Adonis Diaries

Archive for April 2017

Like to come Along for the ride? And what’s on commitment and techniques?

Along for the ride

And the pilot says, “sit back, relax, and enjoy the flight.”

When you’re on one of those Disneyland boats, it takes you where Disney wants you to go. That’s why you got on.

And so you are lulled, a spectator, merely a tourist.

So different, isn’t it, from driving yourself.

You got to choose your own route and have to owning what comes of it.

(Taking on your own responsibilities is the price to pay for choosing to drive your life)

How long have you been along for the ride? When is your turn to actually drive?

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Where Do The Richest Americans Live?

Sizing up the homes of Bill Gates and other top members of the new Forbes 400 list

Originally published on October 04, 2016|Mansion Global

Have you checked the newest “Forbes 400: The Full List of The Richest People in America” yet?

Surprise, Bill Gates, with a net worth of $81 billion, is ranked No. 1 for the 23rd year running. Meanwhile, his friend Warren Buffett fell to third place for the first time in 15 years with a net worth of $65.5 billion.

Thanks to soaring stock prices of hot tech firms, CEOs at the helm of those companies seem to have been accumulating wealth at a much faster pace than others. Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos gained $20 billion to boost his net worth to $67 billion, making him the second-richest person in the U.S.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg jumped into fourth place, his highest rank ever, with a net worth of $55.5 billion.

Oracle founder Larry Ellison landed at No. 5 for the first time since 2007. His net worth is $49.3 billion.

Standing on the No. 6 spot is former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, CEO of the eponymous firm Bloomberg L.P., who has a net worth of $45 billion.

These six richest multi-billionaires have a combined $363.3 billion at their withdrawal, most of which is still held as stakes in the companies they founded.

Part of their fortune is vested in real estate. Mr. Gates, for one, owns a Washington mansion worth about $170 million, several horse ranches across the U.S. and shares in some luxury hotel chains through his private investment firm, Cascade.

Here, take a look at the residences the six richest moguls call home:

1. Bill Gates
Worth: $81 billion
Home: Medina, Washington

Mr. Gates, 60, spends most of his time at his 66,000-square-foot Medina, Washington, mansion, nicknamed Xanadu 2.0 after the title character’s estate in Citizen Kane. The mansion overlooks Lake Washington. It took Mr. Gates seven years and $63.2 million to build this house, which is filled with lots of high-tech features. He purchased the lot for $2 million in 1988, but it’s now worth an estimated $170 million, according to public records.


2. Jeff Bezos
Worth: $67 billion
Home: Medina, Washington

Mr. Bezos, 52, in the process of building his e-commerce empire, scooped up a vast amount of real properties over the years, earning him the No. 26 spot on The Land Report’s list of America’s largest landowners last year. In terms of residences, he has a 165,000-acre ranch in West Texas, a waterfront house in Washington state, three linked apartments in Manhattan’s Century Tower, and a 12,000-square-foot Beverly Hills estate that boasts Tom Cruise as a neighbor, according to Forbes.

His home at Medina, Washington, close to Amazon’s headquarters, boasts 5.35 acres and about 29,000 square-foot of living space. Aside from the main home, there’s also a caretaker’s cottage and a 4,500-square-foot boathouse on Lake Washington.


3. Warren Buffett
Worth: $65.5 billion
Home: Omaha, Nebraska

Although the shrewdest investor on earth holds multiple real estate investments, Mr. Buffett, 86, is known for living humbly.

His home sits on a corner in Omaha, Nebraska, which he bought in 1958 for $31,500. Mr. Buffett has lived there ever since. The house, originally built in 1921, underwent several expansions to make it a cozy and comfortable 6,500-square-foot home for the man who has a net worth of over $65.5 billion.


4. Mark Zuckerberg
Worth: $55.5 billion
Home: Palo Alto, California

The youngest richest entrepreneur docks most of his wealth in schools, health and other philanthropies. His real estate portfolio include his home in Palo Alto and a 9.9-million pied-a-terre near Dolores Park in San Francisco.

Mr. Zuckerberg, 32, purchased his first Craftsman-style 5,000-square-foot home in Palo Alto in 2011 for $7 million. He snapped up four of the houses surrounding his home in the following years for about $43.8 million to better keep his privacy. But his plan to tear down and rebuild those four homes has been stalled.


5. Larry Ellison
Worth: $49.3 billion
Home: Woodside, California

Oracle executive chairman Larry Ellison, 72, has an extensive real estate portfolio. He has bought up large parts of whole neighborhoods in Malibu and around Lake Tahoe. He owns a $70-million Beechwood Mansion in Newport, Rhode Island; a garden villa in Kyoto, Japan; and 98% of the land of Lanai, Hawaii’s sixth-largest island, which he purchased in 2012 for $500 million, according to published reports.

His estate in Woodside, California, with an estimated value of $110 million, is modeled after 16th-century Japanese architecture, complete with a man-made 2.3-acre lake.


Getty Images

6. Michael Bloomberg
Worth: $45 billion
Home: Manhattan, New York

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, 74, has more than a dozen of properties worldwide. He spends most of his time at his Upper Estate Side townhouse, but he also owns estates in the Hamptons in New York, as well as in London, Bermuda, Colorado and Florida.

Mr. Bloomberg’s townhouse, located at 17 East 79th St., spans five stories with a limestone exterior. During his three terms as mayor, Mr. Bloomberg lived in the townhouse instead of Gracie Mansion. However, he apparently has a plan to turn it into a mega-mansion.

Since 1989, he has been gradually buying up units at 19 East 79th St., the townhouse co-op that’s right next door to his current residence. Out of the six units in the white 1880 Greek-revival-style building, Bloomberg now owns five of them, according to The New York Observer.

Write to Fang Block at fang.block@dowjones.com

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Neuroscientists Can Now Read Your Dreams With a Simple Brain Scan

Like islands jutting out of a smooth ocean surface, dreams puncture our sleep with disjointed episodes of consciousness. How states of awareness emerge from a sleeping brain has long baffled scientists and philosophers alike.

For decades, scientists have associated dreaming with rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, a sleep stage in which the resting brain paradoxically generates high-frequency brain waves that closely resemble those of when we’re awake.

Yet dreaming isn’t exclusive to REM sleep.

A series of oddball reports also found signs of dreaming during non-REM deep sleep, when the brain is dominated by slow-wave activity—the opposite of an alert, active, conscious brain.

Now, thanks to a new study published in Nature Neuroscience, we may have an answer to the tricky dilemma.

By closely monitoring the brain waves of sleeping volunteers, a team of scientists at the University of Wisconsin pinpointed a local “hot spot” in the brain that fires up when we dream, regardless of whether a person is in non-REM or REM sleep.

“You can really identify a signature of the dreaming brain,” says study author Dr. Francesca Siclari.

What’s more, using an algorithm developed based on their observations, the team could accurately predict whether a person is dreaming with nearly 90 percent accuracy, and—here’s the crazy part—roughly parse out the content of those dreams.

“[What we find is that] maybe the dreaming brain and the waking brain are much more similar than one imagined,” says Siclari.

The study not only opens the door to modulating dreams for PTSD therapy, but may also help researchers better tackle the perpetual mystery of consciousness.

“The importance beyond the article is really quite astounding,” says Dr. Mark Blagrove at Swansea University in Wales, who was not involved in the study.

The anatomy of sleep

During a full night’s sleep we cycle through different sleep stages characterized by distinctive brain activity patterns.

Scientists often use EEG to precisely capture each sleep stage, which involves placing 256 electrodes against a person’s scalp to monitor the number and size of brainwaves at different frequencies.

When we doze off for the night, our brains generate low-frequency activity that sweeps across the entire surface. These waves signal that the neurons are in their “down state” and unable to communicate between brain regions—that’s why low-frequency activity is often linked to the loss of consciousness.

These slow oscillations of non-REM sleep eventually transform into high-frequency activity, signaling the entry into REM sleep. This is the sleep stage traditionally associated with vivid dreaming—the connection is so deeply etched into sleep research that reports of dreamless REM sleep or dreams during non-REM sleep were largely ignored as oddities.

These strange cases tell us that our current understanding of the neurobiology of sleep is incomplete, and that’s what we tackled in this study, explain the authors.

Dream hunters

To reconcile these paradoxical results, Siclari and team monitored the brain activity of 32 volunteers with EEG and woke them up during the night at random intervals. The team then asked the sleepy participants whether they were dreaming, and if so, what were the contents of the dream. In all, this happened over 200 times throughout the night.

Rather than seeing a global shift in activity that correlates to dreaming, the team surprisingly uncovered a brain region at the back of the head—the posterior “hot zone”—that dynamically shifted its activity based on the occurrence of dreams.

Dreams were associated with a decrease in low-frequency waves in the hot zone, along with an increase in high-frequency waves that reflect high rates of neuronal firing and brain activity—a sort of local awakening, irrespective of the sleep stage or overall brain activity.

“It only seems to need a very circumscribed, a very restricted activation of the brain to generate conscious experiences,” says Siclari. “Until now we thought that large regions of the brain needed to be active to generate conscious experiences.”

That the hot zone leaped to action during dreams makes sense, explain the authors.

Previous work showed stimulating these brain regions with an electrode can induce feelings of being “in a parallel world.” The hot zone also contains areas that integrate sensory information to build a virtual model of the world around us. This type of simulation lays the groundwork of our many dream worlds, and the hot zone seems to be extremely suited for the job, say the authors.

If an active hot zone is, in fact, a “dreaming signature,” its activity should be able to predict whether a person is dreaming at any time. The authors crafted an algorithm based on their findings and tested its accuracy on a separate group of people.

“We woke them up whenever the algorithm alerted us that they were dreaming, a total of 84 times,” the researchers say.

Overall, the algorithm rocked its predictions with roughly 90 percent accuracy—it even nailed cases where the participants couldn’t remember the content of their dreams but knew that they were dreaming.

Dream readers

Since the hot zone contains areas that process visual information, the researchers wondered if they could get a glimpse into the content of the participants’ dreams simply by reading EEG recordings.

Dreams can be purely perceptual with unfolding narratives, or they can be more abstract and “thought-like,” the team explains.

Faces, places, movement and speech are all common components of dreams and processed by easily identifiable regions in the hot zone, so the team decided to focus on those aspects.

Remarkably, volunteers that reported talking in their dreams showed activity in their language-related regions; those who dreamed of people had their facial recognition centers activate.

This suggests that dreams recruit the same brain regions as experiences in wakefulness for specific contents,” says Siclari, adding that previous studies were only able to show this in the “twilight zone,” the transition between sleep and wakefulness. (Why be surprised? What other brain regions could be activated?)

Finally, the team asked what happens when we know we were dreaming, but can’t remember the specific details. As it happens, this frustrating state has its own EEG signature: remembering the details of a dream was associated with a spike in high-frequency activity in the frontal regions of the brain.

This raises some interesting questions, such as whether the frontal lobes are important for lucid dreaming, a meta-state in which people recognize that they’re dreaming and can alter the contents of the dream, says the team.

Consciousness arising

The team can’t yet explain what is activating the hot zone during dreams, but the answers may reveal whether dreaming has a biological purpose, such as processing memories into larger concepts of the world.

Mapping out activity patterns in the dreaming brain could also lead to ways to directly manipulate our dreams using non-invasive procedures such as transcranial direct-current stimulation.

Inducing a dreamless state could help people with insomnia, and disrupting a fearful dream by suppressing dreaming may potentially allow patients with PTSD a good night’s sleep.

Dr. Giulo Tononi, the lead author of this study, believes that the study’s implications go far beyond sleep.

“[W]e were able to compare what changes in the brain when we are conscious, that is, when we are dreaming, compared to when we are unconscious, during the same behavioral state of sleep,” he says.

During sleep, people are cut off from the environment. Therefore, researchers could hone in on brain regions that truly support consciousness while avoiding confounding factors that reflect other changes brought about by coma, anesthesia or environmental stimuli.

“This study suggests that dreaming may constitute a valuable model for the study of consciousness,” says Tononi.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Now, using an algorithm, a team of scientists say they can predict if a person is dreaming with nearly 90 percent accuracy, and roughly parse out the content of those dreams.

Like islands jutting out of a smooth ocean surface, dreams puncture our sleep with disjointed episodes of consciousness. How states of awareness emerge…
singularityhub.com

The Disturbing History of African-Americans and Medical Research Goes Beyond Henrietta Lacks

Lily Rothman. Updated: Apr 21, 2017

Ask a given person what they know about the history of the use of African-Americans as unwilling research subjects and they are likely to mention one infamous incident: Tuskegee.

“Such a failure seems almost beyond belief, or human compassion,” TIME wrote when the study made headlines in 1972, as the world learned that for four decades the U.S. Public Health Service had been conducting an experiment in which proven remedies were kept from syphilis patients in Alabama, all of whom were black men. But there’s a lot more to that history.

“Tuskegee shouldn’t be the first thing people think of,” Harriet A. Washington, the author of Medical Apartheid, tells TIME. “It’s the example that the government has admitted to and acknowledged. It’s so famous that people think it was the worst, but it was relatively mild compared to other stuff.”

With the premiere on Saturday of the HBO film The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, based on Rebecca Skloot’s best-selling book of the same name, another piece of the puzzle may get a little closer to the first-to-mind fame of Tuskegee.

Lacks was, as TIME explained in its initial review of Skloot’s book, a black woman treated unsuccessfully for cervical cancer in 1951, from whose tumor doctors kept a sample of tissue. Her cells provided a breakthrough would prove invaluable to medical research, but her family was kept in the dark even as they themselves became the subjects of scientific interest.

Washington, who has interviewed the Lacks family, says that one problem with the national narrative about Tuskegee is the risk that those unaware of the larger history that surrounds both that study and the story of Henrietta Lacks might think that African-Americans are “overreacting to a single study” if they express distrust of the medical establishment.

Rather, as Skloot also notes in her book, distrust like that expressed by the Lacks family is related to what’s summed up by the subtitle of Washington’s book as The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans From Colonial Times to the Present.

“We’re talking about something that began in the 17th century,” Washington says.

Though the line between therapeutic medicine and research was blurrier at the time, she says it’s clear that doctors in the colonial American context would often try out new ideas on white patients when they hoped that the experiment would help the person in question; they would use African slaves and Native Americans as subjects when the point of the research was to benefit others.

Perhaps the most infamous example of antebellum medical research being performed on slaves is that of J. Marion Sims, whose innovation of a revolutionary gynecological procedure was made possible by multiple practice runs on enslaved women. Washington also found that slaves’ bodies were used for experiments after they died, despite widespread belief that maintaining the body’s integrity after death was religiously necessary.

“Historically, one of the larger connections is that, if you’re talking about the appropriation of African-American bodies when enslavement was part of the law of the land, that represented an extension of slavery into eternity,” she explains.

When it comes to the 20th century, though slavery was no longer the law, Washington says that there was a widespread belief that people who did not pay for their medical care would “owe their bodies” to the medical community in return.

As a result, patients from marginalized communities, like the poor and immigrants, did not receive the same ethical consideration that others did. Though that idea would have applied to poor patients of all races, segregation at the time meant that black patients were confined in many places to “black wards,” and they were disproportionately affected.

Washington says that one big misconception she often hears is that in 1951, when Lacks was treated, what happened to Lacks would have been just the common practice at the time. In reality, she has found that — while it is true that the laws and regulations that govern such experimentation have changed between then and now — basic ethical concepts such as informed consent were already very much in play.

In fact, she says, especially in the wake of the world learning of Nazi medical experimentation, some organizations kept consent rules that were even more stringent than those in play today. “These conventions tended to be rigorously adhered to when it came to white people,” Washington notes.

And, though medical research can be complicated, she believes the basic idea — then and now — is simple: “Subjects who have normal adult intelligence are capable of understanding whether their permission has been asked.”

But, if those ethical standards have generally endured, other things have changed.

Washington points to 1980 as a turning point, thanks to changes like the law that changed the medical-research economy and a Supreme Court decision that has been interpreted to mean that living things are subject to patents.

The need for tissue on which to experiment continues, but now it can be a lot more financially valuable if things work out. Washington believes that economic pressures have led to an erosion in the application of informed consent in the years since.

That’s part of the reason why Washington is glad that Henrietta Lacks’ name is becoming more famous.

“People tend to underestimate the extent and breadth of this,” Washington says. “There’s no sphere of American medicine that was not touched by the use in research of African-Americans.”

Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales exits Guardian board over conflict of interest with Wikitribune news site

Jimmy Wales, the co-founder of Wikipedia, will leave the board of the Guardian newspaper after opting to launch his own rival news operation that will compete for staff, stories and donations.

Jimmy Wales

Jimmy Wales co-founded Wikipedia

The 50-year-old, who joined the board of Guardian Media Group as a non-executive director little over a year ago, has revealed plans to launch Wikitribune, an outlet aiming to provide “factual and neutral” news coverage.

Mr Wales has said he plans to hire up to 20 journalists to work on the operation.

Wikitribune will be funded by donations, putting it in direct competition with the Guardian, which frequently appeals to online readers for voluntary contributions in lieu of digital subscriptions.

He said: “Jimmy Wales will be stepping down from the GMG board by mutual agreement, given the potential for overlap in our work. We wish him well with the new project.”

Mr Wales has seized on concern around “fake news” online to promote Wikitribune, arguing “the news is broken and we can fix it“.

Guardian Media Group’s spokesman said: “We welcome all efforts to combat the rise of fake news. Our rapid growth in traffic and Guardian membership show that the demand for independent, trusted and high-quality journalism is greater than ever. ”

The left-leaning title is seeking to boost membership and donation revenues in light of a tough advertising market.

Online revenues have not risen quickly enough to make up for declining print sales, with the bulk of market growth taken up by Google and Facebook.

A spokesman for Guardian Media Group said Mr Wales’s plans meant he could no longer sit on the newspaper’s board.

<img src=”/content/dam/business/2016/07/28/55256363-guardian-business-small_trans_NvBQzQNjv4BqQJoTHvv9hWAiaCwwE8274uaCTQGAUkDgq8I833FLrys.jpg” alt=”Guardian” width=”301″ height=”189″ class=”responsive-image–fallback”/> Guardian
The Guardian is seeking to boost membership and donation revenues

The Guardian was on track to burn £90m in cash last year and has warned staff to expect further redundancies as it seeks to reach break-even in two years.

Mr Wales said: “I am a huge admirer of the Guardian and am honoured to have been involved as a member of the GMG board. I will continue to be an avid fan of their integrity for news and journalism.”

He has said he will take a hands-on role in his latest venture and remains chairman of The People’s Operator, a mobile service provider that gives a shares of its revenues to good causes.

It floated on AIM on a £100m valuation in 2014 but has struggled to build its subscriber base and now has a market capitalisation of less than £11m.

Kids Company founder Camila Batmanghelidjh ‘facing directorship ban’

@JamieGrierson. Monday 24 April 2017

Insolvency Service reportedly wants to disqualify ex-board members including Alan Yentob over roles in collapsed charity

Alan Yentob and Camila Batmanghelidjh
Alan Yentob and Camila Batmanghelidjh could be among board members forced to relinquish any directorships they hold. Photograph: Simon James/Getty Images

Former board members of the collapsed charity Kids Company – including its founder, Camila Batmanghelidjh, and the former BBC chief Alan Yentob – face being banned from serving as company directors, according to reports.

The Insolvency Service has written to lawyers acting for Kids Company’s former board members to warn them that it is minded to pursue disqualification proceedings against them, according to Sky News.

The Insolvency Service, which has powers to seek bans on directorships for individuals of up to 15 years, refused to comment.

While disqualification proceedings can be lengthy, if successful they would ultimately force Yentob and the other board members to relinquish any directorships they hold.

Yentob is listed at Companies House as a director of a television production business called I Am Curious, which he established last year.

Kids Company collapsed in the summer of 2015, a month after it received a £3m government grant backed by the then prime minister, David Cameron.

Batmanghelidjh and Kids Company staff blamed the collapse on a police investigation into sexual and physical assaults within the charity, which was ultimately dropped.

A review by the Charity Commission into the financial collapse is continuing.

Other directors potentially facing a ban include Richard Handover, a former boss of WH Smith, Andrew Webster, a former executive at the drugs company AstraZeneca, and Erica Bolton, an arts publicist.

Note: Articles that don’t even mention what companies do, in this case what Kids Company was delivering and its purposes, is beyond me. Would like to check Wikipedia to supplement why Cameron extended this grant and why the company is facing insolvency? Are drug companies behind this move?

Why we should compare Trump to Hitler

Comparing dictators to Hitler, or fascists to Nazis, is often criticised as intellectually lazy, inaccurate and even dangerous.

However, over the past year parallels drawn between the rise of Adolf Hitler and Donald Trump have been numerous.

A 1922 article from the New York Times archive resurfaced in February 2015, which massively underestimated Hitler’s capacity for destruction, dismissing much of his campaign promises as political rhetoric.

Many drew comparisons with the response to Trump’s victory, after which people were hopeful that Trump cynically uses nationalism and xenophobic anti-immigration in order to gain votes, but will be tempered from acting on his more brutal promises.

Some of the descriptions of Hitler and the rise of Nazi populism seemed very familiar…

Another condition favourable to the outburst of the movement is the widespread discontent with the existing state of affairs among all classes in the towns and cities under the increasing economic pressure.

He is a man of the ‘common people’ and hence, has the makings of a ‘popular hero’ appealing to all classes.

His program consists chiefly of half a dozen negative ideas clothed in generalities

He probably does not know himself just what he wants to accomplish.

He talks rough, shaggy, sound horse sense, and according to public opinion, a strong, active leader equipped with horse sense is the need of the hour.

In particular, one image of a sign in the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, which describes 14 early signs of fascism, went viral after acting attorney general Sally Q. Yates was fired.

Timothy Snyder, Yale professor of history and author of On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century, released this video explaining the value of comparison.

He explains how comparing Trump to Hitler can be useful, despite key differences.

Obviously, comparing Trump to Hitler does not necessarily imply that Trump is going to perpetrate a genocide.

Nevertheless, without a proper consideration of history we are doomed to repeat its mistakes.

Transcript:

So the way to start the discussion about comparisons is to point out that Americans are extremely lazy about history. I mean that’s one way in which were definitely number one among major nations.

And one of the ways we’re lazy about history is that as soon as anyone suggests that the past might be useful, then we say “but wait it’s not exactly the same and therefore I’m just going to discard it.”

In that way in two or three seconds we give ourselves an excuse not to think about history.

The premise of the book “On Tyranny” is not that Hitler is just like Trump or Trump is just like Hitler. The premise is that democratic republics usually fail and it’s useful for us to see how they fail.

One of the ways a democratic republic can fail is Germany in 1933. There are plenty of other examples in the book, also from the left wing Czechoslovakia in 1948 becoming communist.

The point of the book is that these things really happened over and over again and that intelligent people, no less intelligent than us, experienced them and left a record for us to learn from. (And they were far more cultured and read abundantly and discussed at length and met)

So what I’m trying to do in the book is to help us to learn from that record so we don’t have events like Germany in 1933 or Czechoslovakia in 1948.

Just saying “Hitler’s not like Trump“ or ”Trump is not like Hitler” isn’t going to save us.

Learning for the past though, could.

Early signs of fascism, went viral after acting attorney general Sally Q. Yates was fired.

Twitter

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