May 28, 2017 – Stuff I Found Interesting


Hunter dies after elephant falls on him – Hard to find a better example of karma in action.

Sea lion grabs girl from pier and drags her underwater – Nobody got hurt in this video, but I’m sure it scared the heck out of some people. Pro tip: if a sea lion swims up and snaps at you, you might want to back off. You definitely don’t want to sit down in that spot with your back to it. Also, if a stranger rescues your child, take a least a moment to say thank you before racing away.

Farting, peeing dinosaurs come to the Manitoba Museum – “As for the Dilophosaurus, the farting dinosaur, Lessem said for now it just makes noises when visitors walk by, but if the dinosaur is a hit, museum staff can install a smell cartridge that will let out a stink when guests pass.” When I pictured the future as a child, this was not part of it.

Habitual sub eater may move lunch spot because of Tonawanda resident’s gripe – Some guy has been grabbing a sandwich and eating it under a shady tree almost every workday for a year. Some busybody in the neighborhood had a conniption over it. On a positive note, virtually every commenter opposed the busybody and the woman whose house he parked in front of said that he’s welcome back any time.

Amazon Echo – SNL – A very amusing take on a new version of the Echo designed for the elderly.

NFL Teams are Right to Blackball Colin Kaepernick – The NFL is an entertainment business. They sell a product. Colin Kaepernick hurt their sales, so it makes sense as to why they don’t want to hire him.

Do We Overvalue Bike Lanes? – A bicyclist’s take on when bike lanes help and when they don’t.

Nuclear Detonation Timeline “1945-1998” – How many nuclear bombs have been detonated? Take a guess. This video will show you where each one was between 1945 and 1998. That covers about 97% of them. I have to admit that I was surprised by the total.

Health – Physical and Mental

Whole Foods Would Look a Lot Different If It Were Science-Based – This article unintentionally shows why healthy food information is a challenge. Shoppers aren’t scientists, that’s why they prefer simple labels like “organic” and “non-GMO” to lengthy and complex explanations.

Mexican Tarahumara woman wins 50km race wearing sandals – Maria Lorena Ramirez is my hero for the week.

Ultra Runner Kilian Jornet Summits Everest in 26 Hours – OK, running a 30+ mile race in sandals seems cool. Racing up Everest just seems wrong. I think that’s like 12.5 miles in 26 hours, so he wasn’t running, but still.

When Your Child Is a Psychopath – What do you do if your child is evil? Not just badly behaved, but psychopathically lacking in empathy and enjoying cruelty? This article was downright disturbing. You may not want to read this.

It’s Pretty Messed Up That Plan B Isn’t Made for the Average American Woman – Plan “B” emergency contraception (aka abortion pills) might not be effective for women over 176lbs. The average American woman is 166lbs (according to the article), so the headline is misleading. But their point is that it doesn’t say on the label that if you are significantly larger than average, you should buy two.

The Natural Cancer Cure Narrative –This article discusses a new movie by Julie Reason that talks about holistic, natural treatments.

Fried Twinkies – “The golden, cream-filled snack cakes guests love have been given a hot new, deep-fried spin. Coated in a light, crispy batter, Hostess® Deep Fried Twinkies® are ready to drop in your fryer for a rise in sweet, sweet sales.” These are not part of a holistic cure for cancer.

Most scientists say you shouldn’t hit the snooze button — here’s how to snooze the right way – It says that snoozing to wake up more slowly is good but snoozing and falling back asleep is bad. I still think that adjusting your schedule so that you wake up without an alarm is the best way, but I’ve preached that for years and have won over exactly zero converts so far.

Art and Culture

How fake are nature documentaries? – A video showing how pieces of real wildlife footage are pieced together to tell a false narrative, not to deceive but to make things interesting. It’s sort of like how the news is reported today, except for that “not to deceive” part.

It’s not what you think – An article written by someone struggling to cope with the death (suicide?) of Chris Cornell. I have to admit that I have a hard time sympathizing because I never engaged with the grunge culture or its music.

Blind baseball announcer creates ‘a theatre of the mind’ with his colour commentary – Huh? How does he do commentary for a game he’s never seen? How can this guy have such a positive outlook while people like Chris Cornell seem to be perennially depressed? How much of that difference is, like the psycho children above, baked into who we are and how much is under our control?

¸„.-• Glow Ink + Glass Pen Drawing! •-.„¸ – It’s a video of a guy drawing in the dark with UV reactive ink. Cool.

BERKLEY DEVOTES AN ENTIRE COURSE TO THE WORK OF HAYAO MIYAZAKI – OK, it may have problems with bigotry and tolerance, but I’ve got to give UC Berkley props for having a Miyazaki course.

THIS IS COMICPALOOZA HOUSTON 2017 COSPLAY MUSIC VIDEO – Miss Comicpalooza in Houston? Want to see the amazing costumes? Here’s the video. Cosplay costumes are getting really, really good.

Quaint Turf House in Iceland Looks Like It’s Rising Up from the Earth – The grassy home of an 80+ year old woman in Iceland. Don’t worry, neighbors help her mow the roof when needed.

A Taste of New York – Hyperlapse videos are overdone, but this one is really, really good. If you want a quick visit to NY, here you go.

Why American Workers Now Dress So Casually – This article theorizes that Americans dress more casually at work because of Silicon Valley. I think that ignores a much longer trend towards decreased formality.

Amazon’s first bookstore in New York City sucks the joy out of buying books – The author is upset because the Amazon store “has books the human curators, based on analytics, know will sell well in the store.” She’d rather have an eclectic store that appeals to her. She reminds me of those people that love unknown bands but stop listening to them if they become popular.

White-Owned Restaurants Shamed for Serving Ethnic Food: It’s Cultural Appropriation – Someone has produced a list of restaurants to avoid in Oregon because they are owned by white people but aren’t selling “white” food. I find that hard to swallow.

What’s Wrong with Cultural Appropriation? These 9 Answers Reveal Its Harm – I’ve been critical of people’s complaints of cultural appropriation, so here’s an article that attempts to explain why it is such a bad thing. I still disagree, but it’s good to see her perspective.

Banning Lou Reed: The Cultural Revolution Eats Its Fathers – Playing “Take a Walk on the Wild Side” brought complaints from an offended transgendered student.

The beautiful languages of people who talk like birds – There are whistling languages. Quite interesting. Whistles travel further. They also make it harder to know who is “speaking”.

In Their Lives: Great Writers on Great Beatles Songs – A rambling article about the writer’s parents and others’ attractions to Beatles tunes. What I found interesting is that they also used whistles to communicate. “Bulgarian couples customarily had whistle-calls — distinctive tunes they came up with, usually borrowed from the melody of a favorite song, by which they could find each other in a crowd or summon one another from across the street.” Kathy and I need to work on our whistling.

LEGO Porsche Crashtest – Watch high speed camera footage of a LEOG Porsche crashing.


THE CONCEPTUAL PENIS AS A SOCIAL CONSTRUCT: A SOKAL-STYLE HOAX ON GENDER STUDIES – Yet another “I scammed a journal with an obvious fake research article”. I think the point that many science journals accept virtually anything is well established.

Dog of a dilemma: the rise of the predatory journal – How bad is the problem of science journals? Here’s an article about a dog that serves on the board of several.

Why Brain Scientists Are Still Obsessed With The Curious Case Of Phineas Gage – Phineas Gage was a decent guy until an explosion shoved metal rod through his skull. Then he became a jerk for several years. Scientists use it as a classic case of how different parts of the brain control our personality. I still wonder if he was just really mad about having a metal rod shoved through his skull. I’d probably be cranky (OK, crankier) for years if that happened to me.

Science Busts The Biggest Myth Ever About Why Bridges Collapse – Remember that bridge that started to resonate until it fell apart. Well, it wasn’t resonance. It just blew around a bunch until it fell apart.

The energy expansions of evolution – An interesting look at evolution split into five epochs based on the available sources of energy – Geochemical, Sunlight, Oxygen, Flesh, and Fire.


Sharing America’s code – The federal government is increasingly open sourcing its code. I presume that this doesn’t apply to the NSA.

Get Ready for the Next Big Privacy Backlash Against Facebook – A somewhat hostile view of how much Facebook knows about people and how they use it to target ads and possibly manipulate emotions.

Why Google Is Suddenly Obsessed With Your Photos – Played with Google Photos lately? They do a pretty amazing job of identifying the content of your images. So in a few years, photo services are going to have a dossier on you – who you are seen with, what you are doing in the pictures, what brands you consume, etc.

Coding is not “fun,” it’s technically and ethically complex – Say what? This article is just bizarre. It reacts angrily to the notion that coding can be fun (a trick to lower programmer labor costs). My favorite line in describing coders is “slovenliness is verboten.” Yeah, I’ve NEVER met a slovenly programmer. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

Politics and Policy

Students Shut Down Northwestern Class to Protest ICE Representative’s Visit – Another case of close-minded students blocking others from hearing a different perspective. I find it odd that universities seem to allow this behavior without repercussions to those disrupters. Then again, maybe they will do something. “Northwestern is carefully reviewing the facts around Tuesday’s events in order to determine the appropriate actions to be taken by the University.” I doubt it.

Students walk out of Mike Pence commencement speech at Notre Dame – If you are extremely opposed to hearing what someone has to say, this is a better way of handling it rather than shouting them down. It still seems rather snowflaky to me.

Look Who Wants a Safe Space Now – To be fair, it isn’t just authoritarian leftwing college students trying to limit free expression. There are still plenty on the right that want to limit the scope of the first amendment to not include allowing people to burn their own American flags.

Federal power creeps its way toward controlling . . . spiders? – From whence does the federal government derive the legal authority to protect endangered species? From the commerce clause, which allows them to regulate commerce between the states. A landowner in Texas with some local endangered spiders on his property is calling BS and the case is going to the Supreme Court.

Does capitalism help or hurt women? – An overview of a debate between whether capitalism or socialism is better for women. It’s pretty much on the side of capitalism, but then, isn’t reality?

Letter: Countering misleading pushback to over-the-counter hearing aids – Last week I commented on an article slamming Elizabeth Warren for wanting to regulate personal sound amplification products. This letter offers an opposing view. No clue where the truth is.

Earlier Access To New Drugs Could Solve Canada’s Affordability Crisis – I thought drugs were cheap in Canada. This article advocates letting Canadians use drugs that have been approved in America or Europe instead of having to wait for Canada to approve them.

‘Exclusionary Zoning’ Is Opportunity Hoarding by Upper Middle Class – The author views zoning as a tool to exclude less well-off people from enjoying good neighborhoods and schools.

Loving across the color line – “Today, more than 11 million Americans are married outside the racial box.” It seems like it is well past time to stop categorizing people by race. Instead of mandating such behavior, the government should discourage it.

Alaska Cops Fight for the Right to Sexually Exploit Prostitution Suspects – Make it illegal for cops to sexually exploit prostitutes and then prostitutes can discover who is an undercover cop by, well, use your imagination. Allow them to, and they’ll be able to use their authority to sexually exploit the prostitutes. I’d call it a sticky situation, but that seems kind of gross in this context. I have a simpler solution – legalize prostitution. Why have our cops spend time protecting us from people selling sex when they could be protecting us from killers and crooks?

The dark side of paid parental leave – This article goes through some of the downsides of government mandated paid parental leave.

5 Ways The Government Keeps Native Americans In Poverty – Extreme poverty is a big problem for Native Americans. Part of the reason for it is the odd relationship between the tribes and the government. I don’t know what the solution is. Maybe give them the choice to become normal property owner/citizens knowing that they will eventually assimilate away their tribal existence. Or let the tribes become fully independent nations. What we’re doing today doesn’t seem to be working very well.

Organic Farming is Bad for the Environment – This article says that because organic farming techniques produce less food per acre, they require that more land be dedicated to farming.

Someone killed a congressional inquiry into America’s sky-high transit construction costs – Why is everyone else getting high speed trains and we aren’t? One reason is that infrastructure projects in the US are much, much more expensive. Congress was going to have the GAO look into why, but then they decided that they didn’t want to know. So if you want more infrastructure in the US, first figure out why it costs about 7x as much per kilometer to build a subway in NY compared with Paris or Berlin.


Jacque Fresco, Futurist Who Envisioned a Society Without Money, Dies at 101 – When I was a little kid, I imagined a world where there was no money. People just did whatever they wanted. Of course, we’d need a way to encourage people to do useful things like build subways rather than just sit around. To do that, we would reward them with special credits for doing useful stuff. They could give those credits to other people that did useful stuff, thereby encouraging more useful things. Then I realized that those credits were just money. Didn’t take me 101 years to work that out.

Are we about to witness the most unequal societies in history? – Technology seems to be increasing the gap between the rich and the poor. Left unsaid in the article is whether it is worse to have a society in which everyone is richer but the rich are much richer or whether it is better to have one in which everyone is poorer but more equal.

Trade Deficits Don’t Matter – Unless Caused by Government – A good explanation of how we have a trade deficit and why it isn’t a problem.

THE WORLD IS RUNNING OUT OF SAND – Someday I want to write a book about all the “the world is running out of” scares. Sand? Seriously? Well, read the article if you want this guy’s perspective. As always, if someone claims we are running out of something and doesn’t back it up with price information, be very skeptical.

Amazon’s phenomenal rise in market value: the most remarkable case of wealth creation, business success in history? – A paean to Amazon. “In recognition of its success at serving consumers, I hereby nominate Amazon for the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize for doing more to create consumer value and improve the lives of the average person in America and in the other countries where Amazon operates than any other single corporation, charitable organization or government agency in the world.”

Which Companies Have the Highest Revenue Per Employee? – They talk a lot about Silicon Valley and tech, but it is energy that wins this game.