Archive for January 26th, 2012
Transforming data files to objects on the table-top:
One thing that was long taken as just a fact of life is that mass communication channels, being expensive to run and maintain, would be under the control of big-money entities: businesses (large businesses frequently, but even the local radio station is run by a business with business interests) or the government (theoretically in service to the public, but more often in service to business). With the Internet, however, private citizens suddenly have a voice and a platform.
Of course, millions upon millions of small blogs don’t really move much—this blog is reasonably successful for a private blog, I would say, but gets only 2000 hits/day.
BUT: it’s very easy to pass along links that catch one’s eye, and as these take fire, things can spread quickly. The blog has had more than 3,800,000 views over its life, and the biggest day (when it was linked from high-traffic sites) it got 11,718 views. So there’s always the possibility that some post may explode, and this possibility is quite unsettling to those who once were firmly in control of what as communicated to the public.
Here’s an intriguing example, reported in The Scientist by Hannah Waters:
In the latest instance of the scientific process taking place over the internet, an anonymous internet-user has made a YouTube video exhibiting more than 60 purportedly manipulated images from 24 papers, complete with background music.
The whistleblower, who told ScienceInsider that he works in the life sciences and goes by the handle “Juuichi Jigen,” has created websites documenting misconduct by half a dozen Japanese researchers. And his efforts have paid off before. One University of Tokyo scientist called out by Jigen was found guilty of plagiarism and resigned from his post in 2010; another had several papers retracted.
The latest case focuses on work led by molecular endocrinologist Shigeaki Kato from the University of Tokyo. In the video, the images are presented as a series of slides, with arrows pointing out the altered sections. Jigen has contacted the university, and a spokesperson told ScienceInsider that “the university is conducting preliminary investigations,” including looking into two papers that the group retracted last summer.
Jigen has posted more details at his website dedicated to the potential case of research misconduct.
And that is where those feet belong. Story at ProPublica by Michael Grabell:
Sen. Susan Collins, the top Republican on the homeland security committee, plans to introduce a bill in the coming days that would require a new health study of the X-ray body scanners used to screen airline passengers nationwide.
The Transportation Security Administration began using the machines for routine screening in 2009 and sped up deployment after the so-called underwear bomber tried to blow up a plane on Christmas Day of that year.
But the X-ray scanners have caused concerns because they emit low levels of ionizing radiation, a form of energy that has been shown to damage DNA and mutate genes, potentially leading to cancer. ProPublica and PBS NewsHour reported in November that the TSA had glossed over cancer concerns. Studies suggested that six or 100 airline passengers each year could develop cancer from the machines.
Shortly after our report, the European Union separately announced that it would prohibit X-ray body scanners at its airports for the time being “in order not to risk jeopardizing citizens’ health and safety.”
The new bill drafted by Collins would require the TSA to choose an independent laboratory to measure the radiation emitted by a scanner currently in use at an airport checkpoint. The peer-reviewed study, to be submitted to Congress, would also evaluate the safety mechanisms on the machine and determine whether there are any biological signs of cellular damage caused by the scans.
In addition, the bill would require the TSA to place prominent signs at the start of checkpoint lines informing travelers that they can request a physical pat-down instead of going through the scanner. Right now, the TSA has signs in front of the machines noting that passengers can opt out. But the signs mostly highlight the images created rather than possible health risks.
The bill is the latest volley in a back-and-forth between Collins and the TSA. At a hearing in November, TSA administrator John Pistole agreed to a request from Sen. Collins to conduct a new independent health study.
But a week later at another hearing, Pistole backed off the commitment citing a yet-to-be-released report on the machines by the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general.
“I have urged TSA to move toward only radiation-free screening technology,” Collins said in a statement to ProPublica. “In the meantime, an independent study is needed to protect the public and to determine what technology is worthy of taxpayer dollars.” . . .
Continue reading. The boldface part clearly shows that John Pistole is simply not to be trusted: he lies, and once starting down the path of prevarication, who knows at what point he will stop? Right now, I think he should be relieved of his duties forthwith.
Saw the opthalmologist this morning. The problems in my eye have several sources. One is that having taken Flomax (a medication to shrink the prostrate, which in many men grows with aging) affects the eyes (weirdly)—sort of setting things somewhat adrift, near as I can make out. It’s not as though discontinuing it two weeks before surgery or the like would help: if you’ve once taken it, it’s a problem. But the man thing was that I made an abrupt movement and though the doctor quickly retracted the instruments, he wasn’t quite quick enough, and the vitreous sack was torn, releasing vitreous fluid, and that had to be cleaned up with other instruments. So not only was there the injury, the surgical procedure was extended.
He said that he did get everything cleaned up, and the lens is in, and all the cataract was removed. So mostly it’s a matter of allowing time for things to heal. I got an additional med (Diox capsules, a sulfa drug) to reduce pressure (now around 20) and this morning also got a fourth eyedrop to use threice daily. Bt he thinks it will heal relatively quickly and thngs will get better, but (he said) I might have to wear glasses. Big deal. I’ve worn them since second grade, so no worries, mate.
I got another eyedrop to take—four different kinds, two of them twice daily, two thrice daily.
Time will tell.
UPDATE: Still sleeping a lot, but on awaking from nap I can see my feet rather well with my left eye. “Clearly” is a stretch, but I certainly can see them, what they’re wearing, their position, etc. (I mention my feet in particular because as I sit in my recliner, they are more or less directly in front of me.) I think the Diox and additional eyedrop are immediately helping.
I am now optimistic.
Absolutely terrific shave today, for all that it was one-eyed. Speick shaving cream turns out not only to have a great sort of spruce-forest fragrance, it softens the beard wonderfully. Definitely worth a try for shaving-cream fans. Morris & Forndran—this is the Medium size from Vintage Blades LLC—is a very nice brush indeed, and three passes of the iKon OSS with a brand-new Gillette 7 O’Clock SharpEdge balde—well, 2.97 passes: I started with the Shark Chrome that was in there, but immediately realized that replacement was desirable—gave me a wonderfully smooth, easy shave with a fine, smooth finish. At one time the 7 O’Clock SharpEdge was too sharp for my skill, but now it’s definitely a favorite blade and this morning’s shave shows its value.
A good splash of Speick, then off to a blood draw for some tests. Morning weight: 168.5. We’re getting down around high-school levels here. (Yesterday I just didn’t feel like eating, but made up for when we went out for breakfast this morning.)