10 Times People Put Their Differences Aside And Helped One Another

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10 Times People Put Their Differences Aside And Helped One Another



“I disapprove of what you say,” Evelyn Beatrice Hall once said (wrongly attributed to Voltaire), “but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

It is a motto many people aspire to live up to—but it is not always easy. We tend to hold our opinions so tightly that we treat them as a part of who we are, and when someone disagrees, we often feel like it’s an attack.

Some people, though, have gone beyond what could possibly be expected of them. A handful of people have reached across the divide and risked everything to save the absolute last person they would ever be expected to help.

10A Rabbi Invited a KKK Grand Dragon to Live in His Home

A few days after Rabbi Michael Weisser moved to Lincoln, Nebraska, he got a phone call. The voice on the other end called him a “Jew Boy.” Weisser would be sorry, he said, that he had ever moved to his town. Two days later, a package of anti-Semitic pamphlets showed up on his door with a card that read, “The KKK is watching you, scum.”

Weisser soon realized he was being antagonized by Larry Trapp, the Grand Dragon of the KKK in Nebraska. Trapp, he found out, was a blind man who had lost both legs to diabetes. Instead of being angry, though, Weisser decided to reach out to him.

He started calling Trapp once a week and leaving messages offering to help him out. Eventually, Trapp picked up, and Weisser greeted him by saying, “I heard you’re disabled. I thought you might need a ride to the grocery.”

Trapp hung up, but he called back a few days later, shaken. He told Weisser, “I want to get out of what I’m doing and I don’t know how.”

Weisser visited Trapp and befriended him, and after a while even invited Trapp to move into his home. There, Weisser and his wife took care of the blind and disabled man. It worked. Trapp did not just quit the KKK—he ended up converting to Judaism.

9The First Black Mayor of Washington Calmed a Race Riot

When Martin Luther King Jr. died, people were angry. Across America, people started to riot. They smashed windows, threw Molotov cocktails, and even bottled the firefighters who tried to put the flames out. And in Washington, D.C, the man in charge of calming them down was Walter Washington: the man who, shortly after, would become the city’s first black mayor.

Washington was as angry as anybody else, but he didn’t think rioting would fix anything. “What’s new about it? Martin being shot?” Washington later questioned. A black man getting killed, he said, “isn’t new.” And burning down a city would not bring him back to life.

So, he walked down the streets of D.C., trying to calm people down. Instead of just ordering them to stop, he asked them to help the people whose homes had been destroyed. Of everyone he asked, Washington claims, only one person said no.

He was not able to completely stop the riot, but he calmed it down. One witness would later say, “Mayor Washington probably saved hundreds of lives.”

8Prison Inmates Save a Guard’s Life

Prison guard Kenneth Moon was sitting at his desk quietly when a prisoner decided to make a jailbreak. He rushed behind the unsuspecting Moon, wrapped his arm around his windpipe and tried to choke him to death.

Other inmates saw what was happening—and instead of taking the chance, they rushed to the rescue. Three men rushed over within seconds, knocked the attacker to the ground and started prying him off of Moon.

One, David Schofield, called the other guards for help—but before they even made it, a crowd of more than a dozen other inmates had rushed onto the scene to help Moon get back onto his feet.

“I was thinking about this is somebody’s father and somebody’s son,”Terry Carswell, one of the men who helped, said afterward when asked why he did it, “Nobody deserves to die like that.”

7A Man Got the Lynch Mob Trying to Kill Him to Donate to His School

Laurence Jones was nearly killed by a mob in 1918. Rumors had been going around that the black Americans in Mississippi were planning a rebellion, and when a white crowd heard Jones tell his congregation to “fight to survive and succeed,” they figured he must be the one behind it. He would have to die.

The mob dragged Jones out of the pines, where they put a rope around his neck and kindling under his feet. Then they gave him a chance to say his last words before he was hung and burned alive.

Jones told them about the school he had opened to educate black children who did not have the same chances as everyone else. He listed off the white men who had helped him get it off the ground, trying to call for unity. He must have been incredibly eloquent because it actually worked.

An old Civil War veteran recognized the names and realized Jones was telling the truth. “We have made a mistake,” the old white man told the mob. “We ought to help him instead of hang him.”

The mob pulled him down and even passed around a hat. They raised $52.40 for his school. Jones did not hold any grudges over it. “I have no time to quarrel,” he said, “and no man can force me to stoop low enough to hate him.”

6Muslims in Pakistan Built a Christian Church

The people in the Pakistani village of Khaksabad got worried when they heard about violence in the nearby town of Gojra. A Muslim mob had attacked a Christian community, and it had torn the whole town into a mess of violence and hatred. They did not want that happening in their town.

When their local Christian church was swept away in a monsoon, they got the chance to do something about it. The Muslims of the town started a fundraiser to help the Christians out, partly just out of sympathy and partly as a way to bring two split sides of the community together.

Muslims helped out eagerly, donating every penny they could, and they raised enough to build a brand new church for their Christian neighbors.

“A church is also a house of Allah,” one Muslim shopkeeper said about it. “We worship the same God.”

5A KKK Member Saved the Life of a NAACP Member

When John Brown was stationed in Vietnam, he found himself in command of a man named Rayford—in his words, “a card-carrying member of the Ku Klux Klan.” And Rayford was not about to take orders from a black man.

John Brown was, himself, a member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and having to deal with a racist like Rayford made him angry. Rayford would flat out refuse to follow Brown’s orders, and Brown would get extra hard on him in response, one time even slapping him in the face with his NAACP membership card.

When Brown’s life was on the line, though, he was saved by the last person he would have expected. His fingers had been shot off, he was under fire, and he thought he was going to die. Rayford, though, ran through a hail ofmachine gun fire to rescue him.

Despite their differences, Rayford got Brown to safety. Brown never saw Rayford again. The experience, though, changed his life. He would later say, “I learned that two people, no matter what their differences are, or races, can come together on one accord.”

4A Criminal Saved the Life of the Cop Who Was Booking Him

When Jamal Rutledge was dragged into the police station for violating his probation, it was hardly the first time his hands had been in chains.

He was locked in a room with Franklin Foulks, the officer who was booking him, when Foulks had a stroke. The officer collapsed to the ground, and Jamal was the only person who could see it happen.

Jamal tried to help him, but with his hands cuffed behind his back, he could not do much. So instead, he started kicking on the door and calling for help. Officers rushed in and gave Foulks CPR, saving his life.

The officer hailed Jamal as a hero and held a convention in honor of the man they had arrested. There, Jamal told the crowd his life would be different now; “People do bad things,” he said, “but they can change their life around.” From that day forward, Jamal promised, he would be an upstanding citizen.

It didn’t happen. Jamal has been in and out of jail since he was eight years old—it is hard to change what life has shaped you into. Jamal was arrested again before long, and is currently in prison. He is still a lifelong criminal—but, as he proved by saving Foulks life, he is also a human being.

3Larry Flynt Tried to Save the Man Who Shot Him

Hustler publisher Larry Flynt was shot and paralyzed by a white supremacist on a rampage. His attacker was Joseph Paul Franklin, a serial killer who added Flynt to his list for creating a photo shoot that put a black man and a white woman together.

Franklin was caught, and years later, he found himself on death row, waiting for a lethal injection. Only one person fought to save his life—and to his surprise, it was Larry Flynt.

He had confined Flynt to a wheelchair for life, but Flynt still didn’t want him to die. Killing Franklin, he believed, was an act of revenge that solved nothing. He teamed up with the American Civil Liberties Union and filed lawsuits to try to get Franklin off of death row, saying, “I firmly believe that a government that forbids killing among its citizens should not be in the business of killing people itself.”

It didn’t work, and Franklin ended up getting a lethal injection. Before he died, though, Franklin had a change of heart. He had to live alongside other races in prison, and it affected how he saw the word. He said, “I saw they were people just like us.”

2An Israeli and a Muslim Saved a Palestinian Terrorist

Ahmed Mansara was only 13 years old when he and his cousin ran through East Jerusalem with knives, stabbing innocent people.They were Palestinians, and they were ready to give their lives to send a message of terror to Israel.

The attack stopped when his cousin was shot and killed by an Israeli police officer. Mansara, panicking, ran for his life, but was hit by a car. A whole mob of people swarmed him, some yelling, “Die!” Some were calling him a “son of a whore,” and some called for the police to shoot him in the head.

Mansara, though, was taken to a hospital jointly run by a Jewish doctor and Muslim. Mansara was a murderer, but he was just a boy—and it was their job to save him. They treated his injuries, giving him priority over some innocent people on the argument that his wounds were the worst, and they saved the life of a terrorist.

“We don’t ask who you are,” Ahmed Eid, a Muslim doctor at the Israeli hospital, said when asked why he didn’t leave Mansara to die. “We treat the terrorist the same as we treat the victim.”

1The Civil Liberties Union Stood up for the KKK’s Rights

When the KKK adopted a part of the highway in Missouri, the state could not stop them from doing it. They had the same rights as everyone else, the Supreme Court ruled, and so if the KKK wanted their name on a highway clean-up sign, they had the right to do it.

Missouri, though, got the KKK back. They changed the name of the highway to “Rosa Parks Highway.” Infuriated, the KKK refused to clean it. Once they were derelict in their duties, the state could legally ban them from adopting a highway—and they did.

Since then, though, the KKK has been fighting for the right to adopt a highway, saying, “We just want to clean up the doggone road. We’re not going to be out there in robes.” And they have gotten support from the last group you would expect: the American Civil Liberties Union.

The ACLU defended civil rights activists in the past, but they felt they needed to support the KKK this time. If the KKK lost the right to fight this in court, they argued, it would let the courts refuse to hear any group they wanted.

They defend equality and free speech, the ACLU argued, even if that means equality and free speech for the Ku Klux Klan.

Top 10 Disturbing Facts About Facebook

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Top 10 Disturbing Facts About Facebook



Ever since the Edward Snowden incident, people are suspicious of major online companies such as Facebook and Google. We know they are collecting lots of data. Only Facebook knows how much data they collect on their users, but estimates peg the number at about 500 terabytes per day.A terabyte is 1,024 gigabytes. The average 720p movie is about one gigabyte. That means Facebook is collecting the equivalent of 510,000 movies every day.

The sheer scale of data mining is impressive, but what they can do with this data is more impressive, or creepy, depending where you sit on the megalomaniac scale. Facebook is a part of everyday life. Is that a good thing? Here are ten disturbing facts about Facebook to help you decide.

10Facial Recognition

When a friend tags in a photo on Facebook, this information is added to Facebook’s giant stack of data. The social network has AI bots that sift through all this data to do pattern matching with your face.

Facebook’s algorithm is so good that they claim to have an accuracy of 98 percent. With every newly uploaded photo, they get better at pattern matching faces. The question now becomes how long we have until Facebook sells this information to retailers. Remember that scene inMinority Report when Tom Cruise is in a shop that changes what is on the mannequin based on what they know about him?

9Facebook Knows Where You Are At All Times

If you have the Facebook Messenger app, the chances are that you didn’t tell it to stop sharing your location. It’s not a bad thing if you want Facebook to know where you are. But what about other people? What if a stalker wanted to track you down and follow you? Could they also use Facebook Messenger?

One programmer investigated and created a simple Chrome plugin called Marauder’s Map. The name refers to a map Harry Potter had in Hogwarts that allowed him to see where everyone was in the castle. Marauder’s Map was capable of giving the exact coordinates of friends who used Messenger.

By looking at a simple map, the programmer was able to identify exactly where his friends were. In response, Facebook disabled location sharing from the Messenger app. However, that doesn’t mean they aren’t collecting that data.

8Using Facebook Makes You Feel Worse

The more you use Facebook, the worse you will feel. Heavy use of social media has been shown to cause a host of different problems, including decreased face-to-face relationships, increased sedentary behavior, and erosion of self-esteem through unfavorable social comparison. Studies carried out by Yale showed that the use of Facebook had a substantial impact on mental health. The activity of liking other’s content and clicking links predicted a self-reported decrease in physical health, mental health, and life satisfaction.

When it comes to Facebook, people carefully tailor what is presented to show the highlights of their life and omit the downsides. Others who are browsing someone’s profile feel worse when they are comparing themselves to that person’s highlights.

7Facebook Creates An Echo Chamber For Your Views

After the election of Donald Trump and the recent Brexit crisis, people were quick to turn the blame toward Facebook and Google for curating “fake news” articles. The evidence was so strong that even the CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, had to make a promise to filter out fake news sites and warn users not to be swayed by different websites.

The mainstream media focused on “fake news” (probably because it was competing with them) but failed to mention the other problem people faced with Facebook: what is referred to as the “filter bubble.”

Facebook’s main aim is to to get you to spend lots of time on their platform. If you read the above entry, you might now think this is bad for your health. It’s also bad for your intellect. Facebook gets you to stay around by curating what they think you will like to see. The problem with this is that, for example, if you are a left-wing political supporter, you will never see content showing the positive aspects of right-wing politics, and the same principle holds if you’re right-wing. This filter bubble also makes it seem that the political party you support is more popular than they are, even if they’re not.

Despite the mission of bringing people together, this aspect of Facebook may be driving them apart.

6Facebook Negatively Influences People With Eating Disorders

A small study with 84 college women at Florida State University found that those who use Facebook more often were more likely to report disordered eating. Another study from the American University in Washington, DC, found that girls who scan Facebook photos are more likely to indicate body dissatisfaction.

Once again, we come back to how Facebook makes us compare ourselves to others. If it can have an effect on people who aren’t currently suffering from any mental illness, the effect may be more pronounced on people already facing severe psychological issues like eating disorders.

5Facebook Makes Lonely People Feel Even More Lonely

New York University clinical psychiatrist Dr. Sudeepta Varma stated that Facebook keeps people in the know about what others are doing—but it also reminds them of what they themselves aren’t doing, which can make them feel left out. That was the conclusion from the study of 82 young adults who were active Facebook users.

The most shocking thing about this study is that it happened over two short weeks. After only two weeks of use, Facebook led to a steep decline in subjective happiness.

4Facebook Knows More About You Than You Think

Facebook’s News Feed is designed to keep you engaged as long as possible. During that time, Facebook builds an ever-evolving and complex mesh ofdata on their users. They create a profile using predictive analysis, which allows them to find out how susceptible you are to advertising, which way you lean politically, and whether you are more likely to pay with cash or a credit card.

They even guess how intelligent you are, based on what content you like. If you want to get a small snapshot into the kind of data Facebook collects, then I highly recommend the Chrome plugin Data Selfie.

3Facebook Engages In Political Censorship

Despite Facebook’s mission to have a society that is free and open, they have acted opposite to this goal by engaging in political censorship at a state level. There have been many examples of this, such as their blocking a page announcing a protest in Russia, an action that was a direct order from the Russian government.

Another example is in China, where Facebook developed special software to censor users’ posts. They even went as far as censoring satire because a UK government agency complained. Facebook also censored two men kissing.

2Facebook Will Happily Sell Your Data

Just when you think it can’t get worse than political censorship, you find out that anyone and everyone can get access to your data. Mastercard recently purchased Facebook data that details users’ online habits to uncover behavioral insights it can sell to banks. The intention is to merge Facebook’s data with their own so that they can also drive online sales.

Okay, Mastercard is a big company with lots cash. “Surely it wasn’t cheap,” you say. Well, one man spent $5 to acquire a total of one million Facebook users’ personal information. Facebook’s response was quite scary. They requested that the man send them the file, delete it from his computer, and “keep quiet.”

1Facebook Knows When You Are Sleeping

Through the Facebook Messenger app, users can see when someone was last active. Intrigued, a developer by the name of Soren Louv-Jansen started to look into this a bit more. By correlating user IDs with a time stamp, he was actually able to build a graph of all his friends’ sleeping patterns.

One hacker went even further and discovered that you could find out what device people were last active on. What an excellent way to freak out your friends. Just don’t use any of this information to open up to a girl you’ve had a crush on for a long time. It will make things weird. Fast.

William is a self-taught software developer who went from a job he hates to a job he now loves. As well as writing about himself in the 3rd person, William loves to write essays, code and writing about becoming a web developer on his blog.

There Are ‘Thousands’ of Bugs Making Pacemakers Vulnerable to Hackers

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There Are ‘Thousands’ of Bugs Making Pacemakers Vulnerable to Hackers

Image: Wikimedia

The more of our lives are wired, the more they become vulnerable to things like software glitches and hackers. That includes pieces of technology we put in our bodies—recently, it’s become clear that vital medical devices likeinsulin pumps and pacemakers possess the same vulnerabilities as those ill-advised connected tea kettles.

New research makes clear just how vulnerable medical devices really can be. In a recent study, researchers with the security company WhiteScope looked at pacemakers and defibrillators from four different manufacturers, as well as the systems used to monitor and maintain them. And they found 8,000 different vulnerabilities inside the code of the cardiac devices. In case it’s not clear, that is a very big number.

The researchers found all four of the device ecosystems had major problems, including software systems that were not up to date and storage of private patient data that was not encrypted. When the devices were connected to monitoring systems, not one required a login name and password or checked to make sure that devices they were connecting to were authentic.

The report notes that pacemaker security faces “some serious challenges.” That might even be a little too polite.

This is particularly concerning in the aftermath of the Wanna Cry ransomware attack, which impacted many hospitals around the globe. That attack included the first known instance of ransomware directly affecting a medical device, in this case, hospital equipment made by Bayer.

The impact of hacked personal medical devices, though, could be far graver— endangering patient’s lives as well as exposing private medical data. This is something cybersecurity experts have warned about for years. Back in 2013, the hacker Barnaby Jack claimed he could take control of a pacemaker from up to 50 feet away and create a lethal shock using the device. Dick Cheney famously had a doctor remove the wireless capability of his pacemaker to protect it from hackers, even though it meant software updates would require surgery.

But while medical devices are often old and out of date and therefore more vulnerable to attack, so far there have been no known cases of hackers harming patients by exploiting those flaws. But the FDA and other agencies are increasingly concerned this might happen in the not-so-distant future. In January, the FDA issued a warning that certain cardiac implants could be hacked and reprogrammed to send out potentially deadly incorrect signals or shocks.

Last fall, Johnson & Johnson was forced to tell its customers that its insulin pumps had a security flaw hackers could use to deploy a potentially fatal overdose of insulin.

The more medical devices on the market that communicate wirelessly, the bigger the threat of hacking grows. Yet, it’s clear from reports like WhiteScope’s that for device manufacturers, even basic security like setting up a login and password is not much of a concern.

Another recent study looked at the broader medical device market and found that only 17% of manufacturers had taken any steps to secure gadgets.

Device manufacturers are beginning to pay attention to these things, hiring cybersecurity experts and setting up programs for white hat hackers to report flaws. But when a hack could mean life or death, they can’t fix those systems soon enough.

The Inside of a Beatboxer’s Throat is a Disgusting Display of Anatomical Gymnastics

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The Inside of a Beatboxer’s Throat is a Disgusting Display of Anatomical Gymnastics

Saturday 2:34pm

GIF source: Tom Thum

Let’s take an educational trip down the throat of a beatboxer and get a far too detailed look at the complex anatomical system that enables us to make strange noises.

Beatboxing YouTuber Tom Thum was curious if his natural ability to create complex and unique sounds might have something to do with some sort of physical abnormality. He visited an endocrinologist named Dr. Matthew Broadhurst in order to get two different examinations done using cameras inserted into his nose and mouth. Nothing notable about the beatboxer’s anatomy was found, but we do get some really gross imagery of what’s going on in the larynx of a beatboxer. In short, mesmerizing muscle contortions and gurgling floods of saliva.

You can see for yourself in the video below. There’s a grating intro that can be skipped by going to 1:10, and the good stuff starts around 3:47.

[Tom Thum via Boing Boing]

Researchers Discover a Method That Could Triple Our Screen Resolutions

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Researchers Discover a Method That Could Triple Our Screen Resolutions

Yesterday 2:07pm

GIF: Gizmodo

A research team at the University of Central Florida has developed a new surface that allows the tuning of individual subpixels on a display. The breakthrough might mean the potential display resolutions on LCD TVs could triple, virtually overnight.

The researchers have outlined the technical details in a new study published in Nature. Basically, what they’ve done is figure out a method to control subpixels with voltage. Each pixel on an LCD screen contains three subpixels. Each of those subpixels handles one of three colors: red, green or blue. A white backlight shines through the pixel and the LCD shutter controls which subpixel is viewable. For instance, if the pixel should be blue, the LCD shutter will cover the red and green subpixels. In order to make purple, the shutter only needs to cover the green subpixel. The white backlight determines how light or dark the color will be.

The team at UCF’s NanoScience Technology Center has demonstrated a way of using an embossed nanostructure surface and reflective aluminum that could eliminate the need for subpixels entirely. On a test device, the researchers were able to control the color of each subpixel individually. Rather than one subpixel being dedicated to blue, it can produce the full range of color that the TV is capable of displaying. With each subpixel suddenly doing the work of three, the potential resolution of the device is suddenly three times as high. Additionally, this would mean that every subpixel (or in this case, a tinier pixel) would be on whenever displaying a color or white. That would lead to displays that are far brighter.

Next up, the researchers have to scale up their demonstrations and show that the technology would work with current hardware. “It allows you to leverage all the pre-existing decades of LCD technology. We don’t have to change all of the engineering that went into making that,” Daniel Franklin, one of the authors of the paper, told the UCF college news outlet. Another issue is frame rate. While this new method is capable of cycling much faster than similar colour-changing technologies that have been considered in the past, it’s still not up to par with the refresh rates we’ve come to expect for playing high-speed first person shooters.

Still, if these hurdles can be overcome, a huge leap in screen resolution would be just on the horizon.


Mystery of the Flickering Red Lights in the White House Grips the Internet

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Mystery of the Flickering Red Lights in the White House Grips the Internet

Today 1:04pm

GIF source: Fox 35

Internet-fueled conspiracy theories have plagued US politics over the last year and made voters on both sides of the aisle appear to be reactionary maniacs. But conspiracy theories can also be fun. And the entirely benign saga of red lights flashing in the windows of the second-floor residence of the White House is about as fun as these things get.

A livestream of the White House went viral last night in certain corners of the internet when strange red lights were seen strobing in the windows for almost 17 minutes. White House spokespeople and the Secret Service offered no comment on the cause of the phenomenon, so the internet did what it does and served up some wild speculation. No one seemed to nail a really good joke about the situation but the general strangeness of the situation was enough.

The most ubiquitous theory was that it had something to do with Russiabecause of the color red. Others joked that Trump was blowing off some steam with a club night. Maybe the orb from Saudi Arabia was brought homeby the administration? Dark occult rituals were certainly a possibility. There’s a movie from 1977 called Red Light in the White House, could it offer any clues?InfoWars told everyone they were being unreasonable with their nutjob reactions. And by far, my favorite hypothesis is that Trump was being treated with light therapy for his dimentia.

But none of those scenarios are likely to be true. The most reasonableexplanation has been that we’re simply seeing the reflection of a nearby emergency vehicle’s lights in the windows. Here’s a video of an ambulance in Washington DC. Let’s go to the GIFs for further analysis. Enhance:

White House:


Yeah, different playback rates aside, it definitely appears that those emergency light patterns could line up. Thanks for the memories internet.


Top 10 Secret Ways Animals Help Humans

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Top 10 Secret Ways Animals Help Humans



Who doesn’t love animals? We all know the beauty of the adorable creatures that live with us, like cute puppies and fuzzy kittens, but animals can do more than just make us laugh with the clumsy mistakes they make. Animals are used in almost every scientific field from medicine to the aerospace industry, and they play a crucial role in the advancement of human life.

Scientists continuously study animals and their unique qualities and find ways to apply those qualities to problems humans face every day. This includes utilizing our most intelligent and trainable animals but also the evolved chemical traits of smaller, lesser-known animals. So, here are ten ways animals help us out that you may never have realized even existed.

10Keyhole Limpet Proteins

Keyhole limpets are sea snails with, wide, conical shells that feature a small hole at the top, and they have a secret superpower. They contain a protein known as keyhole limpet hemocyanin (KLH), which is used in a wide array of medicines, ranging from cancer and Alzheimer’s medications to vaccinations for animals and humans. The complex structure of hemocyanin makes it a perfect candidate for fighting disease, because it contains many binding sites, which allows other particles bind to it easily.

Limpets aren’t the only sea organisms that are used in unexpected ways by humans. For example, kelp is used to create a creamy texture in a myriad of products ranging from ice cream to toothpaste. However, keyhole limpet proteins are used in medications for very serious diseases, and entire companies specialize in the production and sales of KLH. Industries such as this are constantly growing as we find more uses for KLH in medications. Since limpets are invertebrates with no true brain, using them in the medical field has the added bonus of eliminating the question of morality involved when using animals for scientific testing.

9Cancer-Sniffing Dogs

Dogs will make a few appearances on this list, as they’re so intelligent and easily trained, not to mention adorable. Dogs have about 60 times as many sensory nerves in their noses compared to humans. For years, scientists have known of their ability to sniff out cancer. If you have seen this in headlines, you may think, “Aww, how cute,” and move on. However, there is actually a lot of scientific evidence to back this up.[2] Back in the early 1990s, trained dogs were tested on their ability to smell cancer using various urine samples from patients with and without cancer. The canines could correctly identify samples from cancer patients about 95 percent of the time. Types of cancer they could identify ranged from liver to lung to breast cancer.

Although it is unlikely that dogs alone would ever be used to detect cancerin new patients (as much as having dogs around might make the doctor’s office more pleasant), scientist have found a way to implement their olfactory sense into diagnostic machines. They’ve created a device that can “smell” the chemicals being picked up by dogs that are linked to cancerous cells. While this area of study needs more funding before it is viable, the science is all there.

8Diabetes Dogs

While this topic started out as purely anecdotal and charming stories to make headlines, it has become fact. Cases of dogs predicting low blood sugar in diabetes patients have occurred regularly enough that it became clear they could smell something we could not. Scientists began to look into these cases and studied the exhaled breath of diabetes patients. They discovered that when blood sugar drops to dangerously low levels, the amount of a chemical called isoprene nearly doubles. Humans would never be able to notice such a thing, but the incredible noses of our noble pups can.

This is, of course, very impressive and could save even save lives. Dogs are trained to alert owners of this change, giving them time to eat and stabilize their glucose levels to stop themselves from passing out or even having a seizure. These diabetes alert dogs (DADs) are for sale right now. The only downfall? The dogs are hard to train and can cost up to $20,000 to purchase, and this does not even take into account the $1,000 per year it will cost to feed them, on average.

7Airport Falconry

If you’ve seen the movie Sully, about a pilot whose plane suffers duel engine loss, causing him to perform an emergency water landing on the Hudson River in New York, this entry will sound familiar. The movie was based on a real event, in which birds flew into both engines of a plane soon after takeoff, causing them to break and stopping the plane from flying. You might think there should be a simple way to stop problems like this from occurring. It turns out there is.

Trained falcons are used at airports to scare away smaller flocking birds from flying straight into planes during takeoff by using specific warning calls. This is widely practiced in the United States, where damages caused by birds flying into planes can cost more than $500 million per year. If even one engine is ruined, it can cost up to $2 million. Training falcons seems like a small price to pay for flight safety, especially in light of those numbers. Scientists calculate that there is about a one-in-four chance of a bird hitting a plane when falconry isn’t employed. So, next time you fly, be sure to be on the lookout and to thank your bird trainer!

6Growing Human Organs In Animals

As of January 2017, almost 80,000 people in the US alone were awaiting some kind of organ transplant. It is apparent that not all of these people will find viable organs before it is too late. In lieu of transplantation, scientists have been searching for a way to grow healthy human organs independently. There has been some amount of success, even though the process still has a long way to go before it is commercially available.

Scientists have successfully grown human organs inside large animals, such as pigs. Stem cells are taken from the transplant patient’s skin, and because they do not have determined growth, they can still grow into any type of organ or tissue. The main issue facing the medical community is that of morality. In order for the stem cells to grow into a needed organ, the animals must be engineered to develop without that organ so that the body can signal the undetermined cells to generate the required structure. There is currently a ban on using the procedure due to overwhelming complaints over the morality of using animals as vessels for human organ growth.

5Cancer Immunity In Sharks

For all of us who fear sharks above all else and wish we could go for a swim in the ocean without the threat of shark attacks, just know that they may have genes that could save countless human lives. Recent studies have shown that sharks have an increased immunity to cancer due to their overall highly evolved immune systems. The scariest sharks out there, hammerheads and great whites, are the species which exhibit these extraordinary genes. The genes, known as “legumain” and “Bag1,” are remarkably similar to genes that humans carry.

Bag1 plays a role in what is known as apoptosis, or programmed cell death. Programmed cell death is much better than it sounds. The system evolved in order to get rid of defective cells, including cancerous ones. In the case of cancer, this system has broken down or been overwhelmed by mutated cells. Scientists believe Bag1 plays a role in the regulation of apoptosis.

Sharks have an amazingly fast healing rate for open wounds as well as a shockingly low infection rate, especially when you factor in the constant contact with various bacteria that live in the ocean. It’ll still be a while before we figure out exactly how they heal so well, but specific genes found in sharks and rays but not bony fish appear to be a factor.

4Dogs Sniffing For Science

Okay, this is the last dog fact, I promise. Sure, dogs are used to sniff out cancer or diabetes, but their noses can also help us indirectly. Scientists, ever thrifty, have found a low-cost and effective way to weed out invasive plant species: dogs trained to track them down in an effort to keep our nature beautiful and safe. Companies that specialize in this kind of conservational science are currently thriving.

Imagine this as your career: spending all day with a lovable dog, training it to find the scent of a particular plant, and then walking out into an open field and letting it roam free until it comes across the scent for you. This is a real job, and I may need to consider a career change. Teams of eight to ten dogs at a time will go out and reveal about two times as many invasive plants as humans can find, just by sniffing. The method is effective, not to mention inexpensive, since the scientists involved don’t need to buy $20,000 dogs. They can often just train their own.

3Algae Used In Biofuels

Photo credit: Fred Hsu

Yes, algae aren’t technically animals, but they still have some powerful uses that shock many people. Algae are now being developed as a source of renewable energy. From tiny single-celled organisms to giant kelp, their ability to photosynthesize can help save us from our energy crisis. There are thousands of different types of photosynthetic algae, all with unique properties. Using these organisms as fuel would be as cost-effective as the algae would be cheap to produce. This could be the next step in sustainable, affordable energy.

The process is somewhat confusing for those of us not boasting a PhD, but it includes extracting lipids from the algae and subjecting them to high-intensity heat and pressure conditions, a procedure known as hydrothermal liquefaction. This will concentrate the amount of energy created by the algal cells and could ultimately be used in products from jet fuel to gasoline to ethanol. Big oil companies such as ExxonMobil have even been taking notice of the science behind algae. The development of this technology is still underway, but however you feel about big oil, there’s no denying the power of these tiny plants.

2Oysters Removing Nitrogen

ExxonMobil started a project in 2014 which is planned to take until 2030 to complete and involves adding one billion oysters to the coastal ecosystem in New York. In the past three years since its inception, about 20 million oysters have already been placed. This is clearly a gigantic undertaking, taking up copious time, resources, and workers. However, it does ultimately serve a purpose. Mollusks, including oysters, retain nitrogen in their systems in order to maintain homeostasis. This will allow for a healthier marine ecosystem in surrounding areas, where too much nitrogen may be causing harmful algae to flourish.

Marine animals must find ways of dealing with nitrogen if they are to survive. Fish, mollusks, and other marine animals excrete ammonia through urine, which is highly toxic. Oysters, however, will store nitrogen and excrete waste in other forms. Ammonia carries only one nitrogen molecule, whereas releasing uric acid or urea will expel higher levels of nitrogen. In the case of New York Harbor, oysters will essentially pull in water with high nitrogen levels, filter it, and convert the nitrogen into less toxic forms, making the water safer and healthier.

1Plastic-Devouring Worms

One of the world’s largest pollution problems is plastic. It accumulates all over the planet and is constantly ending up in the ocean. If you walk along a polluted beach, you can find plastic from all over the world, some of which may have traveled thousands of miles from another continent. This problem claims the lives of thousands of sea creatures each year, and humans are always trying to come up with creative and cost-effective ways of reducing plastic use and pollution. Luckily, there is an animal that has already figured out a way to break down our plastic bag problem.

The larvae of wax moths, which are often used as bait by fisherman, have the ability to eat plastic without being harmed. Since learning this, scientists have been studying these little worms to determine if they can really have a strong impact on lessening human waste. We know they have the ability to digest plastic, but it is unknown whether or not they can survive and thrive on plastic alone. The worms are also only a few centimeters long, so there would need to be a copious amount of them to make a dent. However, if they do indeed love plastic, they may in the near future be bred to be set loose on human trash.

Top 10 Fascinating Facts About Eagles

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Top 10 Fascinating Facts About Eagles



Eagles are known worldwide as majestic aerial predators. Their hunting expertise and legendary awe have earned them both respect and fear from humanity. Behold the astonishing aspects of their intense lives and intricate relationship with us.

10Haast’s Eagle

Photo credit: John Megahan

At present, golden eagles are capable of dragging adult mountain goats off cliffs with a bone-crushing grip strength of 750 psi, more than a lion’s bite force. However, a golden eagle would have no chance against the prehistoric man-eating eagle of New Zealand.

Before human colonization by the Maori people, the island only had three species of bat to greet them as fellow mammals. Uncontested, birds became the dominant class, growing into giants. The 3.6-meter (12 ft) flightless moas filled the niche of grazing herbivores and were the main food source of the largest, most powerful eagle ever.

Haast’s eagle, flying on a 3-meter (10 ft) wingspan, easily claimed the title of New Zealand’s apex predator. Diving with 1,000-psi, 9-centimeter (4 in) talons at 50 miles per hour (80 kph), it was wholly capable of killing a human, as described in Maori oral tradition.

Nevertheless, man prevailed. Five or six centuries ago, the Maori had finally hunted the moa to extinction, which correspondingly caused the extinction of Haast’s eagle. Having discovered the eagle in 1871, Julius von Haast was laughed at for the fearsome tall tale he brought back to his companions . . . until he brought back the bones as well.

9Hunting With Eagles

Photo credit: baomoi.com

Though Haast’s eagle feasted on the Maori in ancient times, the golden eagle has been trained throughout history to hunt for our food rather than our flesh. Using seven different techniques depending on the nature of prey, the golden eagle was reserved for the falconry of kings in medieval Europe. The ancestral eagle hunting traditions of Turkic people, most notably the Mongolians, continue today.

Taken from the nest as eaglets, they are raised by only one master to form a powerful personal bond. After being treated as family for a decade, they are released into the wild for natural reproduction. Eagle hunters ride on horseback to follow the attacks on various prey items such as the wolves, foxes, and hares of the Eurasian steppe.

8Police Eagles vs. Criminal Drones

Photo credit: ibtimes.co.uk

In First World civilizations, the lifestyle of an eagle hunter is unwelcome. Amazingly, though, the eagle is the perfect solution for an advanced technological threat: drones.

With the ubiquity and accessibility of drones in the modern world, not all tech enthusiasts are using them for recreational purposes. These drones can be used to covertly spy on buildings and people for later theft as well as to deliver and drop illegal substances or explosives.

Reports have found drugs attached to criminal drones in prison grounds, confirming our worst suspicions. Praised as “a low-tech solution for a high-tech problem,” specialized drone-catching eagles were first trained by Dutch police as a safer alternative to bullets and nets in the presence of crowds.

Eagles view the drones as other birds of prey invading their airspace. (As an aside, the wedge-tailed eagles of Australia also view hang gliders and paragliders as rival threats. Attacking the gliders, the wedge-tailed eagle seems to live up to his old New Zealand brother’s disdain for humanity.)

Much like avoiding the beak and talons of a competitor, the trained eagles are naturally able to strike the drone in the center while avoiding the rotors. The police and military in modern nations across the world, such asScotland Yard and the French Air Force, are highly interested in replicating Dutch success.

7The DDT Danger Myth

Eagles have also been used as a major political force before—in the politics of the DDT ban. The popular conception is that DDT is a dangerous poison in addition to a powerful pesticide that ruins wildlife.

The bald eagle is a special focus due to its bioaccumulation after consuming many fish. Adults are killed and eggshells are thinned to the point of being crushed during incubation. But did you ever ask if this was scientific truth?

The truth is that DDT isn’t even marginally dangerous to humans. For bald eagles, the cause of decline was almost entirely due to shooting and habitat loss. After the Bald Eagle Protection Act, eagle numbers soared even during the peak of DDT spraying.

US Fish and Wildlife Service biologists even “fed large doses of DDT to captive bald eagles for 112 days” to no adverse effect, and none of the hundreds of dead eagles found between 1961 and 1977 were killed by DDT or its residue. Despite the unpopular facts, environmentalists repetitively pushed to outlaw DDT for decades. Eventually, the government relented.

The suppression of a genuinely harmless and incredibly useful chemical proved to be only a demonstration of rising environmentalist political power. Though this is beneficial for the well-being of the world, the question remains: Does the end justify the means?

6Bald Eagles Are Scavenging Cowards

You may have learned about Benjamin Franklin’s laughable proposal for the humble turkey to be America’s national bird instead of the fierce bald eagle. But the beautiful, grand American symbol is not the glorious predator you think it is.

Respected naturalists often noted that the bald eagle was not a hunter but instead a scavenger and thief. It used its size to bully food from the highly successful fish-hunting osprey.

Sarcastically quoted by Meriwether Lewis in his adventures during the Lewis and Clark Expedition, “We continue to see a great number of bald eagles. I presume they must feed on the carcasses of dead animals, for I see no fishing hawks to supply them with their favorite food.”

This occurs because the bald eagle is not a true eagle. It is a sea eagle related to the African vulture lineage, with no will to kill for itself. Its only “hunting” is in catching the salmon that have nearly tired themselves to death during migration, if it isn’t picking up the ones that are already dead.

Franklin described the bald eagle as a “rank coward,” fleeing from an aggressive kingbird, a bird as large as a sparrow. Even its classic screech is a lie. The noise is from a red-tailed hawk. Bald eagles, unimpressively, chirp.

There is no courage, no honor, in the bald eagle. The more powerful, truly noble golden eagle would have been chosen if not for the fact that it is distributed across the world. As a native of America that was much more physically attractive than the turkey, the unjust bald eagle was selected byThomas Jefferson to become the country’s national symbol.

5Love And Home

Photo credit: National Geographic

The beauty of the bald eagle is undeniable and never so magnificently expressed as in the daring display of the death spiral. Two eagles clasp theirtalons together and fall, swinging through the skies until they break off at the last moment.

For bald and white-tailed eagles, the behavior is the ultimate courtship, a vital expression of the health (and romantically, the trust and love) of a mate. Eagles are purely monogamous and, unlike other birds in “monogamy,” do not roost with other eagles while away from the aerie.

Sharing a loyal monogamy, bald and white-tailed eagles have another household trait in common: massive multigenerational aeries. Built in the trees as usual, these nests accumulate through reuse over generations of descendants. One white-tailed eagle home in Iceland has existed for 150 years, and the weight of a 1,814-kilogram (2 ton) bald eagle nest is enough to crunch a tree (and, unfortunately, fall off).

4Females And Fratricide

Once the lifetime partner is chosen and the home is built (or perhaps, refurbished), eagles lay between one and five eggs. One parent is present nearly all the time and is extremely protective.

However, the greatest threat is within the nest itself and it is one that the parents let naturally play out. The fluffy eaglets hold a vicious, dark secret. It is common for an older eaglet, generally female due to its larger size, to kill its sibling. Nothing is done to stop the fittest from demonstrating their fitness.

But why are females larger than males across all eagle species, demonstrating the rare reversed sexual size dimorphism in birds? Nothing is conclusive, but the standing explanations are that the larger size is more useful in assisting the maternal instinct for nest building, incubation, protection, and (albeit unnecessary) defense from the male.

Meanwhile, the male partner is faster and more agile in his hunting due to his lighter weight and size.

3Mythical Foundation

Eagles have made themselves into the mythology of mankind as well as its history. The legend of the thunderbird, a giant magical bird controlling the thunder and lightning of a storm, is thought to have originated from the sighting of an eagle riding storm winds.

In the famed Middle Eastern story of Sinbad the Sailor, the massive roc is plausibly based on the existence of two animals: the now-extinct Malagasy crowned eagle and the elephant bird, cousin of the moa. The presence of the 2-meter (7 ft) eagle and the giant eggs of the elephant bird were likely exaggerated to the epic proportions of the roc.

Founder of an empire, the eagle is also respected in the origin of Tenochtitlan, the capital of the Aztec Empire. The myth is that an eagle perched upon a cactus and preyed on a snake, signifying to travelers the place of their settlement. It would later become the most powerful empire in Mesoamerica.

Representing various sky gods, most notably the Greek god Zeus, the eagle captured the imagination of past peoples as both a noble king and a thunderous force to be reckoned with.

2The Legal Eagle

Nations across the world looked to the eagle for symbolic representation, with eagles of all species honored as 18 national birds and in 25 nationalcoats of arms. However, their previous mythical prestige fell to the materialism wrought by the Industrial Revolution.

With guns available and livestock to protect, people shot down eagles as a nuisance predator. As an example, from 1917 to 1953, more than 100,000 bald eagles were killed because they were falsely perceived as a threat by Alaskan salmon fishermen.

Fortunately, since then, laws have been made worldwide in defense of eagles, with fines up to $250,000 for American bald and golden eagles. Violations of the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act are literally down to the feather, with possession warranting arrest.

Injuring or killing a Philippine eagle, a critically endangered, monkey-eating apex predator endemic to its namesake, could involve punishment of up to 12 years in jail and a 1-million-peso fine. “Unfortunately, one person with a gun thinks he can shoot anything,” the Philippine Eagle Foundation states after an eagle previously rehabilitated from a shot was found shot dead later on.

We hope that people shall continue to become more informed and respect eagles as well as the rest of nature.

1Eagle’s-Eye View

No description of the eagle is complete without mentioning its outstandingvision, a requisite for excellent talon-eye coordination. Seeing four times farther than our view, as the most accomplished birds of prey, eagles boast 20/4 vision and 100x better night vision.

They are even able to see ultraviolet light for detection of UV-reflecting urine from prey. Living thousands of feet in the air and swooping down at hundreds of miles per hour for a swift, accurate kill, eagles are animals of perfect precision. When they see what they want, they fearlessly look to strike.

As noted in the Encyclopedia of Life, “They have at least one singular characteristic. It has been observed that most birds of prey look back over their shoulders before striking prey (or shortly thereafter); predation is, after all, a two-edged sword. All hawks seem to have this habit, from the smallest kestrel to the largest ferruginous—but not the eagles.”

Damian Black is an American nationalist interested in perfection and happiness. Visit his nascent personal site: The Black Decree.

Top 10 Artworks Made Of Humans

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Top 10 Artworks Made Of Humans



Many cultures throughout history have used the remains of both humans and animals for various things: clothes, weapons, rituals, medicine, and so on. While we wouldn’t expect many of these things to translate into the modern day, the reality is that many people still seem to have plenty of uses for dead (and sometimes living) people and are determined not to let any uproar keep them from doing what they want.


Photo credit: Sunspot Designs

We’ve spoken before about companies that will make diamonds out of your dearly beloved when they have passed, but that’s not your only option if you want to wear the deceased. Sunspot Designs makes jewelry by working with bones and teeth. Owner Columbine Phoenix likens working with these to using “homegrown ivory” and says that it is intended to celebrate life rather than death. She gets the bones used in her work from educational suppliers, who acquire them from schools or museums that are updating their collections.[1] Unsurprisingly, the main target audience is goths. The pieces can cost up to $200.

If you are unfortunate enough to still have all your loved ones in your life, fear not, ladies, because women can now have their breast milk turned into jewelry. In fact, there are no less than 70 businesses devoted to turning a woman’s milk into something personal yet fashionable. Companies such as Breast Milk Keepsakes and Mommy Milk Creations will take a small amount of your milk and turn it into a bead that can be placed in things like pendants, earrings, and bracelets for about $80.

Finally, if anyone remembers Kesha, you’ll know that she has always had a bit of a quirky sense of style, but you’d probably still be quite surprised to learn that she fashioned some of her attire out of human teeth—her fans’ teeth, to be exact. Back in 2012, she asked her fans to send her in a tooth each and ended up getting about 1,000 of them, which she used to make earrings, a headdress, several necklaces, and . . . a bra. Talk about a supportive fan base.


Auctions are a great place to pick up some unusual pieces at low prices and are a popular attraction for artistically minded people. When Francois Robert attended a school auction in Michigan, he was really just looking to pick up a few old lockers for practical, rather than artistic, purposes. But the golden rule in auctioneering is if you buy something, you get to keep whatever’s inside. So when one of the three lockers he purchased for the bargain price of $50 turned out to contain an actual human skeleton, Robert knew he had found his next project.

To be clear, the skeleton had been used for science classes and was not the sad remnants of a long-forgotten poindexter. Actually, this particular skeleton had been wired to hold its shape, so Robert had to trade it in for another before he could get to work. He decided that the best way to put his new friend to use was to create a series of photographs in which he arranged the bones into various shapes reminiscent of war. Creating the likes of guns, grenades, tanks, planes, and knives, Robert used his second skeleton to create a haunting collection of photographs for a series entitled Stop the Violence. While it’s hardly the subtlest collection you’ll ever see, Robert certainly got his $50 worth.


Photo credit: Tim Hawkinson

Looking at Tim Hawkinson’s two 1997 sculptures, Egg and Bird, you could be forgiven for thinking you were looking at exactly that: an egg and a bird. Of course, this is not the case, as the sculptures are actually made out of everybody’s favorite disembodied body parts: hair and fingernails.

Much more subtle than many of the other entries on this list, these sculptures are meant to represent our intrinsic link to nature and how our sense of reality can never escape our bodies, which provide the materials to create the illusion we’re observing.


Photo credit: BBC News

Anthony-Noel Kelly is a British artist who made his name in the 1990s with his realistic sculptures of human bodies, mainly in the form of busts. The police became suspicious of his work after a 1997 exhibition and launched a search which found human remains in both his house and his girlfriend’s apartment. With the help of Niel Lindsay from the Royal College of Surgeons, Kelly had stolen the body parts over a three-year period. He used these to make casts, which were then gilded in silver and gold.

About 40 body parts were recovered, including heads, torsos, and limbs. Lindsay was paid the generous sum of £400 for his involvement but also received six months in jail, while Kelly was sentenced to nine months. The pair were the first people in the history of the United Kingdom to actually be convicted with the theft of human remains, after a ruling that human bodies can be owned—and therefore stolen. Such a crime had already been considered as “outraging public decency.”


Photo credit: Nat Geo TV

There has been much speculation over the years as to the veracity of the claims that the Nazis made lampshades out of human skin. Many people believe it’s just a ridiculous urban legend, created to make the Nazis seem even more evil than they really were. Well, in 2005, a lampshade was bought in a car boot sale for $35 from a man who told the buyer it was made from the skin of a Jewish person. The buyer, Skip, eventually became too uncomfortable with the lamp and gave it to his journalist friend Mark Jacobson, who investigated things further.

The lamp was brought to Bode Technology in Washington, DC, where it underwent a DNA test. Bode Technology is one of the leading DNA labs in the world, having done much work for the US government, including identifying remains from 9/11. When the results came back, it was confirmed that the material used on the shade was in fact human skin from two different people. The first mention of Nazi skin lampshades comes from 1945, by a reporter named Ann Stringer, who says that other items made in the Buchenwald concentration camp included shrunken heads and an ashtray made from a human pelvis.

An artist named Andrew Krasnow has also made a number of pieces out of human skin, including lampshades, a direct reference to Buchenwald. Other things he has created include boots, maps, flags, and a $10 bill. You probably don’t need to be told that this is a statement about morality, or lack thereof, in the United States.

53-D Printed Sculptures

If someone asked you ten years ago whether a machine could be switched on and left alone for 24 hours to make a house entirely by itself, you probably would have said that it’s quite unlikely, at the very least. And yet, that’s where we are today. So if I were to ask you today whether you could turn your grandfather into a rocking chair, you might want to think about your answer.

Wieki Somers is a Dutch artist who wanted to come up with a more creative way to use cremated ashes. Thus, her In Progress exhibition was born. Somers loaded 3-D printers with donated ashes, which were then turned into various sculptures and pieces of furniture. The results are hauntingly familiar household objects that make us reconsider our attachment to worldly possessions. we’d like to think this won’t catch on, you may need to get used to the idea of living in a world where you need to distinguish between “Rock on, Grandpa!” and Rock on Grandpa.


The Dublin Science Gallery in Trinity College is a place for exhibitions where science meets art. Selfmade is one such exhibition, where cheese was made from celebrities who donated not their milk but rather their phlegm, tears, skin bacteria samples, and whatever was found lurking in the depths of their belly buttons.

The bacteria taken from their bodies was used to grow cheese, which then smelled and tasted like that body part. A cheese and wine night was hosted, although the guests were not allowed to eat the art, just smell it.


Photo credit: Harrison/HO

Jessica Harrison is a British artist who specializes in what she calls “body furniture.” This is a bit of a misleading name, as her creations don’t actually involve using pieces of the human body, but they’re generally inspired by it, such as her hairy chair or her drawers that look like human flesh. But she caught a lot of attention in 2010, when she posted a video of her latest fashionable design: fake eyelashes made out of real fly legs.

Although they are not available to buy (not yet, anyway), she still made and wore them herself, which is pretty disgusting. The eyelashes have drawn criticism from PETA, who compared them to hacking off the ears of beagles to make clothes.

2Wall Art

Photo credit: Hans Ladislaus

Forgotten Inheritance is a piece of wall art made of stone and hardened sand that first went on display in the Hawaii Convention Center in Honolulu in 1996. Despite being approved by a committee that included native Hawaiian members, many other natives took great offense to the sculpture. The reason for this is that it contains the real bones of Hawaiian natives.

Such a sculpture would likely gain a certain amount of criticism anywhere in the world, but the natives of Hawaii have a strong belief in malama iwi, which is taking care of and respecting their ancestors’ bones. After receiving a large number of complaints for years, officials at the convention center finally covered the sculpture in September 2013 and began investigating how to remove it without destroying both it and the bones it contains. Ultimately, an agreement was reached to allow Forgotten Inheritance to continue to be displayed.


Hananuma Masakichi was an artist who lived in the 19th century. Late in his life, he was diagnosed with tuberculosis and decided that he wanted to immortalize himself by creating a life-size self-sculpture. He made the sculpture using an elaborate layout of mirrors that allowed him to carve the bits of himself he couldn’t see. He constructed each body part individually. The roughly 5,000 individual pieces of the sculpture are reportedly joined together so well that not even a magnifying glass can detect the seams.

Masakichi polished the model, used needles to poke tiny pores in the skin, and plucked hairs and inserted them into these pores. For each body part on the model, he used hair from the corresponding area on himself in order to create exact realism, right down to the eyelashes. He also pulled out all his own teeth, fingernails, and toenails and made eyes out of glass.

Masakichi finished in 1885 and would stand next to the sculpture so that people could try to guess which was human and which was art. Apparently, it was extremely difficult to tell. The sculpture is currently owned by Ripley’s Odditorium and has been restored and maintained by extremely talented professionals.

Pennsylvania’s New Body Camera Policy Would Allow Officers Unrestricted Access to Film in Homes

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Pennsylvania’s New Body Camera Policy Would Allow Officers Unrestricted Access to Film in Homes

Today 3:15pm

Image: AP

Pennsylvania state senators are pushing for a new bill that would amend the state’s body camera policy to allow officers to record in private residences and exempt all footage from the state’s “Right to Know” act—making it muchharder for the public to request recorded video. If it passes, it would be among the nation’s most restrictive and invasive body camera policies.

Senate Bill 560, introduced by Senator Stewart Greenleaf in December, amends the state’s Wiretap Act—which bars law enforcement from recording conversations in residences—to allow police to use the cameras to record footage inside private homes. The bill passed the senate unanimously on May 10th. (There’s no precise timetable for approval going forward, but it would need to happen before the session ends this November.)

In a memo announcing his sponsorship, Greenleaf said the measure is necessary “because so much [officer] work involves responding to incidents taking place inside a residence.” The language of the new bill permits officers to record in people’s homes without notifying citizens they’re being recorded, even if none of the residents are suspects in a crime. Residents, suspected of a crime or not, aren’t granted authority to compel officers to stop recording them.

Andrew Hoover, the communication director for the ACLU of Pennsylvania, says the bill relies entirely too much on officer discretion about when to record.

“This is really broad language,” Hoover told Gizmodo. “There may be narrow circumstances in which an officer can and should be recording, such as a search warrant or arrest warrant … but this bill, the way it’s written, basically allows recording in a residence carte blanche.” (The Wiretap Act requires two-party consent for recording conversations, and this bill exempts footage from that requirement.)

There’s no single, federal body camera policy, and departments are free to create whichever policy they feel suit the needs of their own community. However, that means regulation is scattershot across departments, and many privacy concerns, protection for minors and assault victims and rules on retaining footage, go unaddressed until after an issue arises.

Greenleaf acknowledged the privacy concerns, saying in the memo, “measures can be taken to protect the privacy of the occupants of the residence,” presumably referring to redaction software that can blur out people’s faces and distort or remove audio so they can’t identified. Redaction software protects the identity of those recorded, but can be a lengthy process—agencies usually only redact footage before it’s released to the public.

That leads to our second concern: SB560 would exempt body camera footage from the Right to Know law. With most public records, the Right to Know law designates an officer to coordinate with the public for most records requests. But, instead of filing a traditional records request, body camera footage would have its own request process.

Per Pennsylvania’s Courier Times, here’s how SB560 would require people to request footage (emphasis ours):

Greenleaf’s bill, however, puts a time limit of 20 days to file a request for a body camera recording and also requires the person to identify his or her connection to the footage they are requesting. If a request is denied, according to Greenleaf’s bill, the requester has 30 days to file an appeal with the court of common pleas in the county where the police activity happened and also pay a $125 filing fee.

By exempting body camera footage from the Right to Know act, officers gain the ability to outright deny requests if the agency determines they’re part of an investigation. Of course, that creates leeway to deny requests for that very reason, to stall, or to force the filing fee.

Hoover took issue with the time limit. “If there’s a dispute between an officer or a person or there’s a use of force incident, 20 days is completely arbitrary,” he said, pointing out that agencies retain the footage for much longer than 20 days—so why pick that as a cutoff date? Another problem is charging people to access footage, which would likely disproportionately impact the poor.

“The filing fee to appeal a denial could price people out of being able to get the video,” Hoover said, noting that many use of force incidents occur in poor communities. “They may have a legitimate argument to make…but if they can’t come up with the hundred twenty five dollars, they’re out of luck.”

Hoover points out that police departments could add their own amendments to the bill—reigning some of this in should they choose to—but SB560 would put that entirely at their discretion. Now that the bill has passed the Senate, it’s on its way to the House Judiciary Committee—where Hoover said it may find a sympathetic audience.

“Our sense right now is that this has a strong chance of passage,” he said.

[Courier Times]

Taser’s Latest Body Cams Push Is Unregulated, Unprecedented, and Disturbing

Gif: YouTube

On Wednesday, Axon (formerly “Taser”) announced its offer to outfit every cop in the US with a free body camera, with rollout beginning as soon as the end of the month. About 20% of police departments use body cameras. The overwhelmingly majority of all police departments have no policies about how best to use the cameras, what to do with footage, or even when to record.

Privacy experts are concerned that embracing this technology without regulation only undermines its original goals of transparency and accountability. What’s more, unregulated introduction of technology into the police force would result in a variety of unprecedented legal and safety issues.

Harlan Yu is a principal researcher for Upturn, a tech policy nonprofit that produced the Body Worn Camera scorecard—a 2016 report rating body camera policies for different police departments. Upturn found that for the few existing body camera policies in the United States, there is no consistent standard. Additionally, the majority of police departments only vaguely address crucial aspects of body camera use, such as personal privacy concerns, and some—such as unnecessary footage retention—are barely addressed at all.

“Axon’s offer creates a perverse incentive for departments to rush into deploying body worn cameras without taking the necessary time to engage with the community and think through many of these hard policy trade-offs before making the snap judgment to go with this free offer,” Yu told Gizmodo. When constructing the necessary regulations, the police departments need to be aware that for every new policy, there is a benefit and a loss.

When to record

The first policy hurdle is deciding simply when the cameras record. Yu is opposed to continuous recording, in which officers simply keep their cameras on throughout every shift, because it picks up so much mundane, public data—people walking on sidewalks and sitting in traffic, for example.Departments should instruct officers to record the overwhelming majority of public interactions, Yu proposed. He emphasized that the police should also clearly communicate to civilians that they’re being recorded. But, even that has caveats.

When not to record

“I think there should be particular sensitivity for victims to be able to opt out,” Yu said, referring to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.

Jay Stanley is a senior policy analyst with the ACLU and the co-author of the organization’s 2015 policy recommendations for police departments utilizing body cams. Stanley agrees that in cases where officers respond to domestic violence and sexual assault, particularly when children are involved, officers should defer to victims for consent to be filmed. Similarly, informants and witnesses, who can endanger themselves by helping police, should have similar privileges. The federal grant program for body cameras encourages police departments to contact victims rights’ groups when creating body camera policies, though Axon’s offer has no such requisite.

“Officers ought to not have very much discretion over when to or not to record,” Yu said. Officers shouldn’t individually decide when cameras their cameras should be on or off—there should be policy for every scenario.

Recording “malfunctions”

When to record is one problem, but what happens when officers don’t record when they should? In practice, officers have time and again reported that the cameras have either “fallen off” or spontaneously stopped recording before a fatal incident. How should these officers be held responsible? How should they be punished? Most departments don’t have clear-cut guidelines.

“Different departments will have different ways of going about it, but it should be an escalating process,” Yu offered. The ACLU suggests specific guidelines, which also encourage a punishment scale that gets worse for the officer depending on severity of the incident or whether it is a repeated offense.

Reviewing footage before submitting police reports

Some policies require officers to submit their reports before seeing footage; some actually encourage officers to view footage before completing their report.

Yu suggests a two-step process. First, the civilian and officer involved both provide a written statement immediately following an incident, before seeing the footage. Second, both the civilian and the officer view the footage of the incident and provide written statements addressing the discrepancies between the original statement and what is depicted in the footage.

This process would partially level the playing field. It would also, for example, prevent officers from tailoring their reports to the footage so that any inconsistencies in their statements are not exposed.

Yu discussed concerns of a “chilling effects” on civilians, where they may feel uncomfortable reporting officer abuse because of the veneer of objectivity the legal system gives video footage. If a policy is firmly in place allowing the civilian to give a statement, regardless of the footage, these effects could be partially alleviated.

Retaining the footage

How long should police departments keep footage they aren’t using? If, for example, 100 patrolling officers record an hour of footage daily, that’s 100 hours of footage to review. It’s not always easy to say “keep what’s important,” because it takes so long to review all that footage.

Departments should be clear in how long data can be kept before deletion. Yu recommends six months, as it “limits the privacy risks of having all that footage around.”

Mining the footage with AI

Placing firm time limits on footage retention “would also limit the ability of departments to mine that footage, especially when were seeing AI technology coming down the pike,” Yu added.

In February, Axon announced it had acquired a computer vision startup, Dextro Inc, which allowed for AI-powered object detection and unprecedented video data search capabilities. There were a number of privacy concerns, such as the technology’s capability for automated public surveillance and biometric tracking. Yu says police departments should make immediate headway in regulating AI and similar metadata analytics with such dangerous potential.

“[It’s] not what communities probably were expecting when they said ‘OK, let’s adopt body cams,” Yu said of AI-enabling features like face and object recognition. “This is a feature that is going to get snuck in with body cam technology that I think is a very dangerous combination.”

Stanley says that any type of analytics should only be used for footage flagged for use of force or a specific complaint.

Too much, too soon

Potentially as many as 14,000 police departments are being offered this technology without any regulatory framework in place and no training beyond that which is offered by the private company.

Police body cameras were originally presented as a solution for persistent and urgent issues, such as lack of transparency and accountability involving incidents of police brutality and fatal shootings, and the subsequent community mistrust of the police force. Yu and Stanley both underscore that body cameras are not a replacement for substantive police reform.

Moreover, adding these cameras before the difficult work of deciding how to balance privacy, safety and security can do more harm than good.