MonthFebruary 2010

On 81st birthday, Oregon man gives company to employees

Bob Moore

Scores of employees gathered to help Bob Moore celebrate his 81st birthday this week at the company that bears his name, Bob’s Red Mill Natural Foods.

Moore, whose mutual love of healthful eating and old-world technologies spawned an internationally distributed line of products, responded with a gift of his own — the whole company. The Employee Stock Ownership Plan that Moore unveiled means that his 209 employees now own the place and its 400 offerings of stone-ground flours, cereals and bread mixes.

Read More – Seattle Times: On 81st birthday, Oregon man gives company to employees

(via Cryptogon)

Grant Morrison Writing BBC Miniseries Starring Stephen Fry (Updated)

Grant Morrison

Paul McGuigan, director of Gangster No 1, Lucky Number Slevin and the upcoming Sherlock Holmes TV series by Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, has confirmed for LiveForFilms that he will be indeed working on a new TV series for BBC Scotland, written by Grant Morrison and starring polymath Stephen Fry. Bleeding Cool reported on this possibility previously, and McGuigan says that currently Morrison has written a treatment.

Read More – Bleeding Cool: Paul McGuigan, Grant Morrison, Stephen Fry In New BBC Thriller

(via Cat Vincent)

Update: This was to be called Bonnyroad, but this project has been “knocked back.”

Universities told to consider testing for smart drugs

smart drugs

Universities must investigate measures, including random dope testing, to tackle the increasing use of cognitive enhancment drugs by students for exams, a leading behavioural neuro­scientist warns.

Student use of drugs, such as Ritalin and modafinil, available over the internet and used to increase the brain’s alertness, had “enormous implications for universities”, said Barbara Sahakian, a professor of clinical neuropsychology at Cambridge University’s psychiatry department.

Normally prescribed for neurological disorders including Alzheimer’s disease, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy, such drugs boost acetylcholine in the brain, improving alertness and attention. Their use has prompted concerns that they could give students an unfair advantage. “This is something that universities really have to discuss. They should have some strategy, some kind of active policy,” Sahakian said.

Guardian: Universities told to consider dope tests as student use of ‘smart drugs’ soars

(via h+)

Previous look at smart drugs here at Technoccult

American Conservative: Hispanics don’t commit more crimes than whites

American Conservative - His-panic

The evidence presented here powerfully refutes the widespread popular belief that America’s Hispanics have high crime rates. Instead, their criminality seems to fall near the center of the white national distribution, being somewhat higher than white New Englanders but somewhat lower than white Southerners. Taken as a whole, the mass of statistical evidence constitutes strong support for the “null hypothesis,” namely that Hispanics have approximately the same crime rates as whites of the same age.

We must bear in mind that most Hispanics are still of very recent immigrant origins and thus are considerably poorer than the average American. There actually does exist a connection between poverty and crime, even if liberals make such a claim, and since today’s Hispanic population has roughly the same crime rate as far more affluent whites, there is every reason to expect that this crime rate will drop further as Hispanics continue to move up the economic ladder. As the American Enterprise Institute’s Douglas Besharov pointed out in an important but insufficiently noticed October 2007 New York Times column, the last decade or two have seen an extremely rapid economic advance for most of America’s Hispanic population. 10 This rise may be connected with the simultaneous and unexpectedly rapid drop in urban crime rates throughout the country.

Read More – American Conservative: His-Panic

Via Radley Balko who notes:

For a magazine co-founded by anti-immigration paleocons Pat Buchanan and Taki Theodoracopulos, the story risks alienating a hell of a lot of the magazine’s readers.

See also Balko’s article “The El Paso Miracle.”

Nearly 20 percent of U.S. workers underemployed

underemployed

Nearly 20 percent of the U.S. workforce lacked adequate employment in January and struggled to make ends meet with reduced resources and bleak job prospects, according to a Gallup poll released on Tuesday.

n findings that appear to paint a darker employment picture than official U.S. data, Gallup estimated that about 30 million Americans are underemployed, meaning either jobless or able to find only part-time work.

Underemployed people spent 36 percent less on household purchases than their fully employed neighbors in January, while six out of 10 were not hopeful about their chances of finding adequate work in the coming month, the poll said.

Read More – Reuters: Nearly 20 percent of U.S. workers underemployed

(via Cryptogon)

DIY transhumanism on the cheap

scrap heap transhumanist

I’m sort of inured to pain by this point. Anesthetic is illegal for people like me, so we learn to live without it; I’ve made scalpel incisions in my hands, pushed five-millimeter diameter needles through my skin, and once used a vegetable knife to carve a cavity into the tip of my index finger. I’m an idiot, but I’m an idiot working in the name of progress: I’m Lepht Anonym, scrapheap transhumanist. I work with what I can get.

Sadly, they don’t do it like that on TV. The art of improving the human is shiny and bright in the media. You see million-euro cryogenics policies and hormonal life-extension regimes that only the elite can afford. You see the hypothesis of an immortal silicon body to house your artificially-enhanced mind. You could buy that too, maybe, if you sold most of your organic body and the home it lives in. But you can do something to bring it down a notch: homebrewing.

Read More – h+: Scrapheap Transhumanism

(via Grinding)

See also: Lepht Anonym‘s blog.

Russians: the world’s hardest writers

Leo Tolstoy

Many years ago a friend made one of the most perceptive comments I have ever heard about Russian writers. “Yeah,” he said, “they’re profound and all that. But they’re also incredibly hard. I mean, there’s Pushkin: died in a duel. Lermontov: died in a duel. Tolstoy: fought in the Caucasus. Dostoevsky: sentenced to death, exiled to a Siberian prison camp. Solzhenitsyn: fought in the second world war, sent to the Gulag, survived cancer, defied the USSR …”

“Don’t forget Griboyedov,” I added. “Torn to pieces by angry Persians after he tried to save an Armenian eunuch. And Varlam Shalamov: Seventeen years in the Gulag.”

“Yeah – and what have English authors done? Dickens? Who did he fight?”

Read More – Guardian: Russians: the world’s hardest writers

(Thanks Bryce!)

Fortress Iceland? Probably Not.

iceland

Throwing some cold water on the expectations Iceland as journalism haven:

, the problem is that whatever Iceland does, it can’t change the 500-pound gorilla of international media law: the principle that publication happens at the point of download, not the point of upload. The poster child case for this principle is Dow Jones & Co., Inc. v. Gutnick, a case that reached the High Court of Australia in 2002. In that case, Gutnick sued Barron’s Online for publishing an allegedly defamatory article about him, and despite the fact that no one in Australia other than Gutnick’s lawyers actually read the offending article, the judges unanimously ruled that Australian laws applied, and thus Dow Jones (publisher of Barron’s Online) was liable to Gutnick. At least at the time, the High Court of Australia was the highest court worldwide to hear a case involving this issue, and for better or worse, its ruling has carried the day in similar cases around the world since. […]

With the Gutnick ruling setting the current paradigm for international jurisdiction, the IMMI is not nearly the journalistic fortress it’s meant to be. Plaintiffs will still be able to sue in a libel-friendly jurisdiction (like London, for example) and thereby circumvent all the protections the IMMI is meant to offer. To be sure, if the publisher and his assets are entirely within Icelandic jurisdiction, the plaintiff may not be able to do much about the publication.

Read More – Citizen Media Law: Fortress Iceland? Probably Not.

(via Jay Rosen)

DARPA building robot translator

c3po

Right now, troops trying to listen in on enemy chatter rely on a convoluted process. They tune into insurgency radio frequencies, then hand the radio over to local interpreters, who translate the dialogues. It’s a sloppy process, prone to garbled words and missed phrases.

What troops really need is a machine that can pick out voices from the noise, understand and translate all kinds of different languages, and then identify the voice from a hit list of “wanted speakers.” In other words, a real-life version of Star Wars protocol droid C3PO, fluent “in over 6 million forms of communication.”

Now, the Pentagon’s trying to fast-track a solution that could be a kind of proto-proto-prototype to our favorite gold fussbudget: a translation machine with 98 percent accuracy in 20 different languages.

Darpa, the military’s experimental research agency, is launching the Robust Automatic Translation of Speech program to streamline the translation process. (That’s “RATS,” for short. Ouch.)

Read More – Danger Room:

(via Edge of Tomorrow)

More information on human tissue 3D printers

3d bioprinter

Previously mentioned here:

The new machine, which costs around $200,000, has been developed by Organovo, a company in San Diego that specialises in regenerative medicine, and Invetech, an engineering and automation firm in Melbourne, Australia. One of Organovo’s founders, Gabor Forgacs of the University of Missouri, developed the prototype on which the new 3D bio-printer is based. The first production models will soon be delivered to research groups which, like Dr Forgacs’s, are studying ways to produce tissue and organs for repair and replacement. At present much of this work is done by hand or by adapting existing instruments and devices.

To start with, only simple tissues, such as skin, muscle and short stretches of blood vessels, will be made, says Keith Murphy, Organovo’s chief executive, and these will be for research purposes. Mr Murphy says, however, that the company expects that within five years, once clinical trials are complete, the printers will produce blood vessels for use as grafts in bypass surgery. With more research it should be possible to produce bigger, more complex body parts. Because the machines have the ability to make branched tubes, the technology could, for example, be used to create the networks of blood vessels needed to sustain larger printed organs, like kidneys, livers and hearts. […]

Though printing organs is new, growing them from scratch on scaffolds has already been done successfully. In 2006 Anthony Atala and his colleagues at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine in North Carolina made new bladders for seven patients. These are still working.

Read More – Economist: A machine that prints organs is coming to market

(via Edge of Tomorrow and G.V.)

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