Thursday, February 28, 2019

Light Posting Notice

Admin note: Posting may be lighter than usual the rest of this week and early next week due to external obligations.

Google Microphones

"After a big privacy backlash, Google's Nest explains which of its products have microphones and why"

Hydro Flasks

"Why Are Hydro Flask Bottles Suddenly Everywhere?" (Via H.R.)

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

[Off Topic] Hsieh Forbes Column: Should Therapists Treat Climate Change Denial As A Psychological Disorder?

[Off topic] My latest Forbes piece is now out: "Should Therapists Treat Climate Change Denial As A Psychological Disorder?"

Spoiler: "No."

ET Life Update

"Life probably can't exist on quite as many planets as we once thought"

Missionary Texting

"Latter-day Saint missionaries can now call, text home weekly":
Missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints can now call, text or video chat weekly, the First Presidency announced Friday. This update to guidelines regarding communication between full-time missionaries and their families follows a decades-long tradition of missionaries only calling home twice a year -- on Christmas and on Mother's Day.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Paying For Super-Expensive Stuff

"How Do the Insanely Wealthy Actually Pay for Something Worth Hundreds of Millions of Dollars?"

Emojis In Court

"Emoji are showing up in court cases exponentially, and courts aren't prepared"

Bubble Wrap History

"The Accidental Invention of Bubble Wrap"

Monday, February 25, 2019

Amazon's Middle-Earth

"Where the Stars Are Strange: A First Look at Amazon's Middle-earth"

Northern Vs. Southern Lights

"Why Do the Northern and Southern Lights Differ? Scientists have discovered the culprit: how the sun squeezes Earth’s magnetic tail"

Medieval Trade Routes

"A Detailed Map of Medieval Trade Routes in Europe, Asia, and Africa"

Friday, February 22, 2019

Zebra Stripes

"The Surprising Reason Zebras Have Stripes"

Google Sees All

"How did the police know you were near a crime scene? Google told them"

'Oumuamua Update

"No, 'Oumuamua is not an alien spaceship. It might be even weirder"

Thursday, February 21, 2019

When Kids Realize Their Whole Life Is Already Online

"When Kids Realize Their Whole Life Is Already Online"

Protecting Privacy

"Chrome will make it harder to block incognito browsing"

Foldable Phone

"Samsung's foldable phone is the Galaxy Fold, available April 26th starting at $1,980"

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Good Apple

"Man discovers 30 year old Apple computer still in working order":
“My oldest, who is 9, exclaimed “that’s a computer?!” in genuine surprise, and then pointed at the floppy drives and asked “what are those?” My younger twins just kept laughing at how silly it seemed to them.”

Bad Plagiarist

Courtney Milan: "Cristiane Serruya is a copyright infringer, a plagiarist, and an idiot".

The evidence is pretty convincing.

Plus as the victimized author notes: "[I]f I were an unethical plagiarist and I was looking to plagiarize a romance author, I would pick literally anyone except the one who clerked for the Supreme Court, taught intellectual property as a law professor, and doesn’t back down from a fight."


Bruce Schneier: "The Evolution of Darknets". More here.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Monday, February 18, 2019

More Prefixes

"You know kilo, mega, and giga. Is the metric system ready for ronna and quecca?
A proposal lodged with the International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM) in Paris recommends new names -- ronna and quecca-- as prefixes for 1027 and 1030, respectively. They would be joined by their microscopic counterparts, ronto for 1027, and quecto for 1030. If approved, the new terms could be formally introduced in 2022. They would be the first prefixes added since 1991.

The planned update responds to the massive growth in global data storage, which by the early 2030s is forecast to reach 1 yottabyte (1024) -- the top of the existing scale. Without new prefixes, computer scientists will have no way to officially talk about what comes next. At the other end of the scale, quantum physicists have measured atomic forces as small as 42 yoctonewtons. Much smaller and they run out of metrological road.

Wingsuit Jump

Um, wow: "2 wingsuit flyers BASE jump into a plane in mid-air"

Da Vinci Stamps

"Stamps Featuring Drawings by Leonardo da Vinci"

Friday, February 15, 2019

'Drinkable' Potato Chips

"'Drinkable' potato chips: The products keeping your phone grease-free":
Among the concerns facing today’s social media maven: how can one scroll through Instagram and enjoy a bag of potato chips without getting their phone all greasy?

It’s a dilemma Steve Jobs was never able to solve, but that hasn’t stopped today’s innovators. A Japanese snack company is offering chips that require only a single hand to consume – and you don’t have to touch the chips at all. The Tokyo company Koike-ya is behind One Hand Chips, which come pre-smashed so that you can essentially drink them, according to the Wall Street Journal. Now you can swipe with clean hands, and while the calories pile up, you don’t have to waste valuable energy chewing. As one enthusiast tells the paper: “I can just take it and chug it.”

Laundry In Ancient Mesopotamia

"How to Get Your Laundry Done in Ancient Mesopotamia"

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Tinder For Cows

"Cows Can Swipe Right for Love on This New Dating App".

The app is called Tudder, of course.

Earth Kitty!

"Did you know the Earth is actually a kitten?" (Via Cynical-C.)

Drunk Memories

"Drunk Witnesses Remember a Surprising Amount: Interviewing an inebriated person at the scene may be more accurate than waiting until he or she is sober"

Secure Messengers

"Thinking About What You Need In A Secure Messenger"

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Metallic Wood

"Penn Engineer's 'Metallic Wood' Has the Strength of Titanium and the Density of Water". (Via H.R.)

Dining At 5:30

"Why 5:30 Is the Ultimate Dining Time"

Palm Pilot Tribute

"Remembering the PalmPilot and its spinoffs"

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Monday, February 11, 2019

NYPD Vs. Google

NYPD is complaining that Waze users are posting the locations of the police checkpoints.

Google tells the NYPD, "too bad". I'm siding with Google on this one!

AI Finds Unknown Human Ancestor

"Artificial Intelligence Study of Human Genome Finds Unknown Human Ancestor"

Asteroid Defense Test

"A plan to knock an asteroid off course":
In what’s being called humankind’s 1st planetary defense test, space scientists are planning to visit a double asteroid -- Didymos and its tiny moon -- and crash into the moon in attempt to change its orbit. 

Friday, February 08, 2019


"Today We Learned You Can Sail In A Straight Line From The UK To New Zealand"

New Chargers

"The next generation of wall chargers is getting smaller and better". (Via H.R.)

Superman Physics

"The Way Superman Picks Up a Building Is a Physics Travesty"

Thursday, February 07, 2019

Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Sovereign Immunity

"Could Queen Elizabeth Get Away with Murder Legally?"


"FasTeesH Y-Brush is an electric toothbrush that does all the work for you".

I'm not sure if I think this is awesome or appalling. I'm leaning more towards appalling.

Florida Tunnel

NYT: "A Secret Tunnel Leading Toward a Florida Bank Puzzles the F.B.I."

Tuesday, February 05, 2019

Don't Swallow Toothpicks

"This gory medical case shows why you should never, ever swallow a toothpick":
Of the poor souls who somehow ingest one of the wee daggers, 79 percent will end up with stab wounds their innards. Ten percent will die from their toothpick-inflicted injuries.

No Google

"I Cut Google Out Of My Life. It Screwed Up Everything"

Jenga Robot

"This robot can probably beat you at Jenga —- thanks to its understanding of the world"

Monday, February 04, 2019

Seeing Around Corners

"A Simple Camera and an Algorithm Let You See around Corners"


"Finding Lena, the Patron Saint of JPEGs"

Slow Science

"The 500-Year-Long Science Experiment".

Update: Link was missing, now fixed!

Friday, February 01, 2019

Hsieh Forbes Column: Should Doctors Google Their Patients?

My latest Forbes piece is now out: "Should Doctors Google Their Patients?"

Roomba Lawnmower

"The Roomba lawnmower is finally happening"

G-C Rota on Diff Eqs

Gian-Carlo Rota: "Ten Lessons I Wish I Had Learned Before I Started Teaching Differential Equations.

I took a probability and statistics class from Professor Rota when I was an undergraduate at MIT, and he was a terrific teacher! (Via Rand Simberg.)