erinptah: Vintage screensaver (computing)
"Lead came from his glassware, his tap water, the paint on the laboratory walls, the desks, the dust in the air, his skin, his clothes, his hair, even motes of wayward dandruff. If Patterson wanted to get accurate results, he had little choice but to become the world’s most obsessive neat freak." The lifelong research that helped us get the Clean Air Act.

"García-Trabanino started a fellowship at the Rosales hospital as a young doctor in 1998, and what he encountered resembled a scene from a battlefield. He had expected to be treating heart disease, neurological patients, eye problems—the full gamut of medical conditions. Instead all he encountered were men dying—sometimes slowly, but usually quickly—from kidney failure." Global warming has invented a new form of kidney disease.

"We didn’t set out trying to prove anything, but rather compile real data. We framed it as a census rather than a study. So we Googled our way to 8,000 screenplays and matched each character’s lines to an actor. From there, we compiled the number of words spoken by male and female characters across roughly 2,000 films, arguably the largest undertaking of script analysis, ever."

"After noticing that a client was treating him like crap while his email signature was accidentally set to my name, we came up with an experiment. We switched signatures for a week. Nothing changed, except that our clients read me as male and Marty as female. I had one of the easiest weeks of my professional life. He… didn’t."

"For now Bhullar has no plans, or ethical approval, to hatch the snouted chickens. But he believes they would have been able to survive 'just fine'." We made dino-mutant embryos!

"We hear a lot about the spy-movie kind of corporate espionage. I'd love to read a study of reverse corporate espionage, where companies forget their own secrets and employees have to unofficially get them back. I'm convinced it happens more than you'd think." Within a few decades, this petrochemical company lost the knowledge of how one of their plants worked. Whoops?
erinptah: (daily show)
"Ordinary Canadians had essentially adopted thousands of Syrian families, donating a year of their time and money to guide them into new lives just as many other countries shunned them. Some citizens already considered the project a humanitarian triumph; others believed the Syrians would end up isolated and adrift, stuck on welfare or worse. As 2016 turned to 2017 and the yearlong commitments began to expire, the question of how the newcomers would fare acquired a national nickname: Month 13, when the Syrians would try to stand on their own." I wish I had the money to do this. It's so heartwarming, and sounds so fulfilling.

A showcase of Muslims who risked their lives to help Jewish people escape the Holocaust. This is what heroism looks like.

"The same exact pattern happened in 2016, Phelps said: A wage increase by the state [of California] led to a bump in business. Now Phelps is convinced that minimum wage increases aren’t bad for the fast food business. They’re great."

Employment at Arizona restaurants, bars surges after minimum-wage increase. There's also been a bump in the rest of the leisure and hospitality sector. (Manufacturing is still going down. Retail too, thanks to online shopping.)

A recycling initiative for hotel toiletries: "Last year Clean the World sent out 400,000 hygiene kits and made more than 7 million bars of soap, including half a million bars for Haiti and the Bahamas after Hurricane Matthew."

"Based on an advanced copy of America’s budget for the 2017 financial year, it looks like there has been an actual increase in science funding across the board, and rather wonderfully, Trump’s requests to have it cut have been comprehensively ignored." (Now it just has to pass.)
erinptah: (Default)
An interlude with nice things.

Dinosaur tail found fully preserved in amber, and yes, it's feathery.

"A team from BP was carrying out routine operations near an oil well, using a remotely operated underwater vehicle (ROV) at a depth of 1325 metres, when they spotted the creature, which they nicknamed the flying spaghetti monster." The noodly appendages are real. RAmen.

Mall space got repurposed into gorgeous loft apartments.

"The Ptolemaic dynasty was able to spend big on the institution thanks to the riches of Egypt’s fertile land and resources from the Nile, including papyrus, the ancient world’s main writing material. As a result, the library had an edge in development over others. The Ptolemaic kings were determined to collect any and all books that existed—from the epics, tragedies, to cookbooks."

"Olio wants to make it easy for busy food sellers to avoid wasting food. 'These vendors usually don't have enough surplus to donate to a charity or something, but they still end up having to throw away quite a lot at the end of the day.'"

"I asked other immigrants about their first moments of culture shock in the United States. Here's what they told me." Braces, junk food, chatty cashiers, and more.

"Hebrew marks gender prolifically (even the word “you” is different depending on genders), Finnish has no gender marking and English is somewhere in between. Accordingly, children growing-up in a Hebrew speaking environment figure out their own gender about a year earlier than Finnish-speaking children; English-speaking kids fall in the middle.

"When pigs fly" and equivalent metaphors, in different languages, illustrated.
erinptah: (Default)
"On Sunday, May 8, Germany hit a new high in renewable energy generation. [...] Power prices actually went negative for several hours, meaning commercial customers were being paid to consume electricity."

Animal eyes span an incredible variety of weirdness. Also coolness. This mollusk has eyes made of rock!

"It may be that different animals arrived at different times. A 2008 study of Movile's only snail suggested that it has been down there for just over 2 million years. When it entered the cave, the ice age was just beginning, and the snail may have escaped the cold by going underground." (That's, uh, the species of snail, not a single really-old individual.)

"Psychologist Jackie Andrade of the University of Plymouth in southern England showed that doodlers actually remember more than nondoodlers when asked to retain tediously delivered information, like, say, during a boring meeting or a lecture."

"How many other people are learning Spanish, and where do they live? Duolingo recently answered such questions by running the numbers on their 120 million users, spanning every country on the planet."

"Coming to terms with the fact that he couldn't outrun a volcano, Landsburg decided to make his last moments on Earth count. He documented the eruption until the last possible second, then carefully rewound his film, placed his camera in his backpack, and lay down on top of it, shielding the equipment from the encroaching shower of magma and ash with his own body."

"Thanks to the colossal changes humans have made since the mid-20th century, Earth has now entered a distinct age from the Holocene epoch, which started 11,700 years ago as the ice age thawed." With a gorgeous gallery of ways we've altered our own bedrock.

"A giant pothole, the Devil’s Kettle, swallows half of the Brule and no one has any idea where it goes. The consensus is that there must be an exit point somewhere beneath Lake Superior, but over the years, researchers and the curious have poured dye, pingpong balls, even logs into the kettle, then watched the lake for any sign of them. So far, none has ever been found."

An animal shelter that used to have "unadoptable" cats now has a 30-day waiting list, thanks to hiring them out as mousers.

"As you can see from these pictures, Smoothie knows how to pose for the camera. Then again, it’s pretty easy for her. After all, while most of us have a best angle, EVERY angle is Smoothie’s best angle." This is a magical elf cat, you guys.
erinptah: (Default)

"The dinosaur’s jaw was lined with at least 1,000 teeth with coarse surfaces perfect for pulverizing plants. U. kuukpikensis belongs to the hadrosaur group of duck-billed dinosaurs. It was 25 to 30 feet long, six or seven feet high at the hip, and probably covered with scales."

"With timelapse cameras, specialists recorded salt water being excluded from the sea ice and sinking. The temperature of this sinking brine, which was well below 0C, caused the water to freeze in an icy sheath around it. Where the so-called "brinicle" met the sea bed, a web of ice formed that froze everything it touched, including sea urchins and starfish."

"This effort appears to have backfired for the organization—whose mission is to raise awareness about how certain environmental exposures may be linked to autism—since the study SafeMinds supported showed a link between autism and vaccines does not exist."

"We’ve begun to fit the machines into an age-old technique we evolved thousands of years ago—“transactive memory.” That’s the art of storing information in the people around us. We have begun to treat search engines, Evernote, and smartphones the way we’ve long treated our spouses, friends, and workmates."

"Unlike all other spoken languages, a whistled form of Turkish requires that “speakers” rely as heavily on the right side of their brains as on the left side, researchers have found."

"Instead of using 'right' and 'wrong' to describe Standard American English versus African-American English, Craig’s model uses 'formal' and 'informal' designations, so there’s no judgment attached to either language. One isn't 'better' than the other per se, it's all about when it's appropriate to use one form or the other. It’s 'this is how you talk in school,' rather than 'don’t talk like that.' Craig calls it 'a slight change' that makes a big difference in kids' attitudes about their own language."

What would Earth's skies look like with Saturn's rings? Awesome, gorgeous renderings.

And one (more) big science-based reason why everyone should be able to make a comfortable living wage:

"If just one Einstein right now is working 60 hours a week in two jobs just to survive, instead of propelling the entire world forward with another General Theory of Relativity… that loss is truly incalculable. How can we measure the costs of lost innovation? Of businesses never started? Of visions never realized?"

erinptah: (space)
The voyage to Pluto, one step and one photo at a time. (I may have gotten a little emotional at this one.)

Close-up view of the heart! Complete with discussion.

Elsewhere in the universe:

1.5 billion pixel photo of the Andromeda Galaxy, covering a space 40,000 light-years across and capturing over 100 million individual stars.

A solar eclipse caught in an analemma: the sun photographed from the same spot at the same hour throughout a year, making a distorted figure-eight. And since now we have cameras on Mars, we can capture the Martian analemma, which is just a teardrop.

The oldest living things in the world, including eight-thousand-year-old bushes, 80,000-year-old trees, and 400,000-year-old bacteria.

"With no new medical discoveries, no new technologies, no payment incentives — and little public notice — hospitals in recent years have slashed the time it takes to clear a blockage in a patient’s arteries and get blood flowing again to the heart."

Artificial robot fingers that flex like real ones! Science is great.
erinptah: (night vale)
"The longevity of many other philosophical thought experiments—Schrödinger’s cats, twin Earths, what it’s like to be a bat—relies on their impermeability, but, after the discovery in the early eighteenth century that a simple cataract surgery could lift the curtain of blindness for some, Molyneux’s thought experiment became, simply, an experiment."

"The results mostly suggest favorable psychological characteristics of BDSM practitioners compared with the control group." Wismeijer, A. A.J. and van Assen, M. A.L.M. (2013), Psychological Characteristics of BDSM Practitioners. Journal of Sexual Medicine, 10: 1943–1952. doi: 10.1111/jsm.12192 (Makes sense. For one thing, the group of non-practitioners includes people who have kinks but are emotionally screwed-up about them.)

“You overly idealize the past. It happens today when we talk about technology. We say: ‘Oh, technology, making us isolated. We’re disengaged.’ Compared to what? You know, this kind of idealized notion of what community and social interactions were like.”

"Bruce Bridgeman lived with a flat view of the world, until a trip to the cinema unexpectedly rewired his brain to see the world in 3D."

"The researchers had hoped to observe their subjects over several weeks, but the trial was cut short because they became too distressed to carry on. Few lasted beyond two days, and none as long as a week."

"Bartholomäus Traubeck created equipment that would translate tree rings into music by playing them on a turntable. Rather than use a needle like a record, sensors gather information about the wood’s color and texture and use an algorithm that translates variations into piano notes."

"Astronaut Barry Wilmore needed a socket wrench, but there was just one problem. Wilmore is currently on the ISS, over 200 miles above the nearest hardware store. So, what did NASA do? Easy, they emailed him one."

"Maybe I'll be able to -- for once -- be able to put change in a pop machine and get the pop out of it." (A story of bionic arms.)
erinptah: (disney)
"The Neurobridge technology combines algorithms that learn and decode the user's brain activity and a high-definition muscle stimulation sleeve that translates neural impulses from the brain and transmits new signals to the paralyzed limb. In this case, Ian's brain signals bypass his injured spinal cord and move his hand."

"Now if you had asked me the odds of Bill Watterson ever saying that line to me, I’d say it had about the same likelihood as Jimi Hendrix telling me he had a new guitar riff. And yes, I’m aware Hendrix is dead." Pearls Before Swine gets the most awesome guest artist imaginable.

A globe laid out by Voronoi diagrams, where all the territorial lines are drawn based on which national capital the land is closest to. Overlaid on our world's current borders, so you can check out the difference.

US language maps, based on Census Bureau data. Most commonly-spoken languages in all the states based on different parameters, starting with "other than English" and "other than English or Spanish."

Constructive reduplication, found all over the world, from English to Finnish to Hungarian to the Bantu languages. (Or, the linguistic explanation for the difference between "salad" and "salad salad".)

A bunch of awesome animals (as well as some terrifying lamprey pictures; be ready to scroll; they're after the Tufted Deer). Teeny armadillos, skinny canids, deer with awesome horns and hind-legged stances, and what looks like a rabbit-capybara.

Python swallows a three-foot-long crocodile whole. Nature is awesome.

The most amazing of the 3500+ exoplanets we've discovered, including the diamond one, the burning-ice one, the one with a day-long year, and the incredibly dark one (lit by a sun, though).
erinptah: (sailor moon)
"Haven's inconsistent enforcement of the dress code makes girls 'embarrassed,' because those who are more developed often get singled out. The experience of 12-year-old Lucy Shapiro supports this. She tells the story of when both she and her friend were dressed in athletic shorts, but only Shapiro was 'dress-coded.'"

"Allen, now 32, said she was stunned when her supervisor at the Hobby Lobby store in Flowood, Mississippi, told her she would be terminated for taking unpaid time off to have her baby."

"1. Random Stranger: (Takes Rhys’ hand while he’s 1 ft. in front of me)…let’s go find your Mommy!"

"When describing a crowd scene, write in the script, 'A crowd gathers, which is half female.' That may seem weird, but I promise you, somehow or other on the set that day the crowd will turn out to be 17 percent female otherwise."

"...more often than not, bright girls believe that their abilities are innate and unchangeable, while bright boys believe that they can develop ability through effort and practice."

A long list of responses to BS MRA arguments, full of numbers and logic and citations.

"And then secondly you have these strangers, for example, coming up to a woman [shopping with a black male friend in a store] and saying, 'Do you know your husband is black?'"

"At least 148 women received tubal ligations in violation of prison rules during those five years – and there are perhaps 100 more dating back to the late 1990s, according to state documents and interviews."

"And they wrote letters saying, I really admire your work. Would you have some time to meet? The letters to the faculty were all identical, but the names of the students were all different." In an outcome that surprises no one (except possibly certain white men), the letter gets the highest rate of positive responses when it has a white-sounding male name attached.

"A woman who got a 4.0 GPA in high school will only be worth about as much, income-wise, as a man who got a 2.0. A woman with a 2.0 average will make about as much as a man with a 0 GPA."

"Mark Ciavarella Jr, a 61-year old former judge in Pennsylvania, has been sentenced to nearly 30 years in prison for literally selling young juveniles for cash. He was convicted of accepting money in exchange for incarcerating thousands of adults and children into a prison facility owned by a developer who was paying him under the table. [...] Some of the juveniles he sentenced were as young as 10-years old."

"Researchers avoided using female animals for fear that their reproductive cycles and hormone fluctuations would confound the results of delicately calibrated experiments." Apparently male animals don't have hormones! And somehow it never occurred to these scientists that using a non-random sample where half the population has been systematically selected out might also confound their results.
erinptah: (space)
"...archeologists unearthed a small stockpile of seeds stowed in a clay jar dating back 2,000 years. For the next four decades, the ancient seeds were kept in a drawer at Tel Aviv's Bar-Ilan University. But then, in 2005, botanical researcher Elaine Solowey decided to plant one and see what, if anything, would sprout." The resurrection of the lost-for-millennia Judean date palm.

"Technology historians say the instrument is technically more complex than any known for at least a millennium afterward." The earliest surviving analog computer.

"Studies have found that parts of the Mediterranean region are drying out because of climate change, and some experts believe that droughts there have contributed to political destabilization in the Middle East and North Africa. In much of the American West, mountain snowpack is declining, threatening water supplies for the region [...] In Alaska, the collapse of sea ice is allowing huge waves to strike the coast, causing erosion so rapid that it is already forcing entire communities to relocate."

"Already, signs of erosion are everywhere in the Ganges Delta — the world’s largest delta, which empties much of the water coming from the Himalayas. There are brick foundations torn in half, palm trees growing out of rivers and rangy cattle grazing on island pastures the size of putting greens. Fields are dusted white with salt."

"'Nothing in the TMDL dictates that agriculture do anything one way or another — much less that any kind of zoning occur that is not supported by local government,' Baker said. 'States and local governments worked together with a number of federal agencies to develop this Clean Water Blueprint for the bay. It’s hardly a mandate being imposed on high down to the states.'"

"NASA scientists are calling the planet Kepler-186f, and it's unlike anything they've found. The big news: Kepler-186f is the closest relative to the Earth that researchers have discovered." Maybe we should send its potential residents a warning not to screw their planet up the way we have.
erinptah: (Default)
...or, science continues to be awesome.

"A warning for future space colonizers: Babies born in space might not ever figure out how to deal with gravity. Jellyfish babies, at least, have to deal with massive vertigo on Earth after spending their first few days in space."

Visualization of how cats see the world versus how humans do! Much better night vision, of course; but as it turns out, way worse distance vision.

The sun decides to reverse the polarity of the neutron flow. ...okay, not exactly, but it is literally reversing its own polarity.

This is either the real-world precursor to hard-light holograms, or lightsabers. Possibly both. Exciting either way!

"The mini-livers that Organovo made are just half a millimetre deep and 4 millimetres across but can perform most functions of the real thing. To create them, a printer builds up about 20 layers of hepatocytes and stellate cells – two major types of liver cell. Crucially, it also adds cells from the lining of blood vessels. These form a delicate mesh of channels that supply the liver cells with nutrients and oxygen, allowing the tissue to live for five days or longer."

"It’s still in the 'so crazy it just might work' stage, but these microalgae-powered lamps, invented by French biochemist Pierre Calleja, could absorb a ton of carbon from the air every year. That’s as much as 150 to 200 trees."
erinptah: A map. (writing)
"Although Dyslexie is not the first font out there to help aid dyslexics, it has received much fanfare from sufferers thus far, including participants from the aforementioned University of Twente study, who commented that the font allowed them to read with improved accuracy, and for a longer time before tiring."

The locations that generate the most hateful tweets across the US, broken down by various slurs, mostly racist and homophobic.

"We get a lot of questions about the meaning of Native American names found on the Internet, so here is a list of many of them and what (if anything) they really mean." Beautiful etymology research all over this page.

"There are some old words, however, that are nearly obsolete, but we still recognize because they were lucky enough to get stuck in set phrases that have lasted across the centuries." My favorite: "wend" used to have the past tense of "went", and its synonym "go" used to have the past tense of, basically, "goed", and instead of dropping one regular verb but keeping the other, English created a totally irregular frankenverb by keeping half of each.

"A team of scientists has produced a truly concise anthology of verse by encoding all 154 of Shakespeare’s sonnets in DNA. The researchers say that their technique could easily be scaled up to store all of the data in the world."

Related: "[This method should] be easily capable of swallowing the roughly 3 zettabytes (a zettabyte is one billion trillion or 10^21 bytes) of digital data thought presently to exist in the world and still have room for plenty more. It would do so with a density of around 2.2 petabytes (10^15) per gram; enough, in other words, to fit all the world’s digital information into the back of a lorry."
erinptah: (space)
"An expedition led by Russian scientists earlier this month uncovered the well-preserved carcass of a female mammoth on a remote island in the Arctic Ocean. [...] But what was more surprising was that the carcass was so well preserved that it still had blood and muscle tissue."

Found: a woman who has the inverse of color-blindness, a functioning extra cone that allows her to distinguish more colors than the average human. By a factor of 100.

Organoid310"Using molecular markers tuned to specific parts of the brain, Lancaster showed that the organoids develop a variety of distinctive zones that correspond to human brain regions like the prefrontal cortex, occipital lobe, hippocampus, and retina. They also included working neurons, which were produced in the right way." These are lab-grown, human-stem-cell-derived mini-brainlets-in-a-jar.

"The difference between us and the people we were trying to serve: they probably had less food than we did. We were starving under the best possible medical conditions. And most of all, we knew the exact day on which our torture was going to end."

"We don’t even have to speculate to see the impacts. The report notes that dozens of weather events in recent years have shown how vulnerable the energy sector is to even a moderately hotter climate (the United States has warmed about 1.5°F over the past century)."

Interactive tracker for the Mars Curiosity mission one year in, including a timeline and a ton of photos.

Speaking of the red planet, oxidized molybdenum levels suggest that the microbes whose heirs are all the life on Earth might have originated on Mars.
erinptah: (space)
"The microparticles can keep an object alive for up to 30 min after respiratory failure. This is accomplished through an injection into the patients’ veins. Once injected, the microparticles can oxygenate the blood to near normal levels."

"Researchers at IBM have created the world's smallest movie by manipulating single atoms on a copper surface. The stop-motion animation uses a few dozen carbon atoms, moved around with the tiny tip of what is called a scanning tunnelling microscope (STM)."

"Distributed across the entire web, though, are a minority of pages—search engines, indexes and aggregators—that are very highly connected and can be used to move from area of the web to another. These nodes serve as the “Kevin Bacons” of the web, allowing users to navigate from most areas to most others in less than 19 clicks."

"Porn search site PornMD has, for the sake of publicity and social science, collected its most-used search terms for the last six months and accounted them by location—not just in the U.S. but across the world. Is your home state into Teen or MILF porn? What are Iranians jerking off to? All these answers—and more!"

Representative Lamar Smith, the guy who brought you SOPA, pushing a bill that would remove the requirement for peer review from National Science Foundation grants. Because apparently he doesn't understand how science works.

The NYT covers what Bill Nye has been up to these days. My favorite part: Neil Degrasse Tyson confirming that they're IRL BFFs.
erinptah: (space)
Human beings have mostly-invisible stripes. You can see them with certain skin conditions, or with chimeras; current theory says they're based on the way cells grow during with embryo development.

A bunch of creepy-looking new species (and mutations), including a Yoda-faced bat, a one-eyed shark, and a NSFW snake.

Eighty-thousand-year-old grove of trees! That is, it's a single connected root system, with a ton of apparently-separate trees growing out of it.

"Astronomers said Thursday that they had found the most Earth-like worlds yet known in the outer cosmos, a pair of planets that appear capable of supporting life and that orbit a star 1,200 light-years from here, in the northern constellation Lyra."

"Researchers in the United Kingdom have found algae-like fossils in meteorite fragments that landed in Sri Lanka last year." It's still not a certainty that the fossils are biological in nature...but they sure do look like it.

"NASA astronomers announced Thursday they can now predict with certainty the next major cosmic event to affect our galaxy, sun, and solar system: the titanic collision of our Milky Way galaxy with the neighboring Andromeda galaxy." With pictures. Amazing pictures.
erinptah: (The Newsroom)
First, let's get one thing straight: the people who want to sell more guns don't want anyone else looking too closely at the effects of selling more guns. It's Big Tobacco all over again.

Paul D. Thacker for Slate, "How Congress Blocked Research on Gun Violence: The ugly campaign by the NRA to shut down studies at the CDC"
PT: About as many people in the United States are killed in auto accidents as by firearms. How does the amount of research and number of scientists in auto safety compare to firearm safety?

GW: I believe that 2012 will turn out to be the first year in which the United States has more deaths from firearm violence than motor vehicles.

An entire federal agency, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, has as its mission the understanding and prevention of death and injury on our roads and highways. It reports fiscal year 2012 funding of $62.4 million overall for research and analysis: $35.5 million for vehicle safety and $26.9 million for highway safety.

These funds are well spent. For nearly 50 years, this agency has worked to reduce death and injury. And it has succeeded. [...]

PT: Have you experienced personal attempts at intimidation for your research? How about colleagues?

GW: I won’t speak for colleagues. The president of one of the largest handgun manufacturers in the country once told me, face to face, how much money he had committed to an intimidation effort and advised me to keep my life insurance paid up. There was a time when federal law enforcement agents recommended that I wear a ballistic vest.


And now, on to a whole lot of people who've come up with numbers anyway.

Wiebe DJ, 2003, via PubMed, "Homicide and suicide risks associated with firearms in the home: a national case-control study"
CONCLUSION:

Having a gun at home is a risk factor for adults to be shot fatally (gun homicide) or commit suicide with a firearm. Physicians should continue to discuss with patients the implications of keeping guns at home. Additional studies are warranted to address study limitations and to better understand the implications of firearm ownership.


Charles Blow for the New York Times, "On Guns, America Stands Out"
Sometimes I think the best argument is raw data. This is one of those times.

In the wake of the horrible school shooting in Connecticut and on the heels of politicians finally being smoked out into the open to talk seriously about sensible gun control policies, it’s important that we understand just how anomalous America is on the issues of guns and violence among developed countries. This table shows how shamefully we measure up against other countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Among the O.E.C.D. countries that the World Bank groups as “high income,” America has the highest gun homicide rate, the highest number of guns per capita and the highest rate of deaths due to assault. In fact, America has more homicides by gun than all of the other high-income O.E.C.D. countries combined.


The editors of the New York Times, "In Other Countries, Laws Are Strict and Work"
Australia is an excellent example. In 1996, a “pathetic social misfit,” as a judge described the lone gunman, killed 35 people with a spray of bullets from semiautomatic weapons. Within weeks, the Australian government was working on gun reform laws that banned assault weapons and shotguns, tightened licensing and financed gun amnesty and buyback programs.

At the time, the prime minister, John Howard, said, “We do not want the American disease imported into Australia.” The laws have worked. The American Journal of Law and Economics reported in 2010 that firearm homicides in Australia dropped 59 percent between 1995 and 2006. In the 18 years before the 1996 laws, there were 13 gun massacres resulting in 102 deaths, according to Harvard researchers, with none in that category since.


Research from the Harvard Injury Control Research Center, on the links between gun control and gun homicide:
Our review of the academic literature found that a broad array of evidence indicates that gun availability is a risk factor for homicide, both in the United States and across high-income countries. Case-control studies, ecological time-series and cross-sectional studies indicate that in homes, cities, states and regions in the US, where there are more guns, both men and women are at higher risk for homicide, particularly firearm homicide.


Nicholas Kristof for the New York Times, "Looking for Lessons in Newtown"
If you were at home at night and heard creaking downstairs, wouldn’t you want a Glock in your night stand?

Frankly, at that moment, I might. And then I might creep downstairs and fire at a furtive figure in the darkened kitchen — perhaps my son returning from college to surprise the family. Or, God forbid, somebody who lives in the house might use the Glock to commit suicide.

The gun lobby often cites the work of John Lott, who argued that more guns mean less crime, but scholars have since thoroughly debunked Lott’s arguments. Published research makes it clear that having a gun in the home simply makes it more likely that you will be shot — by your partner or by yourself. Americans are safer if they rely on 911 for protection rather than on a gun.


Medical statistics from Mercer University in Georgia, hosted on University of Utah web space: "Gun Control Issues, Public Health, and Safety"
A study of 626 shootings in or around a residence in three U.S. cities revealed that, for every time a gun in the home was used in a self-defense or legally justifiable shooting, there were four unintentional shootings, seven criminal assaults or homicides, and 11 attempted or completed suicides (Kellermann et al, 1998). Over 50% of all households in the U.S. admit to having firearms (Nelson et al, 1987). In another study, regardless of storage practice, type of gun, or number of firearms in the home, having a gun in the home was associated with an increased risk of firearm homicide and suicide in the home (Dahlberg, Ikeda and Kresnow, 2004).

[...] Individuals in possession of a gun at the time of an assault are 4.46 times more likely to be shot in the assault than persons not in possession (Branas et al, 2009). It would appear that, rather than being used for defense, most of these weapons inflict injuries on the owners and their families.


Elisabeth Rosenthal for the New York Times, "More Guns = More Killing"
I recently visited some Latin American countries that mesh with the N.R.A.’s vision of the promised land, where guards with guns grace every office lobby, storefront, A.T.M., restaurant and gas station. It has not made those countries safer or saner.

Despite the ubiquitous presence of “good guys” with guns, countries like Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Colombia and Venezuela have some of the highest homicide rates in the world. [...]

In Guatemala, riding a public bus is a risky business. More than 500 bus drivers have been killed in robberies since 2007, leading InSight Crime, which tracks organized crime in the Americas, to call it “the most dangerous profession on the planet.” And when bullets start flying, everyone is vulnerable: in 2010 the onboard tally included 155 drivers, 54 bus assistants, 71 passengers and 14 presumed criminals. Some were killed by the robbers’ bullets and some by gun-carrying passengers.


Meg at Cognitive Dissonance, "On “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people”"
In 2009, the latest year for which the Center for Disease Control has national statistics, there were 16,799 deaths from homicide in the U.S. — of those, 11,493 were committed with a firearm. That means of the homicides committed in the U.S., 32% used something other than a firearm. According to the Department of Justice, the likelihood of surviving a violent attack increases dramatically without the presence of a firearm by either civilian or criminal.

[...] [It] was harder and more arduous to adopt my cat than to purchase a gun. I’m glad it’s tough to adopt. It’s fucked that it’s harder than buying the guns.


Researchers for the Children's Defense Foundation, "Protect Children, Not Guns 2012"
In 2008, 2,947 children and teens died from guns in the United States and 2,793 died in 2009 for a total of 5,740—one child or teen every three hours, eight every day, 55 every week for two years. Six times as many children and teens—34,387—suffered nonfatal gun injuries as gun deaths in 2008 and 2009. This is equal to one child or teen every 31 minutes, 47 every day, and 331 children and teens every week.
erinptah: (The Newsroom)
"So there my friend stood, in 1990, in Jericho, believing that the universe was 5,994* years old and staring at a man-made wall that was 8,000 years old."

20 Muslim inventions that shaped our world. You probably know about algebra, but what about quilting, windmills, and fountain pens?

If you were born in or after April 1985, if you are right now 27 years old or younger, you have never lived through a month that was colder than average.

Images from 1910: "Photographer Kozaburo was the first to produce tourist shots for Japan with an album of 51 collotype black and white photographic prints, which were painstakingly inked in by a team of 100 colourists, and gave Europe one of its first glimpses of life inside the previously secretive state." Includes some beautifully-chosen then-and-now comparison shots.

Views on abortion from various Christian establishment groups in 1978. Episcopals, Lutherans, Presbyterians, and others articulating positions that are thoughtful, reasonable, and pro-choice.

" ...the women who were turned away from an abortion were more likely to rely on government assistance, more likely to be living beneath the poverty line, and less likely to have a full-time job than the women in the study who had obtained abortions. They also registered more anxiety a week after they were denied an abortion and reported more stress a year out. They were no more or less likely to be depressed. And women who gave birth suffered from more serious health complications [...] than the women who aborted, even later in their pregnancies."

"The first photographic images in the late 1820s had to be exposed for hours in order to capture them on film. Improvements in the technology led to this exposure time being drastically cut down to minutes, then seconds, throughout the 19th century. [...] Seems children were just as squirmy then as they are today, because another amusing convention developed: photographs containing hidden mothers trying to keep their little ones still enough for a non-blurry picture."

6 Ridiculous Lies You Believe About the Founding of America: the title is kind of a misnomer, as the topic is more "ridiculous misinformation you believe about the state of America before the Europeans got here."
erinptah: (Default)
A brief history of the Digital Public Library of America project, including its growth out of the fears and flaws involved in Google Books.

Falsehoods programmers believe about time, which can screw up your programs in new and exciting ways.

What motivates humans to do more, better work? Money? Only up to a point. Once you're making enough to live on, earning more can actually drag your performance down. Feeling that you're mastering new skills and doing meaningful work is much more important.

Case in point: "What happens if you give a thousand Motorola Zoom tablet PCs to Ethiopian kids who have never even seen a printed word? Within five months, they'll start teaching themselves English while circumventing the security on your OS to customize settings and activate disabled hardware."

Straightforward study on gender bias among scientists: "On a scale of 1 to 7, with 7 being highest, professors gave John an average score of 4 for competence and Jennifer 3.3. John was also seen more favorably as someone they might hire for their laboratories or would be willing to mentor. The average starting salary offered to Jennifer was $26,508. To John it was $30,328." On the plus side, the Onion sheds light on a foolproof way for women to achieve equal pay...

Cecelia Payne: the astronomer who figured out that the Sun is mostly hydrogen (as opposed to the conventional wisdom of her time, "made up of basically the same stuff as Earth"), after discovering the whole process of reading stars' compositions from studying their spectral lines. Born in 1900. Did all this work as part of her Ph.D., earned in 1925. Served at Harvard in the functional capacity of a professor, even though she wasn't formally recognized as such until 1956.

Look at your planet. Now back to me. This planet is now diamonds. (55 Cancri e is about twice the diameter (?) of Earth, eight times the mass, with 18-hour years and a composition of approximately 1/3 pure diamond.)
erinptah: Hiding in a box (depression)
Terrifying ancient freaky-headed sharks! And toothy fish, and giant-eyed squid, and other monsters of the deep.

The ancient signs of rushing water on Mars!

The NYT has a charming and thorough discussion of young boys who, for whatever reasons, want to wear and play with "girly things".

"The unruly-looking mob in her driveway is there to help her feel safe again. They are members of the Arizona chapter of Bikers Against Child Abuse International, and they wear their motto on their black leather vests and T-shirts: 'No child deserves to live in fear.'"

ALSO: Go vote for BICP in the TopWebComics listing! You can vote once per day, all month. As of this posting, we're hanging in on the bottom of the front page -- let's see if we can stay there!
erinptah: (daily show)
You know, sometimes it feels like I take as long to organize these links into elegant topical groupings as I do to actually save the things...

Japanese cat weight lifting: grabbing progressively bigger fish and dragging them away! The winning cats end up waddling away, dragging these gigantic fish they can barely get their teeth around. It's adorable.

Thirty-two-thousand-year-old flower recovered from the tundras of Siberia...and yes, they got it to bloom.

"Many of these schools [rely on textbooks that] teach their pupils Bible-based "facts," such as the existence of Nessie the Loch Ness Monster and all sorts of pseudoscience that researcher Rachel Tabachnick and writer Thomas Vinciguerra have thankfully pored over so the rest of world doesn't have to."

Elaborating on one of the specifics in that link: "What do Christian fundamentalists have against set theory?" It's pretty mind-boggling.

Atomic theory as expressed in English with all the non-Germanic words removed.

Cross-linguistic color theory! How languages develop color words and in what order, how language affects our ability to distinguish colors, and a massive XKCD-originated survey of color names.

32 innovations that will change your tomorrow: inventions set to come out within a few years that will affect your everyday life. Some seem stupid or gratuitous (hands-free hair-washing? Is it really that hard to shampoo?), but some are particularly useful (medical-detection sensors for your teeth! Synthehol!).

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