The internet is all about the free flow of ideas, right? Collaboration! Discourse! Sharing! The day to day reality of what we do online may not always be quite so idealistic and ideologically motivated, but the open underpinnings are there. Except, of course, when theyre not at all. This visualization, published by Sebastian Sadowski, uses Googles transparency data to visualize all the things the company has been asked to censor.The governments of many countries routinely ask Google to suppress content across sites like Google Search and YouTube. Reasons range from national security, to suicide promotion, and government criticism. There are also categories for “other” and “reason unspecified.” Its interesting to see which countries are better or worse than you thought they would be. And check out that little chunk of mint green “reason unspecified” censorship on the U.S. chart. (Gizmodo).
“I got this post idea from data visualization expert John Nelson, who posted on his blog the direction in which tornadoes have traveled over the last 63 years. From the data, he discovered that a majority of the tornadoes moved in a northeastern direction, with a handful of them moving east. Knowing this, you have an advantage as far as what direction a tornado will go if you get caught up in the midst of one, and you can drive in a different direction away from the tornado to avoid it.” (Hackerspace).
World War Z … threw a lot of walking-dead heritage under the bus, but that doesn’t mean it won’t have a place in the ongoing evolution of zombie lore. It’s simply taking the idea of zombies as a surrogate for social anxieties in a new direction — in this case predominantly xenophobia and fears of viral outbreaks. This continues a long and distinguished history of zombie themes standing in for au courant topics like slave rebellion, communism, über-capitalism, technophobia, and globalization. However, how zombie tales—and their fans—deal with these issues has proven as problematic as, well, the problems themselves. Like, for example, the production of zombie ex-girlfriend shooting targets. (Underwire | Wired.com).
According to a new paper, mass shootings such as Sandy Hook and Aurora may be the result of Autism plus psychosis: A ‘one-two punch’ risk for tragic violence?
The first thing to note about this paper is that it’s in Medical Hypotheses.
I don’t normally take seriously anything that appears in this rather unique journal. This paper is, however, co-authored by Edward Shorter, an eminent historian of psychiatry; his book about it was a big influence on me. So it deserves a fair hearing.
The authors set the scene:
In the recent series of mass murders in Connecticut, Colorado, Norway and elsewhere, a pattern seems to be emerging: young men whose social isolation is so extreme as to verge on autism apparently become prey to psychotic ideation. And under the influence of this ideation they wreak terrible violence.
…What is actually the matter with these young men and how should we as a society conceive their pathology?
The answer, we’re told, is a combination of autism, and psychosis. Autism is not associated with violence per se, but psychosis is – and rates of psychosis are higher in autistics. What’s worse, in such cases, psychotic symptoms may go undiagnosed and untreated because they’re written off as just part of the autism.
“According to the Dayton Daily News, State Senator Nina Turner introduced SB 307, which requires men to visit a sex therapist, undergo a cardiac stress test, and get their sexual partner to sign a notarized affidavit confirming impotency in order to get a prescription for Viagra and other erectile dysfunction drugs. The bill also requires men who take the drugs to be continually “tested for heart problems, receive counseling about possible side effects and receive information about “pursuing celibacy as a viable lifestyle choice.”” (Addicting Info via Rebecca)
It’s about to melt your brain: “Inside this beaker is a 50-meter-long string of 8,000 beads. Watch what happens when you toss one end of the string out of the beaker. Prepare yourself – this is pretty wild.” (io9).
‘Aliens could be watching aliens watching aliens. That’s a realistic prospect now that three potentially habitable planets – a record – have been glimpsed orbiting the same star.
Earlier studies had suggested that a nearby star, Gliese 667C, had three planets, only one of which might support life. But the very presence of multiple planets made their precise number hard to tease out.
Now Guillem Anglada-Escudé of the University of Göttingen in Germany and his colleagues have reanalysed the original data and added some new observations. They found evidence for up to seven worlds, including three rocky planets in the star’s habitable zone, where temperatures should suit life.’ (New Scientist).
[Edward] Snowden’s no ordinary traveler. But his globe-hopping around the world made us think: Would it be possible for someone without his connections—in our increasingly connected age—to travel undetected?
Turns out, the answer is probably not.”Snowden could do this because he had a lot of help,” said Norie Quintos, executive editor of National Geographic Traveler. “I think for a typical traveler, it would be very hard to do.
“It’s a felony to use false identification, so you don’t want to go that route. Instead, it’s better if you just make it really, really hard for people to track you down, said Frank M. Ahearn, author of How to Disappear: Erase Your Digital Footprint, Leave False Trails, and Vanish without a Trace. Ahearn spent over 20 years working as an investigator tracking down people who don’t want to be found. He then realized he could make more money helping people who wanted to disappear—actually leave without a trace.’ (National Geographic).
In Nagaland, in northeastern India, the “world’s hottest chilis” were first used as solvents to strip the flesh off the trophy skulls taken by the headhunting hill tribes. They have also been used in crowd-control grenades. But, now, these Bhut Jolokia chilis are eaten. Mary Roach reports on attending a chili-eating contest. (Smithsonian Magazine).
A mysterious and beautiful 15th-century text that some researchers have recently deemed to be gibberish may not be a hoax after all. A new study suggests the text shares quantifiable features with genuine language, and so may contain a coded message.
That verdict emerges from a statistical technique that puts a figure on the information content of elements in a text or code, even if their meaning is unknown. The technique could also be used to determine whether there is meaning in genomes, possible messages from aliens or even the signals between neurons in the brain.
The Voynich manuscript has baffled and captivated researchers since book dealer Wilfred Voynich found it in an Italian monastery in 1912. It contains illustrations of naked nymphs, unidentifiable plants, astrological diagrams and pages and pages of text in an unidentified alphabet. (New Scientist).
“Want to get chummy with a chickadee? There’s an app for that. But is it good for the birds?” (National Geographic).
- Nature reserves say birdsong apps could disrupt wildlife in a major way (theverge.com)
- Bird Photographers Beware: Birdsong Apps May Seriously Disrupt Wildlife (petapixel.com)
- Mobile apps that mimic birdsong are threatening the nesting habits of rare migratory species, experts warn (dailymail.co.uk)
- Birdsong app ‘putting birds off nesting’ (telegraph.co.uk)
- The surprising uses for birdsong (bbc.co.uk)
“Stoners, pill-poppers and drug regulators everywhere: turn your eyes to New Zealand. The country looks set to adopt new laws permitting the limited sale of some designer drugs for recreational purposes. The legislation is the first in the world to regulate new recreational drugs based on scientific evidence of their risk of harm.” (New Scientist).
“For every designer drug the authorities ban, clandestine labs are churning out a new version. No wonder the law cant keep up…” ( — Vaughan Bell, The Observer).
Is this the elusive Jersey Devil as some Redditors have speculated? Perhaps its the dreaded Chupacabras? Or a bastard cousin of the Montauk Monster? The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation claims its just a furless squirrel. But then, thats what theyd want us to think. (Boing Boing).
Scientists dissect the weather in ‘Game of Thrones’: “A group of graduate students from the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Johns Hopkins University have published a research paper PDF
suggesting that the most likely cause of the unpredictable weather in Westeros is that the world is orbiting not one, but two stars.” (Crave – CNET).
The Tampa Bay Times has done some excellent investigative reporting on the 50 worst charities in America — organizations that took in more than $1 billion over the past 10 years, and gave almost all of that money to their own staffs and professional solicitors. The series explains how charities like this operate and skirt the regulatory system. But if you’re feeling TLDR, there’s also a PDF that can help you quickly figure out if you’re donating to one of these scams. A large portion of the 50 worst is made up of charities devoted to cancer and veterans’ issues. (Boing Boing).
…Relieved to find out that none of those listed are on my charitable giving list.
The number of happy faces on Lego toy mini-figures has been decreasing since the 1990s, and the number of angry faces has increased, giving rise to concerns that children could be affected by the negativity of the toys.
In a study of 3,655 figures produced between 1975 and 2010, Dr Christoph Bartneck, a robot expert at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, said the manufacturer appeared to be moving towards more conflict-based themes in its toys. Bartneck’s study considered the range of facial expressions across various Lego sets – now often in themes such as Star Wars, pirates or Harry Potter. (The Guardian).
Just after summer sunsets in northern latitudes, shimmering, wispy clouds appear in the twilight sky. This year, these noctilucent clouds have appeared earlier and farther south than ever before.
Noctilucent clouds exist higher in Earth’s atmosphere than any other cloud type. First observed in 1885 following the eruption of Krakatoa, they were a sight reserved for Earth’s northernmost residents. In recent years, however, their intensity and frequency have increased, often at latitudes previously thought to be too far south for noctilucent clouds to form.
In 2009, scientists from the National Center for Atmospheric Research pointed to the southern creep of noctilucent clouds as an early warning signal for climate change high in the atmosphere. Now, new data from NASA’s cloud-observing AIM satellite supports this possibility. (Wired.com).
An anonymous weblogger who is a mental health practitioner writes about the potential effect of NSA spying on psychiatric patient confidentiality:
“I started thinking about what those records and metadata could reveal. Because my phone is used mainly for calls to and from patients and clients, can the NSA figure out who my patients are? And could they, with just a query or bit of analysis, figure out when my patients were going into crisis or periods of symptom worsening? I suspect that they can. And because I am nationally and internationally known as an expert on a particular disorder, could the government also deduce the diagnosis or diagnoses of my patients or their family members? Probably.” (PHIprivacy.net).
- Iain Banks dies aged 59 (guardian.co.uk)
- R.I.P. Iain (M.) Banks, Seminal Scottish Genre Jumper (1954-2013) (omnivoracious.com)
- Scottish author Iain Banks dies of cancer months after diagnosis (news.stv.tv)
- Scottish author Iain Banks dies from cancer aged 59 (irishtimes.com)
- Iain Banks 1954-2013 (socialistworker.co.uk)
- Iain Banks Has Passed Away (tor.com)
Campaigns are underway online to raise support — and cash — for the recently revealed source who leaked details of the NSA’s PRISM program.” (CNET).
Scientists already knew that people and dogs with their species’ version of OCD—canine compulsive disorder, or CCD—show similar behaviors, respond to the same medications, and have a genetic basis to their disorders.
But for the first time, MRI brain scans of eight CCD-affected Doberman pinschers show that dogs and people also share certain brain characteristics. (National Geographic)
“The internet is aflame with the news that the National Security Agency may be spying on phone calls and internet access of American citizens, and the possibility that they’ve partnered with some of the biggest tech companies in the world—Google, Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, Skype, and others—to request and access data directly whenever they want it. Let’s take a look at what exactly is going on, how long it’s been happening, and what—if anything—you can do about it.” (Lifehacker).
As LSD turns 70 this year, fear and scorn fog our view of the drug. Fear is to do with the memories of its use in secret CIA mind control experiments on unwitting people in the 1950s. And those who scorn the self-indulgence of modern youth believe laxness tracks back to LSD’s recreational use a decade later, when acid advocate Timothy Leary called on American youth to “turn on, tune in, drop out”.
LSD provided the capstone for a grand European project to explore the psyche that was begun by the poet Goethe, developed by anatomist Jan Purkinje and physicist Ernst Mach, and carried to visionary territory by the psychoanalytic troika of Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung and Sabina Spielrein – only to be nearly wiped out by the rise of National Socialism in Germany.
LSD has become interwoven with modern culture. From Steve Jobs to philosopher Arne Naess, from the computer mouse to “deep ecology”, there’s little in the late-20th century zeitgeist that is acid-free. (New Scientist).
“Just as the Sex Pistols invigorated a hidebound rock establishment, so contemporary noir could wake up literary novels to a wider world…” (guardian.co.uk)
“We’re fast approaching the point, says Con Slobodchikoff, when computers will help to mediate our communications with animals.” (The Atlantic).
- Researcher decodes prairie dog language, discovers they’ve been talking about us (Video) (treehugger.com)
- Animal Minds: Latest Research From the Scientists’ Mouths (psychologytoday.com)
- those must be CURSEs!!!! (shoosmita.wordpress.com)