Monthly Archives: September 2016

Audi vehicles to talk to U.S. traffic signals in first for industry

Audi’s system allows the vehicle to display a countdown before a red light turns to green. Knowing how much time one has before the light changes to green will relieve much of the anxiety of waiting, Malhotra said.

The countdown will also appear on the dashboard if the vehicle determines it will not be able to make an approaching light before it turns red, to allow the driver to begin to brake.

While waiting for a red light to turn green, the display will disappear a few seconds before the light turns green, forcing drivers to pay attention to the intersection and determine when it is safe to proceed, said Malhotra.

The future is now. Here’s the link for the article on Reuters

What Germany and Belarus give to Olympics gold medalists

According to Fox Sports Australia, Croatia, Great Britain, Norway and Sweden are among nations that pay no financial incentive for winning gold, while other countries offer alternative bait — like military exemptions (South Korea), a lifetime supply of beer (Germany) and unlimited sausages (Belarus).

So, the four German gold medalists in Rio so far can wash down their $20,000 bonuses with a metric ton of Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbiers while making friends with potential Belarusian sausage kings.

Here’s the article on Yahoo! Sports

Don’t pee on your jellyfish sting and other venom tips

Dr. Christie Wilcox for Quartz:

I’ve watched tentacles from box jellies and Portuguese man o’ war react to urine. And more often than not, the solution causes their venomous stinging cells to fire. Though the intensity of the reaction varies along with the urine itself, at best, urine is inert, at which point you might as well use seawater instead. And at worst, pee causes so much stinging that the jelly would almost certainly inject more venom into you.

Douse the sting with vinegar!

So here’s what you should do: keep your pants zipped and stash a bottle of vinegar in the car instead. Treating the wound with vinegar causes the jellyfish’s stinging cells to become fixed and unable to fire.

And snakes?

Venomous snakes are some of the most dangerous venomous animals, capable of delivering large amounts of potentially lethal toxins with a single bite. Because snake venom can be so dangerous, I can see why people began to think that removing the venom before it spread through the body could save victims’ lives. But why we then settled on the idea that the best way to solve the problem is to suck on the wound to draw the venom into our own mouth is beyond me.

Unfortunately, a lot of proposed ways of removing venom, from suction devices to cutting around a bite (“lancing”), don’t work. Once snake venom is injected in the body, it immediately goes to work, hitchhiking in the blood to get around. It only takes 60 seconds for your blood to travel all the way around your body—so you’re never going to get to all of the venom before it’s spread.

i.e just go get help!

The Strange Brain of the World’s Greatest Solo Climber

There is a guy named Alex Honnold, he free solo climbs mountains and his brain is not wired like ours. J.B. MacKinnon for Nautilus:

Honnold is history’s greatest ever climber in the free solo style, meaning he ascends without a rope or protective equipment of any kind. Above about 50 feet, any fall would likely be lethal, which means that, on epic days of soloing, he might spend 12 or more hours in the Death Zone. On the hardest parts of some climbing routes, his fingers will have no more contact with the rock than most people have with the touchscreens of their phones, while his toes press down on edges as thin as sticks of gum. Just watching a video of Honnold climbing will trigger some degree of vertigo, heart palpitations, or nausea in most people, and that’s if they can watch them at all. Even Honnold has said that his palms sweat when he watches himself on film.

So obviously, they put his brain through an fMRI and: 

‘Maybe his amygdala is not firing—he’s having no internal reactions to these stimuli,’ says Joseph. ‘But it could be the case that he has such a well-honed regulatory system that he can say, ‘OK, I’m feeling all this stuff, my amygdala is going off,’ but his frontal cortex is just so powerful that it can calm him down.’

The article is interesting throughout. 

White House women want to be in the room where it happens

It’s hard to be a woman in politics, especially at the White House. Two-thirds of Obama’s aides are men. Often, women were ignored. But they found a way around this. And it’s brilliant.

Juliet Eilperin for The Washington Post:

So female staffers adopted a meeting strategy they called ‘amplification’: When a woman made a key point, other women would repeat it, giving credit to its author. This forced the men in the room to recognize the contribution — and denied them the chance to claim the idea as their own.

‘We just started doing it, and made a purpose of doing it. It was an everyday thing,’ said one former Obama aide who requested anonymity to speak frankly. Obama noticed, she and others said, and began calling more often on women and junior aides.

James Gleick on our anxiety about Time, the origin of the term “type A,” and the curious psychology of elevator impatience

Maria Popova back at it again with a great review of a book written in 2000 when smartphones, Facebook and the like did not yet exist. Here’s a quote from the book:

We have a word for free time: leisure.

Leisure is time off the books, off the job, off the clock. If we save time, we commonly believe we are saving it for our leisure. We know that leisure is really a state of mind, but no dictionary can define it without reference to passing time. It is unrestricted time, unemployed time, unoccupied time. Or is it? Unoccupied time is vanishing. The leisure industries (an oxymoron maybe, but no contradiction) fill time, as groundwater fills a sinkhole. The very variety of experience attacks our leisure as it attempts to satiate us. We work for our amusement.”

Elementary school homework is useless

Heather Shumaker, writing for Salon

Homework has benefits, but its benefits are age dependent.

For elementary-aged children, research suggests that studying in class gets superior learning results, while extra schoolwork at home is just . . . extra work. Even in middle school, the relationship between homework and academic success is minimal at best. By the time kids reach high school, homework provides academic benefit, but only in moderation. More than two hours per night is the limit. After that amount, the benefits taper off. ‘The research is very clear,’ agrees Etta Kralovec, education professor at the University of Arizona. ‘There’s no benefit at the elementary school level.’

Let the kids play, be free and break the cycle: 

Then there’s the damage to personal relationships. In thousands of homes across the country, families battle over homework nightly. Parents nag and cajole. Overtired children protest and cry. Instead of connecting and supporting each other at the end of the day, too many families find themselves locked in the “did you do your homework?” cycle.

 

The 24-year-old Coca-Cola virgin

Jamie Lauren Keiles never drank Coca-Cola in her entire life. She said she did other things though.

She wrote an insightful and funny — all together interesting — piece for Eater about her experience testing coke (pro tip: Mexican Coke is better because it uses real sugar and not high-fructose corn syrup):

Where to begin? Search: how to try Coke, revise to how to try Coca-Cola, and then finally drink my first Coke. A whole lot of info on how to quit drinking Coke, but nothing for beginners who are just starting out. There are WikiHow tutorials on how to breathe, how to pee, how to love, and how to cry, but drinking Coke apparently demands less instruction than functions which are naturally regulated by the brain.

Nassim Taleb’s commencement speech at the AUB in 2016

Taleb is controversial indeed but he does not deal much bullshit. Here’s an excerpt from his commencement speech at the American University of Beirut in 2016. 

I hesitate to give advice because every major single piece of advice I was given turned out to be wrong and I am glad I didn’t follow them. I was told to focus and I never did. I was told to never procrastinate and I waited 20 years for The Black Swan and it sold 3 million copies. I was told to avoid putting fictional characters in my books and I did put in Nero Tulip and Fat Tony because I got bored otherwise. I was told to not insult the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal; the more I insulted them the nicer they were to me and the more they solicited Op-Eds. I was told to avoid lifting weights for a back pain and became a weightlifter: never had a back problem since.

If I had to relive my life I would be even more stubborn and uncompromising than I have been.

How the Beatles’ ‘Revolver’ gave Brian Wilson a nervous breakdown

But it was also thanks to 20-year-old engineer Geoff Emerick, who was promoted to replace veteran Norman Smith. Emerick is most notable for his work on the first track recording for Revolver, Lennon’s ‘Tomorrow Never Knows.’ By recording his voice through a Leslie speaker, it gave it the faraway sound the song is known for, which was something that had never been done before. It was ideas like this, along with the microphone placement for McCartney’s bass and Starr’s drums, that paved the way for the way studio recordings were done after Revolver.

An interesting look at what makes “Revolver” the most important album in the history of the Beatles. I always thought it’d be Sgt. Peppers.