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Going French

from The New York Times

See Fewer People. Take Fewer Showers.

Some people said they started bathing less during the pandemic. As long as no one complains, they say they plan to keep the new habit.

By Maria Cramer

Robin Harper, an administrative assistant at a preschool on Martha’s Vineyard, grew up showering every day.

“It’s what you did,” she said. But when the coronavirus pandemic forced her indoors and away from the general public, she started showering once a week.

The new practice felt environmentally virtuous, practical and freeing. And it has stuck.

“Don’t get me wrong,” said Ms. Harper, 43, who has returned to work. “I like showers. But it’s one thing off my plate. I’m a mom. I work full-time, and it’s one less thing I have to do.”

The pandemic upended the use of zippered pants and changed people’s eating and drinking habits. There are now indications that it has caused some Americans to become more spartan when it comes to ablutions.

Parents have complained that their teenage children are forgoing daily showers. After the British media reported on a YouGov survey that showed 17 percent of Britons had abandoned daily showers during the pandemic, many people on Twitter said they had done the same.

[ click to continue reading at NYT ]

Posted on May 6, 2021 by Editor

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Endangered Wings

from The Washington Post via MSN

America is running low on chicken. Blame covid-19, a sandwich craze and huge appetite for wings.

by Reis Thebault


a man holding a sandwich: Randy Estrada holds up his Popeyes chicken sandwich, shortly after the fast food chain introduced the menu item in 2019, which The Washington Post dubbed the Year of the Chicken Sandwich. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Randy Estrada holds up his Popeyes chicken sandwich, shortly after the fast food chain introduced the menu item in 2019, which The Washington Post dubbed the Year of the Chicken Sandwich. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

It’s not like we weren’t warned. The doomsayers predicted this months ago: “A MASSIVE CHICKEN WING SHORTAGE IS BREWING,” blared the headline of one trade publication in early February.

But it turned out to be so much worse.

Bloomberg News, on Thursday: “Fried-Chicken Craze Is Causing U.S. to Run Low on Poultry.”

In other words, not just wings, but chicken in general. Or, as Bojangles put it in a recent tweet about their tenders: “we’re experiencing a system-wide shortage :( But they will be back soon!”

It seems the poultry paucity has arrived, heralded by a series of fast-food executives describing in earnings calls their stores’ struggles to stock enough chicken — nuggets, tenders, wings, patties, all shapes and sizes — to keep pace with legions of peckish Americans.

[ click to continue reading at MSN ]

Posted on May 3, 2021 by Editor

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Onboard With No Place To Go

from The Wall Street Journal

Trapped Aboard an Abandoned Cargo Ship: One Sailor’s Four-Year Ordeal

The MV Aman was seized near the Suez Canal in 2017. Years later, its chief mate was still on board, all alone.

By Joe Parkinson and Drew Hinshaw

Mr. Aisha traded scrap metal from the ship to passing fishing and commercial vessels for cheese or fish. PHOTO: MOHAMMAD AISHA

SUEZ, Egypt—Chief Mate Mohammad Aisha awoke to the groans and tremors of a cavernous cargo ship listing hard to starboard. He staggered through the darkness up five flights of stairs to the bridge and shined his phone’s flashlight on the navigation dials.

The MV Aman was tilting 10 degrees, its 330-foot-long hull taking on more than 6 feet of water. Three miles from the nearest ship, Mr. Aisha knew that if the 3,000-ton boat went under, it would suck him, the only person on board, into the Red Sea.

This was a crisis. It was also Mr. Aisha’s best chance to escape.

For months, the 29-year-old Syrian had been the last sailor still living on a cargo ship, abandoned two years earlier near the mouth of the Suez Canal and being detained by the Egyptian government. They had refused to let him disembark but couldn’t keep him on the ship if it was sinking, he reasoned.

He activated an emergency beacon and shouted “Mayday! Mayday!” into the radio. Hours crawled by before a military patrol arrived to whisk him to land.

Ten days of interrogations in military and police stations later, Mr. Mohammad was right back where he started, returned to a deserted ship whose hull had been repaired. It was Oct. 27, 2019, and he wasn’t going anywhere.

[ click to continue reading at WSJ ]

Posted on May 2, 2021 by Editor

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Another New ORC

from VICE

Scientists Spot Yet Another Unexplained Ring-Shaped Radio Structure In Space

A new Odd Radio Circle (ORC) appears to span a million light years, and contains a clue that could explain these ghostly structures.

By Becky Ferreira

Scientists have spotted yet another bizarre, gigantic, and unexplained circle-shaped radio structure in outer space, a discovery that contributes to “exciting times in astronomy,” reports a new study.

The bubble is the latest example of an Odd Radio Circle (ORC), an aptly named type of spectral ring that debuted in a 2020 paper led by Western Sydney University astrophysicist Ray Norris. Norris and his colleagues detected four of these enormous circles eerily glowing in faint radio wavelengths far beyond our galaxy.

Now, scientists led by Bärbel Koribalski, a research scientist at CSIRO’s Australia Telescope National Facility, have discovered a fifth ORC that appears to span about one million light years. 

This structure, named ORC J0102–2450, also looks like it has an elliptical galaxy at its center, a feature it shares with two of the ORCs found by Norris’ team. Koribalski and her co-authors, including Norris, said the presence of the galaxies is “unlikely a coincidence” and may help explain the origin of these ghostly rings, according to their forthcoming study in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society Letters, which is available on the preprint server arXiv. 

ORCs have flown under the radar for decades because they are extremely dim, but new and advanced radio telescopes, such as the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP), are sensitive enough to spot the huge bubbles. 

[ click to continue reading at VICE ]

Posted on April 30, 2021 by Editor

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Big Ganjafoot

from Inside Hook

What Does Bigfoot Have to Do With a Murder at a Pot Farm?

In Hulu’s “Sasquatch,” director Joshua Rofé investigates whether the mythical creature was really responsible for a triple homicide in 1993

BY BONNIE STIERNBERG

In 1993, investigative journalist David Holthouse was working on a cannabis farm in California’s Emerald Triangle, a region consisting of Mendocino, Humboldt and Trinity counties that’s famous for its marijuana production, when a frightened man told him he had discovered three bodies torn limb from limb. This wasn’t a ripoff, the man insisted; the weed was trampled over but intact. The perpetrator of this horrific crime, he claimed? Sasquatch, also known as Bigfoot, the mythical ape-like creature said to roam the forests of North America.

Hulu’s new three-part docuseries Sasquatch follows Holthouse as he sets out to investigate what really happened that night, and what begins as an intriguing look at American folklore and the surprisingly large groups of people who believe they’ve had Sasquatch encounters of their own quickly evolves into something far more sinister. (Spoiler alert: Bigfoot didn’t do it.) A cannabis farm might conjure up images of genteel hippies and back-to-the-landers, but Holthouse and director Joshua Rofé quickly find themselves caught in a world full of AR-15-wielding dope growers, racism against Mexican migrant workers, and yes, several unsolved murders. It’s a sobering reminder that we don’t need to invent cryptids to get our scary-story fix; there are plenty of human monsters walking among us.

[ click to continue reading at Inside Hook ]

Posted on April 23, 2021 by Editor

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Botanical Depression

from The Atlantic

The Dark Side of the Houseplant Boom

American culture is becoming more and more preoccupied with nature. What if all the celebrations of the wild world are actually manifestations of grief?

Story by Megan Garber

A woman in a red raincoat looking at nature on a moving blue textured background
Sindha Agha

It started, as so many of life’s journeys do, at IKEA. We went one day a few years ago to get bookshelves. We left with some Hemnes and a leafy impulse buy: a giant Dracaena fragrans. A couple of months later, delighted that we had managed to keep it alive, we brought in a spritely little ponytail palm. And then an ivy. A visiting friend brought us a gorgeous snake plant. I bought a Monstera online because it was cheap and I was curious. It arrived in perfect condition, in a big box with several warning labels: perishable: live plants.

Where is the line between “Oh, they have some plants” and “Whoa, they are plant people”? I’m not quite sure, but I am sure that we long ago crossed it. I would read the periodic news articles about Millennials and their houseplants and feel the soft shame of being seen. But I cherished our little garden. Potted plants have a quiet poetry to them, a whirl of wildness and constraint; they make the planet personal. I loved caring for ours. I loved noticing, over time, the way they stretched and flattened and curled and changed. I still do.

[ click to continue reading at The Atlantic ]

Posted on April 21, 2021 by Editor

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They Did It In A Minute

from Popular Mechanics

Why Scientists Want to Shorten the Minute to 59 Seconds

Time might be running out.

BY CAROLINE DELBERT

midnight
ISTEO / Getty Images

We like to say nothing is certain in life but death and taxes, but the truth is even our planet and the universe are constantly imposing changes on us.

That includes this new suggestion from scientists: We should consider shortening the minute to just 59 seconds, at least for one “negative leap second” that will better line us up with Earth’s real rotation.

This is on the heels of a year marked by many shorter-than-average days, following several years in which Earth has rotated faster than maybe ever before. What’s going on?

First, you might wonder why tiny portions of individual seconds make any real difference. The truth is they don’t for most people, or even most applications. But for some, like scientists and specially tuned scientific instruments, the differences must be accounted for. Something simple like a clock that just sets itself and “sheds” the extra or missing partial second each midnight could detract from research or regulation of important functions.

[ click to continue reading at Popular Mechanics ]

Posted on April 18, 2021 by Editor

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Black Hole Stun

from The Atlantic

A New Era of Black Holes Is Here

Astronomers have discovered a black-hole treasure trove that is changing our view of the cosmos.

by THOMAS LEWTON AND QUANTA MAGAZINE

A blurry image of a black hole
MARK GARLICK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY / GETTY

When the first black-hole collision was detected in 2015, it was a watershed moment in the history of astronomy. Using gravitational waves, astronomers were observing the universe in an entirely new way. But this first event didn’t revolutionize our understanding of black holes—nor could it. This collision would be the first of many, astronomers knew, and only with that bounty would answers come.

“The first discovery was the thrill of our lives,” says Vicky Kalogera, an astrophysicist at Northwestern University and part of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) collaboration that made the 2015 detection. “But you cannot do astrophysics with one source.”

Now, Kalogera and other physicists say they’re entering a new era of black-hole astronomy, driven by a rapid increase in the number of black holes they can observe.

The latest catalog of these so-called black-hole binary mergers—the result of two black holes spiraling inward toward each other and colliding—has quadrupled the black-hole merger data available to study. There are now almost 50 mergers for astrophysicists to scrutinize, with dozens more expected in the next few months and hundreds more in the coming years.

[ click to continue reading at The Atlantic ]

Posted on April 17, 2021 by Editor

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“Mom, are we OK?”

from DNYUZ

How a Burst of Light in the Sky Illuminated Something Primal

by Brooke Jarvis

How a Burst of Light in the Sky Illuminated Something Primal

At around 9 o’clock on the night of March 25, the sky above my house in Seattle lit up with an astonishing display. I know this not because I happened to see it — I was inside, as I am too often, working at my computer — but because my Twitter feed was suddenly full of different versions of the same, uncanny video. The earliest clips captured what looked like a single streak of light, fracturing outward into a shimmering cascade. What came next looked like the world’s largest and longest-lasting firework, or a huge shower of comets hitting all at once, or a waterfall of light falling sideways.

It was golden, spectacular, alarming, otherworldly, indecipherable, unknown. While the cameras rolled, I could hear the voices of the people pointing them upward. Again and again, in tones ranging from rapturous to fearful (and using a variety of expletives, depending on the personality of the videographer), they looked to the sky and asked, “What is that?”

[ click to continue reading at DNYUZ ]

Posted on April 15, 2021 by Editor

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Giant Crab Radio

from VICE

Mysterious Radio Blasts From Space Just Got a Whole Lot Weirder, Somehow

Scientists discovered that so-called “giant radio pulses” coincide with X-rays, suggesting they are hundreds of times more energetic than previously thought.

By Becky Ferreira

In the year 1054, skywatchers in China and Japan witnessed light from an exploding star reach Earth, creating a dazzling bright spot in the sky. More than a millennium later, scientists have now revealed amazing new details about the powerful and unexplained radio signals that eerily emanate from the remains of this ancient supernova.

For years, scientists have been baffled by extremely loud radio signals, known as giant radio pulses (GRPs), that can be traced to a special type of dead star known as a pulsar. Pulsars are compact, rapidly rotating remnants of supernovae that get their name from the clockwork pulses of radiation they emit from their poles, which have made them useful natural timepieces for astronomers who use their regular bursts to measure other celestial phenomena. 

[ click to continue reading at VICE ]

Posted on April 9, 2021 by Editor

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Vampire Valley

from Newsweek

Can Blood from Young People Slow Aging? Silicon Valley Has Bet Billions It Will

BY ADAM PIORE

FE_Young Blood_03
Beta-amyloid plaques and tau in the brain.COURTESY OF NIH/NATIONAL INSTITUTE ON AGING

The Spanish firm Grifols helped set off a kerfuffle last year when it, along with other firms, offered nearly double the going price for blood donations for a COVID-19 treatment trial. Brigham Young University in Idaho had to threaten some enterprising students with suspension to keep them from intentionally trying to contract COVID-19. The trial failed, however, and now the Barcelona-based firm is hoping to extract something far more valuable from the plasma of young volunteers: a set of microscopic molecules that could reverse the process of aging itself.

Earlier this year, Grifols closed on a $146 million-deal to buy Alkahest, a company founded by Stanford University neuroscientist Tony Wyss-Coray, who, along with Saul Villeda, revealed in scientific papers published in 2011 and 2014 that the blood from young mice had seemingly miraculous restorative effects on the brains of elderly mice. The discovery adds to a hot area of inquiry called geroscience that “seeks to understand molecular and cellular mechanisms that make aging a major risk factor and driver of common chronic conditions and diseases of older adulthood,” according to the National Institutes of Health. In the last six years, Alkahest has identified more than 8,000 proteins in the blood that show potential promise as therapies. Its efforts and those of Grifols have resulted in at least six phase 2 trials completed or underway to treat a wide range of age-related diseases, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Alkahest and a growing number of other geroscience health startups signal a change in thinking about some of the most intractable diseases facing humankind. Rather than focusing solely on the etiology of individual diseases like heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s and arthritis—or, for that matter, COVID-19—geroscientists are trying to understand how these diseases relate to the single largest risk factor of all: human aging. Their goal is to hack the process of aging itself and, in the process, delay or stave off the onset of many of the diseases most associated with growing old.

[ click to continue reading at Newsweek ]

Posted on April 7, 2021 by Editor

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Baby Satting

from SF Gate

Satellite technology puts into orbit swarms of spacecraft no bigger than a loaf of bread

Christian Davenport, The Washington Post

The Superdove mini-satellite manufactured by Planet.
The Superdove mini-satellite manufactured by Planet. Photo by Planet Labs

The avalanche was a stunning disaster, 247 million cubic feet of glacial ice and snow hurtling down the Tibetan mountain range at 185 mph. Nine people and scores of animals were killed in an event that startled scientists around the world.

As they researched why the avalanche occurred with such force, researchers studying climate change pored over images taken in the days and weeks before and saw that ominous cracks had begun to form in the ice and snow. Then, scanning photos of a nearby glacier, they noticed similar crevasses forming, touching off a scramble to warn local authorities that it was also about to come crashing down.

The images of the glaciers came from a constellation of satellites no bigger than a shoe box, in orbit 280 miles up. Operated by San Francisco-based company Planet, the satellites, called Doves, weigh just over 10 pounds each and fly in “flocks” that today include 175 satellites. If one fails, the company replaces it, and as better batteries, solar arrays and cameras become available, the company updates its satellites the way Apple unveils a new iPhone.

[ click to continue reading at SF Gate ]

Posted on April 6, 2021 by Editor

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A Fifth Force

from BBC

Muons: ‘Strong’ evidence found for a new force of nature

By Pallab Ghosh

g-2 experiment
IMAGE COPYRIGHTREIDAR HAHN / FERMILAB

From sticking a magnet on a fridge door to throwing a ball into a basketball hoop, the forces of physics are at play in every moment of our lives.

All of the forces we experience every day can be reduced to just four categories: gravity, electromagnetism, the strong force and the weak force.

Now, physicists say they have found possible signs of a fifth fundamental force of nature.

The findings come from research carried out at a laboratory near Chicago.

The four fundamental forces govern how all the objects and particles in the Universe interact with each other.

For example, gravity makes objects fall to the ground, and heavy objects behave as if they are glued to the floor.

The UK’s Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) said the result “provides strong evidence for the existence of an undiscovered sub-atomic particle or new force”.

[ click to continue reading at BBC ]

Posted on April 5, 2021 by Editor

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The Death Hole

from Der Spiegel

A Visit to the World’s Deadliest Dive Site

It doesn’t have the nicest coral formations nor the most fish. But the Blue Hole in the Gulf of Aqaba is a magnet for divers, primarily because of its reputation. Dozens of adventurers have lost their lives here over the years and, when they do, Tarek Omar pulls them back to the surface.

by Von Maik Großekathöfer

Tarek Omar says that he doesn’t know exactly how many bodies he has recovered. “I stopped counting at some point,” he says. But he can still remember the names of the first two he pulled up from the depths of the Red Sea, bringing them back onto the Egyptian shore.

“They were Conor O’Regan and Martin Gara. Irish. They were considered cautious divers. Both died here on Nov. 19, 1997. They were only 22 and 23. Sad.”

Omar is sitting under an awning on the edge of the desert, drinking tea with milk and looking out over the waters of the Gulf of Aqaba, which wash against the east coast of the Sinai. The nearest settlement, the resort town of Dahab, is 10 kilometers (six miles) to the south.

“I found the bodies at a depth of 102 meters (335 feet),” says Omar. “They were holding each other in an embrace. This is how it must have happened: One of them had problems and kept sinking deeper down. The other wanted to help him. And then both of them lost consciousness. What can you do? Their memorial stone is up there.”

[ click to continue reading at Der Spiegel ]

Posted on April 3, 2021 by Editor

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The Cetaceans Are Coming! The Cetaceans Are Coming!

from SF Gate

Video shows 1,000-dolphin ‘stampede’ off California coast

by Andrew Chamings

‘Super-pod,’ ‘mega-pod’ or a ‘dolphin stampede,’ whatever you want to call it, the sight of 1,000 dolphins swimming alongside you is a rare and mesmerizing spectacle.

Tourists on a charter boat off Dana Point in Orange County were treated to that very sight for four hours last week, and the footage released of the marvel is breathtaking.

[ click to continue reading at SF Gate ]

Posted on April 2, 2021 by Editor

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Alien Talk

from The Wall Street Journal

Alien Languages May Not Be Entirely Alien to Us

Evolution should favor some universal traits in the emergence of any form of communication on any planet

By Arik Kershenbaum

The 2016 movie ‘Arrival’ portrayed scientists scrambling to decode an alien language. PHOTO: ALAMY

Human contact with alien civilizations may be more likely than we think. A recent NASA study estimated that there should be at least four habitable planets (and probably more) within about 32 light years of Earth—a cosmic stone’s throw away. Those planets could just now be receiving (albeit faintly) our television broadcasts of the 1989 inauguration of President George H.W. Bush. But would aliens understand those broadcasts? Would we understand aliens? Could we ever interpret their languages?

The 2016 movie “Arrival” portrayed scientists frantically scrambling to decode an alien language. Although the on-screen aliens communicated—and even thought—in a completely different way from humans, the hero played by Amy Adams of course eventually succeeded. But off-screen, alien language may be so, well, alien that we could never understand anything about it. How do we approach dealing with something so completely unknown that it may also be completely different from anything we might expect?

In fact, questions about the nature of possible alien languages are tractable. Language remains the lone thing that appears to separate humans from other animals on Earth. The comparison of human language with animal communication can help, should we ever frantically need to decode an alien signal. After all, aliens will have evolved their language on a planet that is, like Earth, also full of non-linguistic species. But what really is the difference between language and non-language?

[ click to continue reading at WSJ ]

Posted on March 31, 2021 by Editor

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Death By Giant Vending Machine

from Inside Hook

Death of a Car Salesman: How Soon Will We All Be Buying Our Cars Online?

Carvana — one of the tech world’s biggest pandemic winners — is applying lessons from Tesla and Amazon in the used-car market

BY ALEX LAUER

Carvana car vending machines in space on another planet with vehicles floating in the air

You probably know Carvana for their car vending machines, but they’ve got much bigger plans. Gabe Serrano for InsideHook/Carvana/Getty

In the history books, the car story of the pandemic will be, without a doubt, Tesla. Elon Musk’s electric vehicle maker captured the attention of financial leaders, other automakers and the general public due to the company’s meteoric stock market rise (as well as the CEO’s dangerous, brainless Twitter rhetoric). When we tried to figure out how a relatively small automaker became the most valuable in the world, one expert summed it up like this: Tesla is not a traditional car manufacturer, it’s a tech company, and as such it has much greater potential.

Carvana certainly isn’t as sexy as Tesla, but it’s the other car story you need to know from the pandemic, one with potentially more immediate impacts on your life. And it has many of the same hallmarks: the company’s business model seems simple — an online used car retailer you probably know from their distinctive “vending machines” — but it’s their proprietary tech that’s important. They’ve gained prominence in a short time, becoming the second largest used car retailer in the U.S. in eight years, and the stock price has been on a tear this year, hitting a high in March 2021 that was almost triple the company’s high before the pandemic was declared.

[ click to continue reading at Inside Hook ]

Posted on March 29, 2021 by Editor

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It May Never End

from The Wall Street Journal

A Year Into Remote Work, No One Knows When to Stop Working Anymore

Workers are exhausted from nonstop working from home; many managers want to get everyone off the treadmill and breathing again

By Chip Cutter

The daily alarm Katie Lipp sets isn’t meant to wake her up. It reminds her to go to bed.

The employment attorney in Fairfax, Va., said she has tried a range of techniques to set boundaries while working long days from home running her law practice during the pandemic. Few measures work as well as the 9:45 p.m. alarm she started setting last month, though she admits to snoozing it occasionally to fire out one last email.

“You never feel like what you’re doing is good enough, so you get stuck in a trap of overworking,” Ms. Lipp, the mother of a 5-year-old, said. “Sleep is the difference. If I get like eight to nine hours, I can take on the world. If I have six hours of sleep, it’s like the walking dead.”

A year into the Covid-19 era, many can relate. Employees say work-life boundaries blurred, then vanished, as waking life came to mean “always on” at work. Experts warn that working around the clock—while slipping in meals, helping with homework and grabbing a few moments with a partner—isn’t sustainable, and employers from banking giant Citigroup Inc. to the software company Pegasystems Inc., are trying ways to get staff to dial back.

[ click to continue reading at WSJ ]

Posted on March 28, 2021 by Editor

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Just In Time Disaster

from AP

Shipping losses mount from cargo vessel stuck in Suez Canal

By JON GAMBRELL and SAMY MAGDY

ISMAILIA, Egypt (AP) — Dredgers, tugboats and even a backhoe failed to free a giant cargo ship wedged in Egypt’s Suez Canal on Thursday. More than 150 vessels are now backed up, with hundreds more headed to the vital waterway, and losses to global shipping are mounting.

The skyscraper-sized Ever Given, carrying cargo between Asia and Europe, ran aground Tuesday in the narrow, man-made canal dividing continental Africa from the Sinai Peninsula. Even helped by high tides, authorities have been unable to push the Panama-flagged container vessel aside, and they are looking for new ideas to free it.

[ click to continue reading at AP ]

Posted on March 24, 2021 by Editor

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Madnfts In The Housing Market

from CNN

World’s first digital NFT house sells for $500,000

by Lianne Kolirin

The NFT digital Mars House sold for more than $500,000.
The NFT digital Mars House sold for more than $500,000. Credit: Courtesy Krista Kim

Having spent so much time at home over the last year, many people are craving a change in their surroundings. But if a coat of paint or some creative renovations fail to do the trick, there is now a more extreme alternative: The digital house. Mars House, the world’s first digital NFT (non-fungible token) home, has recently sold for more than $500,000.

NFTs have made headlines recently, allowing digital art and other musings such as drawings or music to be sold online.An NFT is a unique digital token which effectively verifies authenticity and ownership. It is encrypted with the artist’s signature on the blockchain, a digital ledger used in cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin.

The new owner paid digital artist Krista Kim 288 Ether — a cryptocurrency that is equivalent to $514,557.79 — for the virtual property. In exchange, the buyer will receive 3D files to upload to his or her “Metaverse.”Metaverse is a virtual extension of our world, Kim told CNN Tuesday, where plots of virtual land are purchased and traded, and digital homes and business are built.

[ click to continue reading at CNN ]

Posted on March 23, 2021 by Editor

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Mouse Plague in Oz

from The Guardian

‘You can’t escape the smell’: mouse plague grows to biblical proportions across eastern Australia

Locals who have endured months of mice and rats getting into their houses, stores and cars are praying heavy rain will help wipe them out
Warning: graphic images may disturb some readers

by Matilda Boseley

Drought, fire, the Covid-19 pestilence and an all-consuming plague of mice. Rural New South Wales has faced just about every biblical challenge nature has to offer in the last few years, but now it is praying for another – an almighty flood to drown the mice in their burrows and cleanse the blighted land of the rodents. Or some very heavy rain, at least.

It seems everyone in the rural towns of north-west NSW and southern Queensland has their own mouse war story. In posts online, they detail waking up to mouse droppings on their pillows or watching the ground move at night as hundreds of thousands of rodents flee from torchlight beams.

Lisa Gore from Toowoomba told Guardian Australia her friend stripped the fabric of her armchair when it began to smell, only to find a nest of baby mice in the stuffing.

Dubbo resident Karen Fox walked out of the shower on Friday morning to see a mouse staring at her from the ceiling vent. There’s nothing she can do, she says, because the stores are sold out of traps.

[ click to continue reading at The Guardian ]

Posted on March 21, 2021 by Editor

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The COVID Seas

from The Daily Beast via Yahoo! News

Coronavirus Nightmare at Sea for the World’s Most Essential Workers

by Charissa Isidro

Jaisal Bhati
Jaisal Bhati

“We were out of sight and out of mind,” says Second Officer Jaisal Bhati. “Everybody forgot about us (and) everyone turned a blind eye.” Behind the scenes of the coronavirus pandemic, an invisible workforce of about one million seafarers has continued to toil on bulk carriers, oil tankers, fishing vessels, cruise ships, and more. These people have crisscrossed the world, many working seven-day weeks with no holidays or even sick days delivering medicines, grain, coal, fuel—and now vaccines. “They wanted our services but they did not want us.”

Even in normal circumstances, weathering the perilous seas with limited personnel is a tough, dangerous job. A regular cargo ship might be crewed by only 20 people, each with designated duties—a ship at sea, like a plane in the air, requires constant attention so one cannot simply “down tools” and leave it unattended without risking catastrophe. On top of their daily tasks, each seafarer has emergency responsibilities for fire, health, defense, come what may. There are no separate firemen, doctors, or policemen on board. It’s just the crew, where every worker is essential and any delay is unthinkable.

[ click to continue reading at Yahoo! ]

Posted on March 20, 2021 by Editor

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Mo’ Space Trash

from UPI via AccuWeather

Massive piece of space junk tossed from ISS sets new record

By Daniel Uria, UPI

Photo courtesy NASA

March 15 (UPI) — A pallet of batteries was released from the International Space Station last week, becoming the heaviest single piece of junk ever jettisoned from the station.

Mission controllers in Houston commanded the Canadarm2 robotic arm to release an external pallet loaded with the 2.9 tons of nickel-hydrogen batteries into Earth’s orbit Thursday morning.

“It is safely moving away from the station and will orbit Earth between two to four years before burning up harmlessly in the atmosphere,” NASA said in a statement.

NASA representative Leah Cheshier confirmed to Gizmodo that the pallet is the largest object “mass wise” ever to be dispelled from the ISS.

[ click to continue reading at AccuWeather ]

Posted on March 16, 2021 by Editor

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Bowling Ball from Space

from LiveScience

Meteor explodes over Vermont with the force of 440 pounds of TNT

It was the size of a bowling ball but exploded like 440 pounds of TNT

By Rafi Letzter

A meteor streaked through the night sky over Vermont on Sunday (March 7), creating a spectacular light show and causing Earth-shaking booms as it burned through the atmosphere.

The meteor’s explosive passage through the atmosphere released the equivalent of 440 pounds (200 kilograms) of TNT, suggesting that the meteor was likely 10 pounds (4.5 kg) and 6 inches (15 centimeters) in diameter, according to NASA Meteor Watch.

The space rock smacked into the atmosphere at about 42,000 mph (68,000 kph), according to NASA. It appeared over the northern part of the state as a bright fireball at 5:38 p.m. EST, just before sunset.

[ click to continue reading at LIVESCIENCE ]

Posted on March 7, 2021 by Editor

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The Sand Is Running Low

from CNBC

A sand shortage? The world is running out of a crucial — but under-appreciated — commodity

by Sam Meredith

Dozens of trucks dump hundreds of thousands of tons of sand on Miami Beach as part of U.S. government measures to protect Florida's tourist destinations against the effects of climate change.
Dozens of trucks dump hundreds of thousands of tons of sand on Miami Beach as part of U.S. government measures to protect Florida’s tourist destinations against the effects of climate change. EVA MARIE UZCATEGUI | AFP | Getty Images

LONDON — An insatiable global appetite for sand, one of the world’s most important but least appreciated commodities, is unlikely to let up anytime soon. The problem, however, is that this resource is slipping away.

Our entire society is built on sand. It is the world’s most consumed raw material after water and an essential ingredient to our everyday lives.

Sand is the primary substance used in the construction of roads, bridges, high-speed trains and even land regeneration projects. Sand, gravel and rock crushed together are melted down to make the glass used in every window, computer screen and smart phone. Even the production of silicon chips uses sand.

Yet, the world is facing a shortage — and climate scientists say it constitutes one of the greatest sustainability challenges of the 21st century.

[ click to continue reading at CNBC ]

Posted on March 5, 2021 by Editor

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Those Bastards!

from DNYUZ

Did an Alien Life-Form Do a Drive-By of Our Solar System in 2017?

By Avi Loeb

Did an Alien Life-Form Do a Drive-By of Our Solar System in 2017?

On Nov. 12, 2018, Avi Loeb, then the chairman of the astronomy department at Harvard, and a young research associate, Shmuel Bialy, published a paper in the highly prestigious Astrophysical Journal Letters arguing that humans may have discovered the first evidence of alien technology in the form of a mysterious object called Oumuamua that had streaked through the solar system the previous fall.

Reporters flocked to his door. I was not one of them, because I thought the claim was clever and bold, but far-fetched, and I still do, much as I wish it were true. Few of his scientific colleagues agree with him, as Loeb will be the first to tell you in his new book, “Extraterrestrial,” which is part graceful memoir and part plea for keeping an open mind about the possibilities of what is out there in the universe — in particular, life. Otherwise, he says, we might miss something amazing, like the church officials in the 17th century who refused to look through Galileo’s telescope.

“Are we, both scientists and lay people, ready?” he asks in his introduction. “Is human civilization ready to confront what follows our accepting the plausible conclusion, arrived at through evidence-backed hypotheses, that terrestrial life isn’t unique and perhaps not even particularly impressive? I fear the answer is no, and that prevailing prejudice is a cause for concern.”

Oumuamua — Hawaiian for “scout” — was first noticed by a telescope on the island of Maui on Oct. 19, 2017, when it was already on its way out of the solar system, having passed closest to the sun a month before. It had come from outside the solar system, from the direction of the star Vega.

[ click to continue reading at DNYUZ ]

Posted on March 2, 2021 by Editor

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Frankly, I sort of like my balls.

from The Daily Beast

Inside the World of Backstreet Castrators, Cutters and Eunuch-Makers

The Daily Beast reports from the hidden world of backstreet castrations, where people desperate to have genitalia altered or removed undergo risky, illicit operations.

by Mark Hay

Photo Illustration by Sarah Rogers/The Daily Beast / Photos via Getty

In 2018, William, a thoughtful, handsome guy in his late twenties with an eye for design and architecture, took a train up from his home in Baltimore to New York to meet a man he’d been chatting with online for a few months. They had dinner, checked into a hotel near Times Square with a nice view of the Hudson River, and got all showered up and clean. Then, the man placed a restrictive band around William’s genitals and injected them with lidocaine. Once William was fully numb, the man sliced open his scrotum, cut off one of his testicles, and cauterized the testicular artery. He would have cut out William’s remaining testicle as well, but his cauterizing tool died. So, he sutured William up instead.

This is not a horror story of an internet date gone Lifetime original movie-level wrong. The man William met was a cutter, someone who does underground surgeries on people who want to modify or remove part or all of their genitals. He had, to William’s knowledge, cut off over a dozen men’s testicles by that point, with few if any complications. William, who learned at 17 that he was born with XXY chromosomes and has intersex characteristics, identifies as a gender neutrois male, a non-binary identity, and uses he/him pronouns. He wanted this cutter to help him start a physical transition to align his body with this identity, a process he hopes will eventually leave him with a fully smooth groin.

[ click to continue reading at TDB ]

Posted on February 21, 2021 by Editor

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Space Court

from GMA Network

Dubai creates ‘space court’ for out-of-this-world disputes

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Dubai announced Monday the creation of a “space court” to settle commercial disputes, as the UAE—which is also sending a probe to Mars—builds its presence in the space sector.

The tribunal will be based at the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) Courts, an independent British-inspired arbitration centre based on common law.

[ click to continue reading at GMA ]

Posted on February 1, 2021 by Editor

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GameStop Spring

from WIRED

What the Arab Spring Can Teach Us About GameStop

Ten years ago, democracy protesters used social media to organize against an oppressor. But ultimately, the powerful came out ahead.

by NOAM COHEN

A collage of images of GameStop and Wall St.

WHEN I FIRST learned of the campaign by folks on Reddit that has wreaked havoc on wealthy hedge funds looking to profit off struggling companies like the video game retailer GameStop, my mind went back in time. Not all the way back to 2008, where many members of the  subreddit WallStreetBets—and those living vicariously through their mayhem—source their anger at the financial system. That was the year, of course, of Too Big to Fail, when many of the most powerful and profligate banks and trading firms were saved from ruin for the sake of keeping the global economy operating. Instead, I thought of the democracy protests in Tahrir Square in Cairo, which began almost exactly 10 years to the date before the GameStop hijinks, January 25, 2011.

These protests, part of a regional movement to overthrow autocratic governments known as the Arab Spring, were a high-water mark for the idea that the internet would free the world. At the time, it was difficult not to get swept up by the belief that a band of activists using social-network tools could topple an oppressive regime. Ten years later, those hopes should have largely evaporated. Rather than bringing democratic institutions to countries, like Egypt, long denied them, the internet often works in reverse, destabilizing democracy around the world and expanding inequality. Yet each time an online group tries to stick it to the Man, we allow ourselves to dream again.

[ click to continue reading at WIRED ]

Posted on January 31, 2021 by Editor

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Penisnapping

from The Daily Star

Bloke has his penis held to ransom by hackers who took control of digital chastity belt

Qiui, the company which makes the Cellmate cage, says it believes that a true chastity experience is one that ‘does not allow the wearer to have any control over’

By Joshua Smith

Sam was horrified when he realised he’d been hacked (Image: Getty Images)

A man had his penis held to ransom for more than £700 after hackers locked a digital chastity belt he was wearing.

Sam Summers had been wearing a Qiui Cellmate chastity cage, which connects to the internet, when he received a strange message on the product’s app on his phone.

Someone said they had taken control of the chastity belt and that they wanted around $1,000 (£729) in Bitcoin to give him back control of the device.

“Initially, I thought it was my partner doing that. It sounds silly, but I got a bit excited by it,” Sam Summers told VICE.

But when Same called his partner and told her their safe word, he was shocked to find out it wasn’t her.

That’s when he realised, to his utter horror, that he had been hacked.

His penis was locked in the cage, and he had no way to get it out because the belt has no manual override.

“Oh, s**t, it’s real,” Sam said. “I started looking at the thing.

“There’s no manual override at all. It’s a chastity belt, I guess it kind of shouldn’t have an override.

[ click to continue reading at The Daily Star ]

Posted on January 30, 2021 by Editor

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The Reddit Boys Revenge

from Vanity Fair

“You Meet Insanity With Insanity”: The GameStop Redditors Who Upended Wall Street Are Doubling Down

by Jessica Camille Aguirre

Wall Street can seem like a citadel, so it is with unreserved glee that many have kept tabs on the GameStop saga this week. For once, the underdogs were getting flush—and even better, seemingly screwing over hedge funds in the process. On WallStreetBets, the Reddit forum where it all began, retail traders are rallying one another to stay aggressive and hold against downward pressure on the stock, whose value was sinking by Thursday afternoon. An I.T. worker in Atlanta who bought in on Monday after reading about GameStop on the forum said he watched the value of his position lose and then regain around $100,000 over the course of 24 hours, and he’s not abandoning his shares anytime soon.

“It does feel like a gang-up on Wall Street, which has suffered no repercussions from the pandemic,” the I.T. worker said. “Jobless claims, jobless claims, every week we see them going higher and higher, all the chaos with Brexit, all the stuff that’s happening. Like, we can’t go outside, but you guys are making a profit. What the fuck?” On WallStreetBets, it’s to no small amount of admiration that DeepFuckingValue, one of the first users to go bullish on GameStop, who has since been identified by the Daily Mail as 34-year-old financial adviser Keith Patrick Gill, continues to post his daily tally from staying long on the video game store chain. Midweek, that was almost $50 million (from a reported initial investment of some $53,000), but the next day, it had dived by more than $14 million

What happened was this: A few hedge funds, reading what they thought was the writing on the wall, bet against GameStop by shorting its stock, predicting that a brick-and-mortar store had no future in the COVID-delineated online economy. So retail traders bought the stock in droves and pushed its value up, knowing that traders would eventually have to buy the stock back at the higher price in order to cover their positions, losing money in the process. GameStop isn’t the first short squeeze Wall Street has seen, but it’s one of the first that originated in the online forums where day traders using popular platforms like Robinhood have coalesced during the pandemic. Some major funds were caught in the squeeze, including Melvin Capital and Citron Research, and total losses from the short positions in U.S. companies were estimated to be more than $70 billion as of Thursday. Redditors rejoiced over Wall Street’s pain, and CNBC’s Jim Cramer said the masses ganging up against institutional money could be finance’s new paradigm. “There is definitely a level of nervousness here,” said a hedge fund manager named Westley, who asked not to have his last name published. 

[ click to continue reading at VF ]

Posted on January 28, 2021 by Editor

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Space Smuggling

from Reason

Space, the Final Smuggling Frontier

In a glimpse of a gloriously rule-breaking future, contraband has boldly gone where more is sure to follow.

by J.D. TUCCILLE

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(Reg. Innell/ZUMA Press/Newscom) 

On Christmas day, we learned that the ashes of James Doohan, the actor who played Scotty in the original Star Trek series and several movies, were surreptitiously brought to the International Space Station (ISS) in 2008. For fans of the classic science fiction franchise, it was a fitting extraterrestrial resting place for the man who played a beloved character. For those with dreams of a free life beyond Earth’s gravity, though, it was also a hint that the roguish spirit of Han Solo and Malcolm Reynolds has already taken root in humanity’s ventures into space.

“Now it can be revealed that in death the actor who played the starship’s chief engineer has travelled nearly 1.7 billion miles through space, orbiting Earth more than 70,000 times, after his ashes were hidden secretly on the International Space Station,” the Times of London reported on December 25. “‘It was completely clandestine,’ said Richard Garriott, a video game entrepreneur who smuggled James Doohan’s ashes on to the ISS in 2008 during a 12-day mission as a private astronaut.”

[ click to continue reading at Reason ]

Posted on January 5, 2021 by Editor

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Fripp & Toyah Do Black Dog

Posted on January 3, 2021 by Editor

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