Koreantoast writes "The United States surprisingly poor performance in speedskating, despite strong performances in recent World Cup events, has been blamed in part on an untested speedskating suit. The Mach 39, designed through a joint venture between Under Armour and Lockheed Martin, was supposed to provide Team USA with a high tech advantage, using advanced fluid dynamic models and dimpled surface to disrupt air flow and improve comfort. Instead, performances have been disastrous thus far, with athletes going as far as modifying their suits at the Olympics to try and reverse their fortunes. The suits have caused enough concerns that US Speedskating is taking the unusual step of seeking special dispensation from International Skating Union to ditch the high tech suits and switch back to their old uniforms. Teams are normally required to keep the same equipment through the entire Games. Insert jokes and comparisons to Lockheed's more famous product, the JSF, here." Link to Original Source top
Silicon Valley's Ultimate Exit: Techno-Utopia or Tea Party with Better Gadgets?
Koreantoast writes "Welcome to the next round of the anarchist vs. statist debate: Stanford's Balaji Srinivasan has made a radical proposal of a "techno-utopia", the dream of entire countries, driven by technology, that are free of the "Paper Belt", i.e. paperwork driven, traditional governments like those in Washington D.C. He proposes an anarchist, technologically-driven, "opt-in" utopia free of pre-existing systems and requirements led by innovators in Silicon Valley. Srinivasan presents Peter Thiel's proposed floating tech incubator and Elon Musk's plans for a Mars colony as "good starts." Needless to say, the concept has also drawn significant criticism, with Valley Wag comparing the idea to the "Tea Party with better gadgets." The author, Nitasha Tiku, says that such a concept ignores the fact that Silicon Valley's success were built upon government infrastructure and funds and that many of the newest concepts are simply thin facilitators on top of a more heavily regulated system. Slashdotters, where do you stand?" Link to Original Source top
Arrested Chinese Blogger "Confesses" on State TV, Praises Censorship
Koreantoast writes "As part of a broader, chilling Chinese crackdown on Internet dissent, Chinese blogger Charles Xue, appeared on Chinese state television in handcuffs on Sunday, denouncing his blog and praising government censorship. He "confessed" to becoming drunk on the accumulated power of his Weibo blog, which peaked at 12 million followers, and confessed to recklessly spreading unverified rumors and slander, disrupting social harmony and becoming a vent of negative emotion on mainstream society. He also praised new government legislation cracking down on Internet freedom, stating how dangerous the Internet would be if left uncontrolled by the government. Xue was arrested on prostitution solicitation charges though his television confession did not discuss those charges. His arrest was also suspiciously around the same time as a broader government sweep that picked up other Chinese Internet activists." Link to Original Source top
Analysis Makes Case that Gladwell's Culture & Air Crashes Analysis Badly Fla
Koreantoast writes "As a recent Slashdot article showed, interest in Malcolm Gladwell's theory on the impact of culture on airline crashes has come up again following the tragic accident of Asiana Flight 214. Yet how good was Gladwell's analysis of the Korean Air Flight 801 accident which is the basis of his theory? A recent analysis by the popular Ask a Korean! blog shows serious flaws in Gladwell's presentation: ignorance of the power dynamics amongst the flight crew, mischaracterizations of Korean Air's flight accident record (three of the seven deadly incidents characterized as "accidents" were actually military attacks or terrorism) and manipulative omissions in the pilot transcripts to falsely portray the situation. "Even under the most kindly light, Gladwell is guilty of reckless and gross negligence. Under a harsher light, Gladwell's work on the connection between culture and plane crashes is a shoddy fraud." Perhaps Gladwell should have asked a Korean before the chapter." Link to Original Source top
Somali Al Shabaab Live Tweet Attack on UN Development Program Compound
Koreantoast writes "In another interesting example of the increasing use and sophistication of social media by non-governmental organizations, the Somali-based Islamic insurgency al-Shabab live tweeted their latest attack, a suicide assault against a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) facility in Mogadishu which left 15 dead. During the event, they denounced UNDP, tweeting during the attack that the UN is "a merchant of death & a satanic force of evil, has a long inglorious record of spreading nothing but poverty, dependency & disbelief" and proceeded to mock newly appointed UN Representative Nicholas Kay who is to arrive in Somalia later this month. Also of note is their initiation of communications with various press entities including the AP, BBC and IHS Janes through Twitter. Hat tip to Foreign Policy magazine for the story." Link to Original Source top
Koreantoast writes "A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found in the United States that immigrant children born in the developing world are are less likely to develop allergies, ranging from food allergies to hay fever to eczema, than those born in the US, and long term, foreign born immigrants are more likely to develop allergies over time versus their peers back in the developing world. This phenomenon isn't particular to the US either: studies done in other industrialized nations show a similar pattern. Scientists hypothesize that people in the developing world benefit from greater exposures to infections and microbes, and that the cleaner, more sterile environment in the industrialized world has weakened people's immune systems, making them hypersensitive to otherwise harmless particles. Has the Western world gone too far in creating a sterile society, swinging the pendulum to the point where now it hurts their health?" Link to Original Source top
After failing miserably on numerous occasions, North Korea has finally put a satellite in orbit. But according to US officials, it is now "tumbling out of control." This is bad news, and more bad news, covered in a double layer of extra bad news.
According to US officials, it appears that North Korea's new satellite has failed to achieve a stable orbit and is now "tumbling out of control." The greatest danger is the threat of it colliding with another satellite, adding to the growing debris field around the earth. A separate Gizmodo article provides links for tracking the current location of the satellite." Link to Original Source
Koreantoast writes "Warren Buffett, whose Berkshire Hathaway recently purchased 63 newspapers and plans to purchase more over the next few years, noted during an interview that the current free content model is unsustainable and will likely continue pushing toward more electronic subscription models. This coincides with moves by other newspaper companies like Gannett and the New York Times which are also erecting paywall systems. Buffett notes that newspapers which focus on local content, their unique product, would succeed even if they lose subscribers because their services are irreplaceable. Is this the beginning of the end of "free content" for local news?" Link to Original Source top
Asian Nearsightedness Due to Time Spent Indoors Studying
Koreantoast writes "A rather amusing study completed in Australia shows that the rate of myopia amongst East Asian children may be driven in large part due to the lack of sunlight from being indoors too often, i.e. studying.
"Scientists say an epidemic of myopia, or nearsightedness, is sweeping through Asian children, and is likely due to students’ spending too much time indoors studying and not enough time outside in the sunlight.
It has long been thought that nearsightedness is mostly a hereditary problem, but researchers led by Ian Morgan of Australian National University say the data suggest that environment has a lot more to do with it."
On a more serious note, the study found that rates of myopia are higher amongst Caucasians in the UK versus Australia where the former gets less sunlight." Link to Original Source top
Koreantoast writes "The United States military has deployed Raytheon's newly developed Active Denial System (ADS), a millimeter-wave, "non-lethal" heat-ray to Afghanistan. The weapon generates a "burning sensation" that is supposedly harmless, with the military claiming that the chance of injury is at less than 0.1%; numerous volunteers including reporters over the last several years have experienced its effects during various trials and demonstrations. While US military spokesperson Lt. Col. John Dorrian states that the weapon has not yet been operationally used, the tense situation in theater will ensure its usage soon enough. Proponents of ADS believe the system may help limit civilian deaths in counterinsurgency operations and provide new, safer ways to disperse crowds and control riots, but opponents fear that the system's long-term effects are not fully known and that the device may even be used for torture. Regardless, if ADS is successful in the field, we'll probably see this mobile microwave at your next local protest or riot." Link to Original Source top
koreantoast writes "An article in the British newspaper "The Independent" states that a limited study done by Landau University has found a possible link that the radiation from cell phones is interfering with the navigation system of bees, leading to the collapse of many commercial bee hives in the United States and Europe. The implications are serious: with the disappearance of a large number of bee hives, farmers will be unable to pollinate many of their crops, leading to shortages of many agricultural products. Although there is still a lot of research that needs to be done to confirm this link, the possibility is worrisome."