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31 Oct 15:26

Por dizer que "juiz não é Deus", agente de transito indenizará magistrado do RJ

Adam Victor Brandizzi

Juiz é parado sem documento em carro sem placa e agente tem de indenizá-lo. PQP, viu...

Por tratar de forma irônica a condição de um juiz, uma agente de trânsito foi condenada a indenizar o magistrado por danos morais. Ele havia sido parado durante blitz da lei seca sem a carteira de habilitação e com o carro sem placa e sem documentos.

Ao julgar o processo, a 36ª Vara Cível do Rio de Janeiro condenou a agente a indenizar em R$ 5 mil o juiz João Carlos de Souza Correa, do 18º Juizado Especial Criminal, zona oeste da capital do Estado. Os fatos ocorreram em 2011.

De acordo com o processo, agente Lucian Silva Tamburini agiu de forma irônica e com falta de respeito ao dizer para os outros agentes “que pouco importava ser juiz; que ela cumpria ordens e que ele é só juiz não é Deus”. O magistrado deu voz de prisão à agente por desacato, mas ela desconsiderou e voltou à tenda da operação. O juiz apresentou queixa na delegacia. 

A agente processou o juiz por danos morais, alegando que ele queria receber tratamento diferenciado em função do cargo. Entretanto, a juíza Mirella Letízia considerou que a policial perdera a razão ao ironizar uma autoridade pública e determinou o pagamento de indenização.

A agente apelou da decisão em segunda instância. Entretanto, a 14ª Câmara Cível do Tribunal de Justiça do Rio considerou a ação improcedente e manteve a decisão de primeira instância.

"Em defesa da própria função pública que desempanha, nada mais restou ao magistrado, a não ser determinar a prisão da recorrente, que desafiou a própria magistratura e tudo o que ela representa", disse o acórdão.

Processo 0176073-33.2011.8.19.0001
Clique aqui para ler o acórdão.

Revista Consultor Jurídico, 31 de outubro de 2014, 8h46

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22 Oct 17:32

http://www.elenakalisphoto.com/blog/2013/10/22/1382463159609.html

by Elena Kalis

 

31 Oct 13:52

Estados Unidos asiste a una reunión técnica sobre el ébola en La Habana | Internacional | EL PAÍS

Cuba y Estados Unidos siguen dando muestras de su voluntad de trabajar en estrategias conjuntas para combatir el virus del ébola en África occidental y prevenir su expansión en América. Una delegación estadounidense participó, entre el miércoles y este jueves, en una reunión técnica celebrada en La Habana y convocada por los países integrantes de la Alianza Bolivariana para los Pueblos de América (ALBA), con el fin de fomentar la cooperación en la lucha contra la enfermedad, que ha contagiado a más de 10.000 personas en el continente africano y ha matado a cerca de la mitad.

“Esta es una emergencia mundial y todos debemos trabajar unidos y cooperar en este esfuerzo”, sostuvo el miércoles Nelson Arboleda, el director de los Centros para el Control y Prevención de Enfermedades de Estados Unidos para Centroamérica (CDC) y uno de los dos oficiales estadounidenses que viajaron al encuentro en La Habana, al que asistieron 254 representantes de 32 naciones de la región. “Apoyamos a los países y a los ministerios de Salud de las Américas para asegurar que tengan las capacidades adecuadas para poder responder a una posible introducción del ébola. Estamos dispuestos a cooperar con todos los actores que están trabajando en la región para asegurar una respuesta eficiente a nivel mundial contra este virus”, añadió.

La reunión, de carácter técnico, fue pautada durante la cumbre extraordinaria de los países de la ALBA, celebrada el pasado 20 de octubre en La Habana por iniciativa del presidente cubano Raúl Castro, con el objetivo de coordinar esfuerzos en la lucha contra la epidemia. En aquella oportunidad, Castro llamó a sus Gobiernos aliados de izquierda a sumarse a las iniciativas puestas en marcha por Naciones Unidas y por la Organización Mundial de Salud. El mandatario aseguró entonces estar dispuesto a trabajar “codo a codo” con todos los países, “incluyendo a Estados Unidos”. Este país, en respuesta, puso a la orden del personal cubano toda la ayuda en caso de que se produjera un contagio.

Cuba prometió enviar 461 médicos y enfermeros a tres de los ocho países africanos más afectados por el virus, de los cuales 256 ya se encuentran distribuidos en Liberia, Sierra Leona y Guinea Conakry desde principios de octubre. Uno de estos cooperantes, el economista Jorge Juan Guerra Rodríguez, de 60 años, falleció el 26 de octubre en Guinea por un “paludismo con complicación cerebral”, según informó el Ministerio de Salud Pública de Cuba a través de un comunicado. De acuerdo con la versión oficial, Rodríguez trabajaba como administrador de la brigada médica y había llegado a África 20 días antes de su muerte. Durante el encuentro del pasado miércoles, la delegación cubana pidió a los participantes un minuto de silencio en su honor.

Desde la otra orilla, Mario Díaz-Balart, congresista republicano de origen cubano, calificó como un “escándalo” la presencia de oficiales de salud estadounidenses en la reunión de La Habana y que Estados Unidos elogie el envío de médicos cubanos a África. “No hay nada de caritativo en las acciones de la dictadura cubana en África, y no hay paridad entre los médicos estadounidenses y los cubanos. Los médicos cubanos están capacitados apresuradamente, mal equipados y obligados a trabajar en condiciones peligrosas, mientras que la mayor parte de su paga se desvía hacia la dictadura de Castro. Que un oficial estadounidense apruebe su explotación abierta es indignante”, sostuvo este jueves.

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31 Oct 15:42

‘Não existe canetada que acabe com o tal é dando que se recebe’ - Política - Eleições - Estadão Mobile

Wilson Tosta - O Estado de S. Paulo

Propor uma reforma grande e complexa é a melhor maneira de não fazer reforma alguma. Com essa convicção, o cientista político Cesar Zucco, da Fundação Getúlio Vargas (FGV), sugere que a reforma política ocorra a partir de mudanças e ajustes pontuais. Entre suas propostas, estão restringir o financiamento de campanha por empresas e impedir os partidos de somarem seus tempos de TV quando coligados, além da proibição de coligações proporcionais. O pesquisador afirma que não há sistema eleitoral que, em todos os quesitos, seja superior ao brasileiro. E adverte: “Não existe mágica” que resolva todos os problemas. “Numa grande reforma estaríamos trocando os nossos problemas por problemas novos”, diz.

‘Não existe canetada que acabe com o tal é dando que se recebe’ Cesar Zucco Júnior é Ph.D. em Ciência Política pela Universidade da Califórnia e mestre em Ciência Política pelo IUPERJ. Wilton Junior/Estadão


A corrupção no financiamento das campanhas foi um dos temas desta disputa presidencial. O financiamento seria o início da reforma política no Brasil?
O financiamento de campanha é um problema em praticamente todo o mundo. As regras variam desde proibir completamente doações privadas, passando por permitir apenas doações de pessoas físicas, ou apenas pequenas doações. Não obstante essa variação, há casos de corrupção envolvendo financiamento de campanha em quase todos os países. Acho que reforma política deve incluir (o tema) direta e indiretamente, mas não podemos nos iludir achando que vamos adotar alguma regra que vai acabar com todos os problemas.

Mesmo as doações legais não são uma forma de comprar os políticos?
Em tese, doações podem ter um objetivo de expressão ou um objetivo instrumental. No primeiro caso, alguém doa para um candidato seguindo lógica parecida com a que leva alguém a doar dinheiro para alguma instituição ou causa na qual acredita. No segundo, o objetivo é obter alguma vantagem ou evitar algum prejuízo. Agora, é surpreendentemente difícil conectar doações à obtenção direta de vantagens específicas.

O financiamento público não poderia gerar mais corrupção e desvios?
O financiamento público no Brasil já existe, tanto na forma do Fundo Partidário quanto na da propaganda gratuita. O que você menciona é o financiamento exclusivamente público, que tem pouco apoio popular no mundo porque é visto como forma de transferir recursos para políticos. Não traz garantia do fim da corrupção.

Há alternativa ao sistema proporcional de lista aberta?
O ponto é que não há um sistema para o qual pudéssemos mudar que fosse superior em todos os quesitos ao nosso. O meu argumento é que numa grande reforma estaríamos trocando os nossos problemas por problemas novos. Tendo a defender ajustes e reformas pontuais.

O governo deveria colocar a reforma política como prioridade?
A melhor maneira de não fazer reforma alguma é propor uma (grande) reforma. Mas o fato é que não existe uma canetada que vá acabar com o tal “é dando que se recebe”. Não existe mágica. Mudanças pequenas e o fortalecimento dos poderes de fiscalização podem nos colocar numa trajetória de melhora de longo prazo.

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31 Oct 16:47

Strange Horizons Reviews: The Clockwork Rocket by Greg Egan, reviewed by Michael Levy

Adam Victor Brandizzi

Vocês que curtem ficção científica vão gostar disso. Eu que nem gosto tanto já quero ler!

02 April 2012

The Clockwork Rocket US cover

The Clockwork Rocket UK cover

I'm what you might call a physics groupie. I hang out with physicists on a regular basis and I read the physics and astronomy articles in Science News first. I have to admit, though, that the last formal physics course I took was way back in high school, during the dark ages, when it was still possible to think of the atom as a miniature solar system. I mention this by way of admitting that I may not be the ideal reviewer for Greg Egan's fine new novel The Clockwork Rocket, the first volume in his Orthogonal series. I mean, forget about Clarke, forget about Clement, heck, forget about Robert L. Forward and Stephen Baxter; this is real hard science fiction, multiple diagrams, equations and all. Egan doesn't just play with the net up, to quote Gregory Benford; he teaches you the physics of tennis while he's at it.

The Clockwork Rocket takes place in a different universe than ours, one with decidedly different physics. To quote Egan's website, it is a Riemannian universe, one described by "geometries that we'd normally think of as kinds of space, whether flat or curved, where all the dimensions are treated as fundamentally the same. In contrast, in the Lorentzian space-time of our own universe, one of the dimensions, time, is singled out for special treatment." If you want to know exactly how the physics of a Riemannian universe might work, Egan spells it out in detail in the text, on his website, and in appendices at the back of the book. More immediately to the point, however, the novel concerns a group of alien scientists, who live in the Riemannian universe that Egan has created and who must figure out the relevant physics for themselves in order to preserve their species from extinction.

Egan doesn't immediately announce what he's doing at the beginning of the book, although the jacket copy gives away some of the more spectacular differences between his universe and ours. This is, for example, a universe where light does not have one speed and the stars in the sky all have multicolored trails because the various spectra reach the viewer over a period of years. It is a universe where "the creation of light is accompanied by the creation of kinetic energy," rendering all matter inherently less stable; a person who works too hard at physical labor may quite literally burst into flame and a meteor strike on a large planet could turn it into a second sun. It is also a universe where a spaceship traveling at near light speed can, from the viewpoint of several generations of crewmembers, return to its home planet hundreds of years after it was launched, though only a few years will have passed for those who stayed behind. Egan has extrapolated dozens of other large and small differences between our Lorentzian universe and his Riemannian one, concerning everything from how life might evolve and metabolize raw materials, to how a rocket engine would work, to how two materials in close proximity might wear on each other, all given this radically different physics.

The story concerns an intelligent alien species who are in some ways very different from us, but in other ways quite similar. Protean in form, they are able to sprout arms and legs in a variety of different combinations as needed. With training, they can learn to produce images, even writing on their bodies and absorbing those images from each other through close contact. They have two sexes, but the female of the species reproduces by splitting into four parts, essentially dying as a person to produce offspring. Children tend to be born in paired couples who then go on to reproduce together themselves, but it occasionally happens that an odd number of children are born or one of a pair dies. The resulting solo is often considered strange, a sort of pervert, and is pressured to pair up with another solo of the opposite sex. Women are larger and stronger, but men of necessity do the bulk of both the long-term planning and the childcare. In a sense, although nearly every woman's life is cut short by reproduction, it's mostly just men who die. As one might imagine, the existence of hollin, a medication that can defer women's reproduction almost indefinitely, is controversial, considered quite literally a life saver by women who want more out of existence than just reproduction, but viewed as something akin to blasphemy by (generally) male conservatives. Given the form of reproduction Egan has postulated, hollin is a necessary element in the text for a variety of plot-driven reasons, but the sometimes violent male reaction against it also signals the author's concern with our society’s current debate over abortion and birth control. This in turn serves as an avenue of engagement with the text for the audience; even creatures as strange as these have concerns that parallel our own, both literally and emotionally.

As the book opens, society is in the throes of an industrial revolution. A variety of purely mechanical, clockwork technologies have been created, but there is nothing comparable to workable electricity. Yalda, Egan's protagonist, is a solo, and worse yet a solo female with no interest in reproduction, who'd rather discover how machines work than farm. Her father, a relatively enlightened sort, encourages her to go to school where she blossoms, despite gaining a reputation as an oddball, and is eventually sent on to university. There she finds a complex and exciting world of new ideas and changing customs, not to mention some very real danger. Yalda, who remains somewhat naïve and unworldly, is taken under her wing by an older scientist who is herself a solo, and she is introduced to other well-educated women at the proto-feminist Solo Club. Although it is illegal, these women take hollin to prolong their life spans by staving off spontaneous asexual reproduction, which can occur under crowded urban conditions. Solos are the subject of considerable prejudice and when the son of a civic leader attacks Yalda she is imprisoned and tortured for fighting back. Radicalized by this experience, Yalda studies hard, develops her own revolutionary theory of rotational physics, resists attacks on her work by hidebound colleagues, and finally gains a university teaching position and the respect of a new generation of scientists. Her growing concern, however, is with the Hurtlers, fast moving meteors which have begun to speed through the solar system in increasing numbers, and which, Yalda realizes, herald an impending catastrophe for her world. The daring plan that Yalda and other scientists come up with to buy the time with which to find a solution to this problem is to build a giant rocket that can approach the speed of red light, the slowest form of light in the universe. They will return home only a few years later, from their world's perspective, but generations will have passed on the ship, during which the crew may invent the science to save their world.

As a reviewer I have on more than one occasion used some variation on the phrase "This novel is not for everyone," and this is certainly the case for The Clockwork Rocket. It's hard to imagine any other writer in our field feeling comfortable stopping his or her narrative periodically, heck, frequently, for physics lectures, and this may derail readers whose sense of wonder isn't satisfied by such things. When Egan does this, however, the story takes on some of the feel of a Platonic dialogue, with Socrates deducing a wide range of brilliant ideas and the other characters periodically answering back, "Well, so it would seem," or "This cannot be disputed." In some ways Egan's method is reminiscent of the clumsy infodumps found in science fiction of the Gernsback era, but there's a key difference here. Unlike the typical Gernsback-era writer, Egan knows exactly what he's doing. The characters who lectured on and on in the early Amazing stories are mostly telling each other what they already know in the most clumsy manner imaginable. Their purpose, transparently, is to let the reader in on some super-scientific idea of the author's, but they're invariably talking nonsense. Egan's characters, however, given the scientific premise that underpins the novel, appear to make sense, though what they're saying may be hard to follow. In fact they come very close, I think, to recreating the kind of dialogues that actually occur between brilliant scientists. One can imagine Einstein conversing with his students in this manner as they walk the tree-lined sidewalks of Princeton, changing the world as they go. Yes, these scientific discussions stop the action of the story dead in its tracks and they violate all traditional rules of good narrative, but, if you can follow the science, even a little bit, even though it’s not real, oh my!

Many science fiction writers have used the generation starship trope, so many that at least one scholarly book has been published on the subject. The hollowed-out asteroid as generation ship is also nothing new, but I doubt that anyone has ever attempted to launch what is essentially a hollowed-out asteroid (actually in this case an entire mountain) from the surface of a planet. In our universe such a thing would be entirely impossible, of course, but Egan's Riemannian physics makes it feasible. Egan also devotes a great deal of space to describing how his starship might be constructed, again including technical details, but also paying attention to the practical needs of his crew, needs that are in some ways identical to but in other ways differ significantly from our own. This detail exemplifies one of The Clockwork Rocket's greatest strengths. On one level we have all of the sophisticated and abstract scientific data describing Yalda's universe and its many (from our point of view) oddities, but on another level, we have a great deal of attention paid to more visceral matters. What kind of closed environment will allow aliens with their particular nutritional needs to produce enough food to survive? How exactly will they limit reproduction on board the starship? How do you run a sophisticated machine with millions, perhaps billions of cogs and springs, but no practical understanding of electricity (and, yes, we have a small steampunk vibe going here too, though it's less than you might expect).

In The Clockwork Rocket Greg Egan has brought together a number of science fiction’s standard tropes—the depiction of a truly alien species, the creation of a universe with physics different from our own, the bildungsroman of a genius inventor, a race to avoid the end of the world, and a generation starship—in a way that is both novel and satisfying. The physics is decidedly heavy and the dozens of diagrams and equations will be off-putting to some readers, but others, I'm sure, will find them endlessly engaging and I can easily imagine the development of a blog or two devoted to arguing over their intricacies. Beyond the science, however, as is often the case with Egan's best work, this is also a gripping and, I suppose the appropriate word is "human" story. We come to care deeply about Yalda, an ugly duckling who, if she never becomes a swan, nonetheless triumphs beyond all expectations. We also care about her friends, her society and, indeed, her entire fascinating, down the rabbit hole Riemannian universe. Book two of Orthogonal will presumably be dominated by the generation starship trope, but Egan has done the ground work necessary to set up any number of engaging variations on the scientific discoveries he's already revealed and surely still more surprises are in store. I don’t know whether or not I'll be able to handle the physics, but I do look forward to them.

Copyright © 2012 Michael Levy

Michael Levy teaches English at an obscure Wisconsin university and is a past president of both the Science Fiction Research Association and The International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts.

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01 Nov 04:53

Links For November 2014

Adam Victor Brandizzi

Nao gosto de link roundups mas esse é legal

The Dutch are pioneering crops fed by sea water. Which sounds like just a cute trick, until you realize that saltwater floods destroy a lot of cropland, and fresh water shortages are one of the biggest problems facing the 21st century. And the cherry on top is that fruits irrigated with salt water taste sweeter.

The linguistics of curse words. If “fuck you” supposedly means “you should fuck yourself”, why doesn’t “assert you” mean “you should assert yourself”? And why can’t “fuck you” take on further specifiers like “Fuck you and I’ll give you a dollar”? Note: some warning signs this is not a real linguistics paper.

A Soviet Whiskey class submarine ran aground in Sweden in 1981 in an international incident known as the Whiskey On The Rocks crisis (still can’t find an explanation of why the Soviets named a sub class “Whiskey”)

Evolutionary psychologists upset that textbooks egregiously misrepresent their field. God help them if they ever discover the Internet.

Quora: The Most Mind-Blowing Tricks Used During War.

The winds higher in the atmosphere can be many times stronger than those on the ground. And there’s no one up there to complain about eyesores. So why not suspend a wind turbine a thousand feet high in a giant balloon? First hoverwindmill to be tested in Alaska over eighteen months.

The dead haven’t yet risen to wreak horrible revenge on the living this Halloween, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any eerie omens and portents. Arch-antinatalist Sister Y has written a remarkably complete and scholarly piece on the demographic transition which – while not explicitly coming out in favor of unlimited reproduction – provides enough ammunition in that direction that the piece is getting thrown around the conservative blogosphere [but]. And cop-hating fringe-libertarian ClarkHat has veered so hard toward neoreaction that I expect him to come out in favor of a police state any day now. I blame whoever decided to build a WordPress server on an ancient Indian burial ground.

And I guess if I’m going to go with this angle, I should link to this ABC article: “Two “Stop the Violence” organizers allegedly beat one of their colleagues so severely that he vomited blood and was left unconscious in critical condition”.

During the isolation of the Tokugawa shogunate, the Japanese called western science rangaku, or “Dutch learning”. The solemnity of this forbidden knowledge was reflected in the title of the its important compendium, whose title means “red hair[ed people's] chitchat”.

A Saudi Grand Mufti has declared Twitter to be “the source of all evil”. As enlightened, technologically advanced Westerners, we can laugh at such ignorance; we know that Tumblr is the source of all evil.

In 1999, chess champion Gary Kasparov played a game of chess against the entire world. He played white, and anyone who wanted was allowed to go to a website where they each got one vote on how the black pieces would move. Kasparov eventually won by a hair, but said it was one of the most difficult games he had ever played. On the other hand, this seems to have been less “the wisdom of crowds” and more “the wisdom of people mostly willing to listen to chess grandmasters who told them what to vote for.” Also, Kasparov was reading the other side’s strategy discussions in their public forums the whole time. It is nevertheless considered one of the greatest games in history. See also: Kasparov Against the World: The Book

Not the Onion: Taylor Swift accidentally releases 8 seconds of white noise, tops Canadian iTunes chart.

I promised I’d link to Athrelon’s essay on social technology and tradeoffs when it came out, so here you go.

The neoreactionaries are starting an irl meetup group, and it doesn’t look like a thinly disguised paramilitary organization at all, no sirree. Move along, nothing to see here.

I’ve previously blogged about how anti-stigma interventions can backfire, so I should balance that with some good news: a recent meta-analysis finds anti-stigma interventions broadly effective at reducing prejudice. But I haven’t seen any of the individual studies, so I’m not sure how much streetlight psychology was going on here.

Most recent study finds that marijuana does not lower your IQ, contrary to previous findings including my own best guess. On the other hand, it was found that alcohol does lower your IQ. I am certain that the people who used this as their justification for keeping marijuana illegal will now behave perfectly consistently and switch to wanting marijuana legalized and alcohol banned.

Reddit: Lawyers, What Is The Sleaziest Thing You Have Seen Another Lawyer Do? Aside from a lot of great stories, the most interesting thing I got out of this thread is that law is more self-policing than you would think and most lawyers are kept in line by the fear of losing reputation among their professional peers (which is apparently a pretty big economic hit because your ability to get good outcomes for cases depends on how much you can convince other people to work with you). A lot of medicine seems to work this way too.

Foreign Affairs magazine argues against the conventional wisdom that post-communist countries haven’t improved much after the fall of the Soviet Union: “The truth is that the prevailing gloomy narrative about the postcommunist world is mostly wrong. Media images aside, life has improved dramatically across the former Eastern bloc. Since their transition, the postcommunist countries have grown rapidly; today, their citizens live richer, longer, and happier lives. In most ways, these states now look just like any others at similar levels of economic development. They have become normal countries — and, in some ways, better than normal.”

Just in case you’ve forgotten how the media works: a new study by Pew comes out showing that although all genders suffer online harassment, in most five of seven categories men get harassed more than women. The media reports the study as Pew: Women Suffering Online Harassment Worse Than Men and this is the lesson every casual reader takes away from it (“Can you believe there are neckbeards who still don’t acknowledge the SCIENTIFICALLY PROVEN truth that women always have it worse than men??!”). When challenged on it, they say that by their definition, only “sexual harassment” and “stalking” count as ‘serious” online harassment, since those are the two categories in which women have it worse. Meanwhile, the five categories in which men have it worse include things like “threats of physical violence”, but all of a sudden this is “not serious” because caring about it doesn’t fit the prevailing narrative. Remember that this same process produces a lot of the other “facts” that drive political debate.

Thirty years after the infamous famine, Ethiopia’s economy is a huge success story, but its human rights record is atrocious, forcing the West to once again confront the dilemma of how much evil dictatorship we’re willing to excuse for a government that does a good job lifting its citizens out of poverty.

Easter Islanders have some Native American genes, proving contact with South America and perhaps the completion of the Polynesians’ great trans-Pacific voyage. Weirder still, there seems to be some evidence of contact with people on the Brazilian coast, suggesting they may have almost circumnavigated the continent. At this rate one of these days, someone is going to find Polynesian artifacts in Portugal.

Algorithm can predict the price of Bitcoin, say scientists who are not yet infinitely rich.

As usual, Leah Libresco wins Halloween.

I tried to estimate whether donating to the fight against Ebola was more effective than the usual set of charities and concluded that it was very hard to tell but it didn’t look likely. GiveWell is promising a more rigorous investigation of the same question.

First JayMan and now Audacious Epigone find a surprising and fascinating result: the dysgenic effect long believed to exist from poor people having more children has stabilized and may be reversing, at least among whites. I didn’t pay too much attention to dysgenics because I figured the reproductive status quo won’t last long enough to matter (see 5.3.2 here) but for those who disagree, the importance of this finding can’t be overstated. The dysgenic effect was by far the strongest argument of the traditional values crowd for why it was important to promote traditional gender roles so that smarter women would be able to have more kids and reverse the dysgenic effect. With that gone, they have…even less of a leg to stand on than previously. This also confirms a thousand times my respect for the Weird Rightist Statistics Blogosphere and their ability to investigate everything even when it challenges their own beliefs.

They’ve finally gone ahead and invented the hoverboard using a suspiciously convenient magnetic effect I would not have thought possible. For now it only hovers over metallic surfaces, but they claim that they may be able to make it work over everything, because this really is a suspiciously convenient form of magnetism. But the hoverboard is actually the least interesting part of this, because if their suspiciously convenient magnetism works it could pave the way for everything from hovering houses that resist earthquakes to cheap maglev trains.

Halloween costume: Sexy Ebola Containment Suit

Happy Halloween! Here’s a link to Economics of the Undead. It’s the cover that really does it for me.

27 Oct 13:20

Críticos gastronômicos provam McDonald's sem saber e aprovam comida

Todo mundo sabe que comida orgânica é muito mais saudável e gostosa que McDonald's. Certo?

Mais ou menos... Os apresentadores do canal do YouTube Life Hunters foram a uma feira de amantes de comida que acontece todo ano na Holanda. Eles ofereceram a alguns participantes e críticos gastronômicos uma "nova alternativa orgânica ao fast food" para experimentar.

Até aí, tudo dentro do previsto. Só que a tal "nova alternativa" era o bom e velho cardápio cheio de sódio e gordura trans do McDonalds apresentado sob a forma de delicados canapés.

"É delicioso!", disse um. "Fresquinho", disse outro. "Muito saboroso".

"Muito bom. A estrutura é boa. Isso, não muito grudenta", arrematou outro. "Ele rola na língua muito bem, se fosse vinho diria que é um vinho fino."

A uma das pessoas que provaram, eles perguntaram: "Se você tivesse de comparar isso com a comida do McDonald's, qual seria a maior diferença?". Ela respondeu: "Definitivamente o sabor é muito melhor, e o fato de ser orgânico é definitivamente uma coisa ótima."

Moral da história: a apresentação é a alma do negócio.

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29 Oct 04:05

An Economist Visits the West Bank

by Scott McConnell

Much is written about Israel/Palestine, but fresh insights are rare. Whether the subject is the endless and barren “peace process” or the fact that Israel responds brutally to Palestinian street protests, there are few surprises. It is somewhat unusual when the 14-year-old shot by an Israeli sniper at a West Bank demonstration turns out to be an American citizen, but the fact is America officially doesn’t care very much when Israel kills its citizens, requests for a “speedy and transparent” investigation of the incident notwithstanding. When Israel pummels Gaza on flimsy pretexts, this too we’ve seen before–mowing the lawn, as the Israelis say.

So there was something genuinely unique about this short piece by economist Robert Wade in the London Review of Books. Written with an economist’s eye but in non-specialist language, it gives an informed sense of how the occupation burdens the daily lives of Palestinians on the West Bank, beyond the sporadic flashpoints and confrontations. And it is shocking.

Israel seems to be the only country in the world which makes a systematic effort to keep impoverished part of the population it governs. The average Israeli income is $4ok a year, 11 times the average for a West Bank Palestinian. The Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman recently said that no independent Palestinian state would be possible until average Palestinian income rises to $10K a year, a figure which presumably would give Palestinians vested material interest in making sure the provisions of a settlement would be maintained. But the catch is that Israel’s occupation policies are designed to thwart Palestinian economic development and ensure that level can never be reached.

Wade gives numerous examples. He begins in Hebron, the important West Bank town where a handful of Israeli settlers control the apartments overlooking the once thriving central market, regularly emptying their garbage on the Palestinians below. Palestinian access to the market is controlled through certain checkpoints (so the settlers never have to cross paths with Palestinians). He describes one scene where market-bound canned goods are transported by cart to one side of an Israeli barrier, raised by a pulley over the barrier, then loaded onto a a cart on the other side. The transaction costs are obviously passed on to Palestinian consumer. Later he describes a farmer, who has to cross the security barrier–through a gate Israel opens only three times a day,–to reach his crops and fields. To pass, he needs an Israeli permit, which has to be renewed every two months. Last year when he applied, during the harvest period for his crop of green tomatoes, Israel delayed granting of the permit for 40 days. The tomatoes rotted.

In Area C of the West Bank, controlled by Israel, goat herders are not allowed to build toilets without an Israeli permit. Nor repair a water cistern. Nor use solar energy panels. The permit system goes all the way up the economy. After the Oslo agreement of 1992, the Palestinians supposedly gained the right to construct their own telecommunications system. But the small print said that Israel would allocate the frequencies. Unsurprisingly, Israel has not done this generously. Palestinians have difficulty accessing the internet or email on their phones because Israel has not allocated the frequencies need for 3G, for “security reasons”. Of course Israel’s West Bank settlers have access to 3G networks. Telecommunications equipment the Palestinian Authority purchased from Ericsson languished for two years in Israeli customs, while Israelis performed “security checks” on it. West Bank trade with Jordan has actually diminished, because Israel controls the only bridges which cross the Jordan River. The occupied West Bank may be the only place in the world with a smaller amount of foreign trade as a proportion of GDP than 20 years ago.

Wade’s conclusion about the overall economic impact of the Israeli occupation is devastating. While the separation wall, and the land seizures which went along with its building are relatively well known in the West, Wade adds:

[T]he restrictions also cover the movement of people, the import and export of goods and services, investments, and access to basic infrastructure (electricity, water, sanitation). They are so pervasive and systematic that it almost seems as if the Israeli state has mapped the entire Palestinian economy in terms of input-output relations, right down to the capillary level of the individual, the household, the small firm, the large firm, the school, the university, so as to find all possible choke points, which Israeli officials can tighten or loosen at will.

Robert Wade is a prominent, widely traveled, developmental economist of vast experience, a winner of the prestigious Leontieff prize, a top award in the field. He concludes that the restrictions Israel has imposed on Palestinian economic life are unlike anything he has ever seen anywhere else in the world.

The ideology of the free market is as popular as ever in the Republican Party, and few would be so foolish as to deny its usefulness and explanatory power. So here is a wishful fantasy: that some of the “young guns” of the House Republican caucus, acolytes of Milton Friedman to a man (or woman), might read and contemplate Wade’s analysis—a prime example of the anti-market impediments in action, in a far-from-insignificant part of the world, where the United States spends a great deal of blood and treasure. Of course this is highly unlikely; it would it raise for them questions which are too politically uncomfortable. They, like most of their Democratic colleagues, prefer to cover their eyes and ears while pledging more American taxpayer dollars to Israel, the so-called ”start up nation.”

Scott McConnell is a founding editor of The American Conservative.

31 Oct 14:40

(via togif)





(via togif)

31 Oct 16:00

Video



31 Oct 20:00

xxxshakespearexxx: The Empress of China 武则天 Wu Zetian Fan...





















xxxshakespearexxx:

The Empress of China 武则天 Wu Zetian

Fan Bing Bing 范冰冰 @ Aarif 李治廷

http://www.ancientchinese.net/index.php?topic=1129.0

31 Oct 14:46

Como o Exército do Líbano une cristãos, sunitas, xiitas e drusos?

by Gustavo Chacra

O ISIS, também conhecido como Grupo Estado Islâmico ou Daesh, é inimigo de absolutamente todas as principais forças no Oriente Médio – dos EUA e do Irã, de Israel e do Hezbollah, de Assad e da França, da Al Qaeda e do Iraque, de xiitas e sunitas, de cristãos e curdos. Verdade, tem lá uma relação estranha com a Turquia, mas, em teoria, os turcos também estão em luta contra esta organização.

Ao mesmo tempo, o Exército do Líbano é aliado de quase todos os grupos e países no Oriente Médio, menos de Israel, da Al Qaeda (Frente Nusrah) e do ISIS. EUA, Irã, Arábia Saudita e França deram apoio militar e financeiro às Forças Armadas Libanesas. A Síria, de Assad, e o Hezbollah atuam em coordenação com os militares libaneses. Todos os países árabes e a Turquia consideram os libaneses aliados.

Mais importante, o Exército libanês desfruta de enorme respeito da população libanesa. É um símbolo de coexistência entre xiitas, sunitas, drusos e cristãos, sejam eles ortodoxos, armênios, maronitas, melquitas ou assírios – o chefe das Forças Armadas do Líbano, por lei, precisa ser cristão maronita e nenhuma das outras religiões libanesas questiona isso.

Ninguém, em todo o mundo, além dos curdos do Iraque, está lutando tanto contra o ISIS e a Al Qaeda (Frente Nusrah) quanto o Exército do Líbano. Os libaneses estão pagando com a vida de seus jovens, sejam eles cristãos, xiitas, sunitas ou drusos. Há 27 capturados pela Frente Nusrah em Arsal, no norte do Beqaa. Alguns outros foram decapitados. Mas o Exército do Líbano tem conseguido avanços importantes não só no Vale do Beqaa, como também em Trípoli.

Se o Líbano não está em guerra civil e Beirute segue como a mais mágica, liberal, democrática e cosmopolita cidade do mundo árabe, isso se deve acima de tudo ao Exército. Não sabemos até quando isso irá durar. Mas a comunidade internacional age corretamente ao apoiar o Exército libanês, o mais multicultural de todo o mundo.

Esta é a segunda história de sucesso do mundo árabe, além da democracia na Tunísia.

Não sei como faz para publicar comentários. Portanto pediria que comentem no meu Facebook (Guga Chacra)  e no Twitter (@gugachacra), aberto para seguidores

Guga Chacra, comentarista de política internacional do Estadão e do programa Globo News Em Pauta em Nova York, é mestre em Relações Internacionais pela Universidade Columbia. Já foi correspondente do jornal O Estado de S. Paulo no Oriente Médio e em NY. No passado, trabalhou como correspondente da Folha em Buenos Aires

Comentários islamofóbicos, antissemitas, anticristãos e antiárabes ou que coloquem um povo ou uma religião como superiores não serão publicados. Tampouco são permitidos ataques entre leitores ou contra o blogueiro. Pessoas que insistirem em ataques pessoais não terão mais seus comentários publicados. Não é permitido postar vídeo. Todos os posts devem ter relação com algum dos temas acima. O blog está aberto a discussões educadas e com pontos de vista diferentes. Os comentários dos leitores não refletem a opinião do jornalista

Acompanhe também meus comentários no Globo News Em Pauta, na Rádio Estadão, na TV Estadão, no Estadão Noite no tablet, no Twitter @gugachacra , no Facebook Guga Chacra (me adicionem como seguidor), no Instagram e no Google Plus. 

15 Jul 18:45

Eye Witness

by Blog Import

 

Where words are restrained,
 the eyes often talk a great deal.
 - Samuel Richardson

 

Italy

Her eyes are homes of silent prayers.
- Lord Alfred Tennyson

Yemen

Eyes are more accurate witnesses than ears.
- Heraclitus of Ephesus, 535 – c. 475 BCE

Afghanistan

 

Ethiopia

The countenance is the portrait of the soul,
and the eyes mark its intentions.
- Marcus Tullius Cicero, 106 – 43 BCE

Afghanistan

The eyes indicate the antiquity of the soul.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Mali

Tibet

The face is the mirror of the mind,
and eyes without speaking confess the secrets of the heart.

- St. Jerome

United States

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes,
but in having 
new eyes.
- Marcel Proust

Niger

There is a road from the eye to heart that does not go through the intellect.
- G. K. Chesterton

United States

Pakistan

India

From women’s eyes this doctrine I derive:
They sparkle still the right Promethean fire;
They are the books, the arts, the academes,
That show, contain and nourish all the world.
 William Shakespeare, Love’s Labour’s Lost

Tibet

 India 

Ethiopia

Tibet

For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others.
- Audrey Hepburn

India

 Exhibitions

Alessandro Del Piero Gallery

Torino, Italy

May 16 - August 31, 2014

Festival La Gacilly

La Gacilly, France

May 31 - September 30, 2014

 

Théâtre de la Photography et de l’Image

Nice, France

June 27 - September 28, 2014


31 Oct 18:03

10/31/14 PHD comic: 'The Oxford Comma and Other Academic Punctuation Marks'

Piled Higher & Deeper by Jorge Cham
www.phdcomics.com
Click on the title below to read the comic
title: "The Oxford Comma and Other Academic Punctuation Marks" - originally published 10/31/2014

For the latest news in PHD Comics, CLICK HERE!

31 Oct 17:00

Against evidence-based policy

What is the case against evidence-based policy? This is one question prompted by David Cameron's refusal to legalize drugs in the face of evidence that criminalization of them doesn't reduce their use.

The question, of course, generalizes. Many of us would argue that fiscal policy and immigration policy are also less than perfectly based in the evidence - and no doubt you can think of other examples. There must, therefore, be something to be said against evidence-based policy. But what?

One answer lies in something we know from financial decision-making - that greater knowledge doesn't necessarily improve the quality of decision-making. It might instead merely increase people's overconfidence and so magnify their mistakes.

This matters because in a complex world there is inevitably a lot that cannot be known about effects of policy, particularly in the long-run and about the possible effects of policy upon social norms. For example, whilst there is good evidence that immigration doesn't reduce wages on average, and might even increase them, there is - as Diane says - rather less hard evidence about their long run effects. Might it be that, in the long-run, a more ethnically heterogenous society would lead to greater tolerance of inequality? Or take tax policy. There might (pdf) be some evidence that higher taxes on top earners would, in the short run, raise revenue. But what about the possibility, stressed by Assar Lindbeck, that redistribution might in the long-run erode social norms in favour of work?

There's a lot that cannot be known about policy effects. Stressing the need for evidence might therefore cause us to overweight partial knowledge and so lead us astray.

I'd add three other arguments:

 - Evidence-based policy is, necessarily, conservative simply because there's no available evidence one way or the other about the effects of truly radical policies. For example, would a high citizens' income or market socialism work? As they've not been tried, we can't know.

 - If we are to base policy upon evidence we will have to override the public's preferences in many policy areas, simply because these are founded upon egregious errors. Whilst there is a case for doing this there is also a danger. Excluding the public risks increasing elitism and undermining the democratic spirit. Ignoring people's preferences might lead to a slippery slope in which governments eventually ignore people.

 - Instrumental rationality is not the only rationality. As Robert Nozick said, there is is also symbolic rationality; we do some things not because they fit a narrow cost-benefit calculus but because they symbolize who we are. We might want to criminalize drugs to express our abhorrence of wasting lives to addiction; or we might favour minimum wages even if they destroy jobs to symbolize our distaste for low pay; or we could subsidise inefficient green energy to express our concern for the climate. And so on. Whatever you think of these examples it would surely be rash to dismiss symbolic motives entirely, given that it is otherwise hard to understand why people vote or protest.

Now, I'm not sure how strong these arguments are. I mention them because both main parties attitudes to (say) immigration and fiscal policy are not based in evidence. Which must mean that there is some sort of argument against evidence-based policy.

Bookmarked at brandizzi Delicious' sharing tag and expanded by Delicious sharing tag expander.
31 Oct 22:27

Backreaction: String theory – it’s a girl thing

My first international physics conference was in Turkey. It was memorable not only because smoking was still allowed on the plane. The conference was attended by many of the local students, and almost all of them were women.

I went out one evening with the Turkish students, a group of ten with only one man who sucked away on his waterpipe while one of the women read my future from tea leaves (she read that I was going to fly through the air in the soon future). I asked the guy how come there are so few male students in this group. It’s because theoretical physics isn’t manly, it’s not considered a guy thing in Turkey, he said. Real men work outdoors or with heavy machinery, they drive, they swing tools, they hunt bears, they do men’s stuff. They don’t wipe blackboards or spend their day in the library.

I’m not sure how much of his explanation was sarcasm, but I find it odd indeed that theoretical physics is so man-dominated when it’s mostly scribbling on paper, trying to coordinate collaborations and meetings, and staring out of the window waiting for an insight. It seems mostly a historical accident that the majority of physicists today are male.

From the desk in my home office I have a view onto our downstairs neighbor’s garden. Every couple of weeks a man trims her trees and bushes. He has a key to the gate and normally comes when she is away. He uses the smoking break to tan his tattoos in her recliner and to scratch his breast hair. Then he pees on the roses. The most disturbing thing about his behavior though isn’t the peeing, it’s that he knows I’m watching. He has to cut the bushes from the outside too, facing the house, so he can see me scribbling away on my desk. He’ll stand there on his ladder and swing the chainsaw to greet me. He’s a real man, oh yeah.

After I finished high school, I went to the employment center which offered a skill- and interest-questionnaire, based on which one then was recommended a profession. I came out as landscape architect. It made sense – when asked, I said I would like to do something creative that allows me to spend time outdoors and that wouldn’t require many interpersonal skills. I also really like trees.

Then I went and studied math because what the questionnaire didn’t take into account is that I get bored incredibly quickly. I wanted a job that wouldn’t run out of novelty any time soon. Math and theoretical physics sounded just right. I never spent much time thinking about gender stereotypes, it just wasn’t something I regarded relevant. Yes, I knew the numbers, but I honestly didn’t care. Every once in a while I would realize how oddly my voice stood out, look around and realize I was the only women in the room, or one of a few. I still find it an unnatural and slightly creepy situation. But no, I never thought about gender stereotypes.

Now I’m a mother of two daughters and I realized the other day I’ve gone pink-blind. Before I had children, I’d look at little girls thinking I’d never dress my daughters all in pink. But, needless to say, most of the twin’s wardrobe today is pink because it’s either racing cars and soccer players on blue, or flowers and butterflies on pink. Unless you want to spend a ridiculous amount of money on designer clothes your kids will wear maybe once.

The internet is full with upset about girl’s toys that discourage an interest in engineering, unrealistic female body images, the objectification of women in ads and video games, the lack of strong female characters in books and movies. The internet is full with sites encouraging women to accept their bodies, the bodies of mothers with the floppy bellies and the stretch marks, the bodies of real women with the big breasts and the small breasts and the freckles and the pimples – every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top. It’s full with Emma Watson and He for She. It’s full of high pitched voices.

But it isn’t only women who are confronted with stereotypical gender roles and social pressure. Somebody I think must stand up and tell the boys it’s totally okay to become a string theorist, even though they don’t get to swing a chainsaw - let that somebody be me. Science is neither a boy thing nor a girl thing.

So this one is for the boys. Be what you want to be, rise like a phoenix, and witness me discovering the awesomeness of multiband compression. Happy Halloween :)

Bookmarked at brandizzi Delicious' sharing tag and expanded by Delicious sharing tag expander.
30 Oct 19:20

Watch a Japanese Kokeshi Doll Emerge From a Spinning Block of Wood

by Johnny Strategy
Adam Victor Brandizzi

Via Cooper Griggs

Watch a Japanese Kokeshi Doll Emerge From a Spinning Block of Wood wood Japan carving

Watch a Japanese Kokeshi Doll Emerge From a Spinning Block of Wood wood Japan carving

In an age of the ubiquitous 3D printer, it’s easy to forget the joy and beauty of handmade craft. Take, for example, the 400-year old Japanese art of creating kokeshi dolls. These traditional wooden figurines were said to have been originally made as souvenirs to sell to people visiting the local hot springs in Northern Japan. Although there are about 10 different styles, each doll is made with an enlarged head and cylindrical body with no arms or legs.

In the video, produced by tetotetote, an organization highlighting the arts and crafts of Sendai, Japan, Yasuo Okazaki woodturns solid blocks into the head and body using just a few tools. Okazaki’s “Naruko” style of making the dolls was passed down to him from his father and features stripes at the top and bottom of the body and bangs with red headdresses. I don’t think there’s anything more soothing and hypnotic than the sights and sounds of watching these dolls emerge from a spinning block of wood.

29 Oct 07:09

About 150 Males are Conceived for Every 100 Females and How This Evens Out In the End

by Daven Hiskey
30 Oct 22:49

Os brasileiros ficaram mais politizados do que os argentinos?

by Gustavo Chacra

Quando eu era mais novo e mesmo depois quando eu vivi na Argentina, em 2000, já como correspondente da Folha em Buenos Aires, diziam que os argentinos eram politizados e nós, brasileiros, apáticos. Hoje virou o inverso. Nós brasileiros somos politizados e os argentinos, apáticos. Independentemente da posição, hoje os brasileiros debatem política, falam de política, brigam e leem sobre política.

Alguns dos blogs mais populares do Brasil são de política. São mais lidos do que os de futebol. Impressionante. Já os argentinos desistiram. Espero que os brasileiros não desistam também. Embora discorde de muitos amigos, ache que alguns tenham adotado posturas extremas, isso é bem melhor do que a apatia. Apesar de tudo, os brasileiros avançaram nesta questão.

26 Oct 06:15

Alcoholics Anonymous: Much More Than You Wanted To Know

Adam Victor Brandizzi

O maluco resolveu mergulhar na literatura sobre AA e encontrou um caos.

[EDIT 10/27: Slight changes in response to feedback; correcting some definitions. I am not an expert in this field and will continue to make changes as I learn about them. There is a critique of this post here and other worse critiques elsewhere. My only excuse for doing this is that I am failing less spectacularly than other online sources writing about the same topic.]

I’ve worked with doctors who think Alcoholics Anonymous is so important for the treatment of alcoholism that anyone who refuses to go at least three times a week is in denial about their problem and can’t benefit from further treatment.

I’ve also worked with doctors who are so against the organization that they describe it as a “cult” and say that a physician who recommends it is no better than one who recommends crystal healing or dianetics.

I finally got so exasperated that I put on my Research Cap and started looking through the evidence base.

My conclusion, after several hours of study, is that now I understand why most people don’t do this.

The studies surrounding Alcoholics Anonymous are some of the most convoluted, hilariously screwed-up research I have ever seen. They go wrong in ways I didn’t even realize research could go wrong before. Just to give some examples:

– In several studies, subjects in the “not attending Alcoholics Anonymous” condition attended Alcoholics Anonymous more than subjects in the “attending Alcoholics Anonymous” condition.

– Almost everyone’s belief about AA’s retention rate is off by a factor of five because one person long ago misread a really confusing graph and everyone else copied them without double-checking.

– The largest study ever in the field, a $30 million effort over 8 years following thousands of patients, had no untreated control group.

Not only are the studies poor, but the people interpreting them are heavily politicized. The entire field of addiction medicine has gotten stuck in the middle of some of the most divisive issues in our culture, like whether addiction is a biological disease or a failure of willpower, whether problems should be solved by community and peer groups or by highly trained professionals, and whether there’s a role for appealing to a higher power in any public organization. AA’s supporters see it as a scruffy grassroots organization of real people willing to get their hands dirty, who can cure addicts failed time and time again by a system of glitzy rehabs run by arrogant doctors who think their medical degrees make them better than people who have personally fought their own battles. Opponents see it as this awful cult that doesn’t provide any real treatment and just tells addicts that they’re terrible people who will never get better unless they sacrifice their identity to the collective.

As a result, the few sparks of light the research kindles are ignored, taken out of context, or misinterpreted.

The entire situation is complicated by a bigger question. We will soon find that AA usually does not work better or worse than various other substance abuse interventions. That leaves the sort of question that all those fancy-shmancy people with control groups in their studies don’t have to worry about – does anything work at all?

I.

We can start by just taking a big survey of people in Alcoholics Anonymous and seeing how they’re doing. On the one hand, we don’t have a control group. On the other hand…well, there really is no other hand, but people keep doing it.

According to AA’s own surveys, one-third of new members drop out by the end of their first month, half by the end of their third month, and three-quarters by the end of their first year. “Drop out” means they don’t go to AA meetings anymore, which could be for any reason including (if we’re feeling optimistic) them being so completely cured they no longer feel they need it.

There is an alternate reference going around that only 5% (rather than 25%) of AA members remain after their first year. This is a mistake caused by misinterpreting a graph showing that only five percent of members in their first year were in their twelfth month of membership, which is obviously completely different. Nevertheless, a large number of AA hate sites (and large rehabs!) cite the incorrect interpretation, for example the Orange Papers and RationalWiki’s page on Alcoholics Anonymous. In fact, just to keep things short, assume RationalWiki’s AA page makes every single mistake I warn against in the rest of this article, then use that to judge them in general. On the other hand, Wikipedia gets it right and I continue to encourage everyone to use it as one of the most reliable sources of medical information available to the public (I wish I was joking).

This retention information isn’t very helpful, since people can remain in AA without successfully quitting drinking, and people may successfully quit drinking without being in AA. However, various different sources suggest that, of people who stay in AA a reasonable amount of time, about half stop being alcoholic. These numbers can change wildly depending on how you define “reasonable amount of time” and “stop being alcoholic”. Here is a table, which I have cited on this blog before and will probably cite again:

Behold. Treatments that look very impressive (80% improved after six months!) turn out to be the same or worse as the control group. And comparing control group to control group, you can find that “no treatment” can appear to give wildly different outcomes (from 20% to 80% “recovery”) depending on what population you’re looking at and how you define “recovery”.

Twenty years ago, it was extremely edgy and taboo for a reputable scientist to claim that alcoholics could recover on their own. This has given way to the current status quo, in which pretty much everyone in the field writes journal articles all the time about how alcoholics can recover on their own, but make sure to harp upon how edgy and taboo they are for doing so. From these sorts of articles, we learn that about 80% of recovered alcoholics have gotten better without treatment, and many of them are currently able to drink moderately without immediately relapsing (something else it used to be extremely taboo to mention). Kate recently shared an good article about this: Most People With Addiction Simply Grow Out Of It: Why Is This Widely Denied?

Anyway, all this stuff about not being able to compare different populations, and the possibility of spontaneous recovery, just mean that we need controlled experiments. The largest number of these take a group of alcoholics, follow them closely, and then evaluate all of them – the AA-attending and the non-AA-attending – according to the same criteria. For example Morgenstern et al (1997), Humphreys et al (1997) and Moos (2006). Emrick et al (1993) is a meta-analyses of a hundred seventy three of these. All of these find that the alcoholics who end up going to AA meetings are much more likely to get better than those who don’t. So that’s good evidence the group is effective, right?

Bzzzt! No! Wrong! Selection bias!

People who want to quit drinking are more likely to go to AA than people who don’t want to quit drinking. People who want to quit drinking are more likely to actually quit drinking than those who don’t want to. This is a serious problem. Imagine if it is common wisdom that AA is the best, maybe the only, way to quit drinking. Then 100% of people who really want to quit would attend compared to 0% of people who didn’t want to quit. And suppose everyone who wants to quit succeeds, because secretly, quitting alcohol is really easy. Then 100% of AA members would quit, compared to 0% of non-members – the most striking result it is mathematically possible to have. And yet AA would not have made a smidgeon of difference.

But it’s worse than this, because attending AA isn’t just about wanting to quit. It’s also about having the resources to make it to AA. That is, wealthier people are more likely to hear about AA (better information networks, more likely to go to doctor or counselor who can recommend) and more likely to be able to attend AA (better access to transportation, more flexible job schedules). But wealthier people are also known to be better at quitting alcohol than poor people – either because the same positive personal qualities that helped them achieve success elsewhere help them in this battle as well, or just because they have fewer other stressors going on in their lives driving them to drink.

Finally, perseverance is a confounder. To go to AA, and to keep going for months and months, means you’ve got the willpower to drag yourself off the couch to do a potentially unpleasant thing. That’s probably the same willpower that helps you stay away from the bar.

And then there’s a confounder going the opposite direction. The worse your alcoholism is, the more likely you are to, as the organization itself puts it, “admit you have a problem”.

These sorts of longitudinal studies are almost useless and the field has mostly moved away from them. Nevertheless, if you look on the pro-AA sites, you will find them in droves, and all of them “prove” the organization’s effectiveness.

III.

It looks like we need randomized controlled trials. And we have them. Sort of.

Brandsma (1980) is the study beloved of the AA hate groups, since it purports to show that people in Alcoholics Anonymous not only don’t get better, but are nine times more likely to binge drink than people who don’t go into AA at all.

There are a number of problems with this conclusion. First of all, if you actually look at the study, this is one of about fifty different findings. The other findings are things like “88% of treated subjects reported a reduction in drinking, compared to 50% of the untreated control group”.

Second of all, the increased binge drinking was significant at the 6 month followup period. It was not significant at the end of treatment, the 3 month followup period, the 9 month followup period, or the 12 month followup period. Remember, taking a single followup result out of the context of the other followup results is a classic piece of Dark Side Statistics and will send you to Science Hell.

Of multiple different endpoints, Alcoholics Anonymous did better than no treatment on almost all of them. It did worse than other treatments on some of them (dropout rates, binge drinking, MMPI scale) and the same as other treatments on others (abstinent days, total abstinence).

If you are pro-AA, you can say “Brandsma study proves AA works!”. If you are anti-AA, you can say “Brandsma study proves AA works worse than other treatments!”, although in practice most of these people prefer to quote extremely selective endpoints out of context.

However, most of the patients in the Brandsma study were people convicted of alcohol-related crimes ordered to attend treatment as part of their sentence. Advocates of AA make a good point that this population might be a bad fit for AA. They may not feel any personal motivation to treatment, which might be okay if you’re going to listen to a psychologist do therapy with you, but fatal for a self-help group. Since the whole point of AA is being in a community of like-minded individuals, if you don’t actually feel any personal connection to the project of quitting alcohol, it will just make you feel uncomfortable and out of place.

Also, uh, this just in, Brandsma didn’t use a real AA group, because the real AA groups make people be anonymous which makes it inconvenient to research stuff. He just sort of started his own non-anonymous group, let’s call it A, with no help from the rest of the fellowship, and had it do Alcoholics Anonymous-like stuff. On the other hand, many members of his control group went out into the community and…attended a real Alcoholics Anonymous, because Brandsma can’t exactly ethically tell them not to. So technically, there were more people in AA in the no-AA group than in the AA group. Without knowing more about Alcoholics Anonymous, I can’t know whether this objection is valid and whether Brandsma’s group did or didn’t capture the essence of the organization. Still, not the sort of thing you want to hear about a study.

Walsh et al (1991) is a similar study with similar confounders and similar results. Workers in an industrial plant who were in trouble for coming in drunk were randomly assigned either to an inpatient treatment program or to Alcoholics Anonymous. After a year of followup, 60% of the inpatient-treated workers had stayed sober, but only 30% of the AA-treated workers had.

The pro-AA side made three objections to this study, of which one is bad and two are good.

The bad objection was that AA is cheaper than hospitalization, so even if hospitalization is good, AA might be more efficient – after all, we can’t afford to hospitalize everyone. It’s a bad objection because the authors of the study did the math and found out that hospitalization was so much better than AA that it decreased the level of further medical treatment needed and saved the health system more money than it cost.

The first good objection: like the Brandsma study, this study uses people under coercion – in this case, workers who would lose their job if they refused. Fine.

The second good objection, and this one is really interesting: a lot of inpatient hospital rehab is AA. That is, when you go to an hospital for inpatient drug treatment, you attend AA groups every day, and when you leave, they make you keep going to the AA groups. In fact, the study says that “at the 12 month and 24 month assessments, the rates of AA affiliation and attendance in the past 6 months did not differ significantly among the groups.” Given that the hospital patients got hospital AA + regular AA, they were actually getting more AA than the AA group!

So all that this study proves is that AA + more AA + other things is better than AA. There was no “no AA” group, which makes it impossible to discuss how well AA does or doesn’t work. Frick.

Timko (2006) is the only study I can hesitantly half-endorse. This one has a sort of clever methodological trick to get around the limitation that doctors can’t ethically refuse to refer alcoholics to treatment. In this study, researchers at a Veterans’ Affairs hospital randomly assigned alcoholic patients to “referral” or “intensive referral”. In “referral”, the staff asked the patients to go to AA. In “intensive referral”, the researchers asked REALLY NICELY for the patients to go to AA, and gave them nice glossy brochures on how great AA was, and wouldn’t shut up about it, and arranged for them to meet people at their first AA meeting so they could have friends in AA, et cetera, et cetera. The hope was that more people in the “intensive referral” group would end out in AA, and that indeed happened scratch that, I just re-read the study and the same number of people in both groups went to AA and the intensive group actually completed a lower number of the 12 Steps on average, have I mentioned I hate all research and this entire field is terrible? But the intensive referral people were more likely to have “had a spiritual awakening” and “have a sponsor”, so it was decided the study wasn’t a complete loss and when it was found the intensive referral condition had slightly less alcohol use the authors decided to declare victory.

So, whereas before we found that AA + More AA was better than AA, and that proved AA didn’t work, in this study we find that AA + More AA was better than AA, and that proves AA does work. You know, did I say I hesitantly half-endorsed this study? Scratch that. I hate this study too.

IV.

All right, @#%^ this $@!&*. We need a real study, everything all lined up in a row, none of this garbage. Let’s just hire half the substance abuse scientists in the country, throw a gigantic wad of money at them, give them as many patients as they need, let them take as long as they want, but barricade the doors of their office and not let them out until they’ve proven something important beyond a shadow of a doubt.

This was about how the scientific community felt in 1989, when they launched Project MATCH. This eight-year, $30 million dollar, multi-thousand patient trial was supposed to solve everything.

The people going into Project MATCH might have been a little overconfident. Maybe “not even Zeus could prevent this study from determining the optimal treatment for alcohol addiction” overconfident. This might have been a mistake.

The study was designed with three arms, one for each of the popular alcoholism treatments of the day. The first arm would be “twelve step facilitation”, a form of therapy based off of Alcoholics Anonymous. The second arm would be cognitive behavioral therapy, the most bog-standard psychotherapy in the world and one which by ancient tradition must be included in any kind of study like this. The third arm would be motivational enhancement therapy, which is a very short intervention where your doctor tells you all the reasons you should quit alcohol and tries to get you to convince yourself.

There wasn’t a “no treatment” arm. This is where the overconfidence might have come in. Everyone knew alcohol treatment worked. Surely you couldn’t dispute that. They just wanted to see which treatment worked best for which people. So you would enroll a bunch of different people – rich, poor, black, white, married, single, chronic alcoholic, new alcoholic, highly motivated, unmotivated – and see which of these people did best in which therapy. The result would be an algorithm for deciding where to send each of your patients. Rich black single chronic unmotivated alcoholic? We’ve found with p < 0.00001 that the best place for someone like that is in motivational enhancement therapy. Such was the dream.

So, eight years and thirty million dollars and the careers of several prestigious researchers later, the results come in, and - yeah, everyone does exactly the same on every kind of therapy (with one minor, possibly coincidental exception). Awkward.

“Everybody has won and all must have prizes!”. If you’re an optimist, you can say all treatments work and everyone can keep doing whatever they like best. If you’re a pessimist, you might start wondering whether anything works at all.

By my understanding this is also the confusing conclusion of Ferri, Amato & Davoli (2006), the Cochrane Collaboration’s attempt to get in on the AA action. Like all Cochrane Collaboration studies since the beginning of time, they find there is insufficient evidence to demonstrate the effectiveness of the intervention being investigated. This has been oft-quoted in the anti-AA literature. But by my reading, they had no control groups and were comparing AA to different types of treatment:

Three studies compared AA combined with other interventions against other treatments and found few differences in the amount of drinks and percentage of drinking days. Severity of addiction and drinking consequence did not seem to be differentially influenced by TSF versus comparison treatment interventions, and no conclusive differences in treatment drop out rates were reported.

So the two best sources we have – Project MATCH and Cochrane – don’t find any significant differences between AA and other types of therapy. Now, to be fair, the inpatient treatment mentioned in Walsh et al wasn’t included, and inpatient treatment might be the gold standard here. But sticking to various forms of outpatient intervention, they all seem to be about the same.

So, the $64,000 question: do all of them work well, or do all of them work poorly?

V.

Alcoholism studies avoid control groups like they are on fire, presumably because it’s unethical not to give alcoholics treatment or something. However, there is one class of studies that doesn’t have that problem. These are the ones on “brief opportunistic intervention”, which is much like a turbocharged even shorter version of “motivational enhancement therapy”. Your doctor tells you ‘HELLO HAVE YOU CONSIDERED QUITTING ALCOHOL??!!’ and sees what happens.

Brief opportunistic intervention is the most trollish medical intervention ever, because here are all these brilliant psychologists and counselors trying to unravel the deepest mysteries of the human psyche in order to convince people to stop drinking, and then someone comes along and asks “Hey, have you tried just asking them politely?”. And it works.

Not consistently. But it works for about one in eight people. And the theory is that since it only takes a minute or two of a doctor’s time, it scales a lot faster than some sort of hideously complex hospital-based program that takes thousands of dollars and dozens of hours from everyone involved. If doctors would just spend five minutes with each alcoholic patient reminding them that no, really, alcoholism is really bad, we could cut the alcoholism rate by 1/8.

(this also works for smoking, by the way. I do this with every single one of my outpatients who smoke, and most of the time they roll their eyes, because their doctor is giving them that speech, but every so often one of them tells me that yeah, I’m right, they know they really should quit smoking and they’ll give it another try. I have never saved anyone’s life by dramatically removing their appendix at the last possible moment, but I have gotten enough patients to promise me they’ll try quitting smoking that I think I’ve saved at least one life just by obsessively doing brief interventions every chance I get. This is probably the most effective life-saving thing you can do as a doctor, enough so that if you understand it you may be licensed to ignore 80,000 Hours’ arguments on doctor replaceability)

Anyway, for some reason, it’s okay to do these studies with control groups. And they are so fast and easy to study that everyone studies them all the time. A meta-analysis of 19 studies is unequivocal that they definitely work.

Why do these work? My guess is that they do two things. First, they hit people who honestly didn’t realize they had a problem, and inform them that they do. Second, the doctor usually says they’ll “follow up on how they’re doing” the next appointment. This means that a respected authority figure is suddenly monitoring their drinking and will glare at them if they stay they’re still alcoholic. As someone who has gone into a panic because he has a dentist’s appointment in a week and he hasn’t been flossing enough – and then flossed until his teeth were bloody so the dentist wouldn’t be disappointed – I can sympathize with this.

But for our purposes, the brief opportunistic intervention sets a lower bound. It says “Here’s a really minimal thing that seems to work. Do other things work better than this?”

The “brief treatment” is the next step up from brief intervention. It’s an hour-or-so-long session (or sometimes a couple such sessions) with a doctor or counselor where they tell you some tips for staying off alcohol. I bring it up here because the brief treatment research community spends its time doing studies that show that brief treatments are just as good as much more intense treatments. This might be most comparable to the “motivational enhancement therapy” in the MATCH study.

Chapman and Huygens (1988) find that a single interview with a health professional is just as good as six weeks of inpatient treatment (I don’t know about their hospital in New Zealand, but for reference six weeks of inpatient treatment in my hospital costs about $40,000.)

Edwards (1977) finds that in a trial comparing “conventional inpatient or outpatient treatment complete with the full panoply of services available at a leading psychiatric institution and lasting several months” versus an hour with a doc, both groups do the same at one and two year followup.

And so on.

All of this is starting to make my head hurt, but it’s a familiar sort of hurt. It’s the way my head hurts when Scott Aaronson talks about complexity classes. We have all of these different categories of things, and some of them are the same as others and others are bigger than others but we’re not sure exactly where all of them stand.

We have classes “no treatment”, “brief opportunistic intervention”, “brief treatment”, “Alcoholics Anonymous”, “psychotherapy”, and “inpatient”.

We can prove that BOI > NT, and that AA = PT. Also that BT = IP = PT. We also have that IP > AA, which unfortunately we can use to prove a contradiction, so let’s throw it out for now.

So the hierarchy of classes seems to be (NT) < (BOI) ? (BT, IP, AA, PT) - in other words, no treatment is the worst, brief opportunistic intervention is better, and then somewhere in there we have this class of everything else that is the same.

Can we prove that BOI = BT?

We have some good evidence for this, once again from our Handbook. A study in Edinburgh finds that five minutes of psychiatrist advice (brief opportunistic intervention) does the same as sixty minutes of advice plus motivational interviewing (brief treatment).

So if we take all this seriously, then it looks like every psychosocial treatment (including brief opportunistic intervention) is the same, and all are better than no treatment. This is a common finding in psychiatry and psychology – for example, all common antidepressants are better than no treatment but work about equally well; all psychotherapies are better than no treatment but work about equally well, et cetera. It’s still an open question what this says about our science and our medicine.

The strongest counterexample to this is Walsh et al which finds the inpatient hospital stay works better than the AA referral, but this study looks kind of lonely compared to the evidence on the other side. And even the authors admit they were surprised by the effectiveness of the hospital there.

And let’s go back to Project MATCH. There wasn’t a control group. But there were the people who dropped out of the study, who said they’d go to AA or psychotherapy but never got around to it. Cutter and Fishbain (2005) take a look at what happened to these folks. They find that the dropouts did 75% as well as the people in any of the therapy groups, and that most of the effect of the therapy groups occurred in the first week (ie people dropped out after one week did about 95% as well as people who stayed in).

To me this suggests two things. First, therapy is only a little helpful over most people quitting on their own. Second, insofar as therapy is helpful, the tiniest brush with therapy is enough to make someone think “Okay, I’ve had some therapy, I’ll be better now”. Just like with the brief opportunistic interventions, five minutes of almost anything is enough.

This is a weird conclusion, but I think it’s the one supported by the data.

VI.

I should include a brief word about this giant table.

I see it everywhere. It looks very authoritative and impressive and, of course, giant. I believe the source is Miller’s Handbook of Alcoholism Treatment Approaches: Effective Alternatives, 3rd Edition, the author of which is known as a very careful scholar whom I cannot help but respect.

And the table does a good thing in discussing medications like acamprosate and naltrexone, which are very important and effective interventions but which will not otherwise be showing up in this post.

However, the therapy part of the table looks really wrong to me.

First of all, I notice acupuncture is ranked 17 out of 48, putting in a much, much better showing than treatments like psychotherapy, counseling, or education. Seems fishy.

Second of all, I notice that motivational enhancement (#2), cognitive therapy (#13), and twelve-step (#37) are all about as far apart as could be, but the largest and most powerful trial ever, Project MATCH, found all three to be about equal in effectiveness.

Third of all, I notice that cognitive therapy is at #13, but psychotherapy is at #46. But cognitive therapy is a kind of psychotherapy.

Fourth of all, I notice that brief interventions, motivational enhancement, confrontational counseling, psychotherapy, general alcoholism counseling, and education are all over. But a lot of these are hard to differentiate from one another.

The table seems messed up to me. Part of it is because it is about evidence base rather than effectiveness (consider that handguns have a stronger evidence base than the atomic bomb, since they have been used many more times in much better controlled conditions, but the atomic bomb is more effective) and therefore acupuncture, which is poorly studied, can rank quite high compared to things which have even one negative study.

But part of it just seems wrong. I haven’t read the full book, but I blame the tendency to conflate studies showing “X does not work better than anything else” with “X does not work”.

Remember, whenever there are meta-analyses that contradict single very large well-run studies, go with the single very large well-run study, especially when the meta-analysis is as weird as this one. Project MATCH is the single very large well-run study, and it says this is balderdash. I’m guessing it’s trying to use some weird algorithmic methodology to automatically rate and judge each study, but that’s no substitute for careful human review.

VII.

In conclusion, as best I can tell – and it is not very well, because the studies that could really prove anything robustly haven’t been done – most alcoholics get better on their own. All treatments for alcoholism, including Alcoholics Anonymous, psychotherapy, and just a few minutes with a doctor explaining why she thinks you need to quit, increase this already-high chance of recovery a small but nonzero amount. Furthermore, they are equally effective after only a tiny dose: your first couple of meetings, your first therapy session. Some studies suggest that inpatient treatment with outpatient followup may be better than outpatient treatment alone, but other studies contradict this and I am not confident in the assumption.

So does Alcoholics Anonymous work? Though I cannot say anything authoritatively, my impression is: Yes, but only a tiny bit, and for many people five minutes with a doctor may work just as well as years completing the twelve steps. As such, individual alcoholics may want to consider attending if they don’t have easier options; doctors might be better off just talking to their patients themselves.

If this is true – and right now I don’t have much confidence that it is, it’s just a direction that weak and contradictory data are pointing – it would be really awkward for the multibazillion-dollar treatment industry.

More worrying, I am afraid of what it would do to the War On Drugs. Right now one of the rallying cries for the anti-Drug-War movement is “treatment, not prison”. And although I haven’t looked seriously at the data for any drug besides alcohol. I think some data there are similar. There’s very good medication for drugs – for example methadone and suboxone for opiate abuse – but in terms of psychotherapy it’s mostly the same stuff you get for alcohol. Rehabs, whether they work or not, seem to serve an important sort of ritual function, where if you can send a drug abuser to a rehab you at least feel like something has been done. Deny people that ritual, and it might make prison the only politically acceptable option.

In terms of things to actually treat alcoholism, I remain enamoured of the Sinclair Method, which has done crazy outrageous stuff like conduct an experiment with an actual control group. But I haven’t investigated enough to know whether my early excitement about them looks likely to pan out or not.

I would not recommend quitting any form of alcohol treatment that works for you, or refusing to try a form of treatment your doctor recommends, based on any of this information.

30 Oct 12:37

In Brazilian city, homeless face ‘extermination’ | Al Jazeera America

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Attempts to turn the investigation of at least 50 deaths over to federal authorities have stalled

October 25, 2014 5:00AM ET

The graves of homeless murder victims are among the thousands of newly dug plots in the Vale da Paz (Valley of Peace) cemetery a few miles outside Goiânia, Brazil, October, 2014.Rafael Fabres / Global Assignments by Getty Images for Al Jazeera America

GOIÂNIA, Brazil — Marcos Aurélio Nunes da Cruz, the boy who was like a little bird, died in his sleep. His cardboard deathbed sat under the concrete awning of a discount supermarket.

His killer had approached at 3 a.m. The man, who wore a black helmet, glanced around, paused for a few seconds, pulled out a handgun and shot Cruz once in the left side of his forehead.

In a sense, Cruz was lucky. Dozens of others who, like him, slept on the streets of Goiânia, a disregarded city of 1.3 million in Brazil’s agricultural heartland, have been stoned, stabbed, clubbed or burned alive. Others have simply disappeared.

The memory of the 57 killed since August 2012 is preserved with a list kept by human-rights campaigners — some by full name, others by their street monikers: Hummingbird, Woodpecker, Cinnamon. The youngest was 13, the oldest 52.

The deaths have equaled about one in 20 of the city's homeless population. In the two-year period, homeless people in Goiânia were murdered at a rate roughly ten times higher than in the rest of Brazil, although experts warned of the difficulty of gathering complete data.

After midnight on the streets of the city’s industrial core, outside its ubiquitous rodeo bars and shopping malls, the homeless stumble down the sidewalks with ripped clothes, bruised skin and panic in their eyes.

Many who live on the streets sleep during the day and walk at night. It is safer that way. In Goiânia, a city where, as one drifter put it, “no one sees and no one knows,” only the bravest dare to ask who is doing the killing and why.

An encampment of homeless people who live under a bridge in Goiânia, Brazil, includes mattresses and a stove, September, 2014.Rafael Fabres / Global Assignments by Getty Images for Al Jazeera America

Newspaper headlines last week seemed to have a partial answer: a serial killer who gunned down victims as he cruised the streets on his motorbike. On Oct. 15, police said Tiago Henrique Gomes da Rocha, a 26-year-old hospital security guard, had confessed to 39 murders in Goiânia.

The victims included 15 young women and eight homeless people, police said. Less than two weeks before the second round of gubernatorial elections in the state of Goiás on Sunday, Gov. Marconi Perillo’s investigators said they had found their man.

Except, far from Brazil’s coastal metropolises, in this backwater where political corruption and police violence are endemic, religious leaders and federal human-rights officials said they worry that the state’s military-police officers may be to blame for some of the 57 killings.

A federal human-rights commission first suggested this after a visit to the city in April 2013. But the commission’s attempt to get the police investigation federalized has stalled, and in the meantime, the killings have continued. Local police, meanwhile, have attributed the deaths to violence among the homeless and drug gangs. So far, one police officer has been arrested for three murders, but not convicted. The campaigners, who say they are themselves targets of death threats, fear the murders are another chapter in a long story of extrajudicial killings, violence against homeless and police impunity in Brazil.

The site next to the Madri supermarket in Goiânia, Brazil, where Marcos Aurélio Nunes da Cruz was murdered in 2012. Rafael Fabres / Global Assignments by Getty Images for Al Jazeera America

The police say the killings began on Aug. 12, 2012, nearly three months before Cruz died. On that humid night, Bianca, a 22-year-old who had been on the streets for nine years, says she witnessed a murder that police later said was the first. (Her name has been changed for her protection). It was Zinca who did it, she says, the thug who controlled the drug market in a square called the Praça do Trabalhador.

Zinca was not homeless, but sometimes, when he turned up to collect his dirty money, he would wear old clothes and feign a limp. He’d been arrested a few years before, accused of killing as many as 10 people, newspapers wrote. But he was allowed to return to the streets as the investigation of him continued. Sometimes he wouldn’t bother with the disguise and would just turn up in his khaki uniform: In addition to his work with drug gangs, Zinca is a member of the military police force, which is tasked with maintaining order and preventing crimes.

A dreaded presence on the streets of Goiânia, Zinca is said to carry two handguns — his official police-issue weapon on his left hip, one for extrajudicial killings on his right. This August night, Mateus Stefany Rodrigues Carvalho Souza, 22, did not have the money Zinca wanted. A crack addict, Souza had taken the drugs he was supposed to sell. So Zinca shot him six times, at close range, Bianca later said.

Souza’s name became the first on the human-rights campaigners’ macabre list, which would soon swell to 47, according to the civil police, or 57, according to Goiânia’s leading human-rights institute. Another homeless man, Eduardo Alves Gouveia, 29, was the second name on the list, stabbed to death in a different part of the city on the same night.

Ondina Gonzaga Coelho, 58, the mother of Marcos Aurélio Nunes da Cruz, stands next to his photograph in her home. Rafael Fabres / Global Assignments by Getty Images for Al Jazeera America

Two more people were killed before the Day of the Dead, Nov. 2, when Cruz spoke to his mother, Ondina Gonzaga Coelho, for the last time. “Marcos was like a little bird: He just wanted to be free,” she says of her son, who’d left home 20 years earlier, at age 16.

When they spoke that evening, his mother says Cruz only had enough phone credit for two minutes. He had almost lost hope, was aggressive and clearly on drugs.

“I cannot live without crack,” Cruz told her. “Please send me 150 reals.”

“I will not send you money,” she replied. “I have already given you too much.”

“You will send me money,” he said. “My life is worth nothing. You do not like me.”

“It’s because I love you that I will not send money,” she said.

Then, the line went dead. Zinca was accused of her son’s murder as well.

Two others were killed on the same night, Nov. 5, all within a radius of one mile. By early April 2013, when 13-year-old Natanael Moura da Silva was clubbed to death, the number had reached 29.

A homeless man and his possessions in Goiânia.Rafael Fabres / Global Assignments by Getty Images for Al Jazeera America

Even in a country as nonchalant about violence as Brazil, the case started to attract notice. Brazil’s federal human-rights secretariat sent a team to Goiânia to investigate. Court documents obtained by Al Jazeera America show that the secretariat identified a culture of “institutional violence” within the military police and suspicion over a series of cases that included deaths dating from 2005.

“The situation in Goiás has been alarming for years,” says Marcelo Murteira de Salles, a spokesman for the secretariat. “With the apparent involvement of military police and the delay in an effective response, it could be concluded that the state has not fulfilled its role.”

Citing the “extermination of the homeless population in Goiânia,” Brazil’s then general prosecutor, Roberto Gurgel, petitioned the Superior Court of Justice to have the investigation taken from the local detectives of the civil police, who concentrate on criminal investigations, and given to the federal police, whose officers fulfill a role similar to the FBI’s.

But 17 months later, a decision by the judge in the case, Jorge Mussi, is still pending. In the meantime, more people were killed, including four in April of last year. Then, according to records kept by the civil police, the number of murders sharply declined to 11 the rest of that year and four so far in 2014.

“The authorities began to say that some of the people who were dying, who did not have identity documents and appeared to be homeless, were in fact not homeless,” says Eduardo Mota, director of the João Bosco Burnier Center for the Defense of Human Rights, in Goiânia, which is named after a local priest who was murdered by the military police in 1976. “They were crack addicts who, by chance, died on the streets. So they solved the problem of the high numbers of homeless people being murdered, statistically. They stopped counting.”

But Mota and his group have continued to keep track. Although his official tabulation, which now includes information from media reports as well as the police, is 57, he believes the truth to be closer to 70. Others who work with the homeless in the city estimate that once those who simply disappear without a trace are included, the true number may be as high as 100.

Goiania Brazil homeless deaths

The grave of a murdered homeless person in the Vale da Paz (Valley of Peace) cemetery. Rafael Fabres / Global Assignments by Getty Images for Al Jazeera America

Of those killed, the lucky ones are identified and given a private burial by their families. Cruz is buried in a cemetery in the city of Jaraguá, amid the soybean fields of central Goiás, where their parents and three siblings live.

Unidentified bodies are held for 45 days at the city’s forensic institute before being given a pauper’s burial in hand-dug graves in the Valley of Peace municipal cemetery in the countryside five miles outside Goiânia.

Here, the bodies of the poor arrive 5 or 10 at a time and are lowered into graves as heavy trucks roar past on the nearby freeway. It is rare for any family to be present, says Osmar Lacerda Xavier, a gravedigger. “There is no ceremony, no one says any words.”

Reginaldo, a 51-year-old man who was beaten the night before by an unknown assailant. Rafael Fabres / Global Assignments by Getty Images for Al Jazeera America

Of more than a dozen homeless people interviewed by Al Jazeera America in Goiânia last month, nearly all had a story to tell about police violence. On the streets, ROTAM, the black-clothed special-ops unit of the Goiás military police, is especially feared.

Reginaldo, 51, nursed a head wound on the steps of a church after being beaten with a stick the previous night. It is unknown whether the attacker was a civilian or a police offer. But Reginaldo said he once saw a friend die after police kicked him repeatedly in the stomach.

“Most of my friends from the street are now dead,” he added. “Nobody knows for sure why all of the killings are happening. But we know they are. Someone is coming to kill people as they sleep.”

Said Reginaldo, who now helps church volunteers distribute food, “It seems that there are people in Goiânia who take pleasure in violence.”

Ananias, 55, has a better home than most. Living under the supports of a bridge, he can wash, drink and clean his teeth with the passing water and maintain a home of sorts for himself, his friends and his six cats. But when the river floods, he sees bodies floating past. ROTAM has a favorite spot nearby for beating its victims, he said.

He has lost three or four friends in the past couple of years due to police beatings, he said. “Where are the missing?” he asked. “No one sees and no one knows. You say nothing; otherwise you’ll be the next victim.”

Maria Madalena, 56, a longtime campaigner for the rights of the homeless who has recently become scared for her safety.Rafael Fabres / Global Assignments by Getty Images for Al Jazeera America

No one knows the homeless here better than Maria Madalena, 56. She has helped those living on the city’s streets for 33 years with the Pastoral dos Povos da Rua, a Catholic outreach program.

When two boys believed the police were about to execute them, she is the one they called. “Auntie, we don’t think you’ll see us alive again,” they said. That night, she said, they died.

And when up to 60 homeless people spent a night deep in the city’s sewer system, surrounded by rats, to hide from a police operation, she was with them. But lately, some strange things have been happening to her.

First, there were the phone calls, she said. “Are you still alive?” a male voice would ask. “Where are you right now?” Then the call would cut off. A few months ago, early in the morning, she noticed a black car outside her house. It was the same day, she said, that federal judges were in Goiânia to investigate the deaths of the homeless.

As she stepped into the street, the car accelerated toward her, she said, but she managed to escape. Now she is scared. She refuses to meet at her own home. When the homeless reach out to her for help, she returns the calls using a different phone. She believes she is being targeted, as she was the first to call for the investigation of the killings to be taken over by federal police.

The registry of bodies at the Vale da Paz (Valley of Peace) cemetery, where many of the homeless victims are buried. Rafael Fabres / Global Assignments by Getty Images for Al Jazeera America

She is not the only one to have been threatened. A priest, Geraldo Marcos Labarrère, 73, who denounced police violence against street children several years ago, received a call at his office in 2011 from someone who asked for his height. “I’m making a coffin for him and I need to know the size of it,” the caller said.

Others, including key witnesses, have just disappeared. Bianca, the girl who saw the first killing, gave a statement against Zinca, whose real name is Rogério Moreira da Silva. In it, she said she and her boyfriend, Rodrigo, were dragged off the street soon afterward the first killing and taken to GT3, the elite paramilitary unit of the civil police.

They were handcuffed, gagged and tied to a post, where they continued to hug each other while they were stunned with a Taser gun, she said. Then a policeman shot Rodrigo in the head, with the bullet only missing her by inches, she added.

Bianca recalled being bundled into the trunk of a black car and subsequently dragged into a building and raped by the same officer who had killed her boyfriend. “If you say anything to anyone, we will kill your family,” she said she was told before being dumped at the side of the road.

The civil police did not respond to a request to comment on the allegations.

Testimony from Bianca and several others led to three murder charges against Zinca. However, his trial for the first murder has collapsed three times — the first because a key witness could not be found; the second because the trial was arranged for a day Brazil was playing in the World Cup; the third because of a missing expert report. No other police were arrested or are sought over the other killings. Zinca, who is in jail awaiting trial, has denied wrongdoing.

After becoming one of very few to dare to testify against the police, Bianca was accepted into a witness-protection program. But she fled, and has since disappeared.

“She is a strong candidate to die,” Madalena said. “Goiás is a state without law and without respect for human rights. … Jesus would not have been born in Goiânia, but he would die here. Such is the rate of violence against the homeless.”

Murilo Polati, head of the homicide squad of the civil police in Goiânia.Rafael Fabres / Global Assignments by Getty Images for Al Jazeera America

Until the arrest of Rocha last week, police were adamant that there was no serial killer or death squad behind the killings of the homeless or of the 15 young women shot by an assassin over the past year. (Those cases had previously been treated as unrelated.) “It was not the military police,” said civil-police homicide chief, Murilo Polati, about the Zinca case. “It was a military-police officer.”

In an emailed statement, a spokesman for the military police denied any role of its officers in the killings. “There is no formal proof of the involvement of military police officers of Goiás in death squads,” the spokesman wrote. “The military police does not condone illegal behavior and is strict when it catches officers in breach of professional ethics. It is not in our interests to maintain officers who do not respect dignity or human rights.”

The vast majority of the deaths are due to drug gangs or fights between the homeless, according to the civil police. “As many as 80 percent,” Polati said. “A dead drug addict. Another dead drug addict. The motivation: the use and trafficking of narcotics.”

Polati said he had identified 18 other suspects; one, Maria de Lourdes Medeiros Lira, confessed and was convicted of one of the murders. None of the 18 are police officers. Of those who have had judicial proceedings started against them, many, including Lira, were once homeless themselves.

In another case that did make it to court, against Ronailson Santos Costa, a homeless man accused of the second of the murders, the prosecutor requested an acquittal because of the “flimsy” nature of the evidence. “It is no use to refer to the judiciary an inquiry with frail investigation just for the statistics,” Judge Jesseir Coelho de Alcântara told the court. “This is very dangerous, because it can lead to injustice.”

Then, last week, the civil police announced they had arrested Rocha, the hospital security guard who they said had confessed to killing 39, including eight of the homeless. But his lawyer, Thiago Vidal, then told reporters his client had been coerced into the confessions, without giving further details.

Two days later, following another interrogation, Vidal changed his mind. “At first I thought the police may have coerced him into confessing to a crime he didn’t commit, but he told the story of each death with such detail,” Vidal said.

Then, on Oct. 23, the civil police announced that Rocha had withdrawn his confessions in 10 of the killings. He was still admitting to killing the 15 women, the police said, but did not respond to a request to comment on how many of the remaining confessions related to the homeless.

The implications of Rocha’s arrest for the investigation of the killings of homeless remain unclear. Whatever happens, recent history in Goiânia suggests justice may be elusive.

In 2009, prosecutors in Goiâs became so concerned over a pattern of suspicious deaths involving military police that they requested an investigation by federal police. On that occasion, the request was granted.

Wiretaps were set up that shed light on the force’s inner workings. For instance, they revealed one policeman, Ederson Trindade, talking to his sergeant. “Let me tell you something, boss!” he says. “I kill. I kill for pleasure and satisfaction.”

Goiania Brazil homeless deaths

An election poster riddled with mock bullet holes at the headquarters of Carlos Cézar Macário, a former subcommander of the military police once accused of running a death squad. Rafael Fabres / Global Assignments by Getty Images for Al Jazeera America

Another recording is of Col. Carlos Cézar Macário, then the subcommander of the military police in Goiás and a former commander of ROTAM. Talking to a colleague about a thief who had been apprehended and allegedly killed by police, he said, “If we don’t kill a guy like that, we would become demoralized.”

The investigators concluded that Macário had led a death squad that had been active for a decade and had buried dozens of victims in secret graveyards. He was among 19 officers arrested by the federal police in 2011. Nearly four years on, however, only two have been tried in court, and both of those were cleared.

The others, including Macário, are still waiting for their court dates to be set, thanks to Brazil’s notoriously laborious judicial process. Macário is accused of murder, concealment of a corpse, conspiracy, torture, dereliction of duty, procedural fraud and illegal possession of a firearm with a restricted gauge. He has denied the allegations.

Macário, who did not respond to interview requests for this article, has since retired from the military police. When Al Jazeera America visited Goiânia, he was running for a deputy position in the Goiás state government, with the support of the governor. His election poster featured two fake bullet holes and bore the slogan “Against banditry, in defense of the family.”

A homeless man who told of being attacked, stands in the Matriz de Campinas church in Goiânia. He hid his face out of fear of revealing his identity. Rafael Fabres / Global Assignments by Getty Images for Al Jazeera America

On the streets of Goiânia, the homeless gathered by the Matriz de Campinas church, where, on a secluded porch, an array of candles swayed in the wind. Paulo, 38, was there. He had a long memory. Thirteen years ago, he was shot at by police in Goiânia, he said. He fled, but three of his friends died.

Killings by police have always happened, he said. “There have always been death squads. But Goiânia now feels like checkmate for the homeless. “People are scared, very scared.”

After a short service on the steps of the church, priest Welinton Silva and his volunteers headed out to distribute the food they had prepared.

Down a deserted side street, where citrine street lamps illuminated piles of debris, Márcio, 38, sat alone. On a disintegrating mattress next to walls blackened by fire, he shivered in the evening heat. “Father, you brought trousers for me?” he begged. “I am cold.”

Priest Welinton Silva consoles Marcio, 38, a homeless, paralyzed man.Rafael Fabres / Global Assignments by Getty Images for Al Jazeera America

He had drunk cachaça and taken “a little” crack, but nothing could cloak the childlike trepidation in his eyes. Paralyzed from the waist down, he could not walk or run.

“What do you want in life?” Father Welinton asked.

“I want not to die on the street,” Márcio replied.

Kneeling, the priest reached out to touch Márcio’s bedraggled hair fondly and began to sing a song, an echo of Christian childhood, and slowly Márcio began to sing too:

“It seemed impossible
“It seemed there was no way out
“It seemed to be my death
“But Jesus changed my luck
“I am a miracle and I am here…”

As the volunteers began to drive off, Márcio continued to murmur the tune in the darkness.

Mauro Graeff Júnior contributed reporting to this story.

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30 Oct 12:49

Scientists find traces of sea plankton on ISS surface

KOROLEV (Moscow region), August 19. /ITAR-TASS/. An experiment of taking samples from illuminators and the ISS surface has brought unique results, as scientists had found traces of sea plankton there, the chief of an orbital mission on Russia’s ISS segment told reporters.

Results of the scope of scientific experiments which had been conducted for a quite long time were summed up in the previous year, confirming that some organisms can live on the surface of the International Space Station (ISS) for years amid factors of a space flight, such as zero gravity, temperature conditions and hard cosmic radiation. Several surveys proved that these organisms can even develop.

Microorganisms could be found on the ISS surface thanks to high-precision equipment. “Results of the experiment are absolutely unique. We have found traces of sea plankton and microscopic particles on the illuminator surface. This should be studied further,” chief of the Russian ISS orbital mission Vladimir Solovyev said.

He noted that it was not quite clear how these microscopic particles could have appeared on the surface of the space station.

In reply to a question on how the ISS surface is contaminated now, the space specialist said that the ISS surface was polluted very strongly due to operation of space engines and other factors. “We are conducting special works to polish somehow and put illuminators in order. This is particularly needed during long space flights,” Solovyev added.

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31 Jul 11:47

Desmontando un horno microondas para crear un arma

by Sergio Parra

Internet puede usarse para el bien o para el mal. Por ejemplo, en Internet podemos encontrar instrucciones precisas para construir armas (lo cual alcanzará cotas verdaderamente preocupantes cuando se desarrollen las impresoras 3D). Luego hay personas que cogen cachivaches de casa, los desmontan y con sus piezas forjan armas delirantes, como es el caso del ucraniano Kreosan con el magnetrón de un horno microondas (lo que genera las ondas electromagnéticas con las que calentamos nuestra comida), que ha sujetado a un palo, usando una lata de café como antena direccional.

Con esta rudimentaria (y hasta cierto punto ridícula arma), sin embargo, no solo consigue crear interferencias en una radio o encender luces a distancias. También hace explotar alguna cosa. Lo cual es toda una proeza, porque recordad que los microondas no suelen explotar aunque les metas objetos metálicos (tal y como aparece en alguna película): podéis leer la explicación en ¿Es buena idea encender el microondas si no hay nada dentro de él?.

Vía | NeoTeo

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La noticia Desmontando un horno microondas para crear un arma fue publicada originalmente en Xatakaciencia por Sergio Parra.




29 Oct 19:21

Eleita a melhor eleição

by noreply@blogger.com (Pabel, a dupla)
Vôdzeumacoisaprocês, viu. Nosso exuviante doutor nunca havia passado tão prazerosamente um período de eleições. Foi pràticamente uma gargalhada só de cabo à rabo. E, como todos sabem, tanto melhor é o riso qdo vem sem aviso. Ele achava q os petista iriam dizer as maior bobagem –pois os dilmo-votante sofrem duma hipoplausibilose galopante talvez incurável–, mas qual não foi a surpresa doutoral qdo, ao dar mais atenção aos aècio-votante, deparou-se com uma enxurrada, uma caudalosa inundação, uma chuva torrencial (êpa) de sintomas hipoplausibilético num tom bombástico e apocalíptico q äs vez levou o Dr Plausível à levantar-se de madrugada pra ir até o quintal gargalhar. É esplendorosamente assobroso como a língua portuguesa se presta à manipular os sentido e desviar o raciocínio. Esta língua de camponeses e comerciantes é absolutamente fascinada com enganação, enrolação, dissimulação e roubo. Como resultado, pràticamente tudo q se fala em política no Brasil é sobre isso. E sai uma gororoba atrás da outra, instigada por três ou quatro articulistas fascinado pelo Foro de São Paulo, estarrecidos ao descobrir q não são só os país rico, os grande empreiteiro, os torcedor do Curíntia e os fabricante de marmelada q se juntam pra definir padrões de conduta, metas e estratégias. Dentre as tonteria disseminada por esse punhado de jornalistas e repetida por milhões de aécio-votantes, tem umas impagável pérola de hipoplausibilose:

• O PT tá há DOZE anos usufruindo das benesse de ter um presidente no Planalto… mas SÓ AGORA vai *realmente* tentar um “golpe totalitário”.

Ué, ‘agora’ já passou. Ah não, não. Não era aquele ‘agora’, é ESTE ‘agora’; o de antes foi só preparação. Ué, mas esse ‘agora’ já passou. Ah não, peraí. Errei. Não é ESSE ‘agora’, será o *próximo* ‘agora’.

HAHAHAHAHAHA

• Tipo assim, os petista querem chegar ao controle absoluto de TUDO, da economia, das força armada, da indústria, da moralidade… mas é uma arrastadinha de cada vez. Um decretinho aqui, outro ali, à passo de lesma, pra no fim abocanhar TUDO.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

• Querem dar um “golpe” fascista… mas é, tipo assim, um golpe como somatória de centenas de afagos cumulativo e cirúrgico, exposto à votações ao longo de décadas à fio.

• E não só isso. A esperteza e malevolência dos petista é tão grande q… q… q eles planejam alcançar isso através de eleições em pleno gozo duma democracia representativa e equilibrada.

• Tipo assim, os petista querem implantar um regime TOTALITÁRIO… mas… mas… paulatinamente.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Pau-la-ti-na-men-te. Nada de revolução, viu, pois revolução é marxismo antiquado, tipo marxismo do PRÓPRIO Marx, o criador do marxismo. Entenderam?

• Eles têm um projeto totalitarista… mas não é pra ser um totalitarismo escancarado, não, q seria óbvio demais. Escancarada é a Coréia do Norte, onde o Kim-Jong-un abocanha 100% dos votos. Não, não. Pro PT, 51% já basta, pois ele quer é implantar um regime de exceção usando a eleição democrática de voto pleno e o congresso multipartidário como fachada.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

• Insistem em sua sanha pra instaurar uma tirania de fato no Brasil… mas viu, não se enganem, pois muito mais perniciosa q uma tirania aberta é uma tirania velada, aquela em q só PARECE q é tudo livre. Mas é pura enrolação. Vc pode votar, não é preso por discordar, pode sair do país e entrar qdo quiser, pode chamar a presidente de filha-da-puta, pode até mandar petista prä cadeia… mas na verdade, viu, é tudo disfarçado, é tudo feito na calada do dia, nos bastidor do palco democrático e nas intriga do debate livre.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

• Pois eles são uma quadrilha… mas uma quadrilha com 1,6 milhão de criminosos filiado trabalhando em perfeita sincronia, viu. Todos eles. TODOS. Recebem ordens expressa da cúpula petista e obedecem como máquinas, viu, como as máquina sem opiniões própria, sem individualidades, sem sectarismos em q a cúpula pretende transformar toda a população brasileira através de técnicas de engenharia social. Viu?

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

• Eles são tão espertos q querem fazer um plebiscito pra q o povo ignorante q não sabe nada-de-nada tenha mais poder do q o próprio congresso nacional neste nosso glorioso sistema representativo… mas os opositor do PT são muito mais esperto: eles tão aventando um OUTRO plebiscito, viu, pra dividir o país em DOIS, formando um país ao sul de população 100% pura, TOTALMENTE de anti-petistas, e outro ao norte com 100% da população TOTALMENTE petista. E o norte vai ficar com jazidas de minérios, petróleo, riquezas sem fim, e o sul vai ficar com as sede dos banco, as fábrica e as plantação de tomate.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

• São umas raposa, esses petista, viu. Pois olha só. Eles fazem a maldade TÃO disfarçadamente q só alguns jornalista genial conseguem perceber, viu. Gênios. Os próprios gênios q propalam essas idéia. E os petista vêm dando o golpe TÃO paulatinamente, q qdo o Lula foi presidente (Lula, hem, com todo aquele carisma e apoio popular), o PT preferiu ir beeeem devagarzinho, quase não aprovou nada socialista, ficou só na moita maquinando, maquinando, pra poder dar o lance GE-NI-AL de só colocar na sucessão, OITO anos depois, uma presidente tecnocrata sem charme, sem carisma e sem oratória. Mas ¡que esperteza, não? Ô vilania. Si ninguém se opuser à essa máquina de intrigas, à esse plano macabro de sujeição paulatina total à passo de lesma do povo brasileiro de joelhos aos pé dos maléfico desígnio do totalitarismo fascista do socialismo comunista autoritário tirano da esquerdização total num regime de exceção, então não haverá outra escapatória exceto baixar abjetamente os olho e o rabo e obedecer caninamente à toda e qqer ordem q emanar dessa toda-poderosa quadrilha de mestres manipulador q controlará minuciosamente todo ato, toda palavra e todo pensamento de cada um de seus 200 milhões de escravos pra todo o sempre e mais três dia.

Ou então, vc pode apenas gargalhar.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
30 Oct 06:12

Iridescent Cloud Edge Over Colorado

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2014 October 29
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download
 the highest resolution version available.

Iridescent Cloud Edge Over Colorado
Image Credit & Copyright: Phil Plait (Bad Astronomy Blog, Slate)

Explanation: Sometimes your eclipse viewing goes bad in an interesting way. While watching and photographing last Thursday's partial solar eclipse, a popular astronomy blogger suffered through long periods of clouds blocking the Sun. Unexpectedly, however, a nearby cloud began to show a rare effect: iridescence. Frequently part of a more familiar solar corona effect, iridescence is the diffraction of sunlight around a thin screen of nearly uniformly-sized water droplets. Different colors of the sunlight become deflected by slightly different angles and so come to the observer from slightly different directions. This display, featured here, was quite bright and exhibited an unusually broad range of colors. On the right, the contrails of an airplane are also visible.

APOD Wall Calendar: Weather and Volcanoes
Tomorrow's picture: spooky sky < | Archive | Index | Search | Calendar | RSS | Education | About APOD | Discuss | >

Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (UMCP)
NASA Official: Phillip Newman Specific rights apply.
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A service of: ASD at NASA / GSFC
& Michigan Tech. U.

Expanded from APOD by Feed Readabilitifier.
29 Oct 23:41

Face Of The Day

by Andrew Sullivan

PHILIPPINES-ECONOMY-POVERTY

Members of some 30 families who live under a bridge rest amid candlelight after the illegal electric supply they were using was cut in Manila on October 29, 2014. Some earn money by selling flowers and collecting plastic bottles, earring an average of four US dollars a day. The Philippines announced in April plans to spend more on infrastructure and introduce other reforms to try to lift millions out of poverty. The revised Philippine Development Plan sets more ambitious economic targets to address persistent concerns that poor Filipinos are not enjoying the benefits of the country’s recent dramatic economic growth. By Noel Celis/AFP/Getty Images.


29 Oct 19:40

[sephko]



[sephko]

30 Sep 04:00

Highlighting

And if clicking on any word pops up a site-search for articles about that word, I will close all windows in a panic and never come back.
03 Jul 10:00

Predator Riding an Alien? Star Wars Samurai? Now, This Is Cool.

by Brian Ashcraft

Predator Riding an Alien? Star Wars Samurai? Now, This Is Cool.

Takayuki Takeya is one of Japan's most talented—and unusual figure sculptors. His work is sometimes dark and even disturbing, but it's always interesting and often very cool.

Recently in Tokyo, Takeya's work was on display at 3331 Arts Chiyoda. This was his first exhibit in over a decade. Have a look:

Predator Riding an Alien? Star Wars Samurai? Now, This Is Cool. Predator Riding an Alien? Star Wars Samurai? Now, This Is Cool. Predator Riding an Alien? Star Wars Samurai? Now, This Is Cool. Predator Riding an Alien? Star Wars Samurai? Now, This Is Cool. Predator Riding an Alien? Star Wars Samurai? Now, This Is Cool. Predator Riding an Alien? Star Wars Samurai? Now, This Is Cool. Predator Riding an Alien? Star Wars Samurai? Now, This Is Cool. Predator Riding an Alien? Star Wars Samurai? Now, This Is Cool. Predator Riding an Alien? Star Wars Samurai? Now, This Is Cool. Predator Riding an Alien? Star Wars Samurai? Now, This Is Cool. Predator Riding an Alien? Star Wars Samurai? Now, This Is Cool. Predator Riding an Alien? Star Wars Samurai? Now, This Is Cool. Predator Riding an Alien? Star Wars Samurai? Now, This Is Cool. Predator Riding an Alien? Star Wars Samurai? Now, This Is Cool. Predator Riding an Alien? Star Wars Samurai? Now, This Is Cool. Predator Riding an Alien? Star Wars Samurai? Now, This Is Cool. Predator Riding an Alien? Star Wars Samurai? Now, This Is Cool. Predator Riding an Alien? Star Wars Samurai? Now, This Is Cool. Predator Riding an Alien? Star Wars Samurai? Now, This Is Cool. Predator Riding an Alien? Star Wars Samurai? Now, This Is Cool. Predator Riding an Alien? Star Wars Samurai? Now, This Is Cool. Predator Riding an Alien? Star Wars Samurai? Now, This Is Cool. Predator Riding an Alien? Star Wars Samurai? Now, This Is Cool. Predator Riding an Alien? Star Wars Samurai? Now, This Is Cool. Predator Riding an Alien? Star Wars Samurai? Now, This Is Cool. Predator Riding an Alien? Star Wars Samurai? Now, This Is Cool.

Takeya might be best known for his work on Bandai's Super Imaginative Chogokin line of figurines. That, or his Revoltech Takeya series of Buddhist statues. Takeya has also done video game work, such as overseeing the Yoshimitsu design on Tekken Tag Tournament 2.

Photos: ohiko2000 , yamane02, jigokuRider, yokotamamoru, motomemodayo, オタクな一口馬主, Chiyoda, f_lisp, Ahiru Douraku

To contact the author of this post, write to bashcraftATkotaku.com or find him on Twitter @Brian_Ashcraft.

Kotaku East is your slice of Asian internet culture, bringing you the latest talking points from Japan, Korea, China and beyond. Tune in every morning from 4am to 8am.

28 Jul 16:46

Crow asks for water