By timothy from Slashdot's psst-pass-it-on department
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "There is an interesting read at the Atlantic where Laura Dimon writes that mass psychogenic illness, historically known as "mass hysteria"—is making a comeback and it appears that social media is a new vector for its spread. Mass hysteria such as the Salem Witch Trials of 1692-1693, the most widely recognized episode of mass hysteria in history, which ultimately saw the hanging deaths of 20 women, spreads through sight and sound, and historically, one person would have to be in the same room as somebody exhibiting symptoms to be at risk of 'catching' the illness. 'Not anymore,' says Robert Bartholomew, a sociologist who has studied over 600 cases of mass hysteria dating back to 1566, noting that social media — 'extensions of our eyes and ears' — speeds and extends the reach of mass hysteria. 'Epidemic hysterias that in earlier periods were self-limited in geography now have free and wide access to the globe in seconds,' says Bartholomew. 'It's a belief, that's the power here, and the technology just amplifies the belief, and helps it spread more readily.' In a recent case, nearly 20 students at a Western New York Junior-Senior High school began experiencing involuntary jerks and tics. Some believe that the Le Roy outbreak was a direct result of videos posted to YouTube by Lori Brownell, a girl with severe tics in Corinth, New York, 250 miles east of Le Roy. The story took off quickly, not just on the local and national news but on Facebook and autism blogs and sites devoted to mental health and environmental issues. Bartholomew warns that there is 'potential for a far greater or global episode, unless we quickly understand how social media is, for the first time, acting as the primary vector or agent of spread for conversion disorder.'"Read Replies (0)
Michael Dell To Buy Dell Inc.
Posted by News Fetcher on September 12 '13 at 08:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's dell-by-any-other-name department
awarrenfells writes "After a shareholder vote, Michael Dell is expected to buy out and take Dell Inc. private. This move comes in the wake of plans to move Dell into position as an enterprise computing provider, but some analysts state this move may have come too late, much of the target market being taken by IBM and HP already."
Nerval's Lobster provides some more details at Slash Cloud
: "[T]he final buyout price was $13.75 a share, which includes a 13-cent-a-share “special dividend.” All told, that puts the deal’s price at $24.9 billion. In order to reach this point, Dell and Silver Lake had to fend off activist investor Carl Icahn and investment firm Southeastern Asset Management, which made their own combined play for a restructured capitalization. In a series of public letters, Icahn argued that Dell’s privatization proposal undervalued the company, and—at least until the beginning of September—made it very clear that he was willing to fight things out in court. By convincing the shareholders that his plan is the best route forward, Dell avoids what could have devolved into a very protracted and messy battle. Michael Dell wants to focus the majority of the company’s efforts on services, essentially remaking it into a tech firm more along the lines of IBM."Read Replies (0)
By timothy from Slashdot's cartoon-supervillain department
New submitter ComradeF writes "Matt Kruse, author of the Social Fixer for Facebook browser extension, warns users of the dangers of building a community on a platform that can and will shut you down on a whim: 'It's gone. Years of work and almost 340,000 fans, wiped out. Erased. I have never been given any details about what "community standards" I was apparently violating (because I wasn't). This is a case of Facebook choosing to shut down someone's business just because they want to, not because they were doing anything wrong. This is extremely frustrating and disappointing to me, and should be to others as well.' The administrators and moderators of his Page found that their personal Facebook accounts have been silenced for 12 hours, as well."
I've recently installed Social Fixer, and find it tremendously useful; this news just inspired me to donate a few bucks
to Kruse — cheaper than what Mark Zuckerberg would like
to hear my complaint.Read Replies (0)
By samzenpus from Slashdot's john-henry department
An anonymous reader writes "Financial markets experienced a series of computer glitches recently that brought operations to a halt. According to a researcher at the University of Miami, mobs of ultrafast robots, which trade and operate at speeds beyond human capability, may be responsible for these "flash freezes". From the article: '"Even though each trading algorithm/robot is out to gain a profit at the expense of any other, and hence act as a predator, any algorithm which is trading has a market impact and hence can become noticeable to other algorithms," said Neil Johnson, a professor of physics at the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Miami (UM) and lead author of the new study. "So although they are all predators, some can then become the prey of other algorithms depending on the conditions. Just like animal predators can also fall prey to each other." When there's a normal combination of prey and predators, he says, everything is in balance. But once predators are introduced that are too fast, they create extreme events.'"Read Replies (0)
By samzenpus from Slashdot's ribbons-in-the-sky department
An anonymous reader writes "The New York Times reports, 'For eight decades, Manson Whitlock kept the 20th century's ambient music going: the ffft of the roller, the ding of the bell, the decisive zhoop ... bang of the carriage return, the companionable clack of the keys. From the early 1930s until shortly before his death last month at 96, Mr. Whitlock, at his shop in New Haven, cared for the instruments, acoustic and electric, on which that music was played. Mr. Whitlock was often described as America's oldest typewriter repairman. He was inarguably one of the country's longest-serving. Over time he fixed more than 300,000 machines, tending manuals lovingly, electrics grudgingly and computers never. "I don't even know what a computer is," Mr. Whitlock told The Yale Daily News, the student paper, in 2010. "I've heard about them a lot, but I don't own one, and I don't want one to own me."'"Read Replies (0)
By samzenpus from Slashdot's looks-like-you-spilled-something department
Exxon has been charged with illegally dumping over 50,000 gallons of wastewater
at a shale-gas drilling site in Pennsylvania. From the article: 'Exxon unit XTO Energy Inc. discharged the water from waste tanks at the Marquandt well site in Lycoming County in 2010, according to a statement on the website of Pennsylvania’s attorney general
. The pollution was found during an unannounced visit by the state’s Department of Environmental Protection.
The inspectors discovered a plug removed from a tank, allowing the wastewater to run onto the ground, polluting a nearby stream. XTO was ordered to remove 3,000 tons of soil to clean up the area. Wastewater discharged from natural-gas wells can contain chlorides, barium, strontium and aluminum, the attorney general’s statement showed.
“Criminal charges are unwarranted and legally baseless,” the XTO unit said yesterday in a statement posted on its website. “There was no intentional, reckless or negligent misconduct by XTO.”'Read Replies (0)