Making Unique Observations in a Very Cluttered World

Thursday, 14 August 2014

OOPS!: Hospital Mistakenly Declares 200 Patients Dead -

OOPS!: Hospital Mistakenly Declares 200 Patients Dead - 

An Australian hospital apologized on Thursday after mistakenly sending out death notices for 200 of its - very much alive - patients.

Austin Hospital, in Australia's second most populous city of Melbourne, erroneously killed off the patients when it faxed death notices to their family doctors.

The notices were the result of an inadvertent change to the templates the hospital sends to doctors once a patient has been discharged, operator Austin Health said in a statement.

"We apologized unreservedly to affected clinics who, for the most part, were very understanding about the error," it said. 

Patient care had not been affected, the company stressed. 

The Australian Medical Association said the error was unacceptable and potentially distressing to family doctors, while an opposition lawmaker said it was symptomatic of an overworked health system.


Wednesday, 13 August 2014

No joke: Chicken crossing road blocks traffic in Oregon -

No joke: Chicken crossing road blocks traffic in Oregon - 

Portland, Oregon, police were told there was a chicken -- and it was attempting to cross the road.

In fact, the citizen who called the police non-emergency line on Monday evening reported that the chicken's efforts to cross a road in a north Portland neighborhood were bringing traffic nearly to a standstill.

He assured the dispatcher he was not joking.

The dispatcher chuckled -- and asked a clarifying question.

"It's just the one chicken?"

The caller said yes.

Sgt. Pete Simpson says responding officers were unable to locate the chicken.

And so, he notes, police "were unable to determine the chicken's intent."


Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Why the Earth is farting -

Why the Earth is farting - 

Every day, you have a close personal encounter with methane, a key ingredient of something we don't usually mention in polite company: farts.
Perhaps that's why methane is also called "natural gas." Unfortunately, neither propriety nor intestinal discipline can suppress its unpleasantness lately, because now not just us, but the Earth itself is farting.
Recently, three new craters, one of which measured approximately 100 feet wide and over 200 feet deep, were discovered in the Siberian permafrost. The explanation for them is even more alarming than asteroid strikes: Apparently, after two consecutive summers averaging 5 degrees Celsius hotter than normal, frozen methane is not merely thawing, it's exploding. Scientists fear that, like chronic bad digestion, this phenomenon could be ongoing. Methane in the air surrounding these craters already measures 53,000 times the normal concentration.
Alan Weisman
Alan Weisman
Then, just a week into a research trip, a team from Stockholm University found "vast methane plumes" shooting from the sea floor off the Siberian coast. Columns of gas bubbles, they reported, were surfacing around their icebreaker in waters saturated with 10 to 50 times more methane than usual.
This was the marine equivalent of melting permafrost, the undoing of frozen crystals called methane hydrates, locked solid for millennia by the pressure and temperature of deep oceans.
The U.S. Office of Naval Research calculates that methane hydrates hold trillions of tons of hydrocarbons, from two to 10 times the amount as all conventional deposits of fossil fuels, but they're probably too costly or unsafe to harvest. Now, as ocean temperatures rise, they've begun collapsing, spewing as much gas skyward as the thawing tundra.
 Mysterious crater baffles scientists
Airborne methane produces 86 times the heat-trapping greenhouse effect of carbon dioxide. Although CO2 remains in the atmosphere far longer, after 100 years methane is still 30 times more potent. With sea level increases from 3 to 6 feet already predicted by the century's end, such stunning global flatulence isn't merely embarrassing, but devastating for civilization.
So what do we do? First, we recognize that the reason this is happening involves a misleading term: positive feedback loop. It's misleading because for us there's nothing positive about it. It means that as temperatures rise, warming land and seas fart (belch, if you prefer) more methane -- which then warms things further, so dangerous eruptions accelerate. Feeding back on itself, warming begets more warming.
Second, we admit that this loop began with us. By now, the link between fuel that jet-propels our industrialized civilization and excess CO2 and methane in the atmosphere is challenged only by those who profit obscenely from it.

Third, we stop compounding the problem by ceasing to pretend that energy derived by shattering our bedrock to squeeze even more natural gas from it is somehow "clean." Not only does burning methane crank planetary heat higher, but fracking wells also inevitably leak. At least 2% of their methane output, the EPA conservatively estimates, seeps into the atmosphere, thickening the gas layer that's already turning Earth into a hothouse.
Nor will the other 98% go to heat our homes. Enormous pipelines are now proposed to transport fracked methane through New England's conservation lands and orchards, through northern Minnesota's prime tourism and wild rice lake districts, and across the Ogallala Aquifer-fed farms of our nation's heartland. Each will terminate at a port, where its gas will be exported, not used domestically.
What will remain is scarred land and the methane that escapes or explodes (most recently on June 26, in East Bernard, Texas, into 150-foot flames). Such pipelines will be subsidized by rate-payers, not by vastly wealthy corporations that own them -- unless we refuse to let them be built, and instead commit our energy funding henceforth to truly cleaner options, like wind and solar.
The last time there was this much atmospheric CO2 was 3 million years ago, when seas were 80 to 100 feet higher. Since the Industrial Revolution, atmospheric methane has more than doubled, and the amount now gushing from the seas alone is 34 times what we thought just seven years ago.
Until we stop putting more carbon dioxide and methane overhead, prepare for more rude farts to foul your air, and our future. With coastal cities, fertile deltas and much of the world's rice crops threatened by floods or salination from encroaching seas -- and with grain harvests predicted to fall 10% for each added 1 degree C of average temperature -- passing greenhouse gases isn't merely vulgar -- it's deadly.

Read more -

How your cat could be used to hack neighbors' Wi-Fi - the "War Kitteh" -

How your cat could be used to hack neighbors' Wi-Fi -  the "War Kitteh" - 

Coco looks and acts like a cat -- and hackers could exploit that.

Gene Bransfield, a principal security engineer at Tenacity Solutions, Inc., in Reston, Virginia, outfitted the Siamese cat with a custom-made collar that mapped dozens of neighbors' Wi-Fi networks.

As reported in Wired, Bransfield outfitted a cat collar with a Spark Core chip loaded with his custom-coded firmware, a Wi-Fi card, a tiny GPS module, and a battery.

The customized collar allowed Bransfield to map all the Wi-Fi networks in the neighborhood, which could also be done by a home intruder or a person intent on stealing a home's Wi-Fi.

The project was jokingly entitled "War Kitteh," and Branfield's presentation at last weekend's DefCon hacker conference in Las Vegas was entitled "How to Weaponize Your Pets."

Bransfield says his goal wasn't to create dangerous house pets, but to make users aware of privacy issues and entertain the group's hacker audience.

"My intent was not to show people where to get free Wi-Fi," says Bransfield, "but the result of this cat research was that there were a lot more open and WEP- encrypted hot spots out there than there should be in 2014."

Updating an old hacking technique

In the 1980s, hackers looked for unprotected computers by "wardialing" -- cycling through numbers with their modems. After the advent of Wi-Fi, "wardriving" saw hackers attaching an antenna to a car and driving through the city looking for weak and unprotected networks.

Bransfield says he built the "War Kitteh" collar for less than $100, and it became easier in the past months, when the Spark Core chip became easier to program, Wired reports.

Bransfield doesn't own a cat. Coco is his wife's grandmother's cat.

In a three-hour walk through the neighborhood, Coco found 23 Wi-Fi hot spots, more than one-third of which were open to snoops with the simpler-to-crack WEP instead of the more modern WPA encryption.

Bransfield says many of the WEP connections were Verizon FiOS routers with their default settings left unchanged.


Washington D.C. news crew robbed while reporting on "sketchy" neighborhoods -

Washington D.C. news crew robbed while reporting on "sketchy" neighborhoods - 

Sometimes - but not always - news reporters get exactly what they are looking for when covering a story.

For one news crew from CBS News affiliate WUSA in Washington, D.C., they got a little more.

The news crew's vehicle was burglarized while they were working on a story about a controversial app that alerts people to "sketchy" neighborhoods, WUSA reports.

The crew had locked their news van on a street in Petworth in Northwest, D.C. while they were out in the neighborhood conducting interviews. When they returned they found the lock had been popped out of the door of their news van, and that most of the crew's gear had been stolen.

Because the thieves stole the cell phone of one of the crew members, they were able to use the "Find my iPhone" app to track down some of their goods to dumpsters in another D.C. neighborhood.

The crew was able to recover some of the stolen items from the dumpsters. The entire crew returned to WUSA's broadcast house unharmed.

Read more -

Monday, 11 August 2014

You can't change the color of Facebook - it's a Virus -

You can't change the color of Facebook - it's a Virus - 

facebook phishing

More than 10,000 people around the world have been duped into downloading the malware, according to a Cheetah Mobile Security blog post.

When Facebook (FB, Tech30) users click on the fake app, it sends them to a malicious website that asks them to watch a tutorial video about how to change the color of their profile page. By agreeing to watch the video, the users give hackers access to their profiles, letting the app spam their friends.
If the user doesn't watch the video, the app will lead PC users to download a pornography video player and smartphone users to download an antivirus app. Both are infected with malware.
The good news is the bad app is pretty easy to get rid of -- just remove the color changer app from the Facebook app settings page. Cheetah Mobile Security also advises affected users to change their passwords.


Gaza Fighting Prompts Spike in Demand from Women for Sperm Donations from IDF Combat Soldiers -

Gaza Fighting Prompts Spike in Demand from Women for Sperm Donations from IDF Combat Soldiers - 

A hospital in Haifa has reported a surge in the number of requests for sperm donations from members of the Israeli Defence Forces.

A spirit of patriotism in Israel and a desire for noble progeny has prompted women to seek special donations from IDF Operation Protective Edge combat soldiers.

Haifa's Rambam Medical Centre has said that of 60 women who approach the sperm bank seeking donors each month, almost half have requested a donor with a history of combat service.

Operation Protective Edge has inspired more women to opt for donations from men in military service, in the hope that their future offspring will display the same character traits as the combat soldiers.

Now, as well as choosing the hair and eye colour, height and educational background, the combat criteria has become a priority.

"These women build a profile of what they feel is the ideal donor and the father of their future child," said Dina Aminpour, head of the hospital's sperm bank.

"It seems that the (Gaza) military operation and the stories the Israeli public were exposed to recently (about the IDF) have helped clarify some things for those requesting donations," she explained.

"It touches on the donors' character, and military service seems to indicate something about a person.

"A man who serves in the army in a combat role is usually assumed to have impressive constitution, which confirms the genetic aspirations of the women. They believe he will be fit, healthy, and have several other important attributes."


Man dressed as Osama bin Laden sneaks across border from Mexico... -

Man dressed as Osama bin Laden sneaks across border from Mexico... -

Investigative filmmaker James O’Keefe exposes the U.S.-Mexico border’s vulnerability to terrorism in his latest undercover project, obtained exclusively by The Daily Caller.

O’Keefe’s Project Veritas video reminds viewers of recent statements by the president and Obama administration officials that the southern border is secure. O’Keefe then proceeds to Hudspeth County, Texas, to easily cross back and forth cross the Rio Grande wearing the costume of modern history’s most recognizable terrorist.

“I see no border patrol. I see no security,” O’Keefe said in the video before donning a bin Laden mask. “Thousands of people have stood in my footsteps right now. They’ve come from South America, Honduras, Guatemala, and they’ve all crossed the border. And if they can cross, anybody can cross.” (RELATED: The Time Fidel Castro Snuck Into America From Mexico)

O’Keefe’s work often distinguishes itself for proving taboo but accurate premises – in this case, that Islamic extremists are able to gain entry to the United States from Mexico, where drug cartels are linked to numerous terrorist organizations including Hezbollah and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), the strongest al-Qaida-like organization in the heart of the Middle East.

This summer has seen a whirlwind of terrorist activity on the southern border, with dire anecdotes pouring out of local news stations but ignored by the mainstream press. Security contractors found a Muslim prayer rug on the Arizona border, where 300 extremists affiliated with al-Qaida’s Somalia syndicate al-Shabab recently entered the United States unaccounted for. Terrorist watch-list suspects were also detained trying to get into the country through California. Country music legend Charlie Daniels revealed that, “I personally spoke with an Arizona law enforcement officer who had taken four what he called ‘Taliban’ out of the back of an 18 wheeler.”

Relevant on the contemporary merits, O’Keefe’s video also makes an important symbolic point thirteen confusing years after the attacks of 9/11. The terrorists we’re fighting today are more technologically savvy than their idol Osama bin Laden, the self-designed political figure who tried to fire history’s loudest shot. But their motives have not changed. And they have access to the United States.


Sunday, 10 August 2014

App lets you play video games with your vagina - 

Last June, we reported on the K-Goal, a smart Kegel exercise aid that was marketed as a “Fitbit for your ladybits.” Now, much like the FitBit, the K-Goal has spawned a series of other wearable fitness gadgets: Introducing Skea, a Kegel exercise aid fundraising on Kickstarter that essentially lets you play video games with your vagina.

Short for “Smart Kegel Exercise Aid,” Skea is the brainchild of game designer Tom Chen, who designed the gadget with his company Linkcube when his wife became incontinent shortly after giving birth. (Or, as he charmingly puts it in the Kickstarter promo video, “when she found herself unable to control her piss, she was really pissed off.") Doctors recommend that she do regular Kegel exercises to treat her incontinence, which inspired him to create the Skea.

Of course, no one likes to exercise regularly, and Kegel exercising is no exception: Unless you get off on the thrill of sitting in your conference room, clenching and unclenching while your boss drones on about this quarter’s sales figures, it’s hard to make time to do them every day.

That’s why Chen created an in-app game that you can control with your pelvic muscles to motivate women to do their exercises. The game, Alice In Continent (get it, you guys? Get it? It took me a second, to be perfectly honest) is basically a Temple Run-esque runner game that asks you to navigate your avatar around various obstacles, such as “Rabbit Leg-pullers,” “Lava leaks,” and something called “Collagen Elixirs.”

As you play the game, an embedded pressure sensor in the Skea detects your pelvic muscle contractions and synchs wirelessly to your smartphone. So instead of using your finger to guide your avatar, you just have to squeeze tight and think of Chris Pratt shirtless holding a baby sloth. (If that isn’t enough to do it for you, much like the kGoal, the Skea also provides biofeedback in the form of small vibrations, which is as awesome an incentive to get women to exercise as any.)

Obviously, the gamification aspect of the Skea is kind of silly—as is the above promo video, which features more urinary incontinence puns than you can, to adapt the common parlance, shake your vagina at. But despite the Skea’s ludicrous marketing, Kegel exercise aids offer legitimate health benefits to women: Research shows that doing Kegels on a daily basis not only decreases your risk of developing urinary incontinence, it also helps you achieve stronger, more frequent orgasms during sex. Our only advice: Try not to play Alice In Continent on the train, otherwise some curious kid might ask how you’re controlling it without your finger.

Read more -

Friday, 8 August 2014

Woman tracks down the mother who abandoned her as a baby... only to realise she has unwittingly married her BROTHER -

Woman tracks down the mother who abandoned her as a baby... only to realise she has unwittingly married her BROTHER - 

A woman went in search of her long-lost mother - and discovered she has unknowingly married her own brother.
Adriana, 39, and her husband Leandro, 37, have been together for seven years and have a six-year-old daughter.
The Brazilian couple - who didn't want to reveal their surnames - spent their lives trying to find their respective mothers, who were both called Maria, and had both abandoned their children when they were still babies.

But neither ever imagined - until this week - that the women they had both been searching for could have been the same person.
Adriana, a cosmetics saleswoman, hadn't seen her mother since she was just one, when she left home leaving her to be raised by the girl's father.

Meanwhile, truck driver Leandro found out aged eight that his own mother had also abandoned him, and that the woman he knew as his mum was actually his step-mother.
While Leandro stayed in the same town where he was born in the state of Sao Paulo, southeast Brazil, Adriana moved away to work as a housemaid, was married for 15 years and had three children.
The pair met for the first time ten years ago after Adriana's marriage broke down and she moved back to her home town, and they soon fell in love and moved in together.

Still unable to forget the give up the search for her mother, last month Adriana decided to contact a a radio station in their town to ask for help - and this week the two were reunited live on air.
But at the end of the interview on Radio Globo's 'The Time Is Now' programme, which specialises in finding lost relatives, the mother revealed she also had a son who didn't know her, Leandro.

As it becomes clear that it is the same Leandro that she was married to, Adriana is heard weeping uncontrollably: 'I don't believe that you're telling me this. Leandro is my husband,' she sobs.
At the end of the interview she says: 'Now I'm scared to go home and find out that Leandro doesn't want me any more. I love him so much.'
Adriana and Leandro - who never married legally - yesterday told Radio Globo that they would stay together, despite the bombshell that they are actually brother and sister.
Adriana said: 'Only death is going to separate us. All this happened because God wanted it to happen.
'Of course it would have been different if we had known all this before, but we didn't and we fell in love.
'We thought it was funny that both our mothers had the same name, but it is a common name so we just thought it was a coincidence.
'At first we were really knocked by it all. But we had a family meeting and told everyone that we are going to stay husband and wife, whatever anyone might think.
'We have so many plans together, nothing's going to break us up, nothing.'
The couple said they don't blame their mother for leaving them, have spoken with her a number of times since and plan to meet up soon.