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Then ducks the fuck out

He was also married to another woman the whole time

The whole time he was with Jacqui, Lambert was married with two children. When she gave birth he was in the hospital room with her. He was there through all 14 hours of labor.

General Discussion / Final day in the USA
« on: August 01, 2015, 01:27:51 PM »
Leaving on a JET plane

General Discussion / The last lesbian bar in San Fransisco closes
« on: July 30, 2015, 12:17:23 PM »

Saying Goodbye To The Last Lesbian Bar In San Francisco

When a queer mecca like San Francisco runs out of dyke bars, is the future of the city’s lesbian culture merely in flux — or is it in jeopardy? To find out, I documented the sights and sounds of the iconic Lexington Club before it closed forever.
 Lauren Morrell Tabak
Lauren Morrell Tabak
BuzzFeed Contributor
posted on Jul. 29, 2015, at 7:42 a.m.

My memories of the iconic San Francisco lesbian bar the Lexington Club exist as little fragments: getting called on during a dating game (terrifying!), being gently scolded by owner Lila Thirkield for having an open container outside during Halloween (embarrassing!), getting fucked in the bathroom after my band played down the street at Amnesia (disgusting!), meeting an ex “to talk” but instead picking up some random cisgender dude (it happens).

It makes me sad to think the next generation of just-moved-to-the-Mission baby dykes with their fresh tattoos and healthy livers won’t have a place like this to call home. But then I remember that those 21-year-old lesbians can’t afford to move to San Francisco anyway (median rent for a one-bedroom in the Mission is currently around $3,400). Wherever they are, god bless 'em, and may they find their people.

When I first heard the Lex was closing, I was actually a little surprised by the major onslaught of THE FEELZ the news brought, considering the fact that I, like most people I know, hadn’t really been there in a minute. And by a minute, I really mean the minutes that I spent at the Lex were few and far between once I got out of my turbulent twenties. My career, my Netflix, my dog, my domestic partnership, and my and distaste for drama were all things that kept me from making the three-block trek through the Lex’s bright red doors.

Well, that’s not exactly true — I found myself there every so often during a weekday happy hour, perched on the edge of a church pew, my Taqueria Cancun veggie burrito, chips, and two salsas spread across the stained and inlaid tables. The Lex was my default but infrequent meeting place when I wanted to catch up with a lady friend over a quiet drink, and in that, I was not alone. That trend, Thirkield explained to me, was why she decided to shutter the bar after running it for 18 years: "I opened a bar where we only want less than 5% of the population to come in ... We have the worst business model ever, right? Here’s the bottom line: Things slowed down. Our sales were down."

Lauren Tabak
Lexington bartender Tiana Danger changes the drink specials.
I first found out about the Lexington Club through Michelle Tea’s novel Valencia. A girl – who shared my love of cocaine and Jarvis Cocker, who clandestinely kissed me for the first time on the roof of my college apartment while my nine straight roommates watched sitcoms below — told me about the Lex as she gave me a copy. I read Valencia after graduation, lazily slurping liquid Vicodin in a hammock at my parents' house in San Diego while recovering from a long-overdue tonsillectomy. Drugged and directionless, I daydreamed about dyke life in San Francisco.

I first visited the Lex in 2000, the same year Valencia was published. I was in my early twenties and had moved into a $1,600 three-bedroom flat (my share was roughly a third) on the corner of 22nd and Guerrero, four blocks from the bar. The leaseholder was at least 10 years older than me, a club promoter/phone-sex operator/preschool teacher who wore a uniform of brightly colored slip skirts and knee-high socks. My first night in her house, two of her friends came over. One was a dancer at the Lusty Lady (the world’s only unionized worker-owned peep show co-op, now closed), and the other, the frontwoman for an anarcho-queer punk band. She carried a bucket of white paint in one hand and a hula-hoop in the other as we headed down the street. As we approached a new-looking BMW parked on Valencia, she dipped her brush into the bucket and flung it at the passenger side door. In the doorway of a newly opened pricey restaurant, she hula-hooped for a few minutes and then urinated. “YUPPIES, GO HOME!” she shouted at the horrified patrons waiting to exit. We continued on to the Lex.

“Drugged and directionless, I daydreamed about dyke life in San Francisco.”
It was very dark inside. The place glowed red. There were giant photographs of mostly naked women on the walls. We made our way to an open table against the back wall. Next to us there was a woman reading tarot cards. We sat down and my three companions — who, by that point, I was completely terrified of — surveyed the room for that mythical someone that no one had slept with. “I don’t know why I keep coming here,” one of them said. “This bar steals my soul.” I ordered a Long Island iced tea.

Over the next 15 years, my drink order became more sophisticated and I got to be friendly with some bartenders, but I was never an insider. I didn’t sit at the coveted corner with its proximity to the restrooms and unobstructed view of the front door; I didn’t get the text messages when celebrities like Zac Efron, Quentin Tarantino, or the L Word cast dropped by; and, like most people I know, I learned of Lila’s plans to close the bar via a Facebook post.

I felt like I’d been punched in the stomach. It seems like almost every day now, one beloved San Francisco business or another announces that the neighborhood has changed and that it's closing up shop. I had just assumed that the Lex would always be open for me if and when I needed a safe space. I actually move pretty freely through a lot of different spheres, but I have friends who don’t. Homophobia and transphobia still exist, even in San Francisco, which is why a place like the Lexington Club is — was — so important. It’s wild to think that there’s no longer a full-time lesbian bar here. I thought I had been completely desensitized to this type of change, but there I was, standing in the dark at the top of my stairs, scrolling through the anguished comments on Lila’s post, too shocked to turn on the light.

I’d known Lila for years; we would always say hello, but we were never close. It seemed like a long shot, but I sent her a Facebook message, something along the lines of: “I’m sure you’re getting a ton of messages like this, but please let me tell your story.” The next day I ran into a friend, another documentary filmmaker named Susie Smith who I’ve known for just about as long as I’ve lived in SF. She said she had also contacted Lila about doing a project and we decided to collaborate.


Lauren Tabak
And so the Lexington Club Archival Project was born. Our mission was simple: Document the sights and sounds of this iconic space before it closed forever. We got Lila’s blessing and made a plan to start filming in December after I returned from a trip to South America, which had been a birthday present from my girlfriend.

With just a few weeks and a small crew of volunteers, we started recording interviews in the bar. A week or so into production, Susie’s father passed away suddenly. My girlfriend of three years, who I’d considered proposing to in Argentina, dumped me at the foot of the Patagonian Andes. I got laid off. Some mornings, the Lexington Club Archival Project was the only reason I got out of bed. Some mornings, on days we weren’t filming, I didn’t at all. I lost 20 pounds. I resumed an unrequited love affair with painkillers.

“Some mornings, the Lexington Club Archival Project was the only reason I got out of bed.”
We kept filming. We interviewed Lila, who teared up as she explained her decision to sell. We filmed what would be the last New Year’s Eve party at the Lex. We interviewed Sunny Haire and Yvette Pierce, the original bartenders and managers. Sunny recounted how, in 1997, lesbians were so excited to have a place of their own that on opening night there was a line around the block. Yvette shared how business was so good those first few years that with just a few shifts a week she was able to take her mother to Hawaii for her first real vacation ever. We scanned through opening night photos by Ace Morgan. We dug through hundreds of Polaroids from the camera they kept behind the bar (there are a few photos of a blue-haired Michelle Tea). We combed through the archives of the Gay and Lesbian Historical Society. We interviewed Tribe 8 frontperson Lynn Breedlove, who got verklempt as he explained to us that the Lex was one of the first spaces where dykes and trans men socialized, integrated and mobilized together. Longtime manager Benjamin McGrath shared his story of transitioning behind the bar. We cried a lot during those interviews — sometimes for reasons that were obvious to everyone; sometimes for those reasons only we knew.

Lauren Tabak
Owner Lila Thirkield behind the bar before the Lex closed.
When I came out to San Francisco in 2000, the Lexington Club was a beacon of hope — the lesbian lighthouse in a gay mecca. It was THAT MYTHICAL PLACE of openness and acceptance, where you could find friends, lovers, community — except that it wasn’t a myth. It was real. And it’s funny to me that 15 years later, after so many of life’s twists and turns, the bar once again holds that place for me. Working on this project has given me focus during a period when I’d be otherwise adrift, and reconnecting with my community couldn’t have come at a better time. In documenting the bar’s history, I’m reminded that not everyone had the same experience as me — but mine certainly wasn’t unique.

“These recent events are a sign that no matter where folks end up, they won’t go quietly.”
Before the bar closed for good, we filmed another 40 or 50 interviews. My ex and I had our last banal breakup convo (who gets to keep the Prius) at a table by the window. We filmed the nooks and crannies, the graffiti in the bathroom, the pee hole in the basement. We filmed the line of people around the block waiting in the pouring rain to get into the closing parties. We left the San Francisco International Film Festival premiere of our short film “Never a Cover” (cut from our first few months of filming) to capture the last night of service. I shot hundreds of portraits in the bathroom. I fell for someone new (incidentally, “I’m a making a documentary, can I take your portrait?” is, like, a pretty great pickup line). I started eating and sleeping again. I stopped taking pills.

We’re still filming. We’ve been talking to politicians, artists, activists, regular old patrons and just neighborhood people who have opinions and sometimes ambivalence about the disappearance of the last dyke bar in San Francisco. We were filming over pride weekend when a splinter group of an estimated 4,000 people called Take Back The Dyke March chose to take the original route down 18th Street past the Women’s Building and the old Amelia’s to protest the displacement of dyke and trans communities. We were filming after the march when a dance party of radical anarcho-queers commenced in front of the shuttered Lex. We were filming as the police arrived with motorbikes and paddy wagons. We filmed as protestors chanted, “We remember Alex Nieto!” We filmed as billy clubs and beer bottles went flying. We filmed the forceful arrests and, after the police left, the boisterous party that started right back up again.

 Lauren Tabak
Lauren Tabak
In terms of San Francisco’s queer/lesbian culture, the Lex’s martyrdom served as a tipping point that propelled a large number of artists and activists (and inactive activists like myself) into motion. In the months leading up to and since the bar closed, the community has organized marches and protests and parties, and created films and photos and paintings and comics and tattoos and one-woman shows, as a way to memorialize and reclaim lost spaces. It’s still unclear if the outpouring of nostalgia is enough to counter the rapid development of the city and subsequent displacement of its residents that has accompanied the influx of new money — but if anything, these recent events are a sign that no matter where folks end up, they won’t go quietly.

We’re planning on finishing production in the spring of next year, after the anniversary of the bar’s closure. There’s been a lot of speculation about where the community will gather — if that concept of a brick-and-mortar meeting spot is even relevant anymore — and if all the queers, artists, and activists will be pushed out of San Francisco entirely. “Where to now?” That’s the question we ask everyone we interview, and the question everyone asks us. I don’t have the answer. But just the other day I got a Facebook invite to join “Guerrilla Dyke Bar” — a new monthly pop-up/takeover for dykes and their queer friends. Let’s just hope there’s a bathroom with a decent deadbolt. Location TBD

Crazy to think the city's changed that much.


Spamalot / Dear fascist admins
« on: July 21, 2015, 03:20:33 PM »
Please change my name back to Agelessdrifter


! No longer available

If you don't have time to watch the whole thing, skip to 21:50 and at least watch the interview. It's like between two ferns only actually funny and even more awkward because it's real.

The Lord's House / Do you guys remember renic
« on: June 27, 2015, 04:00:32 AM »
He and I were friends

I miss him

Spamalot / eggroll
« on: June 25, 2015, 03:19:00 PM »

Spamalot / I finally caved
« on: June 19, 2015, 07:22:39 PM »
And switched to a light-colored board theme. Can't read a fucking thing on my phone outside a pitch black room otherwise.



This is awesome

Google created a feedback loop in its image recognition software to see what it would conjure up from white noise

In the latest step towards transplantable bioengineered parts, researchers have built rat forelimb tissue – complete with working blood vessels and muscle fibers – in the lab. After they transplanted the biolimb into a recipient rat, the blood vessels filled with circulating blood, and the muscles even flexed the rat’s wrists and the joints in its paws.

For people who have lost a limb, transplants could help to improve the quality of life. But this also means having to take immunosuppressant drugs so that their bodies don’t attack the donated parts. That’s why a lot research has focused on using the patients’ own stem cells to regenerate their own replacement tissues, but what’s been missing so far is the scaffold (or matrix) to provide shape and support for growing cells as they become the complex tissues that make up a limb.

So, a team led by Massachusetts General Hospital’s Harald Ott tried stripping away cells from an existing rat forelimb and then repopulating the remaining matrix with progenitor cells. This decellularization technique has previously been used to build bioartificial organs like kidneys, livers, hearts, and lungs in animals, but engineering tissues for a bioartifical limb is a different kind of task.

“The composite nature of our limbs makes building a functional biological replacement particularly challenging,” Ott explains in a news release. “Limbs contain muscles, bone, cartilage, blood vessels, tendons, ligaments, and nerves – each of which has to be rebuilt and requires a specific supporting structure called the matrix.”

First, they used a detergent to strip all the cellular material from forelimbs taken off deceased rats, but they made sure to keep the primary vasculature and nerve matrix. They spent a week removing all the cellular debris. Meanwhile, muscle and blood vessel progenitor cells were cultured separately. When the forelimb matrix was cell-free, the team suspended it in a bioreactor that provides a nutrient solution and electrical stimulation to promote growth (pictured to the right).

Vascular cells were injected into the limb’s main artery to regenerate veins and arteries, while muscle cells were injected directly into sheaths within the matrix that help define each muscle (pictured above). Two to three weeks later, when the forelimb was taken out of the bioreactor, the team looked for the presence of vascular cells along the blood vessel walls and muscle cells properly aligned throughout the muscle matrix.

To see if the new limb was functional, they applied electrical stimulation to the muscle fibers, which contracted with a strength that’s 80 percent of what you’d expect from a newborn rat. After the limb was transplanted into recipient rats, the vascular system quickly filled with blood that continued to circulate. With a bit of stimulation, the muscles within the graft flexed the rats’ wrists and the digital joints of the rats’ paws.

Next up, regrowing nerves! The work appears in the latest issue of Biomaterials.

General Discussion / recourse against shitty amazon vendors?
« on: May 28, 2015, 12:57:16 PM »
the charger that came with my surface barely stays connected to the unit. I can get it to charge if I play with it for 5 minutes and then don't move it until it's done charging.

I filed a claim with the vendor and told them the price of a new charger ($75) from microsoft. They pulled up the cheapest offbrand alternative on amazon and told me they'd send me that amount ($14). Problem with that is that the top comment on that product says it overheated the first night and nearly burned the owner's house down and nearly one-third of its reviews are one star and say it lasted less than two months (or worse). I told them I paid them for a 'very good' condition microsoft charger and if they don't wanna spring for a new one they can at least refund me enough to get another used, very good, non-off-brand one.

What do I do if threy dig in their heels, though? Do I have any leverage here besides a scathing review?

What do I do if they dig in their heels

The Beautiful Mind guy. You can google it

Adam Curtis made him look like an asshole in that one documentary, and his most prominent contributions were in Why-We-Can't-Have-Nice-Things Theory (aka Game Theory), but still a bummer.

See title. The prefecture (analogous to a US state, or very large county) is Yamagata

But, to be fair, between the two prefectures, the straddle the entire island from coast to coast. So I could be on the west coast (while Fukushima is on the east coast) and that would probably be the safest place possible. At minimum, I'd be about 2 hours away from the reactor in the center of the big island.

I think they picked the prefecture on the basis of its similarity to Florida (humid and full of old people), which is a truly comically horrible misplaced kindness.

It does seem super rural, though, so I'm actually pretty into that. And it looks pretty in pictures.

Separately, not combined. And "religiously unaffiliated" includes but is not limited to atheists and agnostics (who, together, comprise only 31% of the figure.

Not Now
Acts of Faith
Christianity faces sharp decline as Americans are becoming even less affiliated with religion
By Sarah Pulliam Bailey May 12 at 12:20 AM

The Memorial Peace Cross is a well-known landmark in Bladensburg, Md. (Mark Gail for The Washington Post)

Christianity is on the decline in America, not just among younger generations or in certain regions of the country but across race, gender, education and geographic barriers. The percentage of adults who describe themselves as Christians dropped by nearly eight percentage points in just seven years to about 71 percent, according to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center.

“It’s remarkably widespread,” said Alan Cooperman, director of religion research for the Pew Research Center. “The country is becoming less religious as a whole, and it’s happening across the board.”

At the same time, the share of those who are not affiliated with a religion has jumped from 16 percent to about 23 percent in the same time period. The trend follows a pattern found earlier in the American Religious Identification Survey, which found that in 1990, 86 percent of American adults identified as Christians, compared with 76 percent in 2008.

Here are three key takeaways from Pew’s new survey.

1. Millennials are growing even less affiliated with religion as they get older

The older generation of millennials (those who were born from 1981 to 1989) are becoming even less affiliated with religion than they were about a decade ago, the survey suggests. In 2007, when the Pew Research Center did their last Religious Landscape Survey and these adults were just entering adulthood, 25 percent of them did not affiliate with a religion, but this grew to 34 percent in the latest survey.

The trends among the aging millennials is especially significant, said Greg Smith, associate director of research at the Pew Research Center. In 2010, 13 percent of baby boomers were religiously unaffiliated as they were entering retirement, the same percentage in 1972.

“Some have asked, ‘Might they become more religiously affiliated as they get older?’ There’s nothing in this data to suggest that’s what’s happening,” he said. Millennials get married later than older generations, but they are not necessarily more likely to become religiously affiliated, he said.

2. There are more religiously unaffiliated Americans than Catholic Americans or mainline Protestant Americans

The numbers of Catholics and Protestants have each shrunk between three and five percentage points since 2007. The evangelical share of the American population has dropped by one percentage point since 2007.

There are more religiously unaffiliated Americans (23 percent) than Catholics (21 percent) and mainline Protestants (15 percent). “That’s a striking and important note,” Smith said.

Screen Shot 2015-05-11 at 11.32.57 PM

The groups experience their losses through what’s called “religious switching,” when someone switches from one faith to another. Thirteen percent of Americans were raised Catholic but are no longer Catholic, compared with just 2 percent of Americans who are converts to Catholicism.

“That means that there are more than six former Catholics for every convert to Catholicism,” Smith said. “There’s no other group in the survey that has that ratio of loss due to religious switching.”

There are 3 million fewer Catholics today than there were in 2007. While the percentage of Catholics in the United States has remained relatively steady, Smith said we might be observing the beginning of the decline of the Catholic share of the population.

Pew estimates there are about 5 million fewer mainline Protestants than there were in 2007. About 10 percent of the U.S. population say they were raised in the mainline Protestant tradition, while 6 percent have converted to mainline Protestantism.

Evangelical Protestants have experienced less decline, due to their net positive retention rate. For every person who has left evangelical Protestantism after growing up, 1.2 have switched to join an evangelical denomination.

3. Those who are unaffiliated are becoming more secular

The “nones,” or religiously unaffiliated, include atheists, agnostics and those who say they believe in “nothing in particular.” Of those who are unaffiliated, 31 percent describe themselves as atheists or agnostics, up six points from 2007.

“What we’re seeing now is that the share of people who say religion is important to them is declining,” Smith said. “The religiously unaffiliated are not just growing, but as they grow, they are becoming more secular.”

And people in older generations are increasingly disavowing organized religion. Among baby boomers, 17 percent identify as a religious “none,” up from 14 percent in 2007.

“There’s a continuing religious disaffiliation among older cohorts. That is really striking,” Smith said. “I continue to be struck by the pace at which the unaffiliated are growing.”

White Americans (24 percent) are more likely to say they have no religion, compared with 20 percent of Hispanic Americans and 18 percent of black Americans. The retention rates of the “nones” who say they were raised as religiously affiliated has grown by seven points since 2007 to 53 percent.

The Pew survey was conducted between June and September of 2014.


Elon Musk Debuts the Tesla Powerwall

Spamalot / All TZT's young people
« on: May 01, 2015, 03:57:15 AM »
live in the EST and are in bed by the time I start posting


In the clearest example yet of the stunning hubris of American conservative movement, a think tank backed by the Koch brothers says it will send a group of right-wing “scientists” (let’s use that term loosely here) to convince Pope Francis that his stance on climate change (i.e. that it exists and it is deeply troubling) is both scientifically wrong, but also biblically so.

You read that right: A group of wealthy energy industry businessmen think they can preach the gospel of climate denialism to the pope. This should be fun to watch.

The pope caught the ire of the libertarian-leaning Heartland Institute when the Vatican announced that he would be holding meetings with United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon and other experts to discuss what policymakers and religious leaders can do to better combat the worst effects of climate change. Heartland Institute’s subsequent freak out was captured in the hurriedly released statement announcing they would be sending their own experts to the meeting to intervene.

    The Vatican’s summit features two men – Ban Ki-Moon, secretary-general of the United Nations, and Harvard economist Jeffrey Sachs – who refuse to acknowledge the abundant data showing human greenhouse gas emissions are not causing a climate crisis and there is no need for a radical reordering of global economies that will cause massive reductions in human freedom and prosperity.

They definitely wouldn’t like a “radical reordering of global economies” because the current status quo suits their backers – billionaire chemical magnates and potential Disney villains Charles and David Koch – just fine.

The group alleges that the pope is being “misled” by experts at the United Nations who have “proven unworthy.” Instead, they say the pope should listen to their guys – shills paid directly by oil and gas companies to find data that supports the dubious premise that pouring millions of tons of CO2 and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere does nothing at all. In fact, it’s God’s will to pollute, damn it!

    “Humans are not causing a climate crisis on God’s Green Earth – in fact, they are fulfilling their Biblical duty to protect and use it for the benefit of humanity,” declared Heartland Institute President Joseph Bast.” Though Pope Francis’s heart is surely in the right place, he would do his flock and the world a disservice by putting his moral authority behind the United Nations’ unscientific agenda on the climate.”

Unfortunately for the Kochs, it doesn’t appear that Pope Francis is going to be easily persuaded. As Raw Story points out, this summer the pope is expected to publish a landmark encyclical letter that will largely focus on environmental issues. If his previous statements on the issue are any indication, the letter will likely mention climate change and the effects it has had on impoverished, vulnerable people. With the weight (both spiritual and political) of his station behind him, the pope has the opportunity to do a lot of good by calling on nations to address the issue. It’s no wonder polluters like the Kochs are not happy.

With his foray into climate change, we can expect the conservative movement to further attempt to undermine the pope’s image. For decades, conservatives have had a self-declared monopoly on speaking for the religious in America, but Pope Francis has them stymied. Much to the frustration of Republican lawmakers, the pope has been forcefully advocating for a back-to-the-basics form of Christianity that focuses on Jesus’ teachings on compassion and charity.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of money in peace and love, so Republicans who want to balance their sanctimonious holier-than-thou condescension with ample profits for corporations and the wealthy who bankroll them have had to awkwardly pretend that the pope just doesn’t “get it.” This has led to some confusing mixed messages, including – most hilariously – Fox News running an all-out hit piece on the Holy See.

If you never thought you’d see the day, then you just never realized just what gods these conservatives were worshiping all these years. Hint: They’re rectangular, green, and have the faces of several dead presidents.

Spamalot / Danger 5
« on: April 16, 2015, 02:10:05 AM »
Anyone else seen this?

It's from the same creators of Italian Spiderman (who brought you this classic reaction gif) and is basically a spoof of action/spy shows from the 60s (and also the 80s in the second season)

First season is pretty great. Second season doesn't spoof the 80s as well as the first season spoofs the 60s (partly because it's trying to keep up the 60s camp at the same time it's spoofing the 80s). I haven't finished it yet. It's definitely way more out-there/random.

But I definitely suggest the first season if you have Netflix

Spamalot / birthday present to myself
« on: April 06, 2015, 01:17:17 PM »

almost done but bending the plywood (I got 1/2" instead of 1/4" because it was a quarter of the price) is a bitch

General Discussion / Colorblindness correcting sunglasses
« on: March 30, 2015, 12:42:59 AM »

It's easy to take the little things for granted. Like seeing certain colors, for instance.

After watching Valspar's "Color for the Colorblind," you might just look at the world through new eyes.

The video was made in partnership with EnChroma, a company that makes glasses that "enable colorblind people to see color for the first time in their lives," co-founder Donald McPherson says in the video. The camera follows around various colorblind people as they interact with several brightly-colored art installations while wearing EnChroma's glasses.

The impact is nothing short of what you'd expect.

"I've never been able to see this one," says a woman named Atlee, pointing at a swatch of pink paint on the wall. "I just want to cry a little bit. I never realized how much I was affected by the fact that I can't see the world ... the way that other people see the world."

"For a second I felt kind of sad, like, 'Wow I've been missing out, how vibrant everything has been,'" she explained in another video, "and then I thought how cool it is I get the opportunity to see the world in a completely different way, and it's special to me."

One man named Andrew looks at art his son drew him, then stares at the sunset and asks with an incredulous smile, "So is that what you guys see every day?"

McPherson told The Huffington Post that the glasses, which range in price from $325 to $450, address red-green colorblindness, the most common form.
(Story continues below) venice

Left: Venice seen by someone with colorblindness. Right: Venice seen by a colorblind person while wearing the EnChroma glasses.

Left: A landscape seen by someone with colorblindness. Right: The same landscape seen by a colorblind person wearing EnChroma glasses.

"The effect of correcting color blindness can be profound," McPherson told The Huffington Post in an email, describing how people react when they first wear the glasses. "The first experience is typically either one of quiet contemplation or excitement."

"Later on, many users report finally ‘getting’ sunsets, and describe them to us in exacting detail," he continued. "We also hear a lot of reports of appreciating the natural world, seeing the true colors of plants and flowers, realizing that trees have many shades of leaves, and being able to see the difference between flowers, fruit and foliage."

The company is beginning to focus on helping kids, a particularly in-need population because so much information in schools is shared visually. According to McPherson, only 11 states test kids in schools for color blindness. With the wrong diagnosis, he said, colorblind kids are often inadvertently labeled as having a learning disability.

There's a video in the link of several peoples' first experience wearing the glasses.

Pretty cool. I wonder what exactly the difference is that the glasses make. I never realized that color-blindness was based in the eye--I assume that the problem is a lack of certain receptors and that the glasses must filter light in such a way that the available receptors can make some sort of distinction, but I wonder to what extent it's the same distinction that a fully-functional eye makes. Obviously every little bit counts regardless (as evidenced by the wearers' reactions) though.

It also just occurred to me to wonder; if some subset of people with greater color-spectrum-distinguishing ability than normal, how long would it take the rest of us to notice?

General Discussion / Night vision in a bottle
« on: March 28, 2015, 11:55:21 PM »

A group of biohackers say they’ve figured out a way to inject our eyeballs with night vision, or low-light vision anyway. The procedure has allowed one superhuman to temporarily see over 50 meters (164 feet) in the dark, Mic reports.

The team from California-based Science for the Masses (SfM) utilized a compound called Chlorin e6 (or Ce6), which is found in some deep-sea fish. It’s also occasionally used to treat night blindness and even cancer. Previous studies have injected the chemical as a photosensitizer into animal models. “After doing the research, you have to take the next step,” says Jeffrey Tibbetts, SfM's medical officer. So SfM’s biochem researcher Gabriel Licina agreed to become a human lab rat.

First, Licina’s eyes were flushed clean and his eyelids were stretched out with a speculum (no blinking!). Then Tibbetts used a pipette to drop 50 microliters of a blackish solution—Ce6 mixed with saline, insulin, and dimethlysulfoxide (DMSO)—into his eyes. Specifically, he was aiming for the conjunctival sac, which should help carry the compound to the light-sensing retina. DMSO increased the permeability of the cells for better absorption. "To me, it was a quick, greenish-black blur across my vision, and then it dissolved into my eyes," Licina tells Mic. He then put protective lenses in his eyes to block out some light; sunglasses helped too.

After two hours, the team tested Licinia's newfound superpower in a dark field. At first, Licina was able to see hand-sized shapes about 10 meters (33 feet) away. In time, he was able to recognize symbols (like numbers and letters) as well as objects moving against different backgrounds at longer distances.

In one test, he had to indicate where people were located in a grove of trees 50 meters away using a laser pointer. He got it right every time, even when the subjects were standing up against a tree or shrub. The four people in the control group were successful about a third of the time.

By the next morning, his eyesight seemed to have returned to normal. So far, there have been no noticeable effects. The full report about their experiment is available online.

General Discussion / Finnland to stop teaching individual subjects
« on: March 27, 2015, 01:37:31 PM »

Finland, one of the leading educational hotspots in the world, is embarking on one of the most radical overhauls in modern education. By 2020, the country plans to phase out teaching individual subjects such as maths, chemistry and physics, and instead teach students by 'topics' or broad phenomena, so that there's no more question about "what's the point of learning this?"

What does that mean exactly? Basically, instead of having an hour of geography followed by an hour of history, students will now spend, say, two hours learning about the European Union, which covers languages, economics, history and geography. Or students who are taking a vocational course might study 'cafeteria services', which would involve learning maths, languages and communication skills, as Richard Garner reports for The Independent. So although students will still learn all the important scientific theories, they'll be finding out about them in a more applied way, which actually sounds pretty awesome.

"What we need now is a different kind of education to prepare people for working life," Pasi Silander, the Helsinki's development manager, told Garner. "Young people use quite advanced computers. In the past the banks had lots of bank clerks totting up figures but now that has totally changed. We therefore have to make the changes in education that are necessary for industry and modern society."

The new system also encourages different types of learning, such as interactive problem solving and collaborating among smaller groups, to help develop career-ready skills. "We really need a rethinking of education and a redesigning of our system, so it prepares our children for the future with the skills that are needed for today and tomorrow," Marjo Kyllonen, Helsinki’s education manager, who is leading the change, told Garner.

"There are schools that are teaching in the old fashioned way which was of benefit in the beginnings of the 1900s - but the needs are not the same and we need something fit for the 21st century," she added.

Individual subjects started being phased out for 16-year-olds in the country's capital of Helsinki two years ago, and 70 percent of the city's high school teachers are now trained in the new approach. Early data shows that students are already benefitting, with The Independent reporting that measurable pupil outcomes have improved since the new system was introduced. And Kyllonen's blueprint, which will be published later this month, will propose that the new system is rolled out across Finland by 2020.   

Of course, there is some backlash from teachers who've spent their entire career specialising in certain subjects. But the new blueprint suggests that teachers from different backgrounds work together to come up with the new 'topic' curriculums, and will receive a pay incentive for doing so.

Finland already has one of the best education systems in the world, consistently falling near the top of the prestigious PISA rankings in maths, science and reading, and this change could very well help them stay there.

I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand I do think learning should be more holistic, but on the other hand I hear "vocation-oriented" and I shudder. I suppose at its best it could be pretty great (even if it is hard to imagine how they'll fluidly shoehorn in an amount of math that I'd consider 'adequate') and at its worst it can't be very much worse than the way things already are in many schools (where the bulk of students--whatever they're actually exposed to in class--come away with much less math than I would consider 'adequate' anyway.)


CONCORD - Fourth graders from Lincoln Akerman School in Hampton Falls received a warm welcome at the State House last Thursday. They and their teacher, James Cutting, were guests in the Gallery.

That reception quickly turned chilly as students got a glimpse of the cold, harsh realities of politics in the Granite State.

In the spirit of learning by doing, students drafted a bill to learn the process of how a bill becomes law. They proposed House Bill 373, an act establishing the Red Tail Hawk as the New Hampshire State Raptor. Even though it passed through the Environment and Agriculture committee with a majority vote, some representatives were far from receptive.

Rep. Warren Groen, a Republican from Rochester said, "It grasps them with its talons then uses its razor sharp beak to basically tear it apart limb by limb, and I guess the shame about making this a state bird is it would serve as a much better mascot for Planned Parenthood."

That comment, considered offensive by many, was made while the fourth graders sat, watched and listened. The tough lesson didn't end there.

Rep. John Burt, a Republican from Goffstown said, "Bottom line, if we keep bringing more of these bills, and bills, and bills forward that really I think we shouldn't have in front of us, we'll be picking a state hot dog next."

In a 133-to-160 vote lawmakers killed the bill and perhaps the civic enthusiasm of some 9-and-10-year-olds.


General Discussion / Promising alzheimer's treatment
« on: March 19, 2015, 02:04:36 PM »

New Alzheimer’s treatment fully restores memory function

Of the mice that received the treatment, 75 percent got their memories back.
18 MAR 2015
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Australian researchers have come up with a non-invasive ultrasound technology that clears the brain of neurotoxic amyloid plaques - structures that are responsible for memory loss and a decline in cognitive function in Alzheimer’s patients.

If a person has Alzheimer’s disease, it’s usually the result of a build-up of two types of lesions - amyloid plaques, and neurofibrillary tangles. Amyloid plaques sit between the neurons and end up as dense clusters of beta-amyloid molecules, a sticky type of protein that clumps together and forms plaques.

Neurofibrillary tangles are found inside the neurons of the brain, and they’re caused by defective tau proteins that clump up into a thick, insoluble mass. This causes tiny filaments called microtubules to get all twisted, which disrupts the transportation of essential materials such as nutrients and organelles along them, just like when you twist up the vacuum cleaner tube.

As we don’t have any kind of vaccine or preventative measure for Alzheimer’s - a disease that affects 343,000 people in Australia, and 50 million worldwide - it’s been a race to figure out how best to treat it, starting with how to clear the build-up of defective beta-amyloid and tau proteins from a patient’s brain. Now a team from the Queensland Brain Institute (QBI) at the University of Queensland have come up with a pretty promising solution for removing the former.

Publishing in Science Translational Medicine, the team describes the technique as using a particular type of ultrasound called a focused therapeutic ultrasound, which non-invasively beams sound waves into the brain tissue.  By oscillating super-fast, these sound waves are able to gently open up the blood-brain barrier, which is a layer that protects the brain against bacteria, and stimulate the brain’s microglial cells to move in. Microglila cells are basically waste-removal cells, so once they get past the blood-brain barrier, they’re able to clear out the toxic beta-amyloid clumps before the blood-brain barrier is restored within a few hours.

The team reports fully restoring the memories of 75 percent of the mice they tested it on, with zero damage to the surrounding brain tissue. They found that the treated mice displayed improved performance in three memory tasks - a maze, a test to get them to recognise new objects, and one to get them to remember the places they should avoid.

"We’re extremely excited by this innovation of treating Alzheimer’s without using drug therapeutics," one of the team, Jürgen Götz, said in a press release. "The word ‘breakthrough’ is often misused, but in this case I think this really does fundamentally change our understanding of how to treat this disease, and I foresee a great future for this approach."

The team says they’re planning on starting trials with higher animal models, such as sheep, and hope to get their human trials underway in 2017.

You can hear an ABC radio interview with the team here.

I feel like they really ought to be able to just start human trials on a volunteer basis when promising possible new treatment for something as rapidly and devastatingly degenerative as alzheimer's. I mean, obviously they'd have to screen pretty thoroughly to make sure all the volunteers are of sound enough mind to consent, but I can't imagine there'd be any shortage of such people. What's the worst that could happen for that person? If they have to wait two years there's a good chance that their brain will be at least as fucked up from the passing time as it would've been from the side-effects of the experiment if there turn out to be any.

To no one's great surprise

The idea that psychedelics cause psychosis has a long history in urban mythology. Back in the 1980s, when I was a teenager, the way I heard the story was “seven hits of acid make you legally insane.”

Of course, the number fluctuated through the years, but the core idea—drugs like LSD and psilocybin are dangerous to our long term mental health—remained a constant.

Until now.

Two new studies have found no link between psychedelic use and a wide suite of mental health conditions, including schizophrenia, psychosis, depression, anxiety disorders and suicide attempts.

The first, conducted by researchers from the Norwegian University of Science, made use of the copious data compiled by US National Survey of Drug Use and Health. By examining answers from 135,000 people who took the survey between 2008 and 2011, the researchers identified their core study group—the 14 percent of survey-takers who said they had used any of the three classic psychedelics (acid, mushrooms, or peyote) at some point in their lives.

Working backwards, they discovered that psychedelic-users were not at an increased risk of developing eleven key indicators of serious mental health problems.

A second study done at Johns Hopkins confirmed this finding. This study used the National Survey as core data, but examined responses from 2008 to 2012. Here too, the researchers involved also found no causal relationship between the three classic psychedelics and long-term mental health problems.

But where this second study gets even more interesting is that the researchers then inverted their line of questioning and went looking for positive mental health developments. And they found them. People who had tried LSD or psilocybin had lower lifetime rates of suicidal thoughts and attempts.

Of course, this isn’t the first positive mental health outcome to be attributed to these drugs. The research into psychedelics as a treatment for end-of-life anxiety (brought on by terminal illness) shows that these substances are effective in treating severe anxiety and—equally important—that these benefits persist over time.

Meanwhile, researchers at the Imperial College in London have also begun peeling back the veil on the so-called ‘mind-expanding’ nature of psychedelics, finding some serious scientific evidence for reasons why these drugs help users release longstanding narrow-minded, negative outlooks.

And, finally, there’s also a bevy of research dating back to the 1950s that shows strong correlations between psychedelics and enhanced creativity. This research helps explain why Steve Jobs said taking LSD was one of the most important things he’s done in his lifetime, why Francis Crick was high on low-dose acid when he discovered the double-helix and why Tim Ferriss, in a recent interview with CNN, said: “”The billionaires I know, almost without exception, use hallucinogens on a regular basis. [They're] trying to be very disruptive and look at the problems in the world … and ask completely new questions.”

But the larger point is that one in five adult Americans takes some kind of mental health drug—meaning anti-anxiety, anti-depressant, anti-psychotic, etc. What’s more, success rates are suspect. Only 15 percent of people treated for depression with drugs, for example, show long term remission.

But psychedelics—a class of long-vilified substances—are not only much safer than we believed (i.e. they don’t appear to make you crazy) and also shows significant long term mental health benefits across multiple categories: anti-depressant, anti-anxiety and performance-enhancement (for creativity). What’s more, to receive these benefits, you only need to take these substances a few times (not every day like other mental health medications).

Tim Leary believed psychedelics were tools for revolution—tune in, turn on, drop out, and all that. Well, perhaps.

But lost in all that buster is a much more prosaic yet powerful message—the real truth might be that these drugs can help us be a little less afraid and a little bit happier and isn’t that revolution enough?

I'd still like to see a metastudy investigating the link between frequent psychadelic use and believing that, like, money is just like, fluid, ya know? though.

General Discussion / Terry Pratchet down
« on: March 12, 2015, 12:47:31 PM »
surprised out of all you nerds no one cared enough to post about it

I never read anything by him tho

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