5 stories
·
0 followers

Self-destructing mosquitos

2 Comments

A company called Oxitec has genetically modified mosquito eggs so that the mosquitos born from them pass along a gene to their offspring that prohibits the mosquitos from reaching sexual maturity and mating. They release the mosquitos into the wild, they mate with the local population of mosquitos, and those born from those matings will die before mating themselves. Voila! Pest control.

Oxitec has conducted trials with its modified mosquito in dengue-ridden regions of Panama, Brazil, Malaysia, and the Cayman Islands. The results show population suppression rates above 90 percent-far greater than the typical 30 percent achieved with insecticides.

The company is currently planning a trial in Florida using this technique to curb an influx of mosquito-borne illness.

Tags: genetics   medicine   science
Read the whole story
crc32
1190 days ago
reply
@vpatil: That it doesn't come to my area ASAP.
Durham, North Carolina
Share this story
Delete
1 public comment
vpatil
1190 days ago
reply
What could possibly go wrong?

04/21/14 PHD comic: 'An Honest Methods Section'

3 Comments and 16 Shares
Piled Higher & Deeper by Jorge Cham
www.phdcomics.com
Click on the title below to read the comic
title: "An Honest Methods Section" - originally published 4/21/2014

For the latest news in PHD Comics, CLICK HERE!

Read the whole story
crc32
1638 days ago
reply
Durham, North Carolina
Share this story
Delete
3 public comments
tedder
1635 days ago
reply
hah.
Uranus
xbai
1637 days ago
reply
lol, exactly
WorldMaker
1637 days ago
reply
#gradschoolyall
Louisville, Kentucky

phantom internet

3 Comments and 18 Shares
we_are_the_internet_resistance_is_futile
Read the whole story
crc32
1639 days ago
reply
Durham, North Carolina
Share this story
Delete
2 public comments
BLueSS
1639 days ago
reply
This reminds me of the line from Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, "If human beings don't keep exercising their lips, their brains start working."
AndyG1128
1640 days ago
reply
So true!
Nashville, TN

Copyright is Out of Control

6 Comments and 14 Shares

I have written about patent and copyright law primarily from the perspective ofan economist interested in the institutions and incentives that maximize innovation. As a textbook author, however, I must deal with copyright law in practice. Dealing with copyright law on the ground hasn’t caused me to change my views but it has made me more frustrated. I have also come to appreciate some of the subtler more subtle costs of the system. Two cases in point.

A lot of textbooks hire a photo editor to pick generic stock photos, this simplifies things because the bundlers pre-authorize permissions and prices. But we hand picked every photo in our book to illustrate a point which means that our permissions and legal staff often have to find owners and clear permissions on an individual basis. We are grateful that our publisher is willing to do this to produce a quality product but it sometimes leads to absurdities. For example, the publisher doesn’t like to use public domain images. Why not? What could be better than free? The problem is that the bundlers insulate a publisher from lawsuits but when we use a public domain image the publisher is open to lawsuit if a mistake has been made and that makes them fearful.

The general lesson is that strong IP shrinks the public domain not just because it keeps things out of the public domain but also because it makes the public domain appear to be uncertain and dangerous. It’s as if clean, mountain spring water were freely available but people bought from the bottlers instead out of fear of contamination.

Copyright law is one of the forces behind the rise of the mega-bundlers. Mega-bundlers benefit from economies of scale in cataloging IP but there are also economies of scale in dealing with the legal system and insuring against/for lawsuit. It’s probably no accident that two of the largest bundlers, Corbis and Getty, are owned by Bill Gates and (Getty heir), Mark Getty respectively. (FYI, Piketty should have said more about this kind of 21st century rentier in Capital).

Here is another example. To illustrate the point that, contrary to what is often argued, a rich person might get more from another dollar than a poor person we have in Modern Principles a movie still of Scrooge McDuck swimming in money. We think the image speaks for itself but apparentlythatis a problem. The rights to thephoto are–we are told–not the same as the rights to the characters shown within the photo. Thus, even though we have bought and paid for the right to print the photo, to ensure that the use of the characters within the photo falls under fair use we must discuss, comment on and critique the content of the photo in the text.

The distinction between the photo IP and the what’s in the photoIP is one only a lawyer could appreciate, as is the solution. And I mean that without irony. I am not critiquing our publisher or their lawyers. Bear in mind that this is coming to us from the very highest legal counsel of a multi-billion dollar firm. Thus, I do not doubt that the dangers are real and the legal analysis acute. The problem is copyright law itself.

The episode illustrates more generally how the complexity of copyright law has greatly elevated the power of lawyers. It’s no accident that thepermissions director is one of the few people at our publisher whose signature is absolutely necessary before our book, or any book, can be published.

I am reminded of Mancur Olson’s 9th implication in The Rise and Decline of Nations:

The accumulation of distributional coalitions increases the complexity of regulation, the role of government, and the complexity of understandings, and changes the direction of social evolution.

Read the whole story
crc32
1639 days ago
reply
Durham, North Carolina
Share this story
Delete
5 public comments
mareino
1638 days ago
reply
The economic rent is too damn high!
Washington, District of Columbia
infogulch
1639 days ago
reply
Coming from a textbook author........
Missouri
digdoug
1639 days ago
reply
Lawyers. Man.
Louisville, KY
cpm
1639 days ago
reply
!
Chicago, USA
adamgurri
1641 days ago
reply
Alex is annoyed at copyright
New York, NY

A tour of the accents of the British Isles

2 Comments and 5 Shares

Using Google Earth, dialect coach Andrew Jack gives a tour of the accents of Great Britain and Ireland.

The audio is originally from this BBC program. See also Peter Sellers doing various English accents. (via devour)

Tags: Andrew JacklanguagemapsPeter Sellersvideo
Read the whole story
crc32
1649 days ago
reply
This is great!
Durham, North Carolina
Share this story
Delete
1 public comment
cinebot
1655 days ago
reply
i like this.
toronto.