Submission + - How the Internet Broke the Planet (vortex.com)

Lauren Weinstein writes: So we come to today, and I’m still sitting here in L.A. — the city where I’ve always lived — and I see how the Internet has been fundamentally broken by evil forces only some of which I foresaw years ago.

Our wonderful technology has been hijacked by liars, Nazis, pedophile and other sexual abusing politicians, and an array of other despicable persons who could only gladden the hearts of civilization’s worst tyrants.

Our work has been turned into tools for mass spying, mass censorship, political oppression, and the spreading of hateful lies and propaganda without end.

Submission + - China is building a hypersonic wind tunnel to simulate flight at 12kps (scmp.com)

schwit1 writes: Zhao Wei, a senior scientist working on the project, said researchers aimed to have the facility up and running by around 2020 to meet the pressing demand of China’s hypersonic weapon development programme.

“It will boost the engineering application of hypersonic technology, mostly in military sectors, by duplicating the environment of extreme hypersonic flights, so problems can be discovered and solved on the ground,”

The world’s most powerful wind tunnel at present is America’s LENX-X facility in Buffalo, New York state, which operates at speeds of up to 10 kilometres per second – 30 times the speed of sound.

Submission + - The Brutal Fight to Mine Your Data and Sell It to Your Boss (bloomberg.com)

An anonymous reader writes: A small number of the world’s most valuable companies collect, control, parse, and sell billions of dollars’ worth of personal information voluntarily surrendered by their users. Google, Facebook, Amazon.com, and Microsoft—which bought LinkedIn for $26.2 billion in 2016—have in turn spawned dependent economies consisting of advertising and marketing companies, designers, consultants, and app developers. Some operate on the tech giants’ platforms; some customize special digital tools; some help people attract more friends and likes and followers. Some, including HiQ, feed off the torrents of information that social networks produce, using software bots to scrape data from profiles. The services of the smaller companies can augment the offerings of the bigger ones, but the power dynamic is deeply asymmetrical, reminiscent of pilot fish picking food from between the teeth of sharks. The terms of that relationship are set by technology, economics, and the vagaries of consumer choice, but also by the law. LinkedIn’s May 23 letter to HiQ wasn’t the first time the company had taken legal action to prevent the perceived hijacking of its data, and Facebook Inc. and Craigslist Inc., among others, have brought similar actions. But even more than its predecessors, this case, because of who’s involved and how it’s unfolded, has spoken to the thorniest issues surrounding speech and competition on the internet.

Submission + - Move over centenarians, the race is on to collect DNA from 110-year-olds (nytimes.com)

biobricks writes: Scientists looking for clues to healthy longevity in people in their 90's and 100's haven't turned up a whole lot. The DNA of the VERY old, it is thought, may be a better bet. But people over 110 are one in five million in the United States. New York Times science story chronicles one scientific quest to collect their DNA.

Submission + - League of Legends rank predicts IQ (plos.org)

limbicsystem writes: A new publication in the Journal PLOS 1 shows that your rank in League of Legends correlates with your IQ. Games like LoL and DOTA II apparently depend on the same cognitive resources that underlie tests of fluid intelligence. That means that proficiency in those games peaks at the same age as raw IQ — about 25 while scores in more reaction-time based games like Destiny or Battlefield seem to decline from the teens onwards. The researchers suggest that the massive datasets from these online games could be used to assess population-level cognitive health in real-time across the globe. The paper is at http://journals.plos.org/ploso... and the authors have a nice FAQ (and open datasets) here: https://osf.io/w2z9d/ .

Submission + - Google Maps' New Buddhist "Swastika" (vortex.com) 1

Lauren Weinstein writes: I’m already getting comments — including from Buddhists — suggesting that Google Maps’ new iconography tagging Buddhist temples with the ancient symbol that is perceived by most people today as a Nazi swastika is problematic at best, and is likely to be widely misinterpreted ...

Submission + - FCC Plans December Vote To Kill Net Neutrality Rules (bloomberg.com)

An anonymous reader writes: The U.S. Federal Communications Commission under its Republican chairman plans to vote in December to kill the net neutrality rules passed during the Obama era, said two people briefed on the plans. Chairman Ajit Pai in April proposed gutting the rules that he blamed for depressing investment in broadband, and said he intended to “finish the job” this year. The chairman has decided to put his proposal to a vote at the FCC next month, said the people. The agency’s monthly meeting is to be held Dec. 14. The people asked not to be identified because the plan hasn’t been made public. It’s not clear what language Pai will offer to replace the rules that passed with only Democratic votes at the FCC in 2015. He has proposed that the FCC end the designation of broadband companies such as AT&T Inc. and Comcast Corp. as common carriers. That would remove the legal authority that underpins the net neutrality rules. One of the people said Pai may call for vacating the rules except for portions that mandate internet service providers inform customers about their practices. The current regulations forbid broadband providers from blocking or slowing web traffic, or from charging higher fees in return for quicker passage over their networks.

Submission + - Power of Pharma lobby. Behold! (nbcnews.com) 1

140Mandak262Jamuna writes: I went to bed with BMI of 25.3 and I woke up with same BMI of 25.3. But overnight BMI for fatness changed from 26 to 25, and now I am fat. The same way the Pharma lobby got AMA to reset the hypertension guidelines.

Earlier systolic pressure of 140 mm of mercury was considered acceptable. Now the new guideline lowers it to 130. 50 million more Americans will be considered to be having Stage 1 hypertension and all will be prescribed blood pressure medications.



“Rather than one in three U.S. adults having high blood pressure (32 percent) with the previous definition, the new guidelines will result in nearly half of the U.S. adult population (46 percent) having high blood pressure, or hypertension,” the groups said in a joint statement.

They are not pushing medications, yet. Just diet and exercise for now. But, make no mistake, a few years down the line, we all will be taking blood pressure medications.

Submission + - TechShop Announces Chapter 7 Bankruptcy; Closes All Locations

ewhac writes: To the shock and dismay of many, TechShop today announced the immediate closure of all of its US locations and is entering Chapter 7 bankruptcy proceedings. Their home page has been replaced with a PDF relating TechShop's history, and detailing the circumstances leading to shutting down the company. First launched ten years ago, TechShop was one of the first "shared maker spaces," a members-only machine and work shop where tinkerers, makers, inventors, and innovators were able to prototype their ideas, launch products, or even just fix their own stuff. Its closing will be a huge loss to the tech and maker communities.

Submission + - Lazy hackers don't bother phishing, just log in and run ransomware themselves (sophos.com) 1

An anonymous reader writes: An investigation by Sophos has uncovered a new, lazy but effective ransomware attack where hackers brute force passwords on computers with RDP enabled, use off-the-shelf privilege escalation exploits to make themselves admins, turn off security software and then manually run fusty old versions of ransomware.

Submission + - Caltech creates plasma ring in open air (caltech.edu)

drewsup writes: For the first time, engineers at Caltech have created a stable ring of plasma in open air—essentially capturing lightning in a bottle, but without the bottle.
"We were told by some colleagues this wasn't even possible. But we can create a stable ring and maintain it for as long as we want, no vacuum or magnetic field or anything," says co-author Francisco Pereira of the Marine Technology Research Institute in Italy, a visiting scholar at Caltech.

Submission + - Educational Value: MSFT Minecraft Hour of Code Tutorials v. Pop-O-Matic Trouble?

theodp writes: "In a few weeks, people around the world will celebrate Computer Science Education Week," writes Microsoft Corporate VP Mary Snapp. "Millions of kids and others will participate in an Hour of Code, a global call to action to spend an hour learning the basics of coding. Today, it’s my privilege to announce that Microsoft has released a new Minecraft tutorial for Hour of Code, called Hero’s Journey." The release of the new Code.org-touted flagship Hour of Code tutorial — the third since Microsoft purchased Minecraft Maker Mojang for $2.5B in 2014 — comes as Microsoft celebrates Minecraft: Education Edition reaching a milestone of 2 million users. Microsoft boasts that nearly 70 million of its Minecraft Hour of Code sessions have been launched to-date, which is certainly impressive from an infomercial or brand awareness standpoint. But does moving a Minecraft character forward 7 times on an $800 Microsoft Surface offer all that much more educational value than, say, moving a peg forward 5 times on a $10.99 Pop-O-Matic Trouble board game?

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