Mexican Drug Cartels Are Far More Violent than ISIS

#War

Tue, Oct 21st, 2014 21:00 by capnasty NEWS

Although ISIS is seen as a brutal and violent regime practising an "intrinsically Islamic" barbarism, Al Jazeera argues that Mexican drug cartels have killed far more people — and far more Americans — at a "rate of more than one killing every half hour for the last seven years."

U.S. media have especially hyped ISIL’s violence against Americans. This summer ISIL beheaded two Americans and has warned about executing a third; additionally, one U.S. Marine has died in efforts to combat the group. By contrast, the cartels killed 293 Americans in Mexico from 2007 to 2010 and have repeatedly attacked U.S. consulates in Mexico. While ISIL’s beheadings are no doubt outrageous, the cartels tortured, dismembered and then cooked one of the Americans they captured — possibly eating him or feeding him to dogs.

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Picobrew Zymatic: Computer-Controlled Home-Brewery

Download and share beer recipes

#Food

Tue, Oct 21st, 2014 20:00 by capnasty NEWS

The Picobrew Zymatic, the brainchild of a former Microsoft employee and a foodie, takes all the hard work out of making great beer at home by removing all the errors and providing a stable environment. Recipes can be shared and downloaded, guaranteeing that the exact same batch of beer is produced, everytime.

At first they tinkered with things like robotic arms and complicated valve systems. Eventually they gave up trying to mechanically add and remove ingredients. Instead they figured out a way to circulate water at different temperatures through the dry ingredients.

To make a batch with a Zymatic, you select a recipe in the browser. Then you measure and pour grain into a plastic tray and the hops into specially designed filter baskets. You then slide them into the machine. A small “Cornelius” keg is filled with water and…

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Cell Transplant Allows Paralysed Man to Walk Again

#Health

Tue, Oct 21st, 2014 12:00 by capnasty NEWS

Paralysed from the chest down after a knife attack, Mr. Darek Fidyka can now walk again, using a frame, after cells from his nasal cavity were transplanted in his spine. These cells, which are "being continually damaged and must be replaced," were used to re-establish the nerve circuitry in the damaged area of the spinal cord.

Mr Fidyka first noticed that the treatment had been successful after about three months, when his left thigh began putting on muscle.

Six months after surgery, Mr Fidyka was able to take his first tentative steps along parallel bars, using leg braces and the support of a physiotherapist.

Two years after the treatment, he can now walk outside the rehabilitation centre using a frame.

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"As Ebola enters a deepening relationship with the human species, the question of how it is mutating has significance for every person on earth."

#Health

Tue, Oct 21st, 2014 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

After a laymen tour in the New Yorker on what makes the Ebola virus tick, Richard Preston explains what "genomics research can help contain the outbreak." It's terrifying to read that despite many precautions taken, front line workers were infected — even those not working directly in contact with the sick — and died.

Despite its ferocity in humans, Ebola is a life-form of mysterious simplicity. A particle of Ebola is made of only six structural proteins, locked together to become an object that resembles a strand of cooked spaghetti. An Ebola particle is only around eighty nanometres wide and a thousand nanometres long. If it were the size of a piece of spaghetti, then a human hair would be about twelve feet in diameter and would resemble the trunk of a giant redwood tree.

Once an Ebola particle enters the bloodstream, it drifts until it sticks to a…

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"The people we elect aren’t the ones calling the shots."

"The ultimate problem is the pervasive political ignorance on the part of the American people."

#Politics

Tue, Oct 21st, 2014 10:00 by capnasty NEWS

When Obama was running for president, he eloquently campaigned against "national security and counterterrorism policies." And yet, as President, those same policies he was against, "from the NSA’s warrantless wiretapping to Guantanamo Bay to the Patriot Act," are still ingrained in the system. According to Tufts University’s Michael Glennon, the problem is that the people citizens vote for "aren't the ones calling the shots."

Though it’s a bedrock American principle that citizens can steer their own government by electing new officials, Glennon suggests that in practice, much of our government no longer works that way. In a new book, “National Security and Double Government,” he catalogs the ways that the defense and national security apparatus is effectively self-governing, with virtually no accountability, transparency, or checks and balances of any kind. He uses the term “double government”: There’s the one we elect, and then there’s the one behind it, steering…

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"Spouses now have easy access to an array of sophisticated spy software that would give Edward Snowden night sweats."

#Privacy

Mon, Oct 20th, 2014 21:00 by capnasty NEWS

As a reminder that everyone should treat their smartphone as a compromised device from the start, The Atlantic looks at how the rise of technology has "made cheating on your spouse, or catching a cheater, easier than ever."

In an earlier era, a suspicious husband like Jay might have rifled through Ann’s pockets or hired a private investigator. But having stumbled upon Find My iPhone’s utility as a surveillance tool, Jay wondered what other apps might help him keep tabs on his wife. He didn’t have to look far. Spouses now have easy access to an array of sophisticated spy software that would give Edward Snowden night sweats: programs that record every keystroke; that compile detailed logs of our calls, texts, and video chats; that track a phone’s location in real time; that recover deleted messages from all manner of devices (without having to touch said devices); that turn…

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How Million-Dollar Drones Land

#Video

Mon, Oct 20th, 2014 20:00 by capnasty NEWS

While I wasn't picturing a field of soft pillows to land something so expensive, I wasn't expecting this either. The video was posted by YouTubber Funny Video.

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The Hobbit, in 72 Seconds, Done with LEGOs

#Humour

Mon, Oct 20th, 2014 12:00 by capnasty NEWS

The Brotherhood Workshop gives you The Hobbit in just 72 seconds. Done entirely in LEGOs, the video saves you the agony of having to see a series of movies featuring people walking endlessly for hours again.

For everyone who thinks the Hobbit movies are too long, I offer my own version....33,000ish seconds shorter than Peter Jackson's! Though I do like Peter Jackson's version too :)

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"Why does consciousness, in any form, exist at all?"

#Life

Mon, Oct 20th, 2014 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

With consciousness at the "core of our very existence," theoretical psychologist Professor Nicholas Humphrey wants to know how it came to evolve and whether it is real or "an illusion manufactured in the theatre of our minds."

In this video theoretical psychologist Professor Nicholas Humphrey asks whether consciousness could all be an illusion. Could it be a mirage constructed in the theatre of our minds? Perhaps the questions we should ask are not centred on sensations themselves, but merely on the appearance of those sensations.

And why does consciousness, in any form, exist at all? How did it evolve? The answer might lie in our social interactions. Consciousness elevates our interpretation of the world and the people around us. It alters our psychological profile and breathes joy into our experiences, and makes us value life itself.

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Crops Fed by Diluted Sea Water

#Food

Mon, Oct 20th, 2014 10:00 by capnasty NEWS

The Guardian reports that, together with the Free University in Amsterdam, 59-year-old Marc van Rijsselberghe set up Salt Farm Texel, a non-GM approach that looks at growing food "using non-fresh water."

But where does all that salt go? Aren’t we in danger of overdosing on salt if we eat the Salt Farm Texel crops? “What we find is that, if you tease a plant with salt, it compensates with more sugar,” said de Vos. “The strawberries we grow, for example, are very sweet. So nine times out of ten the salt is retained in the leaves of the plant, so you’d have to eat many many kilos of potatoes before you’d exceed your recommended salt intake. But some of the salads are heavy with salt, you wouldn’t eat them by the bucketful.

From the Salt Farm Texel website:

SaltFarmTexel…

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Apple's Siri, an Autistic Boy's Best Friend

#Health

Sun, Oct 19th, 2014 21:00 by capnasty NEWS

On The New York Times, Judith Newman looks at how Siri, the "intelligent personal assistant" found on Apple's iPhone, could become a best friend for a 13-year-old autistic boy. Siri's advantage, it appears, is not only that it "encourages polite language," but that it is a "nonjudgmental friend and teacher."

For most of us, Siri is merely a momentary diversion. But for some, it’s more. My son’s practice conversation with Siri is translating into more facility with actual humans. Yesterday I had the longest conversation with him that I’ve ever had. Admittedly, it was about different species of turtles and whether I preferred the red-eared slider to the diamond-backed terrapin. This might not have been my choice of topic, but it was back and forth, and it followed a logical trajectory. I can promise you that for most of my beautiful son’s 13 years of existence, that has not…

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Connecting to a Public WiFi Makes Your Phone Vulnerable to Attack

"Everything, with very few exceptions, can be cracked."

#Privacy

Sun, Oct 19th, 2014 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

On The Correspondent, Maurits Martijn looks at all the information that can be gained from a smartphone when it connects to what appears to be a public WiFi network, but is instead a rogue system set up by a hacker. According to the article, once connected, the hacker could "retrieve their passwords, steal their identity, and plunder their bank accounts."

First we google her name, which immediately allows us to determine what she looks like and where in the coffeehouse she is sitting. We learn that she was born in a different European country and only recently moved to the Netherlands. Through Delicious we discover that she’s been visiting the website of a Dutch language course and she has bookmarked a website with information on the Dutch integration course.

In less than 20 minutes, here’s what we’ve learned about the woman sitting 10 feet from us: where she was…

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In an Era of Mass Surveillance, Technology Companies are Responding to the Demands of their Customers

#Privacy

Sat, Oct 18th, 2014 21:00 by capnasty NEWS

Although Apple's encryption on the iPhone 6 has sparked both sceptics doubting its efficacy, as well as the criticism of law enforcement agencies, Wired's Ken Gude argues that in an era of Government mass surveillance, this kind of "encryption is clearly in the public's interest."

Comey wants us to believe that the elimination of the key could allow violent criminals to “go dark”—thus evading detection and arrest. It is possible to construct a hypothetical scenario in which the only evidence of criminal activity is stored on a suspect’s personal device, consists only of data not backed up in cloud storage, and is not in the possession of third parties like telecommunications carriers or app developers. But none of the criminal cases cited by Comey meet that hypothetical because in real life those instances would be extremely rare and far outweighed by the clear public…

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Ebola Themed Etsy Products

#WTF

Sat, Oct 18th, 2014 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

Jezebel brings to attention the plethora of weird hand-crafted products that feature, in some form or another, the Ebola virus. Yes, the very same virus that has killed thousands already is now the subject of questionably-artistic crafts on Etsy. Above, the 2014 Ebola Epidemic Cutting Board, which comes highly recommended as a wedding gift. Huh.

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"Function/Void," Apocalyptic Short Film

#Video

Fri, Oct 17th, 2014 21:00 by capnasty NEWS

From The Creators Project comes this video by Factory Fifteen for The Bug's Function / Void. What happens when you stop taking the pill and become aware of your monotonous existance?

Set in a landscape which combines London’s brutalist architecture with computer-generated skyscrapers, the new short film by Factory Fifteen for The Bug's "Function / Void" sees the daily, monotonous routine of its protagonist suddenly and inexplicably start to crumble. A collaboration with digital studio and production company Nexus, the new video, premiering today, was created for two tracks off The Bug's album, Angels & Devils (out now on Ninja Tune) and was produced in conjuction with The Creators Project.

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Neutral, Unbranded Cigaratte Packages May Encourage Smokers to Quit

France to follow Australia's lead

#Health

Thu, October 2nd, 2014 10:00 by capnasty NEWS

According to The Washington Post, Australia's move in forcing cigarette companies to sell their products in "dark olive, logo-free boxes since 2012," appears to have made smoking less desirable. Reportedly, research has shown that the bland packages — unlike the graphic warnings other countries have been using — make cigarettes "less attractive, seemingly of lower quality and, ultimately, less desirable as a smoking identity."

The French are particularly ripe for cutting back on their lethal smoking habits. Smoking causes more than 200 deaths each day in the country, according to Touraine. An estimated 30 percent of France's population smoked as of 2010, according to the French Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction. The goal, Touraine said last week, is to reduce that number to fewer than 20 percent over the coming decade.

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The Empire Strikes Back Uncut

#StarWars

Sun, October 12th, 2014 21:00 by capnasty NEWS

With Star Wars Uncut finished, it was only a matter of time before The Empire Strikes Back Uncut would come to light. It features more and faster transitions between segments, some seriously creative variety, and a lot of cool tips-to-the-hat. Well done!

With more than 480 fan-made segments culled from over 1,500 submissions, The Empire Strikes Back Uncut (also known as ESB Uncut) features a stunning mash-up of styles and filmmaking techniques, including live action, animation, and stop-motion. The project launched in 2013, with fans claiming 15-second scenes to reimagine as they saw fit – resulting in sequences created with everything from action figures to cardboard props to stunning visual effects. Helmed by Casey Pugh, who oversaw 2010’s Emmy-winning Star Wars Uncut, the new film has a wonderful homemade charm, stands as an affectionate tribute to The Empire Strikes Back,…

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Only Two Cities Are Willing to Host the 2022 Winter Olympics

#Crime

Thu, October 2nd, 2014 20:00 by capnasty NEWS

Except for China and Kazakhstan, "countries where actual citizens aren't allowed a real say in things," no other country in the world wants to host the 2022 Winter Olympics. This isn't just because of the "corrupt, humiliating voting system," but also due to the environmental effects and astronomical costs. To build the facilities in Sochi, Russia spent $51 billion, only for them to now sit abandoned.

The IOC has billions of dollars laying around and billions more coming because to most people the Olympics is just a television show and the ratings are so high that the broadcast rights will never go down. The IOC doesn't pay the athletes. It doesn't share revenue with host countries. It doesn't pay for countries to send their athletes. It doesn't lay out any construction or capital costs. It doesn't pay taxes.

It basically holds caviar rich meetings in five star hotels in…

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Generator Produces Electricity Out of Waste Heat

#Technology

Thu, October 9th, 2014 20:00 by capnasty NEWS

MIT Technology Review brings to attention Alphabet Energy, a company producing industrial-sized generators that work off waste heat to produce electricity. The generator is able to do this thanks to a "highly efficient thermoelectric material discovered recently at the University of Michigan."

Matt Scullin, the CEO of Alphabet Energy, the startup that developed the new device, says connecting it to the exhaust pipe of a 1,000-kilowatt generator will yield enough electricity to save 52,500 liters of diesel fuel a year, for a reduction of about 2.5 percent. For smaller engines, the savings would be slightly higher, Scullin says.

The first customers will probably be oil, gas, and mining companies that use large generators to produce power in remote areas. The generator could save those companies millions in fuel, Scullin says. “There aren’t many levers these companies can pull to…

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Digital Stress Management Bracelet with Haptic Feedback

The Olive

#Health

Fri, October 10th, 2014 12:00 by capnasty NEWS

Currently seeking your financial support on Indiegogo, the Olive bracelet is packed full of sensors that monitor body temperature, motion, heart rate and even emotional responses. When it detects that you're stressed out, you can either perform a calming exercise on your phone or do breathing exercises guided by the bracelet itself.

Olive nudges you through gentle taps (haptic feedback) or LED lights on your wrist when it detects elevated stress levels or you've previously scheduled a stress management exercise. Check in with yourself and control how you want to respond to stress. If you need help, it's as easy as a swipe to launch an exercise. If you're feeling fine, swipe the other way to ignore it.

Olive can easily switch between silent, haptic, LED light, and haptic+LED light modes so that you can always decide how much…

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Fully Articulated Hand Tracking

Microsoft's Handpose

#Technology

Wed, October 8th, 2014 21:00 by capnasty NEWS

In this video, Microsoft showcases their Handpose, a system that is able to track and recreate the movements of the hand. The video demonstrates how this can be used to manipulate virtual objects.

Introducing a new real-time articulated hand tracker which can enable new possibilities for human-computer interaction (HCI). Our system accurately reconstructs complex hand poses across a variety of subjects using only a single depth camera. It also allows for a high-degree of robustness, continually recovering from tracking failures. However, the most unique aspect of our tracker is its flexibility in terms of camera placement and operating range.

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Emergent: Real-Time Rumour Tracker

#Internet

Fri, October 3rd, 2014 10:00 by capnasty NEWS

Emergent is a bullshit debunker. Curated by Craig Silverman from Columbia University, the project focuses on "how unverified information and rumor are reported in the media."

The Internet moves quickly. Rumors emerge, intentionally and not; they spread, intentionally and not. There’s a reason, of course, that “wildfire” is such a common metaphor when it comes to describing this stuff: Rumors, once sparked, don’t just spread extremely quickly; they are also extremely difficult to contain. And on top of everything else, it is extremely hard to predict which direction they’ll take as they spread.

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Apple's Encryption Won't Stop the NSA

#Privacy

Mon, October 6th, 2014 10:00 by capnasty NEWS

On the Silicon Exposed blog, Andrew Zonenberg looks at Apple's announcement that it won't be able to decrypt its phones for law enforcement agencies. Zonenberg argues that "disk encryption isn't as much of a major game-changer as people seem to think."

First off, the changes in iOS 8 are encrypting data on disk. Voice calls, SMS, and Internet packets still cross the carrier's network in cleartext. These companies are legally required (by CALEA in the United States, and similar laws in other countries) to provide a means for law enforcement or intelligence to access this data.

In addition, if Eve can get within radio range of Alice or Bob, she can record the conversation off the air. Although the radio links are normally encrypted, many of these cryptosystems are weak and can be defeated in a reasonable amount of time by cryptanalysis. Numerous methods are available…

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Making Amtrak Your Home

#Travel

Wed, October 8th, 2014 20:00 by capnasty NEWS

Website designer Spencer McCormick has a wonderfully written travel guide on living on an Amtrak train. Moving trains, that is. More technical details about how to do this on his tips and tricks page. His writing is filled with memorable moments, here is one of my many favourites:

Come October, I was staying in a hostel in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. There I met a man who was going to hike the Appalachian Trail. He had a beard and a santa belly and basically introduced himself by saying, “When I was 22 back from Vietnam this trail saved my life.” Without prompt he would say things like, “Some might not say it, really we’re all Buddha.” He was gregarious and generous; when it came to other people, often he’d say, “You haven’t walked a mile in their moccasins.” I never told strangers who I was, but I…

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Playing Piano With Gillette Razors

#Advertising

Fri, October 3rd, 2014 21:00 by capnasty NEWS

Gillette shows off the movement of its FlexBalls by playing piano with a bunch of Fusion ProGlide hitting the keys. I wonder if the musician perceived the smallest sense of delay between the moment he pressed the key and the actual sound was made.

To show off the movement of the new Gillette Fusion ProGlide with FlexBall Technology, we asked Son Lux to compose an original piece of music and play it on a piano rigged with the razors. This was his performance at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City on December 19th, 2013.

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How Lego Technic Sets are Designed

#Games

Thu, October 9th, 2014 22:00 by capnasty NEWS

Fascinating and beautifully shot (Quadcopter-mounted GoPros?) behind-the-scenes video by Volvo, showcasing how it participated with Lego Technic designers to create a fully remote-controlled Lego model of their gigantic L350F wheel loader.

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Internet Kill Switch

#HowTo

Wed, October 8th, 2014 12:00 by capnasty NEWS

In an era of always-on Internet, John Edgar Park and Sean Michael Ragan demonstrate how to build an internet kill switch, in both an unobtrusive and over-the-top designs.

If you want to be double-dog sure, here’s a simple, fool-proof answer: a hardware kill switch. Put one on the wired connection between your computer and router and use it to unambiguously isolate that computer from the internet whenever you want. Or put it between your router (wireless or otherwise) and your ISP hardware to control the connection for the entire house. Sure, you could just unplug the cable, but that’s hard on the connectors, and the switch is faster to use and neater-looking, to boot.

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YouTube Videos With Generic Filenames As Their Title

The lesser seen, the underviewed

#Video

Sat, October 11th, 2014 21:00 by capnasty NEWS

The Underviewed site finds YouTube videos that contain generic filenames as their title. Since nobody searches for filenames, this causes them to be rarely seen. Underviewed helps bring to attention all these videos in a variety of generic filenames, in the vague hopes that a gem can be discovered. The site was created by Felix Jung.

In an age of social media and viral videos being viewed millions of times, this site focuses on the undiscovered - the personal and private moments that the world hasn't had the chance to see.

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Start-Up Wants to Save the World by Sucking CO2 Right Out of the Atmosphere

#Environment

Thu, October 9th, 2014 21:00 by capnasty NEWS

With the ultimate goal of being able to control the temperature of the entire planet, two-year-old startup Global Thermostat is planning on deploying technology capable of sucking CO2 out of the atmosphere at a very competitive price. Understandably, many people in the scientific community are skeptical of its success to deliver.

[...] A 2011 report by the American Physical Society identified key physical and economic challenges. The fact that carbon dioxide will bind with amines, forming a molecule called a carbamate, is well known chemistry. But carbon dioxide still represents only one in 2,500 molecules in the air. That means an effective air-capture machine would need to push vast amounts of air past amines to get enough carbon dioxide to stick to them and then regenerate the amines to capture more. That would require a lot of energy and thus be very expensive, the 2011 report said. That’s why…

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Disney Research's Soft, Safe Robot Arms

#Robots

Fri, October 10th, 2014 10:00 by capnasty NEWS

IEEE Spectrum brings to attention these robot arms created by Disney Research. Although their purpose is to allow puppeteers to "remotely control mechanical characters without the use of motors," the fascinating thing is that by using low-friction passive fluid actuators, the arms lose much of the weight associated with robotic limbs.

[...] engineers at Disney Research have come up with an ingenious way of making robot arms that are low mass but high speed. Instead of conventional motors, their arm uses what’s called a fluid transmission. It consists of tubes filled with air or water that connect antagonistic actuators. The result is a system that’s passively safe and compliant and lightweight and backdriveable and backlash free and... Well, it goes on. This thing is cool.

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