of women with whom President Donald Trump reportedly has a slightly creepy relationship, we can now add the daughter of one of the richest men in the world. At a recent Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation meeting that was broadcasted by MSNBC on Thursday, Bill Gates said Trump’s knowledge of his daughter’s appearance was “scary[ily]” detailed when the billionaires met. He also described Trump’s bizarre first encounter with the 22-year-old Jennifer Gates. …’

Source: Google News

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A star turned into a black hole before Hubble’s very eyes

NewImage‘When a massive star expends its fuel, its core collapses into a dense object and sends the rest of its gas outward in an event called a supernova. What’s left is mostly neutron stars or black holes. And now, Hubble seems to have seen a supernova blink out — suggesting it captured the moment when a black hole took over.

While some supernova events are explosive and leave clouds of debris for thousands of years (aka nebula) like SN 1054, the star in question seems to have begun to explode and then had all its gas sucked right back into the black hole at the center. This can happen when the core collapse of the star is especially massive. Rather than exploding, the gas collapses directly into the core of the star.

Only a few of these so called “massive fails” (yes, that’s what they’re calling them) have been spotted, so astronomers are cautious about the results. But this particular star, located in the galaxy NGC 6946, was bright enough to see from 22 million light years away and faded in an instant, suggesting a massive stellar-mass black hole was the driving culprit….’

Via Astronomy.com

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Why Christopher Nolan “unrestored” 2001: A Space Odyssey

NewImageChristopher Nolan brought a restored print — although he prefers to call it ‘unrestored’ to emphasize its fidelity to Kubrick’s original vision and intent — to Cannes. In this interview he waxes enthusiastic about the mindbending film, which he first saw at age 7 when it was rereleased in 70 mm.

I too was transported by 2001. In the weeks after it first came out in 1968 I saw it eight times on the big screen, dragging every friend I could. I wrote an exhilarated review for my high school newspaper attempting to synthesize the metaphysical insights it brought me. (Wish I could read a copy of that now to cringe at how awful it probably was…) I am looking forward to seeing the restored version in the theatre in the coming weeks.

Via Vox

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Trump Calls Some Unauthorized Immigrants ‘Animals’ in Rant

NewImageHardly the first time the enfant terrible has spoken in racially fraught terms about immigrants:

‘President Trump lashed out at undocumented immigrants during a White House meeting on Wednesday, warning in front of news cameras that dangerous people were clamoring to breach the country’s borders and branding such people “animals.”

Mr. Trump’s comments came during a round-table discussion with state and local leaders on California’s so-called sanctuary laws, which strictly limit communication between local law enforcement and federal immigration officers, and which the Trump administration is suing to invalidate….’

Via New York Times

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Tick bites that trigger severe meat allergy on rise around the world

NewImage‘People living in tick-endemic areas around the world are being warned of an increasingly prevalent, potentially life-threatening side effect to being bitten: developing a severe allergy to meat.

The link between tick bites and meat allergies was first described in 2007, and has since been confirmed around the world.

Sufferers of “tick-induced mammalian meat allergy” will experience a delayed reaction of between two and 10 hours after eating red meat. Almost invariably, they are found to have been bitten by a tick – sometimes as much as six months before.

Tick populations booming due to climate change Read more Although most cases of tick bites of humans are uneventful, some immune systems are sensitive to proteins in the parasite’s saliva and become intolerant of red meat and, in some cases, derivatives such as dairy and gelatine.

Poultry and seafood can be tolerated, but many sufferers choose to avoid meat entirely….’

Via The Guardian

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These Are The Jobs Most Likely To Attract A Serial Killer

A new book by criminologist Michael Arntfeld tabulates the correlation between serial killers and certain professions:

Skilled Occupations:

1. Aircraft machinist/assembler
2. Shoemaker/repair person
3. Automobile upholsterer.

Semi-Skilled Occupations:

1. Forestry worker/arborist
2. Truck driver
3. Warehouse manager

Unskilled Occupations

1. General laborer (such as a mover or landscaper)
2. Hotel porter
3. Gas station attendant

Professional and Government Occupations:

1. Police/security official
2. Military personnel
3. Religious official.

Asked to explain what it is about these jobs that attracts people who kill, Arntfeld points to the fact that jobs may confer easy access to vulnerable victims under the guise of employment;  and “the fact many jobs simultaneously satisfy the underlying paraphiliac, or sexual preoccupations, that also fuel killers’ crimes.” For instance, for reasons that are not well understood, Arntfeld says, “mechanophilia” (a fixation with or erotic arousal from machines) appears to correlate with necrophilia and homicidal necrophilia.

Via IFLScience

On the other hand, the list might be biased as pertaining to the serial killers who get caught. Other skillful killers might remain quietly in place, perhaps in other professions.

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The Virus That Causes Mono Linked To Seven Autoimmune Diseases

‘…a team from the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital shows that exposure to the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), best known for causing mononucleosis, appears to boost the risk of developing seven other diseases in individuals who inherited predisposing gene variants. Those autoimmune diseases are lupus, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, juvenile idiopathic arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, celiac disease, and type 1 diabetes.…’

Via IFLScience

 EBV infection is so prevalent that an estimated 90% of the population carries its genetic signature. Most infection is asymptomatic. Once introduced into the body, the virus inserts a copy of its genome into B-lymphocytes of the immune system. Whenever the B cell replicates, a copy of the viral genome is passed on. A protein coded for by the EBV genetic sequence appress to consistently attach itself to areas of the host DNA near risk sequences for the severn autoimmune diseases, increasing the likelihood that they will be activated. In other words, EBV-dreived proteins are a trigger for switching on disease-carrying mutations in B cells that might otherwise never have been expressed.  

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May 1968: the revolution retains its magnetic allure

John Harris writes:

‘We are now as far from the events of 1968 as the people involved were from the end of the first world war. Cliche has long since reduced much of what occurred to “student revolt”, but that hardly does these happenings justice, partly because it ignores the workers’ strikes that were just as central to what occurred during ’68 and the years that followed, but also because the phrase gets nowhere near the depth and breadth of what young people were rebelling against, not least in France.

This was the last time that a developed western society glimpsed the possibility of revolution focused not just on institutions, but the contestation of everyday reality, which is still enough to make the simple phrase “May 1968” crackle with excitement – even if you were not around when les évenéments took place. I was born in 1969, but what happened in France and beyond retains a magnetic allure.

[Commemorations to mark 1968’s 50th anniversary include] a series of events, focused on liberties and utopias, at Nanterre University, the suburban campus where the French unrest first flared up; and at King’s College in London, workshops, film screenings and symposiums on ’68’s protests and what they have come to signify.

The leftwing publishers Verso are reissuing a handful of texts, including Tariq Ali’s memoir-cum-history Street Fighting Years and the Raymond Williams-edited May Day Manifesto (1968), arguably the founding text of the British New Left. The same company is also publishing a new book titled Opening the Gates, the compelling story of an attempt at co-operative socialism that took root in the early 1970s at a watch factory in eastern France. Allen Lane, meanwhile, has published The Long ’68, by British historian Richard Vinen, an exhaustive work whose narrative runs across Europe and the US. …’

Source: The Guardian

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Iran nuclear deal: 94% of foreign policy experts think Trump is wrong

NewImageNearly unanimous:

‘In Washington, President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal is controversial — Republicans largely approve, and Democrats, for the most part, are critical.

But when you ask experts on international relations, the decision isn’t very controversial at all: An astonishing 94 percent of scholars think the president made the wrong choice…’

Via Vox

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Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, 9/11 mastermind, claims to have info on Gina Haspel

NewImage‘…Trump’s nominee for CIA director is facing a tough confirmation hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee Wednesday over her controversial role in the Bush-era torture program.

But her latest critic isn’t a human rights group or a Democratic senator — it’s Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the 9/11 terror attacks… He was also tortured by the CIA, including being waterboarded — that is, held down and repeatedly suffocated by having water poured over a cloth into his mouth and nose until he was near drowning — 183 times over 15 sessions while in US custody.

He’s currently sitting in the US prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba — and he’s apparently got something to say about Gina Haspel.

The New York Times’s Charlie Savage reports that KSM has requested permission from a military judge at Guantanamo to share “six paragraphs of information” about Haspel with the Senate Intelligence Committee.

What those six paragraphs of information might contain remains a mystery, and it’s entirely possible that whatever KSM has to say is either completely false or exaggerated and that he’s trying to use this as an opportunity to espouse anti-American propaganda.

But KSM’s defense lawyers seem to think the information he has is significant enough that the Intelligence Committee should see it….’

Via Vox

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The key to solving Parkinson’s disease may not be in the brain

NewImageLook to the gut:

‘In 1817, English surgeon James Parkinson reported that some patients with a condition he referred to as ‘shaking palsy’ suffered from constipation. The disease has been named after him ever since and in one of the six cases he described, helping to alleviate that patient’s gastrointestinal complaints also helped some with the movement-related problems of the very same patient.

In fact, today, new evidence is pointing to the stomach and gastrointestinal tract as a possible solution—or, at least, part of one—for those suffering from the disease.

Just over half of all Parkinson’s patients have constipation as one of the common symptoms of the disease….’

Via Big Think

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The thinking error at the root of science denial

NewImageJeremy Shapiro writes:

‘Currently, there are three important issues on which there is scientific consensus but controversy among laypeople: climate change, biological evolution and childhood vaccination. On all three issues, prominent members of the Trump administration, including the president, have lined up against the conclusions of research.

This widespread rejection of scientific findings presents a perplexing puzzle to those of us who value an evidence-based approach to knowledge and policy.

Yet many science deniers do cite empirical evidence. The problem is that they do so in invalid, misleading ways. Psychological research illuminates these ways.

As a psychotherapist, I see a striking parallel between a type of thinking involved in many mental health disturbances and the reasoning behind science denial. As I explain in my book “Psychotherapeutic Diagrams,” dichotomous thinking, also called black-and-white and all-or-none thinking, is a factor in depression, anxiety, aggression and, especially, borderline personality disorder….’

Via The Conversation

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One space between each sentence, they said. Science just proved them wrong.

NewImageI have always learned that, since the word processor supplanted the typewriter, that it was wrong to persist with the time-honored practice of two-space sentence separations.  But I never quite understood the argument for one-spacing.  Now a group of Skidmore College psychological researchers, in a study published in Attention, Perception and Psychophysics, prove reading is more efficient, albeit only slightly so, if sentences are more separated.  I might very well go back to two spaces after periods. (If you were wondering, two-spacing after commas was not beneficial, and indeed slowed down reading speed.) Ironically, the study was submitted to the journal two-spaced, but the journal’s proofreaders deleted all the extra spaces. 

Via Washington Post

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Murder in virtual reality should be illegal

NewImage‘Science-fiction writers have fantasised about virtual reality (VR) for decades. Now it is here – and with it, perhaps, the possibility of the complete physical experience of killing someone, without harming a soul. As well as Facebook’s ongoing efforts with Oculus Rift, Google recently bought the eye-tracking start-up Eyefluence, to boost its progress towards creating more immersive virtual worlds. The director Alejandro G Iñárritu and the cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, both famous for Birdman (2014) and The Revenant (2015), have announced that their next project will be a short VR film.

But this new form of entertainment is dangerous. The impact of immersive virtual violence must be questioned, studied and controlled. Before it becomes possible to realistically simulate the experience of killing someone, murder in VR should be made illegal.

This is not the argument of a killjoy. As someone who has worked in film and television for almost 20 years, I am acutely aware that the craft of filmmaking is all about maximising the impact on the audience. Directors ask actors to change the intonation of a single word, while editors sweat over a film cut down to fractions of a second, all in pursuit of the right mood and atmosphere….’

Via Big Think

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Does our universe reside in the center of a black hole?

NewImageWe may live in a multiverse checkered with black holes, each containing its own universe… It all centers around a different theory of what exactly a black hole is. The general understanding is nothing can escape a black hole’s intense gravity, not even light. Called the black hole information paradox, it’s thought that even the information about an object that gets sucked in vanishes into oblivion. But therein lies a problem….’

Via Big Think

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Scientists Reanimate Disembodied Pigs’ Brains

NewImageHow Could This Impact the Human Mind?

‘[I]t appears that we may have taken a step closer to making immortality reality. In a recent meeting at the National Institutes of Health, Yale neuroscientist Nenad Sestan revealed that his team has successfully reanimated the brains of dead pigs recovered from a slaughterhouse. By pumping them with artificial blood using a system called BrainEx, they were able to bring them back to “life” for up to 36 hours.

Admittedly, the pigs’ brains did not regain consciousness, but Sestan acknowledged that restoring awareness is a possibility. Crucially, he also disclosed that the technique could work on primate brains (which includes humans), and that the brains could be kept alive indefinitely….’

Via Neuroscience News

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R.I.P. Mark Wood 04/27/49-02/09/17

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In the early years of FmH, one of the sites to which I was devoted and, frankly, of which I was quite envious, was Mark Wood’s enigmatically named ‘wood s lot‘. Yes, there is no apostrophe there, although I used to gently chide him about that, as part of a delightful friendly rivalry we had.

Here are my comments on his indispensability when he had to put the blog on suspension for awhile in 2002. And here is my paean to his site on the occasion of its third anniversary in 2003, which includes my peevish complaint about the solipsism of some of his content, his self-effacing style of remaining a cipher with no personal presence, and, in the last paragraph, said lack of apostrophe. (He listened… For one day, he renamed the site to ‘wood’s lot’!)

And here you will find  a compendium of  many of the mentions he got on FmH. I eventually fell away from following him as my blogging style morphed and his erudition soared. I was saddened to learn, in random surfing tonight, that Mark died around a year ago. You could do far worse than to go back and dip into his legacy, anywhere. My sympathies to his family.

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Big Surprise Dept.

NewImageTrump’s Doctor Says Trump Dictated 2015 Letter Saying He’d Be the Healthiest President Ever

‘Dr. Harold Bornstein, Donald Trump’s personal doctor—not that one—has told CNN that Trump personally dictated the superfluous December 2015 letter which said Trump’s “physical strength and stamina are extraordinary” and that he would be the “healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency.”

“He dictated that whole letter. I didn’t write that letter,” Bornstein, who treated Trump dating back to 1980, told CNN. “I just made it up as I went along.” Bornstein also said that he was in a car with his wife in New York when Trump told him what he wanted to say, and compared the letter to Fargo:

“That’s black humor, that letter. That’s my sense of humor,” he said. “It’s like the movie ‘Fargo’: It takes the truth and moves it in a different direction.”…’

Via Splinter

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Robert Mueller Likely Knows How the Trump Russia Investigation Ends

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‘Mueller might actually be relatively close to wrapping up the
investigation. Given that the FBI raid on Michael Cohen’s office, stemming from an investigation by federal prosecutors from the Southern District of New York, was sure to provoke a reaction from President Trump—the investigative equivalent of kicking a hornet’s nest—it seems likely that Mueller and deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein, who approved the raid, understood that one or both of them might be fired by the president in its wake. It seems likely that before they took such a provocative step on the case that they could see their way through to the investigation’s end….’

Via Wired

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Happy Beltane

Halfway between the spring equinox and the summer solstice, this is when the cattle are driven out to the summer pastures and rituals invoked to protect them and encourage growth and fertility in livestock and crops. The smoke of the bonfires has protective power for those who circle them or leap over the flames and the embers. Celebrants circle their houses with burning torches from the Beltane bonfires. Hearth fires and candles are quenched and then rekindled from the torches. Holy wells are visited. Doors and windows are decorated with May flowers and the community makes a May Bush, a thorn bush adorned with the flowers, ribbons and bright shells. Feasting abounds. Spirits are thought to be especially active at Beltane (as at Samhain 6 months hence) and the goal of many Beltane rituals is to appease them.

NewImageLast night, Walpurgis night, the eve of the Saint’s Day for Walpurga, an 8th century abbess in Francia canonized for battling witches, was the time of the Witches’ Sabbaths at the tops of wild remote mountains (most famously, the Brocken, the highest peak in the Harz Mountains in central Germany, as memorialized in Goethe’s Faust) to cavort with the Devil. The attendants ride flying goats, trample the cross and are rebaptized in the name of the Devil. Magic ointments made from Deadly Nightshade (Belladonna), Henbane, Mandrake, Datura or the fly agaric mushroom evoke weird hallucinations and place participants in an altered state of consciousness, conferring the powers of flight and of shapeshifting. Walpurgisnacht also entails a procession of the dead, especially those who have died prematurely or violently during the past year and have been wandering to expiate their sins.

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Kelly reportedly calls Trump ‘idiot,’ mocks his ignorance

NewImageKelly thinks he’s saving U.S. from disaster:

‘White House chief of staff John Kelly has eroded morale in the West Wing in recent months with comments to aides that include insulting the president’s intelligence and casting himself as the savior of the country, according to eight current and former White House officials.

The officials said Kelly portrays himself to Trump administration aides as the lone bulwark against catastrophe, curbing the erratic urges of a president who has a questionable grasp on policy issues and the functions of government. He has referred to Trump as “an idiot” multiple times to underscore his point, according to four officials who say they’ve witnessed the comments….’

Via NBC

He may be grandiose and conceited but his instincts, and his apparent growing abhorrence of the Orange Tyrant, are well-founded.

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Live in a city? Get a dog.

NewImageCity Upbringing, Without Pets, Increases Risk of Mental Illness

‘People who were raised in cities and without a family pet show significantly higher levels of an immune system component following a stressful event, researchers report.

Children raised in a rural environment, surrounded by animals and bacteria-laden dust, grow up to have more stress-resilient immune systems and might be at lower risk of mental illness than pet-free city dwellers, according to new research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences…’

Via Neuroscience News

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Injecting Drugs Can Ruin a Heart. How Many Second Chances Should a User Get?

NewImage‘With meth resurgent and the opioid crisis showing no sign of abating, a growing number of people are getting endocarditis from injecting the drugs — sometimes repeatedly if they continue shooting up. Many are uninsured, and the care they need is expensive, intensive and often lasts months. All of this has doctors grappling with an ethically fraught question: Is a heart ever not worth fixing?…’

Via New York Times

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In a time of “driving while black,” the Negro Motorist Green Book gets a new edition

NewImage‘The Negro Motorist Green Book was a series of annual guides for African-American drivers and holiday-makers who wanted to know where they could find gas-stations, restaurants and hotels that would serve them and which “sunset towns” they should avoid on pain of violence from corrupt, racist law-enforcement.

The Green Books have taken on a new cultural relevance; they play a central role in Matt Ruff’s outstanding anti-racist Lovecraftian tale Lovecraft Country (which is being adapted by Jordan “Get Out” Peele for the small screen).

In late 2017, Jan Miles released the The Post Racial Negro Green Book, an unexpected bestseller that catalogs police killings, violence and harassment; businesses that racially profile black customers; and places where white people publicly abuse black people with impunity.

Miles created her Green Book as a way of coping with an onslaught of news about racist violence and discrimination; rather than being a passive observer of the news, she did something to process it (this is how I deal with the news, too — Boing Boing is both a public notebook and a personal way of reflecting on the news rather than letting it get on top of me).

She calls it “a snapshot of contemporary racism in America.”

It’s timely: the NAACP just released its first-ever travel advisories, warning black people to avoid both Mississippi and American Airlines….’

Via Boing Boing

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Deadly caterpillars invade London

NewImageLondon crawling: 

‘if you happen to be in England’s capital, whatever you do, don’t touch the caterpillars.

A particular breed of caterpillar (well, technically the larval stage of the oak processionary moth—or OPM if you’re into the whole brevity thing), has invaded London and has been deemed toxic by authorities at the UK’s Forestry Commision. Since they have started hatching over the last couple of weeks, the caterpillar’s 62,000 ultra-fine hairs appear to trigger severe allergic reactions in humans. The hairs, which the creatures can eject if threatened, contain a protein called thaumetopoein that appears to be the source of the allergy symptoms. The BBC reports that these hairs themselves can last up to 5 years on the ground, while the caterpillar will only last until late May or mid-June before turning into a not-so-deadly moth.

It can cause skin rash, difficulty breathing, and even death by anaphylactic shock. It also tends to kill the oak trees that they thrive on. The nests — which the Forestry Commision has warned Britons to steer clear of — tend to look like overgrown and slightly bulbous cobwebs….’

Via Big Think

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Trump’s Role in Midterm Elections Roils Republicans

NewImageSchadenfreude Dept.:

‘President Trump is privately rejecting the growing consensus among Republican leaders that they may lose the House and possibly the Senate in November, leaving party officials and the president’s advisers nervous that he does not grasp the gravity of the threat they face in the midterm elections….’

Via The New York Times

 

And:

Trump: If Dems win in 2018 midterms, they’ll impeach me

‘A Quinnipiac poll released on Thursday shows that if Democrats win control of the House, more than 70 percent of their supporters want them to begin impeachment proceedings….’

 

Via The Hill

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Making Sense of CDC’s Report on Increased Incidence of Autism

A new CDC reports says that 1 in 59 children in 11 studied states are identified as being on the autistic spectrum, up from 1 in 68 just two years previously. But does this mean that the prevalence of autism is increasing? Probably not. Increased screening for and recognition of affected children as well as a broadened definition of the syndrome are probably to blame. Via Neuroscience News

This is emblematic of a larger problem in behavioral science overall, as diagnosis is done by descriptive criteria in the absence of definitive empirical measures. This leads to expansion and contraction of various diagnostic groups (e.g. bipolar disorder or schizophrenia) both over time and from place to place. 

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R.I.P. Charles Neville 1939-2018

 

Charles Neville of the Neville Brothers Is Dead at 79

NewImage‘Charles Neville — who usually performed in a beret and a tie-dyed shirt, with an irrepressible smile — was the band’s jazz facet, reflecting his decades of experience before the Neville Brothers got started. His soprano saxophone was upfront on the Nevilles’ “Healing Chant,” which won a Grammy Award as best pop instrumental in 1990….’

Via New York Times obituary

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R.I.P. Number 16, 2002-2018

NewImageThe world’s oldest known spider has died:

‘This female trapdoor spider, named Number 16, was the world’s oldest known spider. A lifelong resident of the Australian outback, she has just died at age 43. From Curtin University:

…[T]he 43-year-old Giaus Villosus trapdoor matriarch, who recently died during a long-term population study, had outlived the previous world record holder, a 28-year old tarantula found in Me…’

Via Boing Boing

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Even removing the Orange Tyrant won’t fix democracy

NewImageTrump impeachment: 

‘This yearning is for something, anything, to end the death loop that American democracy appears to be trapped in, for a big, dramatic blowup to fix the system’s ills. In the liberal imagination, that blowup typically takes the form of Trump’s removal from office, an event that sets us back to a path of normalcy and sane politics.

This yearning is understandable — but it is both dangerous and misplaced. Ending the Trump presidency will not fix, or even substantially ameliorate, most of the problems plaguing the American political system. They were mounting for years before he took office — indeed, they made him possible — and they will continue to plague us for years after he leaves.

What’s more, the desire for a dramatic explosion of the Trump presidency at times seems to blend into a desire for the dramatic blowup of the American political system altogether, a sense that we need some apocalyptic event that will wipe the slate clean and revitalize our democracy in one big revolutionary motion. It’s no accident that the rise of Trump has coincided with fearful but titillated worries about coups d’état, collapses into tyranny, and even a second American civil war or secession. These concerns are partially specific to Trump. But they reflect worries that transcend him too….’

Via Vox

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Wondered why…

…I was getting a lot of new subscribers all of a sudden. I had thought it was because I had pulled the trigger on my Facebook account, where I had previously been crossposting everything on FmH. In my goodbye message to the Facebook world, I suggested that some of the people who had been reading me there might continue to follow me by seeking out the source. But as it turns out none of the new subscribers appeared to be my erstwhile Facebook friends.

I decided to look in my referrer logs and realized that people were probably coming from kottke.org, who had written about a number of us old (and new) blogging dinosaurs in a post called Blogging is most certainly not dead. Thanks for including me, Jason. Many other sites worthy of worthy of our attention — I’m just beginning to explore this new cornucopia — are mentioned in his post. [Thanks to Bruce for bringing me to kottke’s attention.]

 

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Sweating made us the dominant species on the planet

NewImageOne theory of human evolution states that our ancestors began eating meat about 2 million years ago, whose caloric and fat density allowed the enlargement and development of their brains.

Hominids didn’t begin using stones and sticks for hunting until about 200,000 years ago. So between 2.3 million and 200,000 years ago, our original strategy was to run game animals to death in order to feast upon them. Sweating was the key factor in the ability to run long distances to wear out quarry without overheating. Game animals, who cannot sweat, become overheated over time and are at risk of damaging themselves or dying if they don’t stop to catch their breath, allowing early hunters to catch and dispatch them. Animals that do not walk upright cannot fully extend their diaphragms to take deep breaths until they stop running.

Some tribal peoples still take part in persistence hunting and there is evidence that the strategy was utilized all over the world in the distant past. This helps us to understand why several aspects of human development — walking upright, hairless skin, sweating, and the ability to run long distances — appear to have evolved simultaneously.

Via Big Think

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Will cows inherit the planet after humans die out?

NewImageWhen humans die out because of climate change, they may be the biggest and most widespread animal left, thereby inheriting the planet. 

‘After humans started migrating out of Africa, the largest land mammals have died out in each territory that humans have spread to. It’s somewhat of a human hallmark, making other species extinct, although we’ve kept cows around for both food and leather. We’ve actually prioritized cows over other species, leading to a 1.5 billion total cow population across the globe. That’s more than cats and dogs combined: there are only 500 to 600 million dogs in the world and about as many cats.

If global warming keeps going at its current pace, Stephen Hawking estimated last year that humanity has about 100 years left to find a new planet to live on and only 1,000 years left on this planet before the heat completely kills all life. Pre human-kind meddling, larger animals simply adapted to climate change. But at this accelerated pace, species go extinct at an astronomical level. Between 24-100 species every day become extinct, and that’s a conservative estimate. Because there are so many cows on the planet, it’s fairly safe to say that even if all humans died out tomorrow all cows would have to do is graze and slowly move north as the planet got hotter. That’s conjecture, sure, but from a strictly numerical standpoint, there’s a good chance that cows will enjoy a very short time at the top of the food chain before the planet becomes completely uninhabitable except for cockroaches….’

Via Big Think

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A Short History of Threats Received by Donald Trump’s Adversaries

Decca Muldowney writes:

‘When Stormy Daniels spoke to “60 Minutes” last month, the porn actress described a threat she received years ago after speaking to a journalist about her alleged affair with Donald Trump. A stranger approached her in a parking lot in Las Vegas. Daniels was there with her baby daughter. “Leave Trump alone,” Daniels recalled the man warning her. “That’s a beautiful little girl. It’d be a shame if something happened to her mom.”

Daniels did not report the threat to the police. On Wednesday, Donald Trump tweeted that Daniels’ account of events was “a total con job” about a “non-existent man.”

As it happens, other people in disputes with Trump have also found themselves the targets of threats — and sometimes they’ve reported it to authorities. …’

Source: Pro Publica

Not only an imbecile but a cutrate mobster wannabe as well.

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Was There a Civilization On Earth Before Humans?

NewImageA look at the available evidence:

‘…[C]ould researchers find clear evidence that an ancient species built a relatively short-lived industrial civilization long before our own? Perhaps, for example, some early mammal rose briefly to civilization building during the Paleocene epoch about 60 million years ago. There are fossils, of course. But the fraction of life that gets fossilized is always minuscule and varies a lot depending on time and habitat. It would be easy, therefore, to miss an industrial civilization that only lasted 100,000 years—which would be 500 times longer than our industrial civilization has made it so far.

Given that all direct evidence would be long gone after many millions of years, what kinds of evidence might then still exist? The best way to answer this question is to figure out what evidence we’d leave behind if human civilization collapsed at its current stage of development….’

Via The Atlantic

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A Letter of the Alphabet We Can Read But Not Write?

NewImage‘Despite seeing it millions of times in pretty much every picture book, every novel, every newspaper, and every email message, people are essentially unaware of the more common version of the lowercase print letter “g,” Johns Hopkins researchers have found.

Most people don’t even know that two forms of the letter—one usually handwritten, the other typeset—exist. And if they do, they can’t write the typeset one we typically see. They can’t even pick the correct version of it out of a lineup….’

Via Neuroscience News

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Japan’s isolated older ‘hikikomori’ shun society for years

Natsuko FUKUE writes:

‘Ikeida leaves the house once every three days to buy food, shuns deliveries to avoid human interaction and has not seen his parents or younger brother for 20 years.

The 55-year-old has chosen to shut himself completely away from society — such a commonplace phenomenon in high-pressure, conformist and workaholic Japan that there is a word to describe it: “hikikomori”.

Until recently it was thought to be an issue mainly afflicting those in their teens and 20s, but ageing Japan is seeing a growing number of older hikikomori cloistering themselves away for longer periods of time.

There are more than half a million hikikomori in Japan — according to the latest government survey published in 2016 — defined as people who have stayed home for more than six months without going to school or work and interacting with no one other than family members. …’

Source: Yahoo News

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15 Years. More Than 1 Million Dead. No One Held Responsible.

‘Except for Sinan Antoon’s richly deserved jeremiad, the 15th anniversary of the worst foreign policy disaster in modern American history went sailing by largely unremarked, at least in this country. After all, over here, everyone was too busy keeping track of the latest news involving the vulgar talking yam the country had installed as president, how he was still truckling to Russian oligarchs, how he was still being run to ground by Bob Mueller, and about how he was being outwitted and out-lawyered by a lady from the adult entertainment industry….’

Via 3Quarks Daily

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The Origin of April Fools’ Day

NewImage‘For Europeans, April Fools hearkens back to the transition to the Gregorian calendar in the sixteenth century. The pre-Gregorian calendar had ended the year near the end of March, coinciding with the beginning of spring. With the new Gregorian calendar, the beginning of the year was moved to January. The calendar change was slow to take hold and there was resistance to it, but those who continued celebrating the new year at the beginning of April, old style, were ultimately shamed as “fools.”…’

Via JSTOR

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Why People With Insomnia Don’t Know They’re Asleep

 

NewImage‘When you can’t get to sleep at night, you might explain it to someone as your brain not being able to shut off.

While your brain never truly shuts off, when you do fall asleep, your brain sends inhibitory neurons that help reduce conscious awareness to get to a point of deep sleep. Normal sleepers often feel like they’ve fallen asleep before their brain is in a scientifically-defined state of sleep, but people with insomnia aren’t so lucky.

A recent study by BYU psychology professor Daniel Kay published in Sleep suggests a dysfunction in the inhibition process could be what causes those with insomnia to have a hard time fully falling asleep.

“Previous studies found that patients with insomnia appear to be asleep, their eyes are closed and their brain is in a characteristic sleep pattern, but you wake them up and guess what they are more likely to tell you? ‘I was awake,’” Kay said.

This problem has traditionally been characterized by sleep scientists as sleep misperception. Kay, however, argues that that term is based on the assumption that sleep is categorical, either being asleep or being awake, and that when you’re asleep you don’t have consciousness.

“I don’t think that’s necessarily true,” Kay said. “I think you can be consciously aware and your brain be in a sleep pattern. The question is: What role does conscious awareness have in our definition of sleep?”…’

Via Neuroscience News

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What Happens When a Blind Person Takes LSD?


NewImage‘How do blind people experience psychedelic drugs? This is the topic of an interesting, but unusual, paper just out in Consciousness and Cognition.

The paper’s authors are University of Bath researchers Sara Dell’Erba, David J.Brown, and Michael J.Proulx. However, the real star contributor is a man referred to only as “Mr Blue Pentagon”.

Blue Pentagon (“BP”) is the pseudonym for a 70 year old blind man who reports taking large quantities of LSD and other drugs during his career as a rock musician in the 1970s. (“Blue Pentagon” was his favorite brand of LSD.)

How the researchers came to meet BP is not stated.

Much of the paper consists of BP’s accounts of his experiences under the influence of hallucinogens, and this is what makes the article rather unusual, as parts are more reminiscent of a late-night conversation than an academic paper.

For instance, here’s how BP describes the impact of LSD on the perception of music:…’

Via Neuroskeptic

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Why the High-Tech Plan to Bring Back the Northern White Rhino Matters

NewImage‘With the death of the last male northern white rhino last week, the world was reminded that yet another charismatic animal is functionally extinct because of humans. But in the future, because of synthetic biology, extinction may not be forever. And the northern white rhino could be the animal that pioneers a suite of new technologies that get us there….’

Via Earther

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The Fraud and the Four-Hour Workweek

NewImage‘Self-help millionaire Tim Ferriss is a fraud. But his success says a lot about modern capitalism and its discontents….

After dozens of pages of self-help and time-management cliches (“Poisonous people do not deserve your time”; “Compile your to-do list for tomorrow no later than this evening”; “Find your focus and you’ll find your lifestyle”), Ferriss finally laid out his magic bullet solution: follow in his footsteps and become a fake expert. “Expert status can be created in less than four weeks if you understand basic credibility indicators.” …’

Via Jacobin