The Edward Snowden interview with NBC’s Brian Williams


Click to reach interview at NBC News site

Of course, there is a commercial before you get to part 1. And NBC News offers a page full of government punditry trying to counter the Snowden revelations. Just because Brian Williams scored the beat of the year with his interview of Edward Snowden – and did it in a fashion worthy of Edward R. Murrow – doesn’t transform NBC/Universal/ComCast into a bastion of free speech and democracy.

They’re covering their butts in predictable fashion.

Meanwhile –

Let me repeat my reaction right after the interview:

First, let me give credit where due to NBC and Brian Williams. I expected something better than Fox Noise or John Kerry. I was able to watch an essentially Socratic interview with interesting questions generally free of jingoism and pap. Maybe I should drop by and watch this wee corner of network television once in a while. At least on this single important issue, they did American journalism proud.

Second, Ed Snowden was about what I expected ideologically. Pretty much a centrist libertarian – that’s with a small “L” – who cares about the history and standards of our constitution. He was much more articulate and detailed in his defense of civil disobedience against a distorted and hypocritical government – than I expected. He was kinder to the pimps who malign him than I ever could be – but, then, he’s dedicated to a single issue, our privacy, our freedom to be Americans in the traditional sense that our government used to support. He did a great job.

I expect nutballs on the Right to be out of their mind with hating this interview. I expect Democrat apologists for the policies of Bush and Obama to be equally incensed. I’m confident those who supported Snowden before tonight – as I have – will continue. And will recommend – as I do – that you watch the video of the interview and draw your own conclusions.

MIT’s CityHome project seeks small space versatility

For many residents today, the idea of fitting furniture into a 600 sq ft condo or apartment has become a compact reality. Now a team from MIT’s architectural program have come up with the CityHome project; a versatile appliance-like solution, designed to increase usable space by two or three times.

The adaptable CityHome project works to help solve the timeless spatial problem of “How do you configure the dining room in your micro-space so guests don’t have to sit at a work station during supper?”

The concept is relatively simple: condense all the necessary amenities, such as the bed, entertainment unit, counters, work space, cooking unit and range, furniture storage, etc. into one transformable wall system. Looking like an intricate Italian kitchen unit, the CityHome project from MIT’s Kent Larson and Hasier Larrea not only solves the typical spatial issues associated with tiny condos and apartments, but does so via interactive touch elements, hand gestures, and voice control.

Internal motors connected to command units silently move out units selected by predetermined hand gestures (presumably registered by the control system using built-in cameras), so no physical effort is required. One gesture could, for example, draw the bed out of its space. Another instructs it to return to its original position, and then a work desk can be moved out (which also doubles as a dining table for six).

The team has also applied gestural commands to the lighting system, so that residents can adjust the ambiance in any area of the room as needed, and for control of the window blinds.

From a functional and ergonomic perspective, the bathroom, toilet and shower arrangement clearly needs further consideration. But the concept of providing a versatile living space for those crammed into undersized accommodations definitely has potential.

Poisonally, I’m not impressed with using hand gestures. Aside from making the system overly complex with sensors and interpretive software for the gestures – there ain’t anything wrong with a push button or touch surface. You might end up writing the script for a Woody Allen movie.

I haven’t looked at Japanese designs for small spaces in a few years; but, I imagine there may be comfortable ideas worth adapting to American butts.

CNN iReporter posts ‘Asteroid to hit Earth’ story — a day’s worth of fear and trembling and rumors till someone realizes it is crap!

For a while Monday, the world was about to end…Well, possibly.

I was unaware of this development, until Technically Incorrect reader Dan Melton sent me a helpful image of an article that appeared Monday on CNN.

It was headlined: “Giant asteroid possibly on collision course with Earth.” We’ve heard this sort of thing before, but more often in Weekly World News…This, however, was CNN. Although it was a part of CNN known as iReport, an area where people post their news and CNN tries to see if some of it is true.

asteroid after our butt

The poster, Marcus 575…insisted: “Scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory have detected a large object the size of Manhattan possibly on a collision course with Earth. Using their Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE), the 10-mile wide object was found approximately 51 million miles from Earth.”

What might have given the article away was that, in the second paragraph, it mentioned that impact was most likely on March 35, 2041.

Yet several major publications linked to it

CNN has now removed the article. It has added a message that reads: “NASA has confirmed via email that this story is false. A spokewoman (sic) for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory says that the largest object detected by NEOWISE measures 3 km in diameter and poses no risk to Earth.”

In many if not most instances, blogging should not be confused with journalism. Even the PR-as-entertainment-posing-as-news level of journalism practiced on television requires more fact-checking than this.

Thanks, Mike

Deadly pig virus re-infects Indiana farm

An Indiana farm has become the first to confirm publicly it suffered a second outbreak of a deadly pig virus, fueling concerns that a disease that has wiped out 10 percent of the U.S. hog population will be harder to contain than producers and veterinarians expected.

The farm, through its veterinarian, publicly acknowledged on Tuesday a repeat incident of Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus (PEDv), which has killed up to 7 million pigs and pushed pork prices to record highs since it was first identified in the United States a year ago…

The state and federal effort to stamp out PEDv has operated on an assumption that a pig, once infected, develops immunity and will not be afflicted by the disease again for at least several years. Likewise, farms that had endured the disease were not known to suffer secondary outbreaks.

But a year after the virus was identified, repeat outbreaks have occurred at farms but not been publicly confirmed before now. These so-called secondary outbreaks are a challenge to efforts to stem the disease, which is almost always fatal to baby piglets…

The incidence of the disease “re-breaking” on farms after it appeared to have been wiped out, indicates that the risk for ongoing severe losses from the virus is bigger than previously expected. The lack of long-term immunity also means hog producers must keep up strict bio-security measures to fight the disease, which has already spread to 30 states.

The virus does not pose a risk to human health and is not a food safety issue, according to the USDA.

So, no risk to human health or food safety. You just won’t be able to afford pork in the near future.

Crap workmanship on Keystone XL pipeline construction results in more demanding standards

Safety regulators have quietly placed two extra conditions on construction of TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone XL oil pipeline after learning of potentially dangerous defects involving the southern leg of the Canada-to-Texas project.

The defects — high rates of bad welds, dented pipe and damaged pipeline coating — have been fixed. But the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration wants to make sure similar problems don’t occur during construction of the pipeline’s controversial northern segment, which is on hold pending a decision by the Obama administration.

One condition requires TransCanada to hire a third-party contractor chosen by the pipeline safety agency to monitor the construction and make reports to the safety administration on whether the work is sound.

The second requires TransCanada to adopt a quality management program to ensure “this pipeline is — from the beginning — built to the highest standards by both Keystone personnel and its many contractors…”

Inspections by the safety agency found TransCanada wasn’t using approved welding procedures to connect pipes, the letter said. The company had hired welders who weren’t qualified to work on the project because TransCanada used improper procedures to test them, the letter said. In order to qualify to work on a pipeline, welders must have recent experience using approved welding procedures and pass a test of their work.

The weld failure rates are “horrible,” said Robert Bea, professor emeritus of civil and environmental engineering at the University of California, Berkeley. “The level of defects is indeed cause for alarm and indicative of something that is going on in the Keystone organization that isn’t satisfactory.”

Then you might add in a conservation movement in Nebraska that is old-fashioned the way Teddy Roosevelt would be an old-fashioned conservative. There is an alliance of farmers and ranchers wedded to Native American tribes, Republicans and Democrats alike, who will not stand for eminent domain, high-handed Texas-style tactics [even if practiced by a Canadian pipeline company] and politicians who roll over for Big Oil.

The governor of Nebraska approved a revised pipeline route through the state. The alliance – represented by three ranchers – took him to District Court who knocked it out of the park. Now it’s up to the State Supreme Court.

Thanks, Mike

Melatonin makes old bones stronger


Melatonin molecule

McGill researchers have shown that melatonin supplements may make bones stronger in old rats. This suggests a possible avenue for the prevention of osteoporosis. Bones are built up by certain cells known as osteoblasts during the daytime and broken down by others (osteoclasts) at night. As we age, we sleep less, and so the cells that break down the bones are more active.

By giving old rats melatonin supplements to regulate their circadian rhythms, the McGill researchers have been able to make their bones denser, less brittle and more flexible. Next step is to explore whether melatonin supplements prevent bone breakdown or can actually repair damage…

The process of bone breakdown and buildup is affected by our circadian rhythms. The cells which break down our bones (known as osteoclasts) are more active at night, while those responsible for bone formation (osteoblasts) are more active during daylight hours. “As we age, we sleep less well, which means that the osteoclasts are more active,” says lead researcher Faleh Tamimi. “This tends to speed up the process of bone breakdown.”

It is already well established that melatonin plays a role in regulating our body clocks and can potentially help us sleep better. So the researchers suspected that a melatonin supplement would help regulate the circadian rhythms of the elderly rats, thus reducing the activity of the osteoclasts and slowing down the process of bone breakdown. And that is exactly what they found.

RTFA for details of the study. I agree with the conclusions and why they were reached.

I’ve spent a century or two with dentists from a car crash BITD. Meanwhile, Medicare enabled diagnosis a decade ago of sleep apnea – an ailment I long suspected – and now I experience deep, complete sleep and consider myself a poster child for CPAP therapy. I fall asleep in about 30 seconds and sleep like a stone, waking a bit creaky only because I don’t move the whole night.

My dental surgeon says I drive him crazy because my jawbone seems to be turning into granite. 🙂

This Wednesday evening, the 28th, NBC interview with Edward Snowden — UPDATED with my feelings after the interview

Snowden and Williams

After months of preparation and negotiation, “Nightly News” anchor and managing editor Brian Williams met former NSA contractor Edward Snowden last week in Moscow for his first interview with a U.S. television network…

The exclusive, wide-ranging interview with Snowden, who received asylum in Russia after leaking classified documents from NSA servers, will air in a one-hour NBC News primetime special on Wednesday at 10 p.m. Eastern/9 p.m. Central.

“The interview was months in the making and cloaked in the secrecy of his life as a fugitive living in exile overseas,” said Williams. “As you will see and hear, Edward Snowden has a lot more to say.”

Snowden, now 30, is a former systems administrator for the CIA who later went to work for the private intelligence contractor Dell inside a National Security Agency outpost in Japan. In early 2013, he went to work for Booz Allen Hamilton inside the NSA center in Hawaii.

While working for the contractors, Snowden downloaded secret documents related to U.S. intelligence activities and partnerships with foreign allies, including some that revealed the extent of data collection from U.S. telephone records and Internet activity…

U.S. officials have asserted that Snowden may have taken as many as 1.7 million documents. Among the revelations from documents in the Snowden trove are the NSA’s bulk collection of phone and internet metadata from U.S. users, spying on the personal communications of foreign leaders, including U.S. allies, and the NSA’s ability to tap undersea fiber optic cables and siphon off data.

Look at the videos in the article as a preview. I hold about as much hope for unedited courage on the part of NBC as you might expect – or not. But, my DVR is set for 9PM, local MDT.

For example, the last paragraph in the article says, “This week, the House passed a bill to end the NSA’s bulk domestic metadata collection.” Well, No. The bill was so watered down that some of those who wrote the original bill voted against it. Just one more smoke-and-mirrors-act from Congress.

EMT report: Gunshot wound in buttock contaminated with squirrel tissue

…Until now “gross contamination of an open wound with squirrel flesh [was] an unreported event,” as Porter W. Maerz, MD…and colleagues write in a recent case study appearing in Case Reports in Emergency Medicine.

But no more, thanks to a Florida teenager.

When EMTs arrived on the scene of the boy’s injury, they reported visible “squirrel parts” in the margin of a buckshot wound. Such wounds are not unusual, but how did the squirrel get in there?

Turns out that that the young man was attempting to dislodge a dead squirrel from an overhead branch with the butt of a loaded 12-gauge shotgun.

He apparently learned that was a nutty idea.

You may not recall that the recommended technique for catching a squirrel is — to climb a tree and make a noise like a nut! In this case, a nut with a gun.

Peat bog the size of England discovered in Congo-Brazzaville

A vast peatland has been discovered in a remote part of Congo-Brazzaville…The bog covers an area the size of England and is thought to contain billions of tonnes of peat.

Scientists say investigating the carbon-rich material could shed light on 10,000 years of environmental change in this little-studied region.

Dr Simon Lewis, from the University of Leeds, said: “It’s remarkable that there are parts of the planet that are still uncharted territory.”

He added: “Few people venture into these swamps as they are quite difficult places to move around in and work in…”

Satellite images initially hinted at the presence of the enormous tropical peatland, but an expedition, starting from Itanga village in April, confirmed it was there.

The discovery team, from the University of Leeds, the Wildlife Conservation Society-Congo and Congo-Brazzaville’s Marien Ngouabi University, had to contend with dwarf crocodiles, gorillas and elephants as they explored the area. But they said the biggest challenge was soggy feet.

Dr Lewis, who was working with PhD student Greta Dargie, added: “You can only walk on these areas for a couple of months a year, right at the end of the dry season, so you have to time it right. Even then it is still wet every day…

Continue reading

Oregon driver caused three-car crash — he was holding his breath while driving through tunnel — till he passed out!

Police say a 19-year-old man caused a three-car crash when he fainted while holding his breath as he drove through a tunnel in Oregon.

Daniel J Calhon told investigators he fainted on Sunday afternoon while holding his breath in the Highway 26 tunnel near the community of Manning. His car, a 1990 Toyota Camry, drifted across the centreline and crashed head-on with a Ford Explorer.

Both vehicles struck the tunnel walls before a pickup hit the Camry. Four people suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

Police say Calhon has been cited for reckless driving, three counts of reckless endangerment and fourth-degree assault.

Coppers said some people hold their breaths in tunnels as part of a game – sometimes because of superstition. No statement released as to whether either stupid practice contributed to this particular accident.