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barlevg (2111272) writes "In May 2012, in the midst of an FTC investigation into Google's search practices, the law school at George Mason University in Northern Virginia hosted a conference attended by congressmen, regulators and staffers. The topic: competition, search and social media. What none of the attendees of the conference knew was that Google was pulling many of the strings behind the event, even going so far as to suggest invited speakers.
This event, as documented in The Washington Post is just a snapshot of the operations of one of the largest and highest spending lobbying entities in DC, a far cry from the one-man shop it started out as nine years ago, from a company "disdainful" of Washington's "pay-to-play" culture." Link to Original Source top
ZunZuneo: USAID funded "Cuban Twitter" to undermine Communist regime
barlevg (2111272) writes "In a country where the government severely limits access to the world wide web, ZunZeneo, an anonymous SMS-based social network, drew more than 40,000 Cuban users at its peak, the Associated Press reports. On it, people shared news and opinions about music and culture. But what none of its subscribers knew was that the project was secretly funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), though a series of shell corporations and foreign bank accounts, and that its stated goal was “renegotiate the balance of power between the state and society” in the Communist stronghold, hopefully leading to a "Cuban Spring."" Link to Original Source top
barlevg (2111272) writes "Each fall, a team led by Virginia Tech Professor of Entomology Thomas Kuhar gathers brown marmorated stink bugs from around campus and plops them into ventilated and insulated five-gallon buckets designed to simulate the habitats in which the bugs naturally wait out the winter. While previous lab tests have shown the insects capable of surviving chills of -20 C, last month's polar vortex proved too much for the little guys, with only 5% surviving the sustained cold conditions. This suggests that the DC area's population of stink bugs and other overwintering insects should be much lower come spring than in previous years." Link to Original Source top
Irony is Dead: Tea Party Posts Material from Bioshock Infinite to Facebook Page
The Washington Post cites concerns that triclosan interferes with hormone production, but it should be noted that is is based on animal studies, and that at least one human study has shown no effect on hormone levels in adults using toothpaste containing triclosan." Link to Original Source top
NSA Broke Into Links Between Google, Yahoo Datacenters
barlevg (2111272) writes "The Washington Post reports that, according to documents obtained from Edward Snowden, through their so-called "MUSCULAR" initiative, the National Security Agency has exploited a weakness in the transfers between data centers, which Google and others pay a premium to send over secure fiber optic cables. The leaked documents include a post-it note as part of an internal NSA Powerpoint presentation showing a diagram of Google network traffic, an arrow pointing to the Google front-end server with text reading, "SSL Added and Removed Here" with a smiley face. When shown the sketch by The Post and asked for comment, two engineers with close ties to Google responded with strings of profanity." Link to Original Source top
White House Fires Employee Over Anonymous Twitter Feed
barlevg (2111272) writes "Since the birth of film, shooting subjects of darker complexion has been a technical challenge: light meters, film emulsions, tone and color models, and the dynamic range of the film itself were all calibrated for light skin, resulting in dark skin appearing ashy and washed-out. Historically, filmmakers have used workarounds involving "a variety of gels, scrims and filters." But now we live in the age of digital filmmaking, and as film critic Ann Hornaday describes in the Washington Post, and as is showcased in recent films such as "12 Years a Slave," "Mother of George" and "Black Nativity," a collection of innovators have set to work developing techniques in lighting, shooting and post-processing designed to counteract century-old technological biases as old as the medium itself." Link to Original Source top
Full Screen Mario: Making the Case for Shorter Copyrights
In a column on the Washington Post website, tech blogger Timothy Lee makes the case for how this is a prime example of copyrights hindering innovation and why copyright lengths should be shortened. Among his arguments: copyrights hinder innovation by game designers seeking to build upon such games, and shortening copyright would breathe new life into games who have long since passed into obsolescence." top
Nobel Winners Exemplify Israel's "Brain Drain" Problem
barlevg (2111272) writes "Analyzing hand-prints found in cave sites, an archaeologist from Penn State University has concluded that roughly 75% of all ancient cave art was painted by women. Previously it was thought that neolithic cave paintings were made mostly by men, perhaps to chronicle their kills. But an analysis of the relative lengths of fingers in hand stencils found on cave walls suggests that it was mostly prehistoric women--not men--who created these works." top
NSA Abandoned Project to Track Cell Phone Locations
barlevg (2111272) writes "Kopi Luwak, or civet coffee, consists of coffee berries that have been partially digested by an Indonesian tree-dwelling cat called the palm civet. The digestive process, coupled with the wild civet's selectivity in eating from the choicest plants, is said to impart an exquisite, exotic flavor. However, its high price (the coffee can retail for as much as $600 per pound) has led to the market being flooded with fake and low-grade products, which may contribute to negative Western impressions of the brew. Now, a team of Japanese scientists have developed a test for separating the real beans from knock-offs by looking at tell-tale signs of the civet's predigestive process in the finished product (abstract here). Says researcher Sastia Prama Putri, "We want to be sure people around the world can try the real Kopi Luwak."
As an aside, animal cruelty is also a concern, as the high demand for Kopi Luwak has led to civets being captured and caged. As civets in captivity have no choice about what they eat, it is likely these caged animals produce an inferior product to their wild counterparts." top
New Brain-to-Brain Interface Allows Human to Control Another's Movements
barlevg (2111272) writes "The Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang breaks down two popular conspiracy theories: that HAARP is responsible for severe weather and that contrails from commercial airliners are actually "chemtrails" sprayed for nefarious purposes, and explains why each is preposterous to anyone with even an elementary knowledge of meteorology or an iota common sense. The author readily acknowledges that his analysis will do nothing to convince the tinfoil-hat-wearing, vinegar-spraying members of the populace." top