Stories You Should Be Reading, November 28, 2012

According to the BBC: People do weird things in their sleep, including eating, driving and oh yes, having sex.

Sleep: Weird things people do in their sleep, BBC

Technology now plays a huge part in our lives so it’s no shock that sleep experts are seeing new kinds of sleep behaviour related to it.

More people are reporting sending text messages during their sleep, says Dr Kirstie Anderson, who runs the Neurology Sleep Service for the Newcastle Upon Tyne NHS Foundation Trust.

Sexsomnia, a condition where people have sex in their sleep, has only really been brought to the public’s attention in recent years. As yet very little research has been done into it, say sleep experts, but more cases are being reported.

You’re peacefully falling asleep and suddenly it’s like a bomb has gone off in your head. It’s exploding head syndrome, when a sudden and incredibly loud noise comes from within your head.

 

Also from the BBC: Worried about the possibility of a “robot uprising”? You’re in luck. There’s a study for that.

Risk of robot uprising wiping out human race to be studied, BBC

The Centre for the Study of Existential Risk (CSER) will study dangers posed by biotechnology, artificial life, nanotechnology and climate change.

The scientists said that to dismiss concerns of a potential robot uprising would be “dangerous”.

Fears that machines may take over have been central to the plot of some of the most popular science fiction films.

Perhaps most famous is Skynet, a rogue computer system depicted in the Terminator films.

Skynet gained self-awareness and fought back after first being developed by the US military.

“It seems a reasonable prediction that some time in this or the next century intelligence will escape from the constraints of biology,” Prof Price told the AFP news agency.

 

In today’s “under-the-radar” news: The Guardian reports that President Obama signed a law on Tuesday that exempts US airlines from an international carbon tax.

Obama fails first climate test by rejecting EU aviation carbon regime, The Guardian

Barack Obama has signed a law excluding US airlines from the European Union’s carbon trading scheme, delivering a blow to campaigners’ hopes for stronger climate action during the president’s second term.

Environmental campaigners had urged Obama to veto the aviation bill as a sign of his commitment to fighting climate change in his second term.

The bill signed by Obama on Tuesday was unusual in that it specifically exempted US companies from complying with international law.

But American airlines had pushed hard for the bill, which had support from Democrats as well as Republicans in Congress.

Commercial carriers argued the EU’s carbon tax was unfair because it would require airlines to pay for emissions on the entire transatlantic flight, not just through European air space. The main airline lobby group said it would cost the industry $3.1bn by 2020.

 

And finally, in today’s “Well duh, that’s why the economic recovery is slow” moment: The Washington Post reports that Americans continue to pay down debt during the third quarter.

Americans continued paring household debt in third quarter, The Washington Post

Household debt fell by $74 billion, to $11.3 trillion, in the three months ending in September. Mortgage debt, the largest component of household borrowing, shrank by $120 billion, to $8.03 trillion, the lowest level in six years. The decline reflects a reduction in home loan balances, foreclosures and home equity lines of credit.

“The increase in mortgage originations, auto loans and credit card balances suggests that consumers are slowly gaining confidence in their financial position,” said Donghoon Lee, senior economist at the New York Fed.

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