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  • Google Aids Scientology-Linked Group CCHR With Pay-Per-Click Ads

    An anonymous reader writes "The Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR), a Scientology front group, has received a 'grant from Google in the amount of $10,000 per month worth of Pay Per Click Advertising to be used in our Orange County anti-psych campaigns.' CCHR believes that ALL psychiatrists are evil. They believe that psychiatrists were behind the holocaust, and these shadow men were never brought to justice. CCHR also believes that psychiatrists were behind the 911 attacks. Scientologists believe that psychiatrists have always been evil, and their treachery goes back 75 million years when the psychiatrists assisted XENU in killing countless alien life forms. Thanks Google! We may be able to stop these evil Psychs once and for all!"

    185 comments | 4 days ago

  • RIP, NASA Moon Landing Engineer John C. Houbolt

    The Houston Chronicle reports the death of John C. Houbolt, whose ideas helped guide the U.S. moon-landing programs. Houbolt died on Tuesday at the age of 95, in a nursing home in Maine. Says the Chronicle's obituary: "His efforts in the early 1960s are largely credited with convincing NASA to focus on the launch of a module carrying a crew from lunar orbit, rather than a rocket from earth or a space craft while orbiting the planet. Houbolt argued that a lunar orbit rendezvous, or lor, would not only be less mechanically and financially onerous than building a huge rocket to take man to the moon or launching a craft while orbiting the earth, but lor was the only option to meet President John F. Kennedy's challenge before the end of the decade."

    33 comments | 4 days ago

  • The Design Flaw That Almost Wiped Out an NYC Skyscraper

    Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "Joel Werner writes in Slate that when Citicorp Center was built in 1977 it was, at 59 stories, the seventh-tallest building in the world but no one figured out until after it was built that although the chief structural engineer, William LeMessurier, had properly accounted for perpendicular winds, the building was particularly vulnerable to quartering winds — in part due to cost-saving changes made to the original plan by the contractor. "According to LeMessurier, in 1978 an undergraduate architecture student contacted him with a bold claim about LeMessurier's building: that Citicorp Center could blow over in the wind," writes Werner. "LeMessurier realized that a major storm could cause a blackout and render the tuned mass damper inoperable. Without the tuned mass damper, LeMessurier calculated that a storm powerful enough to take out the building hit New York every 16 years." In other words, for every year Citicorp Center was standing, there was about a 1-in-16 chance that it would collapse." (Read on for more.)

    182 comments | 5 days ago

  • Ask Slashdot: What Good Print Media Is Left?

    guises writes: "A recent story discussing the cover of Byte Magazine reminded me of just how much we've lost with the death of print media. The Internet isn't what took down Byte, but a lot of other really excellent publications have fallen by the wayside as a result of the shift away from the printed page. We're not quite there yet, though. There seem to still be some holdouts, so I'm asking Slashdot: what magazines (or zines, or newsletters, or newspapers) are still hanging around that are worth subscribing to?"

    285 comments | about a week ago

  • PC Gaming Alive and Dominant

    An anonymous reader writes "Ars reports on a panel at PAX East which delved into the strength of the PC as a platform for games, and what its future looks like. The outlook is positive: 'Even as major computer OEMs produce numbers showing falling sales, the PC as a platform (and especially a gaming platform) actually shows strong aggregate growth.' The panelists said that while consoles get a lot of the headlines, the PC platform remains the only and/or best option for a lot of developers and gamers. They briefly addressed piracy, as well: 'Piracy, [Matt Higby] said, is an availability and distribution problem. The more games are crowdfunded and digitally delivered and the less a "store" figures into buying games, the less of a problem piracy becomes. [Chris Roberts] was quick to agree, and he noted that the shift to digital distribution also helps the developers make more money — they ostensibly don't have everyone along the way from retailers to publishers to distributors taking their cut from the sale.'"

    245 comments | about two weeks ago

  • UN Report Reveals Odds of Being Murdered Country By Country

    ananyo (2519492) writes "A new UN report (link to data) details comprehensive country-by-country murder rates. Safest is Singapore, with just one killing per 480,000 people in 2012. In the world's most violent country, Honduras, a man has a 1 in 9 chance of being murdered during his lifetime. The Economist includes an intriguing 'print only interactive' (see the PDF) and has some tongue-in-cheek tips on how to avoid being slain: 'First, don't live in the Americas or Africa, where murder rates (one in 6,100 and one in 8,000 respectively) are more than four times as high as the rest of the world. Next, be a woman. Your chance of being murdered will be barely a quarter what it would be were you a man. In fact, steer clear of men altogether: nearly half of all female murder-victims are killed by their partner or another (usually male) family member. But note that the gender imbalance is less pronounced in the rich world, probably because there is less banditry, a mainly male pursuit. In Japan and South Korea slightly over half of all murder victims are female. Then, sit back and grow older. From the age of 30 onwards, murder rates fall steadily in most places.'"

    386 comments | about two weeks ago

  • The Amoeba That Eats Human Intestines, Cell By Cell

    sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Entamoeba histolytica is a tiny pathogen that takes a terrible toll. The single-celled parasite—an amoeba about a tenth the size of a dust mite—infects 50 million people worldwide and kills as many as 100,000 each year. Now, a new report reveals how the microbe does its deadly damage: by eating cells alive, piece by piece. The finding offers a potential target for new drugs to treat E. histolytica infections, and it transforms researchers' understanding of how the parasite works."

    71 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Social Media Becomes the New Front In Mexico's Drug War

    An anonymous reader writes "The drug cartels operating in Mexico have often been compared to large corporations, with their own codified leadership hierarchy, recruitment methods, and accounting practices. But part of any big corporation's playbook is a marketing/PR plan. The cartels have long operated a version of those, too, by threatening journalists and killing civilians who speak up. Like any corporation these days, the drug cartels have recognized the power of social media, and they're using it more and more to propagate their messages of intimidation and violence. Quoting: 'Six days after Beltran Leyva's death, gunmen murdered family members of the only Mexican marine killed in the apartment complex siege — including the marine's mother. That same day, a fire was set at a nearby school where a banner was flown, warning that more killings would follow if the federal government made any further attempts to interfere in cartel actions. Photos of the school were then tweeted and shared in status updates — a reply to images of Beltran Leyva's corpse being shared on social media.'"

    120 comments | about three weeks ago

  • Book Review: Money: The Unauthorized Biography

    jsuda (822856) writes "Most of us know that making money is difficult and saving it is even harder, but understanding money is easy–it's just coins and folding certificates, a mere medium of exchange. That's wrong! according to Felix Martin, author of Money: The Unauthorized Biography. Not only is that understanding wrong but it's responsible (in large part) for the 2007 Great Recession and the pitiful 'recovery' from it as well as a number of previous financial and credit disasters." Keep reading for the rest of Jsuda's review.

    91 comments | about three weeks ago

  • An Engineer's Eureka Moment With a GM Flaw

    theodp (442580) writes "Hired by the family of Brooke Melton in their wrongful-death lawsuit against GM, engineer Mark Hood was at a loss to explain why the engine in Melton's 2005 Chevy Cobalt had suddenly shut off, causing her fatal accident in 2010. Hood had photographed, X-rayed and disassembled the two-inch ignition switch, focusing on the tiny plastic and metal switch that controlled the ignition, but it wasn't until he bought a replacement for $30 from a local GM dealership that the mystery quickly unraveled. Eyeing the old and new parts, Hood quickly figured out a problem now linked to 13 deaths that GM had known about for a decade. Even though the new switch had the same identification number — 10392423 — Hood found big differences — a tiny metal plunger in the switch was longer in the replacement part, the switch's spring was more compressed, and most importantly, the force needed to turn the ignition on and off was greater. 'It's satisfying to me because I'm working on behalf of the Meltons,' Hood said. 'It won't bring their daughter back, but if it goes toward a better understanding of the problem, it might save someone else.' Next week, GM CEO Mary Barra will testify before Congress about events leading up to the wide-ranging recall of 2.6 million vehicles."

    357 comments | about three weeks ago

  • West Nile Virus May Have Met Its Match: Tobacco

    An anonymous reader writes in with news about a compound produced using genetically altered tobacco plants that may prove useful in battling the West Nile virus. "Some people think of tobacco as a drug, whereas others think of it as a therapy — or both. But for the most part, it's hard to find people who think of the tobacco plant in terms of its medical applications. Qiang Chen, an infectious disease researcher at Arizona State University, is one such person. His team of scientists conducted an experiment, published today in PLOS ONE, that demonstrates how a drug produced in tobacco plants can be used to prevent death in mice infected with a lethal dose of West Nile virus. The study represents an important first step in the development of a treatment for the mosquito-borne disease that has killed 400 people in the US within the last two years."

    54 comments | about three weeks ago

  • Researchers: Rats Didn't Spread Black Death, Humans Did

    concertina226 (2447056) writes "Scientists studying the human remains of plague victims found during excavations for London's new Crossrail train line have concluded that humans spread the Black Death rather than rats, a fact that could rewrite history books. University of Keele scientists, working together with Crossrail's lead archaeologist Jay Carver and osteologists from the Museum of London, analyzed the bones and teeth of 25 skeletons dug up by Crossrail. They found DNA of Yersinia pestis, which is responsible for the Black Death, on the teeth of some of the victims."

    135 comments | about three weeks ago

  • Gunshot Victims To Be Part of "Suspended Animation" Trials

    New submitter Budgreen writes: "Knife-wound or gunshot victims will be cooled down and placed in suspended animation later this month. The technique involves replacing all of a patient's blood with a cold saline solution, which rapidly cools the body and stops almost all cellular activity. 'If a patient comes to us two hours after dying you can't bring them back to life. But if they're dying and you suspend them, you have a chance to bring them back after their structural problems have been fixed,' says surgeon Peter Rheeat from the University of Arizona in Tucson, who helped develop the technique. 10 gunshot and stabbing victims will take part in the trials."

    357 comments | about a month ago

  • Time Dilation Drug Could Let Heinous Criminals Serve 1,000 Year Sentences

    Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "Like something out of the movie Inception, Rhiannon Williams reports in the Telegraph that Dr. Rebecca Roache, in charge of a team of scholars focused upon the ways futuristic technologies might transform punishment, claims the prison sentences of serious criminals could be made worse by distorting prisoners' minds into thinking time was passing more slowly. 'There are a number of psychoactive drugs that distort people's sense of time, so you could imagine developing a pill or a liquid that made someone feel like they were serving a 1,000-year sentence,' says Roache. Roache says when she began researching this topic, she was thinking a lot about Daniel Pelka, a four-year-old boy who was starved and beaten to death by his mother and stepfather.

    'I had wondered whether the best way to achieve justice in cases like that was to prolong death as long as possible. Some crimes are so bad they require a really long period of punishment, and a lot of people seem to get out of that punishment by dying. And so I thought, why not make prison sentences for particularly odious criminals worse by extending their lives?' Thirty years in prison is currently the most severe punishment available in the UK legal system. 'To me, these questions about technology are interesting because they force us to rethink the truisms we currently hold about punishment. When we ask ourselves whether it's inhumane to inflict a certain technology on someone, we have to make sure it's not just the unfamiliarity that spooks us,' says Roache. 'Is it really OK to lock someone up for the best part of the only life they will ever have, or might it be more humane to tinker with their brains and set them free? When we ask that question, the goal isn't simply to imagine a bunch of futuristic punishments — the goal is to look at today's punishments through the lens of the future.'"

    914 comments | about a month ago

  • St. Patrick's Day, March Madness, and Steve Jobs' Liver

    Many Americans are probably rubbing their temples and wandering around with a bit of a post-St. Patrick's day hangover. Reader theodp writes with a sobering statistical consequence of traditional heavy-drinking holidays: "Keep in mind that this time of year has traditionally been very good to those awaiting organ transplants, including the late Steve Jobs, as Walter Isaacson explained in Jobs: 'By late February 2009 Jobs had secured a place on the Tennessee list (as well as the one in California), and the nervous waiting began. He was declining rapidly by the first week in March, and the waiting time was projected to be twenty-one days. 'It was dreadful,' Powell recalled. 'It didn't look like we would make it in time.' Every day became more excruciating. He moved up to third on the list by mid-March, then second, and finally first. But then days went by. The awful reality was that upcoming events like St. Patrick's Day and March Madness (Memphis was in the 2009 tournament and was a regional site) offered a greater likelihood of getting a donor because the drinking causes a spike in car accidents. Indeed, on the weekend of March 21, 2009, a young man in his mid-twenties was killed in a car crash, and his organs were made available.'"

    129 comments | about a month ago

  • Silicon Valley Billionaire Takes Out $201 Million Life Insurance Policy

    Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "The Mercury News reports that somewhere in Silicon Valley, a 'mystery billionaire' has bought what the Guinness Book of World Records says is the most valuable life insurance policy in history — a policy that will pay his survivors a cool $201 million. Was it Larry Ellison? Eric Schmidt? Elon Musk? Zuck? Nobody knows because the name of the buyer is a closely guarded secret. 'We don't want hit men running around Palo Alto trying to find him — or members of his own estate,' joked Dovi Frances, the Southern California financial services provider who sold the policy. By last count, California boasts 111 billionaires with more than a third of them in tech, while San Francisco has 20 billionaires alone so it could be any of them. But why does a billionaire even need to take out life insurance when he or she has so many other assets. The most likely answer to this question is taxes and estate planning.

    Upon death, an estate would be liable to pay off loans on any leveraged properties, plus a lot of money as part of the death taxes owed. This could force the estate to liquidate holdings to raise the money to pay off these liabilities even if it weren't the most opportune time to sell the assets. By taking out the life insurance policy, it would give the estate more flexibility in paying off the taxes and other debts owed, without necessarily having to sell assets to do so. 'In California, there are state death taxes that are exceptionally high (45 percent),' says Frances adding that the policy is actually a combination of more than two dozen policies, underwritten by 19 different insurers because if any single company had to pay out such a lavish benefit, it could be crippling. 'If your properties are leveraged then those loans are called immediately and need to be paid off, you want to hedge yourself against such a risk so [your beneficiary] can receive the proceeds without being exposed to taxes.'"

    300 comments | about a month ago

  • Transhumanist Children's Book Argues, "Death Is Wrong"

    destinyland writes "Hoping to inspire life-extending medical research, science fiction author Gennady Stolyarov has launched a campaign to give away 1,000 free copies of his transhumanist picture book for children, Death is Wrong. 'My greatest fear about the future is not of technology running out of control or posing existential risks to humankind,' he explains. 'Rather, my greatest fear is that, in the year 2045, I will be...wondering, "What happened to that Singularity we were promised by now...?"' Along with recent scientific discoveries, the book tells its young readers about long-lived plants and animals '"that point the way toward lengthening lifespans in humans,' in an attempt to avoid a future where children 'would pay no more attention to technological progress and life-extension possibilities than their predecessors did.'"

    334 comments | about a month ago

  • Turing's Theory of Chemical Morphogenesis Validated 60 Years After His Death

    cold fjord writes "Phys.org reports, "Alan Turing's accomplishments in computer science are well known, but lesser known is his impact on biology and chemistry. In his only paper on biology (PDF), Turing proposed a theory of morphogenesis, or how identical copies of a single cell differentiate, for example, into an organism with arms and legs, a head and tail. Now, 60 years after Turing's death, researchers from Brandeis University and the University of Pittsburgh have provided the first experimental evidence that validates Turing's theory in cell-like structures. The team published their findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Monday, March 10.""

    74 comments | about a month and a half ago

  • 20 Freescale Semiconductor Employees On Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight

    NeverVotedBush writes with news reported by CNN that a passenger manifest for the flight that went missing on its way from Malaysia to China indicates that "Twenty of the passengers aboard the flight work with Freescale Semiconductor, a company based in Austin, Texas. The company said that 12 of the employees are from Malaysia and eight are from China," and writes "Apparently, at least two passengers used stolen passports to board."

    190 comments | about a month and a half ago

  • Police Say No Foul Play In Death of Bitcoin Exchange CEO Autumn Radtke

    An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt: "The CEO of a virtual-currency exchange was found dead near her home in Singapore. A police spokesman said Thursday that initial investigations indicated there was no suspicion of 'foul play' in the Feb. 26 death, meaning officers do not suspect murder. The spokesman said police found 28-year-old Autumn Radtke, an American, lying motionless near the apartment tower where she lived. Police have so far classified the death as 'unnatural,' which can mean an accident, misadventure, or suicide." Hat tip to Jamie McCarthy for Slate's thoughtful take on Radtke's death, and the way it's been reported (notably, several sources have speculated that her death was a suicide, with little support).

    126 comments | about a month and a half ago

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