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+ - Thanks to the Montreal Protocol, we avoided severe ozone depletion->

hypnosec writes: Concentrations of ozone depleting chemicals was at its peak in 1993, but over the years they have declined and a new research points out that the Montreal Protocol, which came into force in 1987, has played a major role in not only ensuring that use of these chemicals is reduced, but has also helped us avoid a severe ozone depletion.
Link to Original Source

+ - The Machines Are Coming

HughPickens.com writes: Zeynep Tufekci writes in an op-ed at the NYT that machines can now process regular spoken language and not only recognize human faces, but also read their expressions. Machines can classify personality types, and have started being able to carry out conversations with appropriate emotional tenor. Machines are getting better than humans at figuring out who to hire, who’s in a mood to pay a little more for that sweater, and who needs a coupon to nudge them toward a sale. It turns out that most of what we think of as expertise, knowledge and intuition is being deconstructed and recreated as an algorithmic competency, fueled by big data. "Machines aren’t used because they perform some tasks that much better than humans, but because, in many cases, they do a “good enough” job while also being cheaper, more predictable and easier to control than quirky, pesky humans," writes Tufekci. "Technology in the workplace is as much about power and control as it is about productivity and efficiency."

According to Tufekci technology is being used in many workplaces: to reduce the power of humans, and employers’ dependency on them, whether by replacing, displacing or surveilling them. Optimists insist that we’ve been here before, during the Industrial Revolution, when machinery replaced manual labor, and all we need is a little more education and better skills but Tufekci says that one historical example is no guarantee of future events. "Confronting the threat posed by machines, and the way in which the great data harvest has made them ever more able to compete with human workers, must be about our priorities," concludes Tufekci. "This problem is not us versus the machines, but between us, as humans, and how we value one another."

+ - NASA's ARM will take a boulder from an asteroid and take it to lunar orbit->

MarkWhittington writes: NASA announced more details of its controversial asteroid redirect mission. The space agency has chosen to not snag an asteroid in deep space and move it to a retrograde orbit around the moon. Instead, an uncrewed spacecraft with a solar electric propulsion system will snag a boulder off of a larger asteroid and bring it to lunar orbit for an Orion spacecraft to visit.
Link to Original Source

+ - Apple seemingly attempts to determine your location even when location services ->

chrisgagne writes: Apple says "You can also turn Location Services off altogether by deselecting Enable Location Services in the Privacy pane of Security & Privacy preferences. However, here's a video showing that although Location Services are turned off, Apple's com.apple.geod (their location services daemon) is still active and attempting to communicate with gsp-ssl.ls.apple.com. It's blocked from doing so by Little Snitch, whose Network Monitor is showing all of these attempts.
Link to Original Source

+ - FDA finds herbal supplements at GNC, Walmart don't contain what they claim

MikeChino writes: The New York State Attorney General's Office is demanding that GNC, Walmart, Walgreens, and Target remove store brand herbal supplements from their shelves after the pills were found to be packed with a strange array of fraudulent—and in some cases hazardous—ingredients. Popular supplements such as ginseng, valerian root, and St. John's wort sold under store brand names at the four major retailers were found to contain powdered rice, asparagus, and even houseplants, while being completely void of any of the ingredients on the label.

+ - The January 1975 issue of Popular Electronics is a free PDF download->

An anonymous reader writes: If you wanted to pinpoint the beginning of the PC era, you could do worse than to declare that it began when the January 1975 issue of Popular Electronics magazine came out. It cover-featured the MITS Altair 8800, the first successful PC, and inspired Paul Allen and Bill Gates to found "Micro-Soft." I wrote about the issue, which is now available for free in PDF form (along with every other issue of Popular Electronics).
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+ - Telomere-Lengthening Procedure Turns Clock Back Years in Human Cells-> 2 2

Zothecula writes: Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have developed a new procedure to increase the length of human telomeres. This increases the number of times cells are able to divide, essentially making the cells many years younger. This not only has useful applications for laboratory work, but may point the way to treating various age-related disorders – or even muscular dystrophy.
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+ - Plan C: The Cold War plan which would have brought the US under martial law->

v3rgEz writes: Starting on April 19, 1956, the federal government practiced and planned for a near-doomsday scenario known as Plan C. When activated, Plan C would have brought the United States under marshal law, rounded up over ten thousand individuals connected to "subversive" organizations, implemented a censorship board, and prepared the country for life after nuclear attack.

There was no Plan A or B.

Link to Original Source

+ - Virgin Galactic Dumps Scaled Composites for Spaceship Two

PvtVoid writes: Virgin Galactic, following an aggressive schedule to build a replacement for the Spaceship Two which crashed in October, is doing so without partner Scaled Composites, according to the Los Angeles Times. Kevin Mickey, the president of Scaled Composites, confirmed this week that his company would no longer be involved in testing. He said Scaled would still work as a consultant to Virgin Galactic.

+ - How IT executives think about surviving the first few months on the job

Lemeowski writes: It's not uncommon for IT leaders to inherit a hot mess when they take over a new role in an IT department. Politics, governance gates, and chaos can contribute to a sense of futility when an IT department is in the midst of a transition, writes Pearson CTO Sven Gerjets. When this happens, there are a few approaches that newcomers can take to pull their IT departments out of an IT tornado. Gerjets outlines some of the best moves new IT leaders can take when their IT organization is facing a lot of crises: "Discipline and clarity are where it all begins, two ingredients you’ll notice are entirely missing from tornadoes."

+ - Psychiatrists say non-conformity is a mental illness->

schwit1 writes: Modern psychiatry has become a hotbed of corruption, particularly the kind that seeks to demonize and declare mentally ill anyone who deviates from what is regarded as the norm. This is abundantly evident in the latest installment of the industry's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM, which dubs people who do not conform to what those in charge declare to be normal as mentally insane.
Link to Original Source

+ - Interior of burnt Herculaneum scroll read for first time 1 1

Solandri writes: When Mt. Vesuvius erupted in A.D. 79, it destroyed a library of classical works in Herculaneum. The papyrus scrolls weren't incinerated, but were instead carbonized by the hot gases. The resulting black carbon cylinders have mostly withstood attempts to read their contents since their discovery. Earlier attempts to unfurl the scrolls yielded some readable material, but were judged too destructive. Researchers decided to wait for newer technology to be invented that could read the scrolls without unrolling them.

Now, a team led by Dr Vito Mocella from the National Research Council's Institute for Microelectronics and Microsystems (CNR-IMM) in Naples, Italy has managed to read individual letters inside one of the scrolls. Using a form of x-ray phase contrast tomography, they were able to ascertain the height difference (about 0.1mm) between the ink of the letters and the papyrus fibers which they sat upon. Due to the fibrous nature of the papyrus and the carbon-based ink, regular spectral and chemical analysis had thus far been unable to distinguish the ink from the paper. Further complicating the work, the scrolls are not in neat cylinders, but squashed and ruffled as the hot gases vaporized water in the papyrus and distorted the paper.

Full paper in Nature Communications (paywalled).

+ - Parents Investigated for Neglect For Letting Kids Walk Home Alone

HughPickens.com writes: The WaPo reports that Danielle and Alexander Meitiv in Montgomery County Maryland say they are being investigated for neglect after letting their 10-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter make a one-mile walk home from a Silver Spring park on Georgia Avenue on a Saturday afternoon. “We wouldn’t have let them do it if we didn’t think they were ready for it,” says Danielle. The Meitivs say they believe in “free-range” parenting, a movement that has been a counterpoint to the hyper-vigilance of “helicopter” parenting, with the idea that children learn self-reliance by being allowed to progressively test limits, make choices and venture out in the world. “The world is actually even safer than when I was a child, and I just want to give them the same freedom and independence that I had — basically an old-fashioned childhood,” says Danielle. “I think it’s absolutely critical for their development — to learn responsibility, to experience the world, to gain confidence and competency.”

On December.20, Alexander agreed to let the children walk from Woodside Park to their home, a mile south, in an area the family says the children know well. Police picked up the children near the Discovery building, the family said, after someone reported seeing them. Alexander said he had a tense time with police when officers returned his children, asked for his identification and told him about the dangers of the world. The more lasting issue has been with Montgomery County Child Protective Services which showed up a couple of hours later. Although Child Protective Services could not address this specific case they did point to Maryland law, which defines child neglect as failure to provide proper care and supervision of a child. “I think what CPS considered neglect, we felt was an essential part of growing up and maturing,” says Alexander. “We feel we’re being bullied into a point of view about child-rearing that we strongly disagree with.”

"Oh my! An `inflammatory attitude' in alt.flame? Never heard of such a thing..." -- Allen Gwinn, allen@sulaco.Sigma.COM

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