Lohla and Craig
Something about Gene Wilder’s voice just gets me. Revel with me in the old charm of this classic ballad:
In 1989, a flight from Congo to Chad was destroyed by an on-board bomber. In response, the victim’s families constructed this mindblowing monument that you can see from Google Maps.
Built in 2007 with black rocks shipped from 70 kilometers away and 170 broken mirrors (representing each victim), the memorial is over 200 feet in diameter and was constructed almost entirely by hand.
About one in 2000 babies born don’t fit into classical definitions of male and female. Biology provides several ways for this to happen, but since the advent of modern medicine, humanity has had a tendency of forcing a line which is far blurrier than we’re willing to admit.
Germany recently codified this recognition into law by adding the option of a third gender option (X) on birth certificates. The law is aimed at easing the pressure to pick one or the other gender for intersex children.
For people born with both male and female genetic material and/or genitals, serious identity issues can arise because of the pressure on parents to pick one gender or another for their child at birth. The practice of surgically altering intersex children for the sake of “easing their development” is an invasive practice which gives little regard to the rights and feelings of intersex people.
While you may be tempted to applaud Germany’s gesture, intersex activists declare it’s not enough:
“‘It’s a first, important step in the right direction,’ Lucie Veith, an intersex person from the northern German city of Hamburg, told AFP.
But Veith said leaving the gender undefined on birth certificates was never the main lobbying point for the Association of Intersexed People in Germany, or others in the intersex community.
"That we forbid cosmetic genital surgeries for newborns, that is our first demand," said Veith, who leads the organisation.
The conceit that gender is a stable binary should be abandoned as soon as possible, and that’s my bottom line.
We’ve previously written about Facebook’s attempt to understand romantic relationships through data analysis. Meanwhile, at Google…
Google CEO and co-founder Larry Page announced in September that the Web giant was investing in the creation of the California Life Company (Calico), an entity which aims to increase the average human lifespan by 20 to 100 years over the next century.
This is by no means an uncharacteristic project for Google. Their R&D teams are constantly making news with their futuristic projects, from Glass to using balloons to provide universal Wi-Fi to self-driving cars. What gets less mention, however, are their incredible array of public initiatives: Google.org.
Predictive tools such as Flu and Dengue Trends as well as investments in renewable energy and special access to proprietary software for nonprofits are just the beginning. Google is also building an index of historical constitutions, helping to distribute public alerts, and, now, attempting to conquer death.
Very little is known as yet about Calico, except that it is a distinct company from Google, and will be headed by Art Levinson, Chairman and former CEO of Genentech and Chairman of Apple. Speculation on Calico’s prospective approach ranges from using Big Data to facilitate the indexing and analysis of data on age-related illnesses to developing a way to digitally reboot an individual human brain after cell death.
Estimations of Google’s market cap range as high as $250 billion, while their 2012 revenues exceeded $50 billion. Their R&D budget for 2012 was a whopping $6.8 billion. As Page put it modestly, “please remember that new investments like this are very small by comparison to our core business. “
Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait for the details on Google’s bid at curing ageing: “Our press release has a few more details though it’s still very early days so there’s not much more to share yet. Of course when Art has something more substantial to communicate (and that will likely take time), he’ll provide an update.” In the meantime, you can salivate over Google’s mysterious floating Glass showrooms before catching up on Facebook and LinkedIn’s bids at the cutting edge of data technology:
You may recall the 2010 scandal over Mark Zuckerberg’s habit of creating algorithms to anticipate Facebook users’ sexual relationships up to a week ahead of time. Now, predicting romantic relationships (as well as their impending downfall) has become an implementable part of their business model.
The New York Times reports on a new research paper by Cornell scientist Jon Kleinberg and Facebook engineer Lars Backstrom which employs the friend data of 1.3 million anonymous Facebook users to guess which individuals are in committed relationships based only on the connections of their mutual friends. The researchers created algorithms which were able to correctly identify a person’s significant other with 60% accuracy — here’s how:
The research team created a measurement of this phenomenon called dispersion: “a link between two people has high dispersion when their mutual friends are not well connected to one another.” Having a high number of mutual friends with another person is a good indicator that you run in the same circles. However, what distinguishes your partner from your former roommate is not how many of your mutual friends know each other, but how few.
In Kleinberg’s words, “A spouse or romantic partner is a bridge between a person’s different social worlds." Your high school sweetheart will know all the people you do from high school, but they also get to know your current coworkers, your crazy relatives, and your book club: several different groups with no ties to each other besides you.
Keeping in mind that no data besides friendship connections was used, here’s the kicker: “A couple in a declared relationship and without a high dispersion on the site are 50 percent more likely to break up over the next two months than a couple with a high dispersion.” So if you’re considering dating a guy you met through work but aren’t sure you’d want to introduce him to your friends, chances are he’s not the one.
Corporations are getting way, way better at making guesses about your life based on how you interact with their products. Take the instant-classic story of Target knowing a woman was pregnant before she did, for example. It’s a trend that shows no signs of abatement, and obsessing over your child’s privacy settings is certainly not going to make a difference in the big picture.
And what does Facebook have to gain from this information?
For starters, Facebook invests a lot of energy into tailoring your news feed. You’re interested in pictures of your best friend’s new baby, not your kindergarten bully’s promotion party. Being able to deliver content that you want to see used to be an art; now it’s a science.
Targeting advertisements appropriately solely through automation is, of course, the golden gem of digital marketing. That’s exactly how Google became the internet superpower it is today, and yet Facebook ads are notoriously ineffective compared to its competitors. That is a huge issue for a publicly traded company, which needs to continue to bring in ad revenue or pull a new monetization trick out of its sleeve. If Facebook can develop accurate methods of analyzing social structures, that will be the key to future profits.
Finally, consider the potential of this type of data analysis has, not to understand relationships which already exist, but to create new ones. Yes, it is clearly valuable to target ads and enhance user experiences, but social media companies do more than provide users a service which fits into our already-existing lives; they actually open us up to ways of living which were previously impossible, allowing us to interact with other real people who we could never have encountered in the “real world.” Facebook already employs features such as “Suggested Friends” which encourage you to develop documented connections to people you didn’t think to look up and friend on your own. Increasing a single user’s connectivity has obvious value: if they respond well to an advertisement or product and decide to announce it to the world, then every person they’ve ever friended is part of the audience. Imagine the value of being able to create a connection between two people which would guaranteedly catalyze a whole slew of other interactions, linking together disparate social groups through just one relationship. To a corporation which is defined by its ability to manipulate human relationships, the ability to engineer romance, rather than identify it, could be the most important tool in their kit.
How do you feel about computers and marketing teams micromanaging your sex life? Do you and your partner love to introduce each other to new parts of your networks, or does your relationship suffer from low dispersion? Leave your thoughts below, and for more on sketchy social media company antics, check out this article.
As someone who thought it was cool to crack my knuckles, toes, back, wrists, ankles, and literally anything else I could when I was a child (you’ve all heard what cracking joints sound like underwater, right?), as well as being a wee lad driven by burning scientific curiosity, it frequently frustrated me that the phenomenon of knuckle cracking was so confusing.
Was it good or bad for you? Why the noise? Why could you only do it once every few hours?
I’m starting to wish I hadn’t found out.
Here’s how it works:
You’ve got a joint. Actually, you have 360 joints. And each joint contains a small capsule of liquid, which is effectively sealed by default.
When you stretch a joint out, you increase the amount of space in the capsule without increasing the amount of liquid in it. This lowers the pressure on the liquid.
Cool science fact: the boiling point of substances changes based on the pressure being applied to them. This is why cooking times are different based on altitude, and also why water in a pressure cooker can reach 121° Celsius.
Gross science fact: When you crack your knuckle, the liquid in your knuckle is boiling because of the decrease in pressure. Yes, you read it right: the liquid in your joints becomes a gas and escapes elsewhere into your body. No, it’s not by definition harmful, but maybe I’ll do a sun salutation instead of boiling my muscular fluids next time I’m feeling tense.
Source: C. Claiborne Ray for NYTimes
Can you trust LinkedIn with your e-mails?
Bishop Fox argues in Slate that the business-geared social media powerhouse’s new iOS plug-in is more of a threat than convenience is worth.
The tool, dubbed “Intro,” is not an app, but rather a bit of coding which extends the capabilities of the native iOS Mail app. It allows you to view LinkedIn member profiles from within an e-mail, giving you a glance-through digest of a new contact’s professional history without having to shift over to Safari.
The trick is to reroute all of your email through a server owned by LinkedIn, a tactic which Fox claims opens massive security gaps, and has particular legal infeasibilities for LinkedIn’s target demographic, i.e. businesspeople.
Apart from LinkedIn getting hacked for 6.4 million usernames and passwords just last year, consider avoiding the Intro client to keep your e-mail data between you and your e-mail provider:
As the dust settles in the City of Angels
Violence has permeated society for millennia, but the 20th century brought with it a new type: violence as infinite spectacle. Just as our media — television, movies, video games — concerns itself with and displays violence, acts of violence change in meaning as the technologies which bring them to our eyes and ears evolve.
Keeping track of the flooding redundant reports that emerge on the Internet when high-profile shootings occur is exhausting to say the least, and that’s why I bring you the LAX Masterpost: an exhaustive account of what happened and, to the best of anyone’s knowledge, why.
First accounts were hazy: major media outlets referred to an “incident” at Los Angeles International beginning at 9:20 Pacific Time, and it was clear that a TSA agent had been injured. When it became apparent that a gunman had penetrated security in Terminal 3, it was initially reported that the shooter was a TSA employee.
Casualty counts at first ranged from 1 to 3. Clarity arrived in the form of a press conference led by LA Mayor Eric Garcetti at 11:30 AM PST, when we first got a thorough account of what had happened so far:
In total, emergency personnel treated 7 patients, including the shooter. One TSA employee, Gerardo I. Hernandez, was killed, and two others wounded. Police and city officials were self-congratulatory following Ciancia’s capture, with LAPD Chief Charlie Beck remarking that the situation was “handled very well today.” The Head of Airport Security, Patrick Gannon, noted that “this exact situation” had been practiced as a mandatory training by security personnel within the last month, and that city and federal agencies had cooperated effectively to control the scenario.
Because the airport is federal property, investigation will be handled by the FBI, whose representative at the press conference offered no information whatsoever besides that all necessary resources would be deployed. The shooter was known to be acting alone and was not believed to have ties to a terrorist organization.
Within two hours of the press conference, the shooter was identified as Paul Ciancia. Intrepid individuals scouring the internet soon discovered that he was from Pennsville, NJ, and was the son of Paul Ciancia Sr., owner of an auto body shop. It’s interesting that NBC clarified in their identification tweet that Ciancia is a US citizen; airports are an icon of globalism, and the US public maintains an association of public violence with foreignness:
ABC also reported that, ““In response to the LAX shooting, airports in New York are increasing their ‘high-visibility heavy-weapon patrol,’ so there is an increased display of ‘heavy weapons.’ Officials say the effort is aimed at deterring copycats.”
Who is Paul Ciancia?
As mentioned above, it was rapidly
established that Ciancia was not acting in affiliation with any recognized
terrorist group. Reports that he wore camouflage fatigues evoked a militaristic
image, but there is little reason to imagine Paul Ciancia as anything other
than a civilian.
Ciancia’s motives for the shooting are murky at best. The iconic phrase contained in a note discovered in his bag, that he wanted to “kill TSA and pigs,” has been supplemented with allegations of “anti-government literature” also in the bag. Most interestingly, some reports suggest that the note (and/or the “literature” in question) made references to the New World Order — a phrase deployed by conspiracy theorists when referring to the aspirations of contemporary oligarchical groups (such as the ultra-rich, major media icons, etc.) to restructure society and politics. The implications of such paranoiac political views are difficult to ascertain.
It was then discovered that Ciancia had sent a text message to his brother on Thursday expressing an interest in taking his own life. Accounts surfaced that Ciancia’s father had contacted the Pennsville Police Department for help in locating and ensuring the safety of his suicidal son. Pennsville PD then contacted the LAPD, who arrived at Ciancia’s apartment Friday morning to perform a “well-being check.”
Ciancia’s roommates told the police that everything was fine, and Pennsville police had never before had dealings with Ciancia. USA Today reported that a law enforcement official described the attack as “clearly a suicide mission…He did not expect to walk away from this.”
The following pictures have surfaced of the shooter:
Social Media in the LAX Incident
Social media was the primary driver in disseminating information surrounding the events at LAX yesterday. From bystanders to concerned citizens, almost all of the spectators to this event employed Twitter or other networks to establish and corroborate the facts. NBC carried the story of a man who was at LAX at the time of the shooting, but found out what had happened, not from nearby officials, but from Facebook:
“Wasiluski, who was
in adjacent Terminal 1, said no one was told what was transpiring as they were
moved outside. He said he found out there was a shooting after checking his
Facebook feed and seeing posts from friends.”
The cancellation of flights was first reported via Instagram video: http://instagram.com/p/gLn0X9r8DB/
Cell phone footage brings us closest to the moment:
And when an LAX official stated that @LAX_Official was the most up-to-date source of information available for travelers, it was clear that social media was the medium of this moment.
This phenomenon — social media’s dominance over traditional news outlets — was similarly evident during the Boston Marathon bombings this spring. Vine provided one of the most widely accessed sources of coverage, and those who followed the chase of the Tsarnaev brothers that night will recall the videos uploaded to Twitter by regular people who could see and hear a gunfight on their street. As The Society Pages put it:
“Through Vine, the explosion happens just not on seemingly infinite replay, but on infinite replay. Enabled by a long chain of people, institutions, technologies, and devices—a chain that begins with a news channel, a cameraperson, and a video camera; a chain that culminates with Vine, a Vine user, and a smartphone—the explosion footage now seems to replay ‘all by itself.’”
Even as video games,
such as Call of Duty, depict hyper-real violence all too close to home (COD
Modern Warfare 2 depicts a terrorist attack on a Russian airport, while Black
Ops features team multiplayer battles with two suburban houses as setting),
social media brings the all-too-close reality of chaotic violence to the
Reasons for anti-State sentiment
The Associated Press reported that the TSA officer killed was the first member of that department to lose their life on duty. The TSA, a young federal department, was created by the Bush administration as part of the Department of Homeland Security. As part of the response to the 9/11 attacks, DoHS was intended to centralize information between all federal offices pertinent to national security.
The United States’ continued campaign against international terrorist groups is one of many reasons for the increasing purchase of profound anti-American sentiments at home and abroad. Even as domestic terrorists such as the Boston Marathon and Times Square bombers have intensified paranoia through lethal high-visibility stunts in the last five years, increasing instability in the Middle East has drastically increased the strength and viability of Al-Qaeda and other affiliate extremist groups. This regional volatility is an immediate result of the Arab Spring revolutions, the increasing hold of terrorist-labeled groups such as Al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Iraq and Afghanistan following US troop withdrawals, Syria’s civil war, and Egypt’s coup d’etat.
The federal response to these threats has been markedly underwhelming under both the Bush and Obama administrations. Despite nominally ending the two wars Bush started, Obama has perpetuated American military presences in the Middle East and North Africa with the CIA’s drone program and repeated Special Forces raids. Domestically, the Patriot Act under Bush combined with Obama’s unprecedented enforcement of the 1917 Espionage Act has led to a culture of anxiety and repression, with rises in hate groups and discriminatory incarcerations compounding challenges to freedom of press and speech.
Paul Ciancia targeted TSA officers specifically during the
“Leon Saryan was walking through the security line at Los Angeles International Airport today, belt and shoes in hand, when a gunman approached him and pointed a long-barreled gun at him. I was cowering in a corner, he looked at me and he said, ‘TSA?’ I shook my head no, and he kept on going,” Saryan told ABC News. “I just prayed to God. That’s all I did. I just prayed,” Saryan said.
Ciancia’s assault against the Police is part of Obama’s America, a challenge to the buildup of executive power and security obsession. His violence and sense of entitlement to public space are symptomatic of greater social forces, and to a country that has become desensitized to violence but obsessed with terror; unable to reverse the tide of chaotic violence in our country but just as incapable of tearing our eyes away, the LAX shooting is a reminder that violence begets violence.
“yeah im a lesbian trapped inside a man’s body” the cishet male laughs as he highfives one of his dudebros. suddenly he gives off a look of pure terror and a piercing shriek as his skin is ripped apart, much to the horror of his crew. his skin falls to the floor and a woman is left standing where he once was. “FINALLY” she roars, kicking one of the dudebros in the dick before running into the sunset in search of some hella fine ladies.
Gay Man Arrested At Missouri Hospital For Refusing To Leave Sick Partner, Not Recognized As Family
By: Cavan Sieczkowski
A gay man was arrested this week at a Missouri hospital after refusing to the leave bedside of his sick partner.
Roger Gorley went to Research Medical Center in Kansas City, Mo., on Tuesday to visit Allen, his partner of five years. But when he got there, a member of Allen’s family asked him to leave, according to Kansas City Fox station WDAF. When Gorley refused, hospital security allegedly handcuffed him and forcefully removed him from the premises. Now he cannot visit Allen at all because of a restraining order filed against him.
“I was not recognized as being the husband, I wasn’t recognized as being the partner,” Gorley told WDAF, adding that the nurse on duty refused to verify their joint Power of Attorney status. “She didn’t even bother to go look it up to check into it. He’s been at the psychiatric unit part several times.”
Read the full story here.
Protip: Facilitating debate in American government classrooms should not come at the expense of any potential lgbtq students you may have.
I have expressed the idea that, as a gay teenager, discussing gay marriage as a political issue led to comments that I now recognize as harmful. This did not…