"CNN reports a 'transgender woman prohibited from competing in a strength competition as a female is suing' CrossFit for sponsoring the competition. The plaintiff, Chloie Jonnson, 'had sexual reassignment surgery in 2006 and has been on female hormone therapy, according to her lawsuit.' She is also 'legally recognized by California as a woman.'
CrossFit maintains that Jonnson was born as a male, so she should compete in the men's division, according to a letter from the company's lawyer to Jonnson's attorney. It also stated that the company had an 'obligation to protect the 'rights' of all competitors and the competition itself.'
'The fundamental, ineluctable fact is that a male competitor who has a sex reassignment procedure still has a genetic makeup that confers a physical and physiological advantage over women,' according to the letter from CrossFit's lawyer sent in October.
This comes shortly after the Virginia High School League changed its rules to allow transgender students to play sports. Slate has its take on 'arguable concerns of unfair advantage.'
Should the rules take into account the age the person transitioned, hormone levels, or surgical status?"
Taco Cowboy writes:
"Istanbul (dpa) Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is considering banning YouTube and Facebook after local elections at the end of this month, according to remarks carried by local media Friday. It may, or may not be the criticisms arising from (not-yet verified) leaked recordings of Mr. Erdogan's involvement with corruption.
'We will not let YouTube and Facebook destroy our nation. We will take measures, including closure,' said Erdogan, who has previously made comments against social media sites. YouTube had been banned in the country for two years and was recently unblocked."
Angry Jesus writes:
"A recent article on Hackaday shows how to make your clothing taser-proof by adding cheap carbon-fiber tape to the lining. It works by shorting the connection between the taser's electrodes so that even if the electrodes pierce your skin, the current will flow through the carbon fiber layer instead.
Thorshield has been selling something like this since 2006 using an undisclosed polyester fabric."
"Bill Gates recently tweeted a clever interactive map put together by National Geographic (revised edition posted last November) showing the relative carbon footprints of the world's major economies, based on data provided by the nonprofit World Resources Institute (Washington, DC). So who's the biggest offender? Well, that depends on the wording of the question; observe how the answer changes as you select a view above the map. With respect to current emissions, China leads, with the United States a rather distant second. Calculated on a per capita basis, though, the top four are Australia, the U.S., Canada, and Saudi Arabia; China drops far down. For an interesting metric labeled 'intensity' (footprint divided by GDP), South Africa, Russia, and China appear to be the culprits. Then finally, there's the historical (cumulative) footprint since 1850, when the Industrial Revolution was just getting under way. No prize for guessing which two regions of the world lead the way there. This seems to graphically illustrate how incredibly difficult it is for political leaders to have a conversation on economically sensitive topics like global warming when each side can bring up convenient facts to counter the other sides' arguments."
"Facebook is drawing loads of attention that it probably doesn't want. Both the Electronic Privacy Information Center and the Center for Digital Democracy have filed FTC complaints. They bring up that WhatsApp has always stated that it wants nothing to do with customer data. Comments like "We have not, we do not, and we will not ever sell your personal information to anyone. Period. End of story," from founder Jan Koum back in 2009 bring that home quite strongly. Facebook on the other hand... well... you know... we all know.
"Neil deGrasse Tyson is so well known these that he is routinely compared with Carl Sagan, the great astronomer-communicator of the previous generation. And now, Tyson is actually turning into Sagan - albeit a hipper, less geeky version. This coming Sunday, he debuts on Fox and the National Geographic Channel as the host of the 13-part Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, co-produced by Fox and National Geographic. It is a re-imagining of the 1980s series that made the original Sagan famous. "I can not imitate Carl," says Tyson. "I would fail. But I am a really good version of myself. I have myself down perfectly."
Despite the name, Cosmos is about far more than astronomy. "One of the hallmarks of the original series," says Tyson, "is that Carl drew no lines between sciences that are traditionally separated." The same goes this time around. "When you are drinking in the entire universe, you realize that the boundaries we create are a little artificial. I talk about chemistry, biology, evolution, physics - it is all there."
Papas Fritas writes:
"Kimberly Hefling reports from AP that the SAT college entrance exam is undergoing sweeping revisions in the first major update since 2005. College Board officials say that this is needed to make the exam more representative of what students study in high school and the skills they need to succeed in college and afterward.
The test should offer "worthy challenges, not artificial obstacles," says College Board President David Coleman. Scoring will return to a 1,600-point scale last used in 2004. There will be a separate score for the optional essay and students will have the option of taking the test on computers. One of the biggest changes in the SAT is that the extra penalty for wrong answers, which discouraged guessing, will be eliminated and some vocabulary words will be replaced with words such as "synthesis" and "empirical" that are used more widely in classrooms and in work settings. Some high school and college admissions counselors say eliminating the penalty for wrong answers and making the essay optional could make the test less stressful for some students.
College Board is also partnering with Khan Academy to address one of the greatest inequities around college entrance exams, namely the culture and practice of high-priced test preparation which critics call a tool to protect the interests of the elite. "For too long, there's been a well-known imbalance between students who could afford test-prep courses and those who couldn't," says Sal Khan, founder and executive director of Khan Academy, "We're thrilled to collaborate closely with the College Board to level the playing field by making truly world-class test-prep materials freely available to all students."
"The Obama administration has accused Sprint of overcharging the government to the tune of more than $21 million in wiretapping expenses.
Another lawsuit has been dismissed recently by telco's arguing that New York Deputy Attorney General John Prather technically couldn't file a whistle blower lawsuit under the False Claim Act and claim he himself was the "original source of the information" -- because he filed the original complaint while working for the government.
The Prather case claimed the telco's overcharge for taps in general, but have historically dodged culpability by simply hitting the government with large bills that don't itemize or explain why a wiretap should magically cost $50,000 to $100,000. Now it seems that Sprint is being specifically targeted for this lawsuit. "Under the law, the government is required to reimburse Sprint for its reasonable costs incurred when assisting law enforcement agencies with electronic surveillance," Sprint spokesman John Taylor said. "The invoices Sprint has submitted to the government fully comply with the law." Though according to the suit, Sprint overinflated charges by approximately 58 percent between 2007 and 2010.
Not only do we get to be spied on, we likely paid for these wiretaps both on the taxpayer side and on the telco side as the companies passed on both real and imaginary wiretap costs to you."
"A big step in the development of next-generation fuel cells and water-alkali electrolyzers has been achieved with the discovery of a new class of bimetallic nanocatalysts that are an order of magnitude higher in activity than the target set by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for 2017.
The new catalysts, hollow polyhedral nanoframes of platinum and nickel, feature a three-dimensional catalytic surface activity that makes them significantly more efficient and far less expensive than the best platinum catalysts used in today's fuel cells and alkaline electrolyzers. This research was a collaborative effort between DOE's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and Argonne National Laboratory (ANL).
Fuel cells and electrolyzers can help meet increasing demands for electrical power while reducing the emission of carbon and other atmospheric pollutants. These technologies are based on either the oxygen reduction reaction (fuel cells), or the hydrogen evolution reaction (electrolyzers). Currently, the best electrocatalyst for both reactions consists of platinum nanoparticles dispersed on carbon. Though quite effective, the high cost and limited availability of platinum makes large-scale use of this approach a major challenge for both stationary and portable electrochemical applications."
As a city's population doubles, its economic productivity rises by 130%, found a study that was published (paywalled) four years ago in the journal Nature. Researchers from the MIT Media Laboratory's Human Dynamics Lab now think that they have found the reason (paywalled) why an 'agglomeration of people' spurs enterprise and innovation (as well as an increased HIV infection rate). As an urban population becomes denser, they say, it has more opportunities for face-to-face interaction:
We demonstrate that increases in density and proximity of populations in cities leads to a super-linear growth of social-tie density for urban population. We then show that the diffusion rate along these ties - a proxy for the amount and speed of information flow and idea adoption - accurately reproduces the empirically measured scaling of urban features such as rate of AIDS/HIV (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome/human immunodeficiency virus) infections, communication and GDP (gross domestic product).
'Superlinear scaling' does not, however, occur in poor countries, where 'the transportation is so bad, people might as well be in the village, because they only interact with their little local group.'