Boy breaks sound barrier



grayson big

“Daddy loves you” are the first words heard by Grayson Clamp, 3. | Photo courtesy of WRAL, Capitol Broadcasting Company.

A 3-year-old born deaf has broken into the world of sound, North Carolina media reported last month.

His father’s voice saying, “Daddy loves you” — and the boy’s astonishment — went viral this week.
Grayson Clamp became one of the first children to receive an auditory brainstem implant … Continue reading


Caffeine buzz



I once startled a doctor who was giving me a routine job physical when he asked me whether I had any addictions. Without hesitation, I replied with an emphatic, “Yes! To caffeine!”

He looked at me like I was nuts. I am, according to the revised edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which warns of caffeine withdrawal. … Continue reading


Tweets not refracted


As they say, “The revolution was tweeted.”

In 2009, Twitter became such a key tool for young Iranians protesting the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that the State Department asked the micro-blogging site to postpone scheduled maintenance to allow demonstrators to keep organizing street rallies.

Twitter complied.

Likewise, it’s hard to imagine the Arab Spring blooming so quickly without Twitter. It continues to be a virtual bullhorn for protesters. This week, tweets have been taking jabs at Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the subject of protests since last Friday. “There is now a menace which is called Twitter,” Erdogan complained in an interview, according to France 24. “The best examples of lies can be found there.”

It’s not the first time that a government has been outraged by tweets. Germany and France asked Twitter to block neo-Nazi and anti-Semitic tweets within their countries.

Twitter complied.

But in stories from The Washington Post and New York Times on PRISM — a top-secret Internet surveillance program that gleaned data on foreigners abroad — one tech giant is conspicuously absent.

According to a document leaked to the Post, the National Security Agency and FBI collect the information “directly from the servers of these U.S. Service Providers: Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, Apple.”

Twitter, it turns out, did not comply.

 Foreign Policy breaks down the numbers:

$20 millionThe annual cost of PRISM.

$8 billionThe estimated annual budget of the NSA.

77,000The number of intelligence reports that have cited PRISM.

1,477The number of times data obtained via PRISM has been cited in the president’s daily intelligence briefing.

248 percentThe increase in 2012 in the number of Skype communications intercepted via PRISM

131 percentThe increase in 2012 in PRISM requests for Facebook data.

63 percent: The increase in 2012 in PRISM requests for Google data.

9The number of tech companies whose servers NSA has access to via PRISM.

6: The number of years PRISM has been in operation.

2: The number of presidential administrations PRISM has operated under.

1 in 7: The proportion of NSA intelligence reports using raw material from PRISM.

0: The number of times Twitter has agreed to participate in PRISM.


A good vintage

A limestone press (ca. 425–400 B.C.) from the ancient coastal port  of Lattara in southern France provided the earliest biomolecular archaeological evidence for grape wine and viniculture from this country.

A limestone press (circa 425–400 B.C.) from the ancient coastal port of Lattara in southern France provided the earliest biomolecular archaeological evidence for grape wine and viniculture from this country.


Last week, a Roman sommelier was among the oenophiles gathered in Paris for the auction of wines from the Élysée Palace. In sort of a French version of the early 90s comedy “Dave,” in which Kevin Kline impersonates the president and finds inventive ways to cut the budget, Francois Hollande decided to sell off some of the more expensive wines in the 12,000 bottle presidential cellar. … Continue reading