Cancer deaths have been falling since 1990

May 9, 2013

Via Suzanne — on the meme of cancer, if such a thing exists. Boing boing has a short blurb about cancer.

A new study suggests that cancer deaths for people under age 75 have been on the decline since 1990 and are now at levels lower than when the War on Cancer began in 1971. But rather than amazing new treatments, the big key seems to be prevention—both through an increase in screening, and a decrease in risky behaviors, especially smoking.

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Bloggers now eligible for press passes in NYC

March 19, 2013

I made a note to myself to write about this article on Slashdot about bloggers being given press passes, an interesting note in the story of the evolution of journalism. Of course, now it’s three years later. I’m not even sure I’ve ever heard of anyone getting one of these passes, but then, I don’t hang out in bloggers’ circles.

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India’s Zero Rupee Note

March 19, 2013

I don’t remember exactly where I first heard about this, but it came up from a number of different sources, which was itself interesting. India ‘issues’ zero rupee banknotes. Wikipedia’s article. Another article.

He gave one example where a tax official refused to process documents unless he paid her 500 rupees.

"I handed over the zero-rupee note which I always keep in my pocket," said Sundar.

"She was afraid and didn’t want to take it. She completed the job immediately and said she was sorry and asked me not to take it forward."

We sure could have used something like this in Cameroon..

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About dating

September 5, 2011
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I don’t know where I found this. Maybe Evi.

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Analysis of U Chicago graffiti

September 4, 2011
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Seen on Slashdot: Crescat Graffiti, Vita Excolatur.

The graffiti preserved in Pompeii after the eruption of Mount Vesuvius provided unique insights into Roman street life. The Mayan graffiti found in Tekal and the graffiti left by Vikings also give us small glimpses into the past. What kind of insight might a longitudinal study of the graffiti on the walls at the University of Chicago’s main library provide into the lives and minds of this community of college students?

The objects of student love vary widely, with "Puerto Rico," "this silence," "Tiramisu," and other miscellanea appearing alongside the usual references to people, school, and life in general.

Each phrase is linked to a photo of the graffito in question on Flickr.

It looks like the project itself has a website of the same name.

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August 30, 2010

Saw this image while reading about Punk Rock Mathematics:

Apparently this was part of a project called Superstruct, which is apparently now quite defunct, but at the time was some kind of experimental game, aiming to (as far as I can tell) brainstorm solutions to the world’s problems in some form of social networking/alternate reality schema.

Q: How do I play Superstruct?

A: Superstruct is played on forums, blogs, videos, wikis, and other familiar online spaces. We show you the world as it might look in 2019. You show us what it’s like to live there. Bring what you know and who you know, and we’ll all figure out how to make 2019 a world we want to live in.

It’s really interesting to look at some of the entrails of this particular beast. They put up a wikia, with a page called Superstruct Powers, which begins:

Note: By necessity this page will start out with crackpot theories, wrong ideas, and untested hypotheses. The goal is to identify the difference between theories that should be tested, and case studies of actual superstructing that can be evaluated. It’s fine to theorize, but try to protovate your theories as much as possible. Remember your scientific method: 1) Observe, 2) Make a hypothesis, 3) Make a prediction, 4) Test, and back to 1) Observe.

I personally love this kind of future-dialect that assumes you know more than you can know. Also interesting are the Plot Updates, which reflect the above image:

Under pressure from its largest client, Google, the leaders of the energy haven of SeaStar, which offers a combination of abundant clean energy (from wave, wind, and solar power), year-round aquaculture, and high-bandwidth connections to the global Internet, voted today to end efforts to declare SeaStar an autonomous national entity, accepting instead a status of protectorate of the United Kingdom.

The wiki has another page called Screaming 3D Bootstrappers, apparently an in-game clan.

All of this makes for utterly wonderful flavor text — but it isn’t clear what the game mechanics, if any, are. Sure, we can brainstorm solutions. But to see which solutions are the easiest to implement, or the most effective, or the most cost-effective? There’s a video, but right now my bandwidth is not sufficient to watch it. Anyone want to clue me in?

Also, be aware that there’s a "sequel", called Evoke, which is a little easier to grok.

The goal of the social network game is to help empower young people all over the world, and especially young people in Africa, to come up with creative solutions to our most urgent social problems….Players who successfully complete ten game challenges in ten weeks will be able to claim their honors: Certified World Bank Institute Social Innovator – Class of 2010.

The missions (here’s one) tend to encourage exploration of problems and a focus on "innovation".

Your objective: Describe the biggest challenge to food security in your own local community or country — and an innovative solution that is already underway.
Document your local insight with a blog post, video, or photo.
Your objective: Take action to increase someone’s food security near you.
Document your effort with a blog post, video, or photo.

But it’s hard for me to feel like this would be 1. fun (since it feels like a junior-high-school homework assignment) or 2. impactful (since solutions and ingenuity do not seem to be in short supply in the world). Nevertheless, it’s better than underage drinking.

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Study finds that 55 percent of newspaper stories are placed

March 31, 2010

Via Suzanne, an article on Boing Boing about journalism as we know it.

A study in Australia found that more than half of stories in mainstream newspapers were fed to them by PR entities: "Many journalists and editors were defensive … Most refused to respond, others who initially granted an interview then asked for their comments to be withdrawn out of fear they’d be reprimanded, or worse, fired."

Regardless of whether this was an effect of the Internet, or whether newspapers have been dead for a long time, this sure does have an impact on the idea that the blogosphere cannot replace quality investigative journalism. What’s there to replace?

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What’s the Matter With Sweden?

March 30, 2010

And closing out this Intellectual Impropriety hat trick, an article on Pitchfork called "What’s the Matter With Sweden?", seen here via JWZ. The article starts with covering the Swedish Arts Council, which grants public funds to musical artists, and goes from there into a survey of other countries with public funding for music and how they interact with the concept of a "social democracy".

The article doesn’t have a strong message and is about a half-hour to read, but does make some interesting points:

  • Lots of countries have programs like this to subsidize their own "homegrown" culture "in the face of American cultural dominance".
  • A major stumbling block for professional musicians is health care.
  • "Dave Hickey, in his 1997 book Air Guitar, argues that art truly worthy of public patronage would most likely be unworthy as art." One commenter on JWZ’s post, however, mentions that lots of funding distributed by arts councils tends to go, rather predictably, to "uncomfortable and edgy impotent commentary on society".
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Warner Bros. looking for a student intern to spy on torrent

March 30, 2010

Via Chiz, an article on Boy Genius Report about a Warner Bros. UK job posting.

During the 12 month internship, duties will include: monitoring local Internet forums and IRC for pirated WB and NBCU content and in order to gather information on pirate sites, pirate groups and other pirate activities; finding new and maintaining existing accounts on private sites; scanning for links to hosted pirated WB and NBCU content and using tools to issue takedown requests; maintaining and developing bots for Internet link scanning system (training provided); preparing sending of infringement notices and logging feedback; performing trap purchases of pirated product and logging results; inputting pirate hard goods data and other intelligence into the forensics database; selecting local keywords and submitting local filenames for monitoring and countermeasure campaigns and periodically producing research documents on piracy related technological developments. Various training will be provided.

Relatedly, this story about lawsuits against 20,000 BitTorrenting downloaders on Slashdot. The referenced article says that this action was taken "on behalf of an ad hoc coalition of independent film producers and with the encouragement of the Independent Film & Television Alliance", but then they cite Uwe Boll as one of the plaintiffs, so who knows?

"We’re creating a revenue stream and monetizing the equivalent of an alternative distribution channel," says Weaver…

The difference between the MPAA’s past approach and the new one being offered by the US Copyright Group could come down to numbers. Weaver says the MPAA took a less targeted approach going after a smaller sampling of infringers in a single suit for multiple films, to send a message that would hopefully resonate to a much larger crowd.

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Judge Nullifies Gene Patents

March 30, 2010

Via Suzanne and Slashdot, this story on a judge nullifying gene patents. Interesting to see the evolution of patents as part of the "intellectual property" meme.

U.S. District Judge Robert Sweet agreed with the civil rights group that the patents were invalid because they covered the most basic element of every person’s individuality. “Products of nature do not constitute patentable subject matter absent a change that results in the creation of a fundamentally new product,” Sweet wrote in a 152-page opinion.

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