pipeline

Anything that can go wrong will go wrong

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The Grim Reaper, the personification of death, is a well known mythological and literary figure. Reported characteristics include a black cloak with cowl, a scythe, and cachexia. High quality scientific research linking the Grim Reaper to mortality has been scarce, despite extensive anecdotes.

Walking speed is a commonly used objective measure of physical capability in older people, predicting survival in several cohort studies. A recent meta-analysis found that being in the lowest fourth of walking speed compared with the highest was associated with a threefold increased risk of mortality. Moreover, the association between slow walking speed and mortality seems consistent across several ethnic groups and shows a dose-response relation. Although the association between walking speed and mortality has been well documented, the plausible biological relation between the two remains unclear.

We assessed whether the relation between slow walking speed and mortality results from the increased likelihood of being caught by Death. By assessing this relation using receiver operating characteristics curve analysis, we hypothesised we would be able to determine the walking speed of the Grim Reaper—information of importance to public health. […]

[1705] men have been followed for a mean of 59.3 months. Walking speed at baseline was not available in 77 men, mostly through inability to complete the test. A total of 266 deaths occurred during follow-up. […]

Based on receiver operating characteristics analysis and estimation of the Youden index, a walking speed of 0.82 m/s (2 miles (about 3 km) per hour) was most predictive of mortality. Therefore, we predict that this is the likely speed at which the Grim Reaper prefers to ambulate under working conditions. Older men who walked at speeds greater than 0.82 m/s were 1.23 times less likely to encounter Death. In addition, no men walking at speeds of 1.36 m/s (3 miles (about 5 km) per hour) or above were caught by Death (n=22, 1.4%). This supports our hypothesis that faster speeds are protective against mortality because fast walkers can maintain a safe distance from the Grim Reaper. Interestingly, the predicted walking speed of Death estimated in the present study is virtually identical to the gait speed (0.80 m/s) associated with median life expectancy at most ages and for both sexes in a recent meta-analysis of gait speed and mortality using data from diverse populations. This indicates that the preferred walking speed of the Grim Reaper while collecting souls is relatively constant irrespective of people’s geographical location, sex, or ethnic background.

{ British Medical Journal | PDF }

A husky fifenote blew. Blew. Blue bloom is on the.

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“Modern” Homo sapiens (that is, people who were roughly like we are now) first walked the Earth about 50,000 years ago. Since then, more than 108 billion members of our species have ever been born, according to estimates by Population Reference Bureau (PRB). Given the current global population of about 7.5 billion (based on our most recent estimate as of mid-2017), that means those of us currently alive represent about 7 percent of the total number of humans who have ever lived.

{ Population Reference Bureau | Continue reading }

photo { Edward Weston, Death Valley, 1947 }

‘Nous sommes dans l’inconcevable, mais avec des repères éblouissants.’ —René Char

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Someone Completely Demolished Trump’s Hollywood Star with a Pickax

‘Now this world is arranged as it had to be if it were to be capable of continuing with great difficulty to exist; if it were a little worse, it would be no longer capable of continuing to exist. […] and so this world itself is the worst of all possible worlds.’ –Schopenhauer

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While we have come to expect bullshit from politicians, there is no shortage of judicial bullshit either. After discussing Harry Frankfurt’s famous description of bullshit, I illustrate possible instances of judicial bullshit in a wide range of bioethics cases, mostly at the Supreme Court. Along the way, we see judges bullshit for many reasons including the desire to keep precedents malleable, avoid line drawing, hide the arbitrariness of line drawing, sound important, be memorable, gloss over inconvenient facts, sound poetic, make it seem like their hands are tied, and appear to address profound questions without actually staking out provocative positions.

{ Arizona State Law Journal | Continue reading }

photo { Ramón Masats, Tomelloso, Ciudad Real, 1960 }

Are you better at exits? Or entrances?

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Every year, millions of tonnes of plastic debris ends up in the sea […] Where does all the plastic come from anyhow? And how does it get into the sea? […]

Researchers calculated that ten rivers (eight in Asia and two in Africa) are responsible for around 90 percent of the global input of plastic into the sea.

{ Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research | Continue reading }

Pikes clash on cuirasses. Thieves rob the slain.

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The ATM-busting technique, known as jackpotting, has been around for almost a decade […] ATM jackpotting is both riskier and more complicated than card-skimming. For starters, scammers have to hack into the computer that governs the cash dispenser, which usually involves physically breaking into the machine itself; once they’re in, they install malware that tells the ATM to release all of its cash, just like a jackpot at a slot machine. These obstacles mean the process takes quite a bit longer than installing a card skimmer, which means more time in front of the ATM’s security cameras and jackpotters triggering an alarm in the bank’s control center at every step. But as chip-and-PIN becomes the standard in the U.S., would-be ATM thieves are running out of other options. […]

It was the Secret Service’s financial crimes division that spotted the series of attacks on multiple locations of the same bank in Florida in December and January, and put out a bulletin to financial institutions, law enforcement, and the public about the new style of ATM theft. The two major global ATM manufacturers, Diebold Nixdorfand NCR, also alerted the public and issued security patches within a few days. Banks started monitoring their ATMs around the clock. Less than 24 hours after the Secret Service’s public alert, Citizens Financial Group, a regional bank with branches all over the northeast, notified the local police that its security folks noticed one of its ATMs go off line. The police contacted the Secret Service, which made its first arrest on the scene.

{ Bloomberg | Continue reading }

photo { Jerome Liebling, Union Square, New York City, 1948 }

What’s in the wind, I wonder

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In 1985, Tony Schwartz, a writer for New York magazine, was sitting in Donald Trump’s office in Trump Tower interviewing him for a story. Trump told him he had agreed to write a book for Random House. “Well, if you’re going to write a book,” Schwartz said, recalling this interaction in a speech he gave last fall at the University of Michigan, “you ought to call it The Art of the Deal.”

“I like that,” Trump said. “Do you want to write it?”

These sorts of arrangements typically are not that generous for the writer. “Most writers for hire receive a flat fee, or a relatively modest percentage of any money the book earns,” Schwartz said in the speech. Schwartz, by contrast, got from Trump an almost unheard-of half of the $500,000 advance from Random House and also half of the royalties. And it didn’t even take a lot of haggling.

“He basically just agreed,” Schwartz told me in an email, meaning Schwartz ever since has brought in millions of dollars more of royalties and Trump has brought in millions of dollars less.

It’s a telling example, Harvard Business School negotiating professor Deepak Malhotra said in a recent interview. “What should have been a great deal on a book about negotiation actually is one of the most interesting pieces of evidence that he’s not a good negotiator.” Malhotra pointed out Schwartz even got his name on the cover, and in same-sized text. “I don’t think there’s a better ghostwriting deal out there.”

[…]

Trump made $50,000 an episode in the first season. In the second season? “He wanted a million dollars an episode,” Jeff Zucker, the current boss of CNN and former head of NBC, told the New Yorker’s David Remnick last year. And what did Zucker give him? “Sixty thousand dollars,” Zucker said.

“We ended up paying him what we wanted to pay him.”

{ Politico | Continue reading }

brush and india ink on paper { Roy Lichtenstein, Donald Duck, 1958 }

Why Not Sneeze Rrose Sélavy?

the intensity of the emotional response people experience when they act dishonestly is reduced every time they lie

{ NBC | Continue reading }

‘L’orgueil est la même chose que l’humilité, c’est toujours le mensonge.’ —Georges Bataille

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Austrian nobles Princess Pauline von Metternich and Countess Anastasia Kielmansegg agreed to a topless duel in the summer of 1892.

The duel went down in history as the first ‘emancipated duel’ because it involved female participants, female seconds’ and a female medic.

Baroness Lubinska from Warsaw, who had a medical degree, oversaw the duel and advised the women to sword fight topless to avoid infection.

{ Daily Mail | Continue reading }

Princess Pauline was involved in many charitable organizations. It was in her capacity as Honorary President of the Vienna Musical and Theatrical Exhibition that she quarreled with the Countess Kilmannsegg, wife of the Statthalter of Lower Austria and President of the Ladies Committee of the Vienna Musical and Theatrical Exhibition, apparently over the flower arrangements for the exhibition.

Whatever was said about those flowers could not be unsaid, and the Princess, then 56 years old, challenged the Countess to settle their dispute by blood.

The two adversaries and their seconds, Princess Schwarzenberg and Countess Kinsky, traveled to Vaduz, the capital of Liechtenstein, and took to the field of honor. Presiding over the encounter was Baroness Lubinska who, unusually for women of the time, was a medical doctor. Her modern understanding of infection proved pivotal. Having seen many superficial battle wounds turn septic and fatal because fragments of dirty clothes were driven into them, the Baroness insisted both parties remove all clothing above the waist.

So the Princess Metternich and Countess Kilmannsegg, both topless, took up their swords to fight until first blood.

After a few exchanges, the Princess received a small cut to the nose and the Countess was cut on the arm practically at the same time. The seconds called the duel and Princess Metternich was declared the winner.

{ Mental Floss | Continue reading }

‘Maybe don’t expect us to ‘just know’ what all your color-coded espresso pods mean.’ –Tim Geoghegan

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A distant galaxy that appears completely devoid of dark matter has baffled astronomers and deepened the mystery of the universe’s most elusive substance.

The absence of dark matter from a small patch of sky might appear to be a non-problem, given that astronomers have never directly observed dark matter anywhere. However, most current theories of the universe suggest that everywhere that ordinary matter is found, dark matter ought to be lurking too, making the newly observed galaxy an odd exception. […]

Paradoxically, the authors said the discovery of a galaxy without dark matter counts as evidence that it probably does exist.

{ Guardian | Continue reading }

photo { Luc Kordas }

Dom Dom Dombdomb

I am Mr Trump’s longtime special counsel and I have proudly served in that role for more than a decade. In a private transaction in 2016, I used my own personal funds to facilitate a payment of $130,000 to Ms Stephanie Clifford. [Note the ambiguous phrasing: “facilitate a payment.” This doesn’t necessarily mean Cohen ultimately funded the 130k payment to Clifford, just that he made it happen.] Neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign was a party to the transaction with Ms Clifford, and neither reimbursed me for the payment, either directly or indirectly. [The fact that the Trump Organization and campaign didn’t reimburse Cohen doesn’t mean that members of the Trump family or campaign (or indeed anyone else) didn’t reimburse him, or give him the funds before he made the payment.] The payment to Ms Clifford was lawful, and was not a campaign contribution or a campaign expenditure by anyone. [Note that Cohen doesn’t say whether or not Trump knew about the payment.]

{ Michael Cohen, annotated by Quartz | Continue reading }

And his derry’s own drawl and his corksown blather and his doubling stutter and his gullaway swank

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Scotland’s Aldwych Café and Ice Cream Parlor is dishing up what they’ve deemed the world’s “most dangerous ice cream.”

You have to be 18 years or older just to get a taste. Even if you pass the adult test, you’ll still need to sign a waiver warning of the ice cream’s “risk of personal injury, illness, and possible loss of life.”

The makers of Respiro Del Diavolo – Italian for “Breath of the Devil” – claim the velvety red ice cream is 500 times hotter than Tabasco sauce. The Carolina Reaper pepper used comes in at a whopping 1,569,300 SHU on the Scoville scale.

{ IFL Science | Continue reading }