February 26, 2017 – Stuff I Found Interesting


25 Airbag Rainbow Explosion in 4K – A totally pointless display of clouds of colored power made by exploding a bunch of powder with airbags. Looks cool.


Google Maps: Hyperlapse Around the World – A fun virtual tour around the world.


In their own words: How Texas pimps recruit and sell girls for sex – Very interesting story on 3 Texas pimps (one female!) and their take on the business. I found it fascinating. We hear a lot of stories about sex trafficking, making it sound like prostitutes are in the business against their will, but in a lot of cases, it is much more complicated. At least for some, it seems to them to be the least bad choice available to them. This article gives an insight into how the pimps twist their minds to get them there.


Queens of the Stoned Age – This was another fascinating story. This one was about a woman that set up a pot delivery business in New York relying on young, attractive, professionally dressed women to avoid detection.


Cracking story: French artist to entomb himself in rock for a week, then use body to hatch eggs – This article contains multiple levels of stupid. I’m totally calling BS. The whole concept seems stupid and the lack of a way to deal with excrement is a giveaway to this being a fraud.

Health – Physical and Mental

How I became a morning person (and why I decided to make the change) – Seems way overworked. Want to be a morning person? Get to bed earlier. Problem solved.


So, Um, How Do You, Like, Stop Using Filler Words? – I’ve never recorded myself doing public speaking. I think I prefer to live with the belief that I do it well enough rather than confront the reality that I should improve.


This State Is Now “Protecting” You from Kerrygold Butter – I’ve never heard of Kerrygold Butter, but if you live in Wisconsin, you don’t have to worry about it because the health authorities are protecting you (and the local butter industry) from it.


This Is How To Make Friends As An Adult: 5 Secrets Backed By Research – Once you get out of school, which is like a huge continuous mixer, making meaningful social connections gets harder. This article gives some advice on how to do it. There is no silver bullet.

Art and Culture

Skywhales and Jumping – Decades ago, I used to go to see a collection of animated shorts at some film festival each year. Many of them were awesome. Skywhales and Jumping were two of my favorites. I was able to find them both on Youtube.


Facebook Plans to Rewire Your Life. Be Afraid. – A screed about the evils of Facebook. I’m still of the view that the people that struggle the most with it are seeing a manifestation of problems that people bring with them and which are intensified rather than caused by FB. But it seems quite simple – don’t use it if it makes you worse off.


How mammoth cloning became fake news – I referenced an article on mammoth cloning last week and expressed my disappointment in what they were actually proposing to do. Here’s a follow-up article that describes it as “fake news” and goes into a lot more detail about why.


How This 11-Year-Old Girl Is Changing Prosthetics With Glitter – Jordan Reeves rocks. She’s not jumping fences on a cow, but she’s still cool in my book. “You can never be sad with sparkles”.


Why Millennials Are Lonely – Are they really lonelier? Or just whinier? And they even whinier or is the whiny millennial just a popular meme? I think we exaggerate the differences between generations.


Outlandish Trump Hysteria Mirrors Obamaphobia – Reagan was the anti-Christ. Clinton was destroying the dignity of the Presidency. Bush derangement syndrome was enough of a thing to get a name. Obamaphobia made people seem insane. Is it really a surprise that some people are hysterical about Trump? It would feel odd not to have a segment of the population apoplectic about whoever the President is.


Should we treat obesity like a contagious disease? – Based on the concept that obesity “spreads” through social networks, it should be considered contagious. Personally, I think that is stretching things, but it does introduce some ideas worth chewing on.


What’s the Oldest Thing Alive Today? – Apparently, it’s some scraggly tree in California.


Thousands of horsemen may have swept into Bronze Age Europe, transforming the local population – Interesting use of DNA to show that migration from Eurasia into Europe about 5,000 years ago was predominantly male.


Feral Hogs Root Through History – We all have different concerns. This author is seriously chuffed about wild pigs tearing up archaeological artifacts in Florida. If I put together an ordered lists of my concerns, this would not be high on my list.


Harvesting therapeutic proteins from animal slobber – Gross! “Wu says that swine produce about 15 L of saliva per day, and his team has been able to collect 3 L of spit per day from pigs, for 40 days straight, without any apparent harm to the animals.” Yuck. Their probably drooling with excitement over being able to jack with archeologists. Who wouldn’t?


Brain Imaging Identifies Different Types of Depression – Looks like there is a biological difference in different types of depression. Knowing that may lead to different types of treatment. I guess that’s a happy thought.


Bees learn football from their buddies – Bees are smarter than I thought. I wonder if they can help me understand the rules for offside in soccer.


20 Years After Dolly, Where Are We With Cloning? – Nice little summary of where we are with cloning and gene manipulation. I didn’t know that they made cows without horns. That could be a good first step to genetically engineering the extinction of longhorns.


Why Did Greenland’s Vikings Vanish? – Did they die off? Go “home”? Who knows? Very interesting article.


Why Did Danish Vikings Move to England? – Maybe real estate prices in Greenland got too high?


Is Crime Genetic? Scientists Don’t Know Because They’re Afraid to Ask – Obviously, crime is not genetic, but the propensity to commit it probably is, at least to some extent. But some subjects are apparently too taboo to study. Are there things that, as a society, we are better off not knowing?


Urban crime rates and the changing face of immigration: Evidence across four decades – Everyone knows that immigration leads to higher crime. Well, everyone except the people that actually look at the data and realize that it isn’t.


Here’s why you should stop memorizing your passwords – A short video on why you should use a password manager rather than trying to memorize your passwords. Obviously, nobody I know is stupid enough to re-use their passwords across multiple important sites, so this is preaching to the choir.


Adventures in Science: How to Use Calipers – I love calipers. I have a nice Mitutoyo set. But a video on how to use them? It seems about as useful as a video on how to use scissors.


Use of weaponized drones by ISIS spurs terrorism fears – This is one of the obvious downsides to drones becoming cheap and ubiquitous.


Why you should donate your data (as well as your organs) when you die – I hadn’t given this much thought. After reading the article, I still haven’t given it much thought. I’m more concerned about it than the impact of wild pigs on Florida’s archaeological evidence, but not much.


Scientists are making remarkable progress at using brain implants to restore the freedom of movement that spinal cord injuries take away. – Another article on brain implants. Is this becoming a thing?


Rogue One: Visual effects revealed – A look at the VR technology they used to set up shots for the movie. It reminds me of Johnny Lee’s old Wii experiment. That was sooooo cool.

Politics and Policy

Could Betsy DeVos be an ally for transgender students? It’s complicated. – Thought this was an interestingly nuanced article on a woman that doesn’t seem to be the subject of many nuanced articles.


The End Of Identity Politics – This article posits the notion that intermarriage and integration are going to end identity politics. I doubt it. People always find ways to group themselves into “us” and “them”. Well, you and I don’t, but they do.


Apple Tells Lawmaker that Right to Repair iPhones Will Turn Nebraska Into a ‘Mecca’ for Hackers – I haven’t studied this in any depth, but I like the notion of “right to repair” laws. I like to own my stuff and if I can’t open it, fix it, or mod it, then I don’t own it.


6 Big Differences That Turn City Dwellers Into Liberals – An interesting take on why people in urban environments tend to be more liberal (in the modern US sense, not in the sense of actually favoring liberty).


How San Diego Built a Bridge Over the Wall – There is an airport that effectively straddles the border in sort of a form of jurisdictional arbitrage. Cool concept.


Teen Girl Sent Teen Boy 5 Inappropriate Pictures. He Faced Lifetime Registry as a ‘Violent Sex Offender’ or 350 Years in Jail. – The sex offender registry concept needs to be reviewed. Is it really providing enough value to make it worth accepting abuses like this?


Why Government Funding Hurts PBS and NPR – An interesting take on the impact of federal funding for the CPB. Is it really helping programming or just propping up small rural stations?


The Folly of Abolishing the N.E.A. – I think people like to argue of budgetary minutia like this to avoid talking about the much bigger and more important issues that they don’t want to deal with. Whatever good or bad the N.E.A. does is trivial in the grand scheme of things compared with the harm being done by underfunded pensions or the growing mismatch between social security taxes and spending, but those are hard problems so let’s argue over whether or not we should spend a few pennies on art projects of questionable value.


Absurd State Licensing Rules Could Send A Woman To Jail Just for Touching a Horse – I had no idea that horse massage was a thing, but it doesn’t surprise me that someone would want to use the law to block competition.


The real assimilation dilemma – This blog entry was an interesting take on assimilation. Roughly, immigrants are assimilating just fine but some longstanding native-born Americans are having trouble adapting to resulting changes in our culture. The flavor of the melting pot changes over time.


Dallas Is About To Go Broke – The fact that Dallas is struggling to meet its pension obligations during relatively prosperous times is a good sign that our pension funding system is broken. The longer we wait to fix it, the worse the problem will be. But let’s spend our time arguing over whether or not to use federal funds for Sesame Street because that has a lot more emotional resonance.


Dispelling More Myths About Trade Deficits – If you are concerned about our trade deficit (or our capital account surplus, which is the same thing), we need to have long talk.


The Future of Not Working – Despite Milton Friedman being a fan of the universal basic income concept, I’m still skeptical. It’ll be interesting to see how the experiments play out. I think I’d prefer a UBI that is tied to work in some fashion because my biggest fear is the impact on motivation to work and the subsequent harm to societal productivity.