Friday, October 3, 2014

Howard University Students ‘Shocked’ By Possible Ebola Case

Howard University Students ‘Shocked’ By Possible Ebola Case

Howard University Students ‘Shocked’ By Possible Ebola Case

Posted: 03 Oct 2014 10:58 AM PDT

Typically at the start of October, freshman students like Quencey Hickerson, 18, would be preparing for their first Howard University homecoming. But on Friday, Hickerson and her fellow students were preoccupied with news of a possible case of Ebola virus being treated at the Howard University Hospital, which lies on the southern end of the Washington, D.C. school’s campus.

Hickerson, who heard the news via social media, told TIME she was “shocked” by the news. “I didn’t expect [the virus] to spread so quickly,” Hickerson said.

Though the patient might not actually have Ebola and hospital officials say they have taken the necessary steps to isolate the patient, the virus’ potential spread was on the minds of many students at the historically black college.

“Campus is freaking out and this isn’t even confirmed,” said Blake Newby, 19, who also found out via social media. The sophomore student said the news of the possible case at Howard was a double whammy, as the first person to develop Ebola in the United States during the recent outbreak is being treated in her home state of Texas.

Howard University and its hospital have been reluctant to share further details about the case on Friday afternoon. In a statement, university spokesperson Dr. Kerry Ann Hamilton said the university would “provide periodic updates as information becomes available,” but the hospital is being careful to avoid running afoul of patient privacy laws.

For Newby, the university’s precaution was appreciated. “The second people see Ebola and Howard in the same sentence they assume it means there’s Ebola on Howard’s campus.” And that’s nowhere near accurate.

Why People Post Annoying Status Updates on Facebook

Posted: 03 Oct 2014 10:55 AM PDT

People who aren’t emotionally stable post more frequently in order to regulate their emotions and receive social support.

Low emotionally stable individuals experience emotions more intensely and have difficulty regulating their emotions on their own. Consequently, we suggest that they use the microblogging feature on online social networks (e.g., Tweets or Facebook status updates) to help regulate their emotions. Accordingly, we find that less emotionally stable individuals microblog more frequently and share their emotions more when doing so, a tendency that is not observed offline. Further, such sharing, paired with the potential to receive social support, helps boost their well-being.

Source: “Facebook Therapy: Why People Share Self-Relevant Content Online” by Eva Buechel and Jonah Berger

It might be a good strategy because, overall, Facebook users do get more emotional support than other people. (Here are some great tips by experts for using Facebook to enhance your happiness.)

The potential downside is that on Facebook everyone shows the best and not the worst, leading to portraits of unattainable lives that can make people feel bad by comparison. And the truth is, Facebook promotes mainly weak, low-commitment friendships.

Your Facebook profile probably reveals your true personality. It can tell people whether you have anxiety and even predict your job performance.

Your Facebook profile is as indicative of how extroverted you are as actually sitting down with you for a short meeting. It can predict your openness to experience as well as watching your social behavior.

Via Snoop: What Your Stuff Says About You:

(Bigger blob indicates the item at the top is more telling about the characteristic on the left.)

Your Facebook “relationship status” says a lot about how happy you probably are.

What’s a really good sign? Men who listed their partnership status (“In a relationship with…”) and women whose profile picture displayed their partner both had happier relationships.

In fact, Facebook can predict with a 33% accuracy who you’ll be dating next week:

Via The Facebook Effect: The Inside Story of the Company That Is Connecting the World:

As the service’s engineers built more and more tools that could uncover such insights, Zuckerberg sometimes amused himself by conducting experiments. For instance, he concluded that by examining friend relationships and communications patterns he could determine with about 33 percent accuracy who a user was going to be in a relationship with a week from now. To deduce this he studied who was looking at which profiles, who your friends were friends with, and who was newly single, among other indicators.

And those people posting all those status updates to regulate their emotions may not be aware of the main reason for un-friending:

Posting too many boring updates.

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Related posts:

Is Facebook making us lonely?

Does email turn you into an asshole?

5 things you didn’t know about friendship

This piece originally appeared on Barking Up the Wrong Tree.

This Hotel Allegedly Blocked Your Wi-Fi Hotspot

Posted: 03 Oct 2014 10:52 AM PDT

Marriott has agreed to pay a civil penalty of $600,000 to resolve Federal Communications Commission allegations that the chain’s Nashville, Tenn. hotel used Wi-Fi “jammers” to prevent customers from creating hot spots with their smart phones or other devices. According to terms of the settlement, Marriott has agreed to pay the fine without admitting to any specific violation.

By blocking personal hot spots, the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center, operated by Marriott, allegedly raked in thousands of dollars in Wi-Fi fees from hotel patrons who had no other option but to use the hotel’s Wi-Fi for internet access, according to an FCC announcement released Friday. The jammers targeted the hotel’s convention center, where rates for internet access range from $250 to $1,000 per device.

“Consumers who purchase cellular data plans should be able to use them without fear that their personal Internet connection will be blocked by their hotel or conference center,” said Travis LeBlanc, head of the FCC’s enforcement bureau. “It is unacceptable for any hotel to intentionally disable personal hotspots.”

According to the terms of the consent decree, Marriott will also implement procedures to improve its handling of IT issues at the Nashville hotel.

Marriott did not immediately reply to Time’s request for comment on the settlement.

Five Things We Learned About Lady Gaga From Her Reddit AMA

Posted: 03 Oct 2014 10:38 AM PDT

Reddit, the internet clearinghouse for rumors and jokes about horse-sized ducks, is a strange place to promote a jazz album. But never let it be said that Lady Gaga isn’t an innovator.

In an “Ask Me Anything” session today, the pop singer — whose album-length collaboration with Tony Bennett, Cheek to Cheek, recently debuted at number one on the charts — ran through her recent history. Turns out that even one of the most exposed celebrities of the past decade had things left to reveal.

The choice of venue may be a sign that the pop star is learning to pivot. Her 2013 album, Artpop, generated no major hit songs and was a sales disappointment, despite a near-overwhelming publicity blitz; in promoting Cheek to Cheek, the star appears to be taking a lower-fi approach. If Cheek to Cheek continues to perform on the charts, it may help to prove that the classic album-release strategy (big fashion magazine covers, awards-show performances) is less effective than connecting directly with fans.

Not that Gaga was willing to chat about everything. Here are a few of the biggest revelations from her Ask Me Anything session:

She’s not ready to talk about Terry Richardson and R. Kelly: Some commenters on Reddit speculated that the go-between dictating questions to the pop star didn’t even read her this question, about Lady Gaga’s working with Terry Richardson and R. Kelly (both of whom have been accused of sexual assault) on her never-officially-released “Do What U Want” video, which depicted Kelly drugging and violating Gaga. Either way, the pop star remained silent on the issue; after all, enough time has passed without her comment that many people have forgotten the imbroglio entirely.

She’s inspired by botany: Turns out the “Gaga” genus of ferns, discovered by scientists in 2012, could mean anything. Asked about the unique honor, Gaga responded with a deep thought about how plants live without judgment: “its pretty cool, especially since it is a-sexual fern [...] All sexless, judgeless, How cool. How I wish to be.”

The famous “meat dress” was constructed by: A butcher and some fishing line.”

She’s multifaceted: Lady Gaga is both “really into healing” and likes “to shoot beer cans off the porch in PA with my bf, off our camo 4-wheeler.” The former is exactly what one would expect a contemporary pop star to say. The latter? We’ll believe it if we see a photo.

Her favorite condiment is mayonnaise: You just have to get through a paragraph about how much she loves her fans to learn the most important detail of all.

5 Unique Junk-Food Gadgets for Under $70

Posted: 03 Oct 2014 10:32 AM PDT

Condiment Gun ($9.99)


Take a moment right now to reexamine your life. Have you lived it to its fullest? Think long and hard about your past condiment dispersals. Have they all been from easy-open packets and plastic containers?

It’s time to live – LIVE! – thanks to this condiment gun. Load it up with your favorite fatty, sugary slatherables (there are two cartridges), pull the trigger and blast your way to satiety – no concealed-carry permit required.


Hand-Crank Flan Maker ($49)

Japan Trend Shop

For starters, I was not aware that flan was made simply by jumbling an egg around for a couple minutes, boiling it for 30 seconds and then dumping some caramel sauce on top of it. That seems way too easy, but what do I know? I can’t even make toast, which is supposed to be easy.

This adorable hand-crank apparatus promises “custard flan-style desert” by following the aforementioned steps, and as a bonus, offers this must-see video detailing the process. The somber scene of an egg jovially singing the flan-making song before watching one of his friends being spun to death should not be lost on anyone:

[Japan Trend Shop]

Indoor S’mores Maker ($69.95)

Hammacher Schlemmer

Admit it: You bought this thing without even reading about it. What combination of words could I possibly cobble together with my extremely limited vocabulary in order to do this product justice? It’s an indoor S’mores maker.

Again, this is an indoors S’mores maker. It allows you to make S’mores inside.

Blizzard? No problem. Hurricane? Fine with me. Armageddon? Leave me alone, my chocolate has reached the perfect melting point. There’s even a circumferential tray that holds your marshmallows, graham crackers and chocolate. Come on, now.

[Hammacher Schlemmer]

Car Grill ($50)

car grill
12 Volts Plus

You’ve heard the sayings: Work smarter, not harder. Time is money. Madge, I soaked in it.

Maybe strike that last one, but the first two are relevant here. Won’t you just look like a genius using your morning commute to fry up some greasy, crackling pig meat on this 12-volt grill. Hey, throw a hash brown on there while you’re at it. Crack an egg or two.

No need to feel guilty, either. The sloped grill drains grease down into a bottom-mounted receptacle that definitely (probably, maybe, who knows) won’t cause any spillage when you sink your front tire into that pothole or bottom out while going over that speed bump.

[12 Volts Plus]

App-Connected Baking Kit ($69.99)

perfect bake
Perfect Bake

You’re not anal; you’re particular. If a recipe calls for a cup of flour, who are you to eyeball it? Quit playing God!

Thankfully, this app-connected baking kit ensures that everything gets measured out perfectly – right down to the ounce.

Put a bowl on the scale, connect the scale to your phone or tablet and pull up one of the hundreds of included recipes. The app will tell you which ingredients to add and will adjust the measurements on the fly if you overpour. Not that you would ever, ever, ever overpour. Can you imagine? What a nightmare! You’re not anal. You’re not anal.


Past Nonsense:

Review: Annabelle Conjures Up a Devil Doll

Posted: 03 Oct 2014 10:28 AM PDT

Nobody says the F word. There’s no nudity or spilled guts. Yet the Motion Picture Association of America has given Annabelle an R rating, “for intense sequences of disturbing violence and terror.” That’s not a warning — that’s a come-on. And yet, the horror-film genre may need it: none of the half-dozen fright-athons released so far this year has grossed as much as $20 million its first weekend or $35 million in its entire domestic run.

So Hollywood is banking on Annabelle, which has a pedigree of sorts, as a prequel to the 2013 hit The Conjuring. Based on the supposedly factual exploits of ghost-hunters Ed and Lorraine Warren, The Conjuring was one of last year’s biggest hits, dollar spent for dollar made: it earned $318 million worldwide on a budget of $20 million. Annabelle, which was produced for even less money ($6.5 million), and which promotes the earlier movie’s spooky doll to star status, is meant to scare up a few bucks until The Conjuring 2 materializes for Halloween 2015.

This one, directed by Conjuring cinematographer John R. Leonetti, is based on nothing truer than memories of Rosemary’s Baby, Roman Polanski’s 1968 horror classic about a young woman impregnated by Satan. To this template, screenwriter Gary Duberman added elements of the Charles Manson “Family,” a gang of Satanic cultists who in 1969 invaded the Benedict Canyon home of Polanski’s wife, Sharon Tate, then eight months pregnant with their child, and slaughtered her and four others.

World’s creepiest movie pitch: What if it’s 1969, and a pregnant blond, but not Sharon Tate, were to survive an attack from a Manson-type gang and give birth to a child, like the baby in the Polanski film, who was stalked by an avatar of the Devil? To make the connection clear, we’ll call the young woman Mia (for Mia Farrow, who played Rosemary) and her husband John (for John Cassavetes, as Rosemary’s spouse). We’ll also invoke the funeral-black baby carriage from the Rosemary’s Baby poster. But we also need a connection to The Conjuring, so we’ll work in the doll as the embodiment of teenaged Annabelle, the woman who stabbed Mia. And, as Mia, we’ll cast a pretty English actress named Annabelle (Wallis). Bases: covered.

The “real” Annabelle doll, which is locked away in the Warrens’ museum and blessed twice a month by a Catholic priest, was a regular Raggedy Ann. The movies’ Annabelle is an elaborate, enormous Victorian creature, about the size of a four-year-old, with gaping eyes, blood-red lips and, later, cracks in the skin. She’s no knife-wielding Chucky, from the Child’s Play series, or Richard Matheson’s great Zuni fetish doll from the 1975 TV movie Trilogy of Terror. Annabelle doesn’t speak and rarely moves. But she has modest telekinetic powers: she can make a chair rock, turn off a TV set, turn on a record player, all in aid of terrifying Mia while her doctor husband John (generically handsome Ward Horton) is away at work.

After the gang attack, the couple moves 30 miles from Santa Monica to Pasadena, yet still attends the same Catholic church to avail themselves of the sympathetic powers of Father Perez (Tony Amendola). Mia, who is oddly bereft of all companionship, strikes up a conversation with Evelyn (a slumming Alfre Woodard), who runs the local occult book store. When Mia says, “I think my family is being haunted by a ghost,” Evelyn calmly replies, “Aisle four.” Of course, Annabelle pops up in both cities. Within 15 mins., the audience is screaming en masse, “Throw out the damn doll!” (And not in your own trash can.) But John and Mia can’t do that. They’re in a horror movie.

Just because a film is a cheap ripoff doesn’t mean it can’t do the scare job. Leonetti occasionally avoids shock cuts to let Mia stand in the image’s foreground as the ghostly Annabelle-woman glides behind her. In one effective scene, Mia sees the Annabelle doll come to life as a four-year-old girl; as it bursts through the door of Mia’s room, it transforms into the adult Annabelle. Another nice sequence: Mia, pursued by a demon in her basement, rushes to the elevator and manages to close the doors; when the doors open, she’s in the same spooky basement.

Quality is often irrelevant in a horror movie; shock is the key. Like volunteers in the notorious Milgram experiments, who thought they were inflicting pain on other people, a movie audience wants to see how much terror they can handle by seeing people on the screen terrorized. I can’t watch; I must watch. With its familiar jolts in a genre that will never die, Annabelle isn’t a must-see. But if you do go, you must watch.

Dog Owner Sentenced to Prison in Fatal Mauling

Posted: 03 Oct 2014 10:24 AM PDT

(LANCASTER, Calif.) — A pit bull owner convicted of second-degree murder after his dogs fatally mauled a woman was sentenced Friday to 15 years to life in prison.

Alex Donald Jackson, 31, was convicted last month in the death of Pamela Devitt. The 63-year-old retiree was taking a morning stroll in the high desert town of Littlerock when four of Jackson’s dogs leaped over a fence and attacked her in the street.

She was alone, didn’t have a phone and no one was nearby. By the time help arrived, she had been bitten 150 to 200 times from head to toe and an arm was severed. She died from blood loss.

Jackson was initially arrested when deputies searching for the dogs discovered a marijuana-growing operation in his house. He was later charged with murder when Devitt’s DNA was found on his dogs’ bloody fur.

A murder conviction for a killing by dogs is rare.

The mauling of Diane Whipple in the hallway outside her San Francisco apartment in 2001 led to her neighbor’s second-degree murder conviction.

A Michigan couple is facing trial on second-degree murder charges for the mauling death of a jogger in July by two cane corsos, an Italian mastiff-type breed, near their home about 45 miles outside Detroit.

The theory behind such cases is that the accused did something so reckless they had to know it was dangerous enough to kill someone — even without intending harm.

“His actions in this case show that he has a nearly psychopathic disregard for the lives and well-being of others,” Deputy District Attorney Ryan Williams said of Jackson in his sentencing memo.

Prosecutors in Los Angeles County Superior Court sought a term of 24 years to life in prison for the murder and convictions on weapon and drug charges. The dogs guarded Jackson’s pot-growing operation and he knew the animals were dangerous, Williams said.

In Jackson’s case and others like it, prosecutors have said neighbors and others complained that the owners’ dogs were vicious or dangerous and that the owners didn’t do enough to control the animals.

The Devitts, who passed through the area during their walking routine, had never had a problem with the dog, Williams said.

But nine other witnesses, including several horse riders and a postal worker, testified about seven frightening encounters. One equestrian had offered to provide free fencing and help Jackson put it up to keep the dogs on his property, but Jackson did not accept the help.

Defense lawyer Al Kim said Thursday that the “nail in the coffin” for Jackson was that the number of other incidents made it hard to argue that he wasn’t aware of the danger the dogs posed.

At trial, Kim conceded Jackson was a drug dealer, but also said he was a dog lover who took in strays that reproduced. While he should have kept closer watch of them, he never intended to hurt someone.

“He’s not the evil dude he’s being made out to be,” Kim said. “He feels horrible about this. He’s contrite.”

Everything You Need to Know About the Newest Star Wars Show

Posted: 03 Oct 2014 10:19 AM PDT

Lucasfilm/Disney XD

With Star Wars: Episode VII more than a year away, the animated television series Star Wars Rebels gives fans their first glimpse at what Star Wars will look like as a Disney property.

Created by Dave Filoni, the supervising director of the animated Star Wars: Clone Wars series, Rebels is set five years before the events of Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope and follows the familiar formula of teacher and apprentice with Kanan (Freddie Prinze Jr.) serving as an initially reluctant Jedi teacher to a hot-headed Ezra (Taylor Gray).

Together with Kanan and Ezra, the motley crew of the starship Ghost traverse the galaxy while giving light to the nascent signs of rebellion rising up against the oppression of the Galactic Empire, setting the stage for the events of Star Wars: Episode IV.

The show further ties back to its Star Wars: Episode IV roots with its art style, which is heavily influenced by the original Star Wars concept art illustrated by Ralph McQuarrie.

See: Original Star Wars Concept Art

Already greenlit for a second season, the franchise is set to premiere with an hour-long television movie debut on Oct. 3 titled Star Wars Rebels: Spark of Rebellion on the Disney Channel, while the series itself will kick off on October 13 on Disney XD.

Meet the key players:

8 Ebola Terms You Need to Know

Posted: 03 Oct 2014 10:17 AM PDT

Incubation period: The time between exposure to a virus and when symptoms start to present, which is two to 21 days in Ebola’s case.

Symptomatic: A patient becomes symptomatic when they present symptoms of Ebola, which include fever, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, vomiting and diarrhea.

Contagious: People with strains of the Ebola virus in their blood are only contagious when they are presenting with symptoms (see above). The virus cannot be transmitted before a person is symptomatic, which means that people on the same airplane as Thomas Eric Duncan could not have caught the virus from him.

R0: Also called R-nought, it refers to the “estimated reproduction number for infectious diseases.” Put more simply, it’s a formula predicting how contagious a virus is. NPR has a handy graphic on their site showing that Ebola has an R0 of 2, meaning the likely number of people infected by one patient. Measles, by comparison, has an R0 of 18. It is relatively difficult, as we have shown, to spread Ebola.

Contact tracing: This involves the laborious process of tracking down anyone whom a patient may have exposed to Ebola. It requires trained public health officials who ask a series of questions about where the patient has been, and how many people he might have interacted with, either face to face or in a room or other contained setting. In West Africa, this is being done by local volunteers who are trained by public health experts.

Direct contact: This includes the people most closely connected to a patient—family members and friends. These people are most likely to have come into contact with a patient’s body fluids, and therefore represented the group most likely exposed to the virus, and at highest risk of developing the disease.

Indirect contact: This group includes those who may have had contact with a patient but in a less direct way—in a workplace or school, for example. These also include contacts of the direct contacts, who are at lower risk of having been exposed to the patient’s body fluids and so are at lower risk of having Ebola.

Quarantine: A legal order for a potentially infected person not to leave a space or have contact with the rest of the population. The Ebola’s patient’s four family members are in quarantine, with a law enforcement official stationed outside their home.

How Justin Bieber Killed the Mustache

Posted: 03 Oct 2014 10:11 AM PDT

RIP, the mustache. Justin Bieber’s decision to sport one in public this week might represent the final nail in the coffin for a facial feature that had already gone from being a symbol of manliness to an ironic punchline. After all, what self-respecting Brooklyn poseur can be proud to comb his lip caterpillar now that the Biebs has one?

The pop icon appeared at Paris Fashion Week Wednesday with a wispy dusting of facial frizz atop his lip. He had previously experimented with one at various points in recent months, but it now seems to have gone beyond overgrown bum fluff to an actual grooming choice. No doubt intended to be a hipsterish affectation, the mustache instead made him look like a ripe pubescent whose father hasn’t bought him a razor yet.

But the fact that the nation’s premier former teen idol apparently thinks it giddily ironic to wear a mustache in public vividly illustrates the decline of a male style choice once proudly sported by film stars, political gods and war heroes.

The early 20th century was the mustache’s prime era, when mustachioed leading men like Errol Flynn and Clark Gable ruled Hollywood, and Teddy Roosevelt could be among the manliest of presidents with a veritable slab of hair resting beneath his nose. It was fashionable for U.S. airmen to wear “bulletproof mustaches” as a superstition in WWII and Vietnam — but none was more impervious to attack than that of “triple ace” Robin Olds, whose non-regulation ‘stache became nothing less than a symbol of rebellion. It was, he said, “ the middle finger I couldn’t raise in the PR photographs. The mustache became my silent last word in the verbal battles…with higher headquarters on rules, targets, and fighting the war.”

The mustache as symbol underwent a kind of metamorphosis in the 1970s, however, when it became a signifier of gay culture and, eventually, of pornography. Although it was arguably the mustache’s masculine potency that attracted it to these subcultures, its association with them watered down its appeal to the mainstream. It had something of a resurgence in the 1980s, thanks to the heroic efforts of Tom Selleck and Burt Reynolds, but almost disappeared from popular visibility towards the end of the century, when goatees and sideburns became more en vogue.

By the early 21st century, the mustache had become little more than a costume accessory to most of America — whether they’re dressing as a porn star, as Saddam Hussein, or as Ron Burgundy. The lingering porniness of the ‘stache has also cemented it as the facial furniture of choice of the stereotypical creepy uncle or teacher.

This wane in popularity is a development some have linked to a general decline in American maleness. Here’s Wesley Morris, writing in the Boston Globe in 2009, on how the newly sensitive men of the 2000s, “afraid of seeming too serious about being male,” relegated the mustache to the vintage store bargain bin:

“To be a guy became a kind of adolescent joke – think Jackass and the G4 network – and to be a man, a grownup, meant shaving your upper lip, and possibly maintaining your eyebrows. There are more college-educated American men now that there have ever been, and while education can create self-confidence, it’s also good at creating self-consciousness. You could say that a huge swath of American men have simply misplaced the self-confidence required to wear a single strip of hair on their lips.”

Today, men who wear a mustache do so with a giant pair of inverted commas on either side of it. So firmly has it become a joke that an annual charitable event (“Movember”) now exists daring men to grow one for an entire month each year — as if the act of wearing a mustache was now so hilariously out of fashion, men need to be challenged to do it.

But now that young Bieber has sported a mustache, no doubt in an attempt to co-opt some hipsterish cool for his increasingly fragile personal brand, the irony is almost entirely washed out. It’s too soon to say, but this could be the final death knell for the hipster mustache. And who would wear one then?

Morris, in his excellent 2009 essay, calls for a hero to bring the mustache back into public esteem — but the negative associations may now run too deep for that. This reporter once shaved a beard off into a mustache for a party, and was greeted with cheers, laughter and selfie invitations. But midway through the night, I caught myself in a mirror and realized my mustache was no longer ironic. To most people I encountered, it was just a mustache. I’ve never worn one again.


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