Links for 2016-02-05

  • The science behind “don’t drink when pregnant” is rubbish

    As the economist Emily Oster pointed out in her 2013 book Expecting Better, there is also no “proven safe” level of Tylenol or caffeine, and yet both are fine in moderation during pregnancy. Oster pored through reams of research on alcohol and pregnancy for her book and concluded that there is simply no scientific evidence that light drinking during pregnancy impacts a baby’s health. (In one frequently cited 2001 study that suggested light drinking in pregnancy increases the chances of a child displaying aggressive behaviors, the drinkers were also significantly likelier to have taken cocaine during pregnancy.)
    My wife also followed the paper trail on this issue in the past. In the papers from which these recommendations were derived, the level of drinking at which any effects were observed in babies was when women consumed at least *9 units every day* for the entire pregnancy. That’s an entire bottle of wine, daily!

    (tags: booze alcohol science facts papers medicine emily-oster babies pregnancy pre-pregnant research)

  • GCHQ’s Spam Problem

    ‘“Spam emails are a large proportion of emails seen in SIGINT [signals intelligence],” reads part of a dense document from the Snowden archive, published by Boing Boing on Tuesday. “GCHQ would like to reduce the impact of spam emails on data storage, processing and analysis.”’ (circa 2011). Steganography, anyone? (via Tony Finch)

    (tags: spam anti-spam gchq funny boing-boing sigint snowden surveillance)

  • ECHR: Websites not liable for readers’ comments

    ‘Lawyers for [a Hungarian news] site said the comments concerned had been taken down as soon as they were flagged. They said making their clients liable for everything readers posted “would have serious adverse repercussions for freedom of expression and democratic openness in the age of Internet”. The ECHR agreed. “Although offensive and vulgar, the incriminated comments did not constitute clearly unlawful speech; and they certainly did not amount to hate speech or incitement to violence,” the judges wrote.’

    (tags: echr law eu legal comments index-hu hungary)

  • research!rsc: Zip Files All The Way Down

    quine.zip, quine.gz, and quine.tar.gz. Here’s what happens when you mail it through bad AV software: https://twitter.com/FioraAeterna/status/694655296707297281

    (tags: zip algorithms compression quines fun hacks gzip)

  • The Nuclear Missile Sites of Los Angeles

    Great article by Geoff “bldgblog” Manaugh on the ruins of the Nike air-to-air missile emplacements dotted around California. I had absolutely no idea that these — the 1958-era Nike-Hercules missiles, at least — carried 30-kiloton nuclear warheads, intended to be detonated at 50,000 feet *above* the cities they were defending, in order to destroy in-flight bomber formations. Nuclear war was truly bananas.

    (tags: war history la sf california nike-missiles missiles nuclear-war nike-hercules cold-war 1950s)

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