Who trusts scientists anyways?
Via the Washington Post:
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It's now 2 ½ minutes to “midnight,” according to the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, which warned Thursday that the end of humanity may be near.
The group behind the famed Doomsday Clock announced at a news conference that it was adjusting the countdown to the End of it All by moving the hands 30 seconds closer to midnight — the closest the clock has been to Doomsday since 1953, after the United States tested its first thermonuclear device, followed months later by the Soviet Union's hydrogen bomb test.
In announcing that the Doomsday Clock was moving 30 seconds closer to the end of humanity, the group noted that in 2016, “the global security landscape darkened as the international community failed to come effectively to grips with humanity’s most pressing existential threats, nuclear weapons and climate change.”
But the organization also cited the election of President Trump in changing the symbolic clock.
“Making matters worse, the United States now has a president who has promised to impede progress on both of those fronts,” theoretical physicist Lawrence M. Krauss and retired Navy Rear Adm. David Titley wrote in a New York Times op-ed on behalf of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. “Never before has the Bulletin decided to advance the clock largely because of the statements of a single person. But when that person is the new president of the United States, his words matter.”
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People who looked at pictures of cute animals "improved performance on tasks that required carefulness." The results of the experiments are in a paper titled The Power of Kawaii, by Hiroshi Nittono , Michiko Fukushima, Akihiro Yano, and Hiroki Moriya, published in the Public Library of Science (PLOS).
This study examined the effect of viewing cute images on subsequent performance in unrelated tasks. The images of baby animals were rated as cuter and more infantile than the images of adult animals in all the three experiments. When the participants rated the images of both baby and adult animals (Experiment 3), the former were rated as more pleasant than the latter. In the first two experiments, viewing cute images improved performance on tasks that required carefulness. This effect was found in a fine motor dexterity task that was related to helping others (Experiment 1) and in a non-motor visual search task that was irrelevant to caregiving or social interaction (Experiment 2). The improvement was associated with either a decrease or an increase in performance speed, depending on the nature of the task. Experiment 3 showed that viewing cute images narrows the breadth of attentional focus and reduces the global precedence effect in a subsequent task.
Image: Ozan Kilic Read the rest
This is Keon the Irish wolfhound from Westerlo, Belgium who broke the Guinness World Record for the longest on a dog. Keon's tail is 76.8 cm (30.2") long, beating the previous record-holder also a wolfhound, by 4.5 cm (1.7"). (Guinness World Records)
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Quartz editor Gideon Lichfield has published a science fictional vignette depicting the final backstage moments before the 2025 inauguration of President Mark Zuckerberg's second term. Read the rest
The best part of the video is the increasing happiness and confidence you can see on his face as his body transforms. (Isou Dw)
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In the immediate aftermath of the Trump administration's gag orders on government employees disclosing taxpayer-funded research results, a series of high-profile "rogue" government agency accounts popped up on Twitter, purporting to be managed by civil servants who are unwilling to abide by the gag order. Read the rest
As part of Kickstarter's Make/100 initiative, our good friends at BabyTattoo have put together this beautiful card game, OctoMatch.
Straight from Baby Tattoo's agent provocateur Bob Self, himself:
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To kick off 2017, Kickstarter launched the “Make 100” initiative, encouraging creators to turn grandiose goals on their ear by dreaming small and launching projects that focus on 100 limited edition items. In the days since the program launched, there has been a fun-to-follw flow of charming and quirky campaigns that are refreshingly low on hype and pleasingly high in simplicity. Baby Tattoo founder Bob Self felt inspired to create an “OctoMatch” campaign, offering a no-frills/simple-thrills card matching game illustrated with portraits of artist Brian Kesinger’s Victorian octopus character Otto that drawn specifically for this down-to-Earth (under-the-sea?) project. It’s worth a visit to check out what people have come up with when asked to think at 1/100 scale.
Some of Bob's current favorite Make 100 campaigns are…
“100 Skulls” by Andy Swartz
“Drag Queens of the South” coloring book by Kasten McClellan Searles
“Spyn” decision-making tops by Dave & Calvin Laituri
and, of course, "Little Knitted Cthulhus” by Janice Campbell
My 10-year-old son Lux is a retro videogame historian who collects and studies 1980s consoles and games with the gravitas of a PhD student working on his thesis. Last year he acquired Nintendo's NES Zapper gun controller from 1984 that was used to play shooting games like Duck Hunt. (Below, a TV commercial for the NES Deluxe Set including the Zapper and R.O.B. The Robotic Operating Buddy.) Unfortunately, the NES Zapper doesn't work with modern LCD televisions. The video above from "Today I Found Out" explains the clever technology behind the NES Zapper gun. And here's a great text explanation from How-To Geek about why it doesn't work on non-CRT screens, something my son already knew but, of course, wanted the Zapper anyway for, er, display purposes:
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First, it requires extremely precise timing between the trigger pull on the Zapper and the response on the screen. Even the slightest difference (and we’re talking milliseconds here) between the signal sent to the NES and the signal displayed on the screen can throw it off. The original timing sequence was based on the very dependable response time of a CRT hooked up to the analog NES signal. Whether the old tube TV was big, small, cutting edge or 10 years old, the speed of the signal via the CRT display standard was reliable. By contrast, the latency in modern digital sets is not reliable and is not the same as the old consistent delay in the CRT system. Now, this doesn’t matter in most situations.
On Wednesday, all of the senior managers of the US State Department quit en masse. The Washington Post reports that it's "part of an ongoing mass exodus of senior foreign service officers who don’t want to stick around for the Trump era."
“It’s the single biggest simultaneous departure of institutional memory that anyone can remember, and that’s incredibly difficult to replicate,” said David Wade, who served as State Department chief of staff under Secretary of State John Kerry. “Department expertise in security, management, administrative and consular positions in particular are very difficult to replicate and particularly difficult to find in the private sector.”
I'm sure the vacant positions will be filled by competent replacements.
Image: Wikipedia/AgnosticPreachersKid Read the rest
If I don't laugh, I'll cry. (Brandon Smith)
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Mistablik is an American high-school student who put his mind to finding alternate uses for the lockers that lined his school's hallways -- lockers that sit empty as students switch over to electronic textbooks -- and decided to build a tiny, secure, Arduino-based vending machine that would sell soda to his fellow students. Read the rest
Obama's policy of allowing border agents to demand foreigners' social media accounts at border crossing has been expanded under Trump; now, people are being illegally profiled based on their religious affiliation and made to hand over their social media logins for data-mining and algorithmic suspicion-generation when they return home to the USA. Read the rest
Colin Mochrie and Ryan Stiles performed their first improv scene together on the British version of Whose Line Is It Anyway? back in 1991. And thus an iconic comedy duo was born. Read the rest
Or perhaps he finally got his emacs the way he likes it. [via] Read the rest
The Belgian Parliament has voted to continue its decades-long practice of supplying free booze to lawmakers, despite several incidents of unpleasant, drunken behavior, because the alternative is going back to having to drag elected officials out of the local bars when it's time to vote. Read the rest
This brief edit of last year's wonderful Gokchin sansei Cute Caique Parrot Bird Silly Walk, embedded below in full, is doing well on Twitter today.
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