qebo's 2014 magazines
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Atlantic - January/February 2014
I intended to skim through but nearly every article was of interest.
* Jesse Willms, 20-something “entrepreneur” behind click-through internet ads. Once he has your credit card number, you’ll never get disentangled. And the fine print makes it legal.
* Eastport ME, population 1300, a feature town of the American Futures project.
* Community college is supposed to be a route to a degree for everyone, but poor preparation plus flexibility results in a disturbingly high dropout rate. The ASAP program is devoted to the cause, a combination of remedial classes, study habit seminars, financial support, advising, accountability. It’s tough, especially for people with full time jobs and family responsibilities, but it works.
* Scott Stossel’s anxiety. What works? Nothing. One anxiety: fear of vomiting.
other items of interest:
* Eric Lander, formerly of the Human Genome Project: with a baseline established, the next step is to compare genes of people with various diseases to see what’s different, then determine how the genes fit together in a circuit, then figure out how to intervene.
* Quirky “refines the slapdash ingenuity of a nation of napkin-doodlers by combining it with the sophistication of a modern design, manufacturing, and distribution company”.
New Yorker - January 6
* BGI, formerly Beijing Genomics Institute. Current projects include Cognitive Genomics, researching the genetic basis of human intelligence.
* A Feathered River Across the Sky by Joel Greenberg reviewed. How did the population drop from billions in the early 1800s to zero in 1914 (when Martha, the last of the species, died)?
New Yorker - January 13
* Maker community. Perhaps less revolutionary than its self-image.
New Yorker - January 20
* Jerome Groopman on advances in pediatric medicine, notably programs that coordinate between specialists (who focus on the diseases) and family doctors (who focus on the patients). Among the results of improvements is adults in children’s hospitals.
* Jill Lepore on Roger Ailes compared to William Randolf Hearst.
* Coccidioides immitis is a fungus that resides in soil in the southwest US, and Central and South America. With drought and development, dust gets stirred up into the air, and people (and other animals) breathe the spores, which lodge deep in lungs and sometimes in other tissue, causing valley fever, symptoms initially similar to flu. There is no cure, and it can be fatal. There is a medication that keeps the fungus in check but doesn’t destroy it. There is a vaccine in the works, using the fungus with crucial genes removed. There is a spray of bacterial antagonists that is controversial because of unknowns about soil ecology. Valley fever occurs up to 1000x more frequently in prison inmates and employees than in the general population, and has become a problem in the vicinity of a solar energy ranch where grass was cleared for panels.
New Yorker - January 27
* David Remnick on Barack Obama. I expected to skim lightly, but read through the entire 20 pages.
* Review of My Age of Anxiety by Scott Stossel.
* Emily Nussbaum on Sherlock. To which I was recently introduced. Fortunately, with three episodes per season, catching up was quick.
Scientific American - January 2014
* A geneticist accidentally knocked out fruit flies in a vial when he slapped it against his hand. Turns out that fruit flies get concussions too. The goal now is to discover biomarkers for diagnosis of TBI (traumatic brain injury), and perhaps treatment to prevent brain cells from deteriorating. (This was not a feature article.)
* Simulating a Living Cell by Marcus Covert. Computer simulation of a single cell of Mycoplasma genitalium, about the simplest existing. It’s partitioned into 28 modules (shown in a diagram), each using the most appropriate mathematics for its function. The hope is that simulations can eventually be used for trial experiments before committing to laboratory time and money. Meanwhile, computers can’t cope with foggy unknowns, so a model prompts research into details of gene regulation and values of constraining parameters and such.
New Yorker - February 3
* Waldorf schools in China, a response to rigid education.
* Dr. Stephen Brigham has been rejected by Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion Federation, not to mention the law, but he’s still in the abortion clinic business.
* Netflix and its ilk and the competitive future of TV & video.
New Yorker - February 10
* Diana Nyad is a very determined woman.
* Tyrone Hayes studied atrazine and his conclusions were not to its manufacturer’s liking.
New Yorker - February 17 & 24
* Magnificent Century: a Turkish soap opera about the Ottoman empire.
* Amazon is not a nice guy, but it’s sooo convenient.
* Neil deGrasse Tyson and an update of “Cosmos”.
Scientific American - February 2014
* HSAM = highly superior autobiographical memory, associating important and trivial events with dates.
* Medicine meets physics. Cancerous tumors exert forces that can prevent drugs from getting through blood vessels.
* Video games in education.
* Chickens are smarter than you might suppose.
* Viscous fluids coil when dropping onto a surface (e.g. stream of honey from a dispenser); the shape takes four forms depending on the balance of three forces.
I taught at Community College for awhile - the Vermont system had a lot of those things in place even twenty years ago when I was involved - I taught Basic Writing and ended up really loving the challenge!
One of my dearest friends is chicken mad and long ago she convinced me how smart chickens actually are..... not smart enough when it comes to foxes and martens, but still..... smarter than you might think.