Making Unique Observations in a Very Cluttered World

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Ghost writer: New app to keep you tweeting after death -

Ghost writer: New app to keep you tweeting after death - 

A new application will soon allow users to keep posting Twitter updates from beyond the grave, independently using intricate knowledge of your online character to create a virtual continuation of your personality after you die.
“When your heart stops beating, you'll keep tweeting,” says the new application’s tagline.
‘LivesOn’ will let users pursue ‘life after death’ on their social media profiles, letting the deceased communicate with loved ones. LivesOn will keep posting after you kick the bucket, following the example of the DeadSocial platform.
Due to be launched in March, the LivesOn application will keep tweeting after you pass on. The service will utilize advanced analysis of your main Twitter feed, to carefully select appropriate subjects, likes, or articles that would have been likely to interest you, posting them on your behalf for your friends to read.
Pre-existing applications so far have only allowed users to schedule prepared updates.
Users of LivesOn can even nominate an ‘executor’ to their LivesOn will, who will decide whether to keep the account ‘live’.
A similar application was recently seen in a UK television program named Black Mirror, which showed a bereaved woman speaking to a virtually-constructed version of her deceased husband, which was built from his previous online communications, despite him not having laid any plans to maintain social media communications after his death.
The application is cut from the same cloth as one launched last April, named DeadSocial, and another Israeli application which was launched in January 2102, named If I Die. However, whereas LivesOn will base its postings on pre-existing models of your behavior, these currently-active applications allow their deceased users to send messages from beyond the grave to private Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts
If I Die posts a message to the wall of the deceased after confirmation of your death from three friends, and DeadSocial can be scheduled to post a variety of bulletins and updates for long after your death.
On its Facebook page, DeadSocial states that its mission is “to live forever.”
A user chooses a “super administrator,” or someone who can access their DeadSocial account after they cease to be. This administrator can ‘untick’ the account to indicate you've died, but won’t be able to change the pre-prepared messages, which will then be sent out according to plan.
Despite the LivesOn application raising some serious philosophical, moral and ethical questions, the developers find the controversy over a computer-generated ghost interesting.
Remembering anniversaries, sending birthday wishes, or reminding loved ones of how much you care may not be the only use to which it is put. ‘I told you I was ill’ messages, inappropriate jokes, or recorded video messages lightheartedly threatening hauntings could be scheduled to appear on your page.


NASA says the International Space Station has lost contact with NASA controllers in Houston -

NASA says the International Space Station has lost contact with NASA controllers in Houston - 

NASA says the International Space Station has lost contact with NASA controllers in Houston. Officials say the six crew members and station are fine and they expect to fix the problem soon.

NASA spokesman Josh Byerly said something went wrong around 9:45 a.m. EST Tuesday during a computer software update on the station. The outpost abruptly lost all communication, voice and command from Houston.

About an hour later, while flying over Russia, station commander Kevin Ford was able to briefly radio Moscow that all was well and they were working on the problem.

Byerly said the problem should be fixed today. Until then, astronauts can talk with Moscow control for a few minutes every 90 minutes.

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Nanotech 'sober pill' could one day de-drunk you -

Nanotech 'sober pill' could one day de-drunk you - 

Newly developed nanocapsules could one day deliver alcohol-digesting enzymes into a person's system to quickly lower blood alcohol content.

Hair of the dog? Lots of water? Cup of coffee? The quest for an effective hangover cure has never really led to a Holy Grail fix-it-all solution. What if you could counteract the impact of alcohol in your system before you ever even got to the hangover stage? Newly published research shows one potential path to the creation of a "sober pill."
We're a long way off from popping down to the local drug store and grabbing a bottle of B-Sober-Now pills, but the use of nanocapsules to reduce the blood alcohol content in mice might be the first step in that direction.
Research lead by Yunfeng Lu, chemical and biomolecular engineering professor at UCLA, and Cheng Ji, biochemical and molecular biology professor at USC, and published in Nature Nanotechnology, details how the scientists encapsulated enzymes into a thin polymer shell to form enzyme nanocomplexes. A combination of two enzymes was injected into what were essentially drunk mice. The result was a fast lowering of the subjects' blood alcohol content.

"We show that nanocomplexes containing alcohol oxidase and catalase could reduce blood alcohol levels in intoxicated mice, offering an alternative antidote and prophylactic for alcohol intoxication," the scientists write. Their method essentially kicks up a body's ability to metabolize alcohol into overdrive.
The nanocapsule approach could potentially lead to the development of an oral alcohol antidote. Imagine having a sober pill dispenser at the door of every bar. Though science may be figuring out how to deal with over-indulgence, perhaps the smartest route is to simply not get wasted in the first place.

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Freight Shipment Volumes Plunge To Lowest In Two Years -

Freight Shipment Volumes Plunge To Lowest In Two Years - 

Freight shipment volumes are rather obviously seasonal, but as Bloomberg Brief notes, the Cass Freight index shows shipment volumes have slumped for four consecutive months and are back to their worst levels in two years. This is the first year-over-year contraction since the 2007-2009 Great Recession - and places the reality of the dismal Q4 GDP print in context. If that wasn't enough good news about the real economy, the cyclicality of the shipments are losing momentum (i.e. each seasonal rebound in the last three years has been weaker - just as we saw in the lead up to 2008) and freight expenditures fell in January leading to a 1.6% drop over the last year - compared to a 27.2% rise in January 2011, and 22.2% rise in January 2012. As Cass noted, these volumes will not be enough to "have a significant impact on the unemployment numbers."

Cass Shipments (upper pane) are back at two-year lows but critically the momentum of each seasonal cycle (lower pane) has been weaker and weaker in recent years...


Dr. Drew under fire after Mindy McCready’s apparent suicide marks FIFTH Celebrity Rehab death -

Dr. Drew under fire after Mindy McCready’s apparent suicide marks FIFTH Celebrity Rehab death - 

The criticism of Dr. Drew Pinsky spread on the Internet almost as quickly as news of Mindy McCready’s death.

The country singer with the tumultuous personal life became the fifth cast member of his Celebrity Rehab series to die since appearing on the show and the third from Season 3. The previous deaths stirred up rumors of a curse and a debate about the show’s helpfulness. McCready’s apparent suicide upped the pitch of the reaction, however.

Singer Richard Marx on Twitter compared Pinsky to Dr. Jack Kevorkian, the so-called suicide doctor: “Same results.”

Marx backed off later Monday, saying the crack went too far. But he restated his thoughts in a way that summed up much of the reaction in the first 24 hours since the 37-year-old McCready’s death Sunday afternoon in Heber Springs, Ark.

“It is, however, my opinion that what Dr. D does is exploitation and his TV track record is not good,” Marx wrote.

VH1′s Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew is not currently on the air. Pinsky switched his focus to non-celebrities in Season 6 last fall and changed the title to Rehab. The show spawned two spinoffs, Sober House and Sex Rehab.

Season 3, shot in 2009, featured McCready, former NBA star Dennis Rodman, actors Tom Sizemore and Mackenzie Phillips, former Hollywood madam Heidi Fleiss and a handful of lesser known celebrity types.

McCready was a sympathetic character on the show and appeared to be far less damaged than her fellow cast members, some of whom experienced fairly graphic symptoms of opiate withdrawal in front of the cameras. McCready suffered a seizure while on the show, further endearing her to Pinsky and the others.

She said in a 2010 interview with The Associated Press that she initially turned Pinsky down.


Guard gets two years in prison for failing to protect Belarus from Teddy Bears -

Guard gets two years in prison for failing to protect Belarus from Teddy Bears -

A Belarusian border guard was sentenced to two years in prison Monday for failing to report a border crossing by a Swedish plane that parachuted hundreds of teddy bears into the country carrying pro-democracy protest messages.

The sentence was announced by the Belarusian Supreme Court, which said the unnamed officer would be sent to a maximum-security facility, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported.
The Associated Press and Charter 97, an independent news service opposed to the government of dictator Alexander Lukashenko, also reported the announcement.

The strife over the stuffies eventually escalated into a diplomatic war between Belarus, a former Soviet republic of about 10 million, and Sweden. Each nation expelled the other's ambassador after the parachute drop on July 4, which is also Belarus' Independence Day. Sweden has long been open about its desire to see democracy take root in Belarus.
Belarus didn't publicly acknowledge the airdrop until two weeks later, when Lukashenko criticized the military for allowing the plane to enter Belarusian airspace. He also fired the foreign minister and the generals in charge of air defense and the border patrol.
Authorities also arrested two civilians: a journalism student who put pictures of the teddy bears on his website and a property manager who offered an apartment to the plane's Swedish pilots, two of four pro-democracy advertising agents who dreamed up the stunt.  They told NBC News last year that they hoped the diplomatic spat would increase pressure on Lukashenko.


Large study links excessive TV in childhood to criminal behavior in adults -

Large study links excessive TV in childhood to criminal behavior in adults - 
Can Too Much TV in Childhood Cause Adult Antisocial Behavior?

Time spent in front of the television during childhood and early adolescence is linked to criminal behavior in adulthood, according to research published online in Pediatrics.

“Antisocial behaviour is a major problem for society. While we’re not saying that television causes all antisocial behaviour, our findings do suggest that reducing TV viewing could go some way towards reducing rates of antisocial behaviour in society,” explained Bob Hancox of the University of Otago in New Zealand.

The study found that those who watched more television during childhood were at a significantly higher risk of having a criminal conviction and a diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder. The link between television and antisocial behavior held even after factors such as sex, IQ score, antisocial behavior in early childhood, socioeconomic status and parenting were accounted for.

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