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#InsurancePoll: Amanda Palmer wants to know about your experience with health insurance

Amanda Palmer was musing about the messed up state of US health insuranceso she took to Twitter, writing about it under the #InsurancePoll tag ("quick twitter poll. 1) COUNTRY?! 2) profession? 3) insured? 4) if not, why not, if so, at what cost per month (or covered by job)?"). The tag's blown up, trending across the USA, as people weigh in with their insurance horror stories. Then a volunteer statistician came forward to compile a report on the data generated by the poll. They're looking for lots more people to step forward and participate.

i’ll post the gathered data as soon as it’s ready. the results, as DM’d to me a few hours ago by @aubreyjaubrey:

– preliminary info from first 156 responses indicates 24.5% of US respondents do not have insurance because of cost.

– 31.4% of responses were from outside of US. all but one person had some kind of compulsory of government supported healthcare – (that one person was denied)

– 24.4% of those abroad have some employer/private insurance for optometry and dental. individual costs from $45-$90/month. around $250/mo for a family.

– based on responses, Germany appears to be the only other country with extortionate health care costs.

a few hours ago aubrey posted she was off to bed but would continue today and that so far, 240 sets of data had been entered. nice.

runaway twitter insurance poll & the power of social media & sharing stories

Winners of the Pirate Flix Video Remix contest

Thanks to everyone who submitted to the Pirate Flix Video Remix contest and especially to those who braved the rain to come out to Brooklyn's WORD books tonight. Herein presented are the winners of the contest, starting with Diran Lyons's first-place-winning 99 Problems (Explicit Political Remix).

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Cool handheld 3D scanner

How soon before we hear rumblings in Congress that cool handheld 3-D scanners like this need to be tightly regulated, lest they get into the hands of manufacturers of knockoff goods?

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What Canada stands to lose in the war on science

The reign of the current Canadian Conservative government has been relentlessly hostile to science. Government scientists are not allowed to publish or speak to the press without permission from political officers who censor even the most innocuous statements. Basic science research has been slashed. Given that the Tories' real power base is the tar sands petroleum industry -- the dirtiest form of oil extraction being practiced anywhere in the world today -- it's not surprising. Scientists in Canada are fed up. 2,000 scientists staged a "funeral for evidence" on Parliament Hill this summer.

C. Scott Findlay's Toronto Star editorial on the Harper government's war on science and evidence is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand what Canada stands to lose from systematic, relentless attacks on science, truth and evidence-based policy.

Even so, close examination of the $1.1 billion investment shows that much has been allocated to industry and commercial science partnerships. Meanwhile, the proportion of funding allocated to basic research, such as the budget of the Discovery Grants program of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, has been dropping steadily since 2006.

The science enterprise is like a pyramid. At the base are scientists engaged in the importunate probing of nature’s corpus — say, characterizing the molecular signalling pathways whose activation predisposes cells to become cancerous. Balancing on their shoulders are scientists who apply this knowledge to existing problems — say, developing a cancer drug that will block some of these signalling pathways. And teetering at the apex are scientists engaged in the industrialization of applied research — say, finding efficient ways of producing cancer drugs in large quantities at a reasonable price.

As children, we learned that the larger the base, the taller the pyramid that can be supported: the more basic research, the more opportunities for commercialization and industrialization. Moreover, an uneven base — areas of science where there is comparatively little basic research — not only means no corresponding opportunities for application or industrialization but, worse still, increases the chances of the whole structure toppling over. So too does overloading the top levels: after all, even the most robust basic scientist can support only so many of her applied and industrialization colleagues on her shoulders.

Governing in the dark: Ottawa’s dangerous unscientific revolution (via Confessions of a Science Librarian)

Doctor Dreadful Alien Autopsy Lab

Here is the latest Doctor Dreadful toy, the Alien Autopsy Lab, created by my friend and MAKE magazine columnist Bob Knetzger. When those hoaxers created the fake alien autopsy video, did they ever think that it would be the inspiration for a kids toy?

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Mothership Hackermoms seeks funders for for woman-centric hackerspace

Laura sez, "The Mothership Hackermoms is the first ever women-centric hackerspace. We give mothers the time and space to explore DIY craft and design, hacker/maker culture, entrepreneurship, and all manner of creative expression - with childcare! We're designers, scientists, artists, programmers, educators, photographers, writers, entrepreneurs, makers, welders, cooks, illustrators and professionals as well as moms. Our just launched kickstarter will help us build out our space and fund programs for our members and the community."

Mothership HackerMoms: The first women's hackerspace! (Thanks, Laura!)

Timothy Leary's prison correspondence with Carl Sagan

Lisa Rein from the Timothy Leary estate writes,

Dr. Timothy Leary Futique Trust has released two letters from its archives from Carl Sagan, written to Tim Leary in the Spring of 1974. Turns out that Sagan visited Leary in prison at least once.

There are more than a few remarkable similarities when the lives of these two visionaries are compared. They were both scientific explorers and cultural activists - men of ideas and of action. They were geniuses at communication, not only in their books and talks, but as showmen, with extraordinary ability to spread their ideas to a mass audience.

Leary was the era's foremost advocate of inner space exploration, through humanistic psychology and mind-altering drugs, whereas Sagan was the highest profile advocate of space exploration and extra-terrestrial communication. Both were adept at using the media to illuminate their big ideas about inner space (Tim) and outer space (Carl).

Inner Space and Outer Space: Carl Sagan’s Letters to Timothy Leary (1974) (Thanks, Lisa!)

(Graphic: The "Starseed Transmission" in binary code, first printed in Terra II (1974), a manual for space migration, written in Folsom Prison by Leary and fellow prisoner, L. Wayne Benner.)

Pearson's takedown notice over a quote from a 1974 textbook shuts down 1.45 million edublogs

EduBlogs, a service that hosts 1.45 million educational blogs, had all 1.45 million of them taken offline for 12 hours because their $70K/year hosting company, ServerBeach, pitched a wobbly after receiving a takedown notice from Pearson Publishing. Pearson was upset over a five-year-old blog post where a teacher had quoted 279 words out of an article written in 1974. They sent the takedown notice to their host. EduBlogs deleted the post, but it was still present in their database, so ServerBeach punished them by removing 1.45 million peoples' sites.

Now, like I said, the list only runs to 20 questions, sub 300 words, and I think is a pretty important and useful resource for teachers to share with their students.

But clearly Pearson isn’t making enough money already, and intends to, rather that let this 38-year old work be shared, discussed, used, even in a way that might save some people’s lives, on the internet.

Instead it wants a regular teacher to handover $120 for it.

Here’s another idea Pearson, maybe one that you could take from Edublogs, howabout you let this tiny useful list be freely available, and then you sell your study materials / textbooks and other material around that… maybe use Creative Commons Non Commercial Attribution license or similar to make sure you get some links and business.

Or at the very least contact us directly about it.

Rather than being assholes and stuffing up hundreds of thousands of teachers and students through getting your lawyers to lay into our less-than-satisfactory hosts :(

ServerBeach takes 1.45 million edublogs offline just 12 hours after sending through a Pearson DMCA notice for a 20 question list… (via Techdirt)

The zombie ferret car sticker you've been seeking is finally available!

Let me guess: You are a member of a family with a pet ferret. You are also a fan of zombies. But whenever you look for a set of "family" stickers for the back window of your motor vehicle that not only turns your familial avatars into zombies, but also includes a pet ferret, you are met with bitter failure. I have wonderful news for you: your search is over! I found one for you at New York Comic Con.

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Awesome NYCC panel: Comics Pros and Film Buffs - When Fanboys Collide

(Video link) One of the really fun panels I attended at New York Comic Con discussed a subject with which I'm very familiar: comic book movies, and being a comics fan versus a movies fan. While I dig and respect comic books, I'm definitely in the latter camp. At the panel Comics Pros and Film Buffs: When Fanboys Collide, moderated by John Siuntres of the Word Balloon podcast, a lively discussion took place on how comic book movies impact the comic book industry, but also some less popular movies based on comic books. Bash Brannigan, anyone?

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Little Nemo, the Google Doodle edition

Normally, I'm pretty blase about Google Doodles, but today's Doodle pays homage to Winsor McCay's Little Nemo, with a beautiful, pitch-perfect animated series of "Adventures in Google-Land" that you really must see (even the large graphic excerpt here doesn't do it justice, you have to get the animations to get the full effect).

The gigantic Little Nemo collections (Little Nemo in Slumberland and Little Nemo in Slumberland: So Many Splendid Sundays) remain two of my most cherished collections, revealing the full majesty of McCay's imagination by reproducing his original strips at full size. The Google Doodle isn't as humongous as the books, but what it lacks in size it makes up for with lovely animation.

If you're a McCay fan, don't miss the Little Sammy Sneeze collection.

Little Nemo in Google-Land

Nicholson Baker on the joy of writing on rubber with a ballpoint pen


I read Nicholson Baker's book of essays, The Size of Thoughts, when it came out in 1997. If you are familiar with Baker, you know that he has a knack for making the familiar seem wondrous, even bizarre. Dan Shepelavy posted this page from Baker's book, and now I want to find it and reread it.

The Size of Thoughts

Lies writers tell themselves

#2. All you need to be a writer is talent. [The Awl] Rob

Analog Ultra-Violence

J. Christopher Arrison on how the Moog came to represent a new sound of evil for the movies: "This ingenious re-purposing of classical themes through multi-layered analog synthesizers remains as powerful today as it did over four decades years ago. But like Kubrick’s brutal and graphic imagery, [Wendy] Carlos’ contribution to electronic music was not without controversy." [Cultureramp via Tettix]

The adolescence of Reddit

Joel Johnson on what went wrong at Reddit, where moderators closed ranks around a particularly nasty member in the face of outside scrutiny: "outcast cultures ... must survive an awkward adolescence before integrating fully back into the culture from which they are spawned. And like most teenagers, there is a lot of whining, misfired blame, and crying about “never asking to be born” before those cultures realize that despite their memory of an idyllic second childhood, everyone must eventually grow up." Rob