Ever wondered about the bacteria in your cat’s gut? It’s probably not something that crops up in most people’s daily lives, but some of us care. The evidence for that is Kittybiome, a crowdfunding project that’s trying to survey the biological diversity in cats’ intestines. Suitably intrigued, and keen to do my bit, I backed the project. And that’s how I came to be staking out the litter box over the summer, armed with nitrile gloves and three poop-collection kits. You know, for science.It’s all about what’s known as the “microbiome”—the populations of microbes that we carry around on our skin and in our guts. Equipped with ever-cheaper and faster DNA sequencing, scientists are now able to catalogue these communities of microbes, which we are finding can have a powerful influence on health and disease. While much of the microbiome research to date has, understandably, focused on the relationship between these microbes and humans, animals have their own microbiomes. Which is where Holly Ganz and her colleagues come in; they’re applying the techniques refined in humans to understand more about the cats and dogs with whom many of us share our lives.
Monthly Archives: March 2017
A Portland student has become the first American to gain legal designation as “genderless”, following a ruling by a Multnomah County judge.
The 27-year-old formerly known as Patrick Abbatiello, now legally designated agender, also got legal approval to change names, now going only by “Patch,” no surname. That name also serves as a pronoun, Patch explained to the local NBC affiliate this week.
“Even gender-neutral pronouns don’t feel as if they fit me,” Patch said. “I feel no identity or closeness with any pronouns I’ve come across. What describes me is my name.”
Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli told a gathering of Asian leaders that the world must commit to multilateral free trade under the World Trade Organization and needs to reform global economic governance.Negotiations on the 16-nation Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, an Asia-wide agreement that’s favored by China, should be concluded soon and regional cooperation such as with the Association of South East Asian Nations should be advanced, Zhang said Saturday in a speech at the Boao Forum for Asia, an annual conference on the southern Chinese island of Hainan.
If you’ve never heard of salt caves and Halotherapy, you’re going to want to experience it for yourself.A salt cave is a unique way to relax and recharge. The health benefits from Halotherapy are numerous. It improves several conditions, from anxiety to asthma. Fortunately, Columbus is home to a fairly new salt cave called Tranquility Salt Cave—and you’ll definitely want to visit.A 45-minute session in this unique cave will relax your mind and rejuvenate your sinuses. (Doesn’t this look unbelievably inviting?)tranquilitysaltcave.comSo what exactly is a salt cave? It’s a man-made cave infused with salt. It’s lined with Himalayan rock salt boulders and tons of granulated salt rest on the floor of the cave.Tranquility Salt Cave/YelpSpecifically, dry salt therapy helps improve asthma, seasonal allergies, coughs and chest congestion, Eczema and Dermatitis. It also improves lung functioning, sleep disorders, Cystic Fibrosis, stress and anxiety and even depression.
Delivery is the weakest link in the “dark web” drug trade: the postal habits of a large-scale trader have led to his undoing.Chukwuemeka Okparaeke is accused of dealing in very nasty stuff: Fentanyl, a high-strength synthetic opioid the Centre for Disease Control says is 50 times the potency of heroin and was responsible for nearly 10,000 deaths in the US in 2015.Okparaeke may have been a capable Tor user, but his logistical clue needed work: he was caught not because someone linked him to his handle (“Fentmaster”, on a site called the AlphaBay Marketplace), but because wearing latex gloves while depositing large numbers of packages at US post offices got the attention of staff.He was seen at several post offices in the Middletown area of New York, and because he was bulk-buying priority delivery stamps, staff had also viewed his driver’s licence.
In the wake of recommendations that were part of a recent study of its red-light cameras, the Chicago Department of Transportation has agreed to immediately increase the so-called “grace period”—the time between when a traffic light turns red to when a ticket is automatically issued.Under the new policy, which was announced Monday, the grace period for Chicago’s red lights will move from 0.1 seconds to 0.3 seconds. This will bring the Windy City in line with other Americans metropolises, including New York City and Philadelphia. In a statement, the city agency said that this increase would “maintain the safety benefits of the program while ensuring the program’s fairness.”On Tuesday, the Chicago Tribune reported that the city would lose $17 million in revenue this year alone as a result of the expanded grace period. Michael Claffey, a CDOT spokesman, confirmed that figure to Ars.
Many people have one or two really old mobile phones from before the smartphone revolution happened, but 26-year old Stefan Polgari has a collection of over 3,500 of them, made up of 1,231 different models.Polgari, from the small Slovakian town of Dobsina, has always been kind of a tech-head, and at 15-years-old, he started doing online reviews of new mobile phones. Before long, he had already amassed a small collection of Nokia, Alcatel, Sagem, Ericsson and other brands that were available in Slovakia at the time. But it was 2 years ago that Stefan’s collection really took off, after he bought someone’s collection of 1,000 old phones for a few thousands of euros. He has been hunting for missing models to add to his already impressive collection ever since, and today he is the proud owner of 3,500 “ancient” mobile phones, about half of which still work.
Amy Schumer’s latest foray into comedy, a Netflix standup special titled ‘The Leather Special’, has failed to gain her many new fans, as bored viewers inundated it with thousands of bad reviews. Her fans really hate it, and they’ve been keen to voice their dislike. But Schumer blames those bad reviews on the “alt-right.” She also believes that Trump is out to get her.Schumer’s decline in popularity over recent months has been well-charted. Jumping from one controversy to the next, the comedienne’s tired humor about her genitals and her constant attacks on Hillary Clinton’s detractors have become the subject of mockery by other comedians, including the writers of South Park. The public has taken notice.“Can I give half a star? I couldn’t even get through this. Amy needs to expand on the joke subject matter a bit and stop talking about her swampy, stinky, lady-business area,” reads one review.
When we hear about the new idea of gender identity laws, we hear a lot about why transgender people need these laws in order to stop discrimination against them. But what we don’t hear about is how these laws will affect already protected groups, females in particular, but other groups as well such as people of color, and disabled people.The easiest way I can demonstrate how gender identity overrides sex is by explaining how the law would function. Let’s take a step back from the bathroom debate for a moment, as it’s highly politicized, and look at another place gender identity laws will impact: sports. We can whittle it down even further and look at college sports.There was a time when women couldn’t participate in sports in colleges. Of course, there was a time when women couldn’t go to college either. But suffice it to say, the sports arena is a place women had to fight to be. Now there is Title IX, a portion of the Education Amendments of ’72, which requires colleges to make sports teams available to women as well as men on the basis of sex, to ensure equitable and equal access to sports programs (as well as anything sex-based protection applies to, such as access to education, housing, security on-campus, etc).
Professor Stephen Hawking, one of the most celebrated minds in science who’s known for his work in unlocking the mysteries of gravity, will soon see his biggest dream become reality as he’s set to venture into outer space soon.In an interview with Piers Morgan on ITV’s Good Morning Britain, Hawking said:My ultimate ambition is to fly into space. I thought no one would take me, but Richard Branson has offered me a seat on Virgin Galactic, and I said yes immediately.
You should want to drink from your toilet. Flushes flood sewers with precious liquid that ends up washed out to sea or sprinkled on crops. But we could be enjoying recycled urine as a beverage. Some U.S. cities, like the perpetually parched San Diego, are beginning to use advanced purification treatment plants to reclaim the stuff, combating drought by harnessing millions of gallons of would-be waste daily. It tastes so good, you’ll forget that it used to be your neighbor’s pee.
1 of 6Out with the oldIllustration by Adam SimpsonStep 1.Your urine is more than 90 percent water (and your poop is about three-quarters). Each time you flush, the sewer system ferries your waste—along with 1.6 to 7 gallons of perfectly good H2O used to swirl it down your porcelain throne—to a treatment plant designed to make it taste delicious.
Slow wi-fi is a source of irritation that nearly everyone experiences. Wireless devices in the home consume ever more data, and it’s only growing, and congesting the wi-fi network. Researchers at Eindhoven University of Technology have come up with a surprising solution: a wireless network based on harmless infrared rays. The capacity is not only huge (more than 40Gbit/s per ray) but also there is no need to share since every device gets its own ray of light. This was the subject for which TU/e researcher Joanne Oh received her PhD degree with the ‘cum laude’ distinction last week.The system conceived in Eindhoven is simple and, in principle, cheap to set up. The wireless data comes from a few central ‘light antennas’, for instance mounted on the ceiling, which are able to very precisely direct the rays of light supplied by an optical fiber. Since there are no moving parts, it is maintenance-free and needs no power: the antennas contain a pair of gratings that radiate light rays of different wavelengths at different angles (‘passive diffraction gratings’). Changing the light wavelengths also changes the direction of the ray of light. Since a safe infrared wavelength is used that does not reach the vulnerable retina in your eye, this technique is harmless.
Internet inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee says misuse of data online is having a ‘chilling effect on free speech’
SIR Tim Berners-Lee, the man who invented the internet, said the impact of fake news is increasingly concerning and has unveiled plans to tackle “unethical” political advertising and the harvesting of data.The British computer scientist said on Sunday, exactly 28 years after his invention, the three new trends have become alarming in the last 12 months.In an open letter published in the UK, Sir Tim, 61, said misuse of data has created a “chilling effect on free speech” and warned of “internet blind spots” that are corrupting democracy.This photograph shows stories from USA Daily News 24, a fake news site registered in Macedonia. Both stories shown here are bogus. Picture: Raphael Satter/APSource:SuppliedOne problem, he wrote, is that most people find their news and information through a “handful” of social media sites and search engines, which are paid whenever someone clicks a link.“The net result is that these sites show us content they think we’ll click on, meaning that misinformation or fake news, which is surprising, shocking or designed to appeal to our biases, can spread like wildfire,” he added. “And through the use of data science and armies of bots, those with bad intentions can game the system to spread misinformation for financial or political gain.”
Several countries are developing nanoweapons that could unleash attacks using mini-nuclear bombs and insect-like lethal robots.While it may be the stuff of science fiction today, the advancement of nanotechnology in the coming years will make it a bigger threat to humanity than conventional nuclear weapons, according to an expert. The U.S., Russia and China are believed to be investing billions on nanoweapons research.”Nanobots are the real concern about wiping out humanity because they can be weapons of mass destruction,” said Louis Del Monte, a Minnesota-based physicist and futurist. He’s the author of a just released book entitled “Nanoweapons: A Growing Threat To Humanity.”One unsettling prediction Del Monte’s made is that terrorists could get their hands on nanoweapons as early as the late 2020s through black market sources.According to Del Monte, nanoweapons are much smaller than a strand of human hair and the insect-like nanobots could be programmed to perform various tasks, including injecting toxins into people or contaminating the water supply of a major city.Getty ImagesAnother scenario he suggested the nanodrone could do in the future is fly into a room and drop a poison onto something, such as food, to presumably target a particular individual.
A “cyanide bomb” planted by U.S. predator-control agents targeting coyotes near homes and hiking trails in Idaho exploded when a boy handled the device, injuring him and killing his dog, authorities and relatives said on Friday.Canyon Mansfield, 14, was playing with his yellow Labrador retriever, Casey, on Thursday afternoon near his home east of Pocatello when he saw what he thought was a sprinkler head on the ground and touched the device, causing it to detonate.The explosion sprayed the boy and his 3-year-old, 90-pound (40 kg) pet with toxic cyanide gas, according to the boy’s mother, Theresa Mansfield.“Canyon said there was a bang like a bomb, then an explosion of an orange substance that covered him and Casey, who was writhing in pain on the ground before he died right in front of Canyon,” she said.Her husband, Pocatello physician Mark Mansfield, rushed to the scene and pounded on the dog’s chest in a futile effort to revive the animal.
From his desk in a downtown workshop, Greg Hankerson is at war with a Chinese company half a world away.Mr. Hankerson and his wife, Sim, own Vintage Industrial, which designs and makes antique-style tables, cabinets and other furniture. The 25-employee start-up produces everything at its Phoenix factory, much of it by hand.But that hasn’t protected Mr. Hankerson from counterfeiters, who peddle cheap copies of his creations on internet marketplaces run by Alibaba, China’s largest e-commerce company. He can find hundreds of suspected counterfeits of his furniture on Alibaba’s various sites, including Taobao, a free-for-all shopping platform on which the Chinese hawk items as varied as T-shirts and televisions.One recent day, Mr. Hankerson fired up his web browser to scan for counterfeits. Several Taobao shops sell copies of various Vintage Industrial tables, including one with A-shaped legs and another with a glass top and propeller-like base, as well as cabinets and a metal locker.“It just keeps going and going and going,” Mr. Hankerson, 45, said. “It’s like trying to pick weeds on a 70-acre farm.”
With more than $300,000 and volunteer homeowners, Multnomah County has a new idea to fight homelessness: Build tiny houses in people’s backyards and rent them out to families with children now living on the street.The homeowners would pay nothing for the construction. They would become landlords and maintain the units for homeless families for five years.Then the tiny houses would become theirs to do with what they want. If the homeowners break the contract before then, they pay the cost of construction.The project would put the 8-month-old joint homeless office – a shared effort between the county and Portland — in the housing business while offering an innovative, if so far small-scale, way to chip away at Portland’s affordable housing shortage.
Google has launched a new app designed to put parents back in control of their children’s smartphone use. This solves the problem increasingly faced by parents, who want to let their kids have smartphones, but don’t want their kids to use them all day, every day with no limits.One of the many and varied problems parents face these days is keeping an eye on their children’s smartphone usage. This can be a tricky issue, especially as few parents want to spy on their kids. Hopefully, Google’s new app, called Family Link, provides a sensible solution.
Google is trying to improve the quality of its search results by directing review teams to flag content that might come across as upsetting or offensive.With the change, content with racial slurs could now get flagged under a new category called “upsetting-offensive.” So could content that promotes hate or violence against a specific group of people based on gender, race or other criteria.While flagging something doesn’t directly affect the search results themselves, it’s used to tweak the company’s software so that better content ranks higher. This approach might, for instance, push down content that is inaccurate or has other questionable attributes, thereby giving prominence to trustworthy sources.The review teams — comprised of contractors known as “quality raters” — already comb through websites and other content to flag questionable items such as pornography. Google added “upsetting-offensive” in its latest guidelines for quality raters. Google declined to comment on the changes, which were reported in the blog Search Engine Land and elsewhere.
Queensland police have charged a Justin Bieber imposter with 931 offenses against children, including rape and producing imagery of child abuse.They’re asking fans and their parents to be extra-vigilant online: coincidentally, Bieber is now on tour in Australia and New Zealand.As well, on Saturday, Queensland Police’s child abuse taskforce plans to answer questions on keeping kids safe online: click here or see below for details, as well as our own tips if you can’t get to Queensland.Police say the alleged predator has been operating since 2007, well before Bieber’s current Purpose Tour 2017 launched this month.The accused is alleged to have reached out to victims via Facebook, Skype and other online platforms, police said in a statement on Thursday.Australian news outlets, including News.com.au, have identified the suspect as Gordon Douglas Chalmers, a 42-year-old University of Technology law lecturer, whose home they raided after tip-offs from US and German authorities in November.
Church blames ‘consumerism’ and ‘temptations of body’ after Catholic priest ‘rapes 15-year-old girl’
The Catholic Church has sparked outrage in India after it blamed “consumerism” and bodily “temptations” for the alleged rape of a 15-year-old girl. Priest Mathew Vadakkacheril, from Kerala in India, was accused of raping the child and later arrested. The girl was allegedly raped several times and became pregnant, according to India Today. The child has since been delivered at a private hospital and since taken to an orphanage, reportedly without the mother’s consent.Yet it is the response to the incident among the Christian community in India that is now making headlines. A Christian weekly magazine, which is backed by a Catholic Sabha or association, blamed the alleged victim for the event and said Mr Vadakkacheril may have momentarily “forgotten his position”.
Runaway real estate speculation has been filling global capitals with vacant homes, creating artificial shortages in the world’s most sought after cities. The “shortage” has made local home owners wealthy overnight, but it comes at the cost of turning lively cities into empty shells. The city of Paris has decided it’s had enough, and implemented a tax in 2015. They didn’t quite get the results they wanted, so they’re now tripling the tax to 60%.Paris’ Empty Home ProblemParis has been trying to deal with vacant property owners for some time. Despite warnings that the city will have to take action, the number of vacant homes is growing. There’s now 107,000 vacant homes, representing 7.5% of all residential dwellings in the city according to France’s INSEE. Deputy Mayor Ian Brossat told Le Monde that 40,000 of those vacant homes aren’t even connected to the electrical grid.Local developers have argued that more new construction is the solution. However Brossat argues “In a city as dense as Paris, where it is very difficult to build, controlling the occupancy of housing is strategic.” It appears the city believes they have 107,000 reasons more construction is not the solution.
In an effort to help expecting fathers feel more involved in the pregnancy, a Danish tech company has developed a smart bracelet that lets them feel the kicks and movements of their unborn children in real time.Fibo is the newest development in wearable technology. It looks like a cross between a fitness tracker and a smart watch, but its purpose is completely different. By pairing it with a patch -like baby kick monitoring device worn by the mother on her belly, Fibo can accurately imitate the movements of the fetus right after they occur. The bracelet features rotating beads that create a natural movement, rather than the usual sharp, unrealistic vibration that most notification devices rely on.“Many fathers we spoke to said they first realized they were bringing a new life into the world when they heard their baby’s heartbeat for the first time. We want this feeling to last longer,” Sandra Pétursdóttir, of First Bond Wearables, the company behind Fibo, told the Huffington Post.“Fathers sometimes tend to get a little left out when the mother is going through all the changes with her body and feeling a little life growing in her belly,” Pétursdóttir added, so her company decided to come up with a piece of wearable tech to make them feel more involved. Yeah, poor us guys, mothers get to walk around with extra weight, feel bloated all the time and go through that “amazing” childbirth thing, and we just get ignored. Sad!
In the thick of late 19th and early 20th century colonialism, across Europe and the United States, people — along with animals — could be found in zoos. There, white families could gawk at individuals who had been dragged from foreign countries and placed inside cages, where they acted out a performance of their “daily life” for the onlookers’ entertainment.Indigenous peoples of Africa, Asia, the Americas — and almost anywhere else that non-white people could be found — served as the exhibits’ subjects.After being taken from their homes and hauled across the ocean, these individuals would be placed (sometimes behind fences or wires) in enclosures designed as artificial replicas of their “natural habitats,” including a fake ecosystem and prop versions of their former homes. Visitors could then peer into their cages to see how the “other half” lived.
There is an inherent dilemma for most of the people living in cities.Even those who are aware of the extremely fragile fabric of society are often stuck living urban lives. Perhaps they plan to retire to a country abode, or construct a hideaway to escape to if the need ever arises, but for now, they are stuck in the city making a living.This is true even for the rich, but now, they have a back-up plan.The biggest of American cities, and one of the most gridlocked, is New York City, with Manhattan and Long Island both isolated islands – trapped during emergencies from the rest of the world.That’s why those with means, and forethought, are now chartering emergency charters to get out of the city – probably a good idea, especially if the helicopter is out of your price range.via NY Post:
People think the Food and Drug Administration is a government agency working to protect them. But the FDA works to protect Big Pharma and Big Food from any competition and allows them to hawk harmful chemical products as cures while blocking natural cures from the public.An Amish farmer has learned this lesson the hard way and is facing a lifetime in prison for selling salves made from chickweed and bloodroot and a mixture of essential oils. These are all natural products, many of which people have growing in their yards, gardens or nearby forests, and are not drugs by any stretch.Samuel Girod’s initial “crime” was in the labeling of his products. He claimed his products – Chickweed Healing Salve, TO-MOR-GONE and SineEze – could help cure certain conditions. One of the claims was that his balm cured skin cancer, a declaration rooted in a testament from a woman who told him his product had cured her skin cancer.