ReHacked vol. 192: Exoskeletons qualify for direct disability compensation in Germany, Samsung’s Android app-signing key has leaked, UK ditches ban on 'legal but harmful' online content and more

“There was only one Nazism, the fascist game can be played in many forms, and the name of the game does not change.” --Umberto Eco

ReHacked vol. 192: Exoskeletons qualify for direct disability compensation in Germany, Samsung’s Android app-signing key has leaked, UK ditches ban on 'legal but harmful' online content and more
ReWalk Robotics’ exoskeletons can help users stand upright, walk, turn and climb stairs. | Source: ReWalk Robotics

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Exoskeletons qualify for direct disability compensation in Germany - The Robot Report #technology #health

ReWalk Robotics made progress in German courts this week. BARMER announced it would accept a ruling from state courts that made exoskeletons considered eligible for direct disability compensation and withdrew its pending case at the federal level. BARMER is one of Germany’s largest statutory health insurance providers.

The ruling gives eligible, insured patients with spinal cord injuries (SCIs) a legal basis to use an exoskeleton as an orthopedic aid for direct disability compensation in Germany.

Cognitive ability is a powerful predictor of political tolerance - Rasmussen - 2022 - Journal of Personality - Wiley Online Library #society #psychology #politics


Cognitive ability was the single strongest predictor of political tolerance, with larger effects than education, openness to experience, ideology, and threat. The cognitively demanding nature of tolerance judgments was further supported by results showing cognitive ability predicted tolerance best when extending such tolerance was hardest. Additional small-sample panel results demonstrated substantial 4-year stability of political tolerance, informing future work on the origins of political tolerance.


Our observation of a potent role for cognitive ability in tolerance supports cognitively oriented accounts of tolerance judgments and highlights the need for further exploration of cognitive ability within the political domain.

Samsung’s Android app-signing key has leaked, is being used to sign malware | Ars Technica #software #security

A developer's cryptographic signing key is one of the major linchpins of Android security. Any time Android updates an app, the signing key of the old app on your phone needs to match the key of the update you're installing. The matching keys ensure the update actually comes from the company that originally made your app and isn't some malicious hijacking plot. If a developer's signing key got leaked, anyone could distribute malicious app updates and Android would happily install them, thinking they are legit.

On Android, the app-updating process isn't just for apps downloaded from an app store, you can also update bundled-in system apps made by Google, your device manufacturer, and any other bundled apps. While downloaded apps have a strict set of permissions and controls, bundled-in Android system apps have access to much more powerful and invasive permissions and aren't subject to the usual Play Store limitations (this is why Facebook always pays to be a bundled app). If a third-party developer ever lost their signing key, it would be bad. If an Android OEM ever lost their system app signing key, it would be really, really bad.

Sperm counts worldwide are plummeting faster than we thought #health

The initial study, published in July 2017, revealed that sperm counts—the number of sperm in a single ejaculate—plummeted by more than 50 percent among men in North America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand between 1973 and 2011. Since then, a team led by the same researchers has explored what has happened in the last 10 years. In a new meta-analysis, which appears today in the journal Human Reproduction Update, researchers analyzed studies of semen samples published between 2014 and 2019 and added this to their previous data. The newer studies have a more global perspective and involved semen samples from 14,233 men, including some from South and Central America, Africa, and Asia. The upshot: Not only has the decline in total sperm counts continued—reaching a drop of 62 percent—but the decline per year has doubled since 2000.

How Rats Are Overturning Decades of Military Norms – SAPIENS (2020) #warfare #society #longread

An anthropologist explores how the use of rats to clear ordnance in Cambodia is changing the culture of mine clearance.

68030 prototype at 1 MHz - 18 boards of TTL - Hardware - Retro Computing #computers #history

Pele's Hair - Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park (U.S. National Park Service) #nature

At various points around the summit of Kīlauea and the Kaʻū Desert, what appear to be golden mats of hair lay gathered on the ground. These fibers are not human or animal hair, but rather a delicate byproduct of some of the Earth's most powerful forces. They are thin glass fibers known as Pele's hair, named after the volcanic deity Pele.

These long, fragile strands are formed by gas during a volcanic eruption. When bubbles of gas near the surface of a lava flow burst, it can stretch the skin of the molten lava into long threads. Strands of Pele's hair may be up to a couple feet long, but only one micron (.001 mm) thick.

UK ditches ban on 'legal but harmful' online content in favour of free speech | Reuters #freespeech #internet

Britain will not force tech giants to remove content that is "legal but harmful" from their platforms after campaigners and lawmakers raised concerns that the move could curtail free speech, the government said.

Online safety laws would instead focus on the protection of children and on ensuring companies removed content that was illegal or prohibited in their terms of service, it said, adding that it would not specify what legal content should be censored.

Inside the factory that only builds white Toyotas | Top Gear #automotive

“We don’t really think of them as cars,” TGS co-chief executive Jonathan Gourlay tells me. “We’re just giving our customers a tool that does a job, whether that’s feeding children or delivering medicines.” You might think, like me, that the 70 Series Land Cruiser is utterly cool and want one very badly, but cool plays no role here – this is transport at its most fundamental. Simplicity, capability and reliability overrule everything. “If you look back 25 years, there were a few players in this market,” Gourlay continues. “There was Land Rover, there was Nissan and Mitsubishi, but gradually they’ve focused on building what I’d call ‘first world’ vehicles for Europe and North America. But Toyota still builds a 4.2-litre non-turbo diesel. You can’t register a new one in Europe because of its emissions, but it doesn’t go wrong and any mechanic can fix it in the field because there’s no electronics around it. You don’t need diagnostic tools, you just need to know how an engine works.”

Perspective: capsaicin is a psychoactive substance - Piotr Migdał #science

Isn’t calling it a psychoactive substance a stretch? Well, let’s look up a mainsteam definition as found on Wikipedia:

“A psychoactive drug, psychopharmaceutical, psychoactive agent, or psychotropic drug, is a chemical substance that changes functions of the nervous system and results in alterations in perception, mood, consciousness, cognition or behavior.”

Japanese Artist Creates Amazing Miniature Dioramas Every Day For 10 Years #art

Miniature Calendar is an incredible ongoing project by Japanese artist Tatsuya Tanaka, that features beautiful miniature dioramas of everyday life using common household objects such as food, cloth, stationery, electronic devices, and even masks.

Tanaka began creating these dioramas in 2011 with an objective to show everyday scenes in a fun, unique way and add a little enjoyment to everyday life. Since then, he has continued to update his content on a daily basis, showcasing scenes relevant to seasons and world events. His exhibitions in Japan and other countries have attracted over 1.5 million visitors so far. Check out some of his best work <…>.

Mauna Loa eruption poses no imminent threat to communities, but authorities stress vigilance #nature

A long-anticipated eruption at Mauna Loa started late Sunday, disrupting flights and triggering an all-hands emergency response as fissures at the volcano’s summit sent up lava fountains up to 200 feet high. The good news: The lava is not posing an imminent threat to downslope communities.

While some residents chose to voluntarily leave their homes, there are no evacuations ordered and all schools remain open. Officials are also telling visitors they don’t have to cancel their travel plans to Hawaii Island.

Instead, the message from emergency management authorities is to remain vigilant.

Umberto Eco Makes a List of the 14 Common Features of Fascism | Open Culture #society #politics #history

While Eco is firm in claiming “There was only one Nazism,” he says, “the fascist game can be played in many forms, and the name of the game does not change.” Eco reduces the qualities of what he calls “Ur-Fascism, or Eternal Fascism” down to 14 “typical” features. “These features,” writes the novelist and semiotician, “cannot be organized into a system; many of them contradict each other, and are also typical of other kinds of despotism or fanaticism. But it is enough that one of them be present to allow fascism to coagulate around it.”

Software Library: Palm and Palmpilot : Free Texts : Free Download, Borrow and Streaming : Internet Archive #history #software

> Palm was a line of personal digital assistants (PDAs) and mobile phones developed by California-based Palm, Inc., originally called Palm Computing, Inc. Palm devices are often remembered as "the first wildly popular handheld computers," responsible for ushering in the smartphone era.

No Cure For Loneliness | Compact Mag #psychology #society

It isn’t just the frequent fliers who suffer from this plague. We are beset by an epidemic of loneliness despite being, by our very nature, social beings. People want to feel rooted within their community and connected to those around them, and yet in our hyperlinked modern world, we find fragmentation and despondency everywhere we cast our eyes. From where does this cultural disconnect arise? Technology, undoubtedly, but not only.

Machine addiction may be easily witnessed in any emergency department as parents stare at their phones while their toddlers, hardly able to speak, swipe away expertly at their tablets. Teenagers, meanwhile, are brought in for  “behavioral” complaints after destroying the house when their phone was confiscated. The patient’s phone is on while we take their histories, perform physical exams, place sutures and deliver test results. Nonsensical texting has even been described as a symptom of stroke (“dystextia”). Yet, if the ubiquitous phone is both a symptom and a cause of our angst, there are other even more concerning signs seen in the ER daily.

A hundred UK companies sign up for four-day week with no loss of pay | Work-life balance | The Guardian #career #society #economy

A hundred UK companies have signed up for a permanent four-day working week for all their employees with no loss of pay, a milestone in the campaign to fundamentally change Britain’s approach to work.

The 100 companies employ 2,600 staff – a tiny fraction of the UK’s working population – but the 4 Day Week Campaign group is hoping they will be the vanguard of a major shift.

Proponents of the four-day week say that the five-day pattern is a hangover from an earlier economic age. They argue that a four-day week would drive companies to improve their productivity, meaning they can create the same output using fewer hours. For some early adopters the policy has also proven a useful way of attracting and retaining employees.

Parasite gives wolves what it takes to be pack leaders #nature

Wolves infected with a common parasite are more likely than uninfected animals to lead a pack, according to an analysis of more than 200 North American wolves1. Infected animals are also more likely to leave their home packs and strike out on their own.

The parasite, Toxoplasma gondii, makes its hosts bold — a mechanism that increases its survival. To reproduce sexually, T. gondii must reach the body of a cat, usually when its host is eaten by one. That becomes much more likely if the parasite alters the host’s behaviour, making it foolhardy. Research results are mixed, but in rodents, infection generally correlates with decreased fear of cats and increased exploratory behaviour. Physical and behavioural changes have also been found in people: testosterone and dopamine production is increased and more risks are taken.

Fantasy Jodorowsky Tron visualisations by Johnny Darrell | DJ Food #art

There seems to be a current trend in AI circles of mashing up film genres or visualising existent films either within different time periods or with different directors.

Johnny Darrell has imagined both Tron films as visualised and directed by Alejandro Jodorowsky using the AI app Midjourney. These are all created by the AI app via prompts with only the typography on the posters being added later via Photoshop (AI still isn’t great at letter forms but is getting better all the time). These are only a sampling of the images he’s created, loads more on his Facebook page.

Seneca on Gratitude and What It Really Means to Be a Generous Human Being – The Marginalian #philosophy #society #stoicism #longread

In his eighty-first letter to Lucilius, Seneca writes under the heading “On Benefits”:

You complain that you have met with an ungrateful person. If this is your first experience of that sort, you should offer thanks either to your good luck or to your caution. In this case, however, caution can effect nothing but to make you ungenerous. For if you wish to avoid such a danger, you will not confer benefits; and so, that benefits may not be lost with another man, they will be lost to yourself.

It is better, however, to get no return than to confer no benefits. Even after a poor crop one should sow again; for often losses due to continued barrenness of an unproductive soil have been made good by one year’s fertility. In order to discover one grateful person, it is worth while to make trial of many ungrateful ones.

This Copyright Lawsuit Could Shape the Future of Generative AI | WIRED #ai #copyrights

A class-action lawsuit filed in a federal court in California this month takes aim at GitHub Copilot, a powerful tool that automatically writes working code when a programmer starts typing. The coder behind the suit argues that GitHub is infringing copyright because it does not provide attribution when Copilot reproduces open-source code covered by a license requiring it.

The lawsuit is at an early stage, and its prospects are unclear because the underlying technology is novel and has not faced much legal scrutiny. But legal experts say it may have a bearing on the broader trend of generative AI tools. AI programs that generate paintings, photographs, and illustrations from a prompt, as well as text for marketing copy, are all built with algorithms trained on previous work produced by humans.

Why Isn’t the Whole World Rich?—Asterisk #economy #history #society #lomgread

The question of why some countries join the developed world while others remain in poverty has vexed economists for decades. What makes it so hard to answer?

In 2019 there were about 648 million people living in extreme poverty, subsisting on the equivalent of $2.15 per day or less. Those 648 million people made up 8.4% of world population — representing an improvement over 1990, when 35.9% of people lived on that little. Yet even though extreme poverty has fallen, in 2018 about 80% of the world population still had material living standards less than one-third of that in the United States.

One of the most frustrating things about the persistence of global poverty is that it is possible to eliminate it — at least within a country — in the space of a generation. In 1953, South Korea emerged from the Korean War desperately poor. It was almost entirely agrarian, and whatever infrastructure the Japanese had built during their occupation between 1910 and 1945 had been destroyed. In 1960 GDP per capita in South Korea was only around $1,200, lower than in Bangladesh, Nigeria or Bolivia, and about 6% of the GDP per capita in the United States. turns 20 and now has a following on Discord - The Verge #internet history #copyrights

Over the weekend, the service that popularized the practice of tracking your digital listening habits turned 20 years old.’s users are still scrobbling — that is, tracking their music playback — hundreds of thousands of times a day, according to a running counter on the service’s website. felt just a little bit revolutionary when it was first introduced in the early 2000s. The site’s plug-ins — which were originally created for a different service called Audioscrobbler — tapped into your music player, took note of everything you listened to, and then displayed all kinds of statistics about your listening habits. Plus, it could recommend tracks and artists to you based on what other people with similar listening habits were interested in. “If this catches on, a system like this would be a really effective way to discover new artists and find people with similar tastes,” the blogger Andy Baio wrote in February 2003 after first trying it out.

Free Computer, Programming, Mathematics, Technical Books, Lecture Notes and Tutorials #learning

Links to Free Computer, Mathematics, Technical Books all over the World

Arch Linux turns 20 years old • The Register #software #computer #history

Arch Linux, arguably the most widely known rolling-release distribution, just celebrated its 20th anniversary. The project has commemorated its first public release, 0.1, with a snapshot of its original homepage.

A few years back, The Reg looked at "the last refuge of the DIY Linux user" and liked it. Arch has several virtues that have helped it to survive and quietly thrive, largely out of the limelight.

The first thing that strikes a new Arch user is that there's no installation program: the installation disk just boots to a command prompt. There is in fact an installer, but it's not the default method. The best way is just to follow the documentation, which walks you through the process of creating partitions, installing the OS, installing a bootloader, and configuring it.

Why writing by hand is still the best way to retain information - Stack Overflow Blog #learning #psycology

In a 2012 study published in Trends in Neuroscience and Education, researchers Karin James and Laura Engelhardt observed of pre-literate children, “When children begin to print, their motor output (of a letter) does not conform to prototypical lettering: each output (which is also the perceptual input) can be said to be noisy relative to the model.” Despite the fact that the children’s recreation of a letter was messy compared to the letter model, their  brains still accurately recognized that the letter they drew was the same one they attempted to copy. As James and Engelhardt said, the children recognized these letters “presumably because the children themselves created them.” This is visual learning and acumen: the children needed to learn what an individual letter looked like in its various “noisy” and exemplary forms in order to identify and comprehend that letter in the future, regardless of its representation.

How Long Would Society Last During a Total Grid Collapse? — Practical Engineering #technology #video

In February 2021, a winter storm that swept through Texas caused one of the most severe power crises in American history. The cold weather created shockingly high electricity demands as people tried to keep their homes warm. But it also caused problems with the power supply because power plants themselves and their supporting infrastructure weren’t adequately protected against freezing weather. The result was that Texas couldn’t generate enough power to meet demand. Instead they would have to disconnect customers to reduce demands down to  manageable levels. But before grid operators could shed enough load from the system, the frequency of the alternating current dropped as the remaining generators were bogged down, falling below 59.4 hertz for over 4 minutes.

It might not seem like much, but that is a critical threshold in grid operations. It’s 1% below nominal. Power plants have relays that keep track of grid frequency and disconnect equipment if anything goes awry to prevent serious damage. If the grid frequency drops below 59.4 hertz, the clock starts ticking. And if it doesn’t return to the nominal frequency within 9 minutes, the relays trip! That means the Texas grid came within a bathroom break from total collapse. If a few more large power plants tripped offline or too few customers were shed from the system in time, it’s likely that the frequency would have continued to drop until every single generator on the grid was disconnected.

WikiLeaks' Website Is Slowly Falling Apart #internet #information

WikiLeaks’ website appears to be coming apart at the seams, with more and more of the organization’s content unavailable without explanation.

WikiLeaks technical issues, which have been ongoing for months, have gotten worse in recent weeks as increasingly larger portions of its website no longer function. Even attempting to visit is a gamble in itself, often producing a 502 message that indicates an error was detected on the website’s server.

A thought experiment: what if we talked about the over-60s’ screen time the way we talk about young people’s screen time? #society #information

Young people now watch almost seven times less broadcast television than people aged over 65, according to a report from regulator Ofcom. It said 16 to 24-year-olds spend just 53 minutes watching TV each day, a two-thirds decrease in the past 10 years. Meanwhile, those aged 65 and over spend just under six hours on average watching TV daily.


Recently I saw a link to A collection of 860 blogs about every topic and it reminded me the good old DMOZ project which by the way still alive. #internet

Why some feces float and others sink #nature

That suggested that floating fecal matter was related to the makeup of the gut microbiome. The researchers then collected stool samples from healthy mice that were not part of the original study, but who produced floaters, and injected the material into the guts of the sterile mice. They found that all of the test mice began producing floaters. This, the researchers contend, suggests that the reason some fecal matter floats is due to the nature of the bacteria in the gut—some produce more gas than others.

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