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Gender: Male
Hometown: Detroit, MI
Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 12:18 AM
Number of posts: 73,006

Journal Archives

San Diego's high-speed rail plan hinges on urban density as population growth wanes

Two hundred miles of high-speed rail carrying electric trains moving twice as fast as the region's trolley system. A dozen new stations, including massive hubs near the downtown airport and the Tijuana border.

That's the backbone of a recently released $160-billion blueprint aimed at making public transit as fast as driving a car — which elected officials from across the San Diego region are preparing to discuss Friday.

Experts largely agree the plan's long-term success would hinge on whether cities can usher in dense urban development around transit stations, at a time when birth rates in San Diego and throughout California are declining as overall population growth has all but come to a halt.

"If new residents can live in apartments near rail, with easy walking, biking and transit access, that will be the key determinant as to whether or not this plan becomes a success," said Ethan Elkind, director of the climate program at UC Berkeley's Center for Law, Energy and the Environment. .............(more)


There's a neurological reason you say "um" when you think of a word

There’s a neurological reason you say "um" when you think of a word
Disfluencies can shed light about what’s going on in the brain as we speak


Eishi Asano's latest work sheds light on those seemingly pesky words that litter our speech: uhs and ums.

As a neurologist at Wayne State University, Asano works on mapping human abilities to brain regions. One such important ability is the ability to use language. Neuroscientists have discovered that, like many little cogs in a wheel, a wide network of brain regions all work together to produce language. Certainly, the ability to communicate with others affects all aspects of life. Thus, protecting these brain regions during brain surgery is of high priority.

Asano has an opportunity few have: to study the brain in action. During a pre-surgical procedure called an electrocorticography (ECoG), an incision is made in a research participant's skull, and electrodes are placed directly on the exposed surface of their brain. He then presents them with photographs of complex scenes and asks them to describe it.


Referred to as a "disfluencies" by linguists, uhs and ums are often viewed as disruptions to the flow of speech. They are littered across our speech in all contexts, whether in presentations to a large audience, or in conversations with your closest pal. Estimates vary, but one research group found that such disfluencies pop up every 4.6 seconds, on average. They are equally short and overrepresented in all languages: French speakers say euh, Mandarin speakers say 那个, and ASL signers sometimes wiggle their fingers.

But while uhs and ums may seem like accidental nonsense words, disfluencies can actually provide us a rare window onto what's going on in the brain as we speak. For example, psycholinguists (scientists who study the psychology of language) argue that disfluencies can actually convey meaning. When researchers scoured through a corpus of transcribed speech, they found that a large proportion of disfluencies arose in specific locations: before difficult-to-pronounce and difficult-to-name words, or before words that haven't been recently discussed. In short, when we need some time to think of the next word, we make use of uhs and ums. ..............(more)


Big Oil lobby fought cybersecurity regulations for years, making pipeline attack easier

(Salon) The American Petroleum Institute, the top trade group for the oil and gas industry, spent years opposing federal cybersecurity regulations before the Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack. After the attack, watchdog groups say API is still opposing strong federal regulation and pushing for taxpayer "subsidies" instead.

Colonial Pipeline, one of the largest pipelines in the country, which carries 45% of the fuel from Texas to New York, was forced to shut down after a ransomware attack by the foreign cybercriminal group known as DarkSide. Cybersecurity experts believe that Colonial lacked advanced cybersecurity defenses that can monitor networks for irregularities and detect threats like DarkSide's infiltration tools. But Colonial is not the first pipeline affected by cyberattacks and many other pipelines in the U.S. may have similar vulnerabilities.

A ransomware attack hit an unidentified natural gas facility in 2020, forcing it to shut down for two days, according to the Department of Homeland Security. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency said after the attack that the owner of the facility "did not specifically consider the risk posed by cyberattacks" or prepare employees to deal with one.

Federal officials have been sounding the alarm on the lax cybersecurity measures for years. Federal Energy Regulatory Commissioners Neil Chatterjee and Richard Glick warned in a 2018 op-ed that a lack of federal cybersecurity standards left energy firms vulnerable to cyberattacks. The Government Accountability Office in 2019 found that federal cybersecurity guidelines were badly out of date and lacked preparation to respond to an attack on critical infrastructure. After the Colonial attack, the cybersecurity firm Byos estimated that "less than 25% of the U.S. oil and gas industry has adequate cybersecurity in place," according to Bloomberg News. ..............(more)


Florida man kills "vicious" iguana, claims "stand your ground" defense.

The iguana started it. Or so says a man who claims he feared for his life and had every right to bash the creature to death under Florida’s stand your ground law.

PJ Nilaja Patterson, 43, is accused of animal cruelty over killing an iguana. But the 6-foot-3, 165-pound man argues that he was in fear for his life — and that the 3-foot green iguana was the first to resort to violence during their horrific encounter in Lake Worth Beach.

“The vicious animal got the best of Patterson and savagely bit his right arm,” say Patterson’s lawyers. The man went to the hospital and got 22 staples to close the wound caused by the “wild beast.”

Patterson’s tussle with the invasive reptile is thought to be the first time anyone has pursued a stand-your-ground claim over a deadly confrontation with an iguana. The controversial law instead was written with people and dangerous situations in mind. ...............(more)


Fort Worth bike rentals are booming, and electric ebikes are providing the jolt

FORT WORTH — The atmosphere surrounding Fort Worth Bike Sharing is electric.

The city's bike rental service has shown consistent growth during the past two years, despite the challenges presented by COVID.

Officials say much of the increase is attributable to the addition of electric bikes — or ebikes — which are an attractive option for pedalers who don't want to work up a sweat during their ride.

Of the 398 bikes now available for rent in Fort Worth, 280 are the traditional red touring bikes, and 118 are ebikes, which are painted white.

"The ebikes are ridden twice as often as the red bikes," explained Jennifer Grissom, executive director of Fort Worth Bike Sharing. ................(more)


Trump Organization Tries Once Again to Sell Its Washington Hotel

(Bloomberg) The Trump Organization has revived efforts to sell the lease on its Washington hotel after previously failing to find a buyer willing to match its expected price.

Former president Donald Trump’s business hired Newmark to market the lease on the Trump International Hotel in Washington and is looking to attract offers north of $400 million, according to people with knowledge of the matter, who asked not to be named because the details are private.

The Trump Organization put the property on the market in October 2019, asking more than $500 million, but it failed to reach a deal as the Covid-19 pandemic devastated the industry. Jones Lang LaSalle Inc., the broker for the 263-room hotel, later parted ways with the company, part of a wider backlash by corporate America looking to cut ties with Trump for his role in inciting a mob at the U.S. Capitol.

Eric Trump declined to comment. The Washington Post earlier Tuesday reported the hiring of Newmark. .............(more)


Feds: Whitmer kidnap suspect doesn't want public to hear God gave him OK

(Detroit Free Press) Gretchen Whitmer kidnapping suspect Barry Croft Jr. doesn't want the world to hear him talking about how God told him to commit an act of terrorism, or his intent to kidnap Michigan's governor, court records show.

But the media is fighting for access to this information — and the prosecution says it supports releasing it.

In a new court filing, prosecutors on Tuesday said they do not object to releasing evidence that convinced a judge to order that Croft remain jailed pending trial, concluding he was a danger to society and could not be trusted to be free on bond.

Croft's lawyers want that alleged evidence — audio recordings, videos and photographs — to remain sealed, but multiple media outlets argue the public has the right to see and hear them. ..................(more)


Michigan rolls back all outdoor restrictions and curfews today: What you need to know

(Detroit Free Press) As of Tuesday morning, Michigan rolled back a huge portion of its existing COVID-19 health and safety orders. It's all part of a recently announced plan to essentially do away with all orders by July 1.

The new rules apply to personal and public gatherings, restaurants, athletics and more.

Here's a quick review of the changes.

No outdoor capacity or personal gathering limits

If you're outside, life could look as close to normal as it has in months. There are no more capacity limits for places such as stadiums, concert venues or others establishments that are outdoors.

The state also pulled all limits on the number of people who can gather indoors or outdoors at a private residence. People who are not vaccinated are still required to wear a mask while indoors. ............(more)


Fox News host Sean Hannity wrote Trump 2020 campaign ad, book claims

(Guardian UK) The Fox News host Sean Hannity was criticised for appearing at a Trump rally in 2018 but according to a new book he was involved again with Trump’s campaign in 2020, helping write an ad that aired on his primetime show.

Frankly, We Did Win This Election: The Inside Story of How Trump Lost, by Mike Bender, senior White House reporter for the Wall Street Journal, will be published in August.

News of its contents, including “some amazingly hilarious revelations” about Mike Pence, Rudy Giuliani, Roger Stone, Tucker Carlson, Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump “and the rest of the Trump posse”, was reported by Punchbowl News.

According to the news site, the ad known to Trump insiders as “the Hannity ad” and “the one Hannity wrote” ran only during Hannity’s show.

An anonymous Trump aide is reported as saying “Hannity said this is our best spot yet” but Bender reports: “Inside the campaign, the spot was mocked mercilessly – mostly because of the dramatic, over-the-top language and a message that seemed to value quantity over quality. ...............(more)


Uncooperative Bay County hair stylist made tracking P.1 variant in Michigan even harder

(Detroit Free Press) The subject line on the email read: "Extremely Important -- P.1 Variant Identified in Bay County."

"This is the first of this variant identified in Michigan to date," read the message, dated March 31 and sent from Melanie Perry, an epidemiologist at the Michigan health department, to Bay County health officials.


The first person in Michigan with a known case of it was a hair stylist from Bay County, according to a string of email messages obtained by the Free Press and the Documenting COVID-19 project at the Brown Institute for Media Innovation at Columbia University using the Freedom of Information Act.


Within minutes of getting the email from Perry about the P.1 case, Mary Jo Braman, a communicable disease nurse for the Bay County Health Department, called the hair stylist.

The woman refused to cooperate. ..........(more)


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