Monday, April 25, 2016

genetic ENGINEERING (not just theory) to reverse aging

GeekWire | BioViva’s Liz Parrish makes progress in controversial gene quest to reverse aging
The way BioViva founder Elizabeth Parrish sees it, biological aging is a disease – and she’s willing to bet her life on a cure.
Last fall, the 45-year-old Seattle-area woman underwent an experimental type of gene therapy aimed at addressing some of the big effects of aging, including loss of muscle mass and a shortening of the chromosomes’ telomeres. The procedure was reportedly done in Colombia, to get around U.S. regulations.
The idea of having gene therapy done on yourself raised eyebrows in the biotech community, but Parrish was unfazed.
“I 100 percent believe that it will work, or else I wouldn’t have done it,” Parrish told GeekWire during an interview in February. “I didn’t try to flame out in glory. The research shows that it should absolutely work.”
Now BioViva is reporting that it does seem to work, at least on Parrish’s telomeres. And that’s likely to fuel a debate over the widening scientific quest for greater longevity – conducted not only by BioViva, but by other ventures such as Human Longevity Inc. This week, Human Longevity announced a 10-year deal with AstraZeneca to analyze 500,000 DNA samples for anti-aging clues.

Friday, April 15, 2016

the contraction is coming

Reuters | Leading global coal miner Peabody files for bankruptcy
Leading global coal producer Peabody Energy Corp BTU.N filed for U.S. bankruptcy protection on Wednesday after a sharp drop in coal prices left it unable to service debt of $10.1 billion, much of it incurred for an expansion into Australia.

The Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing ranks among the largest in the commodities sector since energy and metal prices began to fall in mid-2014 as once fast-growing markets including China and Brazil started to slow.

the SMART way to downsize your population in the coming contraction

Vox | Japan's demographic time bomb, in one chart
Japan has a major demographic problem: 26 percent of its population is elderly, the largest percent of any country in the world. That's because Japan's birthrate is declining, as is its overall population. In other words, a huge chunk of its population is getting old and leaving the workforce, and not enough people are being born to take their place.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

butter not bad for the heart, stay AWAY from vegetable oil!

The BMJ | Re-evaluation of the traditional diet-heart hypothesis: analysis of recovered data from Minnesota Coronary Experiment (1968-73)


Objective To examine the traditional diet-heart hypothesis through recovery and analysis of previously unpublished data from the Minnesota Coronary Experiment (MCE) and to put findings in the context of existing diet-heart randomized controlled trials through a systematic review and meta-analysis.
Design The MCE (1968-73) is a double blind randomized controlled trial designed to test whether replacement of saturated fat with vegetable oil rich in linoleic acid reduces coronary heart disease and death by lowering serum cholesterol. Recovered MCE unpublished documents and raw data were analyzed according to hypotheses prespecified by original investigators. Further, a systematic review and meta-analyses of randomized controlled trials that lowered serum cholesterol by providing vegetable oil rich in linoleic acid in place of saturated fat without confounding by concomitant interventions was conducted.
Setting One nursing home and six state mental hospitals in Minnesota, United States.
Participants Unpublished documents with completed analyses for the randomized cohort of 9423 women and men aged 20-97; longitudinal data on serum cholesterol for the 2355 participants exposed to the study diets for a year or more; 149 completed autopsy files.
Interventions Serum cholesterol lowering diet that replaced saturated fat with linoleic acid (from corn oil and corn oil polyunsaturated margarine). Control diet was high in saturated fat from animal fats, common margarines, and shortenings.
Main outcome measures Death from all causes; association between changes in serum cholesterol and death; and coronary atherosclerosis and myocardial infarcts detected at autopsy.
Results The intervention group had significant reduction in serum cholesterol compared with controls (mean change from baseline −13.8% v −1.0%; P<0.001). Kaplan Meier graphs showed no mortality benefit for the intervention group in the full randomized cohort or for any prespecified subgroup. There was a 22% higher risk of death for each 30 mg/dL (0.78 mmol/L) reduction in serum cholesterol in covariate adjusted Cox regression models (hazard ratio 1.22, 95% confidence interval 1.14 to 1.32; P<0.001). There was no evidence of benefit in the intervention group for coronary atherosclerosis or myocardial infarcts. Systematic review identified five randomized controlled trials for inclusion (n=10 808). In meta-analyses, these cholesterol lowering interventions showed no evidence of benefit on mortality from coronary heart disease (1.13, 0.83 to 1.54) or all cause mortality (1.07, 0.90 to 1.27).
Conclusions Available evidence from randomized controlled trials shows that replacement of saturated fat in the diet with linoleic acid effectively lowers serum cholesterol but does not support the hypothesis that this translates to a lower risk of death from coronary heart disease or all causes. Findings from the Minnesota Coronary Experiment add to growing evidence that incomplete publication has contributed to overestimation of the benefits of replacing saturated fat with vegetable oils rich in linoleic acid.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

can i take him with me to a bar to help me pick-up women?

Hot Hardware | IBM's Watson Cognitive AI Platform Evolves, Senses Feelings And Dances Gangnam Style At NVIDIA GTC

What has Watson been up to since then? IBM has focused its efforts on more practical applications for Watson, including services that are used by doctors, lawyers, and other professionals that need to analyze massive amounts of data. The challenge IBM faces is keeping Watson fresh, with the world's devices producing some 2.5 exabytes of data every day that is expected to blow-up to 44 zettabytes by the year 2020. To keep up with the information overload, IBM announced late last year that it was adding NVIDIA's Tesla K80 processing engines to the mix. Those high performance compute GPUs are playing a key role in Watson's cognitive computing development, especially in terms of natural language processing capabilities. 

The result? Watson is more capable and human-like than ever before, especially when injected into a robot body. We got to see this first-hand at NVIDIA's GPU Technology Conference (GTC) when Rob High, an IBM fellow, vice president, and chief technology officer for Watson, introduced attendees to a robot powered by Watson. During the demonstration, we saw Watson in robot form respond to queries just like a human would, using not only speech but movement as well. When Watson's dancing skills were called into question, the robot responded by showing off its Gangnam Style moves.

This is the next level of cognitive computing that's beginning to take shape now, both in terms of what Watson can do when given the proper form, and what it can sense. Just like a real person, the underlying AI can get a read on people through movement and cognitive analysis of their speech. It can determine mood, tone, inflection, and so forth.

considering the current state of shipping, what exactly would these drone ships carry?

The Telegraph | Crewless 'drone ships' will be sailing the seas by 2020
Remote-controlled “drone ships” will be plying the sealanes without crews on board by the end of the decade, according to Rolls-Royce.
The FTSE 100 company best known for its aircraft engines is heading a consortium working to develop the technology needed for ships controlled from land bases, making them cheaper to run.   
“This is happening. It’s not a question of if, it’s a question of when,” said Oskar Levander, head of innovation for Rolls’s marine unit. “We will see a remote controlled ship in commercial use by the end of the decade.”
He predicted the system could turn ships into a seaborne version of car service Uber, with the potential to radically change the current shipping sector.
“Drone ships will allow the creation of new services, which will support existing players to make their businesses more efficient and enable new entrants with new business models to the sector, with a potentially similarly disruptive effect to that caused by Uber, Spotify and Airbnb in other industries.”

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Human augmentation continues apace

Softpedia | Samsung Receives Patent for Smart Contact Lenses

Samsung has received a patent in South Korea for interactive contact lenses that can receive or send data to a nearby phone.
According to the patent, the way Samsung's "smart" contact lenses work is by integrating a camera, movement sensors, a transmitter, and a display unit in the lenses' glass.
Smart lenses are controlled by blinking
To take pictures or interact with data displayed on their contact lenses, the user must blink. The motions are picked up by the sensors, and the commands are relayed to the user's phone for processing, with the results being sent back immediately.
The user can stream video or send images to their contact lenses from their smartphone, and send pictures they took with the integrated camera back to their mobile device for storage.
According to some included blueprints, some circuits will be visible in the contact lenses, but they'll be placed towards to glass' edge, not to impede vision or the received images. The patent also includes details about manufacturing methods.

if microencephaly not caused by zika, what is this?

Reuters | White House finds temporary fix in Zika funding fight
The White House said on Wednesday it will redirect $589 million in funds to prepare for the Zika virus before the mosquito that carries it begins to emerge in the continental United States, but urged Congress to act quickly on its request for more money.
White House budget director Shaun Donovan said the use of money previously provided for fighting another health crisis, the Ebola virus, was only a temporary fix for Zika funding.
Donovan said some measures to fight Zika would have to be delayed, curtailed or stopped unless the U.S. Congress approves more than $1.8 billion in emergency funds requested by the Obama administration in February.
The Zika virus, linked to a growing number of cases of the birth defect microcephaly in Brazil, is spreading rapidly in Latin America and the Caribbean and heading north as the weather gets warmer.
"We should not play with fire here," Donovan told reporters on a conference call.

Without full Zika funding, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell said mosquito control and surveillance may have to be delayed or stopped, vaccine development could be jeopardized and development of faster diagnostic tests could be impaired.

you WILL be replaced

Quartz | A fleet of trucks just drove themselves across Europe
About a dozen trucks from major manufacturers like Volvo and Daimler just completed a week of largely autonomous driving across Europe, the first such major exercise on the continent.

The trucks set off from their bases in three European countries and completed their journeys in Rotterdam in the Netherlands today (Apr. 6). One set of trucks, made by the Volkswagen subsidiary Scania, traveled more than 2,000 km and crossed four borders to get there.

The trucks were taking part in the European Truck Platooning Challenge, organized by the Dutch government as one of the big events for its 2016 presidency of the European Union. While self-driving cars from Google or Ford get most of the credit for capturing the public imagination, commercial uses for autonomous or nearly autonomous vehicles, like tractors from John Deere, have been quietly putting the concept to work in a business setting.
When trucks autonomously follow one another, it’s called “platooning.” They’re connected by wifi and can leave a much smaller gap between vehicles than when humans are at the wheel. Platooning can reduce fuel use by up to 15%, prevent human error from causing accidents, and reduce congestion, according to a study by research firm TNO. It also can reduce expenses. Two trucks clocking 100,000 miles annually can save €6,000 on fuel by platooning, compared to driving on cruise control, according to TNO.

Friday, April 8, 2016

"fat and cholesterol are bad" fraud

The Guardian | The Sugar Conspiracy
Robert Lustig is a paediatric endocrinologist at the University of California who specialises in the treatment of childhood obesity. A 90-minute talk he gave in 2009, titled Sugar: The Bitter Truth, has now been viewed more than six million times on YouTube. In it, Lustig argues forcefully that fructose, a form of sugar ubiquitous in modern diets, is a “poison” culpable for America’s obesity epidemic.
A year or so before the video was posted, Lustig gave a similar talk to a conference of biochemists in Adelaide, Australia. Afterwards, a scientist in the audience approached him. Surely, the man said, you’ve read Yudkin. Lustig shook his head. John Yudkin, said the scientist, was a British professor of nutrition who had sounded the alarm on sugar back in 1972, in a book called Pure, White, and Deadly.
“If only a small fraction of what we know about the effects of sugar were to be revealed in relation to any other material used as a food additive,” wrote Yudkin, “that material would promptly be banned.” The book did well, but Yudkin paid a high price for it. Prominent nutritionists combined with the food industry to destroy his reputation, and his career never recovered. He died, in 1995, a disappointed, largely forgotten man.
Perhaps the Australian scientist intended a friendly warning. Lustig was certainly putting his academic reputation at risk when he embarked on a high-profile campaign against sugar. But, unlike Yudkin, Lustig is backed by a prevailing wind. We read almost every week of new research into the deleterious effects of sugar on our bodies. In the US, the latest edition of the government’s official dietary guidelines includes a cap on sugar consumption. In the UK, the chancellor George Osborne has announced a new tax on sugary drinks. Sugar has become dietary enemy number one.
This represents a dramatic shift in priority. For at least the last three decades, the dietary arch-villain has been saturated fat. When Yudkin was conducting his research into the effects of sugar, in the 1960s, a new nutritional orthodoxy was in the process of asserting itself. Its central tenet was that a healthy diet is a low-fat diet. Yudkin led a diminishing band of dissenters who believed that sugar, not fat, was the more likely cause of maladies such as obesity, heart disease and diabetes. But by the time he wrote his book, the commanding heights of the field had been seized by proponents of the fat hypothesis. Yudkin found himself fighting a rearguard action, and he was defeated.
Not just defeated, in fact, but buried. When Lustig returned to California, he searched for Pure, White and Deadly in bookstores and online, to no avail. Eventually, he tracked down a copy after submitting a request to his university library. On reading Yudkin’s introduction, he felt a shock of recognition.
“Holy crap,” Lustig thought. “This guy got there 35 years before me.”

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

cats jumping out of all kinds of bags these days... the zeitgeist is changing.

The Guardian | Yachts, jets and stacks of cash: super-rich discover risks of Instagram snaps
From selfies on super-yachts to posing with private jets, the young heirs of the uber-wealthy have attracted worldwide envy and derision by flaunting their lavish lifestyles on social media.
But these self-styled rich kids of Instagram are, often unwittingly, revealing their parents’ hidden assets and covert business dealings, providing evidence for investigators to freeze or seize assets worth tens of millions of pounds, and for criminals to defraud their families.
Leading cybersecurity firms said they were using evidence from social media in up to 75% of their litigation cases, ranging from billionaire divorces to asset disputes between oligarchs, with the online activity of super-rich heirs frequently providing the means to bypass their family’s security.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

is this related to the signs i've been seeing for paid 'activists'?

California Sunday | Crowds on Demand, he says, serves several clients a week, sometimes a day — most in L.A., San Francisco, and New York but an increasing number in smaller cities like Nashville, Charlotte, and Minneapolis. When people inquire about a potential event, Adam guides them through the possibilities and the approximate costs: $600 for fake paparazzi at a birthday dinner; $3,000 for a flash mob dancing, chanting, and handing out fliers as a PR stunt; $10,000 for a weeklong political demonstration; $25,000 to $50,000 for a prolonged campaign of protests. According to Adam, protests have become the company’s growth sector, and just as with advertising, repeat impressions are key. “When the targets of our actions see that we’re going to be back, day after day, they get really scared,” he says. “We’re in it for the long haul, and the problem’s not going to go away on its own.”

Saturday, April 2, 2016

10 basic human needs

The Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement in Sri Lanka is said to be “probably the largest participatory democracy movement on the planet”. Today, of the 38,000 villages in Sri Lanka, more than 15,000 of them are part of the Sarvodaya Shramadana network.
The Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement aims for systemic change from the bottom up, and I first read about it in this series of articles a couple of years ago. As Craig Mackintosh explains:
In contrast to the rapid centralisation and government dependence we witness today, the ideal for every Sarvodaya village is Grama Swarajya, or self governance, where every village effectively becomes its own village republic.
Building these decentralised communities – “those that nurture the values of self reliance and self restraint” – is the central thrust of the movement.
It was in part two in this series of articles that Craig shared an interesting story which is the topic of this article:
So while we were going on like that, quite accidentally, in one of the villages [was] an old traditional physician, who was basically a farmer. But, from his grandparents he inherited particular medicine for some things like cancer. So I happened to accidentally talk to him, in order to take a patient to him. Then we started talking about life, and he used for the first time I heard, these words ‘basic needs’.
He said, “If our basic needs are satisfied, what more do we need?”
Ariyaratne and his colleagues then sought to find out what were the basic needs of villagers – asking them to list ten, in order of priority. After surveying 660 villagers, and averaging the results, they end up with the following list:

1. a clean and beautiful environment

2. an adequate supply of safe water

3. minimum requirements of clothing

4. a balanced diet

5. simple housing

6. basic health care

7. communication facilities

8. energy

9. total education related to life and living

10. cultural and spiritual needs

“… what more do we need?”, indeed.

but what would convince a woman to do it with me?

Walden Labs | In 2000 Daniel Suelo walked into a phone booth, pulled out 30 dollars and left it. That day he gave up money.
Sixteen years later Suelo still does not have a personal ID, bank accounts, a modern home, does not take money, or live off of federal welfare.
“My philosophy is to use only what is freely given or discarded and what is already present and already running, whether or not I existed,” Suelo writes on his blog “Zero Currency.”
He didn’t even accept any money when his friend Mark Sundeen wrote his biography ‘The Man Who Quit Money‘, which is a soulful journey into the spirit of Daniel Suelo and the American zeitgeist of a changing economy.

useful for whom?

Inrix | Today INRIX, Inc., the world leader in connected car services and movement analytics,released a completely redesigned version of INRIX Traffic for iOS and Android. INRIX Traffic is a next-generation navigation and traffic app that learns user preferences to take the guesswork out of driving. The app integrates with a user’s calendar and learns their driving habits to create a personalized itinerary that includes automatic alerts, anticipated trips, favorite destinations and preferred routes.
Available worldwide now in the Apple App Store and Google Play, INRIX Traffic learns routines and preferences as users go about their day. INRIX Traffic adds favorite places automatically instead of requiring users to spend time inputting destinations like home, work or school. Based on learned activities, it creates a daily, driver-specific itinerary of anticipated trips, as well as frequent and preferred routes. By accessing calendar information on a mobile device, the app also adds events with addresses to the daily driving itinerary.
Unlike other driving apps that can provide inaccurate traffic and incidents based purely on consumer input, INRIX Traffic uses a massive crowd-sourced network of over 275 million connected cars and devices to offer the most accurate map and real-time information in the world. INRIX Traffic proactively monitors road conditions to alert drivers of ideal departure times, changes to arrival times and optimal routes to frequent or scheduled destinations based on real-time traffic.