Blog Rolls

Terabytes of Enron data have quietly gone missing from the Department of Energy

Muckrock – Two terabytes on the 2000-2001 Western Energy Crisis were unpublished by FERC, and not even its custodians know why: “Government investigations into California’s electricity shortage, ultimately determined to be caused by intentional market manipulations and capped retail electricity prices by the now infamous Enron Corporation, resulted in terabytes of information being collected by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. This included several extremely large databases, some of which had nearly 200 million rows of data, including Enron’s bidding and price processes, their trading and risk management systems, emails, audio recordings, and nearly 100,000 additional documents. That information has quietly disappeared, and not even its custodians seem to know why.

According to FERC’s website, some of the information is maintained by Lockheed Martin, which will provide members of the public with copies of the data “for a fee” if they contact Lockheed Martin via a non-existent e-mail address,…The collection of emails, scanned documents, and transcripts, on the other hand, is hosted by another defense contractor – CACI. Unfortunately, that portion of their site is down. According to the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine, it’s been down since at least August 2013…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Why Wikipedia’s Medical Content Is Superior

Slate: “…Like most encyclopedias, Wikipedia typically functions as a launch pad that provides a general overview of a topic and points to further or original sources. But at least one new study suggests that Wikipedia is superior to other medical sources in at least one key respect: short-term knowledge acquisition. That is, when it comes to finding the right answers quickly, Wikipedia seems to lead the pack. This suggests a new way of thinking about the utility of the crowdsourced encyclopedia. Wikipedia delivers value not only by offering massive amounts of information with its nearly 5.8 million English articles so far, but by providing the means for even professional users to quickly identify and retrieve the most relevant information.

The authors of the paper, published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research in October, devised a “three-arm randomized trial” to test the comparative effects of three resources. 116 first- or second-year medical students in Canada took a multiple-choice medical test similar to the Canadian medical licensing examination. During the test, participants took notes on topics to research. After the test, the students were provided one of three pre-selected resources: Wikipedia, a digital textbook, or UpToDate, a subscription service mostly used by doctors. After the test, participants researched topics and took written notes using their assigned resource. Then the students retook the test using their notes.

If you’re like me, then at this point you’re probably feeling bad for the poor medical students. But at least the trial yielded a meaningful result: Students in the Wikipedia group had significantly better post-test performances on the exam compared to the digital textbook group. The Wikipedia group also outperformed the UpToDate group by a small margin, an impressive result given that UpToDate costs more than $500 annually for a subscription…More than 90 percent of medical students, and 50­–70 percent of physicians, use the online encyclopedia as a source for health information…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Hackers Are Passing Around a Megaleak of 2.2 Billion Records

Wired Top Stories - Wed, 01/30/2019 - 17:31
The so-called Collections #1-5 represent a gargantuan, patched-together Frankenstein of rotting personal data.
Categories: Just News

Opinion: Growing Up In Kenya Really Does Not Prepare You For Chicago's Deep Freeze

Esther Ngumbi's dad back home had no idea what advice to give her about surviving the historic low temperatures. And he definitely wanted to know what that kind of cold feels like.

(Image credit: Alex Mutiso)

Categories: Just News

Jury Hears Closing Arguments As Dramatic 'El Chapo' Trial Nears Its End

Prosecutor Andrea Goldbarg said in her closing arguments that Joaquín Guzmán led the Sinaloa drug cartel. Dozens of witnesses said he tortured and killed people and that he bribed officials in Mexico.

(Image credit: U.S. law enforcement via AP)

Categories: Just News

Study Found Vaping Beat Traditional Smoking-Cessation Options

People who use e-cigarettes to quit smoking have milder cravings. The act of vaping provides pleasure, which may contribute to its success as a tobacco-quitting aid, researchers say.

(Image credit: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Categories: Just News

Why Is It So *&%# Cold? Come Warm Up In The Answer Vortex

The polar vortex has brought air so incredibly cold it may set low-temperature records. Will it ever be warm again?

(Image credit: Joshua Lott/AFP/Getty Images)

Categories: Just News

New Book Busts Myths About Menstruation Spread By Public Health Groups

In her new book, researcher Chris Bobel looks at how advocates seeking to help girls manage their menstrual cycle are responsible for promoting ideas that have no proof.

(Image credit: Hanna Barczyk for NPR)

Categories: Just News

Texas Officials Begin Walking Back Allegations About Noncitizen Voters

Just a few days after alleging nearly 100,000 Texas voters may not be citizens, officials now concede their list may not have been accurate.

(Image credit: Loren Elliott/Getty Images)

Categories: Just News

Why Your Phone (and Other Gadgets) Fail You When It’s Cold

Wired Top Stories - Wed, 01/30/2019 - 15:11
Your phone won't last more than about 5 minutes in weather below -35 degrees Fahrenheit—just long enough for you to also get nibbled by frostbite.
Categories: Just News

Massive Starfish Die-Off Is Tied To Global Warming

Sea stars along the Pacific Coast are dying in the largest disease epidemic ever documented in a wild marine species. New research suggests warmer water is making the disease even more deadly.

(Image credit: Ed Gullekson/Science Advances)

Categories: Just News

By Defying Apple’s Rules, Facebook Shows It Never Learns

Wired Top Stories - Wed, 01/30/2019 - 14:37
After almost two years of public and regulatory scrutiny, Facebook continues to brazenly skirt every rule and attempt at oversight put before it.
Categories: Just News

Toronto Gardener Pleads Guilty To Killing 8 Men, Some Of Whom Were Buried In Planters

Bruce McArthur, 67, admitted to killing the men between 2010 and 2017 and disposing of their bodies on or near a client's property. Nearly all the victims had ties to Toronto's LGBT community.

(Image credit: John Mantha/Reuters)

Categories: Just News

Fed Says U.S. Growth Is 'Solid,' Keeps Interest Rates Unchanged

The labor market continues to get stronger and the economy is growing at a solid rate, the Federal Reserve said. The central bank also said it will be patient as it decides on future rate increases.

(Image credit: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Categories: Just News

A Robot Teaches Itself to Play Jenga. But This Is No Game

Wired Top Stories - Wed, 01/30/2019 - 14:00
A machine is mastering the complex physics of Jenga. That's a big step in the daunting quest to get robots to manipulate objects in the real world.
Categories: Just News

Several Democrats Eying A Presidential Run Embrace 'Medicare-For-All'

The idea, they say, would be to eliminate the health insurance industry and replace it with government-run health insurance. The industry is already gearing up to oppose any moves in that direction.

(Image credit: Mason Trinca/Getty Images)

Categories: Just News

U.S. Opens Trade Talks With China

President Trump has threatened to increase and expand on about $250 billion in tariffs, but he agreed to hold off until early March, while negotiators try to hammer out a deal.

(Image credit: Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images)

Categories: Just News

'Putin's Chef' Has His Fingers In Many Pies, Critics Say

Yevgeny Prigozhin, a high-end caterer with ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, is accused of interfering in the 2016 U.S. election and is linked to Russian mercenaries in Syria and Ukraine.

(Image credit: Misha Japaridze/AP)

Categories: Just News

Nepalese Rice Farmers Boost Yields By Sowing Fewer Plants And Cutting Water

As the climate gets drier, researchers are looking again at an alternative method to grow rice — a crop that feeds millions of people — that uses less water. But support for the technique is mixed.

(Image credit: Danielle Preiss/NPR)

Categories: Just News

Sailing Over the Caribbean From the International Space Station

NASA Image of the Day - Wed, 01/30/2019 - 12:25
Portions of Cuba, the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands are viewed from the International Space Station.
Categories: Just News


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