Monday, September 12th, 2022

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"Cancer breakthrough is a ‘wake-up’ call on danger of air pollution"

Scientists have uncovered how air pollution causes lung cancer in groundbreaking research that promises to rewrite our understanding of the disease.

The findings outline how fine particulates contained in car fumes "awaken" dormant mutations in lung cells and tip them into a cancerous state. The work helps explain why so many non-smokers develop lung cancer and is a "wake-up call" about the damaging impact of pollution on human health.

9/12/2022 8:32 am | | Tags: medicine, cancer, pollution

Woman who can smell Parkinson's disease helps develop swab test

Milne, who has hereditary hyperosmia, or a heightened sense of smell, has worked with Parkinson's disease doctors and researchers since her husband's death in 2015. Now, a team of scientists from the University of Manchester in England, in tandem with Milne, say they've developed a simple skin swab test to detect the disease within about three minutes.

"This test has the potential to massively improve the diagnosis and management of people with Parkinson's disease," neurologist Monty Silverdale, the study's clinical lead, tells EuroNews' Natalie Huet.

9/12/2022 5:57 pm | | Tags: medicine, science

Meta has a lot of ground to make up as it chases Tiktok with Instagram

Instagram users cumulatively are spending 17.6 million hours a day watching Reels, less than one-tenth of the 197.8 million hours TikTok users spend each day on that platform, according to a document reviewed by The Wall Street Journal that summarizes internal Meta research.

The document, titled "Creators x Reels State of the Union 2022," was published internally in August. It said that Reels engagement had been falling—down 13.6% over the previous four weeks—and that "most Reels users have no engagement whatsoever."

One reason is that Instagram has struggled to recruit people to make content. Roughly 11 million creators are on the platform in the U.S., but only about 2.3 million of them, or 20.7%, post on that platform each month, the document said.

9/12/2022 6:03 pm | | Tags: social media, instagram, tiktok

Lucille Ball doing the Charleston

9/12/2022 6:08 pm | | Tags: celebrity, dance

Article explains why populism has a leg up on democracy when it comes to modern politics messaging

There's a lot of good stuff in this article. Good, in the sense of quality of the analysis and writing, not so much in the tone of the future. The author Rick Shenkman writes about a paper by UC Irvine professor Shawn Rosenberg. In addition to that, there is an interview that is actually what I was initially directed to and then backtracked through the source article and then the PDF paper itself (though I haven't read the latter yet.)

I pull excerpts from both the linked article as well as the conversation further down. I pulled a lot because I struggled to find what I could cut. It all felt important.

Democracy is hard work. And as society's "elites"—experts and public figures who help those around them navigate the heavy responsibilities that come with self-rule—have increasingly been sidelined, citizens have proved ill equipped cognitively and emotionally to run a well-functioning democracy. As a consequence, the center has collapsed and millions of frustrated and angst-filled voters have turned in desperation to right-wing populists.

His prediction? "In well-established democracies like the United States, democratic governance will continue its inexorable decline and will eventually fail."


He has concluded that the reason for right-wing populists' recent success is that "elites" are losing control of the institutions that have traditionally saved people from their most undemocratic impulses. When people are left to make political decisions on their own they drift toward the simple solutions right-wing populists worldwide offer: a deadly mix of xenophobia, racism and authoritarianism.

The elites, as Rosenberg defines them, are the people holding power at the top of the economic, political and intellectual pyramid who have "the motivation to support democratic culture and institutions and the power to do so effectively." In their roles as senators, journalists, professors, judges and government administrators, to name a few, the elites have traditionally held sway over public discourse and U.S. institutions—and have in that role helped the populace understand the importance democratic values. But today that is changing. Thanks to social media and new technologies, anyone with access to the Internet can publish a blog and garner attention for their cause—even if it's rooted in conspiracy and is based on a false claim, like the lie that Hillary Clinton was running a child sex ring from the basement of a Washington D.C. pizza parlor, which ended in a shooting.

While the elites formerly might have successfully squashed conspiracy theories and called out populists for their inconsistencies, today fewer and fewer citizens take the elites seriously. Now that people get their news from social media rather than from established newspapers or the old three TV news networks (ABC, CBS and NBC), fake news proliferates. It's surmised that 10 million people saw on Facebook the false claim that Pope Francis came out in favor of Trump's election in 2016. Living in a news bubble of their own making many undoubtedly believed it. (This was the most-shared news story on Facebook in the three months leading up to the 2016 election, researchers report.)

The irony is that more democracy—ushered in by social media and the Internet, where information flows more freely than ever before—is what has unmoored our politics, and is leading us towards authoritarianism. Rosenberg argues that the elites have traditionally prevented society from becoming a totally unfettered democracy; their "oligarchic 'democratic' authority" or "democratic control" has until now kept the authoritarian impulses of the populace in check.

Now from the conversation / interview on Salon. The bolded text is the initiating question, and his response follows.

How are you feeling about the state of the world and the global crisis of democracy? Several years ago, you predicted how bad things would get with the rise of global fascism and right-wing populism. You were largely ignored.

To me the world is somewhere between disconcerting and scary. Look at the world more broadly, Whatever my concerns may have been back in 2019, the world has continued to evolve in a direction that I was concerned it might. In fact, the world may have even become worse in terms of the prospects for democracy than I warned about in 2019.

I argued that liberal democratic politics is complicated, and populist alternatives offer a vision that is much simpler. All that populism demands is a simple story of cause and effect. All one needs to do is act: Authoritarian power is the solution.

This populist vision also has a very simple story about society and identity. In this story, social groups are natural. We think of them categorically. They don't have lots of overlap. In-groups and out-groups are distinct. Evaluative judgments are binary, a simple black-and-white story. There is good and bad. It's not a judgment in the sense of a subjective judgment. This way of thinking offers simple understandings of what is objectively true and what is not true, and is therefore deemed to be less valuable.

Populist ways of thinking about the world are ultimately just a lot simpler than the complexities of thinking about action as having multiple causes and consequences, thinking about groups being inherently diverse and overlapping, and thinking of judgment as a subjective, tentative thing. All of that is way too complicated for populists. Most people, not all, naturally incline toward that simpler vision if it is offered to them.

We tend to think about groups in negative terms, and when you're making evaluative judgments about things, they tend to be dualistic, black-and-white and unequivocal. That type of populist thinking was marginalized for a long time. What were once unacceptable ways of talking about politics are now part of the global discourse, and people are attracted to them. Many people do not really understand what liberal democracy is and why it is important, so they ultimately end up choosing populist alternatives.

Ultimately, that outcome is an ironic result of the greater openness of the public sphere and the democratic arena of ideas, where more people are empowered to make choices on their own. The gatekeepers have lost control.


How do we create a healthier democracy in the United States? What can the average American do on a day-to-day basis?

I am optimistic. I believe that there are solutions to the problem. We need to fix a broken educational system. The average American has trouble having productive discussions with people they disagree with and who are different from them. They're also not very good at reflecting on their own values and beliefs. The average American is also not very good in terms of critical thinking and understanding general principles.

We need to create an educational system that prepares adults to effectively negotiate the complexities of democratic life. We also need to broaden our understanding of what democracy is, beyond just voting. For the most part, you vote for candidates, and most people end up voting for their candidate either on the basis of a single issue, or they really have no idea at all and they're just voting for the party or their group identity.

America needs more deliberative democracy, and institutions and structures from the local level on up that will empower citizens to become more active. In the end, the American people need to be more involved in their own self-government.

Imagine you are the doctor of democracy and America is your patient. What is your assessment?

The patient is not terminal, but the patient is not stable either. They are moving toward critical condition.

9/12/2022 7:18 pm | | Tags: education, democracy, us politics, fascism, populism, psychology

"Minoritarian Liberalism in a Brazilian Favela"

An excerpt from "Minoritarian Freedom" which looks at the freedom residents of Brazilian favelas find and make for themselves. This article pulls an excerpt from the book, introducing us to 'Natasha' a transwoman who is an ex-prostitute.

9/12/2022 11:26 pm | | Tags: brazil, poverty, freedom, sex work

I enjoy the world of Game of Thrones but House of the Dragon drags for me. At this point, I mostly watch to enjoy listening to High Valyrian. I really should look back into learning it again.

9/12/2022 11:28 pm | | Tweeted | Tags: television

A look at the High Valyrian writing system developed for House of the Dragon

9/12/2022 11:34 pm | | Tags: linguistics, conlang, high valyrian

My first conlang - Tierian

I happened to dig into an old email listserv from my time in high school. I had spent a number of hours working on this language for a fantastical world called 'Tier.' It's all been lost over the years unfortunately, however, I was delighted to find this email from Dec. 8th, 2000 when I was just seventeen years old and a junior in high school.

I would also go back and change the 'chinga' base to 'linga' once another member of the email list informed me of the Spanish meaning of that base word (a pure linguistic coincidence.)

My last note, the way it is written causes some odd bolding due to the nature of markdown (the way I write this blog in the backend), that is just something I'll have to deal with for now until I figure out how to overcome it.

What a blast from the past.

Okay, here it is. What I have so far of my first (let me re-emphasize that, FIRST) conlang. It is still in its infancy, but it's complete enough to where I am focusing on the lexicon and dealing with more minor grammar parts when they arise.

There are 27 letters in the alphabet as it is right now, with only one letter which is modified by an outside mark. Forgive me, I haven't learned the pronunciation setup, if someone wants to rewrite the alphabet sounds in the format which is used on the language, it would be appreciated greatly. The sounds are -- ah, a (long), ch, r, s, p, j, k, eh, t, n, ee, i (as in it), z, o (long), m, g, b, d, f, h, l, v, w, ur, sh, oo. The only letter which is modified is the t, which when an apostrophe is put over it becomes a "tl" sound. And another not is the 'n' and 't'. These 2 consonants when their sound is combined with another consonant, this is not the modified t, their letter is omitted. If a t comes before an s, you put double dots over the s. If after, a single dot. If the n comes before the s, put a carat(^) over the s, if after a tilde (~) over the s.

Thats the alphabet.

There are 7 tenses for a verb,
future present = will X = -zeek
future past = will have X = -zeep
Present = X = -dar
Incomplete = have X = -dir
Past = did X = -jig
Subjunctive = may/might X = -stur
Subjunctive Pass = May have/might have X = -star (pronounced. stare / stair)

I saw no need to make a new mood for Subjunctive.

Present Infinintive = to X = -mur
Incomplete Inf. = to have X = -mig

Imperative = X! = normal form of verb

To make a verb passive you tag -dray onto the end of the verb, after adding tense ending.

Example Conjugation:
Chinga = love
Fut. Pres. = chingazeek = will love
Fut. Past. = chingazeep = will have loved
Pres. = chingadar = do love
Incomplete = chingadir = have loved
Past COmp. = chingajig = did love
Subj. = chingastur = may/might love
Subj. Pass. = chingastar (hard a in star) = may/might have loved

Pres. Inf. = chingamur = to love
Incomp. Inf. = chingmig = to have loved

Imperative = chinga = love

Progressive is also a choice in translation, there is no forced way for it to be translated.

On to Nouns:

6 Cases,
Nominative = Subj. = -tah
Accusative = DO and PN = -ma (long a)
Dative = IO and Prep. Phrases = -mur
Genitive = possession = -toro (hard o's)
Vocative = naming a person = -vok (hard o)
Locative = naming a place = -nok (hard o)

I am debating how to hand prepositional phrases, right now I have them in Dative case with helper words. But that may change.

I am using the 3 number system, nullar, singular, and plural. Depending if the last letter of the root word is vowel or consonant you use the vowel or consonant ending for the number.

Nullar: -o / -wo
singular: -- / --
plural: -ur / -kur

Adj. must match noun they modify in case and number.

Pers Pron:
I/me - pa (pron. pay)
you* - dar (pron. dare)
he/him - sho (hard o)
she/her - noob
it - keh
we - rish
they - nek

It is not unusual if you are not using a singular 'you' then put the number of you's (ie: 1,2,3) right after the you, matching case. Or if it is a group (ie: you men, you girls, you in the back) place immediately following the 'you'. This may get clumsy, will require tweaking I am sure.

Pers. Pronoun. Adj. =
my - ptoro
your = dtoro
his = shtoro
her = natoro (soft a, hard o. pro. nah-toro)
it's = ktoro
our = ritoro
their = neetoro

Demonstrative Pronouns
This - deeng
that - dong (hard o)
these - deengur
those - dongur (hard o)

Reflexive Pronouns
myself - panor (hard a)
yourself - durnor
hisself - shonor

Questions in a sentence - Using the Latin style, there is a key word which shows that a sentence is a question. If "sans" appears at the beginning of a sentence, then it is a question. "sans" is always the first word.

Numbering system: The people who speak the language have only 8 fingers, thus they use a base 8 numbering system. I will spare the lengthy number list and if requested will type it up later for you guys.

That is the end of the grammar which I have, there is much left to do, vocab, and tweaking this system. I am having a mental battle concerning salutations and farewells. We will see, I have many hours on the road ahead of me.

Please share any comments / questions / suggestions / constructive criticism. I am but an infant learning to walk, I am always looking for a hand to hold me. I am travelling for a few more days, I may not get back to you and your comments until new years.

Thanks all

Oh and if you are still reading, good job :)


9/12/2022 11:58 pm | | Tags: conlang, archived writing

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