Friday, October 24, 2014


I'll be here till Sunday. In light of the 1st case of Ebola in NY, I have a post I was preparing called "Fear Bola and Duct Tape." The short answer is: I'm not at all worried. Click on yesterday's link, specifically the link in the article for R0.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Apps and Ebola...

Technology Review
Perhaps the sanest proposal I've heard so far, using technology to get people to the necessary treatment, track patients accurately; contain and control a pathogen before its R0 of 2 out of apathy based on xenophobia and tribalism grows exponentially to Bubonic proportions. With this country's current disastrous love affair with austerity, I'm not talking about the ubiquitous "there"...

"We live in a society exquisitely dependent on science and technology, in which hardly anyone knows anything about science and technology." Carl Sagan.

Nigeria is Ebola is Senegal, largely due to both countries having enough infrastructure and concerted effort to combat it, proving it can be contained and conquered. Thomas Eric Duncan has died, and two nurses that worked his case have been affected and are receiving the best treatment available. But, we've been exquisitely conditioned via initially pamphlets, chat rooms, talk radio and the Internet to not trust the government or technology - the moon landing never happened; a stateless cabal rigs every election to their desired outcome, not voter apathy, suppression-cum-"integrity" or Supreme Court judicial activism; "jack-booted thugs" will come, in black helicopters to intern us all in FEMA camps taking our guns and freedoms. The wondrous beauty of most conspiracy theories is they never have to be proven, and actual plots can be conveniently ignored.

In this election season especially, fear must be sold from those with no other plan than to just be afraid; Nigeria and Senegal's good news you'd never have known.

TECHNOLOGY REVIEW: Back in July, Cedric Moro started a crowdsourced mapping service to keep track of the spread of Ebola in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea. Moro is a risk consultant who has created several crowdsourced maps of this kind using the openStreetMap project Umap.

Anyone can enter information about suspected or confirmed Ebola cases while hospitals and other health facilities can tell people whether they are open and functioning and how many spare beds they have.

The site tracks other information to such as unsafe burials, hostility towards health workers and links to information about the disease. It even tracks the movement of infected individuals to see how the disease spreads.

Moro’s work has been hugely important in helping to link potential victims with appropriate healthcare facilities and giving a broader overview of the tragedy as it unfolds.

But it also has an important limitation. Anyone hoping to contribute must have access to a computer or smartphone to upload their information. That means the system is accessible only to a relatively small portion of the population.

Today, Mohamad Trad from Doctors Without Borders in Paris, France, and a couple of pals outline plans to build on Moro’s approach and make this kind of information available purely through ordinary mobile phones. “We propose building a recommendation system based on simple SMS text messaging to help Ebola patients readily find the closest health service with available and appropriate resources,” they say.


We propose to utilize mobile phone technology as a vehicle for people to report their symptoms and to receive immediate feedback about the health services readily available, and for predicting spatial disease outbreak risk. Once symptoms are extracted from the patients text message, they undergo complex classification, pattern matching and prediction to recommend the nearest suitable health service. The added benefit of this approach is that it enables health care facilities to anticipate arrival of new potential Ebola cases.

Guiding Ebola Patients to Suitable Health Facilities: An SMS-based Approach

Mohamad Trad, Raja Jurdak, Rajib Rana

Related link:
World Science Festival: Everything You Need to Know About Ebola

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Table-Top Gravity Wave Detector

Gravitational waves travel through space and time much like ripples on the surface of water. (Courtesy: iStock/mic27)

I've used "table-top" for several postings before. I think science needs to come up with a less-cliche descriptor.

A coin-sized detector might observe gravitational waves before the giant LIGO interferometers, according to two Australian physicists who have built the device. The detector is designed to register very high frequency gravitational waves via the exceptionally weak vibrations they would induce. Other scientists caution that the astrophysical objects thought to emit such radiation may do so very weakly or might not actually exist.

Predicted by Einstein's general theory of relativity but yet to be directly observed, gravitational waves are ripples in space–time generated by accelerating massive objects. The tiny detector has been made by Maxim Goryachev and Michael Tobar of the University of Western Australia in Perth and is based on the decades-old technology of resonant-mass detection.

Physics arXiv:
Gravitational Wave Detection with High Frequency Phonon Trapping Acoustic Cavities
Maxim Goryachev, Michael E. Tobar
Physics World: Tabletop experiment could detect gravitational waves

Monday, October 20, 2014

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Bathtub...

Source: The Bathtub Theory of Economics and Life
"My goal is to cut government in half in twenty-five years, to get it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub." Grover Norquist

The bathtub: source of childhood delight in soap bubbles and added flatulence. In Grover-the-Grouch's special case, it is clearly the latter...

My apologies for the unannounced "blog break." Posting twice a day for any celebratory month can be taxing mentally. I'm back, somewhat refreshed and perplexed at the same time...

It can be said I spend a lot of time thinking about Sequestration from the search results that will now include this posting. Likely because I think it is the dumbest idea of self-inflicted immolation on the altar of libertarian, free market austerity I think humans have ever conceived! It requires "magical thinking"; fairies with pixie dust and exacting miracles on drive-through demand to pull off. The pixie dust is someone, somewhere in the "free market" writing a big enough check to cover what would normally be the "collectivist conspiracy" also known as a democratic republic. It should have healed Thomas Eric Duncan and the two nurses affected with the Ebola virus. Cutting $490 million from the CDC; $2.5 billion from NIH and STILL refusing to confirm or appoint a Surgeon General the NRA loves puts a huge dent in Tinker Bell's pixie dust. Nate Silver gives the stats why an Ebola travel ban is pointless. Pixie dust...

Yet, Nate Silver gives a republican takeover of the US Senate a 60% chance at succeeding, but he hedges with reassuring nuance. Meaning: at the worst display of stupidity and cognitive dissonance, brace for more austerity cuts, magical thinking, "shining city on a hill" cliche bull excrement; repeal of The Affordable Care Act putting 10+ million recipients back to square one of waiting for death; further slippage internationally in our technological competitiveness and likely a sham impeachment trial that will make us permanently a mockery in the pages of history. We'll be the Proverb, the Byword of how a government of the people, by the people and for the people perishes from the Earth for the racial disdain of the real-life Huxtables at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue (1400 is apparently the annex down the street). The charge has been levied back-and-forth from the last administration to the present, but Eric Fromm's treatise "Escape From Freedom" is instructive in this excerpt:

"The fact that somewhere else he declares that a boy should be taught to suffer injustice without rebelling will no longer strike the reader-or so I hope-as strange. This contradiction is the typical one for the sadomasochistic ambivalence between the craving for power and for submission.

"The wish for power over the masses is what drives the members of the 'elite,' the Nazi leaders. As the quotations above show, this wish for power is sometimes revealed with an almost astonishing frankness. Sometimes it is put in less offensive forms by emphasizing that to be ruled is just what the masses wish...While the 'leaders' are ones to enjoy power in the first place, the masses are by no means deprived of sadistic satisfaction. Racial and political minorities within Germany and eventually other nations which are described as weak or decaying are the objects of sadism upon which the masses are fed. While Hitler and his bureaucracy enjoy the power over the German masses, these masses themselves are taught to enjoy power over other nations and to be driven by the passion for domination of the world."

"Trickle-down = golden flow" as the working class ("middle class" a moribund label now) are taught to spit and stamp on those at the bottom that not for luck or grace they would quickly be, and will to their own self-delusion, not likely leave their current stations and social stratus without the advantage of connections the 1% nonchalantly enjoy.

Or in our case, why the country went insane in 2010 and seems determined to continue it in 2014.

Free Thought Nation and Google Books

Related link: Eric Fromm dedication site

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Diaspora Denouement...

Alder Koten Institute
From the beginning of the month, I quote the post Mes de la Herencia Hispana:

"The irony: in a country of immigrants, we're becoming "tribal"; somehow E pluribus unum: out of many, one - has lost its original Latin origins and just become a slogan printed on our money - if we ever bother to look at it.

"'Self-deportation' and repatriation as some have suggested would be a logistical and political nightmare that the global economy would immediately reject us as incompetent and unstable. Diversity has to be our strength, we have no other choice for continued existence as a nation state. If not, other countries that had neither a 'remember the Alamo' nor Civil War will make us look like a byword, an anachronism...a joke on the pages of history.

"That devolution does not have to take long..."

If you've reached this point, I hope you've learned something that you didn't already know about Hispanic History; Hispanic and Latino diaspora.

Diaspora: a group of people who live outside the area in which they had lived for a long time or in which their ancestors lived (Merriam-Webster). The term is typically used for certain groups - African Americans, Jews, etc., but it should apply to everyone - EVERYONE in America is from somewhere else, voluntarily or not, than where their ancestors lived.

Hispanic and Latino culture originated in Europe/Spain, spread through colonization to the Central and South Americas; the Philippines. It is a story that is not often told, as diversity studies are under assault by myopic, authoritarian forces that attack education  - important for an informed citizenry as well as the 1st Amendment right of civil disobediencevoting rights and thus the underpinnings of democracy itself.

I am neither Hispanic/Latino nor an expert in your history. I am a science enthusiast and an advocate of the democratization of knowledge - real knowledge, based on observation, empirical study and peer review - bringing to its participants freedom and empowerment.

You are the generation that since 1982 have never known life without a search engine. It's on your cell phones. Use it to fill in the gaps your schools for various reasons cannot. If the Internet is a playground, let it be for your own enrichment, knowledge and thus your power. You are also the generation that has not thought deeply about your rights, how tentative they are and the forces aligned* to block you from them, delude them and ultimately eliminate them.

"Remember, remember the 4th of November." The fourth - if you're 18 and above - is important for you to register and participate in. I will be, off line: volunteering, calling, campaigning and voting. It's homage to my sister - a youthful soldier in the Civil Rights Movement, so that her sacrifices and temps of fate - nearly losing her several frightening times - won't have been in vain. Democracy is not for armchair athletes; solutions are by the "consent of the governed," as shown in participation in the democratic republic procedure of elections, and that cannot be downloaded at optical speeds. Participation is vital to its existence; lacking it the opposite becomes undesirable, and darkly obvious.

Seeing where you've been as a culture hopefully will give you pride and confidence in where you are all eventually going - inevitably, to the future and the majority. That is a matter-of-fact; not destiny. Be an informed citizenry - and be involved in your country. Now is a good time to practice.

"We are drowning in information, while starving for wisdom. The world henceforth will be run by synthesizers, people able to put together the right information at the right time, think critically about it, and make important choices wisely."

Edward Osborne Wilson, entomologist and biologist known for his work on ecology, evolution, and sociobiology.

* “The issue today is the same as it has been throughout all history, whether man shall be allowed to govern himself or be ruled by a small elite."

Thomas Jefferson, Founding Father, author of the Declaration of Independence, scientist, statesman and 2nd President of the United States.