Find personal data from your old car on eBay

[An amateur] researcher, who described himself as a “Tesla tinkerer that’s curious about how things work,” recently gained access to 13 Tesla MCUs — short for media control units — that were removed from electric vehicles during repairs and refurbishments. Each one of the devices stored a trove of sensitive information despite being retired. Examples included phone books from connected cell phones, call logs containing hundreds of entries, recent calendar entries, Spotify and W-Fi passwords stored in plaintext, locations for home, work, and all places navigated to, and session cookies that allowed access to Netflix and YouTube (and attached Gmail accounts)…

“It looks like some service center employees sell intact units on the side instead of returning them…the researcher said in an interview. “I know some people running salvage yards that say that’s one source of units they have for sale.”…

[His] discovery reveals a risk posed not just to Tesla owners but drivers of virtually any vehicle that has onboard devices that store personal data or provide remote tracking. A man who rented Ford vehicles from Enterprise Rent-a-Car reported having the ability to remotely start, stop, lock, and unlock the vehicles long after he returned them not just once, but a second time four months after the first. As is the case with Tesla MCUs that make it back onto the market, the failure of rental companies to mandate that employees fully wipe infotainment systems of all previous customers’ data represents a safety and privacy risk that could easily be avoided.

I know you can’t selectively destroy recording systems in a car you’re selling or trading-in; but, at a minimum you should do a factory reset. I’m not a fanatic about privacy (yet); but, I see no reason to skip utilizing the procedures built-in to maintain some level of security.

Life is like a box of hippocampus film clips

❝ A neuroimaging study of human participants watching the 1994 film Forrest Gump and Alfred Hitchcock’s 1961 television drama Bang! You’re Dead suggests an important role for the hippocampus in segmenting our continuous everyday experience into discrete events for storage in long-term memory. The research, published in JNeurosci, is among the first to investigate hippocampal function during a natural experience.

❝ Aya Ben-Yakov and Richard Henson found that the hippocampus responded most strongly to the films at the points that independent observers identified as the end of one event and the beginning of a new one. The researchers found a strong match between these event boundaries and participants’ hippocampal activity, varying according to the degree to which the independent observers agreed on the transition points between events. While watching the two-hour long Forrest Gump, hippocampal response was more strongly influenced by the subjective event boundaries than by what the filmmaker may consider a transition between scenes, such as a change in location. This suggests that the hippocampus is sensitive to meaningful units of experience rather than perceptual cues.

Evolution is amazing!

Lousy nutrition will make you stupid as well as fat

❝ Being overweight can raise your blood pressure, cholesterol and risk for developing diabetes. It could be bad for your brain, too.

A diet high in saturated fats and sugars, the so-called Western diet, actually affects the parts of the brain that are important to memory and make people more likely to crave the unhealthful food, says psychologist Terry Davidson…

❝ He didn’t start out studying what people ate. Instead, he was interested in learning more about the hippocampus, a part of the brain that’s heavily involved in memory…He did that by studying rats that had very specific types of hippocampal damage and seeing what happened to them.

In the process, Davidson noticed something strange. The rats with the hippocampal damage would go to pick up food more often than the other rats, but they would eat a little bit, then drop it.

Davidson realized these rats didn’t know they were full. He says something similar may happen in human brains when people eat a diet high in fat and sugar. Davidson says there’s a vicious cycle of bad diets and brain changes. He points to a 2015 study…that found obese children performed more poorly on memory tasks that test the hippocampus compared with kids who weren’t overweight.

❝ He says if our brain system is impaired by that kind of diet, “that makes it more difficult for us to stop eating that diet. … I think the evidence is fairly substantial that you have an effect of these diets and obesity on brain function and cognitive function.”…

❝ Davidson is…moving forward by studying how to break the vicious cycle of a Western diet, obesity and brain changes. But he says the underlying idea that obesity affects the brain is clear.

“It’s surprising to me that people would question that obesity would have a negative effect on the brain, because it has a negative effect on so many other bodily systems,” he says, adding, why would “the brain would be spared?”

Another smartass scientist who lets sound logic and data get in the way of profits from corporations producing and selling crap food. Will they never learn?

RTFA for a range of studies that move from correlation to causation.

Confederate flag taken down


Click for videoJohn Moore/Getty Images

Citizens of South Carolina celebrate removal of a symbol of racism and slavery

Some Americans still vacillate between ignorance and bigotry. Certainly Black folks in South Carolina know the history of slavery and racism in the Confederacy. It’s been shoved in their faces all their lives. But, the idjits who prattle about Southern Heritage being represented by that stars and bars rag are too ignorant to breathe on their own.

It was a dead issue in the South until it was adopted by racist politicians trying to preserve segregation as part and parcel of Southern life. There were NO southern statehouses flying the Confederate flag the first time I was arrested in a sit-in. That ploy hadn’t yet been thought of by corrupt officials in Southern states.

There’s nothing to preserve. Only one more tactic, part of a range of mediocrities adopted by fools and bigots to prop up their failed belief in racial superiority.

If you think you have Alzheimer’s, you might be right

A recent study suggests that self-reported memory complaints might predict clinical memory impairment later in life. Erin Abner, an assistant professor at the University of Kentucky’s Sanders-Brown Center on Aging, asked 3,701 men aged 60 and higher a simple question: “Have you noticed any change in your memory since you last came in?”

That question led to some interesting results. “It seems that subjective memory complaint can be predictive of clinical memory impairment,” Abner said. “Other epidemiologists have seen similar results, which is encouraging, since it means we might really be on to something.”

The results are meaningful because it might help identify people who are at risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease sooner. “If the memory and thinking lapses people notice themselves could be early markers of risk for Alzheimer’s disease, we might eventually be able to intervene earlier in the aging process to postpone and/or reduce the effects of cognitive memory impairment.”

Abner, who is also a member of the faculty in the UK Department of Epidemiology, took pains to emphasize that her work shouldn’t necessarily worry everyone who’s ever forgotten where they left their keys.

“I don’t want to alarm people,” she said. “It’s important to distinguish between normal memory lapses and significant memory problems, which usually change over time and affect multiple aspects of daily life.”

If my wife saw this article – and saw me posting it here at my personal blog – she’d give me a smack. She knows I’m a world-class hypochondriac. And here I am encouraging the rest of you.

Har.

Human foetus feels no pain before 24 weeks

The human foetus feels no pain before 24 weeks, according to a major review of scientific evidence…

The connections in the foetal brain are not fully formed in that time, nor is the foetus conscious, according to the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

The findings of two reports commissioned by the Department of Health strike a blow to those seeking to reduce the upper time limit for having an abortion, currently at 24 weeks.

The studies suggest that late abortions, permitted for serious abnormalities or risks to a woman’s health, do not result in foetal suffering because of increasing evidence that the chemical environment in the uterus induces “a continuous sleep-like unconsciousness or sedation”…

Even after 24 weeks, “it is difficult to say that the foetus experiences pain because this, like all other experiences, develops post-natally along with memory and other learned behaviours”…

Anti-abortion campaigners said the work did not challenge other arguments for a lower limit.

Other than the fact that anti-abortion arguments are limited almost exclusively to anti-scientific, religious humbug. And take no account of a woman’s right to choose to order her own life.

Earworm research! What’s an earworm?

Some 98 to 99 percent of the population has at one time been “infected” with a song they just can’t seem to shake off. This common phenomenon has rarely been researched, until Andréane McNally-Gagnon, a PhD student at the Université de Montréal Department of Psychology, decided to examine the issue.

In most cases, earworms will disappear after a few minutes. In some cases, earworms can last hours or even days. McNally-Gagnon is also a musician, who is often infected, which is why she wanted to better understand how and why it occurs.

For starters, she asked French-speaking Internet users to rank 100 pop songs according to their ability to be compulsively repeated within one’s mind. The top five were: Singing in the Rain (Gene Kelly), Live Is Life (Opus), Don’t Worry, Be Happy (Bobby McFerrin), I Will Survive (Gloria Gaynor) and, in first place, Ça fait rire les oiseaux by Caribbean sensation La Compagnie Créole. (A complete list is published at http://www.brams.org).

In the laboratory, McNally-Gagnon and her thesis director Sylvie Hébert, professor at the Université de Montréal School of Speech Therapy and Audiology and a member of the International Laboratory for Brain, Music and Sound Research (BRAMS), asked 18 musicians and 18 non-musicians to hum and record their obsessive songs and note their emotional state before and after. The researchers found earworm infections last longer with musicians than with non-musicians.

The phenomenon occurs when subjects are usually in a positive emotional state and keeping busy with non-intellectual activities such as walking, which requires little concentration. “Perhaps the phenomenon occurs to prevent brooding or to change moods,” says Hébert.

The study also revealed that auditive memory in people is stronger among those who can accurately replicate songs. Humming among musicians was only one key off original recordings, while non-musicians were off by two keys.

Next, will be studies using MRI, Transcranial Magnetic Imaging technology. Woo-Hoo.

Do bad drivers have bad genes?


Dr. Cramer

Bad drivers may in part have their genes to blame. A recent study found that people with a particular gene variant performed more than 20 percent worse on a driving test than people without it—and a follow-up test a few days later yielded similar results. About 30 percent of Americans have the variant.

These people make more errors from the get-go, and they forget more of what they learned after time away,” says Steven Cramer, University of California, Irvine, neurology associate professor and senior author of the study…

“We wanted to study motor behavior, something more complex than finger-tapping,” says Stephanie McHughen, graduate student and lead author of the study. “Driving seemed like a good choice because it has a learning curve and it’s something most people know how to do.”

The driving test was taken by 29 people—22 without the gene variant and seven with it. They were asked to drive 15 laps on a simulator that required them to learn the nuances of a track programmed to have difficult curves and turns. Researchers recorded how well they stayed on the course over time. Four days later, the test was repeated.

Results showed that people with the variant did worse on both tests than the other participants, and they remembered less the second time. “Behavior derives from dozens and dozens of neurophysiologic events, so it’s somewhat surprising this exercise bore fruit,” Cramer says…

A test to determine whether someone has the gene variant is not commercially available.

“I’d be curious to know the genetics of people who get into car crashes,” Cramer says. “I wonder if the accident rate is higher for drivers with the variant.”

Ooh! I know a few people who absolutely would be caught out in a test like this. It explains a lot.

Remember this! A nasal spray that improves memory

In a research report featured as the cover story of the October 2009 print issue of The FASEB Journal…scientists show that a molecule from the body’s immune system (interleukin-6) when administered through the nose helps the brain retain emotional and procedural memories during REM sleep.

Sleep to remember, a dream or reality?” said Lisa Marshall, co-author of the study, from the Department of Neuroendocrinology at the University of Lubeck in Germany. “Here, we provide the first evidence that the immunoregulatory signal interleukin-6 plays a beneficial role in sleep-dependent formation of long-term memory in humans…”

“If a nasal spray can improve memory, perhaps we’re on our way to giving some folks a whiff of common sense, such as accepting the realities of evolution,” said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal…

Can we get a few politicians to remember who elected them – not just who paid for the campaign.

Is quantum mechanics messing with your memory?


Maccone claims glass can unbreak – for example

Imagine if a cold cup of coffee spontaneously heated up as you watched. Or a cracked pane of glass suddenly un-broke. According to physicist Lorenzo Maccone at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, you see things like this all the time – you just don’t remember.

In a paper published last week in Physical Review Letters, he attempts to provide a solution to what has been called the mystery of “the arrow-of-time”.

Briefly, the problem is that while our laws of physics are all symmetrical or “time-reversal invariant” – they apply equally well if time runs forwards or backwards – most of the everyday phenomena we observe, like the cooling of hot coffee, are not. They never seem to happen in reverse…

So why will your coffee spontaneously cool down, but not heat up?

Maccone’s solution is to suggest that in fact entropy-decreasing events occur all the time – so there is no asymmetry and no associated mystery about the arrow of time.

He argues that quantum mechanics dictates that if anyone does observe an entropy-decreasing event, their memories of the event “will have been erased by necessity“.

Maccone doesn’t mean that your memories will never form in the first place. “What I’m pointing out is that memories are formed and then are subsequently erased,” he tells me.

When you observe any system, according to Maccone, you enter into a “quantum entanglement” with it. That is, you and the system are entangled and cannot properly be described separately.

The entanglement, Maccone says, is between your memory and the system. When you disentangle, “the disentangling operation will erase this entanglement, namely the observer’s memory”. His paper derives this conclusion mathematically.

Smacks of philosophic Idealism to me. Mind over matter. Or mind over matter over mind over matter.

In any case, accounting for physical processes with non-material devices.