Wednesday, October 8th, 2014


Talk to the Hand

During a recent period of stop and go traffic in San Francisco's Broadway Tunnel, I counted seven straight cars in which the driver was looking down at a phone. That number didn't surprise me (especially since my own eyes were on other cars instead of the road). We constantly see people on their phones while driving. So what do we do when we find that technology is making life too complicated? We add more technology. But will these hands-free technologies really make us any safer? According to Newshour, a new report found that talking, texting and adjusting music might be even more distracting if you're not using your hands.

+ ArsTechnica: Driving with voice-activated infotainment is really distracting. (For example, "two of the study participants rear-ended another car while using Siri.")


Crude Future

When a giant tanker recently left from the port of Galveston, Texas, it didn't seem like a big deal. But the NYT explains why it was: "The 400,000 barrels the tanker carried represented the first unrestricted export of American oil to a country outside of North America in nearly four decades."

+ Reuters: As oil prices tank, a new era of abundance seen dawning. (Have we reached peak peak oil?)

+ Why most Alaskans got a check for $1,884 last week. (Hint: They're in the oil business.)


Fever Pitch

Thomas Eric Duncan, the first patient diagnosed with Ebola in the US, has died. And federal officials are beginning to screen for high fevers at five airports.

+ NYT: Life, death and grim routine fill the day at a Liberian Ebola clinic. And from Bloomberg, a first-person account from a doctor in the hot zone.

+ In Spain, officials have euthanized Excalibur, a dog owned by the nurse who is the first person to get Ebola outside of Africa. The move drew protests and more than 325,000 people had signed a petition posted by the woman's husband. A Basque politician responded with this Tweet: "One dog in Madrid has generated more mobilization and news than thousands of deaths from Ebola in Africa. Something to reflect on."

+ "The virus is unlikely to spread widely beyond this one case in Dallas, Texas. But Ebola anxiety, on the other hand, is so far proving to be a highly contagious thing." From NY Mag: Ebola fears are triggering mass hypochondria.

+ The Ebola story is certainly triggering mass comparisons: "Is Ebola the ISIS of biological agents? Is Ebola the Boko Haram of AIDS? Is Ebola the al-Shabaab of dengue fever? Some say Ebola is the Milosevic of West Nile virus. Others say Ebola is the Ku Klux Klan of paper cuts." Teju Cole: What It Is.


Women and Women First

The pace at which public opinion on same-sex marriage has shifted has been pretty remarkable. A chart from XKCD shows that Americans "embraced same-sex marriage much more quickly than interracial marriage."

+ Bloomberg looked at dozens of newspaper front pages the day after the Supreme Court cleared the way for same-sex marriages to begin in several states. Twenty-nine showed women marrying. Three showed men.


Supplementary Angles

"It took people getting sickened by it -- having bleeds in their heads, dropping dead... that finally moved the FDA to get DMAA off the market." For years we've been warned about the failure of the Feds to regulate the supplement industry. But the industry keeps growing. Harvard researcher Pieter Cohen: "With supplements, we accept it's okay to take these pills, even if they might lead to a heart attack or stroke. To me it's mind boggling that we accept this." (Maybe his mind would be a little less boggled if he tried a little Ginkgo biloba.)

+ MoJo: Are your chicken nuggets ruining your antibiotic ointment?


A Closer Look

Three researchers have been awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for dramatically improving the resolution of microscopes. Professor Thomas Barton, president of the American Chemical Society, commented on the achievement: "If you had suggested being able to look at something on a one nanometre scale ... 50 years ago, you'd have been laughed out of the room." (I think he's giving a little too much credit to our room.)


It Stopped Raining Men

In Japan, researchers believe there is clear link between climate change and a decreasing number of men. (There's yet another reason I insist on sleeping with the window open.)


The Parent Map

Syndicated from Kottke: For the past year, Joanna Goddard has been running a series on her blog called Motherhood Around the World. The goal of the series was to tease out how parenting in other countries is different than parenting in the US. I've picked out a few representative bits.

+ A school in North Carolina has bikes instead of desks, and the students who spent the most time on the bikes achieved the most proficiency in reading. (It's gonna be a long night for my kids...)


What the Fuquay?

There's been no shortage of recent (and not recent) stories about police treatment of minorities, especially black males. But even against that backdrop, this report from Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina stands out. DeShawn Currie, who lives with his foster family, was pepper-sprayed by police while inside of his own house. He was profiled in his living room.


The Bottom of the News

Deputies along with a drug-sniffing dog raided Dwayne Perry's garden in Georgia expecting to find marijuana. Instead, they found okra. (If they had found kale, he should have been arrested.)

+ Where is Kim Jong Un? He hasn't been seen in public for more than a month.

+ Slate: How normal is your drinking? (Related: "And that, as much as anything else, led to my drinking problem.")

+ A comedy club in Spain charges by the laugh.

+ And thanks to Hunter Pence, SF Giants fans got some serious religion last night.