The history and futility of car alarms

For pretty much all of us, our first reaction when he hear a car alarm go off is to think “Oh, hell, I hope someone shuts it off soon”. Almost no one thinks about calling the police to tell them that a car is being stolen. I had thought that these were a new invention, within the last two decades or so, but Zachary Crockett writes that they were first developed as far back as 1913.
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The continuing struggle over vaccinations

The efforts to fight polio vaccination in some Muslim-majority countries has been a scandal, fueled by a mixture of wrong-headed beliefs by some Muslim clerics about the effect of vaccines and by fears that it is part of some kind of plot by the CIA and other western spy agencies. The latter charge gained credibility because of the shameful use by the US of a fake vaccination scheme to try and find Osama bin Laden but even then there is absolutely no excuse for harassing or murdering workers administering vaccines or preventing children from receiving one of the greatest medical breakthroughs that has eradicated a deadly disease from almost the entire world.
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Smoking and Morton Downey, Jr.

Before Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh, the conservative media outrage machine was led by abrasive talk show host Morton Downey, Jr., whose programs were a combination of Limbaugh politics and Jerry Springer format, where he would have on political guests who would be goaded to attack each other and create shouting matches, with Downey attacking the liberals and liberal views in the harshest terms. The studio audience would be raucous and conservative audiences loved it.
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Review: Merchants of Doubt

This review will deal with both the book and the documentary based on it. The book was written by two historians of science Naomi Oreskes of Harvard University and Erik M. Conway and was published in 2010, while the documentary was directed by Robert Kenner and released in 2014 and has just been released on DVD. I can strongly recommend both. The book is very clearly written and makes a compelling case for the authors’ thesis. Although the documentary is based on the book, its emphasis is different (dealing mostly with the climate change debate) and provides new information that is not in the book. Here’s the trailer.
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When your car gets hijacked by remote hackers

Cars are now sophisticated computers on wheels. The technological improvements have enabled them to approach the point that they may be able to drive themselves. But that means that, like any computer, they are also now vulnerable to hacks by people who can break into those computer systems and take control of the car out of the driver’s hands and operate it remotely.
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2014 was the hottest year on record

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reports that 2014 was the warmest year on record.

In 2014, the most essential indicators of Earth’s changing climate continued to reflect trends of a warming planet, with several markers such as rising land and ocean temperature, sea levels and greenhouse gases ─ setting new records.

The report, compiled by NOAA’s Center for Weather and Climate at the National Centers for Environmental Information is based on contributions from 413 scientists from 58 countries around the world.

The report’s climate indicators show patterns, changes and trends of the global climate system. Examples of the indicators include various types of greenhouse gases; temperatures throughout the atmosphere, ocean, and land; cloud cover; sea level; ocean salinity; sea ice extent; and snow cover. The indicators often reflect many thousands of measurements from multiple independent datasets.

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Whistleblower of APA complicity in torture vindicated

Jean Maria Arrigo is a 71-year old psychologist who for nearly a decade tried to expose the complicity of the American Psychological Association in the Bush administration’s torture program and for her pains was subjected to a campaign of harassment by leading officials of the APA, often done behind closed doors, and had her warnings treated with indifference by the bulk of the membership.
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