These Soldiers Did the Boston Marathon Wearing 40-Pound Packs. Then They Helped Save Lives.

ruck3 450x337 These Soldiers Did the Boston Marathon Wearing 40 Pound Packs. Then They Helped Save Lives.

tl;dr they did something; so can you

@MoJo:

“Forced marches” or “humps” are a regular part of military training, brisk walking over tough terrain while carrying gear that could help a soldier survive if stranded alone. These soldiers, participating in “Tough Ruck 2013,” were doing the 26 miles of the Boston Marathon to honor comrades killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, or lost to suicide and PTSD-related accidents after coming home.

When the explosion went off, Fiola and his group immediately went into tactical mode. “I did a count and told the younger soldiers to stay put,” Fiola says. “Myself and two other soldiers, my top two guys in my normal unit, crossed the street about 100 yards to the metal scaffoldings holding up the row of flags. We just absolutely annihilated the fence and pulled it back so we could see the victims underneath. The doctors and nurses from the medical tent were on the scene in under a minute. We were pulling burning debris off of people so that the medical personnel could get to them and begin triage.”

Once the victims were transported away for further medical care, Fiola and the others stood guard around the blast area. “We switched to keeping the scene safe, quarantining the area and preventing people from entering. There was a guy behind me covered, just covered, in his own blood, and I started to smell some smoke. I turn around to look and he’s actually on fire, from a piece of whatever caused the explosion. I saw the smoke coming from his pocket so I reached in and pulled it out. It was his handkerchief, on fire.”

 

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James Goodale: It’s a bad time for press freedoms

Julian Assange WikiLeaks 006 450x270 James Goodale: It’s a bad time for press freedoms

tl;dr if it was Bush people would be pissed as hell

@CJR:

James Goodale has a message for journalists: Wake up. In his new book, Fighting for the Press (CUNY Journalism Press, 2013), Goodale, chief counsel to The New York Times when its editors published the Pentagon Papers in 1971, argues that President Obama is worse for press freedom than former President Richard Nixon was.

The Obama administration has prosecuted more alleged leakers of national security information under the 1917 Espionage Act than all previous administrations combined, a course critics say is overly aggressive. Former New York Times executive editor Bill Keller wrote in a March op-ed that the administration “has a particular, chilling intolerance” for those who leak. If the Obama administration indicts WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for conspiracy to violate the Espionage Act, Goodale argues, the president will have succeeded where Nixon failed by using the act to “end-run” the First Amendment.

Goodale spoke with CJR about why he chose to write about the Pentagon Papers now and what he sees as the key threats to press freedom today. The conversation has been condensed and edited for length and clarity. Fighting for the Press comes out on April 30.

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Unibrow Discrimination PSA

Unibrow discrimination is a very real, very measurable problem. While I don’t condone unibrow discrimination, if you’re blessed with a single follicular faceband, you may consider a browectomy, if just to avoid being some rando a Facebook post.

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‘IT for Oppression’

Unit 61398 Chinese Army Hacking Jobs With Great Benefits 450x337 IT for Oppression

Bruce Schneier’s a security specialist with his own Internet meme. And while most people believe that technology elevates, improves things, Schneier holds that technology magnifies, makes things bigger, good and bad:

Whether it’s Syria using Facebook to help identify and arrest dissidents or China using its “Great Firewall” to limit access to international news throughout the country, repressive regimes all over the world are using the Internet to more efficiently implement surveillance, censorship, propaganda, and control. They’re getting really good at it, and the IT industry is helping. We’re helping by creating business applications — categories of applications, really — that are being repurposed by oppressive governments for their own use:

  • What is called censorship when practiced by a government is content filtering when practiced by an organization. Many companies want to keep their employees from viewing porn or updating their Facebook pages while at work. In the other direction, data loss prevention software keeps employees from sending proprietary corporate information outside the network and also serves as a censorship tool. Governments can use these products for their own ends.
  • Propaganda is really just another name for marketing. All sorts of companies offer social media-based marketing services designed to fool consumers into believing there is “buzz” around a product or brand. The only thing different in a government propaganda campaign is the content of the messages.
  • Surveillance is necessary for personalized marketing, the primary profit stream of the Internet. Companies have built massive Internet surveillance systems designed to track users’ behavior all over the Internet and closely monitor their habits. These systems track not only individuals but also relationships between individuals, to deduce their interests so as to advertise to them more effectively. It’s a totalitarian’s dream.
  • Control is how companies protect their business models by limiting what people can do with their computers. These same technologies can easily be co-opted by governments that want to ensure that only certain computer programs are run inside their countries or that their citizens never see particular news programs.

What goes unsaid in his essay is that the leader of the tech industry, and the most heavily-equipped to use IT — and therefor IT for oppression — is a lot closer to home. (more…)

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Lying liars of multi-tasking

texting 450x337 Lying liars of multi tasking

img by mrJasonWeaver

Multi-tasking has been a workplace buzzword for more than a decade. For years I kept an ugly secret; I couldn’t really multi-task. I just couldn’t get my brain engaged on simultaneous tasks adequately enough to do a good job with both of them. One or both of the tasks would end up looking like the dogs breakfast. About five years ago I was vindicated when I heard this story on the radio.

“People can’t multitask very well, and when people say they can, they’re deluding themselves,” said neuroscientist Earl Miller. And, he said, “The brain is very good at deluding itself.”

Last week those earlier findings were bolstered by this study. Both studies show basically the same results; a nominally functioning brain really can’t multitask, and when we try, we end up doing a poor job at two—or more—tasks.

There was a negative correlation between multitasking ability and practice: Those who performed worse on the test were the most frequent multitaskers in real life. The subjects in the top 25 percent of performers on the multitasking test were also the least likely to multitask.

What our brains are good at is breaking big tasks into small components, and then sequencing the components of Task A with the components of Task B. This allows us to squeeze more productivity into a given period of time because we take the lulls and waiting around involved in Task A, and use that time to move Task B forward. Sequencing becomes even more proficient as we get more familiar with both Task A and B.

Take this knowledge and store it in your back pocket for the next time someone tries to imply you need to improve your multi-tasking. You’ll look smarter than them, probably because you are, and most people lose their steam when you trounce all over their argument before they really get rolling.

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Meteor detonates over Russia, or This is why we need NASA

“After the flash, nothing happened for about three minutes. Then we rushed outdoors The door was made of glass, a shock wave made it hit us,” said Yekaterina Melikhova.

Later Friday, an asteroid known as the 2012 DA14 as due to come within 17,100 miles of Earth at 2:24 p.m. ET, a record close-approach for an asteroid this size.

Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said the incident showed the need for leading world powers to develop a system to intercept objects falling from space.

“At the moment, neither we nor the Americans have such technologies” to shoot down meteors or asteroids, he said, according to the Interfax news agency.

We don’t have a way to stop planet-killers (although 2012 DB14 isn’t). Not that people don’t have good ideas, but most—if not all, still the most viable solutions—we can’t put into motion. We don’t have a heavy-lift space platform, because we retired the Shuttle.

And even still, the Shuttle wasn’t the most powerful, that title is still held by the Saturn rocket. The preeminent vehicle mankind has ever endeavored was the Saturn, which was designed with slide rulers.

A while back I read “Space Chronicles” by Neil deGrasse Tyson, an interesting albeit somewhat repetitive collection of essays. Tyson makes four very strong arguments for why people should be willing to give a latte’s worth of money a year to NASA and why NASA needs to build a new heavy-lift platform.

  • We need to go to Mars. With people. If we ever expect to understand life, answer the question, “How did we get here?” it’ll be on Mars,
  • You can thank NASA for pretty much everything. All your Walkmans and airplanes and microwave ovens can trace a near-direct lineage to the space program, and if we want new science, we need to spend money on it
  • If an asteroid is out to get us, we can’t do jack about it. Russia is keenly aware of this today,
  • A fourth point I can’t ever remember. It was a while back, I read the book right when it came out.

Anyway, shit got real today, this is a stark reminder of how fragile things are. Hug a loved one today, we all got lucky for the trillionth time.

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