Please don’t use your phone at all while driving

It Can Wait

I don’t see a lot of the initiative anymore, but there was a while there, at least a couple of years ago or so, where there seemed to be a concerted effort to get people to stop using their phones while they were driving. I saw commercials all the time, and hashtags all over social network.

I’m not saying that the movement has stopped entirely. At least, I hope it hasn’t. Just that I don’t see a lot of the material anymore. For what felt like a really long time I was seeing “#itcanwait” all over the place, but not so much anymore.

I did see a sticker that said the same thing once, though, on the back of a car. That should count for extra points.

Not texting and driving is one of those situations that I feel should be a no-brainer. But you and I both know it isn’t. Any time I go out I see someone on their phone. It happens a lot when people are stopped, waiting for a light to change or something, but I see it enough when cars are in motion that it’s genuinely disheartening.

I’m not going to tell you that I’ve never done it, because that would be deliberately untruthful. Over the years, a notification has typically been enough to grab my attention and I’ve taken a look while driving. But I was young then. Young and stupid. And as I’ve grown older, I have realized that it’s just not worth it. Whatever’s there on the phone will still be there whenever I get to where I’m going. And if I think it might be important, there is usually a way to find somewhere to park and check.

Ignoring my phone while I’m in the car has gotten easier thanks to a a couple of different things. First, I just keep it in my pocket. Out of sight is out of mind, especially hen it’s paired with the second thing: Do Not Disturb While Driving, one of the newer features Apple introduced into iOS. It turns on when I start driving (as the phone’s connected via Bluetooth), and at that point no alerts or notifications will show up or make a sound while I’m driving.

Calls still come through, though.

Keeping the phone out of sight and the notifications disabled helps a great deal.

But, even then, I think it goes beyond those things. I don’t agree with folks who want to use their phone at any point in time if they are behind the wheel of their vehicle. We can get sucked into whatever we’re looking at, which means we can be quick to react to something that catches our attention in the periphery. That can lead to some stupid mistakes.

I bring all of this up because I had an accident today (the day I’m writing this). It was minor and I’m fine, as is the driver of the other vehicle. Cars are fine, too. But the 20-something kid was on his phone, stopped behind me, while we were waiting for a red light to change. Meanwhile, the lanes on his left were turn lanes, and they were allowed to go first.

So he was on his phone, looking at whatever he was looking at (I caught sight of him in my rearview mirror just a few moments before the accident), and then when the cars on his left started going he thought his lane was moving, too. He hit the gas and ran right into me.

When we pulled over and had the obligatory chat, he told me that he was sorry, that he was in a hurry because he was late for work, and he saw the cars moving so he went for it. He didn’t bring up the phone. Before we parted ways, I told him that he should probably keep his phone in his pocket. He looked embarrassed, which I can understand, and then said he would.

He immediately ran a red light to turn right back onto the street we were on, so I just assume he won’t heed my advice.

Consider this my public service announcement. A plea, even. Please don’t use your phone while you’re behind the wheel of your car. Not even when you’re stopped at a light. It’s not just your life that could be changed forever because you were distracted, but anyone around you in that moment. It’s not worth it, and, yeah, it can wait. So, please. Wait.

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Please Don’t Post Your Hand Dryer Science Experiment on the Internet

DIY science experiments have always been popular. You can spending your weekends blowing up a bottle of Diet Coke with Mentos, or your evenings making handheld fireballs. Sometimes you learn something, sometimes you think you do. But today, unlike in the past, the worst ideas make their way onto the internet, encouraging people to do something stupid, or simply spreading misinformation.

Sometimes, those exploits go viral. But that isn’t always a good thing.

The internet lost its mind over such a post last week. A California mom posted a photo Facebook post that appeared to show what can only be described as bacterial nastiness, growing in a petri dish. Most disturbingly, Nichole Ward noted in the text accompanying the photo that she obtained her specimens from a hand dryer in a public restroom. “[This] is what grew in a Petri dish after just a few days. I stuck the open plate in an enclosed hand dryer […] for a total of 3 minutes. Yes 3 only. DO NOT EVER dry your hands in those things again,” she wrote in her post.

***Alright, Alright, Alright… now i think is a perfect time to tell you a few things. As y'all know how viral this…

Posted by Nichole Ward on Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Unsurprisingly, post received 545,373 shares on Facebook. Ward, who says she did the experiment for a microbiology class assignment, also wrote: “This is the several strains of possible pathogenic fungi and bacteria that you’re swirling around your hands, and you think you’re walking out with clean hands. You’re welcome.”

Here’s the thing: if you’ve been paying attention, Ward’s post shouldn’t be telling you anything new.

First of all, microbes like the ones that grew in her petri dish are everywhere, from our countertops and door handles and cell phones, to our bodies themselves. Humans are, by our very nature, walking microbial habitats. Bacteria help us digest our food and protect us from pathogens. And we tend to shed those microbes, both harmless and less so, in the places we occupy. Showing that there is bacteria in the air in a bathroom frequented by people? Hardly deserves a Nobel.

And about that claim that the “strains” of microbes in the petri dish are pathogenic? There’s no proof that’s the case. Ward didn’t send those samples off to be genetically sequenced, nor did she make any attempt to identify the types of microbes that grew on the petri dish. So we don’t even know if they’re the kinds of bugs found normally and harmlessly on our bodies, or, say, the kinds that only emerge when people didn’t wash their hands after touching poop — the ones that can actually get you sick. From the information in the post, we just can’t know how she tested what she incubated in her Petri dish, nor could we replicate it, even if we wanted to.

Yes, Ward explicitly stated, “⚠️this post is simply for awareness, not to instill fear⚠️,” but we also know a gross picture’s worth 1,000 placating words.

Ward’s post may not show us much, but a growing number of scientific studies indicate she might not be too far off — that is, hand dryers do spread bacteria. While some grateful moms might thank Nichole, scientists were already hip to the knowledge.

The jury is still out, however, on whether paper towels are in fact a better bet if you’re not interested in getting sick after a bathroom visit.

Some people seem to be aware that Ward was spreading misleading information, perhaps going too far in the other direction in trying to stand up for the truth. An article published on Vice reads:

The swarm of commenters seemed either vindicated or completely outraged by the post, with some blaming the dryers for making people sick and others claiming that Ward is being deceptive or unscientific. Ward told the [New YorkTimes she’s even received some death threats.

There’s nothing wrong with doing your own science experiments at home. But given how easy it is to spread false information on social media, we’ve got to think about the consequences of what we share online. Most people, as we’ve learned, are ready to believe false information, instead of critically questioning our conclusions.

Maybe we should all go back to posting videos of our homemade bottle rockets.

The post Please Don’t Post Your Hand Dryer Science Experiment on the Internet appeared first on Futurism.

Futurism

More Storms May Be Inevitable If We Don’t Meet The Goals Of the Paris Accord

One degree might not seem like much. But a single degree of global temperature increase will make a big difference in the likelihood of extreme weather, according to a new study from Stanford University.

The study operates off of the fact that current commitments made by individual countries in the United Nations’ Paris Agreement will not keep global temperatures from rising more than two degrees above pre-industrial levels, as the agreement aspires to. If countries keep to their pledges, temperatures are expected to rise 2 to 3 degrees. The study’s researchers modeled this potential future using computer simulations of historical climate observations, as well as of global atmospheric and ocean circulation, which drive weather systems. 

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They were surprised at how much of a difference an extra degree of warming made in those simulations. Maintaining current emissions levels made the probability of record-breaking warm nights rise five times over about 50 percent of Europe and 25 percent of East Asia. Two to three degrees of warming would also increase record-breaking wet days over more than 35 percent of North America, Europe and East Asia, as well as lead to more hot days overall.

“The really big increases in record-setting event probability are reduced if the world achieves the aspirational targets rather than the actual commitments,” said lead author Noah Diffenbaugh, the Kara J Foundation Professor of Earth System Science at Stanford’s School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences, in a press release. “At the same time, even if those aspirational targets are reached, we still will be living in a climate that has substantially greater probability of unprecedented events than the one we’re in now.”

The World Economic forum recently stated that extreme weather was one of the biggest risks for humanity in 2018. Given that this problem is already threatening populations worldwide, one can only imagine how bad it could become if countries do not act soon.

The post More Storms May Be Inevitable If We Don’t Meet The Goals Of the Paris Accord appeared first on Futurism.

Futurism

Don’t use Huawei phones, say heads of FBI, CIA, and NSA

The heads of six major US intelligence agencies have warned that American citizens shouldn’t use products and services made by Chinese tech giants Huawei and ZTE. According to a report from CNBC, the intelligence chiefs made the recommendation during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Tuesday. The group included the heads of the FBI, the CIA, the NSA, and the director of national intelligence.

During his testimony, FBI Director Chris Wray said the the government was “deeply concerned about the risks of allowing any company or entity that is beholden to foreign governments that don’t share our values to gain positions of power inside our telecommunications networks.” He added that this would provide “the capacity to maliciously…

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5 iPhone Settings You’ve Seen (But Don’t Know What They Mean)

Everyone already knows about iPhone’s major features like Animoji and Apple Pay. However, there are actually quite a few features buried within iOS that are basically hidden, or at the very least, not as well-known.

Some of these features work in the background automatically, but it’s useful to know how to enable or disable them. Other features are actually pretty handy if you do know about them. Use the Right Arrow to Browse 5 iPhone Settings You’ve Seen (But Don’t Know What They Mean).

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