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Phil Agre Has Gone Missing

Philip Agre was an associate professor of information sciences at the University of California at Los Angeles, and for years he ran a popular technology e-mail list with thousands of subscribers. But one day the 49-year-old scholar just stopped showing up on the campus, and now colleagues have deployed Twitter, Facebook, and the Web to try to find him.

Last month the university police department put out a missing-person alert for Mr. Agre, whose absence was reported to authorities by his sister. The alert says he abandoned his apartment and his job “sometime between December 2008 and May 2009.” It also notes that he suffers from “manic depression.”

The scholar apparently had many professional contacts but few close friends. An expert on privacy, he was always guarded about his own, say those who know him.

“In his personal life, he never wanted to discuss social things,” said Charlotte Lee, an assistant professor of human-centered design and engineering at the University of Washington who worked under Mr. Agre when she was a doctoral student. ‘When his behavior got more erratic, nobody felt close enough to him to help, and we thought we'd help by protecting his zone of privacy,” she said. “Respecting that zone of privacy is what allowed him to slip away.’ ” (The Chronicle of Higher Education)

As someone who was a participant in and subscriber to his ‘Red Rock Eaters’ mailing list for the duration, I am reposting this to spread the word. He is certainly someone who would know how to drop off the grid if he wished to, but I worry that something more dire has happened to him.

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Monster Waves on the Sun

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‘Years ago, when solar physicists first witnessed a towering wave of hot plasma racing along the sun's surface, they doubted their senses. The scale of the thing was staggering. It rose up higher than Earth itself and rippled out from a central point in a circular pattern millions of kilometers in circumference. Skeptical observers suggested it might be a shadow of some kind—a trick of the eye—but surely not a real wave.

“Now we know” says Joe Gurman of the Solar Physics Lab at the Goddard Space Flight Center. “Solar tsunamis are real.” ‘ (NASA -Mystery of the Solar Tsunami–Solved)

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African leaders advise Bono on reform of U2

Bono thanks Commission chairman Nelson Mandela for the report.

“An expert commission of African leaders today announced their plan for comprehensive reform of music band U2. Saying that U2’s rock had lost touch with its African roots, the commission called for urgent measures to halt U2’s slide towards impending crisis.

“Our youth today are imperiled by low quality music,” said Commission chairman Nelson Mandela. “We will be lending African musicians to U2 to try to refurbish their sound to satisfy the urgent and growing needs for diversionary entertainment at a time of crisis in the global music and financial sectors.”

Concerns about U2 have been growing in Africa for a while. One Western aid blogger testified to the Commission that his teenage kids found U2’s music “cheesy.” The Mandela Commission proposed that U2 follow a series of steps to recover its Edge:

1) Hire African consultants to analyze U2’s “poverty of music trap”

2) Prepare a Band-owned and Commission-approved Comprehensive U2 Reform Strategy Design (CURSD)

3) Undertake a rehabilitation tour of African capitals to field-test and ground-truth proposed reforms

4) Subject all songs to randomized experiments in which the effect on wellbeing of control and treatment groups is rigorously assessed.

Mandela expressed optimism that the Commission’s report and proposed reforms had come in time to stave off terminal crisis in U2, and restore its effectiveness in the 80s arena rock field.”

via Aid Watch.