takes DNA ownership rights from customers and their relatives takes DNA ownership rights from customers and their relatives
A word to the wise: Read the complete terms of service.
By Joel Winston
May 17 2017

Don’t use the AncestryDNA testing service without actually reading the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. According to these legal contracts, you still own your DNA, but so does

The family history website is selling a new DNA testing service called AncestryDNA. But the DNA and genetic data that collects may be used against “you or a genetic relative.” According to its privacy policies, takes ownership of your DNA forever. Your ownership of your DNA, on the other hand, is limited in years.

It seems obvious that customers agree to this arrangement, since all of them must “click here to agree” to these terms. But, how many people really read those contacts before clicking to agree? And how many relatives of customers are also reading?

There are three significant provisions in the AncestryDNA Privacy Policy and Terms of Service to consider on behalf of yourself and your genetic relatives: (1) the perpetual, royalty-free, world-wide license to use your DNA; (2) the warning that DNA information may be used against “you or a genetic relative”; (3) your waiver of legal rights.

1. Perpetual, royalty-free, worldwide license to use your DNA

AncestryDNA, a service of, owns the “World’s Largest Consumer DNA Database” that contains the DNA of more than 3 million people. The AncestryDNA service promises to, “uncover your ethnic mix, discover distant relatives, and find new details about your unique family history with a simple DNA test.”

For the price of $99 dollars and a small saliva sample, AncestryDNA customers get an analysis of their genetic ethnicity and a list of potential relatives identified by genetic matching., on the other hand, gets free ownership of your genetic information forever. Technically, will own your DNA even after you’re dead.

Specifically, by submitting DNA to AncestryDNA, you agree to “grant AncestryDNA and the Ancestry Group Companies a perpetual, royalty-free, world-wide, transferable license to use your DNA, and any DNA you submit for any person from whom you obtained legal authorization as described in this Agreement, and to use, host, sublicense and distribute the resulting analysis to the extent and in the form or context we deem appropriate on or through any media or medium and with any technology or devices now known or hereafter developed or discovered.”

Basically, gets to use or distribute your DNA for any research or commercial purpose it decides and doesn’t have to pay you, or your heirs, a dime. Furthermore, takes this royalty-free license in perpetuity (for all time) and can distribute the results of your DNA tests anywhere in the world and with any technology that exists, or will ever be invented. With this single contractual provision, customers are granting the broadest possible rights to own and exploit their genetic information.


Why American Workers Now Dress So Casually

[Note:  This item comes from friend Mike Cheponis.  DLH]

Why American Workers Now Dress So Casually
The office was, until a few decades ago, the last stronghold of fashion formality. Silicon Valley changed that.
May 22 2017

Americans began the 20th century in bustles and bowler hats and ended it in velour sweatsuits and flannel shirts—the most radical shift in dress standards in human history. At the center of this sartorial revolution was business casual, a genre of dress that broke the last bastion of formality—office attire—to redefine the American wardrobe.

Born in Silicon Valley in the early 1980s, business casual consists of khaki pants, sensible shoes, and button-down collared shirts. By the time it was mainstream, in the 1990s, it flummoxed HR managers and employees alike. “Welcome to the confusing world of business casual,” declared a fashion writer for the Chicago Tribune in 1995. With time and some coaching, people caught on. Today, though, the term “business casual” is nearly obsolete for describing the clothing of a workforce that includes many who work from home in yoga pants, put on a clean T-shirt for a Skype meeting, and don’t always go into the office.

The life and impending death of business casual demonstrates broader shifts in American culture and business: Life is less formal; the concept of “going to the office” has fundamentally changed; American companies are now more results-oriented than process-oriented. The way this particular style of fashion originated and faded demonstrates that cultural change results from a tangle of seemingly disparate and ever-evolving sources: technology, consumerism, labor, geography, demographics. Better yet, cultural change can start almost anywhere and by almost anyone—scruffy computer programmers included.

What came before business casual? Basically, people wore suits. The norm wasstarched collars, overcoats, hats, and more hats. Americans dressed up for work, and they also dressed up for restaurants, for travel, for the movies. But as those other venues began to “casualize” by the 1950s, the office (and church) retained a formal dress code, by comparison. Well into the 1970s, companies gave employees manuals to outline official dress policies, but everything depended on the management’s need or desire to enforce them. Little by little, often-ignored infractions eroded the sanctity of any top-down policy: hose-free legs when the weather permitted, a tweed blazer for a day with no client meetings, loafers instead of dress shoes. Cultural change occurs most quickly when it is led by the people, for the people.

And in Silicon Valley in the mid-1980s, the people weren’t interested in adhering to old norms. Businesses there put an emphasis on streamlining management decisions and shortening the lag time between planning and implementation. Tech firms were insular, self-regulated, and male-dominated—a fertile combination for discarding norms and celebrating rule-breaking. Restrictive clothing worn for appearances’ sake was inefficient, and Silicon Valley was all about efficiency. Sport coat? Put it on the back of the chair. Places such as Atari, Apple, and Sun Microsystems embraced the 80-hour workweek, and their clothes proved it. The cover of 1983’s humorous The Official Silicon Valley Guy Handbook showed the world what geek chic looked like: “an unkempt corduroy jacket,” “drab 100% cotton shirt,” and “econo-brand athletic sneakers.”


America’s dangerous Internet delusion

America’s dangerous Internet delusion
By Robert J. Samuelson
May 21 2017

The United States may have escaped most digital damage from this month’s unleashing of a global “ransomware” virus, though cyber-experts fear more attacks. One possible explanation is that the malicious software (“malware”) harms older versions of Microsoft’s Windows operating system, which most Americans have replaced. Perhaps many users in other countries haven’t. Whatever the explanation, this is not the end of Internet threats.

The unmistakable lesson of recent years is that the Internet is a double-edged sword. Despite enormous benefits — instant access to huge quantities of information, the proliferation of new forms of businesses, communications and entertainment — it also encourages crime, global conflict and economic disruption. The drift seems ominous.

The Russians, it is widely agreed, hacked into the computers of the Democratic National Committee, raising fears that the U.S. presidential election was compromised. In Dallas, hackers turned on the city’s emergency sirens for more than an hour. Cyberthieves stole $81 million from Bangladesh’s central bank, though some of the money has apparently been recovered. 

We are dangerously dependent on Internet-based systems. All these incidents threatened the social fabric of the victimized societies. If the Russians hacked the Democrats, who might be next? Could whoever triggered Dallas’s sirens turn off the traffic lights or the local power grid? How safe are electronic financial transfers?

Ransomware validates these fears. What was stunning is how quickly the recent outbreak spread. One estimate had it quickly migrating to 150 countries and affecting 200,000 computers. Despite the rapid response — the discovery of a so-called “kill switch” in the malware that deactivated the virus — the basic message remains: Much health care, transportation and ordinary business might close if deprived of Internet access, whether by hostile governments (North Korea?) or cybercriminals. 

This makes the Internet a weapon that can be used against us — or by us. In a presentation to the Senate Intelligence Committee, Daniel Coats, the director of national intelligence, put it this way: “Our adversaries are becoming more adept at using cyberspace to threaten our interests and advance their own, and despite improving cyber defenses, nearly all information, communication networks and systems will be at risk for years.”

The trouble is that we are aiding and abetting our adversaries. We are addicted to the Internet and refuse to recognize how our addiction subtracts from our security. The more we connect our devices and instruments to the Internet, the more we create paths for others to use against us, either by shutting down websites or by controlling what they do. Put differently, we are — incredibly — inviting trouble. Our commercial interests and our national security diverge.

The latest example of this tension is the “Internet of things” or the “smart home.” It involves connecting various devices and gadgets (thermostats, lights, cameras, locks, ovens) to the Internet so they can be operated or monitored remotely. This would be a major Internet expansion and moneymaker.

One consulting firm, Ovum, forecasts that from 2016 to 2021, the number of smart homes worldwide will rise from 90 million to 463 million, with the largest concentrations in the United States and China. Ovum anticipates that each smart home will have nearly nine separate devices attached to the Internet and that the global total will hit 4 billion by 2021.

All this increases the vulnerability of Americans and others to cyberattacks. To be sure, the “Internet of things” will be fitted with security protections. But as we’ve seen, mistakes and gaps occur. Or hackers circumvent security firewalls. The growth of the “Internet of things” creates more avenues and opportunities for hostile nations or rogue hackers to penetrate various cyberdefenses.

The Coats presentation makes this explicit: “In the future, state and nonstate actors will likely use [‘Internet of things’] devices to support intelligence operations . . . or attack targeted computer networks.”


When scientists saw the mouse heads glowing, they knew the discovery was big

When scientists saw the mouse heads glowing, they knew the discovery was big
By David Kohn
May 21 2017

Kari Alitalo had studied lymphatic vessels for more than two decades. So he knew that this network, which carries immune cells throughout the body and removes waste and toxins, didn’t extend into the brain: This had been accepted wisdom for more than 300 years. “Nobody questioned that it stopped at the brain,” says Alitalo, a scientist at the University of Helsinki in Finland.

Three years ago, Alitalo wanted to develop a more precise map of the lymphatic system. To do this, he used genetically modified mice whose lymphatic vessels glowed when illuminated by a particular wavelength of light. (The mice had been given a gene from a species of glowing jellyfish.)

When viewing the modified mice under the light, Aleksanteri Aspelund, a medical student in Alitalo’s laboratory, saw something unexpected: The heads of the mice glowed. At first, he suspected that there was something wrong — with the animals, the lighting or the measuring equipment. But when Alitalo and Aspelund repeated the experiment, they got the same result. It seemed that the lymphatic vessels extended to the brain after all.

This was surprising, to say the least: In the 21st century, major findings involving basic human anatomy are rare. “These days, you don’t make discoveries like this,” Alitalo says. “But every once in a while in science, you stumble on something really unexpected. You open a new door, to a whole new world.”

Alitalo is one of several scientists exploring this new world. Working independently, several other researchers, including Maiken Nedergaard of the University of Rochester and Jonathan Kipnis of the University of Virginia School of Medicine, have also shown that lymphatic vessels extend into the brain.

The discovery is much more than a historical footnote. It has major implications for a wide variety of brain diseases, including Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, stroke and traumatic brain injury.

Researchers have identified two networks: the vessels that lead into and surround the brain, and those within the brain itself. The first is known as the lymphatic system for the brain, while the latter is called the glymphatic system. The “g” added to “lymphatic” refers to glia, the kind of neuron that makes up the lymphatic vessels in the brain. The glymphatic vessels carry cerebrospinal fluid and immune cells into the brain and remove cellular trash from it.

Alitalo, Nedergaard, Kipnis and others have found evidence that when the systems malfunction, the brain can become clogged with toxins and suffused with inflammatory immune cells. Over decades, this process may play a key rolein Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and other neurodegenerative illnesses, research suggests. “This is a revolutionary finding,” Nedergaard says. “This system plays a huge role in the health of the brain.”

Nedergaard describes the glymphatic system as like a dishwasher for the brain. “The brain is very active,” she says, “and so it produces a lot of junk that needs to be cleaned out.”

In hindsight, she says, the system should have been noticed long ago. When the skull and head are dissected, the vessels are visible to the naked eye. But no one bothered to really look: “Usually the brain is seen only as a bunch of nerve cells. We have come to think of the brain as a computer. And it’s not. It’s a living organ.”

Nedergaard and Helene Benveniste, a scientist at Yale University, have found evidence linking problems in the lymphatic and glymphatic systems to Alzheimer’s. In a study on mice, they showed that glymphatic dysfunction contributes to the buildup in the brain of amyloid beta, a protein that plays a key role in the disease.


Don’t bother calling Congress

Don’t bother calling Congress
By John Cluverius
May 21 2017

More Americans are contacting government officials than ever before. Companies are developing new tools to make contacting legislators as easy as ordering a pizza. People want to believe that by calling their representatives, they are making their voices heard. If you’re reading this, you’ve probably been asked to contact a legislator about one issue or another.

Unfortunately, my research strongly indicates that high-volume constituent contact on policy issues has at best a negligible effect, and at worst a negative effect, on legislators’ actions. The next time you’re asked to call your member of Congress about a policy issue, you might want to put down the phone.

I conducted an experiment on hundreds of state legislators in the United States, randomly assigning each to one of four groups. Some of these legislators were asked to imagine what they would do if they received six e-mails about a hypothetical bill (a lower volume of e-mails). Others were asked what they would do if they received 60 e-mails about a hypothetical bill (a higher volume of e-mails). One hypothetical bill was about gun control (a higher-attention issue); the other was about the labeling of genetically modified foods (a lower-attention issue).

The results weren’t promising for people who believe that constituent contact alters policy. On the high-attention issue, there was no difference in support between the legislators who received the high volume of e-mails and those who received the low volume of e-mails.

More troubling, on the lower-attention issue, support for the bill was actually lower among the legislators who were told that they received more e-mails. The difference here was quite substantial. Support among those legislators who were told they had received more e-mails was half that of those who were told they had received fewer e-mails.

There is no reason to believe that these effects are different for phone calls, faxes, or even face-to-face meetings. Legislators are bombarded with information, and their offices are understaffed.

But the issue here isn’t simply a problem of processing too much information. Instead, it’s that most legislators already think they know how constituents feel about issues. They conduct polls in their districts. They learn about what constituents want through campaigns and elections. They also belong to political parties that have fairly defined ideologies, and they make specific policy promises in the course of an election.

Given all this, it’s easy for legislators to dismiss a sudden appearance of concerned constituents as “paid protesters.” It’s not that elected officials don’t care what you think. It’s that they think they already have a pretty good idea of what you think without you having to call them every week.


Re: re:publica 2017 – Maciej Ceglowski: Notes from an Emergency

[Note:  This comment comes from reader DV Henkel-Wallace.  DLH]

From: DV Henkel-Wallace <>
Subject: Re: re:publica 2017 – Maciej Ceglowski: Notes from an Emergency
Date: May 21, 2017 at 12:08:15 AM EDT
To: Dewayne Hendricks <>

Dewayne, here’s a transcript for those of us who find watching video unbearable:


re:publica 2017 – Maciej Ceglowski: Notes from an Emergency 
May 16 2017

Court strikes down rule forcing toy drone users to register with govt

[Note:  This item comes from friend Ed DeWath.  DLH]

Court strikes down rule forcing toy drone users to register with govt
May 19 2017

A D.C.-based appeals court struck down a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rule on Friday requiring recreational drone users to register their model aircraft with the federal government, in a major win for drone hobbyists.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit sided with plaintiff John A. Taylor, a recreational drone pilot, who argued that the FAA doesn’t have the power to make him register his toy drones because Congress already said the FAA can’t regulate model aircraft.

“The FAA’s 2015 registration rule, which applies to model aircraft, directly violates that clear statutory prohibition,” the opinion said. “We therefore grant Taylor’s petition and vacate the registration rule to the extent it applies to model aircraft.”

As drones have exploded in popularity and as the technology has become increasingly affordable, both lawmakers and the FAA have worked to safely incorporate drones into the national airspace.
In December 2015, the FAA issued an interim rule requiring drone hobbyists to register their recreational aircraft with the agency. 

The court called the registration process “quite extensive, as one would imagine for airplanes.” 

The rule — which had not been formally finalized — requires model aircraft owners to provide their name, email address and physical address; pay a $5 registration fee; and display a unique drone ID number at all times. Those who fail to comply could face civil and criminal penalties.

While Congress directed the FAA to safely integrate drones into the national airspace in a 2012 aviation law, they also included a special exemption for model aircraft.

The appeals court cited the 2012 law in its ruling, saying that recreational drones count as model aircraft and arguing that that the FAA registration requirement constitutes a rule or regulation.

“Congress passed and President Obama signed the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012,” the ruling said. “Specifically, the ‘Special Rule for Model Aircraft’ [section] provides that the FAA ‘may not promulgate any rule or regulation regarding a model aircraft.’” 

Lawyers for the FAA argued that the registration rule is not a new requirement, but merely a “decision to cease its exercise of enforcement discretion,” which falls within its mission to improve aviation safety.