every day

every day, the same, again

7.jpg All the COVID virus in the world could fit in a can of coke, says mathematician

vagina-scented face masks + Gwyneth Paltrow’s vagina-scented candle (“The candle exploded and emitted huge flames”)

Exhaled aerosol increases with degree of COVID-19 infection, age, and obesity

females are overall more aware of their smile and the impact it has on their public image

Traditional yoga encompasses a variety of practices, such as physical postures, breathing techniques, meditation practices, and ethical teachings. Numerous studies and meta-analyses have demonstrated yoga’s efficacy in promoting mental and physical health. Conversely, little is known about how the diverse components of yoga contribute to its overall effect. […] combined interventions incorporating multiple components consistently outperformed simpler interventions. Adding breathing and/or meditation practices to yoga interventions proved particularly beneficial in this regard

Cats show no avoidance of people who behave negatively to their owner

Researchers teach four pigs how to play a rudimentary joystick-enabled video game

Companies with no business plan, no profit, and no revenue are flooding Wall Street. They’re called SPACs, and investors are pouring money into them.

There are only 21 million bitcoins that can be mined in total, and 2.6 million Bitcoin left to be mined. 18.4 million Bitcoin were mined in 10 years, but it will take another 120 years to mine the remaining 2.6 million.

The statement there can never be more than 21 million bitcoins is 100% false.

The Manual (How to Have a Number One the Easy Way), a 1988 book better known as The KLF, is a step-by-step guide to achieving a No.1 single with no money or musical skills. [things magazine]

Serviette Sculptures: Mattia Giegher’s Treatise on Napkin Folding (1629)

Every day, the same, again


Arkansas farmer pleads guilty to dumping dead animals on neighbor’s grave while dressed as a woman

Doesn’t everybody jaywalk? On the motivated enforcement of frequently violated rules

“bitcoin’s fundamental value is negative given its environmental impact”

What you should know about Clubhouse, the invite-only, audio social app

Facebook, which has a history of cloning its competitors, has started working on an audio chat product, to compete with Clubhouse. [NY Times]

What other variants might be out there?

Our results show that therapeutic and prophylactic administration of EIDD-2801, an oral broad spectrum antiviral currently in phase II–III clinical trials, dramatically inhibited SARS-CoV-2 replication in vivo and thus has significant potential for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19.

New AI tool predicts who’ll die from COVID-19 with up to 90% accuracy

Viral ‘I’m not a cat’ filter is a decades-old piece of software pre-installed on some Dell laptops

Every day, the same, again

51.jpgThis is the first study to examine deception across the entire lifespan. We tested 1005 Science museum visitors from 6 to 77 years. Adolescents tell most lies, children and the elderly the least.

concordant drinking couples may achieve immediate benefits for couple harmony from drinking alcohol together.

Psychedelics in combination with psychotherapy are remarkably efficient at treating depression. At the correct doses, psychedelics are well tolerated, producing only minor side effects such as transient fear, perception of illusions, nausea/vomiting or headaches. These fleeting side effects pale in comparison to the severity of commonly prescribed antidepressants, which include dangerous changes in heart rate and blood pressure, paradoxical increases in suicidality, and withdrawal symptoms.

In 2017 a team of researchers used Google Street View images to study the distribution of car types in the US and then used that data to determine the demographic makeup of the country. It turns out that the car you drive is a surprisingly reliable proxy for your income level, your education, your occupation, and even the way you vote in elections. Another team of researchers used the images of people’s houses to determine how likely they are to be involved in a car accident.

Vaccines or Not, Scientists Now Believe Covid is Here to Stay

There are currently four endemic coronaviruses that, for most people, just cause a cold. Whether SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, will join them will be down to two predominant factors that control how a virus behaves in a population: the virus’s biology and the immunity of the host population.

SARS-CoV-2 mutations similar to those in the B1.1.7 UK variant could arise in cases of chronic infection, where treatment over an extended period can provide the virus multiple opportunities to evolve, say scientists.

Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Twitter Target Resellers of Hacked Accounts — Particularly prized are short usernames, which can often be resold for thousands of dollars to those looking to claim a choice vanity name. […] Facebook seized hundreds of accounts — mainly on Instagram — that have been stolen from legitimate users through a variety of intimidation and harassment tactics, including hacking, coercion, extortion, sextortion, SIM swapping, and swatting.

A pro-China network of fake and impostor accounts found a global audience on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter to mock the U.S. response to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the deadly riot in Washington that left five dead.

Researchers Test Detection Methods For AI-Generated Content

The largest ever study of facial-recognition data shows how much the rise of deep learning has fueled a loss of privacy. — Researchers, driven by the exploding data requirements of deep learning, gradually abandoned asking for people’s consent. This has led more and more of people’s personal photos to be incorporated into systems of surveillance without their knowledge. It has also led to far messier data sets: they may unintentionally include photos of minors, use racist and sexist labels, or have inconsistent quality and lighting. The trend could help explain the growing number of cases in which facial-recognition systems have failed with troubling consequences.

In 2016, the N.S.A.’s own hacking tools were hacked, by a still unknown assailant. Those tools were picked up first by North Korea, then Russia, in the most destructive cyberattack in history. Over the next three years, Iran emerged from a digital backwater into one of the most prolific cyber armies in the world. China, after a brief pause, is back to pillaging America’s intellectual property. And, we are now unwinding a Russian attack on our software supply chain that compromised the State Department, the Justice Department, the Treasury, the Centers for Disease Control, the Department of Energy and its nuclear labs and the Department of Homeland Security, the very agency charged with keeping Americans safe. We know this not because of some heroic N.S.A. hack, or intelligence feat, but because the government was tipped off by a security company, FireEye, after it discovered the same Russian hackers in its own systems. America remains the world’s most advanced cyber superpower, but the hard truth, the one intelligence officials do not want to discuss, is that it is also its most targeted and vulnerable. At this very moment, we are getting hacked from so many sides that it has become virtually impossible to keep track. [NY Times]

A climate scientist spent years trying to get people to pay attention to the disaster ahead. His wife is exhausted. His older son thinks there’s no future. And nobody but him will use the outdoor toilet he built to shrink his carbon footprint.

Paris court finds France guilty of failing to meet its own Paris climate accord commitments

Scholars generally do agree that conspiracy theories have always existed and always will. They tap into basic aspects of human cognition and psychology, which may help explain why they take hold so easily — and why they’re seemingly impossible to kill. […] “The general hypothesis that’s put out there in the media is [that] everyone’s becoming conspiracists, and now is the golden age of conspiracy theory,” Uscinski says. “We find no such thing whatsoever.”

You might think of serendipity as passive luck that just happens to you, when actually it’s an active process of spotting and connecting the dots.

Sterling Silver Crazy Straw, $275

Every day, the same, again

5.jpgSix arrested after changing Hollywood sign to ‘Hollyboob’

A Florida lawyer has been disbarred for using his attorney privileges to visit women in jail and record sexual encounters with them for a pornographic film [more]

Scientists have managed to engineer spinach plants which are capable of sending emails — Through nanotechnology, engineers have transformed spinach into sensors capable of detecting explosive materials. These plants are then able to wirelessly relay this information back to the scientists.

bullshitters are particularly bad at seeing through the bullshit of others

Timing matters when correcting fake news — Providing fact-checks after headlines (debunking) improved subsequent truth discernment more than providing the same information during (labeling) or before (prebunking) exposure.

The Dunning-Kruger effect (why incompetent people don’t know they’re unskilled) is probably not real

Definitive logic indicates that GOD created not only Adam and Eve but also additional people.

Amazon is using AI-equipped cameras in delivery vans — The cameras record drivers “100% of the time” while they’re on their route and flag a series of safety infractions, including failure to stop at a stop sign, speeding and distracted driving.

human-made materials now weigh as much as all living biomass, say scientists

A year into the pandemic, the evidence is now clear. The coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 is transmitted predominantly through the air — by people talking and breathing out large droplets and small particles called aerosols. Catching the virus from surfaces — although plausible — seems to be rare. [Nature]

“You can remove your mask when you’re eating or drinking, so you have the guy eating one sunflower seed at a time so he can keep the mask off the whole flight.”

“Cybercrime and cyber-enabled crimes are going to offer enormous potential for criminal groups of all sizes and scales to replace lost income elsewhere [being] constrained by virus-control conditions”

A young program that puts troubled nonviolent people in the hands of health care workers instead of police officers has proven successful in its first six months

Archaeologists unearth Egyptian mummies with golden tongues

How wombats produce their cube-shape poo has long been a biological puzzle — The cube shape is formed within the intestines – not at the point of exit, as previously thought

More than 1,000 years ago, the western church was in crisis. […] During this period there was a fairly frequent use of the early medieval equivalent of impeachment. This was a church synod held in Rome, at which the holder of the highest office in Christendom could be tried for transgressions against the traditions and customs of their office. One such synod took place in January 897 and heard charges against the most recent former pontiff, Formosus (pope from 891 to 896). The only problem was that Formosus had been dead for seven months by the time the trial started. But the new pope, Stephen VI, was of the firm opinion that even when a leader had left office they could still be punished for their transgressions. Pope Stephen had Formosus’ corpse withdrawn from its sarcophagus and brought to the Basilica of St John Lateran in Rome to be put on trial. The corpse was clad in papal vestments and seated on a throne to face charges that Formosus had broken the rules of the church. Close by stood a deacon to answer in Formosus’ name. Stephen VI charged the cadaver with having broken an oath not to return to Rome and of having illegally obtained the title of pope because he was already a bishop at the time of his election. [Raw Story]

The famous Duck/Rabbit image was uploaded to Google Cloud’s Vision API […] 73% confident it’s a duck […] Rabbit was, however, 100% absent.

Simon Popper, Ulysses, 2006 — [a reinterpretation of James Joyce’s Ulysses (1922) rearranging all the words in the original book in alphabetical order]

The belief that humanure is unsafe for agricultural use is called fecophobia

My favourite species of birds are the ones named by people who clearly hate birds.

An Historical Collection of Found Paper Airplanes

Every day, the same, again

51.jpgConfused, jealous wife stabs husband after seeing her younger self in old photos

New Spotify Patent Involves Monitoring Users’ Speech to Recommend Music

Subway’s tuna is not tuna, but a ‘mixture of various concoctions,’ a lawsuit alleges

People least able to detect bullshit believe they are significantly more skilled at detecting bullshit compared to everyone else

parents with more children reported that time passed more quickly

Apple announced in 2020 that it would ask app makers to fill out what are essentially privacy nutrition labels. Just like packaged food has to disclose how much sugar it contains, apps would have to disclose in clear terms how they gobble your data. The labels appear in boxes towards the bottom of app listings. […] In tiny print on the detail page of each app label, Apple says, “This information has not been verified by Apple.” [Washington Post]

Economic gloom tends to reduce work-related burnout and the associated use of harmful substances, cut traffic deaths and workplace accidents, decrease environmental pollution. According to Ballester (and some previous literature), these effects may well counterbalance the opposite trend: While unemployment does increase suicide and crime risks, the overall effect of recent major recessions on mortality appears to be negligible. If Machines Ruled Us, Lockdowns Would Be Tougher

Teen Scientist Finds a Low-Tech Way to Recycle Water

Google is actively removing negative reviews of the Robinhood app from the Google Play Store, the company confirmed to The Verge. After some disgruntled Robinhood users organized campaigns to give the app a one-star review on Google’s Play Store and Apple’s App Store — and succeeded in review-bombing it all the way down to a one-star rating — Google has now deleted enough reviews to bring it back up to nearly four stars.

No Time To Die reshoots ‘required for James Bond’s now out-of-date product placements’

Zookeepers and veterinarians obtained semen from Mufasa through the process of electro-ejaculation. But Mufasa, aged 20, could not survive the procedure.


Historical Dictionary of Science Fiction

every day, the same, again

61.jpgScientists Want to Shorten the Minute to 59 Seconds

“The rooster cry is a French tradition that needs to be preserved.” — France has passed a law protecting the sounds and smells of the countryside

Experienced well-being rises with income, even above $75,000 per year

How law enforcement gets around your smartphone’s encryption — Openings provided by iOS and Android security are there for those with the right tools.

Lying makes us mimic the body language of the people we are talking to

at least one third of SARS-CoV-2 infections are asymptomatic

Presence of SARS-CoV-2 RNA in the Cornea of Viremic Patients With COVID-19

Air travel has accelerated the global pandemic, contributing to the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) throughout the world. We describe an outbreak that demonstrates in-flight transmission, providing further evidence to add to the small number of published studies in this area. The flight was 7.5 h long and had a passenger occupancy of 17%. Thirteen cases were passengers on the same flight […] resulted in a total of 59 cases

Cancer can be precisely diagnosed using a urine test with artificial intelligence

The Michigan Republican Party has moved to replace the Republican member of the Board of State Canvassers who certified Joe Biden’s victory in the state in November.

Treasury nominee Yellen is looking to curtail use of cryptocurrency. Yellen argues many cryptocurrencies are used “mainly for illicit financing.”

Over the course of the 20th century, capitalism preserved its momentum by molding the ordinary person into a consumer with an unquenchable thirst for more stuff.

News Use Across Social Media Platforms in 2020 — Facebook stands out as a regular source of news for about a third of Americans

these drinks exist for your subclinical anxiety needs

San Francisco on Film

local legends and obscure curiosities from days of yore

Trump Urine Test Kit

Every day, the same, again


Facial recognition can determine a person’s political party, with reasonable accuracy

Calculations Show It’ll Be Impossible to Control a Super-Intelligent AI

How Successive Summarization Alters the Retelling of News

Ventilation and viral loads: the key misunderstandings of how coronavirus spreads

Wastewater-based epidemiology: a 20-year journey may pay off for Covid-19

The Sensitivity and Costs of Testing for SARS-CoV-2 Infection With Saliva Versus Nasopharyngeal SwabsFREE

Saliva testing for detection of SARS-CoV-2 had a similar sensitivity and specificity to that of nasopharyngeal testing

Samsung inadvertently uses iPhone to tweet Galaxy Unpacked promo

Apple fails to overturn VirnetX patent verdict, could owe over $1.1 billion
+ VirnetX has been described as being a patent troll

How Social Media’s Obsession with Scale Supercharged Disinformation

A British man who accidentally threw a hard drive loaded with bitcoin into the trash has offered the local authority where he lives more than $70 million if it allows him to excavate a landfill site.

Why Is Bitcoin Making New All-Time Highs?

Baking with AI-made recipes

Macaques are infamous for brazenly robbing unsuspecting tourists and clinging on to their possessions until food is offered as ransom payment. Researchers have found they are also skilled at judging which items their victims value the most and using this information to maximise their profit.

The total number of galaxies in the universe is probably in the hundreds of billions, rather than 2 trillions

James Naismith, inventor of the game of basketball

Is it possible to locate a man given only his photograph and first name?

Every day, the same, again

4.jpg Sony’s New Lip-Reading Technology Could Boost Accessibility—or Invade Privacy

The endowment effect occurs when people assign a higher value to an item they own thanto the same item when they do not own it. In a meta-analysis and three laboratory experiments, we show for the first time that ownership has no effect on beliefs about either: (a) the quality of the item or (b) the appropriate market price for the item.

Are couples with daughters more likely to divorce than couples with sons?

Law Firm Giving Away Free Divorce for Valentine’s Day

Sexual Practices and Satisfaction among Gay and Heterosexual Men in Romantic Relationships: A Comparison

Non-violent offenders serving time for drug use or possession should be freed immediately and their convictions erased, according to research published in the peer-reviewed The American Journal of Bioethics.

Previous research suggests that “Duchenne smiles,” indicated by the combined actions of the orbicularis oculi (cheek raiser) and the zygomaticus major muscles (lip corner puller), signal enjoyment. This research has compared perceptions of Duchenne smiles with non-Duchenne smiles among individuals voluntarily innervating or inhibiting the orbicularis oculi muscle. Here we used a novel set of highly controlled stimuli: photographs of patients taken before and after receiving botulinum toxin treatment for crow’s feet lines that selectively paralyzed the lateral orbicularis oculi muscle and removed visible lateral eye wrinkles, to test perception of smiles. Smiles in which the orbicularis muscle was active (prior to treatment) were rated as more felt, spontaneous, intense, and happier. Post treatment patients looked younger, although not more attractive.

Social cooling refers to the idea that if “you feel you are being watched, you change your behavior.”

The Man Who Turned Credit-Card Points Into an Empire [NY Times]

Stefan Thomas, a programmer in San Francisco, owns 7,002 Bitcoin [about $220 million] that he cannot retrieve because he lost the password to his digital wallet. He lost the paper where he wrote down the password for his IronKey, which gives users 10 guesses before it seizes up and encrypts its contents forever. He has since tried eight of his most commonly used password formulations — to no avail. [NY Times]

A roundup of research on US presidential transitions

“Relative frequency of hashtags that call for execution by hanging”

NASA spacecraft discovers there may be fewer galaxies than we thought

Even 50-year-old climate models correctly predicted global warming

Discovered within the last ten years, formicamycins have great potential because, under laboratory conditions, superbugs like MRSA do not become resistant to them. However, Streptomyces formicae only produce the antibiotics in small quantities.

Information abundance, like all markets of abundance, is bad for the average person but great for a small number of people

How did Zoroaster speak? What did he speak?  When did he speak? There seems to be a lot of dissension, even among Iranists, concerning the basic facts of his life and times. 

James Joyce’s Ulysses is an anti-stream of consciousness novel

Many AIs that appear to understand language and that score better than humans on a common set of comprehension tasks don’t notice when the words in a sentence are jumbled up, which shows that they don’t really understand language at all.

Stockfish evaluates about 100 million positions per second using rudimentary heuristics, whereas Leela Chess evaluates 40 000 positions per second using a deep neural network trained from millions of games of self-play. They also use different tree search approaches.

How Seinfeld’s Costumers Built One of TV’s Most Iconic Wardrobes

The Serpentine Illusion

Every day, the same, again

71.jpgHacker Locks Internet-Connected Chastity Cage, Demands Ransom

Identical twins are not so identical, study suggests — they differ by an average of 5.2 early mutations, adding new perspective to nature-versus-nurture debates

After group conversations, people underestimated how much they were liked by others

Bottle-cork injury to the eye: a review of 13 cases

Is Light Fundamentally A Wave Or A Particle?

being angry increases your vulnerability to misinformation — Human memory is prone to error — and new research provides evidence that anger can increase these errors.

Genetic Variants of SARS-CoV-2—What Do They Mean?

Flu strains mutate regularly so vaccines need to be slightly altered every year. There are, however, several “universal” flu vaccines currently being studied that aim to make annual flu vaccinations a thing of the past. n fact, according to the American Society for Microbiology, some of these vaccine candidates are in phase 2 and phase 3 trials right now.

Covid-19 immunity likely lasts for years A new study shows immune cells primed to fight the coronavirus should persist for a long time after someone is vaccinated or recovers from infection.

Gorillas test positive for coronavirus at San Diego Zoo

school closures and lockdown are the only interventions modeled that have a reliable impact on Rt, and lockdown appears to have played a key role in reducing Rt below 1.0. We conclude that reversal of lockdown, without implementation of additional, equally effective interventions, will enable continued, sustained transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in the United States.

Integrated information as a possible basis for plant consciousness

2019-2020 Tech company donations to Republicans who voted to overturn the election

As The New York Times noted in 2016, not even Oprah Winfrey, the queen of all media, succeeded in turning her personal franchise into a cable powerhouse. Can Trump do something the far-wealthier and much more appealing Winfrey couldn’t?

migrating a large product off Amazon Web Services can take months of staging and possibly years to execute [more]

Clearview AI’s CEO says that use of his company’s facial recognition technology among law enforcement spiked 26 percent the day after a mob of pro-Trump rioters attacked the US Capitol. Audio: What is Clearview AI, and what influence does it hold?

When her best friend died, she rebuilt him using artificial intelligence

I review 65 years of Playboy centerfolds to consider how their bodies—physical characteristics, positions, contexts, and explicitness—have changed, and how this reflects the broader social change to which they are subject. I find that, overall, very little changes over the years, with two notable exceptions: increased visibility of the montes pubis and the slow decreasing in the amount of pubic hair the models have

A law buried in the 5,600-page emergency relief bill requires the US intel agencies to deliver an unclassified report on UFOs. More:US intelligence agencies have 180 days to share what they know about UFOs.

Of all the premature deaths among the ranks of the creative, none is more painful to contemplate than Franz Schubert’s

Lessons for Philosophers and Scientists from Sherlock Holmes and Father Brown

We’ve trained a neural network called DALL·E that creates images from text captions

Stealing Your Private YouTube Videos, One Frame at a Time

A single icon can represent any number up to 9999

Touching door with pan

‘burn more calories than you eat’ is about as useful advice as ‘earn more money than you spend’


Australia is on track to eradicate transmission of HIV by the end of this decade.

The world is gaining two million acres of leafy cover per year, an increase of about five percent since 2000, equivalent to the leaf area of all the Amazon rainforests. 

The number of Chinese people living in extreme poverty was 88% in 1981. By 2015 it had fallen to 0.7%.

A biologist invented a sensor that detects spikes in ethylene, the chemical that makes fruits ripen, so distributors can sell it before it spoils. It’s already saved one company $400,000 in wasted food.

Police in Durham, England are helping arrestees get access to social services instead of prosecuting them. Of the 2,600 people they’ve helped, only 6% have re-offended.

A jazz club in Paris has re-opened for performances –– for one patron at a time. In just a few weeks, Le Gare hosted over 3,000 concerts for one.

{ 112 bits of good news that kept us sane in 2020 | Continue reading }

Every day, the same, again


Smiling and grimacing can reduce needle injection pain, study

athletes’ bodies produced 3-5 times the emissions while working out, compared to when they were at rest. Chlorine from bleach cleaner sprayed onto equipment was reacting with the amino acids released from sweating bodies.

Data from four waves of the National Survey of Family Growth reveal American women who report more sex partners are less likely to get married (though so too are virgins). [SocArXiv]

Danish and Chinese tongues taste broccoli and chocolate differently — For several years, researchers have known that women are generally better than men at tasting bitter flavours. Now, research from the University of Copenhagen suggests that ethnicity may also play a role in how sensitive a person is to the bitter taste found in for example broccoli, Brussels sprouts and dark chocolate.

Cow burp-catcher ‘could help reduce methane emissions by 60%’

Folklore structure reveals how conspiracy theories emerge, fall apart

QAnon Is Two Different People, Shows Machine Learning Analysis

Airlines warn travelers: Emotional support animals will no longer be permitted. Animals that previously traveled as emotional support animals may still accompany passengers as carry-on or cargo pets if they meet requirements. [Washington Post]

Exploring the Impact of COVID-19 in the Sustainability of Airbnb Business Model

Singapore police will be able to use data obtained by its coronavirus contact-tracing technology for criminal investigations

When you hear the word inquisition, you think of Spain, heretics in strange tall pointed hats, the stake, forced confessions, horrifying images that make the words Holy Inquisition a cruel oxymoron. It is less well known that there were also inquisitors in Venice who could make life rather difficult for people.

The family with no fingerprints — At least four generations of Apu Sarker’s family have an extremely rare condition leaving them with no fingerprints

Jair Bolsonaro, president of Brazil, has been named the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project’s 2020 Person of the Year , narrowly beating two other populist leaders, U.S. President Donald Trump and Turkish President Recep Erdogan

Harvard Professor Says Alien Technology Visited Earth in 2017

Every day, the same, again

17.jpg Contrary to wide‐held beliefs, religiosity decreases with greater expected proximity to death

Our study cannot answer whether some men adopt a feminist identity to increase their access to sexual partners.

Questions from 1920 Still Haunt Neuroscience — A 100-year-old paper anticipated key issues in modern neuroscience

For a while, the Union’s top general in the Civil War was a perfectionist. George Meade kept looking for the perfect opportunity to engage the forces of the Confederacy in battle. He accomplished little. Ulysses Grant and William Tecumseh Sherman got the job done by their willingness to use imperfect methods. How Perfectionism Has Made the Pandemic Worse

Viruses mutate all the time, often with no impact, but this one appears to be more transmissible than other variants—meaning it spreads more easily. Barely one day after officials announced that America’s first case of the variant had been found in the United States, in a Colorado man with no history of travel, an additional case was found in California. There are still many unknowns, but much concern has focused on whether this new variant would throw off vaccine efficacy or cause more severe disease —- with some degree of relief after an initial study indicated that it did not do either. […] Bedford notes that this new variant seems to have a higher secondary-attack rate —- meaning the number of people subsequently infected by a known case — compared with “regular” COVID-19. Finally, the new variant seems to result in higher viral loads (though this is harder to be sure about as viral loads can be affected by sampling bias and timing). […] This variant, now called B.1.1.7, has “an unusually large number of genetic changes, particularly in the spike protein,” which is how the virus gains entry into our cells. The new variant may be better at eluding our immune response and replicating, or be able to better bind to locations in our body more conducive to infecting others, but that is all speculative for the moment. […] we may need to be stricter — less time indoors, better masks, better ventilation, more disinfection of high-touch surfaces. […] We don’t know. We won’t know for a while. [The Atlantic]

Decline in Marriage Associated with the COVID-19 Pandemic in the United States

New study following 12,541 healthcare workers for #COVID19 re-infection over 31 weeks published in NEJM. Natural immunisation held up well over the 6 months of the study, with only two cases of asymptomatic reinfections observed.

Scientists turn carbon dioxide into jet fuel

Google Maps’ Moat is Evaporating

You can now gain entry to any station of the New York City Subway with the tap of a phone, instead of the swipe of a MetroCard.

The largest single bank heist of all time was committed the day before the Coalition invaded Iraq in 2003, when Saddam Hussein sent his son, Qusay, to the Central Bank of Iraq with a handwritten note to withdraw all the cash in the bank. Qusay then removed about $1 billion (£810 million) in $100 dollar notes in strongboxes, requiring three lorries to carry it all. Approximately $650 million (£525 million) was found later by US troops hidden in the walls of one of Saddam’s palaces. Although both of Saddam’s sons were killed, and Saddam was captured and executed, more than one third of the money was never recovered. — Seven Greatest Real-Life Heists

How Did Madagascar Become the World’s Biggest Producer of Vanilla?

Maneki-neko (beckoning cat)

Alex’s intelligence was on a level similar to dolphins and great apes. She also reported that Alex seemed to show the intelligence of a five-year-old human, in some respects, and he had not even reached his full potential by the time he died. She believed that he possessed the emotional level of a two-year-old human at the time of his death. Looking at a mirror, he said “what color”, and learned “grey” after being told “grey” six times. This made him the first and only non-human animal to have ever asked a question.

Human chess match, Leningrad, 1924

Every day, the same, again

72.jpgA woman posted a photo of a Starbucks barista who asked her to wear a mask. Then, $100,000 was donated to that barista. Now, the woman wants half of that money.

Using Hot Coffee to Dislodge Meat in the Throat

A US judge in Michigan has ruled that a 42-year-old man can seek compensation from his parents for destroying his pornography collection.

How much is an hour of your free time worth? $19.

Tears were found to be a magnet for visual attention.

Studies show, for instance, that volunteering correlates with a 24% lower risk of early death . What’s more, volunteers have a lower risk of high blood glucose, and a lower risk of the inflammation levels connected to heart disease. They also spend 38% fewer nights in hospitals than people who shy from involvement in charities.

Diet Modifications, Including More Wine and Cheese, May Help Reduce Cognitive Decline — Cheese, by far, was shown to be the most protective food against age-related cognitive problems, even late into life; The daily consumption of alchohol, particularly red wine, was related to improvements in cognitive function; Weekly consumption of lamb, but not other red meats, was shown to improve long-term cognitive prowess.

A comprehensive study from Uppsala University, involving more than 250,000 women, shows that oral contraceptive use protects against ovarian and endometrial cancer. The protective effect remains for several decades after discontinuing the use.

An article reporting an increased risk of death when surgery is carried out on the surgeon’s birthday has caused a Christmas controversy

Simple processes can make wood stronger than steel, impact-resistant — or even transparent

Apple targets car production by 2024 and eyes “next level” battery technology

Deepfakes didn’t disrupt the US election as many predicted. But cheapfakes had a banner year.

Compology uses cameras and artificial intelligence to monitor what’s thrown into dumpsters and trash containers at businesses such as McDonald’s restaurants. The point is to make sure dumpsters are actually full before they’re emptied and to stop recyclable materials like cardboard from being contaminated by other junk.

The Full(est Possible) Story of the Four Seasons Total Landscaping Press Conference

Biometric Bribery — Inside Semlex, the Brussels-based company that supplies biometric documents such as passports and driving licenses to governments and international bodies.

The U.S. Army spent almost a year making face masks — no different from commercial masks designed and brought to market within days of the pandemic.

Remembering Beethoven the astute businessman

Larry Heard is an American DJ, record producer and musician. He is widely known as a pioneering figure in 1980s Chicago house music, and was leader of the influential group Fingers Inc., whose 1988 album Another Side was the first long-form house LP. [listen to Never No More Lonely, Can You Feel It, full album] — About “Can You Feel It” (1986): “I had two cassette decks—there were no digital recorders or even multi-track recorders—and I did one take, one pass, on one tape, then ran it back to the other one, played some other parts by hand that I wanted to add, and that was pretty much the recording process.”

It’s -43C in Yakutsk, Republic of Sakha; time to get some fish at the local outdoor market

I always awkwardly struggle to get to the end call button on video calls. So I made this

Every day, the same, again

5.jpeg Just a few doses of an experimental drug can reverse age-related declines in memory and mental flexibility in mice

What Explains the Decline of Serial Killers?

Walmart will use fully autonomous box trucks to make deliveries in Arkansas starting in 2021

A trip of 500 km on one charge. A recharge from zero to full in 10 minutes. All with minimal safety concerns. The solid-state battery being introduced by Toyota promises to be a game changer not just for electric vehicles but for an entire industry.

LED lights found to kill coronavirus — technology can be installed in air conditioning, vacuum, and water systems

Researchers who studied the DNA of 2,700 COVID-19 patients in 208 intensive care units across Britain found that five genes were central to many severe cases. The genes partially explain why some people become desperately sick with COVID-19, while others are not affected, Baillie said.

A new study of almost 40,000 adults has found that the brains of lonely people differ from those of people who are not lonely, in significant and detectable ways. This loneliness “signature” consists of variations in the volume of different brain regions, and the way those brain regions communicate.

Can Dropping a Little Data Change Conclusions?

Zodiac killer code crackedThe cipher, sent in a letter to The Chronicle in November 1969, has been puzzling authorities and amateur sleuths since it arrived 51 years ago.

Israeli Phone-hacking Firm Claims It Can Now Break Into Encrypted Signal App

How Russian hackers infiltrated the US government for months without being spotted

High-Frequency Traders Push Closer to Light Speed With Cutting-Edge Cables

DeepL Translator “Try out the world’s best machine translation.”

8 Giraffes are stuck on a flooding island. But the rescues have begun.

James Verdesoto, the movie poster artist behind iconic posters such as Pulp Fiction, Ocean’s Eleven, Girl, Interrupted, and Training Day, explains how color schemes are used in movie posters via OpenCulture

Every day, the same, again

71.jpgMDMA-assisted couples therapy investigated in landmark pilot trial + My methodology for working wlthMDMA as an adjunct to psychotherapy is as follows

Why wild giant pandas frequently roll in horse manure, study

This study explored the definitions of sexual boredom in a large community sample of Portuguese individuals.

In the mid-1960s, Australian athlete Reg Spiers found himself stranded in London with no money to buy a plane ticket home. Desperate to get back to Australia in time for his daughter’s birthday, he decided to post himself in a wooden crate.

New Year’s resolutions: Participants with approach-oriented goals [starting new habits] were significantly more successful than those with avoidance-oriented goals [quitting habits]

Scientists say they have come up with a potential way to make oxygen on Mars — NASA wants to land astronauts on Mars in the 2030s. On Mars, oxygen is only 0.13% of the atmosphere, compared to 21% of the Earth’s atmosphere. Transporting enough oxygen on a spacecraft to sustain the mission isn’t currently viable.

These hardware and software tools collect forensic data from mobile phones: the texts, emails, and photos stored on the phone; data regarding when the texts and emails were sent and where the photos were taken; the locations—if location tracking tools are turned on—where the phone and, presumably, the user have been; and when they were there. According to the report, 2,000 of the United States’s 18,000 law enforcement agencies, including 50 of the nation’s largest police departments, either have purchased MDFTs (Mobile Device Forensic Tools) or have access to these tools.

Tesla Inc. is taking advantage of its surging shares by going back to the capital markets for the third time in ten months and raising as much as $5 billion of common stock. If you have a product for which the market is willing to pay virtually anything, you sell more of it. That’s true for electric cars and it’s just as true for stock, which is far easier to manufacture. Issuing $5 billion a year ago would have meant dilution of more than 8%; today, it’s less than 1%. [Bloomberg]

These studies consistently show that most rats prefer the nondrug reward over cocaine (and over heroin or methamphetamine. After I had reviewed these studies in my class, a student asked, ‘Does this mean that sugar is more addictive than cocaine?’.

You may be surprised to learn that of the trio of long-awaited coronavirus vaccines, the most promising, Moderna’s mRNA-1273, which reported a 94.5 percent efficacy rate on November 16, had been designed by January 13. This was just two days after the genetic sequence had been made public in an act of scientific and humanitarian generosity that resulted in China’s Yong-Zhen Zhang’s being temporarily forced out of his lab. In Massachusetts, the Moderna vaccine design took all of one weekend. It was completed before China had even acknowledged that the disease could be transmitted from human to human, more than a week before the first confirmed coronavirus case in the United States.By the time the first American death was announced a month later, the vaccine had already been manufactured and shipped to the National Institutes of Health for the beginning of its Phase I clinical trial.

A new report from One Fair Wage finds that more than 80% of workers are seeing a decline in tips and over 40% say they’re facing an increase in sexual harassment from customers.

these data show that distinctive eyebrows reveal narcissists’ personality to others

Viewers’ antisocial tendencies (Dark Triad traits, aggression, and moral disengagement) in conjunction with an affinity for antihero genres and favorite antihero characters (similarity, wishful identification, and parasocial interaction)

The success of horror films, popularity of true crime, and prevalence of violence in the news implies that morbid curiosity is a common psychological trait. However, research on morbid curiosity is largely absent from the psychological literature. In this paper, I present a novel psychometric tool for assessing morbid curiosity, defined as a motivation to seek out information about dangerous phenomena.

Impostor syndrome—the idea that you’ve only succeeded due to luck, and not because of your talent or qualifications—was first identified in 1978 by psychologists Pauline Rose Clance and Suzanne Imes. In their paper, they theorized that women were uniquely affected by impostor syndrome. Since then, research has shown that both men and women experience impostor feelings.

According to a new study, the mass of all our stuff—buildings, roads, cars, and everything else we manufacture—now exceeds the weight of all living things on the planet

Mount Everest, Earth’s tallest mountain, just got taller by about a meter

In America, Christmas trees are a multibillion-dollar business. But who’s making the money?

Every day, the same, again

61.jpgThis Robot Can Rap

A case of 32-year-old man with frequent ejaculation as the initial symptom of rabies was first reported

Missing credit card payments may be an early sign of dementia, study says

Court Suspends ‘Copyright Troll’ Lawyer From Practicing Law

Palaeolithic voyage for invisible islands beyond the horizon

Google’s deep-learning program for determining the 3D shapes of proteins stands to transform biology, say scientists

Research shows married people enjoy better health. But why? Is it because marriage is good for your health and encourages healthier behavior, or because healthier individuals are more likely to get married?

I could use your help — not your support, not your approval, not your reassurance but your help as an open and thoughtful audience for these difficult questions. But you won’t help me, because you won’t listen to what I’m trying to say, because all you care about is how much victim status I deserve. You are really letting me down. [ Agnes Callard | NY Times]

How I Made a Self-Quoting Tweet

52 things I learned in 2020

Die Hard Christmas tree ornament

Cloud Zoo

Every day, the same, again

51.jpg Scotland becomes 1st country to make free period products the law

China Has Launched the World’s First 6G Satellite.

Turning Lunar Dust Into Oxygen – And Using the Leftovers to 3D Print a Moon Base

Google Must Disclose Emails in Russian Oligarch’s Divorce

One year after the interventions, cash transfer recipients had higher consumption, asset holdings, and revenue, as well as higher levels of psychological well-being than control households. In contrast, the psychotherapy program had no measurable effects on either psychological or economic outcomes.

China seeks to change Covid origin story The official People’s Daily newspaper claimed in a Facebook post last week that “all available evidence suggests that the coronavirus did not start in central China’s Wuhan”.

NYT and WaPo digital subscriptions tripled since 2016

While we continue to espouse the use of 2L+5N dialing over all-number calling whenever possible, our primary aim today is to publicly oppose the proliferation of 10-digit dialing, which is fast becoming a public nuisance and dialing nightmare for ordinary people everywhere in this country. More: Telephone exchange names and the 2L-5N system

Scientists create diamonds at room temperature in minutes

[Buy] one of four metals that can be liquid near room temperature

Best inventions of 2020

Every day, the same, again

66.jpgVatican asks Instagram how pope’s account liked photo of Brazilian model

An AI tool can distinguish between a conspiracy theory and a true conspiracy – it comes down to how easily the story falls apart

Non-meat eaters, especially vegans, had higher risks of either total or some site-specific fractures, particularly hip fractures.

Airflow studies reveal strategies to reduce indoor transmission of COVID-19 — when people speak or sing loudly, they produce dramatically larger numbers of micron-sized particles compared to when they use a normal voice. The particles produced during yelling, they found, greatly exceed the number produced during coughing.

Vitamin D deficiency markedly increases the chance of having severe disease after infection with SARS Cov-2. The intensity of inflammatory response is also higher in vitamin D deficient COVID-19 patients. This all translates to increase morbidity and mortality in COVID-19 patients who are deficient in vitamin D. Related: In this randomized clinical trial, supplementation with vitamin D reduced the incidence of advanced (metastatic or fatal) cancer in the overall cohort

COVID-19 reinfection tracker (26 cases worldwide as of Nov. 24)

Don’t Eat Inside a Restaurant — The odds of catching the coronavirus are about 20 times higher indoors than outdoors.

Satoshi Nakamoto Lived In London While Working On Bitcoin. Here’s How We Know.

Social media entrepreneurs have rushed to find ways to make money from stars on popular platforms like TikTok. West of Hudson Group, for one, operates a network of content houses where many prominent young influencers live. Houses like these function as management companies, taking a percentage of revenue from the creators living in them. The influencers often don’t pay rent, but produce content for brands and promote products as a form of in-kind rent. Dozens of influencer houses have arrived in the Los Angeles area over the last year, and the companies that run them have been searching for sustainable business models. Going public, though, is a new strategy. [NY Times]

Apple is lobbying against a bill aimed at stopping forced labor in China […] The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act would require U.S. companies to guarantee they do not use imprisoned or coerced workers from the predominantly Muslim region of Xinjiang, where academic researchers estimate the Chinese government has placed more than 1 million people into internment camps. Apple is heavily dependent on Chinese manufacturing, and human rights reports have identified instances in which alleged forced Uighur labor has been used in Apple’s supply chain. [Washington Post]

How Mozart became a bad composer, according to Glenn Gould

Upside down glass of water experiment

A pediatric immobilizer


Every day, the same, again

34.jpgWife blows thousands on vet bills after husband blames his farts on the dog

Confusion about left and right occurs in 14.6% of the general population

Thai coconut suppliers accused of using monkeys as forced labor

A new study demonstrates a method for deciphering the timing of a deceased person’s death using a lock of hair.

New research suggests that nightmares prepare us to better face our fears

More people are getting COVID-19 twice, suggesting immunity wanes quickly in some

Immunity to the coronavirus may last years, maybe even decades, according to a new study [NY Times]

Dr. Fauci: “I think that we’re going to have some degree of public health measures together with the vaccine for a considerable period of time. But we’ll start approaching normal — if the overwhelming majority of people take the vaccine — as we get into the third or fourth quarter [of 2021].” [NY Times]

Medical literature suggests vitamin D protects against respiratory infections. Humans exposed to sunlight produce vitamin D directly. A 10% increase in relative sunlight decreases fall influenza by 1.1 out of 10.

Thanksgiving Dinner during COVID: Overview of Aerosol Transmission Risk Modeling

Steak-Umm Against COVID-19 Misinformation

Rules for strong passwords don’t work, researchers find. Here’s what does

Using two-factor authentication, or 2FA, is the right thing to do. But you put yourself at risk getting codes over text. We explain why.

The Bodies Of Dead Climbers On Everest Are Serving As Guideposts More: The Story Behind ‘Green Boots’

The cyanometer, a device invented in 1789 to measure the blueness of the sky

A portable pillow that you wear as a sleeve. Patent No. 10835062

every day, the same, again

hieronymus_bosch.jpg The eerie AI world of deepfake music — Artificial intelligence is being used to create new songs seemingly performed by Frank Sinatra and other dead stars.

Florida man invented a robot that inserts and removes contact lenses

About 42% of 720 million Amazon reviews may be fake reviews

Duration of urination does not change with body size

Four different types of positive tears — Achievement tears are often shed in contexts of extraordinary performance or when someone overcomes an obstacle and often include feelings of pride. Beauty tears occur commonly in situations of overwhelming elegance or beauty, including nature, music or visual arts, and feature feelings of awe or experiencing chills. Affectionate tears are often experienced in situations including unexpected kindness or exceptional love such as wedding ceremonies or reunions and often feature feelings of warmth, increased communality, and feeling touched or compassionate. Finally, amusement tears are shed when something especially funny occurs and include feelings of amusement or lightness and the inclination to laugh or giggle.

How many colors are there? Quoted numbers range from ten million to a dozen. Are colors object properties? Opinions range all the way from of course they are to no, colors are just mental paint. These questions are ill-posed. […] A valid question that may replace both is how many distinguishing signs does color vision offer in the hominin Umwelt? [The umwelt theory states that the mind and the world are inseparable] The answer turns out to be about a thousand. The reason is that colors are formally not object properties but pragmatically are useful distinguishing signs.

We did not find any evidence of influence of alcohol consumption on changes in brain volume over a 2-year period in 40–60-year-olds

Losing nothing is better than gaining nothing

How the White House will hand over social media accounts to President Trump [2017]

What Would We Experience If Earth Spontaneously Turned Into A Black Hole? — We’d all die. But for 21 minutes, we’d have the ride of a lifetime

Mahadevan, professor of applied mathematics, physics, and organismic and evolutionary biology at Harvard University, uses mathematics and physics to explore commonplace phenomena

here are some of the things I learned during the 10 minutes or so I was editor of Los Angeles magazine

China’s New Blockchain Internet

Zoom lied to users about end-to-end encryption for years, FTC says

Portland’s iconic Powell’s Books is selling a book-scented unisex fragrance

How to Make the World’s Best Paper Airplane [video]

Horror Musical Instrument

Dangerous stairs (NY Subway, 36 Street Station)