Day: June 2, 2016

Paul Ryan endorses Trump

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Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan, cringing from the decision for days after it became clear who would win the party’s nomination, has finally endorsed Donald Trump’s bid to become U.S. President.

The Wisconsin Republican has voice reservations over Trump’s tone throughout the campaign and disagrees with him on many policy areas. Last month, he met with the likely GOP nominee and still withheld his endorsement. As recent as last week, he was still holding out.

But on Thursday he finally acquiesced. In a column in the Janesville Gazette, the Speaker wrote that the two “have more common ground than disagreement.” And despite never using the word “endorse” in the article, Ryan’s spokesman confirmed it was an official endorsement.

For Republicans, obedience or oblivion.

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Salmon with Lemon Cream Sauce

Salmon with Lemon Cream Sauce

It’s always hard to plan for a fish meal around here, because it all depends on what the market has fresh. You can show up at the store with the best intentions of securing a thick halibut steak only to be disappointed with what clearly looks like it’s been sitting under the glass for a few days.

Fish is best fresh, there’s no way around it. The fresher the better! So, the best attitude to approach the fish section is, what looks best?

With whole fish, you can usually tell just by looking at the eyes—they should be clear, not foggy and sunken. With fillets, if the surface is dried out and tired looking, that’s not a good sign. The fillet should glisten, like it was just cut, and should smell fresh, not fishy.

Continue reading “Salmon with Lemon Cream Sauce” »

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Middle school teacher in trouble after administering "Pimps and Hos" math test

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Teacher JoAnne Bolser of Mobile, Alabama’s public Cranford Burns Middle School was put on leave last week after administering a math test with word problems about pimps, hos, cocaine dealing, drive-by shootings, gangmembers who “knocked up” multiple girls, and other delightful subjects. The questions included:

“Tyrone knocked up 4 girls in the gang. There are 20 girls in his gang. What is the exact percentage of girls Tyrone knocked up?”

“Pedro got 6 years for murder. He also got $10,000 for the hit. If his common-law wife spends $100 of his hit money per month, how much money will be left when he gets out?”

Dwayne pimps 3 ho’s. If the price is $85 per trick, how many tricks per day must each ho turn to support Dwayne’s $800 per day crack habit?

Kids in Bolser’s class texted photos of the quiz to their parents, sparking an investigation.

“The principal looked into it and then our school resource officer investigated it and then we immediately put the teacher on administrative leave,” said the school’s director of communications, Rena Philips.

Bolser was already planning to retire at the end of the school year this month.

(NBC News)

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Bees can sense a flower's electric field

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New research shows that bees can recognize flowers by the plants’ tiny electric field that differs between species. The electric field bends the tiny hairs on a bee’s body, firing neurons located at the base of the hair. From the journal Science’s News site:

Such fields—which form from the imbalance of charge between the ground and the atmosphere—are unique to each species, based on the plant’s distance from the ground and shape. Flowers use them as an additional way to advertise themselves to pollinators…

Electric fields can only be sensed from a distance of 10 cm or so, so they’re not very useful for large animals like ourselves. But for small insects, this distance represents several body lengths, a relatively long distance.

How bees sense a flower’s electric field(Science)

Mechanosensory hairs in bumblebees (Bombus terrestris) detect weak electric fields(PNAS)

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Orphaned baby rhino walks little girl to school

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This orphaned baby rhino likes to walk with this girl to school in the morning.

Rhinos are endangered across Africa, as demand for their horn fuels ruthless criminal poaching networks. Ol Pejeta is the largest black rhino sanctuary in east Africa, and is also home to the last three northern white rhinos on the planet. When Ringo is ~4 years old, it is hoped he can be released into the wild.

(Thanks, McRaney!)

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TSA screener was alleged war criminal, arrested for lying about participation in "genocidal acts"

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Yusuf Abdi Ali, a former Somali national army commander, is a pretty famous alleged war criminal, someone who’s been profiled on major news media, deported from Canada over a failed claim of refugee status, arrested in the USA for lying about his participation in “genocidal acts” on his visa applications, currently embroiled in a lawsuit with someone who claims Ali tortured and shot him — and now he works as a TSA screener at DC’s Dulles airport.
(more…)

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BrushPicks toothpicks keep your teeth clean

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At Maker Faire a couple of weeks ago Bob Knetzger offered me a BrushPick from a little keychain dispenser. I thought my teeth were already clean but I took one anyway because the picks looked cool, with a tiny sword on one side, a moth antenna on the other side. It turned out that my teeth were not as clean as I previously thought. I bought a 3-pack of dispensers ($6.21 on Amazon) and have been using them every day since. I need to stock up on replacement brushes to refill the containers, each of which hold 15 picks.

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Appeals court rules brief "Vogue" horn sample was not copyright infringement

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The 9th Circuit Court affirmed today that a quarter-second sample used by Madonna didn’t infringe the copyright of the original artist. Billboard reports that 1990 hit Vogue’s use of a brass hit from 1976’s “Love Break” was so small as to be trivial.

“After listening to the audio recordings submitted by the parties, we conclude that a reasonable juror could not conclude that an average audience would recognize the appropriation of the horn hit,” writes 9th Circuit judge Susan Graber in today’s opinion. “That common-sense conclusion is borne out by dry analysis. The horn hit is very short—less than a second. The horn hit occurs only a few times in Vogue. Without careful attention, the horn hits are easy to miss. Moreover, the horn hits in Vogue do not sound identical to the horn hits from Love Break… Even if one grants the dubious proposition that a listener recognized some similarities between the horn hits in the two songs, it is hard to imagine that he or she would conclude that sampling had occurred.”

The ruling seems to run counter to other recent courtroom action where a song was found to infringe a Marvin Gaye classic despite containing no samples of it at all. But things are complicated in copyright! Note that the court listens to the recordings: subjective similarity is at hand, not just technology. Which perhaps explains why an extensively imitative passage with no direct sampling might be found infringing, but a short sample re-used in a novel and transformative way is not.

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The Science Book – The greatest hits of science

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See sample pages from this book at Wink.

The Science Book (Big Ideas Simply Explained)

DK

2014, 352 pages, 8 x 9.6 x 1 inches

$15
Buy a copy on Amazon

The Science Book is DK publishing’s “greatest hits” of science. Laid out chronologically and full of diagrams and photos, it gives you a coffee table book experience but in a manageable way. No book clocking in at 350-ish pages could be totally comprehensive, yet it includes most of the major scientific milestones from 600 BCE to today without being dry or overwhelming.

I found that I was able to gain a better understanding of principles that I only marginally understood, like Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, which is clearly laid out in layman’s terms and with genuinely helpful visuals. Genetics is a particularly complicated topic that has always fascinated me, so I was especially drawn to the chapters that tackled it and found a diagram using bees to explain recessive traits to be one of my favorite features. The individual chapters are broken up into sections and use sidebars and trivia to keep things interesting, so no matter what topic you land on the information is always accessible. I haven’t read it cover to cover, but rather peruse whatever topic catches my eye and always find something I didn’t known before. Textbooks devoted to science have an unfortunate tendency to be dry and technical, so I am especially excited to share The Science Book with my son as he gets older, with the hope that it may help him develop a real interest in science and an appreciation of its value.

– Amber Troska

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Earth’s magnetic field is weakening

Image: ESA/ATG medialab

Satellite data from the European Space Agency have revealed that the Earth’s magnetic poles are weakening, and doing so faster than scientists previously thought.

From Mysterious Universe:

Chris Finlay, one of the researchers with the ESA, says that this new data is groundbreaking in terms of how much it reveals about Earth’s magnetic field: “Swarm data are now enabling us to map detailed changes in Earth’s magnetic field, not just at Earth’s surface but also down at the edge of its source region in the core. Unexpectedly, we are finding rapid localized field changes that seem to be a result of accelerations of liquid metal flowing within the core.”

From ESA:

Although invisible, the magnetic field and electric currents in and around Earth generate complex forces that have immeasurable effects on our everyday lives.

The field can be thought of as a huge bubble, protecting us from cosmic radiation and electrically charged atomic particles that bombard Earth in solar winds. However, it is in a permanent state of flux.

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Brigham Young professor told not to give fake urine to his students to drink

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Brigham Young University assistant professor Jason Hansen can no longer offer glasses of artificial urine to his physiology students.

From ABC7Chicago:

Assistant professor Jason Hansen has been told to just explain the lesson next time rather than offering a mixture of water with vinegar and food coloring and calling it urine, Dixon Woodbury, chair of BYU’s department of physiology and developmental biology, said Wednesday in a statement.

Hansen will not be disciplined.

Hansen said in a statement that he didn’t mean to offend anyone when he recently offered a student the chance to drink urine in class to learn about the principles of hydration and dehydration. The woman didn’t know it was fake urine. The second-year professor says he has done the same exercise in the past with no complaints.

“This is usually a fun way to teach this concept to the class,” Hansen said in an email.

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“Let’s troll Bernie and Hillary supporters systematically,” said Trump fans on 4chan

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Some Donald Trump supporters on 4chan–that time-honored bastion of gentility, courtesy, and sensibility– hatched a plan on the forum to use sockpuppet Twitter accounts to pit Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton supporters against one other. The plan had a slogan: “Let’s troll Bernie and Hillary supporters systematically.”

Their scheme didn’t really work, and has been removed from 4chan. But something like this could be effective in the future–and who knows, another instance of this same political game may be working elsewhere, undetected, right now.

(more…)

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Brian Brushwood's mind control magic trick

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Here’s Brian Brushwood showing how to do a great mentalism trick. The effect: Brian explains to the spectator that a psychologist once taught him about a famous Robert Frost poem that, when recited, will force the person who hears it to imagine a specific playing card. Brian then recites the poem to the spectator and asks the spectator what card he thought of. Then Brian tells the spectator to do a YouTube search on the psychologist who told Brian about it. The spectator plays the video and the psychologist says the same card the spectator thought of.

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Purple Rain tribute by Amanda Palmer, Jherek Bischoff & strings, to benefit kids' charity Prince supported

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Amanda Palmer provides vocals on this 10+-minute Purple Rain cover, backed by Jherek Bischoff and a string quartet consisting of Serena McKinney (violin), Ben Ullery (viola), Alma Fernandez (viola) and Jacob Braun (cello).

It’s $1 to download from Bandcamp, with proceeds to the Elevate Hope Foundation, founded by Prince protege Sheila E to provide music therapy to abused and abandoned kids. Prince himself was a supporter of the foundation.

Purple Rain
[Amanda Palmer & Jherek Bischoff/Bandcamp]

(via Metafilter)

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US government agency's own numbers predict virtually no gains from TPP

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The United States International Trade Commission, “an independent, bipartisan, quasi-judicial, federal agency of the United States that provides trade expertise to both the legislative and executive branches,” has just tabled a deep, 792-page report on the likely economic benefits to the USA from the secretly negotiated, anti-democratic Trans-Pacific Partnership, and they predict that the agreement will deliver 0.01% growth to the US economy between now and 2032, when it will level off altogether.
(more…)

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Mary Meeker's yearly report on global trends is out - good stuff

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Mary Meeker, a venture capitalist at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, has released the 230-page slideshow for her annual “Internet Trends” report. I’ve just started going through it and it’s fascinating. What learned in the first 30 slides or so: Population growth is slowing, household debt is increasing, people are living longer, GDPs have been below average in recent years, smartphone sales are slowing, and user-generated video is the new big thing.

From Washington Post:

Even more than photos, user-generated video content is redefining marketing. As Meeker notes, Candace Payne’s viral video in a Chewbacca mask, viewed over 150 million in just one day, twice mentioned Kohl’s department store. The result? The company’s app leapt to the top in the iOS app store. No planned (and expensive) campaign could have hoped for such an outcome.

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EFF: FBI & NIST's tattoo recognition program exploited prisoners, profiled based on religion, gave sensitive info to private contractors

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Dave Maass from EFF says, “Right now, NIST researchers are working with the FBI to develop tattoo recognition technology that police can use to learn as much as possible about people through their tattoos. But an EFF investigation has found that these experiments exploit inmates, with little regard for the research’s implications for privacy, free expression, religious freedom, and the right to associate. And so far, researchers have avoided ethical oversight while doing it.”
(more…)

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