Thursday, October 30, 2014
MoBS Lab | The 2014 West African Ebola Outbreak is so far the largest and deadliest recorded in history. The affected countries, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and recently Senegal have been struggling to contain and to mitigate the outbreak. We have developed a modeling approach aimed at assessing the progression of the epidemic in West Africa and its international spread under the assumption that the EVD outbreak continues to evolve at the current pace.
Our results have been published in PLOS Currents Outbreaks. However, our modeling work has been motivated by the need for a rapid assessment of the EVD outbreak trends and the obtained results may change as more information becomes available from the EVD affected region and more refined sensitivity analysis can be implemented computationally. For this reason, the paper on PLOS Current Outbreaks shall be considered as a live paper that is constantly updated with new data, projections and analysis.
In this web page we try to provide a home for such a "live" paper. More in general we link to constantly updated versions of the paper, new figures/analysis and supplementary data files.
Washington Post | Since 1985, U.S. college costs have surged by about 500 percent, and tuition fees keep rising. In Germany, they've done the opposite.
The country's universities have been tuition-free since the beginning of October, when Lower Saxony became the last state to scrap the fees. Tuition rates were always low in Germany, but now the German government fully funds the education of its citizens -- and even of foreigners.
Explaining the change, Dorothee Stapelfeldt, a senator in the northern city of Hamburg, said tuition fees "discourage young people who do not have a traditional academic family background from taking up study. It is a core task of politics to ensure that young women and men can study with a high quality standard free of charge in Germany."What might interest potential university students in the United States is that Germany offers some programs in English -- and it's not the only country. Let's take a look at the surprising -- and very cheap -- alternatives to pricey American college degrees.
Posted by Dale Asberry at 10/30/2014 08:53:00 AM
The New York Times | MANY people think that the key to success is to cultivate and doggedly maintain an optimistic outlook. This belief in the power of positive thinking, expressed with varying degrees of sophistication, informs everything from affirmative pop anthems like Katy Perry’s “Roar” to the Mayo Clinic’s suggestion that you may be able to improve your health by eliminating “negative self-talk.”
But the truth is that positive thinking often hinders us. More than two decades ago, I conducted a study in which I presented women enrolled in a weight-reduction program with several short, open-ended scenarios about future events — and asked them to imagine how they would fare in each one. Some of these scenarios asked the women to imagine that they had successfully completed the program; others asked them to imagine situations in which they were tempted to cheat on their diets. I then asked the women to rate how positive or negative their resulting thoughts and images were.
A year later, I checked in on these women. The results were striking: The more positively women had imagined themselves in these scenarios, thefewer pounds they had lost.
Posted by Dale Asberry at 10/30/2014 08:35:00 AM
technologyreview | One of the great challenges of neuroscience is to understand the short-term working memory in the human brain. At the same time, computer scientists would dearly love to reproduce the same kind of memory in silico.
Today, Google’s secretive DeepMind start-up, which it bought for $400 million earlier this year, unveils a prototype computer that attempts to mimic some of the properties of the human brain’s short-term working memory. The new computer is a type of neural network that has been adapted to work with an external memory. The result is a computer that learns as it stores memories and can later retrieve them to perform logical tasks beyond those it has been trained to do.
DeepMind’s breakthrough follows a long history of work on short-term memory. In the 1950s, the American cognitive psychologist George Miller carried out one of the more famous experiments in the history of brain science. Miller was interested in the capacity of the human brain’s working memory and set out to measure it with the help of a large number of students who he asked to carry out simple memory tasks.
Miller’s striking conclusion was that the capacity of short-term memory cannot be defined by the amount of information it contains. Instead Miller concluded that the working memory stores information in the form of “chunks” and that it could hold approximately seven of them.
That raises the curious question: what is a chunk? In Miller’s experiments, a chunk could be a single digit such as a ‘4’, a single letter such as a ‘q’, a single word or a small group of words that together have some specific meaning. So each chunk can represent anything from a very small amount of information to a hugely complex idea that is equivalent to large amounts of information.
But however much information a single chunk represents, the human brain can store only about seven of them in its working memory.
Here is an example. Consider the following sentence: “This book is a thrilling read with a complex plot and lifelike characters.”
This sentence consists of around seven chunks of information and is clearly manageable for any ordinary reader.
By contrast, try this sentence: “This book about the Roman Empire during the first years of Augustus Caesar’s rein at the end of the Roman Republic, describes the events following the bloody Battle of Actium in 31 BC when the young emperor defeated Mark Antony and Cleopatra by comprehensively outmaneuvering them in a major naval engagement.”
This sentence contains at least 20 chunks. So if you found it more difficult to read, that shouldn’t be a surprise. The human brain has trouble holding this many chunks in its working memory.
In cognitive science, the ability to understand the components of a sentence and store them in the working memory is called variable binding. This is the ability to take a piece of data and assign it to a slot in the memory and to do this repeatedly with data of different length, like chunks.
computerworld | High-tech entrepreneur Elon Musk made headlines when he said artificial intelligence research is a danger to humanity, but researchers from some of the top U.S. universities say he's not so far off the mark.
"At first I was surprised and then I thought, 'this is not completely crazy,' " said Andrew Moore, dean of the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University. "I actually do think this is a valid concern and it's really an interesting one. It's a remote, far future danger but sometime we're going to have to think about it. If we're at all close to building these super-intelligent, powerful machines, we should absolutely stop and figure out what we're doing."
Musk, most well-known as the CEO of electric car maker Tesla Motors, and CEO and co-founder of SpaceX , caused a stir after he told an audience at an MIT symposium that artificial intelligence (AI), and research into it, poses a threat to humans.
"I think we should be very careful about artificial intelligence," Musk said when answering a question about the state of AI. "If I were to guess at what our biggest existential threat is, it's probably that… With artificial intelligence, we are summoning the demon. In all those stories with the guy with the pentagram and the holy water, and he's sure he can control the demon. It doesn't work out."
He added that there should be regulatory oversight -- at the national and international level -- to "make sure we don't do something very foolish."
Musk's comments came after he tweeted in early August that AI is "potentially more dangerous than nukes."
Wednesday, October 29, 2014
guardian | You can tell a lot about the moral quality of a society by what is, and is not, considered news.
From last Tuesday, Parliament Square was wrapped in wire mesh. In one of the more surreal scenes in recent British political history, officers with trained German shepherds stand sentinel each day, at calculated distances across the lawn, surrounded by a giant box of fences, three metres high – all to ensure that no citizen enters to illegally practice democracy. Yet few major news outlets feel this is much of a story.
Occupy Democracy, a new incarnation of Occupy London, has attempted to use the space for an experiment in democratic organising. The idea was to turn Parliament Square back to the purposes to which it was, by most accounts, originally created: a place for public meetings and discussions, with an eye to bringing all the issues ignored by politicians in Westminster back into public debate. Seminars and assemblies were planned, colourful bamboo towers and sound systems put in place, to be followed by a temporary library, kitchen and toilets.
There was no plan to turn this into a permanent tent city, which are now explicitly illegal. True, this law is very selectively enforced; Metropolitan police regularly react with a wink and a smile if citizens camp on the street while queuing overnight for the latest iPhone. But to do it in furtherance of democratic expression is absolutely forbidden. Try it, and you can expect to immediately see your tent torn down and if you try even the most passive resistance you’re likely to be arrested. So organisers settled on a symbolic 24-hour presence, even if it meant sleeping on the grass under cardboard boxes in the autumn rain.
The police response can only be described as hysterical. Tarpaulins used to sit on the grass were said to be illegal, and when activists tried to sit on them they were attacked by scores of officers. Activists say they had limbs twisted and officers stuck thumbs into nerve endings as “pain compliance”. Pizza boxes were declared illegal structures and confiscated and commanders even sent officers to stand over activists at night telling them it was illegal to close their eyes.
newsweek | In June 2011, Julian Assange received an unusual visitor: the chairman of Google, Eric Schmidt, arrived from America at Ellingham Hall, the country house in Norfolk, England where Assange was living under house arrest.
For several hours the besieged leader of the world’s most famous insurgent publishing organization and the billionaire head of the world’s largest information empire locked horns. The two men debated the political problems faced by society, and the technological solutions engendered by the global network—from the Arab Spring to Bitcoin.
They outlined radically opposing perspectives: for Assange, the liberating power of the Internet is based on its freedom and statelessness. For Schmidt, emancipation is at one with U.S. foreign policy objectives and is driven by connecting non-Western countries to Western companies and markets. These differences embodied a tug-of-war over the Internet’s future that has only gathered force subsequently.
In this extract from When Google Met WikiLeaks Assange describes his encounter with Schmidt and how he came to conclude that it was far from an innocent exchange of views.
Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Wikipedia | Bat bombs were an experimental World War II weapon developed by the United States. The bomb consisted of a bomb-shaped casing with numerous compartments, each containing a Mexican Free-tailed Bat with a small timed incendiary bomb attached. Dropped from a bomber at dawn, the casings would deploy a parachute in mid-flight and open to release the bats which would then roost in eaves and attics. The incendiaries would start fires in inaccessible places in the largely wood and paper construction of the Japanese cities that were the weapon's intended target.
The Bat Bomb was originally conceived by a Pennsylvania dentist named Lytle S. Adams, a friend of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. Dr. Adams submitted it to the White Housein January 1942, where it was subsequently approved by President Roosevelt on the advice of Donald Griffin.
Adams observed that the infrastructure of Japan was especially susceptible to incendiary devices as many of the buildings were made of paper, bamboo, and other highly flammable material. The plan was to release bat bombs over Japanese cities having widely-dispersed industrial targets. The bats would spread far from the point of release due to the relatively high altitude of their release, then at dawn they would hide in buildings across the city. Shortly thereafter built-in timers would ignite the bombs, causing widespread fires and chaos.
The United States decided to develop the Bat Bomb during World War II as four biological factors gave promise to this plan. First, bats occur in large numbers (four caves in New Mexico are each occupied by several million bats). Second, bats can carry more than their own weight in flight (females carry their young—sometimes twins). Third, bats hibernate, and while dormant they do not require food or maintenance. Fourth, bats fly in darkness, then find secluded places (often in buildings) to hide during daylight.
By March 1943 a suitable species had been selected. The project was considered serious enough that Louis Fieser, the inventor of military napalm, designed 0.6 ounce (17 g) and one ounce (28 g) incendiary devices to be carried by the bats. A bat carrier similar to a bomb casing was designed that included 26 stacked trays, each containing compartments for 40 bats. The carriers would be dropped from 5,000 feet (1,525 m). Then the trays would separate but remain connected to a parachute that would deploy at 1,000 feet (305 m). It was envisioned that ten B-24 bombers flying from Alaska, each carrying a hundred shells packed with bomb-carrying bats could release 1,040,000 bat bombs over the target—the industrial cities of Osaka Bay. A series of tests to answer various operational questions were conducted. In one incident the Carlsbad Army Airfield Auxiliary Air Base near Carlsbad, New Mexico, was set on fire on May 15, 1943, when armed bats were accidentally released. The bats incinerated the test range and roosted under a fuel tank. Following this setback, the project was relegated to the Navy in August 1943, who renamed it Project X-Ray, and then passed it to the Marine Corps that December. The Marine Corps moved operations to the Marine Corps Air Station at El Centro, California. After several experiments and operational adjustments, the definitive test was carried out on the "Japanese Village" a mockup of a Japanese city built by the Chemical Warfare Service at their Dugway Proving Groundstest site in Utah. Fist tap Drew.
salon | If you want to understand the fight the gun safety movement faces in trying to win over gun extremists in red states, my experience this summer will be instructive.
Moms Demand Action, a group formed after the Sandy Hook shooting to crack down on gun violence, began pressuring the Kroger supermarket chain to prohibit “open carry” in its stores after gun extremists used Kroger stores to demonstrate their “rights.” Gun laws are lax in many states, and it can be legal to openly carry a firearm with no training, and, in some cases, no background checks. The Kroger campaign is the most recent in a string of corporate responsibility efforts in which mothers, flanked by other gun violence prevention advocates, have asked companies to tighten gun policies, arguing that the businesses have an obligation to keep their customers safe.
Of course, gun extremists did not respond kindly to the Kroger campaign. What follows is a recounting of their disturbing tactics, from the shocking intimidation and harassment of unsuspecting commenters on Kroger’s Facebook page to right-wing media propaganda that disingenuously portrayed Kroger as being allies of the gun extremists.
Secret Facebook groups such as “People Who Were Blocked by Moms Demand Action Demand Action Now” — which has well over a thousand members — disseminated gun rights propaganda and helped orchestrate attacks on individuals commenting on Kroger’s page. Some gun nuts combed the profile pages of people commenting in support of gun reform, harvested personal photos of them and Photoshopped them to include obscene or humiliating comments, before reposting the photos on Kroger’s page, or on other social media sites. Because Kroger frequently bans users who post that kind of content, the gun extremists created disposable fake accounts — sometimes using the name and profile photo of an opponent— to quickly dump posts without being held accountable.
NYTimes | The interactive age had arrived, and video games were its most promising entertainment.
And then came GamerGate. Over the past few weeks, as this inchoate but effective online movement has gathered momentum, I’ve begun to wonder if I’ve made a horrible mistake.
GamerGate — named for its Twitter hashtag — began this summer when Zoe Quinn, the designer of the game Depression Quest, received threats of violence after an ex-boyfriend posted a long diatribe about her on the Internet. Some of the crusaders against Ms. Quinn justified their actions by constructing flimsy conspiracies that she colluded unethically with journalists who write for enthusiast websites about video games.
After targeting Ms. Quinn, GamerGate widened its scope to include others perceived to be trying to cram liberal politics into video games. The movement uses the phrase “social justice warriors” to describe the game designers, journalists and critics who, among other alleged sins, desire to see more (and more realistic) representations of women and minorities. That critique, as well as more accusations of collusion among developers and journalists, attracted some conservative gadflies to GamerGate, like the “Firefly” actor Adam Baldwin.
For all of us who love games, GamerGate has made it impossible to overlook an ugly truth about the culture that surrounds them: Despite the growing diversity in designers and in games — games about bullying, games that put you in the role of a transgender woman, games about coming out to your parents — there is an undercurrent of “latent racism, homophobia and misogyny,” as the prominent game designer Cliff Bleszinski wrote in March, before GamerGate even began.
It’s the players who enjoy this culture, even as they distinguish themselves from the worst of the GamerGate trolls, who truly worry me. If all the recent experimentation and progress in video games — they’re in the permanent collection at MoMA now — turns out to be just a plaster on an ugly sore, then the medium’s long journey into the mainstream could be halted or even reversed.
The very word “game” understates (and in some ways restricts) the promise of this new form. Video games have been used, yes, to create digital translations of sports, folk games and carnival games. And they have also been used to invent new modes of competition, from classics like Pong to the “e-sport” League of Legends.
But like any medium of communication, the possibilities for what games can do are close to limitless. Already we use video games to exercise, to make music, to advance political arguments, to tell stories, to create beauty.
nybooks | People are amazed or disgusted, or both, at today’s “power of the media.” The punch is in that plural, “media”—the twenty-four-hour flow of intermingled news and opinion not only from print but also from TV channels, radio stations, Twitter, e-mails, and other electronic “feeds.” This storm of information from many sources may make us underestimate the power of the press in the nineteenth century when it had just one medium—the newspaper. That also came at people from many directions—in multiple editions from multiple papers in every big city, from “extras” hawked constantly in the streets, from telegraphed reprints in other papers, from articles put out as pamphlets.
Every bit of that information was blatantly biased in ways that would make today’s Fox News blush. Editors ran their own candidates—in fact they ran for office themselves, and often continued in their post at the paper while holding office. Politicians, knowing this, cultivated their own party’s papers, both the owners and the editors, shared staff with them, released news to them early or exclusively to keep them loyal, rewarded them with state or federal appointments when they won.
It was a dirty game by later standards, and no one played it better than Abraham Lincoln. He developed new stratagems as he rose from citizen to candidate to officeholder. Without abandoning his old methods, he developed new ones, more effective if no more scrupulous, as he got better himself (and better situated), for controlling what was written about him, his policies, and his adversaries. Harold Holzer, who has been a press advocate for candidates (Bella Abzug, Mario Cuomo) and institutions (the Metropolitan Museum of Art and various Lincoln organizations), knows the publicity game from the inside, and he is awed by Lincoln’s skills as a self-publicist, that necessary trait of his time. Holzer is also a respected and influential Lincoln scholar who does not come to bury Lincoln with this new information but to wonder how a man could swim so well through the sewer and come out (relatively) clean.
Lincoln’s arena broadened as he climbed the ladder of power. He went from local venues in his own state—rival papers in Springfield and Chicago—to the newspaper power center in New York, with three main papers and the pioneering syndicate the Associated Press. Then, in Washington, he had to deal with the concentration there of many papers’ bureaus. He developed different skills for each widening stage of his career. In roughly chronological but overlapping order, there were five main stages. Fist tap Vic.
guardian | Earlier this year engineer Dr Craig Labovitz testified before the US House of Representatives judiciary subcommittee on regulatory reform, commercial and antitrust law. Labovitz is co-founder and chief executive of Deepfield, an outfit that sells software to enable companies to compile detailed analytics on traffic within their computer networks. The hearing was on the proposed merger of Comcast and Time Warner Cable and the impact it was likely to have on competition in the video and broadband market. In the landscape of dysfunctional, viciously partisan US politics, this hearing was the equivalent of rustling in the undergrowth, and yet in the course of his testimony Labovitz said something that laid bare the new realities of our networked world.
“Whereas internet traffic was once broadly distributed across thousands of companies,” he told the subcommittee, “we found that by 2009 half of all internet traffic originated in less than 150 large content and content-distribution companies. By May of 2014, this number had dropped by a factor of five. Today, just 30 companies, including Netflix and Google, contribute on average more than one half of all internet traffic in the United States during prime-time hours.”
To those of us who were accustomed to thinking of the internet as a glorious, distributed, anarchic, many-to-many communication network in which anyone could become a global publisher, corporate gatekeepers had lost their power and peer-to-peer sharing was becoming the liberating norm, Labovitz’s brusque summary comes as a rude shock. Why? Because what he was really saying is that the internet is well on its way to being captured by giant corporations – just as the Columbia law professor Tim Wu speculated it might be in The Master Switch, his magisterial history of 20th-century communications technologies.
In that book, Wu recounted the history of telephone, movie, radio and TV technologies in the US. All of them had started out as creative, anarchic, open and innovative technologies but over time each had been captured by corporate interests. In some cases (eg the telephone) this happened with the co-operation of the state, but in most cases it happened because visionary entrepreneurs offered consumers propositions that they found irresistible. But the result was always the same: corporate capture of the technology and the medium. And the most insidious thing, Wu wrote, was that this process of closure doesn’t involve any kind of authoritarian takeover. It comes, not as a bitter pill, but as a “sweet pill, as a tabloid, easy to swallow”. Most of the corporate masters of 20th-century media delivered a consumer product that was better than what went before – which is what consumers went for and what led these industries towards closure.
At the end of his book, Wu posed the 64-trillion-dollar question: would the internet also fall victim to this cycle? For years, many of us thought that it wouldn’t: it was too decentralised, too empowering of ordinary people, too anarchic and creative to succumb to that kind of control.
Labovitz’s testimony suggests that we were wrong.
Monday, October 27, 2014
NYTimes | The Nazi spies performed a range of tasks for American agencies in the 1950s and 1960s, from the hazardous to the trivial, the documents show.
In Maryland, Army officials trained several Nazi officers in paramilitary warfare for a possible invasion of Russia. In Connecticut, the C.I.A. used an ex-Nazi guard to study Soviet-bloc postage stamps for hidden meanings.
In Virginia, a top adviser to Hitler gave classified briefings on Soviet affairs. And in Germany, SS officers infiltrated Russian-controlled zones, laying surveillance cables and monitoring trains.
But many Nazi spies proved inept or worse, declassified security reviews show. Some were deemed habitual liars, confidence men or embezzlers, and a few even turned out to be Soviet double agents, the records show.
Mr. Breitman said the morality of recruiting ex-Nazis was rarely considered. “This all stemmed from a kind of panic, a fear that the Communists were terribly powerful and we had so few assets,” he said.
Efforts to conceal those ties spanned decades.
When the Justice Department was preparing in 1994 to prosecute a senior Nazi collaborator in Boston named Aleksandras Lileikis, the C.I.A. tried to intervene.
The agency’s own files linked Mr. Lileikis to the machine-gun massacres of 60,000 Jews in Lithuania. He worked “under the control of the Gestapo during the war,” his C.I.A. file noted, and “was possibly connected with the shooting of Jews in Vilna.”
Even so, the agency hired him in 1952 as a spy in East Germany — paying him $1,700 a year, plus two cartons of cigarettes a month — and cleared the way for him to immigrate to America four years later, records show.
Mr. Lileikis lived quietly for nearly 40 years, until prosecutors discovered his Nazi past and prepared to seek his deportation in 1994.
When C.I.A. officials learned of the plans, a lawyer there called Eli Rosenbaum at the Justice Department’s Nazi-hunting unit and told him “you can’t file this case,” Mr. Rosenbaum said in an interview. The agency did not want to risk divulging classified records about its ex-spy, he said.
Mr. Rosenbaum said he and the C.I.A. reached an understanding: If the agency was forced to turn over objectionable records, prosecutors would drop the case first. (That did not happen, and Mr. Lileikis was ultimately deported.)
The C.I.A. also hid what it knew of Mr. Lileikis’s past from lawmakers.
In a classified memo to the House Intelligence Committee in 1995, the agency acknowledged using him as a spy but made no mention of the records linking him to mass murders. “There is no evidence,” the C.I.A. wrote, “that this Agency was aware of his wartime activities.”
alternet | And then those legislatures redrew the lines from the census, and made more safe districts for hardcore right-wingers, and protected their incumbents. Unpleasant, huh? The same situation will present itself in 2020. Will there be more powerful liberal and progressive groups in place in all those states and others? If not, the road to progressive oblivion will be further greased. For those who are electorally oriented, the next six years are very important if we are able to make headway electorally, which sadly is not going to happen in 2014, with a few notable exceptions.
In a recent AlterNet article by Amanda Marcotte, I was struck by this statistic about the extent of steady polarization going on in the country: "Previous Pew research shows the percentage of Americans who are ‘mostly’ or ‘consistently’ conservative has grown 50 percent from 18 percent in 2004 to 27 percent in 2014, while the number of people considered liberal has remained the same."
The conservative propaganda apparatus is changing minds, convincing people that climate change is not a problem, that government is the problem, and motivating them to vote for increasingly extreme candidates in very red districts that are committed to paralyzing our government. For them it is a war; and they are not interested in compromise.
Most progressives are not prepared for a future where politics is even more dicey and dangerous than it is now. So we have to stop going through the motions of not producing change and get down to the basics where and when we can make a difference.
Let's do more political action with friends and colleagues. Let's agree that a higher level of popular political education and self-reflection is necessary. Let's build up ways in our neighborhoods, cities and towns, where progress can be made to protect ourselves from hostilities and repression from the hugely militarized police and the massive network of spying on us. More repression is bound to come.
It is time to take a hard look at why and how we have failed. And we need to rethink pretty much everything, along the way. As Robert Jensen writes in his mini book and on AlterNet, "We are all apocalyptic now."
Sunday, October 26, 2014
frontiersin | Individuals with a predisposition to mental disorder may utilize different strategies, or they may use familiar strategies in unusual ways, to solve creative tasks. For over a century, knowledge of psychopathological states in the brain has illuminated our knowledge of normal brain states, and that should also be the case with the study of the creative brain. Neuroscience can approach this study in two ways. First, it can identify genetic variations that may underlie both creativity and psychopathology. This molecular biology approach is already underway, with several studies indicating polymorphisms of the DRD2 and DRD4 genes (Reuter et al., 2006; Mayseless et al., 2013), the 5HT2a gene (Ott et al., 2005) and the NRG1 gene (Kéri, 2009) that have been associated with both creativity and certain forms of psychopathology.
Second, brain imaging work can be applied to the study of the cognitive mechanisms that may be commonly shared between creativity and psychopathology. For example, psychologists have long suggested that both schizotypal and highly creative individuals tend to utilize states of cognitive disinhibition to access associations that are ordinarily hidden from conscious awareness (e.g., Kris, 1952; Koestler, 1964; Eysenck, 1995). Research is revealing that indeed both highly creative subjects and subjects who are high in schizotypy demonstrate more disinhibition during creative tasks than less creative or less schizotypal subjects (see Martindale, 1999; Carson et al., 2003; Abraham and Windmann, 2008; Dorfman et al., 2008). However, the neural substrates of cognitive disinhibition, as applied to creativity, need to be further studied.
My colleagues and I have found that cognitive disinhibition (in the form of reduced latent inhibition) combined with very high IQ levels predicts extraordinary creative achievement (Carson et al., 2003). These results have since been replicated (Kéri, 2011). We hypothesized that cognitive disinhibition allows a broadening of stimuli available to consciousness while high IQ affords the cognitive resources to process and manipulate that increased stimuli to form novel and creative ideas without the individual becoming overwhelmed and confused. What we did not test is whether the high creative achievers in our studies exhibited phasic changes in latent inhibition, or whether their reduced inhibition was more trait-like, as is seen in persons at risk for psychosis. Because latent inhibition tasks are compatible with neuroimaging, the study of controlled cognitive disinhibition is one area of potential study for the neuroscience of creativity.
Additional areas of study are suggested by the shared vulnerability model of creativity and psychopathology (Carson, 2011, 2013). The shared vulnerability model suggests that creativity and psychopathology may share genetically-influenced factors that are expressed as either pathology or creativity depending upon the presence or absence of other moderating factors (see Figure 1). The shared vulnerability components that have been identified, in addition to cognitive disinhibition, include novelty salience, neural hyperconnectivity, and emotional lability.
radiolab | Bob Milne is one of the best ragtime piano players in the world, and a preternaturally talented musician -- he can play technically challenging pieces of music on demand while carrying on a conversation and cracking jokes. But according to Penn State neuroscientist Kerstin Betterman, our brains just aren't wired to do that. So she decided to investigate Bob's brain, and when she did, she discovered that Bob has an even more amazing ability... one that we can hardly believe, and science can't explain. Reporter Jessica Benko helps us get inside Bob's remarkably musical mind.
Saturday, October 25, 2014
thelancet | A substantial scale-up in public health response is needed to control the unprecedented Ebola virus disease (EVD) epidemic in west Africa. Current international commitments seek to expand intervention capacity in three areas: new EVD treatment centres, case ascertainment through contact tracing, and household protective kit allocation. We aimed to assess how these interventions could be applied individually and in combination to avert future EVD cases and deaths.
Methods - We developed a transmission model of Ebola virus that we fitted to reported EVD cases and deaths in Montserrado County, Liberia. We used this model to assess the effectiveness of expanding EVD treatment centres, increasing case ascertainment, and allocating protective kits for controlling the outbreak in Montserrado. We varied the efficacy of protective kits from 10% to 50%. We compared intervention initiation on Oct 15, 2014, Oct 31, 2014, and Nov 15, 2014. The status quo intervention was defined in terms of case ascertainment and capacity of EVD treatment centres on Sept 23, 2014, and all behaviour and contact patterns relevant to transmission as they were occurring at that time. The primary outcome measure was the expected number of cases averted by Dec 15, 2014.
Findings - We estimated the basic reproductive number for EVD in Montserrado to be 2·49 (95% CI 2·38—2·60). We expect that allocating 4800 additional beds at EVD treatment centres and increasing case ascertainment five-fold in November, 2014, can avert 77 312 (95% CI 68 400—85 870) cases of EVD relative to the status quo by Dec 15, 2014. Complementing these measures with protective kit allocation raises the expectation as high as 97 940 (90 096—105 606) EVD cases. If deployed by Oct 15, 2014, equivalent interventions would have been expected to avert 137 432 (129 736—145 874) cases of EVD. If delayed to Nov 15, 2014, we expect the interventions will at best avert 53 957 (46 963—60 490) EVD cases.
Interpretation - The number of beds at EVD treatment centres needed to effectively control EVD in Montserrado substantially exceeds the 1700 pledged by the USA to west Africa. Accelerated case ascertainment is needed to maximise effectiveness of expanding the capacity of EVD treatment centres. Distributing protective kits can further augment prevention of EVD, but it is not an adequate stand-alone measure for controlling the outbreak. Our findings highlight the rapidly closing window of opportunity for controlling the outbreak and averting a catastrophic toll of EVD cases and deaths.
Funding - US National Institutes of Health.
Friday, October 24, 2014
withintheblackcommunity | Remember that compliment I gave to you when I was in Ethiopia last week about your handling of the Ebola situation?
I was in the airport in South Africa when I streamed your video of the (White) lady and I noticed that SINCE she was ONLY talking about "Ebola" from the perspective of the DEFENSE OF THE UNITED STATES and AMERICAN POLITICS - and didn't GIVE A DAMN about the condition of West Africans - that her views - affirmed by you - must represent YOUR VIEWS.
Please allow me to take my compliments about your handling about Ebola back.
I didn't understand your "riddle" of a response at the time.
But now everything seems perfectly clear.
My ALL ENCOMPASSING theory is:
1) IT IS IRRELEVANT WHO (which entity) created the Ebola virus and set it loose in West Africa - the symbolic homeland that the AMERICANIZED NEGRO was stolen away from through American Chattel Slavery
2) The ONLY thing that matters is the COMPETENCIES to DEFEND AGAINST this "Genetic Warfare Agent" on the ground where it is ravaging the people, their HOPE and their INSTITUTIONS
3) The key distinguishing feature of MY "Conspiracy Model", however, is my inspection of the REACTIONS BY THE AMERICANIZED NEGRO:
*** After years of bringing up the "Fidel/Che (Cuba) went to Africa to fight White supremacy and provide medical care - the AMERICAN COUP IN LIBYA and related CIA insurgency and Drone bombings did not compel these same operatives (your buddy Dr Spence for example) to protest the most recent American actions - defining the personas of "good and evil" as they did in the past.
********INSTEAD when "EBOLA" came to bear -THEN they spoke up about "Africa" and the "Cubans sending medical doctors to fight in Africa"
*** After HURRICANE KATRINA in which the HUDDLED MASSES of the Americanized Negro was presented for the world to see at the "SuperDome" and "The Morial Convention Center" this crisis was framed as AMERICAN (Right-Wing Government) benign Neglect
******YET to-damned-day WHEN the Americanized Negro heard that up to 1.4 MILLION AFRICANS might be dead by February 2015 - THIS WAS NOT POWERFUL ENOUGH of a bit of INFORMATION to have the NEGRO LEADERS suspend their AMERICAN CAPITALISTIC POLITICAL OPPORTUNISTIC CAMPAIGNING for the American Mid-Term Elections in which they vow - via LIFE AND LIMB to defeat the WHITE RIGHT-WING ENEMY - and look across the SLAVE TRADE ROUTES of the ATLANTIC at the DESPERATE NEED OF THEIR "BLACK ANCESTORS"
***********The very same ancestors that Dr Henry Louis Gates induced them to purchase a DNA CHEEK SWAB TEST to determine their "West African Slave Ancestry"
*********** EXCEPT THIS TIME they turned away from the NEEDS OF THEIR ANCESTORS as they were watching MSNBC/DailyKOS/Thing Progress who themselves was watching FOX NEWS for OFFENSIVE COMMENTS against AFRICANS and AMERICANIZED NEGRO - that they would syndicate in order to keep the NEGRO IN AMERICA TRAINED ON "RACISM CHASING" - .........
****** RATHER THAN AWARE that after 50 years of VOTING FOR HIS SALVATION - their CONSUMER STATUS makes them INCOMPETENT to provide ONE DAMNED BIT OF STRUCTURAL ASSISTANCE to the people in West Africa.
In driving down Highway 74 in Georgia 20 minutes ago I saw a NEGRO IN A MASERATI . NO less than a $120,000 car.
This as the entire nation of Liberia has 10 ambulances for a population of 1.5 million.
THERE IS NO EFFORT AMONG THE AMERICANIZED NEGRO to purchase 100 Ford 150 trucks on the African continent.
50% of them to pick up EBOLA INFECTED LIVE HUMAN BEINGS for transport to the medical station.
50% of them to take away DEAD AFRICAN BODIES so they won't infect the rest of the population.
But a few weeks ago when I listened to a Radio One station I did hear Rick Ross say that he has a 12 cylinder vehicle that he only drives on certain days because of its color scheme.
THIS IS WHAT THE YOUNG NEGROES IN DETROIT are being INDOCTRINATED WITH.
SO I ASK YOU, CNU - "Occupy Wall Street Supporter" when you hear a "Niomi Klein type character attacking CAPITALISM - do YOU envision in your mind that she is ALSO talking about BLACK CONSUMER CAPITALISTIC EXPLOITATION - which - because it is seen as INFERIOR - is left unchecked to attack the NEGRO in a manner worse than a SUBPRIME LONE FROM COUNTRYWIDE MORTGAGE?
Naomi Klein: "All corporate capitalism is bad EXCEPT the version practiced by the Americanized Negro - whose songs are played 90% of the time in South Africa BECAUSE they are progressive allies. Beyonce, Jay-Z and 50 Cent are too valuable to our movement in compelling the Negro to vote for PROGRESSIVISM, unlike the Koch Brothers. "
washingtonsblog | WASHINGTON’S BLOG: You said recently that laboratories in West Africa run by the Centers for Disease Control and Tulane University are doing bioweapons research. What documentary evidence do you have of that?
You mentioned that a map produced by the CDC shows where the laboratories are located on the West Coast of Africa?
DR. FRANCIS BOYLE: Yes. They’ve got one in Monrovia [the capital of Ebola-stricken Liberia] … one in Kenema, Sierra Leone [the third largest city in the Ebola-hotzone nation], which was shut down this summer because the government there believed that it was the Tulane vaccines which had set this whole thing off.
And then they have another one in Guinea, where the first case [of Ebola] was reported.
All of these are labs which do this offensive/defensive biowarfare work.
And Fort Detrick’s USAMRIID [the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases] has also been over there. So it’s clear what’s been going on there.
CDC has a long history of doing biowarfare work. I have them doing biowarfare work for the Pentagon in Sierra Leone as early 1988.
WASHINGTON’S BLOG: And how do you know that? Have you seen official documents?
DR. FRANCIS BOYLE: An official government document: the Biological Defense Research Program, May 1988. I analyzed it in my book, Biowarfare and Terrorism.
It’s clear that [the U.S. bioweapons researchers] were using Liberia to try to circumvent the Biological Weapons Convention. And CDC – for years – has been up to its eyeballs in biowarfare work.
They always try to justify the development of offensive biological weapons by claiming it’s being done for “defensive” purposes. That’s just a lie … and it’s always been a lie.
It’s been the case on Ebola and just about every other biowarfare agent you can think of.
WASHINGTON’S BLOG: Does that type of research violate the Biological Weapons Convention?
DR. FRANCIS BOYLE: Well, of course! It also violates the Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act [which Boyle drafted], which was passed unanimously by both houses of the United States Congress and signed into law by President Bush, Senior.
That Act creates life in prison for this type of “Dr. Menegle” type work.
WASHINGTON’S BLOG: And Obama recently said – as quoted in the New York Times article – that he’s “curtailing” this type of defensive research, or putting it on hold.
Do you believe him?
DR. FRANCIS BOYLE: That’s the smoking gun, right there. Read that article [the New York Times article quoted above, which notes "a sudden change of heart by the Obama administration" about labs creating ever-deadlier versions of germs which are already lethal].
The reason they’ve stopped it is to cover themselves, I think, because they know that this type of work was behind the outbreak of the [Ebola] pandemic in West Africa.
But that’s an admission right there, de facto.
NYTimes | Prompted by controversy over dangerous research and recent laboratory accidents, the White House announced Friday that it would temporarily halt all new funding for experiments that seek to study certain infectious agents by making them more dangerous.
It also encouraged scientists involved in such research on the influenza, SARS and MERS viruses to voluntarily pause their work while its risks were reassessed.
Opponents of this type of research, called gain of function — for example, attempts to create a more contagious version of the lethal H5N1 avian influenza to learn which mutations made it that way — were elated.
“Brilliant!” said Peter Hale, the executive director of the Foundation for Vaccine Research, which opposes such experiments. “The government has finally seen the light. This is what we have all been waiting for and campaigning for. I shall sleep better tonight.”
The announcement, which was made by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the Department of Health and Human Services, did not say how long the moratorium would last. It said a “deliberative process to assess the potential risks and benefits” would begin this month and stretch at least into next year.
The move appeared to be a sudden change of heart by the Obama administration, which last month issued regulations calling for more stringent federal oversight of such research and requiring scientists and universities to disclose that their work might be risky, rather than expecting federal agencies to notice.
salon | This bizarre friggin’ case, which an Orange County grand jury is starting to unravel, isn’t just about a squabble between business partners. Ghoulish apartheid-era germ warfare experiments in South Africa are part of the story, and stashes of explosives and deadly germs and illegal firearms. Weighing the evidence available so far, it’s not clear whether Ford was a player in an evil international plot or just a brainy fruitcake dabbling in danger. But this much is clear: In the person of Larry Ford, someone’s big dreams found a refuge in Irvine, down where the megalopolis meets the desert and where, to paraphrase Raymond Chandler, the hot Santa Ana winds send housewives reaching for kitchen knives while they eye the backs of their husbands’ necks.
Ford isn’t the first of his type. In the past few years, the biotech gold rush has churned up some strange characters, several of them medical men like Ford. At the University of California at Irvine Medical Center, with which Ford himself was affiliated for a while, a doctor sold donor organs for profit, a researcher put a radioactive substance on a colleague’s chair and Ricardo Asch, the fertility doctor, was losing so much money on his racehorse that he intermingled his patients’ embryos to improve his success rates.
Ford himself doesn’t seem to have cared about money. He was apparently motivated by some twisted ideology and some genuine altruism, a nostalgia for apartheid, perhaps (he had ties to the old South African military), along with a dream of stopping AIDS with the product he’d designed, a vaginal suppository, or microbicide, that kills germs spread by sex. But in the land of the fast buck, in an era in which doctors become biotech millionaires overnight, greedy characters glom onto the Larry Fords of the world — the big-thinking science guys, the could-be-geniuses — like a cloud of sweet poison. And sometimes they get a lot more than they bargained for.
The police insist that Riley’s shooting was a sideshow to the main events in the conspiracy. According to what Riley told police, he and Ford stood to make a lot of money from a new product, separate from the microbicide, which, citing commercial reasons, neither Riley nor other company officials will discuss. Money alone may have been enough reason for Ford, or one of his seamy pals, to take Riley out. Luckily for Riley, it was a botched job.
The bullet ripped through Riley’s lip and gashed a cheekbone, causing flesh wounds light enough for him to be back at work within a few weeks. The bullet ricocheted into the window of a bank, and as the people inside turned their heads they saw a guy in a face mask run through the courtyard to the back parking lot. Then he just stood there — 15, maybe 20 seconds — until a van pulled up with its sliding back door open and the hitman dove into it. A fast-thinking bank manager got the license-plate number.
The van belonged to Ford’s tax accountant, a Peruvian-born Altadena, Calif., businessman by the name of Dino D’Saachs. A witness told police he heard D’Saachs talking to a private eye named Glen Morales about “taking somebody out,” but Morales, a big dude with a blown-out back, didn’t meet the description of the shooter, who is still at large, according to Ray. D’Saachs was taken into custody right away, though. Ford was also a suspect — phone logs and other evidence linked him to D’Saachs the day of the crime — but he wouldn’t talk.
On March 2, three days after the shooting, Ford killed himself. The suicide note claimed he was innocent of the attempted murder, but added that there was information hidden in the house of interest to the police. Only, when the note got to the part about where that information was hidden, it was illegible — “doctor’s handwriting,” police said. Or maybe it was just part of Ford’s last joke, which was to leave a tangle of clues to an existence that’s still largely a mystery.
To be sure, a few of the more bizarre statements that police gathered about Ford, and subsequently used to get search warrants, simply haven’t been confirmed. For starters, there was the bit about the “white chimpanzees.” According to an affidavit by an Irvine police office, later unsealed by a judge, Ford and Valerie Kessler, his assistant and lover, drugged and had sadomasochistic sex with young women they referred to as the “white chimpanzees.” Then there was the report from a “reliable informant” that Ford “had a long history of treating female patients who ended up suffering multiple long-term illnesses ranging from cancer to abdominal infections,” and allegations of “longstanding unauthorized medical experiments on unwitting patients by infecting them with unknown germs.”
belfasttelegraph | Why did Graham Coe, the detective who found Dr Kelly's body, not tell Hutton that there was a third suited man with him and his partner DC Colin Shields when the body was discovered, as some eyewitnesses had suggested. Why has he subsequently admitted this? And why does he refuse to name him?
How did Dr Kelly cut his left wrist if, as friends said, he had damaged his right arm to such a degree that he struggled cutting steak?
Why was the ulnar artery severed rather than the radial, which is how the cut would "naturally" have been made, from left to right, with the right hand? Could this suggest the cut was made by a third person?
Why were there no fingerprints on the knife when Dr Kelly was not wearing gloves? Nor on the bottle from which he supposedly drank to swallow the tablets? Why was that fact not disclosed to Hutton, but only later through a Freedom of Information request?
Why did the helicopter which passed over the scene with heat-seeking equipment not detect the body soon after death – a piece of information obtained using the Freedom of Information Act five years after the Hutton Inquiry ended?
What explains the discrepancy between the account of the position of the body given by the dog handler who discovered it and the paramedics when they arrived? Did someone move the body? Did Dr Kelly die where his body was found?
Why did the head of the investigation into Dr Kelly's death, Superintendent Alan Young of Thames Valley Police, not give evidence to Hutton?
Did the police and three officers from MI5's Technical Assessment Unit strip the wallpaper at Dr Kelly's home in the hours after he was reported missing – but before his body was found? Had Dr Kelly written 40,000 words of a book on Iraq and biological warfare which they took away? Where are his computers now?
Why did Lord Hutton place a 70-year embargo on release of the post-mortem documents?