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Weekly Web Harvest for 2016-08-21

Your drain on drugs: Meth seeps into Baltimore’s streams – CNN.com Here’s why: These plants and bugs are the base of the aquatic food web. Birds eat the bugs, as do frogs and fish. As emergent contaminants such as pharmaceuticals and endocrine disruptors become more common in ground and drinking water, they could affect humans. Scientists say the direct health effects are pretty much unknown, and more research will need to be done. h/t Jon Becker Handwriting Just Doesn’t Matter – The New York Times A month later, Alabama required the teaching of cursive in public schools by the end of third grade by way of “Lexi’s Law,” named for the granddaughter of the state representative Dickie Drake; Mr. Drake believes “cursive writing identifies you as much as your physical features do.” In other words, our script reveals something unique and ineluctable about our inner being. For most of American history, cursive was supposed to do the opposite. Mastering it was dull, repetitive work, intended to make every student’s handwriting match a standardized model. In the mid-19th century, that model was Spencerian script. It was replaced by the Palmer Method, which was seen as a more muscular and masculine hand suitable for the industrial age — a “plain and rapid style,” as Austin Palmer described it, to replace the more […]

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Weekly Web Harvest for 2016-08-14

Walmart’s Out-of-Control Crime Problem Is Driving Police Crazy To cut down on calls to police, Walmart has been rolling out a program where first-time offenders caught stealing merchandise below a certain value can avoid arrest if they agree to go through a theft-prevention program. At some higher-crime stores, the company is also hiring off-duty police and private security officers. According to Walmart Stores executives, it’s all starting to work. Police chiefs and their officers on the ground say that’s just not so. Ross likes to joke that the concentration of crime at Walmart makes his job easier. “I’ve got all my bad guys in one place,” he says, flashing a bright smile. His squad’s sergeant, Robert Rohloff, a 34-year police veteran who has to worry about staffing, budgets, and patrolling the busiest commercial district in Tulsa, says there’s nothing funny about Walmart’s impact on public safety. He can’t believe, he says, that a multibillion-dollar corporation isn’t doing more to stop crime. Instead, he says, it offloads the job to the police at taxpayers’ expense. “It’s ridiculous—we are talking about the biggest retailer in the world,” says Rohloff. “I may have half my squad there for hours.”

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Weekly Web Harvest for 2016-08-07

Amazon’s Interesting Finds/Prehistoric Invertebrates/Fraudster Calls / Boing Boing TIP: Any bones or skulls you collect can be whitened up without using chlorine bleach, which can weaken the bone. Use concentration hydrogen peroxide, which will fizz and brighten bone to a brilliant white very quickly. You need stronger stuff than the dilute peroxide found in drug stores. Head to the hair care aisle or hair product stores, and look for bottles of concentrated H2O2 in bottles labeled as Clairoxide or the like. — KK

07

Weekly Web Harvest for 2016-07-31

Ten Theses In Support of Teaching and Against Learning Outcomes | Jeff Noonan: Interventions and Evocations Lots of good stuff in here. “awakening in students a desire to think by revealing to them the questionability of things” h/t Amy Collier On extraordinariness — Code for America Blog — Medium I’m not a fan of the way this glorifies things but . . . “Admiration and gratitude for a public servant who has achieved the impossible. Made things work in spite of the rules, not because of them. Broken dozens of protocols, risked his job. “He made it work. He’s the only guy who can run it. He knows it wouldn’t work without him so he’s deferred his retirement. I mean…he’s extraordinary.” Meet Moxie Marlinspike, the Anarchist Bringing Encryption to All of Us | WIRED that yes, people will use encryption to do illegal things. And that may just be the whole point. “I actually think that law enforcement should be difficult,” Marlinspike says, looking calmly out at the crowd. “And I think it should actually be possible to break the law.”

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Weekly Web Harvest for 2016-07-24

Nothing To Do With Arbroath: Motorist led police on hour-long high-speed chase because he was bored McNalley didn’t appear to be impaired by drugs or alcohol, Odegaard said. “He said he was just bored,” Odegaard said. “It looks like to us right now … he instigated this pursuit because he was bored and just wanted to do it.” The Journalist-Engineer — Medium This example is different. It’s a well-designed data dump. It’s raw numbers without any abstractions. There’s no attachment to the news cycle. There’s no traditional thesis. It cannot be made in Photoshop or Illustrator. You must write software. It represents the present-day revolution within news organizations. Some call it data journalism. Or explorable explanations. Or interactive storytelling. Whatever the label, it’s a huge shift from ledes and infographics.

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Weekly Web Harvest for 2016-07-17

The “Jennifer Aniston neuron” is the foundation of compelling new memory research — Quartz “We have a relatively limited memory capacity and that much of our perception of our memory is in fact an illusion.” ” Looking for the areas of the brain that cause epileptic seizures, Quiroga discovered that one subject had a neuron that steadily fired whenever she was shown a photo of Jennifer Aniston. It didn’t fire for other celebrities, but seemed linked to the concept of Jennifer Aniston. Another subject had a Halle Berry neuron, and another had one that fired in response to Bill Clinton.” The Suit That Couldn’t Be Copied – The New Yorker Among the interesting things about Savile Row is that the people who work there have complete confidence that what they do is genuinely different and better than what other people can do. They appear to invite scrutiny, arguing that when their work is examined, it will be found admirable. Not only did Taub say yes; he also offered to give me a garment, so that it could be taken apart and so that the tailor who was trying to reproduce it would have the best possible information. His reasoning was that something made by Gieves & Hawkes could be taken apart but not put back together again in as lovely […]

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Weekly Web Harvest for 2016-07-17

The “Jennifer Aniston neuron” is the foundation of compelling new memory research — Quartz “We have a relatively limited memory capacity and that much of our perception of our memory is in fact an illusion.” ” Looking for the areas of the brain that cause epileptic seizures, Quiroga discovered that one subject had a neuron that steadily fired whenever she was shown a photo of Jennifer Aniston. It didn’t fire for other celebrities, but seemed linked to the concept of Jennifer Aniston. Another subject had a Halle Berry neuron, and another had one that fired in response to Bill Clinton.” The Suit That Couldn’t Be Copied – The New Yorker Among the interesting things about Savile Row is that the people who work there have complete confidence that what they do is genuinely different and better than what other people can do. They appear to invite scrutiny, arguing that when their work is examined, it will be found admirable. Not only did Taub say yes; he also offered to give me a garment, so that it could be taken apart and so that the tailor who was trying to reproduce it would have the best possible information. His reasoning was that something made by Gieves & Hawkes could be taken apart but not put back together again in as lovely […]

17

Weekly Web Harvest for 2016-07-10

Comparing Fully-Online vs Mixed-Course Enrollment Data -e-Literate The Online Photographer: The Angry Man “Many years ago when I was but a wee clod-kicker in high school, I had amazing conversation with a pretty blonde girl in english class about the ‘news.’ She stated proudly that she didn’t pay any attention to current events…bragged actually. I was flabbergasted. She reasoned that since she had no plans to do anything about what she read, why bother. I had no retort beyond stunned indignation. All these years later she now appears as a wise woman in my memory. If only I could resist having my emotions hijacked by stories like this one. Why be angry? I’m not going to do anything about it.” SoundCiteJS — Northwestern University Knight Lab The Windows Shutdown crapfest So that nets us an estimate — to pull a number out of the air — of 24 people involved in this feature. Also each team was separated by 6 layers of management from the leads, so let’s add them in too, giving us 24 + (6 * 3) + 1 (the shared manager) 43 total people with a voice in this feature. Twenty-four of them were connected sorta closely to the code, and of those twenty four there were exactly zero with final say in how the feature worked. […]

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Weekly Web Harvest for 2016-07-03

The land grab for farm data | TechCrunch Specifically, ownership and control of agronomic and equipment data is understood to have dramatic escalating value. Which seed varieties were the most successful and where? Which plant populations performed best? Whose recommendations (e.g. nitrogen programs) outperformed their peers? Which input datasets are used for these recommendations, how were they acquired and are they standardized and accessible? How are the big companies actually using the data? Who has access, how long have they been acquiring it and how long do they keep it? Which documents did I sign to give them access? Data is one of the most valuable things farmers harvest. Make no mistake, the ambiguity around the value of this data is intentional. Nobody wants to initiate paying for something that has always been free. Returning Meaning To The Heart Of Communications – Brand Quarterly The P&I (Persuasion and Influence) industries, like so may others such as education, policing and (in the UK) the NHS (National Health Service), are increasingly falling under the sway of an “arithmocracy”. It is a reductionist system where managers are risk averse, increasingly reliant on ‘safety in numbers’ and prone to what Gerd Gigerenzer calls “defensive decision-making”. This system is based on a sort of physics envy: the belief (or hope) that human beings are more […]

03

Weekly Web Harvest for 2016-06-26

A significant gap exists between cybersecurity as taught by textbooks and experts, and cybersecurity as practiced by actual end users [1-9]. In previous work, we looked at the general problem of how users work around security controls in general [10] and in healthcare [11]. Here, we focus on cyber security evasions healthcare and how ethnographic methods help reveal them. Note to Educators: Pay Now or Pay Later! — Medium Aside from the vulgarity of Donors Choose, the most unattractive example of teacher dependency and low self-esteem is the desire to become corporate certified. What’s next? Should teachers where festive holiday sweaters affixed with corporate sponsor logos like NASCAR drivers or Happy Meals? If not, then why the rush to advertise your corporate affiliation on your blog, Twitter profile, or CV? Google is not your friend. They are a giant corporation selling users and their data to other corporate customers. That doesn’t bother me 10 percent as much as the spectacle of educators begging for corporate affection. Functional Programming — Eloquent JavaScript This is shorter, but if you don’t know how to soak peas you’ll surely screw up and put them in too little water. But how to soak peas can be looked up, and that is the trick. If you assume a certain basic knowledge in the audience, you can […]