Thursday, March 28, 2019

Mail Fishing

"Have You Noticed Those Weird New Mailboxes? Here's Why They Changed"
Thieves, often at night, use string to lower glue-covered rodent traps or bottles coated with an adhesive down the chute of a sidewalk mailbox. This bait attaches to the envelopes inside, and the fish in this case — mail containing gift cards, money orders or checks, which can be altered with chemicals and cashed — are reeled out slowly.

This low-tech crime, which became common in the Bronx, is known as mail fishing

[In the new mailboxes:] The mail slots are only large enough for letters, meaning sending even small packages will require a trip to the post office. The opening is also equipped with a mechanism that grabs at a letter once inserted, making it difficult to retract. (With an air of crime-fighting secrecy, postal inspectors declined to elaborate on precisely how the device works.)

Virtual Military Misconduct

"Soldier charged after 'going rogue' during computer game on virtual battlefield "

Astrology Studies

"A fight has erupted in Norway after the country's higher education regulator agreed to accredit courses in astrology, meaning students will be able to use government loans to look for meaning in the stars."  (Via Tyler Cowen.)

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Wifi Password

Dan Edwards learns the coffeeshop password:
Me: Hey, what's the Wifi password?

Barista: You need to buy a drink first.

Me: I'll have a Latte, please.

Barista: £3, please.

Me: There you go, now what's the Wifi password?

Barista: You need to buy a drink first. No spaces and all lowercase.
— Dan Edwards ✨ (@de) March 27, 2019

Bizarre Florida Theme Parks

"Let's revisit Florida's bizarre lost theme parks from before the Disney era"

Attachment Styles and Work

"The 4 ‘Attachment Styles,’ and How They Sabotage Your Work-Life Balance"

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Drunken Online Shopping

"Drunken online shopping is big business -- especially for Amazon"

Unique Table Design

"Unique Tables Designed to Look Like Animals Are Half-Submerged in Water"

Robot Swarm

"‘Particle’ robot swarm moves without computer control"

Monday, March 25, 2019

Quantum Computing For The Very Curious

"Quantum computing for the very curious"

More Surveillance

"The US Government Will Be Scanning Your Face At 20 Top Airports, Documents Show". (Via T.K.)

Easter Island Update

"Scientists think they’ve solved one mystery of Easter Island's statues"

Sunday, March 24, 2019

The Wait

The Wait: "Two people strike up a conversation at a bus stop. They don't say whole lot, but the story will grip you right in the feels. This award-winning short is from Jason McColgan."

The Wait from Jason McColgan on Vimeo.

Quantum Computing Update

"D-Wave 2000Q hands-on: Steep learning curve for quantum computing"

Wite-Out Sales

"Who Still Buys Wite-Out, and Why?" (Via H.R.)

Thursday, March 21, 2019

TAVR History

"The astounding 19-year journey to a sea change for heart patients".

Related: Here's the recent NEJM paper on the TAVR trial making national news:
"Transcatheter Aortic-Valve Replacement with a Self-Expanding Valve in Low-Risk Patients"

And a NYT story on the trial:
"Tens of Thousands of Heart Patients May Not Need Open-Heart Surgery"


"Ask A Native New Yorker: Should I Move To Los Angeles?"

Flowers From Space

"Satellites just photographed California's dazzling 'super bloom' of spring flowers from outer space". (Via B.E.)

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

New AirPods

"Apple’s New AirPods Are the Future, Like It or Not"

Exascale Computer

"Intel will build the first exascale supercomputer in the US"

Fermi Paradox Revisited

"Are We In A 'Galactic Zoo' Protected By Aliens? Scientists Meet To Investigate The 'Great Silence'"

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Bad Conference Rooms

Don't make important decisions in conference rooms: "Three people quietly sitting in a mid-size conference room produced CO2 levels that within 60 minutes, reached concentrations high enough to impair their ability to make the right decisions."

Surprise Meteor

"A meteor exploded over Earth with 10 times the energy of Hiroshima's atomic bomb. Nobody saw or was even aware of the fireball that exploded above the Bering Sea on December 18, 2018 -- until now."

Flat Antarctica

"Flat Earth Supporters Now Plan An Antarctica Expedition To The Edge Of The World"

Monday, March 18, 2019

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Last Blockbuster

"There's now only one Blockbuster left on the planet"

Space Medicine

"Space Medicine in the Era of Civilian Spaceflight"

Noise Cancellation Update

"Scientists have discovered a shape that blocks all sound -- even your co-workers". (Via H.R.)

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Supersonic Shockwaves

"NASA captures unprecedented images of supersonic shockwaves". (Via H.R.)

Google Is Watching

"Google Exec Finally Admits to Congress That They're Tracking Us Even with 'Location' Turned Off"

Hathaway Prank

"What Anne Hathaway's Prank On 'Ellen' Said About Pseudoscience"

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Humans Are Weird

"These Hilarious Comics Depict How Weird Human Habits Actually Are"

Good Doggie

"The First Dog Ascent of a 7,000-Meter Himalayan Peak"

Physics Of Knitting

"Physicists are decoding math-y secrets of knitting to make bespoke materials"

Monday, March 11, 2019

Total Hipster Irony

Update on yesterday's MIT article on hipster culture: "A man threatened to sue a magazine for using his picture to show a generic hipster. But it wasn't him."

In other words, he was upset at being used as an illustration on how all hipsters look alike, but he mistake another hipster's picture for his own.

Update Your Chrome

"Google fixes Chrome zero-day exploit, security update rolling out to Mac, Windows, Android, & Chrome OS"

500-Mile Email

"The Case of the 500-Mile Email".  Here's the opening:
I was working in a job running the campus email system some years ago when I got a call from the chairman of the statistics department.

“We’re having a problem sending email out of the department.”
“What’s the problem?” I asked.

“We can’t send mail more than 500 miles,” the chairman explained.

I choked on my latte. “Come again?”

“We can’t send mail farther than 500 miles from here,” he repeated. “A little bit more, actually. Call it 520 miles. But no farther.”

“Um… Email really doesn’t work that way, generally,” I said, trying to keep panic out of my voice. One doesn’t display panic when speaking to a department chairman, even of a relatively impoverished department like statistics. “What makes you think you can’t send mail more than 500 miles?”
Read the whole thing.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Friday, March 08, 2019

Bitcoin Hypnotist

"This hypnotist charges half a bitcoin for helping you remember your lost cryptocurrency password". (Via Tyler Cowen.)

Caesar Death Site

"Site Where Julius Caesar Was Stabbed Will Finally Open to the Public"

Art Thief Secrets

"The Secrets of the World's Greatest Art Thief"

Thursday, March 07, 2019


"The Deep Roots of an Italian Song That Sounds Like English -- But Is Just Nonsense
There’s a long tradition of songs that “sound” like another language without actually meaning anything. In Italy, for example, beginning in the 1950s, American songs, films, and jingles inspired a diverse range of “American sounding” cultural products.

The most famous is probably “Prisencolinensinainciusol,” a 1972 song composed by legendary Italian entertainer Adriano Celentano and performed by him and his wife, Claudia Mori. The song’s lyrics sound phonetically like American English—or at least what many Italians hear when an American speaks—but are clearly total, utter, delightful nonsense. You really have to hear it to appreciate it.

Bad Password

"Why 'ji32k7au4a83' Is a Remarkably Common Password"

Foldable Gorilla Glass

"Corning is working on truly foldable Gorilla Glass". (Via H.R.)

Wednesday, March 06, 2019

USB Confusion

"USB 3.2 is going to make the current USB branding even worse"
USB 3.2 doubles down on this confusion. 5Gb/s devices are now "USB 3.2 Gen 1." 10Gb/s devices become "USB 3.2 Gen 2." And 20Gb/s devices will be... "USB 3.2 Gen 2×2." Because they work by running two 10Gb/s connections along different pairs of wires simultaneously, and it's just obvious from arithmetic that you'd number the generations "1, 2, 2×2." Perhaps they're named for powers of two, starting with zero? The consumer branding is a more reasonable "SuperSpeed USB 20Gbps."

Read The Fine Print

"She read the fine print on her insurance policy. It won her $10,000 in a contest". (Via H.R.)

Worth Staying Up Late?

"How to Decide When It's Worth Staying Up Late"

Tuesday, March 05, 2019

Commercial Quantum Computing

"When Will Quantum Computing Have Real Commercial Value? Nobody really knows"

AI And Scientific Reproducibility

"Machine learning is contributing to a 'reproducibility crisis' within science"

Venmo Etiquette

"The Confusing World of Venmo Etiquette"

Monday, March 04, 2019

Bridge Doping Scandal

The lastest doping scandal involves professional bridge. Yes, bridge.

Ice Tsunamis

"Furious Winds Lead to 'Ice Tsunamis' Along Lake Erie"

NASA Communications

"Deep space dial-up: How NASA speeds up its interplanetary communications". (Via H.R.)

Friday, March 01, 2019