Saturday, September 5, 2015

Here, there, and everywhere

I'm flying solo for a few days; my mind is wandering.

  • What Killed 60,000 Antelope in 4 Days?
    Genetic analysis so far has only deepened the mystery, as the bacteria found were the garden-variety, disease-causing type.

    "There is nothing so special about it. The question is why it developed so rapidly and spread to all the animals," Zuther said.

  • How former San Francisco 49ers Chris Borland's retirement could change NFL forever
    Borland has consistently described his retirement as a pre-emptive strike to (hopefully) preserve his mental health. "If there were no possibility of brain damage, I'd still be playing," he says. But buried deeper in his message are ideas perhaps even more threatening to the NFL and our embattled national sport. It's not just that Borland won't play football anymore. He's reluctant to even watch it, he now says, so disturbed is he by its inherent violence, the extreme measures that are required to stay on the field at the highest levels and the physical destruction 
he has witnessed to people he loves and admires -- especially to their brains.
  • The forgotten part of climate change: slower winds
    In his paper, online this month in the journal Ecology, Barton points out that global wind speeds have decreased by some 5 to 15 percent over the last three decades, and are expected to decrease another 15 percent in the coming century. You’ve heard of global warming? Get ready for “global stilling.”
  • The main reason wind energy output appears lower in 2015? 2014 was a record high wind year
    While the first half of 2015 has seen below average wind speeds, a more meaningful comparison against a longer-term average shows 2015 wind output to be within the normal bounds of inter-annual wind output variation.
  • Everything Is for Sale: Life along the longest yard sale in the world
    The world's longest yard sale runs for nearly 700 miles along a mostly vertical line connecting Alabama and Michigan, from the first Thursday in August through the first Sunday. It's called the 127 Sale, since most of it takes place along US Route 127, but that road ends in Chattanooga. There it's met by the sale's southernmost stretch, which winds for more than a hundred miles through the woody piedmont of the Appalachian Mountains, starting in northeast Alabama and veering over to slice off a corner of northwest Georgia, before coming to an end where 127 picks up just across the Tennessee line.

    Chattanooga used to be the end of the whole sale, not just its namesake road. When it started in 1987, the sale was a 350-mile jaunt up through Tennessee to Covington, Kentucky, just this side of Ohio; it added the southern extension a few years later. Since then it's sprouted up the road in northerly bits and pieces, officially ending in Ohio for a while, and later barely sneaking into Michigan. For the last three years, the northernmost point of the sale has been in Addison, Michigan, 20 miles north of the state line, at the place where US 127 intersects with the town's sleepy Main Street. From start to finish, it's 690 miles.

  • How Could Google's New Logo Be Only 305 Bytes When Its Old Logo Was 14,000 Bytes?
    The old logo uses a complicated serif font which can only be created using bezier curves. All together, it has 100 anchor points, resulting in a 6 KB (6,380 bytes) file. When compressed, the size comes down to 2 KB (2,145 bytes).

    A simplified version of the new logo, on the other hand, can be constructed almost entirely from circles and rectangles (with the exception of the lower-case g)

  • As CS50 Attracts Students, Parodies Pop Up on Campus and Online
    A Tumblr blog, also titled “#notCS50,” purports that the posters and social media activity are a concerted effort to challenge the popular course, which has attracted hundreds of students in recent years, boasts corporate sponsors, and has managed to keep Widener Library open later in the evenings and circumvent the Administrative Board, which was until recently the College’s primary disciplinary body. It has even spread to Yale.
  • First fully automated restaurant opens in San Francisco... but it only sells superfood Quinoa
    A San Francisco fast food restaurant has opened with no waiting staff or cashiers and instead dispenses its meals using a giant vending machine.

    Customers of eatsa, in the middle of the city's financial district, order their dishes on iPads, which are prepared by staff in a hidden kitchen and delivered to the fully automated 'cubbies'.

    The only staff that can be seen are in store to help customers with problems they may have with the software.

  • A Roadmap for a World Without Drivers
    Let’s call this the Consensus Model, and let’s stipulate that much of the Consensus Model is correct. Nevertheless, there are profound security risks that will delay and complicate the full deployment of AVs. Once those risks are addressed, consumers will respond to the low cost and high convenience of AVs by increasing their consumption of transportation, most likely to high levels not contemplated by most analysts. And if those two forecasts are correct, most investors and analysts are making fundamental mistakes about the implications of AVs on existing industries, and on industries that will emerge once enabled by AVs.
  • Are unscrupulous scalpers ruining the Disney Dining Experience?
    If you’re not familiar with the Disney dining system, guests can make their advanced dining reservations (ADRs) 180 days out (up to 190 days if you’re a guest of a Disney resort). Disney opens online reservation at 6AM Eastern and phone reservations at 7AM. So set that alarm clock early, fire up all the computers at your house, and have your credit card ready.
  • Someone Made A Documentary About GTA V's Wildlife, And It's Great
    The creatures of GTA V all lead secret lives that we often never get to see while playing. They hunt. They eat. They try to survive.

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