Monday, 24 September

15:00 EDT

How A Rising Star Of White Nationalism Broke Free From The Movement [News : NPR]

Derek Black was following in his father

Derek Black once promoted a racist agenda by making speeches, hosting a radio show and starting a website. His change of heart is the subject of a new book, written by journalist Eli Saslow.

(Image credit: Matt McClain/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Iran Warns U.S. Over Deadly Separatist Attack On Parade [News : NPR]

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said a "cowardly attack" at a military parade in Iran over the weekend was carried out by a separatist group supported by the U.S. He

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that "the cowardly attack was committed by those who are rescued by the Americans ... and they are financed by Saudi and Emirate's money."

(Image credit: Morteza Nikoubazl/Reuters)

A Year After 'Rocket Man' Speech, Trump Returns To U.N. With Eyes On Iran [News : NPR]

President Trump attends a meeting on the global drug problem at the United Nations with U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley a day ahead of Tuesday

President Trump will speak at the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday. He will highlight progress with North Korea, while calling for more pressure on Iran.

(Image credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Last Private Rescue Ship On Deadly Mediterranean Migrant Route Loses Its Registration [News : NPR]

The Aquarius rescue ship last month as it entered the harbor of Senglea, Malta.

International charities say it is a death sentence for hundreds of people trying to reach safety. They say Panama revoked the Aquarius 2's registration after pressure from Italy, which Italy denies.

(Image credit: Rene Rossignaud/AP)

Toyota reportedly ready to put Android Auto in its cars [The Verge - All Posts]

Toyota may finally relent and allow Android Auto to work in its cars, according to Bloomberg. An official announcement reportedly could come as soon as next month.

The giant Japanese carmaker was one of the last major automakers to announce CarPlay compatibility. After holding out for years, Toyota announced this past January that Apple’s own in-car infotainment service would show up in its cars starting with the 2019 Avalon.

However, the company has continued to eschew Android Auto, with security concerns being cited as one of the reasons for the delayed adoption. In the meantime, Toyota has spent the last few years building its in-car infotainment experience around the Ford-born SmartDeviceLink platform, which allows some iOS and...

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Microsoft demonstrates Surface Hub 2 and its rotating display [The Verge - All Posts]

Microsoft is demonstrating its Surface Hub 2 hardware for the first time today. The software maker used a Surface Hub 2 during a keynote at the Microsoft Ignite conference today. It’s the first time we’ve seen the Surface Hub 2 in public, and more importantly the first time we’ve seen Microsoft reveal some of the software that will power it. Microsoft’s demonstration involved rotating the 50-inch display to show off the smooth animations that let content move on the display.

It’s part of a new Windows Core OS (WCOS) effort inside Microsoft to modularize its operating system to run as clever modes on clever hardware. Microsoft has been working on WCOS and its Composable Shell (C-Shell) for years, and both efforts will allow Windows to...

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Snapchat is testing a camera feature that lets you easily buy items from Amazon [The Verge - All Posts]

Snap and Amazon are making it easier to buy whatever Snapchat users come across in real life. The companies announced a partnership today that’ll let users point their Snapchat camera at a physical product or barcode to then be redirected to an Amazon pop-up card for that product or something similar.

From there, they can load it in the Amazon app or through and then buy the item. Users just have to press and hold the camera screen to activate the function. It’s unclear whether Snap will get a cut of the purchase revenue, with a company spokesperson telling The Verge the company has “nothing to share at this time.” For now, the partnership is only coming to a small selection of users in the US.



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Russian troll sites infiltrated Donald Trump subreddit as recently as this month [The Verge - All Posts]

Reddit users have uncovered an elaborate campaign to seed Reddit’s most popular pro-Trump community with content linked to Russian influence operations, as detailed in a post on Friday night.

Archives show a sustained effort to plant and upvotes links to a site called Geotus.Army, playing off a slang term for the president that is popular at /r/the_donald. Each of the links, visible on this archived page, redirected to articles on a recently launched site called USA Really, a site with well-documented connections to Russian influence operations. The redirect links were operated by a link-shortening service called Rebrandly and have since been taken down, but USA Really articles corresponding to the archived links are readily accessible.


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The iPhone XS Max is outselling the iPhone XS, according to analyst report [The Verge - All Posts]

iPhone XS

Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of TF International Securities has provided insight on Apple’s lineup of new products in a research note obtained by MacRumors. The note discusses the reception of the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and Apple Watch Series 4.

Kuo’s report says that demand for the iPhone XS Max is higher than expected, and is about three to four times higher than demand for the iPhone XS. Gold and space grey are far more popular than silver when it comes to color options, and the 256GB version is the most popular. The note also says that the 512GB version could face a shortage because of reliance on Samsung as a supplier:

We have determined that the demand for XS Max is better than expected (3–4 times that of XS). The gold and...

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Free Mojave macOS update is now available to download [The Verge - All Posts]

MacOS version 10.14 — codenamed Mojave — is now available to download. The free update to Apple’s desktop operating system was first announced back in June with a number of new features including a dark mode, Stacks file organization, a redesigned Mac App Store, and enhanced screenshots. Although the software has been available in public beta for a few months now, this general release means most of the kinks and bugs should have been fixed.

In the grand scheme of things, Mojave is one of Apple’s more minor software updates. The headline feature is a new dark mode that makes your operating system look better even if it doesn’t technically add any new functionality. The new OS also adds support for Stacks, which can automatically group...

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macOS Mojave review: dark mode and a preview of the Mac’s future [The Verge - All Posts]

If you own an iPhone, there’s good reason to look forward to the new version of iOS every year. It usually comes with meaningful improvements to the interface, useful new apps and features — like this year’s Screen Time option that monitors how much you use your apps — and even the occasional performance improvements.

But if you’ve owned a Mac in recent years, there’s been little reason to get excited for new releases of macOS. Some hidden corner of the operating system might get a new feature, a sharp edge or two will be rounded out, and maybe another feature from iOS will appear on the desktop.

macOS Mojave, the new version coming out today, is a prototypically 2010s macOS release: filled with minor improvements, some additions from...

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Google search is adding a news feed to its homepage on mobile [The Verge - All Posts]

Google is announcing changes to its search product today, tied in part to the 20th anniversary of the company. The biggest announcement is that Google is rebranding its news feed — that list of items that appears below the default search bar in the Google mobile app and when you swipe left from the home screen on Android — as “Discover.” It will now be on the Google homepage on all mobile browsers, which is a huge shift for the company as it works to better organize information and help users understand context. The news was unveiled at a press event in San Francisco this morning.

Discover will do more to show relevant content — stuff that might not necessarily be just recent news. It will have topic links to dive deeper into content...

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Bose QC35 II noise-canceling headphones are almost $80 off at Rakuten [The Verge - All Posts]

Bose’s acclaimed noise-canceling headphones, the QuietComfort 35 II, are $274 at Rakuten in black or silver with offer code ALT55 used at checkout while signed in. This discount is just shy of $80 cheaper than its original $349 asking price, which is what other retailers currently charge for the headphones.

These Bose over-ear headphones differ from the first-generation model thanks to their support for voice assistants, including Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa. Additionally, you’re in for pretty good sound backed by excellent noise canceling, so you can focus on your music and work without getting distracted by things happening around you.

Sony’s new WH-1000XM3 headphones have recently offered up some of the best competition Bose...

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14:00 EDT

Apple Releases macOS Mojave Featuring Dark Mode and Other Features; Earlier Today a Security Researcher Published 0Day Bypass For a Privacy Bug in the new OS [Slashdot]

Apple on Monday made available to the public macOS Mojave -- aka macOS 10.14, the latest major update to its desktop operating system. From a report: Though Mojave is substantially focused on under-the-hood improvements, it includes several major changes to the Mac's Finder, as well as a small collection of apps that were ported from iOS. On the Finder side, Apple has introduced a system-wide Dark Mode, which optionally reskins the entire user interface with black or dark gray elements. Dark Mode pairs up with Dynamic Desktop, which can automatically adjust certain desktop images in sync with time of day (morning, afternoon, and evening) changes. Minutes ahead of the release, Patrick Wardle, chief researcher officer at Digita Security, tweeted a video of an apparent privacy feature bypass that's designed to prevent apps from improperly accessing a user's personal data. From a report: For years, Macs have forced apps to ask for permission before accessing your contacts and calendar after some iOS apps were caught uploading private data. Apple said at its annual developer conference this year that it would expand the feature to include apps asking for permission to access the camera, microphone, email and backups. Wardle told TechCrunch that his findings are "not a universal bypass" of the feature, but that the bug could allow a malicious app to grab certain protected data, such as a user's contacts, when a user is logged in.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Supersonic: a glorious new art book about the Concorde airplane [Boing Boing]

During its 1970s heyday, the Concorde, the commercial supersonic plane that did NYC to London in under three hours, wasn't just a revolution in aerospace engineering; it was an icon of industrial design, set the bar in luxury travel, and, quite literally, embodied the jet-set lifestyle. Now, my friend qnd colleague Lawrence Azerrad, the creative director of the Grammy-winning Voyager Golden Record vinyl box set we released last year, has created a glorious art book about the Concorde and its scene in the sky. The book, Supersonic: The Design and Lifestyle of Concorde, overflows with historical and technical information and stunning photos of the plane, its marketing materials, and amenities designed by the likes of Andrée Putman, Raymon Loewy, and Sir Terence Conran who wrote this book's foreword. From CNN:

Taking a branded item home was part of the experience. Anything that could be removed from the plane would be taken by passengers as a souvenir. Some of these items were particularly sought after, like those designed by Raymond Loewy, the father of industrial design who created cabin interiors for Air France.

"He used a very forward-thinking, futuristic approach for that time, down to the design of the seats, the headrests, the fabric and, probably more famously, the stainless steel flatware, which Andy Warhol would famously steal," said Azerrad. "There's a story where (Warhol) asked if the person sitting next to him was taking theirs, she said no and he took her set."

Supersonic: The Design and Lifestyle of Concorde is a magnificent celebration of the history of our in-flight future.

The Air France Concorde high-speed passenger plane. Photograph, late 20th century.

RIP Al Matthews, 'Aliens' fantastic Sgt. Apone [Boing Boing]

Former US Marine and well-known actor Al Matthews has passed away at the age of 75. His portrayal of Sgt. Apone in Aliens remains one of my favorite all-time military characters.

Via Hollywood Reporter:

Al Matthews, the real-life military man who portrayed the no-nonsense, cigar-chomping Sgt. Apone in the sci-fi horror classic Aliens, has died. He was 75.

Matthews was found dead in his home in Alicante on Spain's Mediterranean coast Saturday at 10 p.m. by a neighbor, the Spanish international news agency EFE and the El Pais newspaper confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter.

Matthews also had bit parts in Rough Cut (1980), Ragtime (1981), Superman III (1983), The Fifth Element (1997) and Tomorrow Never Dies (1997).

But it's his performance in James Cameron's 1986 sci-fi horror film that endeared him to audiences. Near the movie's beginning, the crew of the USS Sulaco awake from their deep sleep and Apone instantly reaches for his cigar and shouts instructions to the drowsy crew.

Hollywood stuntwoman gives us step-by-step look at how she performs her amazing stunts [Boing Boing]

Stuntwoman Alicia Vela-Bailey has performed all the hard stuff for tons of blockbusters, including Underworld: Awakening, Total Recall, Wonder Woman, Avatar, Interstellar, Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon, Ender's Game, and Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Here's a fascinating video where Vela-Bailey shows us, blow-by-blow, with diagrams laid over video replays, how she executed her stunts. She's awesome.

The classic BIC 4 color pen [Boing Boing]

Not particularly wonderful to write with, but awesome none-the-less, I had to have a BIC 4 color pen.




I spent most of second grade taking these pens apart, and putting them back together. Taking the color indicators and mixing them up, or making a pen with all black indicators, or all red, or all blue. You know, making a 4 color pen into a 1 color pen with 4x the ink... FUN!

Maybe the first pen I ever coveted, the BIC 4 color remains a blast.

BIC 4-Color Ballpoint Pen, Medium Point (1.0mm), Assorted Inks, 3-Count via Amazon

13:00 EDT

Medical School 2020, Year 2, Week 25 [Philip Greenspun's Weblog]

From our anonymous insider…

Musculoskeletal week features 14 hours of lecture.

Monday morning, A nerdy early 40s orthopedic trauma surgeon discusses osteomyelitis (bone infections) and infectious arthritis (joint infections). An infected bone or joint requires surgical debridement to remove the infected tissue. “Antibiotics cannot penetrate this avascular infection. Ubi pus, ibi evacua. The age-old mantra. One of the most satisfying things is taking pus out. You go in and leave it better than they arrived, period.” Students’ favorite part of his lecture: “A classic case of chronic osteomyelitis is a WWII soldier who was shot. The bullet seeded bacteria that was walled off by his immune system from the healthy tissue. 45 years later in the soldier’s old age with a depressed  immune system, the infection activates.”

A lively 50-year-old pediatric orthopedist presents childhood muscle and bone disorders. Her practice involves improving gait and balance in movement disorders such as cerebral palsy. She does this by using braces, botox injection into certain muscle groups, and tendon release/transfer.

Cerebral palsy, present in about 2 per every 1000 live births, is a “non-progressive movement disorder caused by ischemia to the developing brain, typically in utero but also in early childhood. Example ischemic events include a cord wrapped around neck of baby in utero, stroke or a near drowning event. “When parents hear CP, they immediately picture a wheelchair bound, drooling, not functional child. If the anoxic event covers the entire motor cortex, then yes. But, more often CP deals with specific muscle groups. Some just have an issue with a few toes. CP is a spectrum.” She explained how cerebral palsy a common malpractice suit. “If your baby has cerebral palsy, call us to sue your Ob/Gyn. It is not always the obstetrician’s fault. 70 percent of events are thought to be prenatal.” 50 percent of CP cases have a history of prematurity. “Interesting the advances in prenatal care have not improved the incidence of CP.”

[John Edwards, the 2004 Democratic VP nominee, had a pre-Senate career as a plaintiffs’ lawyer suing physicians in cerebral palsy cases, At trial he would channel the words of the unborn child for the jury’s benefit. Expert witnesses hired by insurance companies defending these lawsuits would explain that there was no scientific basis for holding the obstetrician responsible, but the juries would often award millions in damages. Attempts to set up funds to compensate all cerebral palsy victims, not just the ones who sue, have been fought by trial lawyers. Edwards was a candidate for the 2008 Presidential election, but his campaign was impaired when a former campaign worker gave birth to his child and funds needed to be diverted to keep the new mother quiet. (She could have sued for child support in North Carolina, but the revenue obtainable through conventional family law is limited compared to in California or Massachusetts.) Edwards was criminally prosecuted by the U.S. Department of Justice for this diversion of funds to Rielle Hunter, but a month-long trial resulted in a mistrial on most counts.]

Our orthopedist lecturer showed a before-and-after video of her 10-year-old patient with cerebral palsy. The child initially had limited mobility, walking on his toes with a scissors gait. “Everything was tight. I was giving regular Botox injections, but those were having diminishing effects. I performed an adductor tendon release and transfer.” After the surgical intervention and physical therapy, the class could not discern any gait abnormality. “This child will not be able to compete in sports, but he’ll live a relatively normal life. Remember that cerebral palsy does not spread; we call it a static encephalopathy.” Several classmates were astonished about the tendon transfer surgery. Jane: “We can do that?”

She concluded with some career advice: “Do not assume children with physical impairments have mental impairments. Just because their body is failing them does not mean their mind is failing them too. And when you choose a specialty, think whether you are improving the quality of your patient’s life, or just prolonging their suffering.”

Our third lecturer: a surgeon specializing in nerve reconstruction presents on upper extremity nerve injuries. Type-A Anita, an aspiring Ob/Gyn, exclaimed in horror about nerve injuries during delivery: “That happens? We are barbaric!” Erb’s and Klumpke’s palsies occur if the infant’s head is placed in extension or if the infant’s arm is placed into abduction (away from body), respectively. “If the kid regains elbow flexion in three months, there is a good prognosis that he or she will fully recover.” The surgeon explained that it is possible to do nerve transfers. “We can get back elbow flexion and shoulder range of motion. Animation of the hand and wrist are still extremely difficult.”

Gigolo Giorgio ask about the potential role for nerve scaffolds in the future. “It is here! We use it today, keratin scaffolds, pig submucosal, cadaver scaffolds. And some people are starting to use nanotechnology to implant growth factors and such. That’s above me, I’m just the mechanic!”

Two sports medicine physicians held workshops on common musculoskeletal injuries using X-rays, CTs and MRIs. “Knee dislocations used to be caused only by severe trauma such as a football injury or car accident. We now are seeing low-velocity knee dislocations. An obese individual will step off a curb, and the momentum of the body on a fixed tibia will posteriorly dislocate the knee. Really no good surgical repairs for that so far.”

After lecture I attend the weekly “quarterback” meeting where rotating students air concerns and complaints about the curriculum to the block director. Students complain that lecturers get off-topic following questions from unprepared students. Mischievous Mary and Geezer George cited infractions from students who did not know the anatomy of the brachial plexus (nerves innervating the upper extremity). “I do not go to lecture because of it. It is more effective for me to use that time studying in the library.” George: “There is something wrong when some of the best-performing students do not go to lecture.” Several students tried to show their maturity relative to others in the class. A student recommended that two or three lectures be highlighted each week that require preparation. Mischievous Mary and Geezer George lept on it saying “we are not kids, if you did not prepare just shut-up during lecture.”

Wednesday morning, our sixth lecturer: a 50-year-old orthopedic surgeon lectures on bone diseases. Osteoporosis, and its precursor osteopenia, are diseases of disordered bone deposition resulting in decreased bone mass density [BMD]. “Your bone mass density peaks in your late 20s, and continues to decline thereafter. Moderate weight-bearing exercise is the most effective way of to raise your peak BMD, and to decrease the decline of BMD after your glory days. Moderately overweight individuals actually have stronger bones because they load their bones with more weight.” (He may be taking his own advice here; Pinterest Penelope described him as “tubby.”)

Why is osteoporosis bad? “The weak bone from osteoporosis is prone to fracture from normal weight-bearing activities and falls. People with osteoporosis can spontaneously fracture their vertebrae with no injury at all. Someone who falls on their butt or side should not get a fracture. One-year mortality after a hip fracture is 30 percent. This is not something you just put a screw in it and be done with. Yet, our medical system does not think about bone health. I see so many patients who have been on glucocorticoids on and off for asthma. [chronic steroid use causes osteoporosis.] They have terribly weak bones in their 50s. Frankly, there is nothing to do about it now.”

Thursday morning the whole class turned out to hear the last orthopedist lecturer, Hot Shot, a spine surgeon known for being one of the most highly compensated surgeons at the university.

“When the spine is injured, it shuts down. This is called spinal shock. Reflexes will be absent, even if the connections are not broken. You cannot assess the spinal cord injury level until spinal shock is over [2-3 days].”

Hot Shot explained why he choose Ortho: “I never wanted to do a rectal exam again. Boy, was I wrong. As a junior resident — that’s the guy in ER — my attending would tell me every single trauma case gets a rectal. If you do not do it on the patient, I will do a rectal exam on you.” He explained that every trauma patient should have a bulbocavernosus reflex test to assess the spinal cord integrity. This reflex is elicited by applying pressure to the glan penis or clitoris (or tugging on a Foley catheter), and feeling for increased anal sphincter tone.

Gigolo Giorgio asked whether spinal shock could be shortened by steroids. “We do not know what causes spinal shock. Like most things in medicine, our understanding is observational.”

After lunch, two state health department epidemiologists lead a workshop on an example hepatitis C outbreak. The senior epidemiologist begins describing the case: “I got involved after two or three calls from EM physicians diagnosing acute hepatitis from a new hepatitis C infection.” Hepatitis C is reportable disease in most state, meaning every physician must report the case to the health department. She scheduled a private meeting in a McDonald’s parking lot with one patient, a 25-year-old male college student. “Fast food parking lots are a good meet-up location. People want to remain anonymous.” (This is apparently an occupational hazard; the 55-year-old woman weighed at least 180 lbs.) The patient reluctantly explained that he visited a nearby college for an Ultimate Frisbee competition and “raging” party. Alcohol, cocaine, marijuana, IV drugs were all used. The patient explained, “There were a few tattoo artists hooking people up. I got a small one. I do not even remember it, I was so wasted.”

The junior epidemiologist, a 40-year-old with pink and purple hair, interviewed two other patients, including a married graduate student who had sex with several partners at the party. This patient provided contact information for one of the tattoo artists. The tattoo artist was an herbal medicine enthusiast in her 40s who claimed to use a homemade needle-cleaning machine. After interviewing 10 people (providers and patients), the epidemiologists completed their case report, estimating that, between tattoos, sex, and IV drug use, 200 people were exposed to hepatitis C.

[If the Editor were qualified to work in a state health department, the report would read “People spent 85 percent of their time at the party having sex with strangers, getting tattoos while too drunk to remember, and injecting recreational drugs. They wasted the rest of their evening.”]

We go to our small groups. Straight-Shooter Sally: “[The epidemiologists] seem so cynical.” My facilitator, a 45-year-old EM physician who stopped practicing seven years ago after she gave birth to children, but is trying to study for her boards now: “Everyone who works in the ED becomes cynical. Part of it is your job training, you are supposed to see the worst in everyone to not miss anything. Part of it is just who you are dealing with. Some people just think different. No shame in taking advantage of the system. For example, I had a patient with a connective tissue disorder who would keep coming to the ED every few days. He would purposely dislocate his shoulder to get Dilaudid (hydromorphone). In residency we had this homeless couple who would come in once a week, matter of factly state they were contemplating suicide knowing they would have to be admitted. They would get ‘two hots’ [warm bed, warm meal]. The male was a registered sex-offender so he was not allowed to go to homeless shelters. Instead he was surrounded by children in the ED.”

Straight-Shooter Sally gives a 20-minute presentation on tobacco cessation. She presents the findings of a “landmark study” (“A Randomized, Controlled Trial of Financial Incentives for Smoking Cessation”, NEJM, 2009) in which people who could receive $750 over a one-year period were three times more likely to quit. All of us have seen COPD [chronic obstructive pulmonary disease] patients during our shadowing. They can barely walk, but they still smoke. Might they be more likely to quit if Medicare or Medicaid didn’t pick up nearly all of the cost of their care? Type-A Anita shut the question down: “No, people would die.”

I shadowed my family medicine physician mentor that afternoon. Regarding the first patient, a 54-year-old male with chronic hepatitis C infection, my attending says, “Ask him about his alcohol intake.” I ask, “Sir, how much alcohol do you drink per week?” He responds, “A bit.” “What do you mean by a bit?” Patient X: “Well it depends on the day. I have a few beers most days. If there is a football game on, at least a six pack. If there is a NASCAR race, then at least 12 beers.” The attending came in, explaining”We cannot treat your Hep C until you quit drinking.” Patient responds: “Doc, I cannot. NASCAR is coming up. I… I… I just can’t. After NASCAR season we can talk.”

Our patient case: Elizabeth, a 22-year-old female diagnosed with spinal muscle atrophy (SMA) at the age of 2, presents for excruciating hip pain and lower back pain not managed by her pain medications. She has had two spine surgeries for scoliosis and three hip surgeries to prevent hip subluxation (partial dislocation) that are common in SMA due to muscle deterioration.

SMA is a genetic disorder where a defect in the survival motor neuron 1 (SMN1) gene results in progressive loss of the anterior motor horn neurons in the spinal cord that innervate muscles.  These muscles begin to atrophy causing joint weakness, joint instability, and pain. Elizabeth’s neurologist explained: “If you ever see these patients, your heart will break. They have full cognition, full sensation. Their minds are trapped in their bodies.” (Don’t go to North Dakota if your heart is easily broken; SMA prevalence there is 3-10X more common than in the rest of the U.S.)

Elizabeth: “I was quickly put in a wheelchair. I have a less severe form of SMA, but I still work hard on PT to maintain my function.” Her 55-year-old mother added: “Elizabeth of course needs help going to the bathroom, putting clothes on. She cannot rotate herself from one shoulder to the other while she sleeps. You cannot imagine how difficult it is to try to help your child in the middle of the night while she screams out of pain from you touching her.”

Elizabeth has minimal strength in her arms and legs. Her atrophied back muscles cause severe spine deformities. These have required three separate spine and hip surgeries within two years. She is unable to walk.

“I enjoy therapeutic horseback riding and training service dogs,” continued Elizabeth, who had brought her enormous shaggy service dog. “Service dogs are not pets. They are medical equipment.” The Bernese Mountain Dog helps pick up and carry items and also prevents depression. “Emotional support dogs are a fraud. I go shopping with my mother and one time a dog wearing a service vest started barking at my dog who was working on a task for me. The owner did not even apologize. It was fake. Emotional support dogs are ruining things for people who really need service dogs.” (Type-A Anita blushed. She has been obtaining emotional support dog documentation to facilitate flying her black Labrador puppy to fly home during upcoming vacations. Nearly all of the couples in our class have been adopting puppies lately and getting together at a local dog park.)

[Editor’s Christmas gift idea for Anita: “Black Labs Matter” poster, with optional yellow Lab holding an “All Labs Matter” sign.]

What did Elizabeth wish people knew about the disability community? “People with disabilities are not stupid. I still have a brain. When I am at the grocery store with my mom, people come up to us and ask: ‘What is her name?’ My mom just turns around and ignores it. I respond, ‘I am right here!'”

Mischievous Mary asked the mother how she learned about the diagnosis. The mother, today in her late 50s explained, “I have two older children. I knew something was wrong with Elizabeth quickly. I kept bringing her to the pediatrician because she was missing her milestones. The pediatrician brushed them aside and said she would be fine. ‘She’ll be sitting up in no time.’ I called a doctor who is a family-friend. He agreed that something was seriously wrong and scheduled an an appointment with a neurologist. The neurologist called with the rest results one evening while my husband was out with the kids. I was all alone as he said, matter of factly, ‘Your daughter has spinal muscle atrophy and will not live for more than five years.’ I do not remember what happened for three days after that. I had a nervous breakdown.” (Straight-Shooter Sally afterward noted that it was possible that the doctor had good intentions, citing an HIV patient’s doctor who called the patient at home so as to avoid a public scene in the medical office.)

“I hated people after that phone call,” the mother continued. “I hated anyone who had a healthy child. ‘Why me?’ I would ask. When I went to my oldest son’s basketball games, it would knock me down seeing these healthy kids and their happy parents in the stands. It sounds terrible to say, but when my sister had a healthy baby girl, I hated her too.” She continued: “I dropped everything and devoted my whole life to my baby. This destroyed my marriage. I regret this, but my marriage was destroyed by my daughter.”

There is some hope for SMA patients. Elizabeth’s muscle movements improved dramatically after starting nusinersen (Spinraza), an orphan drug approved by the FDA in December 2016. “The new drug is amazing. I did not notice anything until my fourth dose. I used to have to use two hands and struggle with all my might to lift an object like a cup. One day I noticed I could pick up a cup with one hand!”

There may be even more hope for Biogen, the marketing partner for Spinraza. The list price is $125,000 per injection ($750,000 in the first year and $375,000 annually after that). The geneticist explained: “No one pays the sticker price. Most people are in a clinical trial, or the insurance company is negotiating behind closed doors to bring the price down. The only challenge I have faced is with the hospital pharmacy carrying these expensive orphan drugs. We have learned to never bill the patient. It just creates mayhem. Before we purchase the drug we get pre-approval from insurance or deal directly with the drug company.”

Elizabeth concluded by saying, “Do not listen to what other people tell you. Everyone told me I would never be able to ride a horse. I can now trot a horse all by myself.” Elizabeth goes on dates with other women and advocates for the local LGBQT community.

Friday concludes with a suture workshop. A plastic surgeon lectures on the types of sutures and various suturing techniques. Each student is gifted a basic suturing kit with forceps (“pickups”), needle drivers, and scissors. We practice on chicken breasts and a suturing model that incorporates synthetic material to mimic the epidermis, dermis, and subcutaneous fat. Mischievous Mary, an aspiring cardiothoracic surgeon, schmoozed with the general surgery clerkship director who helped with the workshop. Pinterest Penelope: “God, she was sucking up so much.” Jane and I steal a few sutures to practice at home.

Statistics for the week… Study: 12 hours. Sleep: 7 hours/night; Fun: 1 night. Example fun: Jane’s father, an internist, rents a three bedroom ski condo for a nearby medical conference. Jane, her sisters, and I join for a weekend getaway. I am falling behind in my studying for the upcoming block exam.


Nominating Brett Kavanaugh was a clever ploy to get Amy Coney Barrett approved? [Philip Greenspun's Weblog]

In a comment to “Judge Kavanaugh dust-up shows that Republicans need to abandon white men?” I wrote

Imagine for a moment that Amy Coney Barrett had been appointed. A cisgender man sends a letter to a senator saying that she tried to force him to do something sexual 30 years ago. He has been in therapy ever since he was attacked by Ms. Coney, a high schooler with raging hormones. The therapist will corroborate that the victim shared his painful memories well before the nomination of Mrs. Barrett. Would anyone believe this or care?

Is it possible that the nomination of Kavanaugh was a clever door-in-the-face maneuver to get the Senate to breathe a big sigh of relief and approve Amy Coney Barrett?

[Separately, if Kavanaugh is rejected and goes back to his regular job, the necessary logical conclusion will be that Americans are content to have a rapist on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, but they can’t tolerate a rapist on the Supreme Court?]

Microsoft Launches Office 2019 For Windows and Mac [Slashdot]

Microsoft is releasing Office 2019 for Windows and Mac today. The update is designed for businesses and consumers that haven't opted into Microsoft's Office 365 service with monthly feature updates. The Verge: Office 2019 is essentially a subset of features that have been added to Office 365 over the past three years, and it includes updates to Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Project, Visio, Access, and Publisher. Office 2019 will include a roaming pencil case and ribbon customizations across all Office apps. Microsoft is also bringing focus mode to Word, alongside a new translator, and accessibility improvements. Morph transitions, SVG and 3D model support, play in-click sequence, and 4k video export are all coming to PowerPoint. According to VentureBeat, which cites a Microsoft executive, the new versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook won't receive future updates.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Germany Launches World's First Autonomous Tram [Slashdot]

An anonymous reader shares a report: The world's first autonomous tram was launched in unspectacular style in the city of Potsdam, west of Berlin, on Friday. The Guardian was the first English-language newspaper to be offered a ride on the vehicle developed by a team of 50 computer scientists, engineers, mathematicians, and physicists at the German engineering company Siemens. Fitted with multiple radar, lidar (light from a laser), and camera sensors, forming digital eyes that film the tram and its surroundings during every journey, the tram reacts to trackside signals and can respond to hazards faster than a human. Its makers say it is some way from being commercially viable but they do expect it to contribute to the wider field of driverless technology, and have called it an important milestone on the way to autonomous driving. Travelling in real traffic from the tram depot of Potsdam's transport company ViP, the articulated Combino model tram whirred its way through a high-rise housing settlement in the south-eastern district of Stern on Friday, contending with bikes, prams and cars which sometimes haphazardly crossed its path during the 3.7-mile (6km) route.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Watch: profile of a 101-year-old tattoo artist [Boing Boing]

From Great Big Story: "Whang-Od is the last remaining mambabatok—a tattoo artist in the Philippines using traditional hand-tap methods. At 101 years old, she is the last master of the thousand-year-old trade that first began as a way to honor warriors in battle. Using a hammer and thorns, Whang-Od taps coal ink into skin. Today, she is training her grandniece to carry on her legacy, keeping the family mamababatok tradition alive."

Boxes of bananas donated to Texas prison contained $18 million in cocaine [Boing Boing]

Ports of America in Freeport, Texas donated 45 boxes of ripe bananas to the nearby Wayne Scott Unit prison. When the prison officers unloaded the boxes, they "discovered something not quite right."

"One of the boxes felt different than the others," TDCJ (Texas Department of Criminal Justice) said in a statement. "They snipped the straps, pulled free the box, and opened it up. Inside, under a bundle of bananas, he found another bundle! Inside that? What appeared to be a white powdery substance."

They counted 540 packages of cocaine worth approximately $17,820,000. Now that's bananas!


Dallas P.D. fires Amber Guyger, cop who entered neighbor's apartment and killed him [Boing Boing]

After first claiming it was unable to do, Dallas P.D. has fired Amber Guyger, the officer who forced her way into a neighbor's apartment and killed him, supposedly under the impression that it was her home and that he was an intruder.

Dallas Police Chief U. Reneé Hall terminated Police Officer Amber Guyger, #10702, during a hearing held September 24, 2018.

An Internal Affairs investigation concluded that on September 9, 2018, Officer Guyger, #10702, engaged in adverse conduct when she was arrested for Manslaughter.

Officer Guyger was terminated for her actions. She was hired in November 2013 and was assigned to the Southeast Patrol Division.

Under civil service rules, Officer Guyger has the right to appeal her discipline.

Guyger is trouble, but has received an alarming degree of special treatment since killing Botham Jean.

New Weezer video for "Africa" with special guest star Weird Al [Boing Boing]

Weezer pushes the "Africa" cover gimmick ever onward with a new music video for the Toto classic. The clip stars Weird Al Yankovic as Rivers Cuomo in a parody of Weezer's own "Sweater Song" music video.

Background here.

Fortnite introduces nightmare-scary clowns and a Season 6 llama DJ [Boing Boing]

Fortnite Season 6 is almost upon us! What the heck is going on, on the island...

This weekend Epic introduced Nite Nite and Peekaboo, two insane looking clown skins straight out of my daughter's nightmares. I hadn't bought a skin for weeks, but instantly coughed up the cash for Peekaboo.

Peekaboo is replacing Cuddle Team Leader as my go-to skin.

Fortnite also teased Season 6 with an image of a headphone wearing llama, and the catch phrase "All great parties need a DJ." While the Week 10 secret load screen implies an Bizarro-Universe Fortnite for Season 6, this one promises some electronica -- unless Epic's idea of a DJ is more like Wolfman Jack.

iPhone Xs MAX durability test [Boing Boing]

Jerry of Jerry Rig Everything bought an Apple iPhone Xs Max and proceeded to scratch, burn, and bend and bend the new iPhone Xs MAX to test its durability. Part of the fun of watching these videos is seeing a pristine piece of expensive and coveted equipment get destroyed.

Watch: what it's like to live on a submarine [Boing Boing]

Humans at Sea has a short video with interviews of Navy personnel who spend a good deal of each year living in the close quarters of a submarine.

The Navy's submarine force is unlike any other community in the military, a small, tight-knit group of approximately 20,000 active-duty and reserve Sailors who spend months at a time sailing deep below the waves. Between their secretive missions and their lack of contact with the outside world, the submarine community is often a mystery to those on the outside.

Facebook reminds America's cops that they're not allowed to use fake accounts [Boing Boing]

Facebook's terms of service require users to use their real names; though thiis has lots of potential downsides (including allowing dictators to identify and round up opposition figures), you'd hope that it would at least be evenly applied -- for example, to law enforcement agencies like the Memphis Police Department, who use "Bob Smith" accounts to befriend and entrap activists online.

US law enforcement makes quite a habit out of this kind of thing, and many forces have admitted in court to using fake Facebook identities to target suspects. Cops even get legal advice telling them this is OK, even though it violates Facebook's terms of service.

The ACLU uncovered evidence of the fake Memphis PD accounts in the course of a civil rights lawsuit. EFF got the Memphis cops' Facebook accounts terminated after the news broke, and Facebook's lawyers sent a C&D to the Memphis cops telling them to end the practice.

EFF's been chasing Facebook on this for four years, since the DEA was revealed to be using fake Facebook accounts in its investigations. After the Memphis incident, Facebook updated its law enforcement policies to make it clear that this conduct is not permissible.

But as EFF's Dave Maass points out, Facebook users get lifetime bans for creating fake accounts. Shouldn't police departments that break the rules get equal justice?

The presenter told the audience: “Police and Federal law enforcement may create a fake Facebook profile as part of an investigation and even though it violates the terms and policies of Facebook the evidence may still be used in court.”

The question remains: what action should Facebook take when law enforcement intentionally violates the rules? With regular users, that could result in a lifetime ban. But, banning Memphis Police Department from maintaining its official, verified page could deprive residents of important public safety information disseminated across the platform.

It’s not an easy call, but it’s one Facebook must address and soon. Or better yet, maybe it should abandon its untenable policy requiring authentic names from everyday people who don’t wear a badge.

Facebook Warns Memphis Police: No More Fake “Bob Smith” Accounts [Dave Maass/EFF Deeplinks]

Microsoft launches Office 2019 for Windows and Mac [The Verge - All Posts]

Microsoft is releasing Office 2019 for Windows and Mac today. The update is designed for businesses and consumers that haven’t opted into Microsoft’s Office 365 service with monthly feature updates. Office 2019 is essentially a subset of features that have been added to Office 365 over the past three years, and it includes updates to Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Project, Visio, Access, and Publisher.

Office 2019 will include a roaming pencil case and ribbon customizations across all Office apps. Microsoft is also bringing focus mode to Word, alongside a new translator, and accessibility improvements. Morph transitions, SVG and 3D model support, play in-click sequence, and 4k video export are all coming to PowerPoint.

Alongside these...

Continue reading…

12:00 EDT

Comcast stock tanks after company strikes $40 billion deal to buy Sky [Ars Technica]

A Comcast/NBC logo.

(credit: Comcast)

Comcast on Saturday won an auction to purchase Sky, the UK-based media and telecom company, with a $40 billion bid that topped an offer from 21st Century Fox. Sky on Monday recommended that its shareholders accept the offer from Comcast before a deadline of October 11.

"This is a great day for Comcast," Comcast CEO Brian Roberts said in an announcement. "This acquisition will allow us to quickly, efficiently and meaningfully increase our customer base and expand internationally."

Comcast stock was down about 7 percent this morning, as investors are reportedly worried that Comcast paid too much for Sky.

Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

SiriusXM to pay $3.5 billion for Pandora [Ars Technica]

Article intro image

Enlarge (credit: Bill McChesney)

Pandora has agreed to be acquired by satellite company SiriusXM for $3.5 billion. The deal will expand SiriusXM's reach. The satellite company has 36 million subscribers, while Pandora has more than 70 million monthly active users.

The companies say users shouldn't expect any immediate changes, and Pandora will continue to operate as a separate service.

Pandora has amassed a massive audience, but the company has struggled financially due to long-running fights with music labels over music licensing rates. Recently it has lost ground to rivals Spotify and Apple Music, and last year it launched a Spotify-like premium on-demand service. The company has been looking for a buyer for a couple of years.

Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Neutrinos may decay invisibly, resolving problems in IceCube data [Ars Technica]

Picture of the IceCube control room on the ice in the antarctic.

Enlarge / IceCube is actually under the ice, pointing downward. The Earth is a big filter to remove all the other stuff the Universe throws at us. (credit: Eli Duke)

I’ve largely given up writing stories about new dark-matter candidates. Theoretical physicists keep coming up with more elaborate scenarios to make dark matter more interesting and less inert. It all seems a bit forced. About the only thing that dark matter has to do is provide mass. A particle that doesn’t interact with electromagnetism at all fits the bill almost perfectly (and does practically nothing else).

Still, when there is experimental data to support it, I get interested in dark-matter candidates again. My cynicism aside, there are actually a few results hanging around that seem hard to explain. For instance, the hydrogen in the early Universe seems to have absorbed less light than expected. The center of the galaxy emits an unexpected amount of gamma rays (though they might be due to ordinary matter). And the neutrinos observed by the IceCube Neutrino Observatory in the Antarctic seem to be a bit weird, too.

Neutrinos on ice

Out of all of these, a recent explanation for the IceCube data has caught my attention because it is reasonably simple. This is in contrast to a recent proposal for a Bose-Einstein condensate of dark matter to explain the lack of hydrogen absorption, which seems hideously complex.

Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

When supplies of drugs run low, drug prices mysteriously rise, data shows [Ars Technica]

High angle close-up view still life of an opened prescription bottles with pills and medication spilling onto ae background of money, U.S. currency with Lincoln Portrait.

Enlarge / Not so honest drug pricing? (credit: Getty | YinYang)

When nearly 100 drugs became scarce between 2015 and 2016, their prices mysteriously increased more than twice as fast as their expected rate, an analysis recently published in the Annals of Internal Medicine reveals. The price hikes were highest if the pharmaceutical companies behind the drugs had little competition, the study also shows.

The authors—a group of researchers at the University of Pittsburgh and one at Harvard Medical School—can’t say for sure why the prices increased just based off the market data. But they can take a shot at possible explanations. The price hikes “may reflect manufacturers' opportunistic behavior during shortages, when the imbalance between supply and demand increases willingness to pay,” they conclude.

“There aren’t a lot of industries where if a manufacturer botches the production of a product and is responsible for a reduction in supply that they are able to profit from that... It is the federal government, underinsured, and uninsured patients that are picking up the tab," co-author William Shrank of the University of Pittsburgh noted in an interview with Bloomberg.

Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Captain Cook’s HMS Endeavour found off the coast of Rhode Island [Ars Technica]

Article intro image

Enlarge (credit: Archives New Zealand)

250 years ago, Captain Cook and naturalist Sir Joseph Banks set sail in HMS Endeavour to find the rumored southern continent (of course, indigenous Australians had known about it for tens of thousands of years at that point). In 1770, the voyage arrived at Botany Bay, on the Australian coast, as part of three of Cook's famed voyages. He was killed in Hawaii during the last of them.

Cook's famous ship had a somewhat less-dramatic ending after it returned to Britain in the early 1770s. The Royal Navy sold her in 1775 to a private owner, and the ship that had once been a vehicle of exploration spent the first half of the Revolutionary War as a contracted troop transport and prison ship under the name Lord Sandwich. Then, in 1778, besieged British forces deliberately sank (or “scuttled” in nautical parlance) her, along with a dozen other ships, to help block the entrance of Rhode Island Harbor from French ships.

Now archaeologists with the Rhode Island Marine Archaeology Project, or RIMAP, say they’ve found her again, although they have more work ahead to demonstrate it.

Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Despite Outrage From Users, Microsoft Continues To Install Bloatware Applications Onto Every Windows 10 PC [Slashdot]

Before Windows 10, a clean install of Windows only included the bare essentials a user would need to get started using their PC. With Windows 10, a clean install stays that way for about two minutes, because the second you hit the desktop, the Microsoft Store immediately starts trying to download third-party apps and games. Users have long complained about it, but it turns out Microsoft never put paid to it. Windows Central writes: And these apps keep trying to install themselves even after you cancel the downloads. There are six such apps, which is six too many. These apps are often random, but right now they include things like Candy Crush, Spotify, and Disney Magic Kingdoms. You should not see any of these apps on a fresh install of Windows 10, yet they are there every single time. There are policies you can set that disable these apps from automatically installing, but that's not the point. On a fresh, untouched, clean install of Windows 10, these apps will download themselves onto your PC. Even if you cancel the installation of these apps before they manage to complete the download, they will retry at a later date, without you even noticing. The only way I've found that gets rid of them permanently is to let them install initially, without canceling the download, and then uninstall the apps from the Start menu. If you cancel the initial download of the bloatware apps before they complete their first install, the Microsoft Store will just attempt to redownload them later and will keep doing so until that initial install is complete. This is not a good user experience, Microsoft.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein not fired after all [Boing Boing]

UPDATE: Reuters reports that the Axios report mentioned below is wrong, and that Rosenstein is not yet out. White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders confirmed on Twitter:

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosentein expects to be fired today at the White House, according to reports, though Axios reports that he "verbally resigned" in a call with White House Chief of Staff John Kelly.


Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has verbally resigned to Chief of Staff John Kelly in anticipation of being fired by President Trump, according to a source with direct knowledge. Per a second source with direct knowledge: “He’s expecting to be fired,” so he plans to step down.

The Hill:

CNN, Bloomberg and The Washington Post quickly confirmed this report.

NBC reported that Rosenstein was refusing to resign by his own volition, saying President Trump had to fire him.

Rosenstein's departure follows a story in The New York Times reporting that he suggested secretly recording the President and discussed invoking the 25th Amendment to remove him from office.

Rosenstein supervised Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian efforts to influence Donald Trump's election campaign, to the president's constant annoyance. Aides reportedly tried to prevent Trump firing him in the immediate aftermath of the Times' report, lest it unleash yet more political chaos in the run up to November's mid-term congressional elections.

What happens next? FiveThirtyEight speculates:

There are several ways this could play out. One is that Trump might pressure Rosenstein’s replacement to curtail the Russia investigation. (Solicitor General Noel Francisco is next in line at the Justice Department.) Trump could tell Francisco, for example, to stop Mueller from pursuing any avenue of inquiry that involves Trump’s financial records or other sensitive topics, or he could order him to fire Mueller and either allow the investigation to continue with a replacement (or without a special counsel at all) or shut it down entirely.

If that’s not something Francisco is willing to do, Trump could try another tack: appointing an acting deputy attorney general who would fill the vacancy created by Rosenstein’s removal. But this could spark a legal showdown, since it’s not clear whether this person would actually be in charge of the Russia investigation until being confirmed by the Senate.

Here's Sarah Posner on the significance of Rosenstein insisting on being fired or refusing to resign:

Photo: Shutterstock.


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