How I quit my smartphone addiction and really started living.. 

I don’t like being bothered or bossed around.

I hated that anyone for any reason could interrupt my life and I could interrupt my life just the same.

The phone rings: it’s my friend checking to see if I can pick her up on the way to a dinner party.

I ask her where she is and as she explains – I reach as far as I can across the countertop for a pen.

I scribble the address in my trusty notebook I keep in my back pocket.

I tell her I’ll be at her place in about 20 minutes give or take a few.

Then I hang up.


I physically take the handset receiver away from my ear and hang it on the weight-triggered click switch that cuts off my landline’s dial tone.

I take my laptop – Google the address – add better directions to my notes and head outside to my 1989 pick-up truck (whose most recent technological feature is a cassette player) and drive over.

If I get lost on the way I’ll need to ask someone for directions.

If she changes her plans she won’t be able to tell me or cancel at a moment’s notice.

If I crash on the way I won’t be calling 911.

I’m fine with all of this.

As you guessed by now I haven’t had a cellphone for more than 18 months.

I didn’t just cancel cellular service and keep the smartphone for Wi-Fi fun nor did I downgrade to a flip phone to ‘simplify’ – I opted out entirely.

There is no mobile phone in my life in any form at all.

Arguably there should be.

I’m a freelance writer and graphic designer with many reasons to have a little computer in my holster but I don’t miss it.

There are a dozen ways to contact me between email and social media.

When I check in it’s on my terms.

No one can interrupt my bad singing of Hooked on a Feeling with a text message.

It’s as freeing as the first night of a vacation.

‘My phone’ has become ‘the phone’.

It’s no longer my personal assistant – it has reverted back to being a piece of furniture – like ‘the fridge’ or ‘the couch’ – two other items you also wouldn’t carry around on your butt.

I didn’t get rid of it for some hipster-inspired luddite ideal or because I couldn’t afford it.

I cut myself off because my life is better without a cellphone.

I’m less distracted and less accessible – two things I didn’t realize were far more important than instantly knowing how many movies Kevin Kline’s been in since 2010 at a moment’s notice.

I can’t be bothered unless I choose to be.


Source: How I quit my smartphone addiction and really started living | Technology | The Guardian

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Everything you need to know about gravitational waves.. 

A US observatory announced on Thursday that it has detected evidence of gravitational waves.

Here’s the key information.

What are gravitational waves?
In the 90s German and British scientists began work on GEO600 at Hanover in Germany – the Italians have an experiment as do the Japanese. Gravitational wave detection at LIGO – which has an L-shaped detector that uses a laser and mirrors – began in 2002. But accuracy remains the problem: a wave from millions of light years away would distort a four kilometre laser beam by less than a thousandth of the diameter of the nucleus of an atom. Which is hard to spot.


Why bother at all?Because gravity waves can answer questions about the moment of creation. Astronomers look back in time as well as space. To see something 13 billion light years away they capture light that began its journey 13 billion years ago. But no matter how perfect the telescope an optical astronomer could never peer into the first 400,000 years of the universe because it would have been so dense and murky that even light could not break free of the primeval soup. But gravity waves must have been there right from the beginning.


( that..?..)

Source: Everything you need to know about gravitational waves | Science | The Guardian

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Gravitational waves: discovery hailed as breakthrough of the century.. 

Physicists have announced the discovery of gravitational waves, ripples in spacetime first anticipated by Albert Einstein a century ago.

‘We have detected gravitational waves. We did it’ said David Reitze executive director of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (Ligo), at a press conference in Washington.

The announcement is the climax of a century of speculation – 50 years of trial and error and 25 years perfecting a set of instruments so sensitive they could identify a distortion in spacetime a thousandth the diameter of one atomic nucleus across a 4km strip of laserbeam and mirror.

The phenomenon was detected by the collision of two black holes.

Using the world’s most sophisticated detector the scientists listened for 20 thousandths of a second as the two giant black holes – one 35 times the mass of the sun – the other slightly smaller – circled around each other.


Source: Gravitational waves: discovery hailed as breakthrough of the century | Science | The Guardian

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New Evidence: Soft drink taxes work

Last year the Taxpayers Union launched a research report claiming that a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages wouldn’t have any impact.

Apparently they had some numbers to back up that claim although they didn’t make the data behind them public.

That was not a good move.Amidst a blaze of publicity they quizzed those that advocated for a soft drink tax whether they would reverse their stance in the face of this evidence.

It was a bold initiative.

Especially given that it turns out they were wrong; either their analysis – data or both were incorrect.

Not only has peer-reviewed research been published showing that the Mexican tax is working, but this research convinced a panel of experts from World Health Organisation (including our own Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor Sir Peter Gluckman) that a tax on sugary beverages is a good idea.

In addition David Cameron’s government no longer is dismissing a sugar tax as not being in prospect in the UK.

Even The Economist is convinced.

In light of this consensus of support for the corrective tax will the Taxpayers Union now retract their findings or will they cling to their unsubstantiated findings in the face of the evidence?

At the very least they need to release their own evidence so it can be critiqued.

They do after all promote themselves as a research house rather than an advocacy group.

As we all know advocacy groups have a predilection of not letting the evidence get in the way of the ideology.


Source: New Evidence: Soft drink taxes work

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One-on-one with Bernie Sanders.. 

“What we are talking about in this campaign is a political revolution,” Vermont senator tells CBS News after N.H. primary victory.

BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders was expected to win his neighboring state but Tuesday night’s New Hampshire primary was a rout. Wednesday in his boyhood neighborhood in Brooklyn “CBS Evening News” anchor Scott Pelley asked Sanders about his plan for America and how he expects to win on the harder road ahead.

SCOTT PELLEY: You looked like you were having fun at your victory party.


PELLEY: Might be your last one. It only gets harder from here.

SANDERS: No, I don’t think it’s going to be our last one.

PELLEY: But New Hampshire – largely white…


PELLEY: A more liberal population than the states that you’re headed to next – South Carolina – Nevada. You’re gonna be facing African American voters Latino voters. How do you appeal to those people?

SANDERS: Well the same way we appeal to all Americans. Look, if you and I were having this conversation nine months ago what would you have said to me?

You would have said ‘Bernie nobody knows who you are. You’re regarded as a fringe candidate- you don’t have any money – you don’t have any political organization.

Last poll we saw you in – four percent.

How are you possibly gonna do well in Iowa or New Hampshire?’

Well – a lot has happened in nine months.


Source: One-on-one with Bernie Sanders – CBS News

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This is the establishment’s worst nightmare: What Bernie & Donald’s stunning New Hampshire wins really mean..

One is a Democratic Socialist – the other a xenophobic blowhard—but they’ve both sent shockwaves through the system.

Groundhog Day came a little late in the 2016 presidential election.

On Tuesday night voters of New Hampshire collectively saw their shadows and condemned both the Democrats and the Republicans to many more weeks of electoral turmoil.

That sound you hear is the Republican and Democratic National Committees freaking the hell out.

Unfortunately for them there’s not much they can do about the continual refusal of the electorate to provide a speedy conclusion to this most discombobulated of races.
In each party the campaign is being defined by forces that have both everything and nothing in particular to do with the actual candidates running.

If you look at basically any other Western democracy you shouldn’t be too surprised that Hillary Clinton and the unappetizing mush that is Kasich/Bush/Rubio are having such a rough ride.

The world is reeling from tectonic demographic and technological changes along with the rot of oligarchical rule and continual warfare all of which have driven the politics of country after country into great upheaval.

America is no different.

The people backing the National Front in France would likely find much to discuss with some of Donald Trump’s supporters.

The members of the Labour Party who made Jeremy Corbyn their leader over the howling objections of the party’s upper echelons would no doubt have a very jolly time commiserating with Bernie Sanders backers.

In all of these cases the pattern has been much the same: insurgent candidates rise and establishment candidates are left with little idea of how to handle them.

In her speech on Tuesday night Hillary Clinton tried to signal that she gets it saying, ‘People are angry. And they have every right to be. But I know they’re also hungry. They’re hungry for solutions’.

That’s an almost exact echo of the kind of rhetoric anti-Corbyn forces used against him—’it is not enough to be angry at the world – you have to change the world’ one of his opponents Yvette Cooper said in an interview—to no avail.

Clinton is hoping that she doesn’t meet the same fate and she probably won’t but the scale of her defeat in New Hampshire was quite a thing to behold.

This is where the particulars of who is running begins to matter very much.

She lost to Sanders in virtually every demographic category including women—and the mix of voters who powered her 2008 victories deserted her as well.

Young voters went for Sanders by a crushing 84-15 margin.

Most damning 91 percent of Democrats who told pollsters that their top concern was honesty and trustworthiness voted for Sanders.

Those are bruising brutal numbers.

Clinton’s biggest hurdle—beyond the specific hurdle that comes with being a woman and carrying around 25 years of toxic political baggage—is that the very world she occupies is suddenly a deep liability for her.
The Clinton who casually took reams of money to shower Goldman Sachs with praise was a woman who likely never assumed that any candidate or voter would hold that against her so vehemently.
But that’s what’s happening.
She has trouble effectively countering the Sanders message simply because donning his mantle doesn’t track with who she is.
One way or another she’s going to have to figure out a way to overcome that.


Source: This is the establishment’s worst nightmare: What Bernie & Donald’s stunning New Hampshire wins really mean –

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The internet of things: how your TV – car and toys could spy on you..

As our homes get ‘smart’ the US intelligence chief has said the data involved could be used for surveillance.

Here’s how that could affect us all.

Can your smart TV spy on you?

Absolutely – says the US director of national intelligence.

The ever-widening array of ‘smart’ web-enabled devices pundits have dubbed the internet of things [IoT] is a welcome gift to intelligence officials and law enforcement according to director James Clapper.

‘In the future intelligence services might use the [internet of things] for identification – surveillance – monitoring – location tracking and targeting for recruitment or to gain access to networks or user credentials’ Clapper told the Senate in public testimony on Tuesday.

As a category the internet of things is useful to eavesdroppers both official and unofficial for a variety of reasons – the main one being the leakiness of the data.

‘[O]ne helpful feature for surveillance is that private sector IoT generally blabs a lot – routinely into some server – somewhere’ said Lee Tien a senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

‘That data blabbing can be insecure in the air, or obtained from storage.”

There are a wide variety of devices that can be used to listen in and some compound devices (like cars) that have enough hardware to form a very effective surveillance suite all by themselves.

There are of course legitimate and tightly warranted reasons for law enforcement surveillance and there are also companies that take hard lines against turning their users over to the government.

But hardware manufacturers often default to crummy security or don’t offer a choice and consumers often make themselves more vulnerable than they should.


Source: The internet of things: how your TV, car and toys could spy on you | World news | The Guardian

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