uh oh

I’m saving all my Black Amex points to go to space

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As bacteria evolve to evade antibiotics, common infections could become deadly, according to Dr. Margaret Chan, director general of the World Health Organization.

Speaking at a conference in Copenhagen, Chan said antibiotic resistance could bring about “the end of modern medicine as we know it.”

“We are losing our first-line antimicrobials,” she said Wednesday in her keynote address at the conference on combating antimicrobial resistance. “Replacement treatments are more costly, more toxic, need much longer durations of treatment, and may require treatment in intensive care units.”

Chan said hospitals have become “hotbeds for highly-resistant pathogens” like methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, “increasing the risk that hospitalization kills instead of cures.”

Indeed, diseases that were once curable, such as tuberculosis, are becoming harder and more expensive to treat.

{ ABC | Continue reading }

artwork { Mœbius }

‘No compulsion in the world is stronger than the urge to edit someone else’s document.’ –H. G. Wells

We’ve learned that Mike Daisey’s story about Apple in China - which we broadcast in January - contained significant fabrications. We’re retracting the story because we can’t vouch for its truth. This is not a story we commissioned. It was an excerpt of Mike Daisey’s acclaimed one-man show “The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs,” in which he talks about visiting a factory in China that makes iPhones and other Apple products.

{ This American Life | Continue reading | More: Mike Daisey’s Lies About China }

And it could have went so many ways, so many ways it can go

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How would things change if Google and Bing went down for 24 hours, and there wasn’t a way around the block?

If your first thought is to do your online searches through Yahoo!, you will run into another roadblock. Since 2010, Yahoo! searches are powered by Bing. Can you name any other search engine sites off the top of your head? (…)

Losing search sites is only the tip of the iceberg. Google and Bing also provide extensive services in other areas, one of the most obvious being email—Gmail alone has 350 million users. Blacking out Gmail would certainly affect all these people, but it would also affect everyone trying to reach them.

{ Naked Capitalism | Continue reading }

Last week, I got a notice from Twitter saying the Manhattan District Attorney’s office had subpoenaed my account activity for a three-month period between September and December of last year. On October 1, I was arrested along with 700 or so other people marching across the Brooklyn Bridge as part of an early Occupy Wall Street demonstration. (…)

Why was it Twitter who got subpoenaed even though they’re my words the DA wants to see?

The short answer is: they’re not my words. Not in the legal sense at least. Part of the Twitter user agreement is that the Tweets belong to the company, not to the user. As far as the law is concerned, my online self is an informational aspect of a legal entity named Twitter, not me. That means if someone wants to use my statements against me in court, it’s not me they have to call, it’s that little blue birdie. In this context the term “microblogging” gets some new meaning: Twitter’s users really are unpaid content producers for a giant microblog hosting site.

{ Malcolm Harris/Shareable | Continue reading }

related { Will the Web Break? }

photo { Guy Bourdin }

He fills gaseous environs with the sound of contracting metal and retro Roland effects that spit battery acid and blue sparks onto the tense, prowling beats

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{ Apple sells more phones in a day than people make babies | An hour of video posted every second on YouTube }

image { Robert Mangold, 1/3 Gray-Green Curved Area, 1966 | Guggenheim, until Feb. 8 }

I know right? When’s it scheduled for again?

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Climate scientists have long warned that if we continue to burn fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas as our dominant source of energy, the planet will warm, extreme events will increase, and we will become more vulnerable to disasters. Overall, the planet has warmed about 1.2°F over the past century. Since I was born in 1970, the United States has heated up at a pace of 0.5°F per decade. As Lemonick points out, ”Scientists know that the increasing load of greenhouse gases we’re pumping into the atmosphere doesn’t “cause” extreme weather. But it does raise the odds, just as a diet of triple bacon cheeseburgers raises the odds of heart disease.”

All weather is now born into an environment that is warmer and moister because of man-made, heat-trapping greenhouse gas pollution. Thanks in part to warmer oceans, there is 4 percent more water vapor in the atmosphere and that amount will continue to increase as the planet warms, providing more fuel for storms. Droughts, wildfires, heat waves and heavy downpours are going to become more frequent, more intense and longer lasting. In fact, we can already see this playing out in historical data.

{ Salon | Continue reading | More: Why do people still deny climate change? }

As the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded in its most recent assessment report: “warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice, and rising global average sea level.” And as data continue to pile up, the evidence gets ever stronger that human-induced emissions of greenhouse gases are the main cause of the observed warming over the past century.

But hurricanes are difficult. Climate models predict that they will become more intense. At the same time, considerable uncertainty remains. We have only about 40 years of reliable observational records, which precludes a clear determination of their variability. Given that different aspects of climate change could act to increase or decrease hurricane activity, whether or not Katrina can be ascribed to global warming is a challenge beset by difficulty.

{ Slate | Continue reading | More: When should we blame climate change for natural disasters? }

Humanity has done little to address climate change. Global emissions of carbon dioxide reached (another) all-time peak in 2010. The most recent international talks to craft a global treaty to address the problem pushed off major action until 2020. Fortunately, there’s an alternative—curbing the other greenhouse gases.

Specifically, in the case of rapid action to slow catastrophic climate change, the best alternatives appear to be: methane and black carbon (otherwise known as soot). A new economic and scientific analysis published in Science on January 13 of the benefits of cutting these two greenhouse gases finds the benefits to be manifold—from human health to increased agricultural yields.

Even better, by analyzing some 400 potential soot- and methane-emission control measures, the international team of researchers found that just 14 deliver “nearly 90 percent” of the potential benefits. Bonus: the 14 steps also restrain global warming by roughly 0.5 degree Celsius by 2050, according to computer modeling.

{ Scientific American | Continue reading }

Do you believe in love at first sight, or should I walk by again?

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We now have the potential to banish the genes that kill us, that make us susceptible to cancer, heart disease, depression, addictions and obesity, and to select those that may make us healthier, stronger, more intelligent. (…)

During that year, fertility clinics across the country have begun to take advantage of the technology’s latest tools. They are sending cells from embryos conceived here through in vitro fertilization (IVF) to private U.S. labs equipped to test them rapidly for an ever-growing list of genetic disorders that couples hope to avoid.

Recent breakthroughs have made it possible to scan every chromosome in a single embryonic cell, to test for genes involved in hundreds of “conditions,” some of which are clearly life-threatening while others are less dramatic and less certain – unlikely to strike until adulthood if they strike at all.

And science is far from finished. On the horizon are DNA microchips able to analyze more than a thousand traits at once, those linked not just to a child’s health but to enhancements – genes that influence height, intelligence, hair, skin and eye color and athletic ability.

{ The Globe and Mail | Continue reading }

photo { Loretta Lux }

Whoever reaches his ideal transcends it eo ipso

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Your therapist is probably giving you multiple personality disorder.

Oh sure, he’s going to deny it. He will say you obviously had some problems to begin with, and that he just uncovered the form they’re taking and their source. And there you will be, disassociated into several different personalities. People you don’t know will greet you with names you don’t recognize. You’ll find notes around your apartment written in unfamiliar handwriting. You’ll walk into hotel rooms without pants (every person who has ever had multiple personality disorder has always had one who was a slut).



And maybe by the end of it you will remember seeing your father drink the blood of a newborn baby. So strange that you had forgotten something like that for the last twenty years, you think it would be a pretty memorable event. Or being raped by your brother. Never mind the fact that you never had a brother, you are sure it happened. And your therapist will say, Aha! That is why you are such a mess, can’t keep a boyfriend or a job for more than six weeks, that is why you dread going home for Christmas. It’s because you remember your parents donning black robes and smearing the blood of a virgin all over your face before they let their friends have their way with you on a Satanic altar. That must be it.



Oh, and that will be $250, sweetie. You can leave the check with the receptionist.



Back in the 1980s, multiple personality disorder was a thing. The thing. You don’t hear so much about it today; it’s like we all woke up one day and thought, right, probably not possible after all, let’s move on. But when MPD was hot, it wasn’t just something to be burdened with, a problem to be overcome: It was something to be proud of. (…)

At the base of this disorder was abuse. Abuse so intense and dramatic that it was wiped from victims’ memory but still shattered their psyches. (…) And so here we have a collection of strange girls who had been through some shit.

{ The Smart Set | Continue reading }

photo { Miss Aniela }

The radiation is so high it’s not possible for humans to go inside. We need to use robots.

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In Italy, all cargo containers carrying scrap metal get checked for radiation, by hand, before they’re allowed off the docks. At Voltri, this job falls to Montagna, a 49-year-old independent consultant certified as an expert in radiation detection by the Italian government. By the time he arrived that morning, longshoremen had gathered eleven 20-foot-long, 8-foot-wide containers from across the terminal, relying on manifests to determine which ones needed to be scanned. The boxes were lined up in two neat rows near the terminal’s entrance. (…)

He plugged in a heavy sensor wand and set the device on the ground 20 yards away from the containers. The Model 3 emits a high-pitched beep every time it detects a radioactive particle; Montagna turned it on, and the meter’s needle swung hard to the right, burying itself past the maximum reading of 500,000 counts per minute. Instead of its usual staccato chirps, the machine was whining continuously and frantically. (…)

Montagna realized that one of the containers in front of him held a lethal secret. But was that secret merely a slow-motion radioactive industrial accident—or a bomb, one that could decimate the Italian city’s entire 15-mile waterfront? Montagna ran back to his car to get a less sensitive detector. He didn’t give much thought to protection; at those radiation levels, he would have needed lead armor 5 inches thick to stand within a couple of feet of the source for very long.

Montagna took the new meter and walked up to the sealed boxes, circling each one in turn. Halfway down the second row, a crimson 20-footer with “TGHU 307703 0 22G1″ emblazoned in white on its side jerked the dials. As he passed a few feet from the box’s left side, Montagna was absorbing radiation equivalent to six chest x-rays per minute.

There are millions of containers just like TGHU 307703 0 22G1. The only thing that distinguished it from the steel boxes stacked in your local port or hitched to a truck one lane over during your morning commute—besides radiation a million times above normal background levels—was the painted-on identification number. (…)

Under the right conditions, just 20 milligrams of cesium-137—roughly the amount found in gadgets that hospitals use to calibrate their radiation therapy equipment—could contaminate 40 city blocks. (…)

The team then brought in one of the most sensitive portable detectors on the market, an $80,000 Ortec HPGe Detective DX-100T.

{ Wired | Continue reading }

Push up and push vardar

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{ 1. Steen Larsen | 2. Caitlin Teal Price }

Pig shit. The lights, the motors, the vehicles, all run by a high-powered gas called methane. And methane cometh from pig shit.

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In the famous equation E=mc2 that equates mass with the energy contained within it, the “c” represents the speed of light. If particles go faster than light, things become troublesome.

Under such a scenario, an observer in a rocket ship traveling near the speed of light who was watching the Gran Sasso experiment taking place, “would detect the neutrino before it was emitted—they’d see it going backwards in time,” said Dr. Turok.

{ WSJ | Continue reading | More: Measurement of the neutrino velocity with the OPERA detector in the CNGS beam | PDF }

‘The better telescopes become, the more stars appear.’ –Julian Barnes

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An Italian experiment has unveiled evidence that fundamental particles known as neutrinos can travel faster than light. (…)

Neutrinos are fundamental particles that are electrically neutral, rarely interact with other matter, and have a vanishingly small mass. But they are all around us—the sun produces so many neutrinos as a by-product of nuclear reactions that many billions pass through your eye every second.

{ Scientific American | Continue reading }

How are you? Just keeping alive, M’Coy said.

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If we don’t reverse the current trend in food prices, we’ve got until August 2013 before social unrest sweeps the planet, say complexity theorists.

What causes riots? That’s not a question you would expect to have a simple answer.

But today, Marco Lagi and buddies at the New England Complex Systems Institute in Cambridge, say they’ve found a single factor that seems to trigger riots around the world.

This single factor is the price of food. Lagi and co say that when it rises above a certain threshold, social unrest sweeps the planet.

{ The Physics arXiv Blog | Continue reading }

photo { Shaun Gladwell }