PvtVoid writes: In a new article, Vanity Fair examines the Theranos disaster, from origins to aftermath. It's a compelling story of hubris, glamour and secrecy about the unicorn Silicon Valley company that turned out to be founded on bullshit. While not the only unicorn company founded on bullshit, Theranos had the distinction of actually putting its customers' lives in danger: "[The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services] soon discovered that some of the tests Theranos was performing were so inaccurate that they could leave patients at risk of internal bleeding, or of stroke among those prone to blood clots. The agency found that Theranos appeared to ignore erratic results from its own quality-control checks during a six-month period last year and supplied 81 patients with questionable test results." At least Elizabeth Holmes is going to be played by Jennifer Lawrence in an upcoming movie.
PvtVoid writes: The BBC reports that the U.S. and China have announced ratification of the Paris Climate Accord, designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions enough to hold global warming to 2C. The U.S. and China are by far the world's largest producers of the greenhouse gases responsible for climate change.
PvtVoid writes: From Slate: "Saturday night’s 2016 Hugo Awards ceremony was once again the site of a proxy battle between a group of activists led by white nationalist and misogynist Theodore Beale and his followers and, well, the rest of the world. The Hugo Awards, which honor excellence in science fiction and fantasy, are awarded annually at the World Science Fiction Convention; in 2015, as Katy Waldman reported for Slate, two groups of right-wing science fiction fans gamed the awards-nominating process....At the 2015 Hugo Awards, voters chose to give “No Award” in categories dominated by the works promoted by Beale and his followers; this year they honored Beale’s least favorite authors. All four of the fiction categories were awarded to women: Best Novel went to N.K. Jemisin for The Fifth Season, Best Novella went to Nnedi Okorafor for Binti, Best Novelette went to Hao Jingfang for “Folding Beijing,” translated by Ken Liu and published in the January–February 2015 issue of Uncanny magazine, and Best Short Story went to Naomi Kritzer for “Cat Pictures Please,” published in the January 2015 issue of Clarkesworld. N.K. Jemisin and Beale have a history: In 2013, Beale called Jemisin, who is black, “an educated, but ignorant half-savage,” leading to his expulsion from the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America." Link to Original Source
PvtVoid writes: The New York Times reports that the first community of refugees relocated in the U.S. because of climate change is Isle de Jean Charles, LA. The Federal Government allocated $48 million to relocate the community of 60 people, which is becoming uninhabitable due to rising sea level and increasing storm activity. Louisiana has lost land area equal to the size of the state of Delaware since the 1930s, and losses are forecast to continue with rising sea level due to global warming resulting from fossil fuel use.
PvtVoid writes: [The FAA is] unequivocally confirming that it’s a federal crime to shoot down a drone, as John Goglia reports in Forbes. Goglia explains the FAA offered this ruling in response to his questions on the topic, citing 18 USC. 32, which “makes it a felony to damage or destroy an aircraft.”
Not linking to Forbes, because, well, Forbes. Here's the Slate.
PvtVoid writes: The (awesome, by the way) new trailer for Star Wars Episode VII is out, and it has already generated a negative hashtag #BoycottStarWarsVII campaign, led by Men's Rights Activists and white supremacists. Never mind James Earl Jones and Billy Dee Williams: there are apparently too many black people in Star Wars VII.
PvtVoid writes: The New York Times reports on the case of Shadi Petosky, who was detained for 40 minutes by TSA personnel after traveling as the "wrong" gender through a TSA checkpoint. TSA screeners set the full-body scanner for a female, and Ms. Petosky was flagged over an "anomaly" in her groin area. She was subsequently detained for 40 minutes without access to her phone, and missed her flight.
PvtVoid writes: In what has to be one of the creepiest developments ever, Annuo is an app for iPhone, Windows Phone, and Android which allows partners to register sexual consent. From the app's description on Google Play:
1) Register with Annuo or sign-in with Facebook. 2) You input the name of your prospective partner 3) You and your partner may record consent with your voices or sign off on consent 4) You may get a reward offer for getting consent 5) A history of your encounters, partners, and contracts are stored on our database, you can see them on your phone.
Never mind that this probably has no legal bearing, since consent can be withdrawn at any time, but, really, what could possibly be the downside of signing up for an app that keeps track of every time you have sex, and with whom?
PvtVoid writes: Wichita State University statistician Beth Clarkson has filed a lawsuit under Kansas' open records law to force the state to release paper tape records from voting machines, to be used as data in her research on statistical anomalies in voting patterns in the state.
Clarkson, a certified quality engineer with a Ph.D. in statistics, has analyzed election returns in Kansas and elsewhere over several elections that indicate “a statistically significant” pattern where the percentage of Republican votes increase the larger the size of the precinct. The pattern could be voter fraud or a demographic trend that has not been picked up by extensive polling. Secretary of State Kris Kobach argued that the records sought by Clarkson are not subject to the Kansas open records act, and that their disclosure is prohibited by Kansas statute.
PvtVoid writes: A new Pew Research Study documents an alarming gap between public perception of scientific issues and the opinions of the scientists themselves, as measured by a poll of AAAS scientists. Even worse, the gap is partisan, with clear differences between Republicans and Democrats, and between conservatives and liberals. For example, while 98% of AAAS members agree with the statement that "Human beings and other living things have evolved over time", only 21% of conservatives agree, compared with 54% of liberals. Global warming, similarly, shows an ideological gap: 98% of AAAS scientists agreed with the statement that "the Earth is getting warmer mostly due to human activity", compared with 21% of conservatives and 54% of liberals. Encouragingly, almost everybody thinks childhood vaccines should be required (86% of AAAS members, 65% of conservatives, and 74% of liberals.)
We have to stop seeing this as just an internet issue,” said Clark. “When women are targeted with violent threats online, they are not only forced to fear for their safety, but their ability to fully participate in our economy is jeopardized. We have to examine how well we’re enforcing existing protections and work to keep the internet open for everyone.”
PvtVoid writes: Biologists have long puzzled about how evolutionary selection, known for its ruthless requirement for efficiency, allows the existence of males — when in so many species their only contribution to reproduction are spermatozoa.
But research published today in Nature shows that sexual selection — when males compete and females choose over reproduction — improves population health and protects against extinction, even in the face of genetic stress from high levels of inbreeding.
PvtVoid writes: An industry consultant, Cherian Abraham, put the fraud rate at 6 percent, compared with a traditional credit card fraud rate that is relatively minuscule, 10 cents for every $100 spent. [i.e. one tenth of one percent]
The vulnerability in Apple Pay is in the way that it — and card issuers — “onboard” new credit cards into the system. Because Apple wanted its system to have the simplicity for which it has become famous and wanted to make the sign-up process “frictionless,” the company required little beyond basic credit card information about a user. Nor did it provide much information to the banks, like full phone numbers and addresses, that might help them detect fraud early.
The banks, desperate to become their customers’ default card on Apple Pay — most add only one to their iPhones — did little to build their own defenses or to push Apple to provide more detailed information about its customers. Some bank executives acknowledged that they were were so scared of Apple that they didn’t speak up.
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.