‘Puisque ces mystères me dépassent, feignons d’en être l’organisateur.’ –Jean Cocteau

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{ Maria Forqué aka Virgen Maria | Censorship (video) | Interview | Instagram: eyes, more eyes, more }

The sun is there, the slender trees, the lemon houses

Moringa oleifera, an edible tree found worldwide in the dry tropics, is increasingly being used for nutritional supplementation. Its nutrient-dense leaves are high in protein quality, leading to its widespread use by doctors, healers, nutritionists and community leaders, to treat under-nutrition and a variety of illnesses. Despite the fact that no rigorous clinical trial has tested its efficacy for treating under-nutrition, the adoption of M. oleifera continues to increase. The “Diffusion of innovations theory” describes well the evidence for growth and adoption of dietary M. oleifera leaves, and it highlights the need for a scientific consensus on the nutritional benefits. […]

The regions most burdened by under-nutrition, (in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean) all share the ability to grow and utilize an edible plant, Moringa oleifera, commonly referred to as “The Miracle Tree.” For hundreds of years, traditional healers have prescribed different parts of M. oleifera for treatment of skin diseases, respiratory illnesses, ear and dental infections, hypertension, diabetes, cancer treatment, water purification, and have promoted its use as a nutrient dense food source. The leaves of M. oleifera have been reported to be a valuable source of both macro- and micronutrients and is now found growing within tropical and subtropical regions worldwide, congruent with the geographies where its nutritional benefits are most needed.

Anecdotal evidence of benefits from M. oleifera has fueled a recent increase in adoption of and attention to its many healing benefits, specifically the high nutrient composition of the plants leaves and seeds. Trees for Life, an NGO based in the United States has promoted the nutritional benefits of Moringa around the world, and their nutritional comparison has been widely copied and is now taken on faith by many: “Gram for gram fresh leaves of M. oleifera have 4 times the vitamin A of carrots, 7 times the vitamin C of oranges, 4 times the calcium of milk, 3 times the potassium of bananas, ¾ the iron of spinach, and 2 times the protein of yogurt” (Trees for Life, 2005).

Feeding animals M. oleifera leaves results in both weight gain and improved nutritional status. However, scientifically robust trials testing its efficacy for undernourished human beings have not yet been reported. If the wealth of anecdotal evidence (not cited herein) can be supported by robust clinical evidence, countries with a high prevalence of under-nutrition might have at their fingertips, a sustainable solution to some of their nutritional challenges. […]

The “Diffusion of Innovations” theory explains the recent increase in M. oleifera adoption by various international organizations and certain constituencies within undernourished populations, in the same manner as it has been so useful in explaining the adoption of many of the innovative agricultural practices in the 1940-1960s. […] A sigmoidal curve (Figure 1), illustrates the adoption process starting with innovators (traditional healers in the case of M. oleifera), who communicate and influence early adopters, (international organizations), who then broadcast over time new information on M. oleifera adoption, in the wake of which adoption rate steadily increases.

{ Ecology of Food and Nutrition | Continue reading }

Congratulations to drugs for winning the War on Drugs

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Gendville met Brooks-Church in an Area Yoga class, according to a person who has known the couple for more than a decade. He was “this sexy Spanish guy,” a flâneur type. He had grown up mostly on the resort island of Ibiza, the son of outlaw parents, hippies hunted by the Feds for two antiwar bombings in the ’80s until his mother turned herself in and his father reportedly got caught in Arkansas trying to pick up $6 million in cocaine. Brooks-Church became an adherent of Human Design, a pseudoscience combining astrology and chakras, which was created on Ibiza in 1992 by an advertising executive named Alan Krakower, who claimed to have received messages on the meaning of life from an entity called “the Voice.” […]

Brooks-Church, 49, was a “green builder” with a construction company called Eco Brooklyn who had spoken about sustainability at the Brooklyn Public Library; he was a vocal advocate for designating the Gowanus Canal a Superfund site, making it eligible for environmental protections. He did CrossFit. Gendville, 45, was the owner of a restaurant called Planted Community Cafe and a local chain of yoga studios, spas, and children’s stores called Area — a “mini-mogul,” according to the New York Times. The pair were currently renting out a brownstone they owned on Airbnb not five miles away, with a tree house and turtle pond, for nearly $800 a night. What could drive two yogic, environmentally conscious, vegan brownstoners to kick out their unemployed tenants during a global pandemic? […]

Though they own two businesses and six properties in one of the country’s most expensive real-estate markets, the landlords were apparently homeless.

{ NY mag | Continue reading }

Every day, the same, again

63.jpgThe world’s most expensive sheep has just been purchased for $490,000

Democrats favoring Joe Biden are concocting strategies for preventing the theft of their signs, including smelly and irritating substances to mark the thieves. [Washington Post]

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine is calling for an end to daylight saving time. Studies have pointed to health risks connected to daylight saving time and the sleep disruptions it causes. The AASM called out stroke risks, stress reactions and an increase in motor vehicles crashes, particularly in relation to the springtime clock change.  

Results of Finland’s basic income experiment

We examine the threat to individuals’ privacy based on the feasibility of reidentifying users through distinctive profiles of their browsing history visible to websites and third parties. We then find that for users who visited 50 or more distinct domains in the two-week data collection period, ~50% can be reidentified using the top 10k sites. Reidentifiability rose to over 80% for users that browsed 150 or more distinct domains. [PDF]

across all countries and U.S. states that we study, the growth rates of daily deaths from COVID-19 fell from a wide range of initially high levels to levels close to zero within 20-30 days after each region experienced 25 cumulative deaths [PDF]

Bell Labs itself later grew to be one of the marquees of commercial labs—in the late 1960s it employed 15,000 people including 1,200 PhDs, who between them made too many important inventions to list, from the transistor and the photovoltaic cell to the first digitally scrambled voice audio (in 1943) and the first complex number calculator (in 1939). Fourteen of its staff went on to win Nobel Prizes and five to win Turing Awards.

Fact Checking Nonfiction Books

The Hidden History of the Hip-Hop Mixtape

An Ohio man built a backyard squirrel bar with seven varieties of nuts on tap — Lucky squirrels who find their way to the bar get to choose from seven different nuts named after beers. Dutko’s favorite part of the bar is its quirky bathroom sign: “Nuts” and “No Nuts.” [Video: Building a squirrel bar]

wearable cyberpunk assemblages by Hiroto Ikeuchi

the HOT NEW TREND in cyberbullying: crashing your plane into someone’s house in Microsoft flight sim and sending them the pic [Thanks Tim]

Man: Doctor, I’m depressed. Life seems harsh and cruel, and I feel all alone. Doctor: Treatment is simple. Go see Pagliacci the Clown, he’s in town tonight. Man: But Doctor, YOU’RE Pagliacci. Doctor: Can I put you down for four tickets?

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Every day, the same, again

52.jpgFacial recognition designed to detect around face masks is failing, study finds

A computer scientist is suing the Patent Office for deciding an AI can’t invent things

The Wildest Insurance Fraud Scheme Texas Has Ever Seen — Over a decade, Theodore Robert Wright III destroyed cars, yachts, and planes. That was only the half of it.

“There is no such thing as cheap food—there is a consequence. Something has been compromised to give you that product”

Two metres or one: what is the evidence for physical distancing in covid-19?

Ten countries [islands] kept out Covid

Salivary Detection of COVID-19 + how saliva specimens compare with nasopharyngeal swab specimens

Please remain calm while the robot swabs your nose

Zuckerberg made the case to President Donald Trump that the rise of Chinese internet companies threatens American business, and should be a bigger concern than reining in Facebook, some of the people said.

Taxicab Geometry as a Vehicle for the Journey Toward Enlightenment [PDF]

Uber vomit fraud

There Are Only 37 Possible Stories, According to This 1919 Manual for Screenwriters

Memory and the Unity of the Imagination

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Books are horrible at teaching. So are lectures. So are documentaries. If to teach means to impart lasting knowledge, then our current educational media are lousy teachers. We encounter thousands of concepts a year, yet the vast majority fades from our memory into the ether, never to be held again. We forget. […]

We also forget information at an exponentially decaying rate; more than half of what we process is gone within the first 20 minutes. This means that we need several prompts to make persistent memories. (For more on memory failure modes, see Schachter’s Seven Sins of Memory.). […]

What are some dimensions to consider if we want machines to augment our ability to remember?

{ Machines + Society | Continue reading }

That’s a fair thought, to lie between maids’ legs

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Frequency of pornography use is associated with *lower* sexual problems, but problematic pornography use predicts more problems

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32810799/

It’s a problem but only when it’s problematic.

{ Neuroskeptic | Continue reading }

An experimental submarine, the ‘Siren II,’ is sent to find out what happened to the missing ‘Siren I’

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Researchers in Hong Kong are reporting the first confirmed case of reinfection with the coronavirus.

“An apparently young and healthy patient had a second case of Covid-19 infection which was diagnosed 4.5 months after the first episode,” University of Hong Kong researchers said Monday in a statement.

The report is of concern because it suggests that immunity to the coronavirus may last only a few months.

The 33-year-old man had only mild symptoms the first time, and no symptoms this time around. The reinfection was discovered when he returned from a trip to Spain, the researchers said, and the virus they sequenced closely matched the strain circulating in Europe in July and August.

“Our results prove that his second infection is caused by a new virus that he acquired recently rather than prolonged viral shedding,” said Dr. Kelvin Kai-Wang To, a clinical microbiologist at the University of Hong Kong.

Doctors have reported several cases of presumed reinfection in the United States and elsewhere, but none of those cases have been confirmed with rigorous testing. Recovered people are known to shed viral fragments for weeks, which can cause tests to show a positive result in the absence of live virus.

But the Hong Kong researchers sequenced the virus from both rounds of infection and found significant differences in the two sets of virus, suggesting that the patient was infected a second time.

{ NY Times | Continue reading }

Some people can get the pandemic virus twice, a study suggests. That is no reason to panic. […]

Even if the finding settles the question of whether people can be reinfected with the pandemic virus, it raises many additional questions: How often does this happen? Do people have milder infections, or no symptoms at all, the second time around? Can they still infect others? If natural infection does not always confer solid protection, will that be true for vaccines as well?

{ Nature | Continue reading }

Every day, the same, again

48.jpg 750 million genetically engineered mosquitoes approved for release in Florida Keys

Researchers have demonstrated that they can make a working 3D-printed copy of a key just by listening to how the key sounds when inserted into a lock. And you don’t need a fancy mic — a smartphone or smart doorbell will do nicely if you can get it close enough to the lock.

The underlying purpose of this essay is less about the coronavirus per se and more about how having a small—but functionally complete— piece of viral RNA to analyze gives me a unique opportunity to try to understand a complete self-replicating machine from scratch

A coronavirus mutation is tied to less severe illness None of the 29 people whose viruses had the mutation needed supplemental oxygen, but 26 of the 92 people whose viruses lacked the mutation did. More: The ∆382 variant of SARS-CoV-2 seems to be associated with a milder infection

Getting an antibody test to see if you had Covid-19 months ago is pointless, according to guidelines issued this week by a major medical society. Many tests are inaccurate, some look for the wrong antibodies and even the right antibodies fade away, said experts at the Infectious Diseases Society of America, which issued the new guidelines. Because current tests cannot determine if someone is immune, the society said, they “cannot inform decisions to discontinue physical distancing or lessen the use of personal protective equipment.” […] Despite the flaws of antibody tests, recent studies of patients who definitely were infected suggest that they have long-lasting immunity and that it is very unlikely they will get reinfected. That may be because white blood cells known as B and T cells, which are “primed” to recognize and attack the coronavirus, remain in circulation long after antibodies have faded away. But B and T cells are not analyzed by common antibody tests. [NY Times]

assuming everyone is wearing a mask — the risk of catching the virus on a full flight is just 1 in 4,300. Those odds fall to 1 in 7,700 if the middle seat is vacant.

Face Masks and GDP

Callers posing as COVID-19 contact tracers are trying to pry credit card or bank account information from unsuspecting victims

Recently, scientists discovered bacteria that had been buried beneath the ocean floor for more than a hundred million years and was still alive. What would change if we could live for even just a million years?

We conducted a 10-year study in which we assembled a data set of more than 17,000 C-suite executive assessments and studied 2,600 in-depth to analyze who gets to the top and how. We then took a closer look at “CEO sprinters” — those who reached the CEO role faster than the average of 24 years from their first job. We discovered a striking finding: Sprinters don’t accelerate to the top by acquiring the perfect pedigree. They do it by making bold career moves over the course of their career that catapult them to the top. We found that three types of career catapults were most common among the sprinters. [Harvard Business Review]

Can Robots Keep Humans from Abusing Other Robots?

The Case of the Top Secret iPod

Gigapixel AI Accidentally Added Ryan Gosling’s Face to This Photo

GPT-3 is an artificial intelligence that has been fed all the text on the internet

Elf Surveillance Santa Camera - Dummy CCTV Camera - Simply attach the camera in your child’s room and have them really thinking that Elfie is watching their behaviour

Nor is there any void, for void is nothing, and nothing cannot be

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Blockchain technology is going to change everything: the shipping industry, the financial system, government … in fact, what won’t it change? But enthusiasm for it mainly stems from a lack of knowledge and understanding. The blockchain is a solution in search of a problem. […]

Once something is in the blockchain, it cannot be removed. For instance, hundreds of links to child pornography and revenge porn were placed in the bitcoin blockchain by malicious users. It’s impossible to remove those.

Also, in a blockchain you aren’t anonymous, but “pseudonymous”: your identity is linked to a number, and if someone can link your name to that number, you’re screwed. Everything you got up to on that blockchain is visible to everyone. 

The presumed hackers of Hillary Clinton’s email were caught, for instance, because their identity could be linked to bitcoin transactions. A number of researchers from Qatar University were able to ascertain the identities of tens of thousands of bitcoin users fairly easily through social networking sites. Other researchers showed how you can de-anonymise many more people through trackers on shopping websites.

The fact that no one is in charge and nothing can be modified also means that mistakes cannot be corrected. A bank can reverse a payment request. This is impossible for bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. So anything that has been stolen will stay stolen. There is a continuous stream of hackers targeting bitcoin exchanges and users, and fraudsters launching investment vehicles that are in fact pyramid schemes. According to estimates, nearly 15% of all bitcoin has been stolen at some point. And it isn’t even 10 years old yet.

And then there’s the environmental problem. The environmental problem? Aren’t we talking about digital coins? Yes, which makes it even stranger. Solving all those complex puzzles requires a huge amount of energy. So much energy that the two biggest blockchains in the world – bitcoin and Ethereum – are now using up the same amount of electricity as the whole of Austria.

Carrying out a payment with Visa requires about 0.002 kilowatt-hours; the same payment with bitcoin uses up 906 kilowatt-hours, more than half a million times as much, and enough to power a two-person household for about three months. […]

And for what? This is actually the most important question: what problem does blockchain actually solve? OK, so with bitcoin, banks can’t just remove money from your account at their own discretion. But does this really happen? I have never heard of a bank simply taking money from someone’s account. If a bank did something like that, they would be hauled into court in no time and lose their license. Technically it’s possible; legally, it’s a death sentence. 

{ The Correspondent | Continue reading }

acrylic, fluorescent acrylic and Roll-a-Tex on canvas { Peter Halley, Iss, 2019 }

‘To succeed in the world we do everything we can to appear successful already.’ –La Rochefoucauld

Self-promotion is common in everyday life. Yet, across 8 studies (N = 1,687) examining a broad range of personal and professional successes, we find that individuals often hide their successes from others and that such hiding has relational costs. […]

Whereas previous research highlights the negative consequences of sharing one’s accomplishments with others, we find that sharing is superior to hiding for maintaining one’s relationships.

{ Journal of Personality and Social Psychology | Continue reading }