Thursday, October 2, 2014

Wednesday FTSidebar

Minion reading

Director's Blog: Ketamine | NIMH

By now, everyone knows that medication development for mental disorders has hit a wall, pharmaceutical companies have abandoned the search for new medications, and there are no promising new medications on the horizon.

Arizona teacher fired after 25 years over defending student from racist bullying | The Raw Story

A longtime elementary school teacher in Fountain Hills, Arizona was fired on Monday despite reportedly defending a Black student from racially-charged bullying, KNXV-TV reported.

[Ed. Note: Comments from the blog's author have been deleted. She is not allowed to rail against parents who, let's say hypothetically, demand that a teacher be fired over an exchange with their snot-nosed children who were hurling racial epithets; instead of raising said children to know those things are wrong and punishing them for doing them. She especially is not allowed to say that the ignorant and hateful will be the downfall of us all if we don't pound the shitbrains back into the holes out of which they crawled. Think liberals are tolerant? Try that in front of me.]

TrashAnalysis: Government's New Doctor Payments Website Worthy of a Recall | ProPublica

In a news release announcing the site's launch, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said the goal is "to help consumers understand the financial relationships between the health care industry, and physicians and teaching hospitals."

If that's the goal, the agency hasn't come anywhere near fulfilling it.

Privacy be Damned | Political Irony

Every once in a while, people in positions of power inadvertently reveal not only that their view of reality is distorted, but also that they really have no idea what they are talking about.

Weird Crystal Can Absorb All The Oxygen In A Room -- And Then Release It Later | PopSci

This could potentially make fuel cells, space travel, and scuba diving a lot more efficient.

If the U.S. Congress Got to Legislate Physical Laws | Math With Bad Drawings  Picture

Warning for those with no stomach for horrific alternate realities; provided one suspends disbelief that Congress could actually do more harm.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Tuesday FTSidebar

Minion reading

Wendy Davis was impressive in the debate.

Pediatricians' Group Endorses The Birth Control That Hobby Lobby Won't Cover | ThinkProgress

The nation's leading group of pediatricians has officially endorsed long-acting contraceptives, like intrauterine devices (IUDs), for all teenagers. In a new set of recommendations published this week, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests that doctors should emphasize IUDs as the "first line" of contraception when they're dealing with their teen patients.

Federal judge limits health care subsidies | SCOTUSblog

Deepening the controversy over tax subsidies to help lower-income workers obtain health insurance, a federal trial judge in Oklahoma on Tuesday barred those credits for individuals who shop for coverage on marketplaces run by the federal government, not by a state.

Time is money: who's making a buck off prisoners' families? | The Center for Public Integrity  Video

How a web of prison bankers, private vendors and corrections agencies profit by shifting costs onto inmates' families.

No, Ebola in Dallas does not mean you and everyone else in the US is going to get it, too | The Guardian

Be concerned for Africa, but, really: do not lose sleep over Ebola spreading across America. It's not going to

Fall foliage Q&A with Dr. Leif Mann | John Breneman

Autumn foliage in New England is said to be the finest in the world. But there is much about this annual cornucopia of color that we do not know. So today we check in with noted foliage expert Dr. Leif Mann, who has generously agreed to answer a few questions from readers.

The $1-Billion-a-Year Right-Wing Conspiracy You Haven't Heard Of | The Daily Beast

Have you heard of the $1,750-per-person "Gathering," which starts Thursday in Orlando, Florida?

Probably not. But if you're female, gay, non-Christian, or otherwise interested in the separation of church and state, your life has been affected by it.

Via Hatewatch Headlines 9/30/14 | SPLC.

Here's one idea for taxing the rich and making housing more affordable | Ben Adler | Grist

New York's state capitol in Albany is not known for producing a lot of good ideas. As the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University puts it, "The New York State legislature is nationally notorious for its dysfunction and subservience to special interests." And yet a creative response to New York City's astronomical cost of living has just emerged from the cesspool.

Organic foods found to have less toxic cadmium than conventional crops | TreeHugger

This summer, a large meta-study published in the British Journal of Nutrition gathered together data from hundreds of studies comparing conventional and organic crops. The authors conclude that organic foods have higher levels of antioxidants and less pesticide residue. They also find that organic crops have half as much of the heavy metal cadmium.

Good Dog! Sheepdogs Protect Predators as They Protect Sheep | ReWild | KCET  Picture

It's no secret that well-trained sheepdogs do a great job of protecting sheep from wolves, coyotes, mountain lions, and other predators. But what you might not realize is that those sheepdogs can help protect the predators as well.

The A.I.G. Trial Is A Comedy | John Cassidy | The New Yorker

Say what you like about Maurice (Hank) Greenberg, the financier is a dogged old coot. For almost ten years now, since an accounting scandal forced him to resign from American International Group, the big insurance company he ran for decades, Greenberg, who is eighty-nine, has been trying to redeem his reputation and exact revenge on those he deems responsible for his downfall.

Obama to Move to Doorman Building | Borowitz Report | The New Yorker

President Barack Obama has decided to move his family into a full-service doorman building in Washington, D.C., saying that "it just makes more sense right now."

California Governor Vetoes Weak-Kneed Antibiotics Bill | Consumerist

Considering that 80% of all antibiotics sold in the U.S. are used on farm animals, and that most of those drugs are used primarily for growth promotion, you'd think we’d be happy to see a state like California introduce legislation that appears to ban the use of antibiotics to get fatter cows, pigs, and chickens. But it's what that bill doesn't do that has us concerned, and why California Governor Jerry Brown has vetoed it.

Technology Tuesday (Sep 30)

Robotic dog

Apple may have to repay billions from Irish government tax deal | The Guardian

Apple may have to repay tax linked to billions of euros of revenues after Brussels criticised "illegal state aid" that the US group received through deals with the Irish government between 1991 and 2007.

Yes, Ebola Is Now in America. But CDC Says the US Is Ready | Wired

An individual who flew to the U.S. from Liberia earlier this month has been diagnosed with Ebola in Texas, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed today. The case marks the first time the disease has been diagnosed in this country, although several infected health workers have been treated here after being diagnosed in Africa.

Thumbs upThe Non-Profit That's Using Technology to Put Itself Out of Business | Wired  Picture

Pierre Ferrari is working hard to put himself out of business.

Ferrari is the CEO of Heifer International, a non-profit that donates things like livestock, seeds, farm equipment, and other essentials to farmers in the developing world, helping them become self-sufficient.

Touch-Controlled Headphones That Know When They're on Your Head | Wired

Calling Parrot's new Zik 2.0 headphones "headphones" is like calling the Iron Man suit a "shirt." These cans are loaded with sensors, connectivity options, noise-cancellation features, and gesture controls. And naturally, they also have their own sidecar app.

The Internet Is Broken, and Shellshock Is Just the Start of Our Woes | Wired

Shellshock is one of the oldest known and unpatched bugs in the history of computing. But its story isn't that unusual.

Could this app create a free, secret web? | Machines Like Us

Facebook is doing it with drones, Google is doing it with balloons that occasionally crash into power lines. Bringing free Internet access to the unconnected millions in developing countries is complicated and expensive. What if there [were] an easier way?

'Bendy' LEDs | Machines Like Us

Korean research team has grown gallium nitride micro-rods on graphene substrates to create transferrable light-emitting diodes--enabling bendable optoelectronics devices.

Visa software tackles fraud at the gas pump | PhysOrg

Unattended gasoline pumps are a favorite place for crooks to test stolen or counterfeit credit cards before going on a shopping spree. Now Visa is trying to cut off the fuel supply.

Great ideasTwo that will restore your faith in the future of mankind.

Teenager invents faster way to clean up toxic tar sands waste using sand and bacteria | TreeHugger  Video

An 18-year-old from Canada has invented a way to clean up the toxic waste produced from extracting oil from tar sands. Hayley Todesco used knowledge gained from fifth grade science to come up with a filtration system using sand and bacteria to quickly break down the waste.

Teen Wins Big for His Sock Invention | Scientific American

Fifteen-year-old Kenneth Shinozuka of New York City won the $50,000 Scientific American Science in Action Award in August for his invention of a wearable sensor for Alzheimer's patients.

Main takeaways from the CDC press conference on Ebola

What I saw of it. Al Jazeera broke in to talk on the phone with someone who said things like this: The press conference [not yet finished, mind you] raised more questions than it answered! How do we know the patient didn't wipe his nose and touch a doorknob?! We need to know everywhere he's been!

Dr. Frieden did a great job. He explained that they are working with airports in west Africa where people boarding planes are already being screened for fever and not allowed to board if they have one until Ebola is ruled out.

He said they are working with medical personnel to increase awareness and make sure that travel histories are taken for patients who present with non-specific symptoms that might be Ebola.

He is confident (firmly so) that the situation is contained and they will observe people who have come into contact with the patient since he became ill. A team of epidemiologists from the CDC is headed to Texas to assist.

Ebola is not transmissible until symptoms appear, so on his flight 10 days ago the patient would not have been contagious. The incubation period for Ebola is generally 8 to 10 days but can vary between 2 and 21 days.

NIH Awards Initial $46 Million for BRAIN Initiative Research

Image of electrical activityLast year, President Obama launched the BRAIN Initiative as a large-scale effort to equip researchers with fundamental insights necessary for treating a wide variety of brain disorders like Alzheimer's, schizophrenia, and autism. Today, NIH awards the first $46 million for BRAIN Initiative research.


Image of rocketBRAIN: Launching America's Next Moonshot | NIH Director's Blog

Some have called it America's next moonshot. Indeed, like the historic effort that culminated with the first moon landing in 1969, the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative is a bold, ambitious endeavor that will require the energy of thousands of our nation's most creative minds working together over the long haul. Our goal? ...

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Texas governor's race debate is tonight

KPRC will live stream at 8PM CT (local PBS is airing it as well). Wendy Davis has been running blistering ads against Abbott (an easy target) and I see staunch Republicans leaning her way. An online poll by KPRC gave her a slight lead. I think this race is a bellwether; it doesn't get more polarized. I hope she destroys him.

CDC confirms first Ebola case diagnosed in US, Press conference at 5:30 ET | CNBC

CDC confirms first Ebola case diagnosed in US | CNBC

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday confirmed the first case of Ebola has been diagnosed in the United States.

The CDC will host a press conference at its Atlanta headquarters at 5:30 p.m., ET.

Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas officials said in a statement earlier Monday that an unnamed patient was being tested for Ebola and had been placed in "strict isolation" due to the patient's symptoms and recent travel history.

Prepare for hysteria. Donald Trump's head might explode.

Monday FTSidebar

Minion reading

Racism is so insidious, even black people underestimate it | Kali Holloway | The Guardian  Favorites

There is a tendency to respond to racialized tragedies with a sudden effort at self-reflection -- an attempt to quantify our collective attitudes on race for clues as to why, yet again, we must somehow make sense of the senseless killing of a black teenager.

Regulatory Capture | Lawyers, Guns & Money

Salmon and Lowrey on the devastating findings of a ProPublica report on the deference shown by the New York Fed to the firms it's supposed to be regulating. The former's depressing conclusion:

A Supreme Court for Billionaires, Not Voters | John Nichols | The Nation

In case there was any remaining confusion with regard to the precise political intentions of the US Supreme Court's activist majority, things were clarified Monday.

Views on ISIS From the Middle East | TalkLeft

I'm always interested in how countries halfway around the world say they would address a problem here. I'm not talking about legal problems since laws in other countries vary too much, but in hands-on tackling of a problem that affects society. Like ISIS.

Open bookNew types of health care delivery are improving the 'patient experience' | Wendell Potter | The Center for Public Integrity

Health care provider organizations that are working directly with employers like Boeing -- and cutting out the insurance company middlemen -- believe they can do more than save money for those employers.

Open bookObama's Syria Strategy: Hit And Hope | John Cassidy | The New Yorker

Having spent last week trying to persuade other countries to support the U.S.-led military assault on the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham, President Obama used an interview with Steve Kroft, of CBS News' "60 Minutes," to give Americans an update. In general, his tone was upbeat. But Obama is the rare politician who finds telling whoppers difficult, and he couldn't, or wouldn't, hide some of his concerns about where this all is leading.

Bison help put the "Prairie" back in Prairie State | TreeHugger

Growing up in the Midwest, I have fond childhood memories of hiking through the golden prairies that blanketed much of the region. It seems hard to believe that today these are the world's most imperiled habitats; in Illinois, only one tenth of one percent of our iconic grasslands remains due to incompatible development and fragmentation.

West Virginia Plans To Frack Beneath Ohio River, Which Supplies Drinking Water To Millions | ThinkProgress

Nine citizen and environmental groups are urging West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin to reconsider his plans to let companies drill for oil and natural gas underneath the Ohio River, citing concerns that drilling and fracking could contaminate the drinking water supply and increase the risk of earthquakes in the region.

More Coal Ash Disasters In Waiting | Earthjustice

Late last month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency quietly released inspection reports of coal ash ponds at 26 plants in 11 states. At eight plants, the agency found toxic lagoons in poor condition, encompassing almost a third of all the sites.

How An Evangelical Christian Researcher Reconciles Science With Her Faith | PopSci

We often perceive science and faith as two opposing camps, facing off against each other across a chasm. It's a chasm that seems to grow deeper as the number of topics over which we disagree multiplies, rather than decreases, with time.

HHS funds drug to treat severe infections and prevent cytokine storm

Dept. of Health & Human Services

HHS funds drug to treat severe infections and prevent cytokine storm

A potential drug to combat a complication of severe infections known as a cytokine storm will advance in development under an agreement announced today by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  A cytokine storm can complicate recovery and in extreme cases can drive the body's organs to shut down, causing death.

Read more about today's announcement.