Massachusetts crime lab scandal worsens

Slate, forensics, failure, oversight, law, war on some drugs, drug testing, crime lab

Perhaps the most dramatic example of a massive scandal that cannot seem to be reversed involves Annie Dookhan, a chemist who worked at a Massachusetts state lab drug analysis unit. Dookhan was sentenced in 2013 to at least three years in prison, after pleading guilty in 2012 to having falsified thousands of drug tests. Among her extracurricular crime lab activities, Dookhan failed to properly test drug samples before declaring them positive, mixed up samples to create positive tests, forged signatures, and lied about her own credentials. Over her nine-year career, Dookhan tested about 60,000 samples involved in roughly 34,000 criminal cases. Three years later, the state of Massachusetts still can’t figure out how to repair the damage she wrought almost single-handedly.

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/crime/2015/10/massachusetts_crime_lab_scandal_worsens_dookhan_and_farak.single.html

An Interview with Bill Gates on the Future of Energy

The Atlantic, Bill Gates, climate change, investment, research, R&D, interview

Now, in the case of climate change, because there’s so many possible solutions, it’s not like the Manhattan Project. I don’t think anyone’s saying, “Hey, pick just one approach, and pick some ranch in New Mexico, and just have those guys kind of hang out there.” Here, we want to give a little bit of money to the guy who thinks that high wind will work; we want to give a little bit of money to the guy who thinks that taking sunlight and making oil directly out of sunlight will work. So there’s dozens of those ideas, and there’s enabling technologies for those ideas. That’s the kind of thing that we should be funding more of.

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2015/11/we-need-an-energy-miracle/407881/

In The Prophecy, a striking series by Dakar-based photographer Fabrice Monteiro, majestic alien creatures wear hoop skirts and…

hyperallergic:

In The Prophecy, a striking series by Dakar-based photographer Fabrice Monteiro, majestic alien creatures wear hoop skirts and headdresses made from soda cans, garbage bags, fishing nets, tortoise shells, and the odd baby doll. It isn’t just fashion photography at its most theatrical and cinematic: There’s a vivid environmentalist message here, though it doesn’t look like any anti-pollution campaign you’ve ever seen.

Senegal’s Trash Transformed into Afrofuturist Haute Couture

Don’t ask permission from a state beholden to oligarchs, and definitely don’t expect those oligarchs to do any of this for you….

“Don’t ask permission from a state beholden to oligarchs, and definitely don’t expect those oligarchs to do any of this for you. Guerilla gardening is the model, but look further. Guerilla solar panel installation. Guerilla water treatment facility restoration. Guerilla magnificent temple to the human spirit construction. Guerilla carbon sequestration megastructure creation.”

Andrew Dana Hudson, “On the Political Dimensions of Solarpunk.” (viasolarpunks)

Exxon Knew Everything There Was to Know About Climate Change by the Mid–1980s—and Denied It

Bill McKibben, Exxon, climate, climate change, global weirding, climate denial, 2015, corporatism

 When Hansen testified before a Congressional committee in 1988, the atmospheric level of CO2 was just passing 350 parts per million. Now we’ve gone beyond 400 ppm, we’ve seen the rapid melt of the Arctic, the acidification of the planet’s oceans, and the rapid rise in extreme weather events. (Just lately: “thousand-year-rainfalls” in South Carolina and Southern California so far this month, and now a typhoon dropping a meter or more of rain on the Philippines.) Thanks to Exxon’s willingness to sucker the world, that world is now a chaotic mess. We’ve finally begun to see the rise of a movement large enough to challenge the power of the oil companies, and that means that Paris will come out better than Copenhagen, but the quarter-century wasted will never be made up.

http://www.thenation.com/article/exxon-knew-everything-there-was-to-know-about-climate-change-by-the-mid–1980s-and-denied-it/

Two boats pass through the sea walls surrounding an oil extraction platform in Kazakhstan’s zone of the Caspian Sea. This area…

dailyoverview:

Two boats pass through the sea walls surrounding an oil extraction platform in Kazakhstan’s zone of the Caspian Sea. This area is known as the Kashagan Field, an offshore oil field that is estimated to have a recoverable reserve around 13 billion barrels of crude oil. However, due to harsh conditions - specifically sea ice during the winter, yearly temperature variation from −35 to 40 °C (−31 to 104 °F), extremely shallow water, and high levels of hydrogen sulfide that eventually need to be removed from the extracted oil - many consider it to be one of the most challenging oil megaprojects in the world.

46°10′N 51°35′E

www.dailyoverview.com

A Plastic Tool is the new #photobook by Maya Rochat. The book questions the value of the contemporary image, using strategies of…

A Plastic Tool is the new #photobook by Maya Rochat. The book questions the value of the contemporary image, using strategies of détournement and deconstruction to form complex visual ensemble, based on her photographic #photographs. Interweaving these images with the print technology, she creates multi-fold narratives. The book is printed making use of various print technologies – Offset, stencil print and #silkscreen – that overlaps on the page, producing a unique materiality. Conceived in layers, the works evolve in the expanded fields of #photography, #collage and painting, blurring the borders between analogic, manual and #digital. It invites the spectator into an organic universe, exploring emotional and conceptual readings. For their third editorial project together, Maya Rochat and #Delphinebedel are exploring further the haptic relation between print and photography, in a cutting-edge publishing #experiment. #supportyourlocalbookshop #tipibookshop by tipibookshop (via https://instagram.com/p/9OG14PNWp8/)

Sociologist Nathan Jurgenson has an apt term for this tendency to establish a firm split between the online and the offline; he…

“Sociologist Nathan Jurgenson has an apt term for this tendency to establish a firm split between the online and the offline; he calls it “digital dualism” and argues that it underpins much of contemporary debate about digital technologies, particularly evident in widespread concerns that “the virtual” is impinging on “the real” or that online connections are somehow inferior to offline ones. In reality, however, things are never that neat, and the universe we live in is rather a hybrid of the two worlds—moreover, it has always been that way (Jurgenson’s arguments, while limited to various digital technologies, fit within a broader intellectual critique, advanced most persuasively by historians and sociologists of science, holding that the splits between humanity and technology and nature and society are themselves artificial and have a history).”

Morozov, Evgeny. To Save Everything, Click Here: Technology, Solutionism and the Urge to Fix Problems That Don’t Exist. London: Allen Lane, 2013. (viacarvalhais)

A new migration route - cycling from Russia into Norway

BBC, migration, borders, Norway, Russia, arctic, nikel, murmansk, kirkenes, randzonen

Hundreds of migrants have cycled into Norway from Russia after finding a new route into Europe that avoids the deadly Mediterranean crossing. They are not allowed to cross the Arctic border on foot, so a lucrative trade in bicycles has opened up, with migrants buying bikes and pedalling the final few metres.

http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine–34602208

Global temperatures are running far above last year’s record-setting level, all but guaranteeing that 2015 will be the hottest…

climateadaptation:

Global temperatures are running far above last year’s record-setting level, all but guaranteeing that 2015 will be the hottest year in the historical record — and undermining political claims that global warming had somehow stopped.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the American agency that tracks worldwide temperatures, announced Wednesday that last month had been the hottest September on record, and in fact took the biggest leap above the previous September that any month has displayed since 1880, when tracking began at a global scale. The agency also announced that the January-to-September period had been the hottest such span on the books.

The extreme heat and related climate disturbances mean that delegates to a global climate conference scheduled for Paris in early December will almost certainly be convening as weather-related disasters are unfolding around the world, putting them under greater political pressure to reach an ambitious deal to limit future emissions and slow the temperature increase.

The immediate cause of the record-breaking warmth is a strong El Niño weather pattern, in which the ocean releases immense amounts of heat into the atmosphere. But temperatures are running so far ahead of those during the last strong El Niño, in 1997 and 1998, that scientists said the records would not be occurring without an underlying trend caused by human emissions of greenhouse gases.

The bottom line is that the world is warming,” said Jessica Blunden, a climate scientist with NOAA, in Asheville, N.C. Source: NYTimes

In fact, it strikes me that the greatest achievements of anthropology have come precisely when we are willing to make that…

“In fact, it strikes me that the greatest achievements of anthropology have come precisely when we are willing to make that second move: to say, “But are we not all, in a certain sense, totemists?” “Is not war a form of ritual sacrifice?” “Does not knowledge of the logic of Polynesian taboo allow us to look at familiar categories like etiquette, or the sacred, in a different light?””

David Graeber, ‘Radical alterity is just another way of saying “reality”’ (2015)

Welcome to postnormal times

Ziauddin Sardar, postnormal times, postnormal, futures, culture, 2011

All that was ‘normal’ has now evaporated; we have entered postnormal times, the in between period where old orthodoxies are dying, new ones have not yet emerged, and nothing really makes sense. To have any notion of a viable future, we must grasp the significance of this period of transition which is characterized by three c’s: complexity, chaos and contradictions. These forces propel and sustain postnormal times leading to uncertainty and different types of ignorance that make decision-making problematic and increase risks to individuals, society and the planet. Postnormal times demands, this paper argues, that we abandon the ideas of ‘control and management’, and rethink the cherished notions of progress, modernization and efficiency. The way forward must be based on virtues of humility, modesty and accountability, the indispensible requirement of living with uncertainty, complexity and ignorance. We will have to imagine ourselves out of postnormal times and into a new age of normalcy—with an ethical compass and a broad spectrum of imaginations from the rich diversity of human cultures.

http://ziauddinsardar.com/2011/03/welcome-to-postnormal-times/

How I Gave Up Alternating Current

Mostly Harmless, outsourced life, technolgy, technological dependency, Soylent, consumption, supply

I buy my staple food online like a civilized person. It takes me mere seconds to order enough soylent for a month, and version 2.0 does not require any preparation, so I got rid of my noisy blender. At less than $2.50 / meal it also saves me loads of cash, and I appreciate the use of more soy and less rice, finally bringing a nutritionally optimal PDCAAS score of 1.0 while improving the taste and especially texture. I also think it’s crazy cool that some of the ingredients are made by algae rather than water-guzzling pesticide-spraying farms. […] I enjoy doing laundry about as much as doing dishes. I get my clothing custom made in China for prices you would not believe and have new ones regularly shipped to me. Shipping is a problem. I wish container ships had nuclear engines but it’s still much more efficient and convenient than retail. Thanks to synthetic fabrics it takes less water to make my clothes than it would to wash them, and I donate my used garments.

http://robrhinehart.com/?p=1331

G20 countries pay over $1,000 per citizen in fossil fuel subsidies, says IMF

subsidies, economics, energy, capital, IMF, climate change, fossil fuel dependence, energy policy

Subsidies for fossil fuels amount to $1,000 (£640) a year for every citizen living in the G20 group of the world’s leading economies, despite the group’s pledge in 2009 to phase out support for coal, oil and gas. New figures from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) show that the US, which hosted the G20 summit in 2009, gives $700bn a year in fossil fuel subsidies, equivalent to $2,180 for every American. President Barack Obama backed the phase out but has since overseen a steep rise in federal fossil fuel subsidies.

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/aug/04/g20-countries-pay-over–1000-per-citizen-in-fossil-fuel-subsidies-say-imf

Pan Am and the waiting list for the moon…

Moon, Technology, space travel, Pan Am, Airlines, waiting list

It was Christmas Eve, 1968, and three American astronauts had just become the first human beings to orbit the moon. But it wasn’t the only major news that day. Pan Am airlines announced plans for commercial flights to the moon – and they were so confident it would happen soon, they started a waiting list. And so the “First Moon Flights” Club was born – attracting more than 93,000 members over the next two decades, each convinced they would soon be following the astronauts into space…just in more comfortable surroundings, with an in-flight magazine and a beverage service, at the very least…

http://backstoryradio.org/2013/08/19/pan-am-and-the-waiting-list-for-the-moon/

Do We Still Need the Trolley Problem?

The Atlantic, ethics, automation, engineering, trolley problem, driverless cars, 2015

It may be fortuitous that the trolley problem has trickled into the world of driverless cars: It illuminates some of the profound ethical—and legal—challenges we will face ahead with robots. As human agents are replaced by robotic ones, many of our decisions will cease to be in-the-moment, knee-jerk reactions. Instead, we will have the ability to premeditate different options as we program how our machines will act. For philosophers like Lin, this is the perfect example of where theory collides with the real world—and thought experiments like the trolley problem, though they may be abstract or outdated, can help us to rigorously think through scenarios before they happen. Lin and Gerdes hosted a conference about ethics and self-driving cars last month, and hope the resulting discussions will spread out to other companies and labs developing these technologies.

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2015/10/trolley-problem-history-psychology-morality-driverless-cars/409732/

The trolley problem is usually one of the first examples [Patrick Lin] uses to show that not all questions can be solved simply…

“The trolley problem is usually one of the first examples [Patrick Lin] uses to show that not all questions can be solved simply through developing more sophisticated engineering. “Not a lot of engineers appreciate or grasp the problem of programming a car ethically, as opposed to programming it to strictly obey the law,””

Would You Pull the Trolley Switch? Does it Matter? 

New interactive map shows how rising seas will swallow US cities While there’s unarguably greater awareness than ever that…

climateadaptation:

sciencealert:

New interactive map shows how rising seas will swallow US cities

While there’s unarguably greater awareness than ever that man-made climate change is contributing to global warming and rising sea levels, it can be difficult to visualise what that exactly means for the city you live in. How high will sea levels rise? When will it happen? Where will it happen? And, most importantly, what can we do about it?

These are the questions that this stunning new interactive map is designed to get you thinking about. Mapping Choices is part Google Maps, part time machine. It lets you choose any US city or zip code to see what rising seas will do to your nominated address, based on a range of projections about how high sea levels could increase.

 - ScienceAlert

Another flood mapping tool. Still no clear solutions.